Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best way to work

I love fall. Finally the temperature is falling below 80. As I sit here thinking about what to make for lunch, I have my window open. There's a nice cool breeze today, and until the sun crests the house and warms the shingles until my office is an uncomfortable working temperature, I have the window wide open and am enjoying my last 2 hours of fresh air and cold feet.

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

Best City EVER

Chris and I had no reservations about moving across "town" from a northern suburb of Denver to a southern suburb of Denver. It would have been the equivalent of moving from Mt. Pleasant to Midland (roughly).

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

Oopsie Daisy

It's a phrase we all know. It reminds me of the oopsie doll I had as a kid...when you'd squeezed her she'd say "oopsie" and her pigtails would move up and down. It was cute. But not nearly as cute as my best friend's two and a half year old daughter, Lydia.

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!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It was so wonderful having Mom and Dad here. I wish they lived closer. When they left this morning, it was very bitter sweet...more on the bitter side I guess. We had so much fun and enjoyed each others company so much that it was sad to see them leave knowing that I probably won't see them again until Christmastime. There were a few tears shed. But at the same time, it's good to get back to some sort of routine, even if it is only for a day before I leave for Cleveland.

Here are some of the highlights of the long weekend. By the way, Mom knows about this post, but Dad doesn't and I'd like to keep it that way. Giggle with me, but please don't share or embarrass Dad by telling him you saw this!

1. Dad burned his toast on day one. That's actually become his signature trademark in every place I have ever lived. When I moved to Dallas, he burned it so badly (at 6:00 am on a Saturday) that it set off the smoke alarm and woke my neighbors (they never did like me!). It happens in every house/apartment. And it's been the same toaster for 5 years. You'd think he'd figure it out eventually

2. I made a short timer's calendar for Dad's retirement. When Mom and I went to pick it up at Staples, we saw living irony:
That's right! It's a Salvation Army Donation-pick-up truck that reads "Give. Shop. Help Others" on the side. It was in a strip mall parking lot (shop) getting towed (help others). We had to laugh a little and take a picture.

3. We had some amazing meals. I mean REALLY amazing meals. I am still full. And I have the urge to eat every two hours and rinse it down with a nice glass of wine. That will pass!

4. The theme for most of the weekend was "who has a cooler app for that?" Between our iPhones and Dad's Droid, we had some fun with this. Dad has an app that will show you the star constellations overhead based on your current location. It was pretty cool...Here's Dad showing Mom on our way home from our wonderful (and indulgent) dinner out:
Aren't they the cutest couple ever!

5. We laughed A LOT! I mean all out giggle fest. On Saturday we cooked a turkey on the Weber grill and it was fantastic. We had perfect weather and our deck is in the shade. We went to Home Depot almost every day. Mom and Dad bought us a fire extinguisher for our kitchen. While we were cooking outside (boys) and baking inside (girls) Dad had some peanuts and a glass of wine and unpacked the fire extinguishers for us. Here's what we got:

I am sure none of you are surprised that he did that! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! This is the picture I would ask that you please not mention to Dad... I'd hate for him to revoke my dad-blogging privileges!

6. We took a cog train to the summit of Pikes Peak (14,110) feet. It was amazing. And here's something that I'll bet you didn't know (or at least I didn't know!). The woman who wrote "America the Beautiful" wrote it after her awe-inspiring stagecoach ride to Pikes Peak. Here are a few of the photos we took.

You think that view's pretty fantastic, but here's my favorite!

Friday, September 17, 2010


I am so excited I can hardly stand it! Mom and Dad should be here in the next hour or so. This morning I de-dogged the entire house (which I do every other day or so anyway) and made sure their bedroom is just the way I would want it if I were staying in it.

I have some laundry to do but I don't do laundry when I have company. That's when I realized that I consider my parents "company." I know they aren't they're family. But in that they don't live in this area that makes them company. I have on idea why or where this idea comes from, but I have always been this way.

Today I am going to try really hard to turn a new leaf. I am going to do laundry while I have company and will try even harder to not apologize for it. Wish me luck!

I think I just admitted another of my quirks publicly!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finally somebody figured it out

I travel for work. My adventures have taken me to some really cool places and have taught me to pack for a week in a carry on suitcase. The kind that actually fits wheels first in the overhead bin. I also try to remain faithful to one brand of airline and hotel. More points and freebies that way!

Out of necessity, I have also learned to be creative with how much I can fit in the 1 quart baggie! I don't wear sneakers because they take too long to tie, and can fit the following in my 1 quart baggie:
1. Face lotion
2. Shampoo
3. Conditioner
4. Hair gel
5. Hair spray stuff
6. Contact lens solution
7. Mascara
8. Lip gloss
9. Eye drops
and if the baggie is really stretched out
10. My favorite gel deodorant (if it's not stretched out, I have an emergency solid to travel with).

