One Extra-Large Post

Are you ready for some photo recap action of my Friday and Saturday nights?? Let me explain a bit before I get to the photos. To be honest, there are so many pictures, I’m just doing a gallery with captions at the end of this post, so feel free to skip ahead.


I started working for my day camp in the summer of 2000, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. My friend Amy had worked there and said she thought I’d like it, and it would be fun to work together. So I applied and got the job. It was a decent amount of money for any 19-year-old, and adorable kids. In the summer of 2003, my fourth summer, one of the directors was taken out to celebrate his working there for 10 years, and I had the privilege of going along. It was one of the most fun nights of my life… until Friday night. Friday, it was my 10-year anniversary party, and it was an absolute blast. We took one of our school busses (so no one had to drive) and we were treated to buckets of Mai Tais from Bob Chinns (a great seafood restaurant). Then, we ended up at Trader Vic’s, another tropical themed restaurant in downtown Chicago. There were large vats of alcohol, amazing food (and horrible lighting!) and the best company. The best part? I was taking photos of my food, and next thing I know, all the other people I was with (drunken guys mostly) were taking photos of food too! My friend Bobby did a great job taking pictures of the food I missed whie I was in the bathroom. We ended the night at a very, um, interesting bar with waiters in kilts and barely dressed girls… needless to say, I didn’t choose that one. Adam picked me up back at camp at about 1 a.m. and I passed out with exhaustion. I needed my rest because I had a big day on…


Ever since I found out that the BlogHer conference was in Chicago, and that some of my favorite bloggers were going to be there, I’d been planning this evening…at least in my head. I was also sort of figuring out how to sneak into the conference, but thats another story. I was seriously so anxious to meet these bloggers whose sites I’d been reading, in some cases, for years, but as soon as I got to the hotel, I was put at ease. I saw one familiar face immediately, Jenn, who was standing next to Kath, Carla, Sahar, and Mary. We were soon joined by Roni, and we headed to Kamehachi for sushi. I kept saying how cool it was that all these people “really existed” outside of their blogs! Kath filled me in on the FTC information she got, and you can read more about them on her recap, Jenn’s recap, and here. I was truly amazed with how wonderful all these women are. They talk like they write, they’re real, and are just as fantastic as all their blogs. I really wish they all lived closer, because seriously? I want to cook with Roni and work out with Carla!

Now, onto the photo-fest!

Thanks for checking out all the pictures… sorry some of them were SO bad, but the lighting was awful, and honestly? I was quite intoxicated. There are other “food blogger in action” photos out there somewhere… I’ll post them as soon as I get them! I’ll be back in a few hours with a fun dinner!

Also, thanks to Roni, I now know about this amazing WW Points tracking program she developed using Twitter! I started a new Twitter account, and if you want, you can follow what I eat! Just follow me @WhatMaraEats. Then, I input my info on Roni’s cool tool here. Check it out!

Posted in Asian, dinner out, friends, sushi | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cute Food Saturday!

Welcome back to the 21st installment of Cute Food Saturday! Apparently, Cute Food Saturday is now legal to drink. If you’ve missed the other installments, or would like to catch up on past cuteness, just click here to see ALL the entries!

I thought long and hard about what the “theme” for this week should be. I thought maybe vintage food ads like this might be fun:



But that’s just scary. Then I thought about just finding amazing gourmet desserts and foods to share with you all, like this:

The most expensive dessert in the world

The most expensive dessert in the world

But then it hit me, like a pie cake in the face! It’s my birthday week (my golden birthday at that, 29 on the 29th!) so why not find the most adorable birthday cakes?!?! I fully intend on celebrating this WHOLE week!

Giant cupcake? Yes please!

Giant cupcake? Yes please!

Bugs dont bug me!

Bugs don't bug me!

Pink? Zebra? AWESOME!

Pink? Zebra? AWESOME!

Popcorn is a healthy snack. Popcorn cake? Still healthy?

Popcorn is a healthy snack. Popcorn cake? Still healthy?

awww puppy!

awww puppy!

Another cupcake cake

Another cupcake cake

New definition of coffee cake

New definition of coffee cake

That’s all for now! You’ll have a monster post (or 2) to read tomorrow with my Camp Anniversary Party Recap, as well as a recap of what I’m calling “little old me meets celebrity bloggers.” I’m meeting Kath, Jenn, Roni, Carla, and Mary for dinner tonight, since they’re all here for the BlogHer conference! I started blogging long after tickets went on sale, or else I’d have my booty there too right now!! Today also has a pedicure in store, as well as a possible fruitless battle to straighten my crazy hair.
Did you all meet VeggieGirl‘s new puppy?!? She’s freakin’ adorable (and the puppy’s not bad either). Not cute food… but definitely cute!

