Charleston + Savannah

Tim and I spent this past long weekend in Charleston and Savannah, with my brother, who flew down from Chicago and met us there. We'd booked the tickets back in October, when Southwest ran a deal that turned the total cost of two round-trip flights into a price lower than my dream cardigan (half that, actually), which was a deal hard to pass up. Charleston's long been Tim's favorite city (while I've never been) and we'd been wanting a chance to travel with Adam, with whom I used to take yearly trips. But mostly, there was the fact that, even months ago, from the perspective of warm and sunny October, we could anticipate the coming January, post-holiday, pre-spring, and the way this month tends to push a person to constant dreams of sun and sand. … [Read more...]

Cheesy Scrambled Eggs & [Another] Quick Trip to St. Louis

The last time we went to St. Louis, Tim and I were young and in love, just a few days from the night we'd sat on a bench in downtown Glen Ellyn, the Metra train sailing by, and I'd uttered the words I'd been waiting months to say (which those of you who've read the ebook will remember in detail). After he'd left Chicago, Tim got a random gig delivering gear for some musicians, sending him to St. Louis for a night the following weekend, and, when he told me this on the phone, I immediately Googled the distance between Chicago and Nashville, exclaimed, "I want to come meet you!" and our trip was born. (In those few days between seeing each other, I also went and chopped off ten inches of my hair to send to Locks for Love, a decision that, at the time, felt so drastic and permanent, I still reach to the back of my neck to feel my hair when I think about it. I never could have imagined a time two years later when I'd return, married, with hair as long and heavy as it once had been. Life … [Read more...]

to greet it with a smile on my face

Hello from the land of my thirties! I entered this new decade Saturday, in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama, where Tim took me away two days before, as a way to jump up and meet Thirty with a smile on my face, exploring and discovering instead of pining and reminiscing. I don't know what it is about these big birthdays, the ones that end in zeros, but so many of my female friends have had terrible times with them. In fact, after talking to one friend in particular last month, I burst out crying to Tim about how everybody treats aging like such a bad thing, and so was I going to sink into a depression on August 25 this year? Would I miss my family more than I usually do? Should he brace himself now for the drama? Thankfully, in our case, that outburst seems to have been all the drama and sadness I needed---and also, my husband is a kind, generous soul who responds by telling me he'll handle everything for my birthday and I can just relax, which, if I'm being honest, is probably exactly … [Read more...]

Nashville Food Trucks: local meets mobile in Tennessee

[It’s a little ironic to be posting something I like about Nashville right when we are miles and miles away from it, but, nonetheless, while I'm showing Tim that quiet place where time slows down, we’re showing you something about the place we call home. We’ll be slower to respond this week (no Internet at the cabin!) but we’ll be back here as soon as we can.] Here's the thing about Nashville: it's not Chicago. I mean, I've liked Music City since the day I came but, besides Tim, there's little about it that feels like home. It's smaller and it's hotter and you can drive 30 minutes in almost any direction and end up in the kind of empty town that feels like someone must be pulling your leg. Everyone's a hipster. Or a hippie. Or a musician or a writer (!) or a debutante. And there are a lot of times I have someone who's not from here ask me what it's like to be from here, and I want to say to them, who me? I'm not a local! except in one case, and this is probably the only case: when … [Read more...]

Florida Vacation + Tropical Lemonade

plates at the refinery

The day after we arrive in Florida, we’re laying by the water in Bradenton Beach, listening to the sounds of the waves and the seagulls, our four chairs propped up in soft white sand alongside a tall umbrella and a cooler and bags packed with books and snacks and iPhones, and I think to myself, you know, there’s just something about the ocean. We're here on a four-day getaway with our friends Terry and Carrie, who had a client who had a house who's now sharing it with us, giving us her keys and her fridge and her pool and her king-sized beds and balconies, and, free of charge, letting us call them home for the weekend. This vacation, a sort of a belated birthday present for Tim whose one birthday request was a trip with these friends, is the longest vacation and first time we've been back to beaches since our honeymoon, and we almost can't believe it's happening. The thing I always feel when I stand next to the ocean, hearing the lapping waves and staring out at the … [Read more...]

Second Harvest’s Generous Helpings Event (Nashville)

Second Harvest's Generous Helpings Event in Nashville

It's just after half past five when we pull into the Nashville Farmers Market parking lot, a usually packed space that tonight has empty spots. Moving past men in polo shirts and khaki shorts who check our IDs at the entrance, we step out of the sun and into the high ceilings and white string lights of the Generous Helpings event---an annual affair benefiting Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit dedicated to solving hunger issues in the community. The event works like this: tickets buy you admission inside ($40 ahead of time, $50 at the door) where what is usually the farmers market food court now houses 31 tables of small plates, in addition to live music, two bars and a silent auction. The tables are hosted by locally owned restaurants and food companies as diverse as Jeni's Ice Cream and Kroger Chef Shoppes, and all proceeds from the night go towards Second Harvest's mission to provide food for those who need it (which, last year alone, was over 15 million meals). … [Read more...]

Dole Salad Summit in Monterey


On this cold, clear blue day, the ground beneath my feet is damp, muddy, covered with bruised leaves and discarded cores, and I have to concentrate on each step to make sure my shoes don’t slip. It’s morning, the time of day when this work is usually done, although it typically begins hours before the sun comes up, and Tim is just ahead of me, moving towards the low rumble of a wide, slowly rolling machine where workers are pulling green globes from the ground by hand, cutting out each individual core with a single swift stab, scraps falling to the field as fertilizer behind them, then washing the lettuce and placing it on a conveyor belt that takes them to boxes bound for processing. We’re in California, about an hour outside Monterey, standing, along with a dozen or so other bloggers, in the middle of one of Dole’s iceberg lettuce fields. A tall man in blue jeans, Mark Pisoni, tells us he’s a third-generation farmer providing produce for Dole. Another man, from … [Read more...]