With my sensitive skin, I have issues with the face cleansing routine when I travel. If I use soap I will look like I slept in a sun-drenched wind tunnel (bright red and splotchy), but I found some great cleansing towelettes that I can travel with that don't have to go in the baggie. They seem to work well.

On Monday I checked in to the Hampton Inn near the Minneapolis airport and found this on the bathroom counter:

In front of the shampoo/conditioner/lotion/mouthwash was La Fresh. It's a moisturizing make up remover.

FINALLY! A hotel that acknowledges that not all business travelers are men! I was so excited, I actually went back to the front desk and asked when they started doing that and how long it will last. The guy wasn't sure but said that the hotel manager had received many complaints from female travelers that the soap was too harsh and that the conversion in many Hampton Inn hotels to "all showers" rather than a tub/shower combination made it less comfortable for women.

Then the guy says this, "I get the soap thing, but you women and your bathtubs I will never understand." I had to educate him on the fact that we don't take a bath in a hotel, but when we have only a shower, it is difficult to shave our legs without risking great blood loss because our foot slipped down the shower wall in mid shave.

He blushed, I laughed, and said, "please tell your manger that I think he's brilliant and I will definitely be staying at THIS hotel every time I come to Minneapolis" which is once a month. Sweet! One less thing I have to remember to pack!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Running out the door

It's been the theme of the morning. I only have a minute in that I am running out the door, so I'll share as a list.

1. Reuger isn't allowed to sleep in our bathroom at night. When I got up this morning to go to the gym, guess where he was...yup! The bathroom floor. Needless to say, as soon as he saw me he was running out the door.

2. I wanted to get to the gym before the 6:30 rush. Between not being able to hook my heart rate monitor in the dark and misplacing my keys, I found myself running out the door at 6:20!

3. When I got home I was walking across the street to check the mail. Our neighbor was apparently planning to walk his new (super cute) puppy. That dog caught a glimpse of me and was running out the door to say good morning!

4. I have a conference call in 5 minutes and a 12:45 flight out of Denver (headed to Minneapolis for monthly meetings). By 10:30 I will be running out the door again!

Holy cow! I can't wait for Friday when things will slow down a little! For a few days anyway!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It's a love-hate relationship. I contemplate ditching my account from time to time. I don't really care who "likes" one political party or another. I find it annoying when people "answer questions about me" and invite me to attend "events" just so that they can have lots of people invited.

But at the same time, Facebook has become a place for me to reconnect with family members that I never knew, or didn't know well. It's fun to learn more about their lives and establish a new kind of relationship.

Here's an example:
Tara Brown Kirkland. She's my cousin's daughter. She's my Uncle Don's granddaughter. I don't know Uncle Don well (or at all really) and I only know 2 of his 5 children at all. Tara belongs to one of the 3 I don't know. But we're friends on facebook. Tuesday night I got an email from her saying that she's in Denver and would love to meet for dinner if I have time.

Last night we met at the Cheesecake Factory and had a wonderful dinner. Just the two of us. It was a delightful visit and I really enjoyed her company. Outside of a little DNA, we found that we have quite a bit in common. She comes to Denver quarterly for work. Next time I am cooking.

I value my extended family tremendously. I have found that even just a little DNA in common puts one more person in my corner. One more person to share a laugh with, one more person to plan a party with, and one more city to visit.

So, Facebook isn't so bad after all. Now, please excuse me while I go update my status to read, "Today is my Friday. I'll toast all you harder workers tonight."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cherry Pie

I really like cherry pie. And it's Chris' favorite. He's been bugging me to make one for years. And I have been putting him off for a million reasons. But the main reason is because I know how cherry pie is supposed to taste. Just like the one Grandma Peg used to make. And I was terrified that I would never be able to match, or even come close, to that. Although, he wouldn't know the difference.

I have asked Gram for her recipe and she swears up and down that she never made a cherry pie and that we are thinking of Ruthie Felter. I never baked with Ruthie Felter, but I do remember trying her Rhubarb pie once at Grandma Melanie's house (not my favorite pie). The really funny part is that I DISTINCTLY remember making the pie with Gram. She let us munch on the frozen cherries before she put them in the pie. She kept them in the freezer in the tall white plastic containers that the Embers would send the lettuce home in if you ordered the fixins' for their Caesar salad.

So, I broke out my favorite shortbread pie crust recipe (I make a pretty good crust) and followed a recipe from my iPhone app, Epicurious. It was easy. I mean REALLY easy. And holy cow was it good. I haven't had a homemade cherry pie in years, but I am pretty sure this was a really good one. Chris loved it.