Have a fantastic Saturday all!!!

Posted in Cute Food Saturday | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Holy Guacamole (Burger!)

You all know how much I love my burgers. I probably eat burgers in some way, shape or form far too often for any “normal” human being… but you also all know that I am far from normal! I love turkey burgers, buffalo burgers, beef burgers, and heck, even bean burgers. What did I want for dinner tonight? You guessed it (was it that obvious?) BURGERS!

I didn’t want just any burger though… I wanted to go to the international market and get some of the freshest ingredients I could find to recreate one of my favorite burgers out: the Guacamole Bacon Burger from Red Robin. The main reason I haven’t had one in a SUPER long time is because they have about 4,000 calories and a gazillion grams of fat. What I made tonight was by no means a “health food item” but it was significantly more healthy than the restaurant version! On this gorgeous bun from the market’s bakery was:

BETTER than Red Robin!

BETTER than Red Robin!

  • a 90% lean beef patty made with egg, seasoned salt, and Worcestershire sauce, cooked in a small amount of reserved bacon fat
  • 1 thin slice reduced fat Swiss cheese
  • 2 crisp slices center cut Boar’s Head bacon
  • 2 slices fresh tomato
  • Guacamole made with fresh avocado and about 1/4 c. salsa

It took a BIG mouth to eat this burger (which I have!) It was quite possibly, my favorite thing I’ve made this whole summer. It wasn’t nearly as huge as the restaurant version, and was still just as satisfying. All that was missing was the French fries!

I was a bit lazy though, since I had the fronts of 12 t-shirts to paint for our Follies show tomorrow. The shirts came out adorably, and I’m looking forward to the show AND to the show being over. It’s quite stressful for the campers and the counselors!

Tomorrow night is sure to bring an amazingly fun time: it’s my 10-year camp anniversary party! A handful of counselors and all the directors from my camp are going out for a night out…and I don’t know what we’re doing! Hopefully I’ll have photos of food to share, and definitely stories to tell.

I leave you today with the best camper quote yet. I think the mom of this camper reads the blog, so if you’re reading… your daughter cracks me up! “Hey Mara! Guess what? Yesterday, my sister blowed her nose on a chicken nugget!”

TGIAF, right??

Posted in beef, simple recipe | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Back By Popular Demand…

Wednesday in Numbers!

The first Wednesday in Numbers was so popular, I thought I’d bring it back!

Campers on the bus: 57

Campers that behaved themselves: 30

Campers in attendance today: 228

Photos taken in the climber/ball pit: 15

GOOD photos taken in the climber/ball pit: 4

Hissy fits thrown over a broken headband: 1

Game tokens played: 260

Tickets won: 1644

Prizes won per camper, on average: 3

USEFUL prizes won per camper, on average: -36

Tweets sent during the day to plan meetup lunch/dinner: ~15

Slices of pizza eaten for lunch: ~3 (officially 2 and some leftover crust)

Campers wearing mismatched socks: 1 (one polka dotted, one striped)

Times I heard “Hokey Pokey” being sung in prep. for our Friday performance: 7

Times our camp was commended on campers’ good behavior: 3, that I heard

Tiny t-shirts purchased: 10

Tubes of puffy paint purchased: 6

Tubes really needed: 10

Adult sized t-shirts purchased: 3

Total shirts painted: 11

McDonalds ice cream sundaes eaten: 1

Containers of leftover PF Changs food eaten: 2 (one rice, one ground chicken/eggplant)

Fun days had: ONE!

Time for bed!!! G’nite!

Posted in dinner out, friends | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


I came home to the most wonderful surprise today! Adam had cooked ME dinner! Rather than prepping and thinking of what to make, I sat down and relaxed with this:

Cheap wine... still yummy!

Cheap wine... still yummy!

And then this was presented to me:



A bowl of gnocchi with tomato basil sauce and ground beef and a side of mixed veggies. It was delicious, and so very appreciated. Adam, you’re the best and I love you!!

I wanted to introduce you all to someone today… Steve! We managed to find him (or a clone of him) today, as well as 4 friends that were named Sally, Froggy, Slimy, and BrownButt.

Just chillin'

Just chillin'

We had a blast today practicing the Hokey Pokey (along with a hip-hop remix), and then having an apple bobbing contest. Needless to say though, I’m quite tired…though in a much better mood than yesterday! I had a major “case of the Mondays” that happened to last all day.

Have a great Tuesday!

Posted in beef, Italian, simple recipe | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments