Thursday, December 30, 2010
Last night, we were scheduled to leave Denver at 7:45 pm and to arrive in Grand Rapids at 12:15 am. Now, this was not the most ideal of circumstances as it stood. When we boarded on time, knowing that we were leaving a Winter Storm Watch and landing into a Freezing Rain Advisory, we felt pretty fortuate for our perceived change in travel luck. We pushed back on time, drove in a few circles and ended up in what we thought was Wyoming, waiting for our "Performance Report" before we could actually depart...45 minutes late.
So, arriving in Grand Rapids at 1:00 am, we waited, and waited, and waited for our luggage...until 1:30. Oh, and did I mention the freezing rain advisory started at 1:00 am? Sigh.
It was about 3:15 when we finall got to the house (thankfully it was mostly just rain at that time) and were in bed safe and sound by 3:45 am.
After a rotten night sleep, we are all up and really excited to be here. Watching last night's Red Wings/Dallas Stars game, planning our first trip to Jay's, and having coffee at 11:00 in the morning.
It's great to be home!
Monday, December 27, 2010
With these couple of days I plan to de-Christmas and de-guest the house so that when we get home from second Christmas we can start the year fresh!
I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Yesterday was the best Colorado ski day I think I have ever had. Or maybe I just enjoyed it the most. Regardless, our winter storm was a no-show, but did leave 7 inches of new powder in Breckenridge. With perfectly sunny skies and 25 degrees with calm winds, you really can't ask for more. Here are some photos from our journey to 11,000 feet!
Chris passed a semi just as I was about to snap a picture of the
Eisenhower Tunnel, elevation 11,158 feet sign.
The entrance to the tunnel.
The base of Peak 8. Elevation 9,950 feet above sea level.
Peak 7. My favorite place. Elevation, 11,095 feet!
And after a long day of near-perfection, this is me on the Gondola headed back to the car. I know the goggles are HUGE in this picture, but they are sitting on top of my helmet...and after all, the Gondola was moving. Chris is only so good with an iPhone camera in moving objects!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Send one of these to your kiddos. Santa talks to them. So cool I can hardly stand it!
A video from Santa
That being said, I had a couple of vacation days that I needed to use or lose before the end of the year. A month ago we planned to make our first trek to Summit County and hit the slopes of Breckenridge. And as of yesterday they are 83% open with an incredible 51 inch base (which is great for mid-December!). And with the weather we've been having it should be a great day. Maybe even sweatshirt skiing! Yeah. Not so much.
Sometime between lunch and 4:00 pm yesterday, our forecast for Thursday went from sunny and seasonal (mid to upper 40's) to this: From Record Heat to Snow Advisory Yes, that's right. We are under a winter weather advisory for 3-7 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow morning. Which doesn't sound like much until you factor in the idea that the drive from here to Breckenridge traverses nearly 6,000 vertical feet in elevation, and that's just to the Eisenhower Tunnel.
We have decided to go for it, but reserving the right to change our minds at the last minute after a little research on road conditions along I-70 first thing in the morning. And as a precaution, we will be taking the dogs to Camp Bow Wow for doggy day care with the option to stay overnight, just in case!
I think I could be OK getting stuck here! We'll pack the essentials, just in case (keeping fingers crossed! I'll let you guess in which direction!)
Merry Ski Wooley!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
That's part of why I love Christmas so much. It's the season of lists. Only this year, I don't have one. Because I know my mom reads this, I can't give away too much detail, but I have four stockings to fill. Two have budgets, two do not. Two will be more thoughtful while two will be full of useless stuff and candy. There are also some small gifts to buy. And I have no list. No list to tell me who I am buying for or what the scope of the purchases should be. No list to tell me what I have already purchased and who is getting it. And worst of all, I remember buying some things but can't remember where I stashed them...guess I should have made a list for that too!
Thankfully my workload has slowed tremendously this week. I plan to make a list of all the above mentioned items, locations, people and ideas in a notebook so that all my lists will be in one place. And maybe while I am at it, I can make a list of other lists I should make, like party menus, groceries to buy, meals to serve, and things that still need to be done. My in-laws will be here in exactly 8 days. I should probably get started!
p.s. Welcome aboard Allison! I can't wait for your blog to start! If you are brainstorming ideas to help you get started, check out The Time Before Dawn , A Happy Little Family and Our Kirker Family Tree. Those are all Mox's kids! And all very different blogs, but so much fun to read! Love you!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Here are the things we are excited about today:
1. United upgraded us to first class for our flight to Dallas. It's one hour and thirty minutes of a bigger seat. I would rather save the upgrade for a longer flight, but Chris is so excited to sit in the front of the plane that at 7:30 this morning he did a happy dance...which is funny for two reasons. If you know Chris, you know that happy dances aren't really his thing, and even less his thing: mornings! It was priceless!
2. The Christmas party itself. I am so excited to be back with Marquis. They are the company that helped me find who I really am and break out of my shell. To be in the company of the entire Marquis family, even if only for one night, is exciting. And will be fun.
3. The party is at Jay's house. Jay is one of the 3 brothers that owns the company. He lives in a really cool part of Dallas. We have been notified that we may be subject to secret service screening in that we will be in rental cars. There is also rumor of a golf ball pitching contest. See, George W. Bush lives a few doors down...hence the security. As for the golf balls, well, some of the boys want to hit balls into his back yard. I think I'll stay away from that! Far far away!
4. Saturday night we are headed to the Christmas performance by the Dallas Symphony. I love the symphony and am really excited to hear the Christmas music they perform. Followed by some really yummy Tex-Mex. REALLY excited about that part!
5. Coming home. Such a crazy time of year. I am so grateful that we have an early flight home on Sunday. We should be able to pick the dogs up in the morning and have a somewhat normal Sunday afternoon of cleaning and grocery shopping.
