Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Success! She had TONS of free time on her endlessly delayed train for this:
"Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon-How tasty is your sweet meat. Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon- You are my fav holiday treat. On crackers, cheese or eggs-the pleasure goes right to my head. Oh Lebanon, Oh Lebanon- you make my Christmas special."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Incidentally, today, I stepped foot on hallowed ground mentioned in this project from 1992-93: The Broadmoor Hotel. In this particular school project, I said that in 2006 I was going to be the Banquet Manager at the Broadmoor. The property is spectacular. It's ironic enough that some of the other things I listed in that project, like living in Colorado or having a dog, were true as of 2006. I think this letter may be in a filing cabinet in my mom's house. I may have to have her hunt it down. Predicting as a freshman what might happen as a bonafide "grownup"....who knew?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
At Moline HS we had the choice of Spanish, French and German. I chose German. Why not Spanish? Because too many others were taking it. Where was my faithful VOLAR at that time? It should have been whispering in my ear "Jen, think of all the places you can travel with Spanish." In spite of my late start with foreign language, three years with one hour per day did cause German to stick. In college I thought I'd take some more German...why not stay with what you know?
I had one attempt at taking Spanish in college. I was going on a spring break mission trip to Costa Rica and thought how great it would be to take a 101 level class. Sadly, so many people test out of Spanish 101 from high school that they didn't have any sections that fit my schedule, so back to Deutsch I went.
Time passed. I had yet to travel to a German speaking country. I move to Lake Tahoe where the majority of employees speak Spanish. Fortunately my great boss, "Cebolla," taught me hotel Spanish one event at a time. We would walk down the buffets and I'd dutifully repeat all the vegetables on the salad bar. I could ask for tables, chairs and tablecloths.
In 2003 my mom and I went to Germany and did the language of our great great grandparents proud. I was living in Indianapolis and foreign language was not needed....until I planned on a VBS trip to Mexico. I found a class at the community college in hopes that I would finally get what I really needed. Verbs.
Recently on the radio there have been ads for a language system that touts "No useless memorization or repetitive drills." Really? Because memorization and drills is how we learned English as kids. Remember spelling tests and sentence diagrams?
Last year I started Spanish classes again. I am currently working on learning my verbs in the preterite and imperfect past tenses. And someday I will be just as bilingual as all those 10 year olds in Europe.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I may have to try one of her recipes, just to support her sense of humor!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As a child going to girl scout camp in Wisconsin (a state known for frigid water), you had the option to go "polar-bearing" in the lake before breakfast. You just had to tie a sock around your platform tent pole if you and your tent-mates were going and the counselors would wake you up.
Polar Bear Jumps are also a tradition in Milwaukee as people hop into Lake Michigan at 12 noon on New Year's Day. What a way to wake up / sober up after a long New Year's Eve! I had the opportunity on 1/1/07 when I was there, but opted for glorious sleep instead!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I read an article on the 8 places every American should see. Of course, every American has a different idea of what is great, historic, natural or cultural and people are already adding their comments on what should make the cut. I have my own opinions. Of the 8 on that list, I've only seen 3, but it reiterates that no two people will have the same list.
Jenni's Unofficial Off the Cuff List: Places Americans Should See
Yellowstone National Park
(wildlife, hot springs, mountains, lakes, bubbling mud!)
San Francisco / California Coast
(seafood, cliffs, ocean, cable cars)
(summer fruit, sunsets and ice cream)
(Lake Michigan, Sears Tower, Grant Park, Pizza, Michigan Ave at Christmas)
(volcanoes, whales, snorkeling, luaus, leis)
Boston or Washington DC
(for your crash course in US History)
(a little make believe never hurt anyone)
Yosemite National Park
(wildlife, waterfalls, El Capitan & Half Dome)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Crepes and Crepes
And we watched some football. Illinois and Wisconsin didn't do so well. Iowa, the Broncos and the Colts did.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
In the things, new category for the past week or so: Benny's Mexican Restaurant (chambord margaritas, anyone?), Sunflower Market, an 'intermediate' level Spanish class, my madlib was posted on One Big Yodel and my first night of youth group at church.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Two days ago, I had a Jimmy Buffet-esqe moment when I literally blew out my flip flop. Aside from my having to walk barefoot back to my car, I was struck with a sense of loss. When I told my friend I had gotten the flops right before I went to Africa, he asked me how many continents had my shoes had traveled to?
They had traveled to Southern Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Mexico (twice), the Caribbean, and Thailand. 4 Continents.
I am sorry to see them go and I don't think there is any hope for repairs. Four years is a good run for a pair that was comfortable and cute.I may have to go to Margaritaville to console myself!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today was Jubilee Sunday (aka the fall kickoff). Just as schools are getting their full schedule started, so is the church. Service was packed, Sunday School kicked off, and finally, after almost 4 years of attending, I officially joined the church.
Yesterday was my first time going to an Illini Alumni Gamewatch, which was also fun (I was impressed with my ability to sit down with complete strangers and say hi).
Also on the things new front (I'm not sure my exact number, will have to reference previous posts), I went to a baby shower with 1) a delicious app of blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon (amazing!) and 2) live music.
Youth kickoff was tonight complete with dunk tank, water balloons, baked potato and salad bar (a great idea for an outdoor event), vespers and more. My friend Gregorio told the youth that I'm the one who will have the excess energy on the off chance that he runs out.
Who knows what additional fun I can get myself into?
Monday, August 24, 2009
(insert time machine noises here) The summer of 1990 I was 18 years younger (which makes me feel old at this particular point in time) and the summer after I finished 6th grade. This was my first year to go on the Rock Prairie Presbyterian Church Caravan trip. Caravan was a program that had been going on 20 years before I jumped in with my new Banana Republic shirt, khaki shorts and my big yellow "God's Glenmhor Gang" button.
Annual church trips have initiation ceremonies and Caravan was no exception. On that first night, en route to Ontario, Canada, in a church somewhere in Michigan, I was blindfolded in the sanctuary when someone asked me to "Choose Life."
I know the verse is in Deuteronomy. Periodically I have gone hunting for the verse, never remembering exactly where it is. It's funny how just one little phrase can bring back a whole collection of memories. That was my first service trip. It got me started on the right track.
I haven't looked back.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Right now, I feel like I have multiple starfish. And that's fine.
Not familiar with the starfish story? Watch the video here.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Instead he focused on Ephesians 5:15-20 which cautions us to be careful with how we live and to make the most of our time, prompting a sermon on how time is used (and how much is wasted watching tv, for instance).
Incidentally time management was also featured in one of the magazines I read this week which included valuable tips like "follow the rule of two" (determine your highest priority work and personal activity and form the rest of your day around it) or "take charge of your mornings" (people take too much time to warm up in the morning, coffee, email, etc dithering away valuable time).
As summer (in theory) is waning and fall schedules are usually more aggressive, it may be time to get a handle, on, well, time.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
On Saturday, I did not in fact have hot nuts for breakfast, but my erstwhile travel companion Jon (aka Don Juan) did. Our first stop for the day was a neighborhood called El Refugio, which means the refuge. This is a poor community that is built up the hillside in Tuxtla (the kind of hillside that you wonder how your car will make it up). After visiting the church hosting the water project, we visited Maria-Daisy, one of the church members. She is technically a squatter. Her house didn't use to have a floor or much of a roof, but over time they have made it more permanent. The electricity is pirated. There is no running water.
We then went to lunch at La Cruz. I had a chile relleno. Ryan and Inigo got their adventure on and had the cow tongue. Our afternoon fun activity was to go to the waterfall at Aguacero, which is an ecotourism location. We had to walk down over 700 steps to get to the base of the waterfall....and then the majority of us took off our shoes to climb up the water fall, which was fantastic fun. Which was good, since the climb back up had us all feeling old and out of shape.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
But the fun doesn't end there! After a chance to shower and rest back at the hotel, we were off to dinner....with a detour. Don Juan (Jon) had heard from his taxi driver about "Marimba Park." Every night there is a marimba band in the square. We stopped there and almost immediately Ryan says, "Jenni let's dance." So yes, I was dancing by the gazebo with the tall gringo in the blue shirt. After that (much to her embarassment), Elspeth (who's sixteen) got her bailar on. Then, just for fun, Ryan asks a random local girl to dance and they hit the floor. It was vastly entertaining and the crowd was into it. It was one of those real, authentic experiences that you can't plan, but that makes your experience that much richer.
Our evening concluded with dinner (as all good evenings should) at La Carreta. The queso fondito was delicious and I had tostadas tuxtletas, which was a ground chicken ceviche. There was live music...including Spanish covers of "Only You" and "New York, New York." No trip to Mexico is complete without helado, so we did a quick drive by to the OXXO to get some ice cream bars on the way home. Shockingly, that was my only ice cream on this trip. I did make up for it by eating multiple churros, though.
#61 tamales for breakfast, #62 meeting someone who has been called to be a priest, #63 visiting an orphanage, #64 dancing to a marimba band, #65 learning how water is purified
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I'm leaving on Tuesday to go on a short Transformation Trip to Mexico with Healing Waters International. How did I find out about it? A friend posted it on Facebook in June. Now it's August and time to go.
In this past week I've contemplated visiting Germany to see friends and been invited to visit China in the spring. Germany is probably a go. China, I don't know. I know I'd like to go, but that sneaky, devious voice of logic and reason (VOLAR) asks "are you sure that's what you want to do with your money and vacation time?"
All I know is that I need more money and vacation time.
And that sneaky, devious VOLAR needs to disappear.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
My personal favorite, of course, is Kenny's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" (saw him perform again on Friday night) at Cheyenne Frontier Days (new #58) with free tickets I won in a contest on KYGO (#59). The opening act was Jake Owen, who is smokin' in his own right (# 60). Jake didn't sing about tractors per se, but does have a song called "Yee Haw."
Other notable country tractor songs include "International Harvester" by Craig Morgan or the current radio hit "Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean....where the woman in the song has the choice of going out in town or taking a ride on the BGT.
Really, what kind of choice is that? Of course, the BGT wins every time.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Reading involves creativity, builds vocabulary, and probably makes you more successful in life.
Leave Harry Potter, The Catcher in the Rye, and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret alone!
Monday, July 13, 2009
"Let them eat cake" is just the start....
Monday, July 6, 2009
And adding to the list:
#45 Exploring downtown Milwaukee on foot, in the sunshine
#46 Summerfest! First time to the world's largest music festival.
#47 First time seeing Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert in concert. 4th time seeing Kenny, but the first time hearing "Me and You" live and having him jam with his band for 45 minutes at the end of the concert (Space Cowboy, You don't have to call me darling, What I got, and more...)
#48 Sitting on one of those vibrating foot massage thingies shaped like a barrel
#49 Drinking caipirinha - made by native Brazilians, no less
#50 Texting a friend of my dad's (how weird!)
#51 Visiting Little Cedar Lake
#52 Trying chili dog pizza
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
So, since the ride and the route weren't different, it's not new, but....
#42 Tried Lamar's donuts for the first time (nothing like wine, a donut and a grand bed after riding 75 miles...Rebecca told me I deserved it, and she's right!)
#43 (more in the ewww category) Stayed in a nasty old dorm at CSU. This is my fault for slacking in making my reservations, but I guess living in LAR at U of I (which is over 50 years old) gave me higher expectations....really who gives college students tiny desks with rocking chairs?
#44 Eating grilled cassava root with spicy Peruvian sauce (rocoto?).
Looking forward to this weekend, where I will actually get to experience, for the first time, one of the listed events in Party Across America, by going to Summerfest in Milwaukee with my sister!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
On our way home last Sunday we saw a sign (a green town sign, paid for by the taxpayers) for a population of 1. I think the place was called Lost Spring and I'm not sure if it was in western SD or eastern WY. In any case, it should be classified as new thing #40.
#41 Participating in Denver's Bike to Work Day yesterday. This is an official event with breakfast stations, media coverage, raffle prizes, etc. I even got a free pair of socks at the 9News station. I'm hoping if I get my act together (planning ahead and all) I can bike to work one day a week this summer. Gives my car a rest, burns calories and provides plenty of fresh air!
Monday, June 22, 2009
#32 I rode my bike to work for the first time last week. This was a practice run in preparation for Bike to Work Day this week. 15 miles each way, it's great exercise and is almost all on bike paths.
#33 Tried the "World Famous" cinnamon rolls at Johnson's Corner (on I-25). I've had better.
#34 Met someone who unicycles.
#35 Dining in Custer, SD including Pizza Works and The Purple Pie Place. It's the most purple building I've ever seen and serves pie and ice cream. Yum!
#36 Attending a wedding in South Dakota, including the following new things: attending my first outdoor wedding, in a camp ground, where Frisbees were the party favor, ladder golf was played, the brother was one of the bride's attendants, the bride and groom took pictures jumping at the bounce house, and the bouquet was given to the couple married the longest. It was beautiful and great fun. Congrats to the Fultons!
#37 Seeing the face of Crazy Horse. The last time I was at the Crazy Horse Memorial was in the early 90s and even though it had been in progress for almost 50 years, not much was defined. The face was revealed in 2008. Now they are working on the horse. This project is not funded by federal or state funds, so you need to go yourself and help them out!
#38 Learning what the 4 presidents on Mt. Rushmore stand for. I feel this piece of US History passed me by, but fortunately there are park rangers to help me with this. George Washington: Birth of the Nation. Thomas Jefferson: Expansion of the Nation. Abraham Lincoln: Preservation of the Nation. Teddy Roosevelt: Development of the Nation.
#39 Tried Pepsi Throwback. Made with 100% natural sugar. I deserve it!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I don't know about other countries, but I know where I work we can't allow our employees to work off the clock for fifteen minutes, much less 4 weeks.
It's a good question to ponder. If your employer told you that you were going to have the month of August off as unpaid leave, what would you do with the time?
Monday, June 15, 2009
#23 Eating Elk. I have tried all kinds of game and exotic creatures (springbok, kangaroo, crocodile, warthog, maphone worm), but had my first elk burger on Wednesday.
#24 Seeing a stage performance of Rent. Awesome.
#25 Having cheesecurds within 2 hours of landing in Wisconsin
#26 Trying a local Sturgeon Bay coffeehouse: DC Brews home of the Lug Nut Latte (hazelnut and peanut butter) as well as a ridiculous chocolate frosted cinnamon roll.
#27 Celebrating the retirement of a family member. Hard to believe dad worked for 35 years and now is, in theory, at leisure.
#28 Hearing someone give a speech in honor of my Dad
#29 Participating in any activity in a Yacht Club. We have no yacht (no boat at all) but celebrated at the club. And the youngest 4 attendees at this illustrious gathering closed down the bar....at 9:45pm.
#30 Teaching my nephew to play bocce ball. He likes to throw things. It was a good time.
#31 Had my first Culver's Butterburger.
Monday, June 8, 2009
#17 I started a new position at the end of May. I am now the Associate Relations & Training Manager. I've been a training manager before, but AR (aka the fun stuff) is new and I'm excited to spend more time doing it. Time to say sayonara to worker's comp!
#18 I've committed to getting involved with the "makeover" of the Denver Illini club. I haven't been participating in the past, but now's my chance!
#19 Hiking in Evergreen - Elk Meadow. Yes I hike and yes I've been to Evergreen, but this was a combined effort of 7 people and 3 dogs. It was a part of Jeffco open space and great!
#20 Volunteering for a big community festival (People's Fair). I love to go to big festivals and eat my body weight in funnel cakes, but this time I helped educate people on what could be recycled. And the people watching was not to be missed. Cut off jean shorts, leggings and big earrings that read "SEXY" says it all.
#21 Bratwurst and Monopoly night. Add a few margaritas and it's a delicious and fun combination.
#22 Actually being where a tornado touched. For many June 7th's growing up (my sister's birthday) we spent time in our basement in Wisconsin because of tornado warnings. Yesterday I was relaxing at Barnes and Noble in Southlands when they warned us to stay away from the windows because of the weather. The hail lasted forever, but I thought that was it. Only once they started evacuating the shopping area for a possible natural gas leak (something else new), did I see all the leaves, broken trash cans, jacked up restaurant umbrellas, etc.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Ahhhh...strolling down memory lane. Thankfully I write it all down, or my travel memories would be something like "Didn't we see that famous building?"
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
You can donate to the cause by clicking here and scrolling down to my name on the team list.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Including the opportunity for new things. Although some things I debate if they qualify and may list them as temporary...if better, more exciting new things come across that's ok.
#6 Going Wine Tasting in California
(wine has definitely grown on me and I have endeavored to taste wine in other places, like New Mexico, Illinois, South Africa, Germany and Australia. But California is a beautiful place to drink wine....one right after the other)
#7 Making Sangria ~ I've only even drank Sangria once or twice, but after trying it at the Callaway winery, I then endeavored to make my own on Saturday night. Delicious!
#8 Eating Dwight's Famous "Strips" on Huntington Beach. Dwight's has been serving people for 77 years. I'm not sure if the famous strips have always been there, but even a complete stranger verified that what made the strips famous was the sauce. Their sign says "Have you striped today?" As everyone knows, striping and stripping are two different things. I'm not sure which I did yesterday morning.
#9 Wearing a dress for an entire day and not for a special occasion (graduation, Mother's Day, church, etc). I wear skirts periodically, but I actually did the sundress thing for a day. It didn't kill me. I may do it again.
#10 Enjoying a Pacific front ocean view hotel room. Been to California, Oregon and Washington and have seen the coast, but never from my hotel room. (*disclaimer: hotel rooms in Hawaii don't count....that's "south pacific.")
Monday, May 25, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So what's "new"?
#1 I went to a baby shower. Where I could take my dog. And we drank tequila (well, not the mother to be). Earlier last week I bought a stroller for the first time in preparation for this party.
#2 I learned to play Texas Hold 'Em (note: this immediately followed the baby shower)
#3 I created my first radio station on Pandora : Island Country
#4 I had a sopapilla as an entree (and for dessert too, but the stuffed sopapilla entree at La Loma was yummy!) At the same time I feel like learned more about my boss as a person than I have in over 2 years of working with him.
#5 Today I bought 2 dresses. Buying dresses is a novelty. I even plan on wearing them both in the next few weeks. Go me!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
On vacation you try to cram as much as possible into a short period of time (supporting the tour bus industry). Traveling gives you more time to relax, enjoy, and on occasion, not do anything. My trip to Thailand was the closest I've been to having a vagabond experience and it makes me hungry to do it again. Soon.
One of the quotes in the book, from a vagabonder herself (L. Spalding in Arizona), was "My family and friends often say to me, "I'm living vicariously through you." Don't ever live vicariously. This is your life. Live."
Monday, May 11, 2009
A friend used to tell me that she liked to order Coke when she was in Mexico, because it tasted better because it was made with sugar. Check out a Pepsi Throwback on your next trip to the store and judge for yourself.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Yesterday I could probably classify 3 new things: Camping in the Snow, Visiting Blue Lakes, Wearing a hat made of alpaca wool. Not life changing, but a good day nonetheless.
As with any topic, there is a market for trying new things, and listing things, on the web. www.43things.com lets you put your list up, share with others who have the same goal, and indicate how it made you feel. Currently 320 people have "try new things" on their life list. Personally I think that is a little too vague for life-listing purposes.
Even the geneses at www.ehow.com have step by step instructions on how to try new things. Come on people, it's not rocket science (but if that was something new you wanted to learn....knock yourself out).
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Summer is the experimental TV season, bringing out shows like "The Singing Bee." Long running shows, like Survivor, started in the summer. The summer that Survivor premiered, I was living in a cabin in Yellowstone with no access to TV. I heard about the show in newspapers and from friends as it was becoming a cultural phenomenon.
I would never have thought that "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" would be returning for an encore this year. I may just have to watch. It could be my token show for the summer. It's either that or the infamous big balls on Wipeout.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
So please, practice saying H1N1 influenza A, wash your hands, and have some bacon.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
What else can you be a fan of and is anything or anyone on FB more popular than God?
538,987 people are fans of Dunkin Donuts
439, 701 people are fans of Daniel Radcliffe (the actor who plays Harry Potter)
40,321 people are fans of Vacation
14, 970 people are fans of Yellowstone National Park
6, 041 people are fans of Vail Mountain
The closest I found through my non-scientific and brief search?
1, 026, 158 people are fans of Bon Jovi.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
In an article on PBS.org:
It was perfectly in keeping with this strict but benign paternalism that the King should proclaim that "gross national happiness is more important than gross national product" because "happiness takes precedence over economic prosperity in our national development process."
What makes a people or a country happy enough that they rank in international surveys and studies? In an CNN.com article last fall, Denmark was ranked the happiest country in the world. In my estimation, winter could last too long in Denmark and affect happiness.
Out of 97 countries in the survey, the US was 16th. It's a mystery how Puerto Rico can be #2, when it's a US territory....shouldn't we have the same score (or be somewhere in the middle, like #8?).
Something to ponder: What increases your GNH?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
For a few years country was all I listened too (and heaven forbid someone try and change the station). The good news is that now I listen to everything. The bad news is that I'll sing along, no matter what's playing, and odds are, I'll know most of the words.
Where do you fall on the "country continuum"? Of the 15 singers featured, I'm in the artist 10 -13 range. Is Taylor Swift your style, or is she too sweet? And at 18, how much heartbreak can she really relate to? Check it out here.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It's much more practical than advice on the proper thing to say when someone wants to pass you at the 8th tee in golf.