Who We Are

Twenty years ago four of us gals got together for coffee. We only knew each other loosely through our kids’ school activities; none of us were close friends. We met because we had discovered a shared passion for cooking and entertaining. So we decided to start a foodie group; four couples, four times per year. That’s easy. Just once a year at each house. The group became The Great 8, our cre-8-ive Debbie came up with the name; even our husbands are best friends today! Occasionally you will see a post from the men so you can peek into their lives.

On this site you will see blogs about our dinner parties, birthday get togethers and field trips; also, special events, (Deb and Kyle do scrapping weekends); even some of the parties we individually host or attend, like a fun wine tasting party and Super Bowl parties, family birthday dinners, cultural holidays specific to our heritages, etc. Even restaurant reviews! We also talk a lot about planning ahead of time to make all of this entertaining as stress free as possible.

Join our circle of friends!

ANNA -The Motivator and Editor

My love of the kitchen began with my grandmother. At Christmas, when we would visit, I would help her bake and decorate dozens of cookies. And, like her, I have always loved to entertain. I have a few of her serving pieces and love using them!

My 3 kids grew up in a house full of food, family and friends. If there is a holiday, I am generally cooking whatever food goes along with it. And since my husband, Vince, is Italian; one of my favorite meals has become pasta with red sauce and meatballs, accompanied by a giant green salad. I was always a recipe follower but having this blog I’m learning to cre-8 on my own! Can’t wait to get to know you!

Contact me: [email protected]

KYLE – The Organized One

Who we areI am a mom of three and busy wife who enjoys gardening, scrapbooking, reading (especially cookbooks), and cooking for my family and friends. My interest in playing in the kitchen began at about age 10 when a nanny let me help with any meal she was cooking. Being from Missouri she indulged us with comfort food, which is still today my favorite meal to make. My husband, Joel, especially loves soup, and I love to make it for him! I continue to be a self-taught home cook by experimenting with new recipes and learning from my Gr8 friends and Gr8 cooks Anna, Debbie and Jurga! Contact me: [email protected]

DEBBIE – The Creative One

Who we areMy love for food and the kitchen started with my mom and her old blue cookbook. That tattered and loved keepsake has been around since the 50’s and has been rebound already! Growing up in an African American kitchen, I can remember the ham hocks and collard greens cooking all day on Sundays, with dad in the backyard keeping an eye on the slow cooking bbq ribs! I continue this love in my own kitchen today. Cooking for my husband, Phil, and 3 sweet daughters is what I love most, especially the cuisines from Spain, Italy and Latin America, and of course flavors from my childhood. “Mom, what are you making?” is one of my favorite questions once the aromas start wafting upstairs.

JURGA – The Master of Pre-Planning and Preparing

Who we areI grew up in a Lithuanian neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago where my love of cooking started at my mother’s side. Working in a Lithuanian restaurant and assisting at a cooking school helped define my passion for food. My parents loved to entertain and I was always involved in the planning and preparation. When I moved  to my first apartment my parents gave me a frying pan and a French cookbook. On a special occasion when the family is home I love to prepare the Beef Bourguignon for our two sons, Andrius and Daniel; this has now become a family tradition. My husband, Tim, and I are enjoying retirement with our two furry companions Rocky and Lucy.


  1. Kyle | 12th Jan 20

    Thank you Jody and Welcome! Love when our Gr8 Friends find us and super happy to connect with you, our long time friend! Enjoy and always feel free to give us feedback!

  2. Jodi Sweet | 12th Jan 20

    This site is fantastic! Just discovered it but will definitely start using it as cooking and baking inspiration. Reading your stories made me smile. What a beautiful friendship you ladies have!

  3. Anna | 31st Jul 16

    We do like each other very much! Thanks for the nice comments. We’d love to hear from you again after you try some of the recipes!

  4. Christine McGann | 31st Jul 16

    Four lovely girls who clearly like each other very much and have great food ideas to share! I look forward to trying some of your fabulous recipes!

  5. Anna | 21st Nov 15

    Thank you, we are having a lot of fun!

  6. Vilius Zukauskas | 19th Nov 15

    This is totally awesome.

  7. Anna | 3rd Oct 15

    We are having a Gr8 Time, Megan! Thanks for visiting!

  8. Anna | 3rd Oct 15

    Thanks for visiting, Jeri! Please share pictures and let us know your feedback if you make any of the recipes! Have a Gr8 Day!

  9. Jeri dye lynch | 3rd Oct 15

    Looks like an amazing blog can’t wait to try some of the recipes looking forward to following you gals! Great job and yum! Cheers! Jeri

  10. Megan | 28th Sep 15

    This is great!! How fun for you all. 🙂

  11. Jurga | 25th Aug 15

    Lisa you need to move back! We would have fun cooking up some of your great Italian recipes!

  12. Anna | 16th Aug 15

    You ARE part of the group by being a Gr8 Friend! Thanks for commenting! Please let us know if there are any recipes or hints you would particularly like to see.

  13. Lisa Norby | 16th Aug 15

    Love your recipes. Sure would be fun to be a part of your group. Too bad I live in Chicago.

  14. Anna | 15th Jul 15

    Hi Jaci, Thanks for checking it out, we are having fun, fun, fun!

  15. Jaci Talpash | 15th Jul 15

    Anna, this is such a cute and creative site!!! I love it 🙂 Too much fun!

  16. Anna | 18th Jun 15

    So Happy to hear that you are enjoying the blog. Thanks for being a Gr8 Friend!

  17. Diana Wilkinson | 17th Jun 15

    Congratulations Ladies! I am enjoying reading your blog. I love the kitchen and trying out new recipes. it’s very theraputic for me. Can’t wait to try some of your new recipes.

  18. Anna | 11th Jun 15

    Thanks, Claudia! We are having a lot fun doing the blog. Let us know if there is anything you would particularly like to see. Thanks for being a Gr8 Friend!

  19. Claudia Kerns | 10th Jun 15

    Love this blog! Keep the ideas and recipes coming!

  20. Anna | 14th May 15

    Hi Patti, So happy you are going to try Jurga’s recipe. I could go for a piece of that cake right now myself! Thanks for following our blog, we appreciate Gr8 Friends like you! Anna

  21. patti | 14th May 15

    Hi Ladies!
    Tim posted a beautiful carrot cake and I showed it to my husband Jim. His comment, “I could sure go for a piece of carrot cake”. I guess I will start baking! I wouldn’t want Jim to feel deprived;)
    Thanks for the recipe,
    Patti (Tim and Jurga’s friend)

  22. [email protected] | 1st Apr 15

    Thanks, Marti, people want to come to your house because of you, not because of your food!

  23. [email protected] | 1st Apr 15

    Thank you, Denise! We are very excited, too!

  24. Denise Giltzow | 31st Mar 15

    What an inspiration you all are! I look forward to following your creative dinner invitations, recipes, presentations, and photos!
    Good job and all the best to each of you!

  25. Marti Longo | 31st Mar 15

    congratulations ladies. I look forward to reading recipes that will actually make people WANT to eat at my house! Love you all.

  26. [email protected] | 31st Mar 15

    Thank you for the vote of confidence! We are having a lot fun and we hope all our readers do too.

  27. Brenda Perlin | 31st Mar 15

    This is such a great idea. Your blog looks beautiful. Looking forward to your creative ideas and yummy food suggestions.

    It’s so nice that you have all been buds for so long. That is a magical recipe for success.

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