Next weekend we have the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with some friends. That should be a hoot...and I promise lots of pictures for that one!
Monday, December 6, 2010
After dinner, the plan was to see the Denver Christmas Parade of Lights. We've been every year since we originally moved here, so this would have been #5. However, it was 70 degrees and sunny here on Friday. That means that EVERY person in the metro area decided to go to the parade this year. The local news reported "more than 100,000 people." The crowd was from the curb to the edge of the buildings of solid people. I lasted about 10 minutes in the haze of cigarette smoke, booze-filled flasks, and other forms of tacky inappropriateness until I decided that Santa wouldn't approve of these people either so it's OK to leave. And we did. And I was not that sad about it. It made for a very productive Saturday.
Let's start with the errands: Chris really wants a train for around the Christmas tree and perhaps as a hobby to entertain him throughout the year. We made the trek to a place called Caboose Hobbies. It was a HUGE store of nothing but mini train stuff. I think I felt as Chris does when I take him into Williams-Sonoma. Fish out of water! But it was fun nonetheless!
Then the cooking: Here's a note for you...when your husband is a master with a grill but is...ummm...well...not so good with other cooking methods, don't try potato latkes and herb Bearnaise sauce at the same time. I literally needed a clone. Although, it all worked out and was REALLY good. Even the sauce. I have never had a Bearnaise before so I have nothing to compare it to. It was a little runnier than I was expecting, but the flavor was fantastic!
Then there was the requested 2-crust cherry pie. I have never made a 2-crust pie before. And my last couple attempts at cherry pie ended with spoons and calling it cobbler (sort of runny!). So, I made the crusts, made the filling, vented the top crust and stuck it in the oven. I am still working on making prettier edges, and my oven is not level so everything spills or moves to the front left, but look! It was perfect. And tasted amazing! My pies will never win a beauty contest, but I have to say (sorry about bragging here!) that it was honestly the best cherry pie I have ever had in my life! HOORAY!! Finally!
Sunday resulted in a day at the computer finishing a huge project for work, a little grocery shopping and cleaning followed by a couple Christmas movies (so long as you count Die Hard 2 as a Christmas movie!).
Another busy week this week, and Thursday we head to Dallas for my company Christmas Party. I am excited about it, but a little stressed about the outfit. I bought a dress and will be returning it today. I hope I can find something a little more practical tonight!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Here's the agenda for our weekend:
5:30 pm: Leave for downtown Denver. Parking then a flight of wine at Cru Wine Bar
6:30 pm: Dinner reservations at The Oceanaire where he can eat his fill of water dwellers and I will have either chicken or pork (steak is tomorrow night!).
8:30 pm: Head back to the car, put on the warm jackets, hats and gloves. Stay for the Denver Christmas Parade of Lights. And Santa is at the end! This is my favorite part! I almost cry every year when I see Santa in the parade. I love him. Maybe it's because I was an adult the first time I saw Santa in a parade!
Saturday: no specific timeline
breakfast in a ramekin with an English muffin, spinach, bacon and an egg.
finish the Christmas lights outside. We need an outdoor bow and 2 floodlights (one for Santa and one for the reindeer)
Whole Foods for dinner fixings. Here's the request:
- Iceberg Wedge Salad with bleu cheese/ranch dressing, cherry tomatoes and bacon crumbles
- Petite Fillet Mignon with an herb Bearnaise sauce and sauteed mushrooms
- Potato and Thyme latkes with thyme and chive sour cream
- Homemade cherry pie
Sunday, Chris has requested a lazy day of watching Christmas movies in comfy clothes. I haven't told him yet, but he's on his own on that one! I have some shopping and cleaning to do! Although, I am sure I can find time for a movie or two! There are 24 hours in a day, after all.
Sounds fun and festive to me!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
This week I have been getting bombarded with "Favorite Things" emails. Oprah, Ellen, Barnes & Noble, Ann Taylor, Groupon. Everyone is sharing their list of favorite things that we should all rush out and buy. Well, that inspired me to make a Favorite Things list of my own, although most of them you can't buy. With that, a list. These are a few of my favorite things (in my best Julie Andrews impersonation!)
- Christmas lights on other houses. I know I have said it before, but I LOVE our city. I would say that 6 out of 10 homes have Christmas lights on and they are beautiful. It's way more fun to have it dark at 5 pm with all those twinkling lights! Thanks, Highlands Ranch community!
- XM radio. With 2 Christmas stations to choose from, I can get my favorites by my favorites including The Ray Conniff singers, and Chris can hear Alvin and the Chipmunks and Mariah Carey. Everyone is happy.
- Santa Claus. That's right. I said I am thankful for Santa. He represents the good in all of us and reminds us of the innocence and imagination of our childhood. The sheer joy he brings to kids and the giggles and squeals of happiness and excitement that follow him everywhere. How could you not love the way Santa makes you feel?
- 24-Hour Fitness and Facebook. Yep, my gym and Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with both. And I don't love them for what they do for me, I love them for what they are doing for others. Facebook started offering "check-ins" whereby you use your smart phone to check-in with the nearest retailer based on your GPS location. 24-Hour Fitness donates $1 to Kaboom (a non-profit to help build kids playgrounds) for every check-in. That's my incentive. They have donated $6 on my behalf this week. That's awesome!
- Creativity. But not in an artistic way...I lack that altogether, but I am creative with problem solving, cooking and duct tape. I think I get that from my Grandma Melanie. I don't think of it as a gift until others point out that they would never have thought of that. I am helping a friend create a cookbook so she can survive her allergy diagnosis. I tied my Santa and Reindeer to trees using an old phone cord. Chris didn't get that. He wanted to use curling ribbon. Guess he's never seen a bird build a nest before.
- Water. I know. It's basic. But without it I suffer from dry skin and chapped lips. Water is cheaper than any lotion, potion or balm to fix the winter flakes.
