The Little Things Newsletter #365 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!


Welcome to the weekend, my friends! I’ve spent every morning this week hearing the birds sing, appreciating this spectacular weather, and thinking endlessly about how much I love living in Ohio. The fact that I wake up every day in my favorite place in the world is something I hope I’ll never take for granted. 

I’m headed out to walk with a friend this morning, followed by (a very easy) hike with Sean this afternoon and I’m pretty happy about both. My youngest son had his last day of school yesterday and we’re taking him to TN (just the three of us) to celebrate his 13th birthday this coming week.

We’ve taken each of the boys on a trip by themselves for their 13th birthdays – you can see those trips here and here. I can hardly wait! Shoot me any suggestions you might have for food or fun in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas.

ON THE BLOGS this week:  This zesty Italian dressing is so simple to make, it’s ready in just a few minutes! And I promise you it’s infinitely tastier than anything store-bought.

Once you’ve made the dressing, put this California spaghetti salad on your must-make list for summer. It’s filled with fresh vegetables, tangy Italian dressing, and delightful twirls of pasta, you’ll want to savor each bite.

Pot pie has never been easier to make – all the irresistible flavors of classic chicken pot pie are here in a perfect balance of savory chicken and wholesome veggies, wrapped in a buttery crescent roll crust.

Three different kinds of beans simmer in the crockpot with plenty of seasonings and hot sauce to make one of the easiest side dishes you can put on the table. These spicy baked beans come together with barely five minutes of effort.

Crispy cauliflower, toasted bread crumbs, and nutty, savory parmesan are wonderful together in this scrumptious side. This roasted garlic parmesan cauliflower is snackable right off the pan!

Tender and buttery, sauteed mushrooms and onions are a terrific side dish on their own. However, if you happen to enjoy them anywhere near as much as I do, you’ll want to pile them over your next pan of steak bites or serve them with these roasted chicken thighs.

If you’d told me a couple of years ago that one day in the future I’d be air frying vegetables for an afternoon snack, I likely would’ve laughed. Hard. Well, fast forward to today, and here I am happily eating air-fried green beans with bang bang sauce. And, they are terrific.

Soft, moist, and bursting with tart cherries, this cherry almond bread with a sweet almond glaze, is delicious and easy to make.

Strawberry Simple Syrup is easy to make with just 3 ingredients and it can be used in so many ways! Add a splash of strawberry syrup to a glass of mint lemonade or to a pitcher of mojitos and you just might find your new favorite drink to sip this summer. Pour it over my grandmother’s German pancakes for a breakfast that everyone will love.

Every scoop of this Twix ice cream is bursting with chunks of cookies, caramel, and chocolate. If you love Twix candy bars, this ice cream just might be your newest favorite flavor!

What I’m CRAVING: My friend Lori’s creamy, cheesy, shrimp and grits caught my eye this week and made my mouth water. I can’t wait to try them!

favorite things: these leggings, this movie, and this music

My FAVORITE THINGS this week are these cropped leggings. Whether I’m working out or lounging at home, they’re super comfortable, and even after a few years, they still look great. The cropped length is my favorite and I just ordered a couple more pairs for summer. 

For those who care, these are high-waist leggings that never budge and they even have great pockets. They fit like others that cost far far more than these. (I stumbled on this brand at TJ Maxx a while back and I keep an eye out for them now. Fortunately, the $72 leggings, often with that tag attached, are almost always available on Amazon for just $22.) 

What I’m WATCHING: Living. My oldest son convinced me to watch this one with him and while it starts out very slow, it’s an excellent movie and I was engrossed by the end. (The movie is an adaptation of Kurosawa’s movie, “Ikiru”. I’ll definitely be watching the original, subtitles and all, one of these days.) 

Bill Nighy plays a paper-shuffling bureaucrat in the 1950s who finds out that he has cancer and a limited time to live. This movie is about what he does with the rest of his life. While not remotely exciting, adventurous, or suspenseful, this movie had my older sons and me glued to it and left us talking about it later.

What I’m LISTENING to: Shovels & Rope. I remember discovering their music many years ago and playing them on repeat for a while. A reader reminded me of them last week (Thanks, Amy!) and I immediately added them to my Nathaniel Rateliff / Houndmouth / Shaky Graves station. Some of their music is a bit grittier than the others and I like the mix a lot. They’re a bit of traditional folk, rock and roll, and country rock combination.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4 ESV

Wishing you a beautiful week full of little things that make you smile!


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