Friday, July 30, 2010

My Lullaby

Every night the Hallmark channel runs 2 hours (or more maybe!) of The Golden Girls. I have loved that show for as long as I can remember. And now that I am old enough to understand, the jokes are even funnier! Every night when I go to bed I watch one episode (sometimes only half of one) then watch the theme song from the next episode, turn the TV off and close my eyes. I haven't fallen asleep so quickly and slept so well in a very long time.

So, to my lullaby, The Golden Girls, thank you for being a friend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I heart my Dansko Shoes THIS Much

In addition to my temperamental knee, I have been suffering from Plantar Fasciitis for more than 4 years. I think it's about 80% better in that it doesn't make me cry anymore but I still have to be VERY careful with my shoe choices. You will rarely see me in flip flops unless my toenail polish is wet or I am on my way to the pool or beach. Even running shoes/sneakers/tennis shoes can cause excruciating pain for me if I wear them for longer than my exercising time.

But I have found and fallen in love with Dansko shoes. Have you tried them? They are durable, non-smelly (or in technical terms, antimicrobial), clean easily and can be quite the winter. They are the shoes you will often times see nurses wearing because they are REALLY good for your feet. So, as soon as I come home from the gym or a run, I change into my Danskos!

Here's the result. Sweet. I know! The best part...I walk around all day looking like this. I even walk the dogs in shorts and Danskos! I probably won't win any fashion awards unless the complex decides to give out the "attempting to replicate Punky Brewester but missing the pig tails and a Golden Retriever named Brandon" award.

But my foot doesn't hurt! That's all I really care about!

Monday, July 26, 2010

December as a Child

Do you remember how exciting the month of December was when you were a child? It was a time of parties, seeing Santa, candy canes and being on your best behavior. And the TV shows... I mean the classics. The Peanuts (I was always a fan of Freida because of her hair!) Merry Christmas Charlie Brown and Frosty the Snowman...I am talking about the real ones before animation was of the quality it is today and back when the spirit of the season was so deep and rich in tradition that everyone could feel it (or maybe it just seems different now that I am older!).

But nothing could beat the Sears Wish Book. My brother and I would wait and wait and wait for the book to arrive then spend HOURS thumbing through the pages and imagining all the toys in Santa's workshop. I even remember looking at the pages with the swing sets endlessly day dreaming about all the fun those kids in the picture must have been having. It never occurred to me that it was staged. I envisioned someone's yard!

I tell this story because it seems that while I may have outgrown the Sears Wish Book, I have not outgrown the imagination that would keep me awake at night thinking of all the incredible toys in Santa's workshop. Only now instead of December it's July and instead of swing sets it's furniture, and paint and tables and chairs. Oh Pottery Barn Catalog, how I love/hate/love/hate you.

Insert Clever Title Here

I wanted to start out by saying that I have the greatest blog readers EVER! You all made such great points. And in case you are all curious, Chris and I put our notice in on Saturday. We were informed that on August 24 we will be required to vacate the apartment and turn in our keys by 6:00 pm, regardless of the status of our new home. It's a calculated risk and we are willing to take it!

Then we went and bought a washer and dryer. Of all the things in all the world that I would love to shop for, those appliances don't even make the list. It's difficult to spend money on something I know I will never love. Needless to say, we didn't buy expensive ones. But did opt for new rather than used.

Now for this week. It should be rather busy with several month-end projects to wrap up by Thursday, and my in-laws coming for a visit on Friday afternoon. They'll stay with us through the weekend, then have their own plans for the week. It will be great to see them.

Oh, and my good friend Lisa had her baby on Saturday night. So I should probably add a visit to meet baby Koen one night this week. They also have 17 month old Kyler. For those moms out there, if I make a dinner to take to them, what should I make for a munchkin? I know that he likes graham crackers, macaroni and cheese and pickles. Maybe I'll just take those things!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Karma, the Universe and Procrastination

Chris and I still have not submitted out 30-day notice to our apartment complex and I am struggling with the reasoning behind our delay. I believe very strongly in signs, that everything happens for a reason and in Karma. I try hard to create an environment around me that is kind and loving in the hope that places I go are kind and loving in return (that's the Karma part). My life feels very in tune and balanced with the exception of this apartment thing.

But me being me, I could just be procrastinating. But typically when I procrastinate I know that's what I am doing and I am willing to face the music. This isn't procrastination.

Then I get all cosmic about it and think that maybe the feeling of not having time to get the leasing office to do it is the universe telling me that I shouldn't because the house is going to fall through and we don't want to be homeless. Even I think that's a bunch of hooey! Not. Very. Likely.