- Walgreen's Pharmacy. Weird, I know. But with the help of "my" pharmacist, I finally found an inexpensive daily vitamin that doesn't give me a MASSIVE headache. Something about the fillers and transporters. I don't get it, but whatever. It works! Thanks Dan and Nature Made!
- Our fireplace. Few things can evoke such simultaneous feelings of calm, love, peace and home as a fire in a fireplace. Even on the worst of days, a fire (of the non-destructive variety) can make me feel whole again.
- Bobbi Brown Lip Balm with SPF. I know, I know...I already said water. But this stuff is like lip magic in metal tin. An incredible lip moisturizer with SPF and a hint of gloss without being too shiny. Can't. Live. Without. It. It isn't as cheap as Blistex but it lasts a long time and makes a great gift! Right, Mom?!
- You. I am thankful for you! All 8 of you who read my blog (could be more, but only 8 of you "follow" it.). You keep me positive and always have GREAT feedback. Thank you. There's nothing better than blogging knowing that somebody is reading and actually seeks you out and looks forward to what you have to say.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I have pasted her list of "do NOT eat" foods below and am looking for some recipes that I can share with her as well as 2 to bring to the party; one sweet, one savory. Any suggestions are welcome as are any resources. Keeping in mind that Krista is a self-proclaimed bad cook. She's mastering the art of the crock pot and her husband, Justin, is pretty good with the grill.
Can't wait to see what my friends come up with here, and THANK YOU in advance for your suggestions :-)
Foods to avoid on a yeast free diet
Breads, rolls, cookies, pastries, pretzels and other bready foods
Vinegar, and foods which contain it, like mayonnaise, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, mustard, pickles and pickled foods.
Wine, beer and spirits
Fermented foods and beverages like sauerkraut or cider
Dried, smoked or pickled meats
Mushrooms, peanuts, and pistachios
Soy sauce, miso, tamari, and tempeh
Pre-packaged herbs and teas
Processed sugar (granulated, confectioner’s, brown)
Grapes, raisins, dates, prunes and figs; citrus fruits
Fruit juices and dried fruits
Soft drinks and drink mixes
Honey and maple syrup
High-fructose corn syrup
Monday, November 29, 2010
A few weeks ago, you'll remember that I was in a HUGE rush and had to do last minute laundry to get to JA in time. My mom used to get after me all the time because my dirty laundry was always inside-out. As an adult, I have tried hard to take my clothes off without turning them inside-out, but it still happens, only now I tend to turn it the right way before tossing in the washer. That was, until a couple weeks ago.
See, when I threw that laundry in, I didn't have time to figure out what may be inside-out. I just washed and dried in a hurry. I did notice that my jeans were inside out (and dry!) but there was no cuff at the bottom. So for the past few weeks I have turned ALL my jeans inside out before washing and drying and guess what....NO MORE STUPID CUFFS AT THE BOTTOM! It actually cured the problem.
I waited to blog it because I wanted to make sure it consistently worked. And maybe none of you have this issue, and if you do, maybe it doesn't bug you like it bugs me...or maybe you really like to iron!
From now on, I wash jeans inside out.
Monday, November 22, 2010
My reinvention inspiration, you ask?! Here it is... on Saturday night, my friend Lisa and I had a girls night out. We went to dinner and the Little Big Town (country music) concert. We had dinner at Tag Restaurant in Denver and consumed what I would classify as one of the 10 best meals I have ever had in a restaurant. A-MA-ZING. And the French Onion "Soup" Dumplings were a completely new twist on one of the classics. The way it melted in my mouth and tasted like French Onion Soup sans the spoon I am drooling just thinking about it. That got me thinking, if this chef can do this to French Onion Soup, maybe I can do something to Thanksgiving.
It may be a little ambitious on my party, but hey, Friday is a paid holiday for me so I figure I should do something productive with my time, knowledge and love and appreciation of the culinary arts. Keeping in mind that my father-in-law can't have dairy AT ALL...Here's my subject-to-change plan for lunch on Friday:
Turkey Tortilla Soup (broth made from the carcass)
Mashed Potato Latke with thyme, sage and Hungarian Smoked Paprika
Sweet Potato Bread (like Banana bread, but not and only if I can figure out how to get the marshmallows off the top) with Cranberry glaze
And Farm Grandma Salad. Somethings shouldn't be messed with!
I am so excited to get in the kitchen that I can hardly stand it! Happy Thanksgiving! There will be before/after/after after pictures this weekend! Stay tuned!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
But you know you are getting close to the holidays when the UPS truck has 2 guys in it! One driving like a bat after a bug and the other with one foot perpetually out the door, ready to leave the long anticipated package on the front porch.
Having a window like this makes it perfect for spying on our weird-o neighbor, the UPS guy and the dogs across the street that guard the back yard with an enthusiasm level opposite that of the UPS guys! They just look around, dig an occasional hole, but never bark. My favorite kind of neighbor dogs!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Because my work day started an hour and a half early today, and I am completely out of clean jeans (haven't even had time for laundry this week) I decided to give myself permission to work from sweat pants and my favorite sweatshirt this morning. Before lunch I opted to start a load of laundry when the whole JA thing dawned on me. So, I started the laundry, jumped in the shower, did some sort of ethnic dance to encourage the laundry to wash and dry faster (see note on clean jeans) with some really annoying whining interlaced throughout the said dance and nuked a frozen meal (I keep a couple on hand for emergencies like this one) and shoveled it in my mouth while I studied my JA guide.
All that rushing around and here I am with an hour to spare. Rather than getting back into the work requirements (too easy to lose track of time), I decided to take a breath and blog. My lunch was gross but fully consumed and my jeans are in the dryer. It will all be OK today.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I have going on that I forget that other people exist, or even care about my feeling of being overwhelmed. It's moments like these that I remember that from time to time everyone feels like this.
Last year at this time I was terrified that I would NEVER find a job and was considering deepening our debt by a cool $25,000 to go back to school and do something completely different. A year ago this week I met my now current boss for lunch and told him I was interested in coming back to work for the company while secretly laughing to myself knowing the odds of it panning out in the next 12 months were pretty slim. Boy was I wrong.
In twelve months I went from unemployed and ready to begin exploring a completely different path to completely overwhelmed with work that I really like for a company that I love. It's been a roller coaster of a ride!
But it's in moments like these when I give myself permission to come up for air and reflect on where I am today and how I got here that things fall into perspective. No regrets. No worries. Just a little heartburn from a really crappy frozen lunch. I really need to hit the grocery store tonight!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
- Fuzzy sheets went on the bed Tuesday night and I couldn't be happier about it!
- Leaving my house at 5:15 for the gym is not the right time. Their parking lot holds about a quarter of the the capacity of the gym...tough to find a spot. I parked on the road. Others circling the lot left. More exercise for me that way. I had to walk a block just to get there!
- Our first house party ever is on for Saturday. There will be a total of 8 of us, plus one toddler and an infant.
- I am reinventing the Drunk Cake this week. If you've had the infamous McFarlane Drunk Cake, you know it's pretty perfect. But I am going to make a white version in addition to dressing up the chocolate version. It may be a flop, but I am thinking that it will either be like a spice cake or a coconut cake. I love the coconut idea. Are there some who hate coconut? As for reinventing the chocolate version...think mint!
- We like to sleep with our bedroom COLD. I mean really cold; the colder the better. But my office is in here. I think you could hang meat in here and my hands are so cold they feel like they are about to break off. Good thing I have a fireplace! Or maybe I like to sleep really cold so that I can run the fire while I work. The jury's out on that one.
- Our beagle, Abby, hates the cold. And hates the snow even more. Needless to say, we have to keep the deck shoveled so she'll "go" in the yard.
- My coworker has buried me in achievable deadlines this week. For the first time in many days, my head is above water. But please don't tell anyone. I like it this way and would hate to have more work on my plate right now. An even distribution is a good thing!
- We officially settled on the pasta bar idea for Saturday. Three sauce choices, three noodle choices and 10 topping choices-everything from capers and sun-dried tomatoes to meatballs and Italian sausage.
- Our guests are so excited about it that they are each bringing a dish that coordinates with the theme. Who knew this would catch on so well! Pretty cool, eh?
- I had my hair colored Tuesday night. About 6 months ago my now ex-stylist (against my request) put highlights in my hair and I hated them. Finally, the toner has come out and I looked like bad-roots-dishwater-blonde. It was awful. So, I covered it up. And it's D-A-R-K. Holy buckets is it dark. Like Lauren Graham dark. But I LOVE it! Even the 4th grade kiddos at Junior Achievement yesterday told me that I looked different...I asked how and one kid said, "different like prettier." I can live with that.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Anyway, there's a storm brewing outside and I am so excited I can hardly stand it. The wind this week finally knocked all the leaves off the trees and the sky is so ominous that if it were June, I'd be running for a tornado shelter.
But it's not June. It's November. And you know what that means!! YES, that's right...SNOW! Bring it on. I am very ready for the season, bad weather, hot chocolate, and best of all, skiing (sorry, Lisa K.).
The prediction is for mostly rain, and changing to snow, but areas along the Palmer Divide could see 3-7" of the white stuff. And we sit in the very edge of the Palmer. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. Regardless, it's way more fun to have a window in my office when the sky looks like this! If you want to see live pictures of our sky today you can link to our NBC affiliate 9News or our ABC affiliate 7News-The Denver Channel We are south west of the city and are closest to C-470 and I-25 (Highlands Ranch/Littleton)
Monday, November 8, 2010
As of right now, we may have three couples and four children that come over to play! At first I was thinking burgers and dogs, but am now thinking "no way" on that idea. I don't really like hot dogs and burgers are a challenge in our house right now. Chris and I are at war over the size of the burger, the cooking method (Weber grill or gas grill), the temperature at which to cook them, and finally the temperature at which consumption is safe. I think it's just best to not have burgers in front of guests so as to avoid the...errr...loud discussion that usually ensues.
So, what should I make?
- Ribs are good, but also very subjective (one person's yummy could be another person's yucky).
- The skirt steak with salsa verde from Thursday was pretty awesome, but if you have a garlic aversion, you will go hungry
- What if we did a "make your own chicken?" I could chop up a bunch of garlic and herbs, have the liquids ready (EVOO, salad dressings, tabasco, etc) and let everyone marinate their own chicken breast in whatever cooties they want. We can put toothpicks in them w/ little flags so we can tell them apart and if they are all the same size, regardless of the marinade, they will take the same amount of time to cook.
- Even though I lived in Texas, twice, Tex-Mex isn't really my thing. I love to eat it, but can't create it to my specifications.
- What about a "build your own" with an Italian theme? Different noodles, sauces, toppings, sausages, etc. That could be fun...and could include mac & cheese for any kiddos who come.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Last week there was a story on our local news about a puppy that was shot through the fence with a pellet gun. Likely because of barking. The dog had some surgery and is fine now, but the owner is REALLY mad and I don't blame him one bit.
With both of those stories, I have always thought, "jeeze, it's just a dog. It can't help it that its parents neglect it."
That was until last night. I don't know where on the culdasac the dog lived, but it was close. Probably within 2 houses close. Even closing the window didn't help with the constant bark. The dog started barking at 10:00pm and at 2:00am we were so (insert really bad word followed by another really bad word) that we got up, put shoes and socks on and decided to figure out where it was coming from so that we could call somebody to make the dog stop barking. As soon as Chris stepped one foot out the door...silence. No barking, no crickets, no cars, no breeze. NOTHING. Ahhhh...relief!
By the time we were back in bed, it was 2:30 am. Needless to say with a 6:30 alarm this morning, we are both a little cranky with puffy eyes today. And I have heard the dog barking on and off today while I work. I would never harm somebody's helpless pet. But I think I understand the motivation behind the tape recorder and the pellet gun.
Tonight I will be armed with my own weapon... a telephone with Animal Control on speed dial. I don't do well with 4 hours of sleep. Chris is dealing a little better than I am, but he's listening to Christmas music so that he's not grumpy when our friends come over for dinner tonight. It's way too early for that and hearing TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra--a Rowland family favorite that I happen to loathe) this morning almost pushed me over the edge of insanity.
The good news: The day is half over and our good friends that took a year-long sabbatical to do mission work all over the world are back home and coming over for dinner tonight. The last time we saw them was when they we lived next door to them in our old house! Good friends, good wine, experimental dinner (grilled marinated skirt steak with salsa verde and grilled endive) and cherry pie for desert. Nothing to complain about!!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Everything has changed for Gram. I have to say, when you think about all that her generation has been through, the trouble and triumphs, struggles and celebrations, Gram is remarkably well adjusted. I think I understand why some old people are perceived as being crotchety. I would be too if the world I was the most comfortable living in changed before my eyes and many of the things I loved most in life were gone. As for the lack of verbal filtration that many of Gram's generation suffer, well, in my best, albeit uneducated, opinion, the affliction is one of choice. They've earned the right to say what they want to say.
Here are a few great things about being 97:
1. Junk food whenever you want it. Eat it for breakfast if you feel like it. It obviously will not impair your longevity.
2. The two things you can always talk about are the weather and baseball. Neither change from year to year, decade to decade, and generation to generation.
3. Being called a cougar because your male companion is 12-ish years your junior. And he's 85. That's just AWESOME!
4. Watching your family grow from 4 boys and a husband to 14 grandkids, 20 someodd great-grandchildren and a handful of great-great-grandchildren too.
5. Did I mention chocolates for breakfast?
6. Using a walker with a basket for carrying the extra things that won't fit in your hands. And you can turn the walker around and have a seat whenever you want. I am 34 and there have been some days where that would have come in REALLY handy!
7. Being able to say what you want, when you want, to whom you want. At 97, you've earned the right. And can use age as an excuse even tough this spring chicken is pretty sure it's not age but rather a right of passage.
8. Hindsight. At 97 you still have it, and you will probably still have a few regrets. But with all those years under your belt, you've more than likely had the opportunity to drop a mulligan (that's golf-speak for a do-over) and try out the alternative. Maybe it isn't 20/20.
9. A quiet mind. With people around to take care of you and a family who loves you, I would think the worries of life would be somewhat over. Sure there will still be some stresses, but not like those of us mid-years folks. You can sit in silence and conjure up a thought of the olden days, or when you remember when, or even perhaps just reflect on your life well-spent.
10. Not only do you get chocolates for breakfast if you want, but you can tell the dentist to stick it if you so choose! At 97, if you lose a couple teeth to cavities, WHO CARES? That's what chocolate malts are for.
So, with that, I wish Gram a very happy 97 th birthday. Maybe getting old isn't so bad after all.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Adding the cereal certainly helps the texture, but does nothing for the sweetness (or lack of, depending on the choice of the day). Yesterday I stumbled across what I thought was a pretty good compromise. Pomegranates. Not the juice, but the actual seeds from the fruit!
King Soopers (the Kroger corporation calls it that out here) had whole pomegranates on sale for $1 each. I thought I'd give it a whirl! While messy to get the seeds out, there were a little more tart than I really wanted to eat naked so I tossed them in the vanilla yogurt with the granola. It was absolute perfection! And the best news: that pomegranate will last me all week (unless the fruit goes bad first). But so far, so good! Not to mention, it's a superfood!
I put the Wikipedia link there in case you are curious about the pomegranate's superfood capabilities, and holy catfish is that a lot of information! But good to know I guess. I dare you to give the pomegranate a whirl. My only tidbit of advice: when you cut it in half, do so across the fruit, not from top to bottom...that will make it MUCH easier to extract the seeds!
Friday, October 29, 2010
On Wednesday night while I was still in Dallas, I was able to meet one of my best girlfriends and her 11 month old daughter for dinner. And I use the term "dinner" very loosely! Tanya (my friend) knew that Milla (her daughter) would only be OK for about an hour because her bedtime is 7:30 and she HATES riding in the car. So we rushed through one taco and a glass of water, some quick conversation and they were off to get Milla to bed.
In the meantime, I had to pee and had been holding it for an hour or so, which is entire TOO LONG. Once Tanya left I was lugging my suitcase, purse and laptop bag through the streets of "The Shops at Legacy" waiting for my in-laws to pick me up. I was not about to haul all that into the ladies room of a restaurant or store. So I continued to hold it.
Finally, my in-laws showed up and we headed to their house for the night--only a 15ish minute drive. But not before stopping at Chick-Fill-A for a little dinner for them. OMG. I thought I was going to burst. We got home and Carolyn (my mother-in-law) declared it comfy clothes time before we tuned in to the Rangers baseball game. I ran to my bedroom, grabbed my jammies and then ran to the bathroom relieved that I would be relieved in a few moments.
So, in an effort to conserve time, I stripped off my jeans and was putting my pajama bottoms on while sitting down, and this all seemed to happen simultaneously. And then I felt the warming. I realized that I still had my underwear on. Yep, that's right. I still had my underwear on. But instead of dealing with the problem right then I decided to continue down the stream...pun intended. And in my defense, I realized yesterday that my habit is to grab the side of my underwear along with the side of my pants so it all happens in one swoop.
So, when finished, I realized that I now had an entirely different problem to contend with. What to do with the underwear. Well, it just so happens that my face cleansing cloths had been drying out so I was keeping them in a sandwich-sized baggie. There were only a couple cloths left anyway so I took them out, managed to get my wet underwear to the sink, rinse them out and stick them in the baggie.
As soon as I got home, I started to get the load of laundry ready. Chris and I were talking while I was digging through my suitcase putting everything into the laundry basket when he saw the baggie and asked. I blushed and proceeded to tell the story. He was laughing so hard he was crying. He managed to say, "Oh, you SOOOO have to blog that one!!" So I am. He also said the funniest part of the story is that I cut it off mid-stream and made the decision to continue my business rather than dealing with it. I could only respond with "well, now you know how bad I really had to go."
So, there you go. A perfect 30 + years ruined by one misunderstanding with my underwear. I hope all of you are laughing and not gagging! Happy Friday!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It was a productive week. Some training, lots of conversation, the inevitable year-end conversations about how things will be next year. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except me. I felt like I was out of the ordinary. Not in an extraordinary kind of way, but just not myself. And I notice that I am like this whenever I am around my coworkers.
I am trying hard to find my way in this sea of women, but it's difficult. I have been "one of the guys" for most of my adult life. Girls are sometimes mean-spirited, catty, and competitive with each other for no reason at all. Or at least some of the women I am around seem to be.
Throughout my career I have worked in a predominately male-driven environment. Some would even call my industry "an ole' boys club." And I don't disagree. That's probably why I feel that I fit in. I am smart, quick on my feet, never afraid of a challenge and can command the attention of a room with little effort. However, you put me in a room full of women and I become distant, aloof, quiet and even shy. I hate that! It's just that I don't feel the need to repeat what two other people have already said. And when I have something to say, I speak up. But I won't talk OVER them. I actually caught myself raising my hand to say something this week. That didn't work.
Now, that's not to say that I don't get along with women. I do. Very much so. But I don't understand the need for talking all at once, repeating what somebody else said just so your voice is heard, and the constant glances of "I told you so's" and "can you believe she said that's?" I see what you are doing and I know you just rolled your eyes at her. So. NOT. Cool.
I work with a great group of women. They are smart and know the world of marketing strategy as it relates to banking as well as, if not better than, anyone else I know. I have nothing but the utmost respect for their knowledge and know that I will learn much from working with them. But most of the time I don't find my job as challenging as finding my way through our meetings.
Friday, October 22, 2010
The band Train released their debut self-titled album with the song Meet Virginia. I was instantly in love with the group! Their pop style wasn't bubble-gum like many other bands on the radio and they had no desire to compete in the ever present boy-band genre...thank goodness. Since the debut album, many things have changed in my life and it seems that with each passing event, triumph and tribulation Train was there with a new single or a new album.
They went silent, even broke up for a few years from 2006 to 2009, but that was OK. The lead singer, Pat Monohan cut a solo album that was just as great as the group stuff.
Yesterday I heard their newest single, "Marry Me," and like so many Train songs before it, it touched my soul. I don't know if its the acoustic style or the lyrics. Or if I am just a fan of a band like so many other people. Regardless, Train is always on my playlist. Their music speaks to me. It has a way of completely absorbing me and taking me to a place where I know everything will be OK. And if I don't need the lift, the music has me singing and dancing.
My only hope for this song is that radio stations don't make it the go-to-hot-song of the year and play it so often that I forget how much I once loved it.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Today I am feeling a little icky. Between my sinuses (allergies I think), the headache and the cramps, I really just want to crawl in bed and sleep it off. But there's work to be done. And a lot of it! Crazy busy at work for the foreseeable future. No complaints. It's job security!
So, it's been quite a while since I have experienced cramps and bloating, etc., like this. So while at Walgreens asking the pharmacist a million questions about which over-the-counter allergy medication is best to take when you are on blood pressure lowering medication (Chris, not me!), I asked for help with this problem too.
Lucky for me, the pharmacist is a woman! She recommended Midol. It's been around forever and should take care of all the problems with just a couple of capsules. I am not much of a pill popper, but I am teetering dangerously close to needing a sick day once a month. That's reminiscent of when this all started in 7th grade!
Anyway, before popping my first capsules today, I saw the note on the top of the box, "See new warnings information" and thought, jeeze, maybe this stuff will grow hair on my teeth or something. Nope. That wasn't it. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Now, I cannot attest to how new this warning is. Or even if this is the new warning that I was instructed to "see." But I couldn't help but read this and think, "oh my gosh! My blog girls will LOVE this one!!!" So, here goes:
Apparently it's dangerous to take Midol if you "have difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland." Really? That was a concern? And if I ask my doctor before use because of this, I think we have bigger problems! I hope you laughed a little! I know that I did.
p.s. Before sharing my humor, I wanted to make sure that I am not a total idiot. I actually googled (pretty sure I already knew the answer) "do women have prostates" and the answer was as follows:
"In 2002, female paraurethral glands, or Skene's glands, were officially renamed the female prostate by the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology."
So, while I was not totally wrong, and this is funny, I was maybe a little wrong! And while an enlarged prostate it nothing to laugh at, I am still laughing a little! Because of the context of course, not the enlarged prostate part!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
By the time I was old enough to ask Grandma for the coveted Spanish Rice recipe, she had already been diabetic for years and the flavor of the rice had changed. Needless to say, she probably never really had a recipe anyway. Although, I heard that my cousin Allisongot her hands on it! But I have something that Allison doesn't have. The Spanish Rice "pan." The significance of which was lost on me until I began to love cooking and appreciate really good cookware!