That was my first attempt ever at a lattice crust. I think I need a crust cutter or a ruler or something. And some lessons in straight-line cutting. And probably a level to fix our oven. Oh, and I forgot to brush the lattice with milk and sprinkle with sugar. So it isn't the prettiest pie in the world, but it was mine. All mine. And I am really proud of it. I'll make it for anyone on the river next time we are home!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


We are really excited about this week. Chris and I both took Friday off so it's a SUPER short week for us. That's our gift to ourselves for canceling our vacation to Puerto Rico that would have been this week.

The weekend was fantastic. We got so much done around the house. Hung curtains, cleaned, organized, "carpeted" the basement using the remnants we found under the stairs, cooked like crazy! And this is how we spent every evening this weekend.. Steaks, ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, potato was all fantastic!

Then we learned about a fire burning in Boulder County. It started yesterday morning and is still burning today. The last estimate I heard was 3,500 acres burned and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed, some of which were owned by the firefighters fighting the blaze. Our apartment was south of this fire but was in the "very poor air quality" area. With Chris' asthma, we probably would have been boarding the dogs and finding somewhere else to stay. Bad air and the seven C-130 retired military tanker planes that load up, take off, dump the red slurry that sticks to the trees and come back to refill every 25 minutes, from the airport less than a mile from our apartment would have made us crazy. Regular private planes were loud enough, those tankers are really slow to gain altitude making me yell, "PULL UP" every time they fly over. And holy Toledo are they noisy! I can't imagine seven of them in rotation from first light to 30 minutes after sunset.

So, this week we will be grateful for what we have, thankful to not be in the apartment anymore (for the millionth time!) and excited about the three-day week. And we'll keep Boulder County, those fighting the fire and those who have lost in the fire in our prayers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thanks, Dad!

I called him last night to say the same thing. When I was a kid, I can remember rolling my eyes to the point they should have stuck that way and thinking to myself "I will never need to know this when I grow up." Well, as with SO many of those instances, I can put a check next to one more that I did need now that I am grown up.

Lawnmower care.

I hated mowing the lawn. I only did it for a few summers...just until Garren was old enough/tall enough to do it. But during those summers I learned about starting different lawnmowers, checking the oil and gas, priming the engine, etc. Good thing.

Chris and I used to pay a guy $25 a week to mow, weed-whack, edge and pick up the dog poop. WELL WORTH IT. This yard is smaller and we were hoping subsequently cheaper, but nobody has put a flier on our door, and our seller left her lawnmower for us. Probably both signs that we are supposed to do it ourselves.

Chris had pretty severe asthma as a child and cut grass was always one of his triggers. He's never even seen a lawnmower close up before. It was up to me to tackle the machine.

Last night, after picking up the poop, adding oil, priming the engine twice, checking the gas, and pulling on that cord what seemed like a million times, I mowed the lawn for the first time in what must have been 20 years. And Chris ran for his inhaler. Guess he hasn't grown out of that one!

I'll take pictures of our lawnmower for a later post. She's a beaut! Back wheels falling off, saggy bag, rusty top... WOW... I also just described the woman I saw in the Walmart parking lot the other day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do you take library cards?

So, we knew we had a plumbing problem when we moved in. Although it wasn't really a problem so much as just a faulty valve we knew had to be replaced if we wanted better water pressure. After we replaced the shower head in our bathroom, the pressure was what we deemed "livable." So we decided not to do anything about it.

Until Friday night when I was doing dishes. Chris needed to wash his hands and turned on the sink in the half bath. The water pressure for both of us was SO BAD that we had to take turns. So, we called the plumber on Monday. He's in the house as I write this.

He checked the water pressure at the street connection and in the house...twice for both. And got WILDLY different readings each time.

After a "full house complimentary check up" he diagnosed that our faulty valve isn't faulty. It's broken all together. It's allowing our water pressure to fluctuate between "fire hose" and "drip hose" which can lead to disaster in showers (sending shower head hurling through the air...or so my imagination believes!), washing machines and dishwashers. He didn't really say they could kill us, but they can really cause HUGE problems for appliances that use water not to mention any potentially loose plumbing connections.

So, the plumber is replacing the valve. And I have been collecting all of the "welcome to the neighborhood" coupons from places like Home Depot, Pottery Barn, American Furniture Warehouse and Bed Bath & Beyond. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked if he accepted the 20% of at Bed Bath & Beyond coupon as a form of payment! He thought I was serious! I can't stop giggling! Maybe I'll try and pay him with a library card when he's finished!