So, here's another theory: Fear. Our seller has to bring $36,000 to closing because she was one of the many on the rim of the housing bubble that financed 100% of the value of the home when she purchased it. When the bubble burst all homes across the country lost value. ALL of them. Our seller understood this, listed her house for what she believed it to be worth, and we are paying full price. It's still a great deal...with the appraisal the way it was, she's only leaving about $5,000 on the table (appraised value less the sale price). She seems to be OK with all of this. But we are freaking out a little. What if she enjoys the casinos? What if she hasn't been telling the truth all along and doesn't have the money? What if she only has half of it?

We submitted the last of our oddball requirements this morning for final approval of our loan. We are all track to close on August 13 and I have called 3 movers for estimates on moving our stuff to the other side of the city. But we haven't put our 30 day notice in. Our Realtor said when we met the last of the odd ball conditions he would ask her for verification of funds. But what if she won't give it? Or doesn't have it?

Maybe today will be the day we put in our notice. Or maybe one of you wonderful readers will have the ultimate words of wisdom for me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some things never change

I have had the same BFF since 5th grade. It seems like it was spring time when Angie showed up in school. The first weekend she lived in Mt. Pleasant I asked her to stay the night at my house. It was the beginning of a friendship that I had no idea would stand the test of time.

Sure, there were times as teenagers when boys or mean girls or sports or something created a space in our friendship, but never a void. After we graduated from high school, Angie moved to Italy, Chicago, New York, Paris, Germany and who knows where else. All I know is that Europe comes to a standstill in August and Angie always came home for the month. I would spend as much time in Ludington as possible to see her while I could.

Since then, Angie moved back to MI, I moved to TX, then she moved to Cleveland and I moved to Denver. You know you have found your BFF when miles between homes and time between chats only means we appreciate every moment we get together that much more.

Angie now has three kiddos under the age of 3 which limits her geographic mobility and I have a job that doesn't take me to Ohio anymore. We've been trying so hard for me to get to Cleveland, but airfare has been absolutely outrageous lately.

Tonight, unlike so many other nights, we were able to talk on the phone and caught up for nearly an hour (thanks sleeping kids!). When we got off the phone I knew now was the time. I need to get to OH to see Angie and Mike and those beautiful children. So I booked a ticket. Thankfully the price has come down substantially. It's still a little more than I should spend, but the way I see it, my BFF is worth WAY more than a new outfit and a fancy dinner out.

So, Cleveland, I'll see you on September 24th!

The Dark

I know. Another dog blog. But this is so cute, and has been going on since she was a puppy, so I thought I'd share.

Abby is probably part lizzard. She loves the heat. She looks for the sunbeam to come through the window every afternoon and will sit in it until her black hair is on fire. And every morning when we get up, Abby runs to the love seat for "good mornings" and waits for us to "make the dark." That's all crazy human-dog speak for "say hello then put the red blanket on a pillow on the love seat and cover up the beagle." Here's how it looks when complete:

She's really in there, on top of a pillow on the love seat. We lost the furniture battle long ago, but at least she will only be on the furniture if she's on the red blanket. When I decided to blog about this and snap a quick photo I had to turn on a light...the first photo was lucky, because here was the response I got:And finally, after she was aware that I had not only disturbed the dark, but I was exploiting her reaction, Abby decided to look for another place to take her post-wake-up-pre-walk morning nap:She's always this cute until she pukes somewhere in the middle of the night. But that was last week!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Ugh. Reuger is headed back to the vet today. So frustrating to not be able to get his bathroom habits regulated. Was it like this when we were homeowners and we just didn't notice? I can say that it was not like this last summer. I can also say that since June of 2009, we haven't had an issue until about 2 months ago.

It's one thing to have potty problems when I have to get up and open a door. It's entirely another when I have to put him on a leash, walk down a flight of stairs, pick up the mess, walk a block to deliver it to the doggy station, walk back, up a flight, remove leash and wash hands. What will be a 30 second adventure in 24 days, is a 10 minute adventure right now. Multiply that by his hourly emergency and we waste a lot of time during the day. No pun intended.

I love my dog. I love my dog. I love my dog. But he really needs to get a job.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Only 25 more days!

Only 25 more days until this house is all ours! I think we can safely say that there is no good reason this sale won't happen. The inspection was a big issues, and best of all, no Radon. The appraisal came in last week and it was actually OVER our sale price. Not only is that GREAT news, it also means that we will have instant equity in our new home. That's a huge relief too.
Our closing is scheduled for Friday, August 13. With the luck we have had, I typically would be terrified of having our closing scheduled for any Friday the 13th. But August 13 is special. It's Chris' Granddaddy's (that's Grandpa to us Yankees!) 87th birthday. That's good luck I think!
We are now in the process of making the list of "did we really get rid of that during our downsizing and now have to replace?" things to buy. It's fun and overwhelming. Good thing I love a good list!

Only 25 more days until this is my kitchen! And yes, those are granite slab counters and 42" upper cabinets! HOORAY!
And only 25 more days until this is my living room! I can't wait :-)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maybe I'm Amazed

Last night was the Paul McCartney concert. And what a story I have to tell.

While we were in Michigan, I told my Dad that we were going to see Paul McCartney. I was pretty excited and thought he'd be proud that I have an interest in and am willing to pay money for an artist who was in his prime during my Dad's era of music. It was a deflating conversation in that for the next 10 minutes I heard all about why I should not be giving Paul McCartney any of my money ever, and that Dad had lost all respect for him as a person AND an artist. All this because of the flip comment about books, a library and former President Bush. I will agree the comment was unnecessary, rude and offensive to many. For me, I was only interested in the music.

Last night gave me insight into the music during a tumultuous time in American history. During the three-hour rock fest, Sir Paul McCartney shared stories about the things he experienced during The Beatles rise to fame and spoke of the inspiration that propelled him to write some of the most iconic music to date. The Beatles (speaking as if they are a single entity rather than 4 incredible musicians) single-handedly changed the face of music. You can see in his eyes that he has experienced more in his life than many of us can ever dream of.

And then he told the story of writing Blackbird. I cried. His inspiration: In September of 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was desegregated. Nine black students entered the building under the protection of the US Army and the news of this pivotal event swept the globe. The news footage broadcast across the world changed the face of America. It was an event in our history that we have all learned about in school. Half of you reading this can actually remember the day it happened (if there are four who read this, two are my age, and I know two are older!). To see it through the eyes of a young man from Liverpool England will go in my book as one of the 10 most incredible experiences I have had. And then he sang.

After more than three hours of Beatles/Wings/Firemen rocking with no break, Sir Paul McCartney began his third encore. He out-sang and out-performed men half his age.

Today I am exhausted but feel as though I experienced American History in a way no book could ever illustrate. I am honored that I was able to see one of the most iconic singer/songwriters in music history before this chapter is closed forever. Sorry, Dad. Politics aside, this was an experience I am sorry my children will never have (assuming there are some someday--don't read into that one, ladies!).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ju Ju Eyeballs

I think "Come Together" may be my favorite Beatles song. But I can't forget about "Let it Be" and "I Saw Her Standing There." Tonight Chris and I are going to see Paul McCartney in concert at the Pepsi Center. I really wish the concert could be at Red Rocks's going to be a perfect, albeit warm, evening. But I'll take what I can get. Being a few years shy (or maybe an entire generation shy) of getting to see the Beatles in concert, I'll take Sir Paul solo in that it's all that's available.

And speaking of Ju Ju Eyeballs, I feel like I have them. Whatever they are. Sans mind altering substances, of course! I imagine Ju Ju Eyeballs are caused by the following sequence of events:

Abby the beagle is struggling with allergies or something. Tuesday night... errr ...Wednesday morning, the dog barfing episode occurred at 3:30 am. Followed by cleanup, a potty walk then back to bed for an hourish. Today she was able to hold out until 5:45. Which isn't so bad. We got up, cleaned up, potty walked, made coffee and watched the morning news. Then Reuger decided that he was having an emergency of his own of a more "southern" variety. Thankfully we (and by "we" I mean Chris) were able to get him in the harness, on the leash, outside and down the stairs before any accidents occurred.

Hence my Ju Ju Eyeballs. Can I have a house with a yard now please? Some less, um, explosive dogs would be nice too!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dinner Redemption and Finger Frustration

Let's start with the finger. It still hurts. It's still swollen. And I still can't wear my wedding ring. That's the real bummer. I even went to WalMart for a "cheap" one until I learned that the only one that won't turn my finger green is about $60. Soooo not worth it. If it doesn't get better soon I will take my gold band (aka the gym ring) and have it resized so at least I can wear something. I feel sort of naked! The good news is that the actual wound looks better.

Now on to dinner. After Monday night's disaster, last night's experiment was a risk that was WELL worth it. Cooking Light magazine puts out a more expensive version of their magazine quarterly. It has heavier stock pages and lots of great photos...and all the nutrition info for what you are cooking. Last night we tried the "Cast-Iron Burgers" and they were fabulous. A burger with onion relish and a horseradish spread.

Burgers are usually burgers. But we use buffalo in that it's leaner and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than beef. The difference for these burgers was the cooking method. Rather than grilling them, we got a cast-iron skillet screaming hot, sprayed a little organic Pam in then cooked the burgers for 3 minutes on each side (for just over medium. 2 mins on each side for medium rare). It was a no-brainer.

For the onion relish, I skipped the bacon because I didn't want to buy a pound for 2 slices. Never missed it. Here's the original recipe:

2 applewood-smoked bacon slices, chopped
3 cups vertically sliced yellow onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground black pepper to taste

cook bacon in nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown. Combine bacon, onion mixture, chives, Worcestershire sauce and pepper in a small bowl. That's it.

But here's how I did it:

Spray a pan with a little organic EVOO Pam. Add onions and chives. Salt lightly. Sweat onions until soggy and cooked, then let them begin to brown. The pan got a little dry so I added a touch of beef broth. When finished, add Worcestershire sauce to deglaze pan. Add pepper. Put in a bowl and eat them! Super yummy!

For the sauce, I was shocked at how easy it was and how YUMMY it was too!
1 Tbsp canola mayo
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp ketchup.

That's it! With a pound of burger (4 patties) this made 4 servings, on 4 buns (we skipped the buns too) with a heap of onions and a shmear of sauce, only 351 calories, 12 grams fat, 29.2 grams protein, 3 g fiber. Sans bun and bacon and we surely saved a few calories that were put to good use with the sweet potato fries I made! Sliced like fies, sprinkled with a hint of EVOO, basil, cinnamon and garlic salt. Roasted for 40 minutes at 425. Just perfect! Great dinner :-)

Tomorrow's blog won't be a recipe, I promise! We are having a salad with grilled chicken for dinner tonight!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dinner Disaster

Coming home from a week long food-fest, Chris and I decided that we needed to get back on track STAT. On Sunday morning I sat down with my coffee, a cookbook and three cooking magazines looking for new healthful recipes. The plan for last night was pan seared halibut with rosemary roasted vegetables. It sounded great and I was excited to eat a little fish (halibut...or so I one of the few fish I like). Here's the recipe for the rosemary roasted vegetables:

1 cup broccoli
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow onion
2 large handfuls green beans
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp crushed rosemary (I used fresh)
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic salt, rosemary, seasoning salt, salt and pepper. Cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. While stirring, drizzle the veggies with 1/2 of the EVOO and sprinkle with half the seasonings. Add the remaining oil, add the remaining seasoning and stir well to coat evenly. Arrange veggies in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until crisp-tender and nicely browned.

Sounds good, no? Here's the rub. That's enough garlic to keep an entire vampire coven from every entering the state of Colorado. To make matters worse, I was out of seasoned salt so used regular salt...YIKES! Good thing Chris is already on BP meds! And my final complaint is this: Onions produce water when they sweat. My oven temp could be really off (I do live in an apartment after all), but my vegetables ended up really soggy. Here are the changes I will make for next time:

Cook on a rack on a cookie sheet so water drips away. If I don't have seasoned salt, I will not replace with regular salt. Maybe add a little onion salt or celery salt, but too much Kosher salt is just not cool. The broccoli and the beans were the best, maybe add cauliflower and asparagus in place of the peppers and onions? But I do love red bell peppers!

Oh, and the fish was just gross. Chris didn't mind it. I just don't like fish that much, but I keep trying it! I ate a few of the super-salty-kill a vampire-garlicky veggies but ended up with some Whole Foods Rotisserie Chicken and a handful of Bing Cherries. Still healthy, but not awesome. Oh well, lesson learned!

P.S. Lisa K, if you read this, how are you so good about pictures? I want to add more pictures to my blog but I think I need to plug my camera in more often!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sardines in a can

Our amazing husky, Reuger apparently has a zinc deficiency. It makes his hair fall out in strange places like around his mouth, eyes and paws. Our choices to fix the problem are expensive tablets from the vet, cheaper tablets from PetSmart, or cheaper yet, a can of sardines once a week from Wal-Mart. Reuger got his first can last night and LOVED them! Good thing Chris is around...I would have opted for the more expensive options! Those things S.T.I.N.K!

On a side note, we made it home, safe and sound and on time. Round trip with no issues. I don't think that's ever happened to me before. It was really nice!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back to Reality

Chris and I head home today from our week long vacation in Michigan. Of all the trips we have made here, this one was by far one of the most fun. To see the whole river family, many of my cousins, my brother a changed man and my cougar Grandma was so fulfilling, I will never find the perfect words to describe how wonderful it was.

I can proudly say my liver survived the week and that, until yesterday, there were no McFarlane-caliber injuries to report. It is with great pain and the inability to type well that I report my battle with the river ramp. I made it all the way across the river with a bag of river shoes in one hand and a flashlight in the other when the exit ramp slid off the bank sending me forward into one of the slimy moss-covered bricks on the bank. The slide took off 75% of the nail on my left ring finger, scraped half the skin off the area above my top knuckle on the same finger, took a small chunk out of my pinkie nail and left a cut on my middle finger. It sounds bad but could have been so much worse.

This morning my fingers are very swollen and quite painful, but a little ice (or in this house, Palmolive), some Advil and a cup of coffee will make it all OK.

I will spare you a picture of the injury... those of you with queasy stomachs will thank me!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rainy Mornings

I had every intention of getting up and running this morning. The Fray is here and four of them are staying across the river with some River Family. My plan was to get up and run over there via the road, have a cup of coffee with the family then cross the river to get home. I was so looking forward to it. But between the ear ache and the looming rain clouds, I decided to have some coffee on this side of the river. Maybe tomorrow.

On a positive note, dad and uncle Bill made blueberry pancakes this morning. I LOVE blueberry pancakes and only eat them when I am here. The most perfect pancake is made by my dad and Uncle Bill. I feel so fortunate!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Fray

My mom has been using the term all week. And every time she says it, I think of the music group from Denver (well, they are pretty big now, but they got their start there!). On my run this morning, I found great irony in this conversation:

"Ok, Jen, when you get back we can talk about our plan and what we need to get done before The Fray get here."

"Sounds good. I'll be back in about half an hour." Then 10 minutes into my Run, The Fray shuffled on to my playlist! It was great. I spent the next four minutes smiling, imaginaing my private concert on the river. It was AWESOME!

And all that imagination made 2 consecutive 10-minute miles possible this morning. That may not mean much to many, but it's pretty outstanding for me.

So, for the rest of the day, my ears will be hearing "how to save a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife!"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Busy day

Cleaning lady comes at 9, I started at 7:00. At 7:30 I undid what I had done because I didn't do it right. At 11:00 the cleaning lady will leave and we will apparently re-clean the house because they moved stuff and will leave things sitting around.

Then we will leave, have some lunch, go to the grocery store, put ice in the cooler, get ready for the fray, cook, probably clean again, then open the wine.

It's days like this that I wonder why I a.) paid bunches of money for this and b.) call it a vacation.

All that really matters is that I am with my family and am enjoying every minute of it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Flight Status: Upgrade Pending

One of the perks, ok...maybe the only perk...of being a frequent traveler with United is that they automatically upgrade me when there are seats available. Up until a month ago, frequent fliers had to request the upgrade. And I think I got more with that process because the people with higher status didn't always request them.

So, I am on the waitlist for the upgrade...and Chris too. But here's my complaint. I can't check in online until some system or person or something decides I either do or don't get the upgrade. I know I don't have to check in right now. But I don't like being told I CAN'T check in now. Guess I'll just keep checking back.

And I will trade all upgrades for on time flights, no delays, no hassles, no problems, no cancellations, etc., etc., etc.

Friday, July 2, 2010

ET Phone Home

Ok, so the ET part may not be relevant, but the two things at the top of my mind right now are a new phone, and a new home...and going home (to MI for a week!).

Here's the skinny on the phone: The new iPhone 4 is out. Chris has one and LOVES it. Except the 3G is not consistently working which means no data. I use my phone primarily as a phone but when I travel (or play hooky from work) I NEED to have the data service be reliable. With my current iPhone, I have had little issue with data, but also have more dropped calls in a week than I had in the entire 5 years I was on the Verizon Wireless network. So, the dilemma is this: Is my phone a toy or is my phone a utility with which I communicate. Tough questions that I will deal with when I have fewer big fish to fry.

On to the bigger fish!

The home. A new home. We found one. Again. But this time no Radon and no inspection issues! HOORAY! I haven't posted anything on Facebook because I can't help but wonder if that's the jinx. Right now, the only potential issue is that the seller apparently owes more than our purchase price on the home. The listing agent says the seller is planning to bring cash to closing. But that makes me nervous. And of all the houses we have seen, and all the houses we have made an offer on (this makes 5), I love this one the most. Amazing kitchen, perfect living room, fabulous deck, nice yard, fantastic master suite, and office space aplenty! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, let this transaction happen!

Keeping fingers crossed!