The infamous Spanish Rice pan is a REALLY old red/orange cast iron Le Creuset pot with a lid. It even says "Made in France" on the bottom! And the Spanish Rice that had been baked in it for 30 years or longer that came with it washed right out...Grandma's eyes were pretty bad. She couldn't see to wash the dishes so I think she just wiped them out. Gross, I know!
I have attempted, and failed miserably) at Spanish rice more than a hundred times. Last night was my first attempt in the special Spanish Rice pan. I don't know if it was luck, the lessons I learned from failed attempts, or maybe Grandma working me through it with the special pan, but it turned out almost perfect.
No recipe, no calls for help, and no cookbooks. Just the perfect pan and a million fond, loving memories of Grandma Melanie. She was the only thing missing that made my Spanish Rice fall short of perfect! I miss her every day but know that she'd be really proud of my Spanish Rice and love of cooking. And she'd be tickled that I love her pan too.
And it was so good, that Chris said it goes on "the list." A pretend list of the foods I will serve the the pretend restaurant I will pretend open someday!
Here's what I did:
Cooked 1 cup brown rice in 2 1/2 cups water with a touch of chicken bullion
It said to cook covered for 40-50 minutes. After about 30 minutes I added a cup and a half of chopped onions.
When the rice was done and onions super soft, I added 2 cups of petite diced tomatoes (from a can-Hunts is my favorite). I had drained the water from them but ended up adding it back in.
I let that hang out over low heat and added a little garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, a little chili powder (not much) and a hint of ground red pepper.
After it was all cooked, I put it in the special Spanish Rice pan and squished up 8 saltine crackers and sprinkled over the top and browned in the broiler. It yields about 5 cups of Spanish Rice and was wonderful as a side dish with our grilled chicken.
It was even better today as a main dish for my lunch! And Chris' too! Two dinners, two lunches, and just enough left over for lunch tomorrow for me...as long as I get to the kitchen first!
p.s. Grandma used to say she was "tickled" a lot. I think that expression really spoke to her and perfectly described how she felt. I get it now. It seemed fitting to use it today.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I have bad nails partly because of genetics and partly because I can't stop picking at them. Weird, I know. I refuse to have artificial nails that are difficult and expensive to maintain, but I also don't like paying for manicures that don't last through the first sink of dishes.
On Saturday, my mother-in-law told me about the Shellac Manicure and that it's supposed to last for two or more weeks. They treat your nails just as any other manicure (cuticle trimming, shaping, filing, etc.) then they put this fancy clear polish on and you sit under a UV dryer for 30 seconds. Then a coat of color, UV dryer, coat of clear, UV dryer, coat of color, UV dryer, final coat of clear and UV dryer. By the way, that link will take you to the salon listing in Michigan...three in Mt. Pleasant alone!! Snoop around on the site if you would like a more detailed description of the manicure than color, UV, clear, UV....
The entire process only took 30 minutes. Granted I think I found the most expensive salon in the area, but on average, the Shellac manicure only costs about $5-$10 more than a regular manicure and lasts for weeks rather than hours! Today is Tuesday. I have done a lot of dishes and taken three showers since the manicure and not a single chip, nick, ding or peel to be found. Oh, and if you don't want the manicure, to change the polish and put a new Shellac color on is only $10! Hopefully this will help my nails grow a little, my hangnails stop getting out of control (I pick at those too...I know. Gross.) and I will be less embarrassed to have someone see my fingers.
I am really hoping this will work... and because it lasts so long I won't have to do it more than once a month! I'll show you at Christmastime!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So, this morning my computer said "Happy Anniversary, Jenna! I don't like you anymore so you're screwed." This is what is lovingly (not jokingly) known as the Windows "BSOD." In case you are curious, it's the Blue Screen of Death.
So, after a reboot and about an hour of hiccups but no more BSOD, I have decided to work slowly and save often. Glad I learned about recoverable vs. unrecoverable data . I am spending the afternoon saving everything to our network. The status bar says I only have 6 hours left!
Happy Anniversary, Jenna!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Then I went through the phase of early morning workouts and running in the door just as the clock strikes 8:00 am. On those days, I would work in my gym clothes until I found a point in my work where I could be absent for 30 minutes with no harm. That phase still comes and goes, but more often times than not, I end up sitting in stinky gym clothes until the end of the day!
Most of the time, I roll out of bed at 7:30, brush my teeth and stumble down stairs to get my first cup of coffee and am checking email by 7:45. For the first time in many many moons, I actually have a job that matters and is busy every day. Because I start in my PJ's, I am finding that I am ending the day...still in my PJ's. It's not pretty. Imagine hello kitty flannel pants and a matching long-sleeved red shirt with hello kitty buttons on it. Cute right? Now imagine the jammies being 6 years old. So. Not. Pretty.
This week I had an 8:00 meeting for Junior Achievement which required not just real clothes, but a shower and makeup too. I found that I actually liked ending my day clean and in real clothes. So I did it again today. And it's nice. I think I will do this more often! It makes me feel smarter or something!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I think the weather was helping me cope with my computer challenges today. I have rebooted two different machines twice each and neither of them seem to want to cooperate. When it's rainy I am more patient because the idea of going outside for anything is far less appealing than sitting at my desk waiting for my machine(s) to perk up.
But now the sun is out and there are a couple of errands I have to run. And my computers are STILL not wanting to work as hard as I do. So, here I sit. Blogging about stupid technology, waiting for my IT support team to call me back. The sun is shining and it has become a truly perfect fall afternoon. Sunny, cool, slightest of breezes and the freshest air in the world.
At least I can open my window and enjoy it. Stupid technology anyway.
Friday, October 8, 2010
October 14 will mark our four-year wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been 4 years already. When I started to write this morning I thought I'd make a list of the things we have done during those four years. But I quickly realized that not only do I want to see that list, but you probably don't either. It was full of difficult memories with some fun things interspersed. I seemed to be a count of the number of jobs I have had and places in which we lived. So instead, I am blogging about celebrating four incredible, loving, happy, fun years and the beginning of our fifth year.
Since Chris' parents will be here next weekend, we will be celebrating tomorrow. To commemorate the four, we are trying four new things tomorrow:
1. Roasted Veal Shanks with Rosemary
2. Skillet Turnips and Potatoes with Bacon
3. Homemade German Chocolate Brownies
4. Dressing up for dinner at home.
Often times, Saturday night dinners are prepared and enjoyed in sweatpants and a ponytail. I figure a little mascara and pants that actually have a zipper and button might make the dinner feel even more special. Although, it's pretty special on its own. A life filled with love and laughter, a partner in crime and a best friend. It took a while to get here (I mean finding Chris!), but I am grateful for every bump in the road, detour taken and tear shed.
I wish that every person could find the happiness within themselves that I have finally found. The perfect partner certainly contributes to that. I am so lucky, and so grateful.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
It's a perfect fall day. Cool, bordering on cold. Cloudy, chance of rain later today. I love it. I mean REALLY love it.
The thermometer in my office read 61 degrees and my fingers read "brittle with chance of breaking." So I turned on the instant heater and this is the view from my desk chair. I don't even have to move my head or eyes!
Can working get much better than this?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
And something that is easy reading. Angie wants to read with us and we will Skype our conversations with a glass of wine after the kids are in bed. Pretty smart, eh?
We were thinking about Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. But there are so many great classics. Please post a comment with your favorite. All suggestions are welcome!
Monday, October 4, 2010
I was at my desk by 8:00 and hit the ground running. Pun intended. I was really on a roll when I realized I was getting hungry. I glanced at the clock, it was 10:30 and I hadn't had breakfast! Grabbed some greek yogurt and got back at it. Got hungry again, looked at the clock and it was 1:30. Holy catfish! Where is this day going.
The last 2 hours have been the best part. A client just wasn't getting it. I tried to explain using my best third grade vocabulary, but she still didn't get it. With my windows open and fresh air streaming through my office, I was finally able to make her understand! We both started to giggle about her confusion when all of a sudden this rogue rainstorm came from nowhere, blew everything off my desk and soaked the carpet! Seriously! That made me laugh harder!
Then another client said, "Oh, did I say I needed it on October 14? I am really sorry, I meant October 4!" Hurry hurry hurry doesn't even begin to describe my speed, but I got it done and now Monday is almost behind me!
Whew! I need a break. It's 4:00 and I am still sitting here in the clothes I ran in this morning. I have barely had half of my water today and my chapped lips are driving me crazy. Small price to pay for having a good job, I suppose!
So, with all that, I will now take a breath, and take a shower. Here's a clip from Office Space. A cult classic movie that coined the term "A Case of the Mondays"
Thursday, September 30, 2010
We live less than a block away from an elementary school and with this incredibly sunny day and breeze from the west, I can hear the children playing at recess. Nothing inspires my marketing mind like the sound of children playing. I can't see them, but I know they are having fun. I remember those fall days playing kickball and tether-ball like they were a few days ago (I almost said yesterday, but my memory isn't THAT good!!).
Here's the view from my office window. It's a little blurry because of the screen, but you'll get the gist! I can't wait until the leaves on that tree start to change!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
And I love it here. I mean REALLY love it here. For a million reasons. Today was my second outdoor run (as I anxiously await fall and days when it's too cold to run outside--I am really done with this heat!) after a month long hiatus. Ok, maybe it was longer than that.
This morning, with a light breeze and a perfect running temperature, I set out to enjoy the crystal blue skies that can only be enjoyed from 5,800 feet above sea level. I was greeted by no fewer than 7 friendly dogs taking their owners for walks followed by human "good morning's" and "how do you like your shoes."
Trail running/walking in Highlands Ranch is apparently also a social event. I saw a mailman riding his bike to work, a local youth minister walking to church with three lunchboxes in his hands (he had repacked them for the kids who forgot them yesterday, I asked), a woman training for the Denver Rock-n-Roll Marathon in 2 weeks stopped to ask me about my shoes (yes, the super awesome Vibram Five Fingers!) and a park ranger who was cleaning up the coyote poop from the path and looking for their dens to make sure they are not posing a threat to the neighborhood.
Several happy wiggles from really cute dogs and even more mini-conversations with my neighbors. I don't know that life in a city can get much better than this. I love this place.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I spent the weekend in Cleveland for a quick trip to see Angie and Mike and their three kids under the age of three. I loved every minute of it. Sure, Luke my have a few quirks that make him a little different from other toddlers, and Lydia is probably a little too smart for her own good. Then there's Eloise...the nearly perfect 11-month old baby. She hardly made a peep!
On Friday night, Mike was on his way home from work and Angie had run out to pick up some dinner for the munchkins and left me home alone with the kids. To say the inmates ran the asylum would be an understatement. We got the cars out to play with and Luke would share the "purple one" with Lydia. Then all of a sudden, he decided not to share. Lydia, with her super-cute curls, big blueish-green eyes and a smile that can light up a room quietly walked over to Luke, took her arm and swiped all his cars off the table onto the floor.
She turned around to see if I had witnessed her act of cruelty and with a shrug and a smile said "oopsie daisy." I was in shock. It was mean-spirited, not to mention against the rules. But it was really funny!! I knew I shouldn't laugh, but I couldn't help it. I laughed so hard I was crying which confused the kids and prompted them to join forces in a game of "climb on Auntie Jenna and giggle with her" until Angie came home and asked what on earth we were doing.
It was a priceless moment. And even though I should have gotten after Lydia for having done that, I am sure she'll do it again and her Mom will catch her and do the right thing. I wish I had a picture to share with you. They are a beautiful family and have so much fun together. I can't wait to plan my next trip back!