Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Few of My Favorites

I have a handful of "things" that I truly love and thought I would share them with you. 
To begin, I LOVE my Clarisonic skin cleansing brush!!!  It's a faint pink!  I know that my skin both feels and is cleaner on the nights when I use it, over just washing with my hands.   I first splash my face with water and then wash and rinse off my eye makeup.  I then lather up my face with the specific face wash I select (I usually have a benzoyl peroxide, a salicylic acid and a neutral), get a bit of water on my Clarisonic brush, turn it on and enjoy 2 minutes of massage-like pulsing, as I run the brush head all around my face and neck.
I have a battery-operated Olay cleansing brush that I use in the shower, too. 
Keeping with the electric theme, I also love using an electric toothbrush!  I switch out between manual and electric.  After brushing with our Braun Oral B, tho, my choppers feel clean and smooth, almost like leaving the dentist after a hygiene appointment!
We recently decided to give Colgate's Optic White toothpaste a try.  After seeing the commercials where they dunk the sand dollar into wine, I was sold!  I drink a lot of coffee and have had my teeth professionally whitened, so I want to keep my whites as pearly as I can on my own (I'm not big on using my fitted whitening trays b/c that means I have to lay off the java for several days!!).  In my opinion, this toothpaste does the trick!! 
A few years ago, while visiting my family in Florida, I used my youngest sister's lighted makeup mirror.  When I returned home, I sought out my own!  I used it when we lived in Indiana, but not while in Longmont (simply b/c it wouldn't fit on the bathroom sink and I was okay with the lighting and mirrors in there).  Our apartment, here in Denver, doesn't get a lot of natural light in our bedroom, so I am happily back to using my makeup mirror!!!  It has a magnified side, which is perfect for plucking and the up-close eye stuff...especially for those of us who use glasses for the small and close-up stuff these days!  ;)
I have had acne since middle school, but now I have the double "pleasure" of fighting aging!  I have tried so many products, OTC and Rx, over the almost 30 years of skincare and have found a few things that really work.
I like to use straight apple cider vinegar as a toner.  It is an acid, so it's like a light peel and it makes my skin feel smooth.
I ADORE (and usually buy them two at a time) Avon's Anew Advanced Clinical Retexurizing Peel.  It is a pad, like Stridex, with glycolic acid.  It is the perfect delivery system for an at-home peel!!!
I love the anti-aging benefits of Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is awesome at fighting hyperpigmentation, too, which I had from a birth control pill I took because it fought acne!!!  I used to use a serum overnight from Avon, but find that for my oily skin, I need a lotion.  I had purchased a scrub back in 2011 (during our trip to Colorado and a visit to Celestial Seasonings), but can no longer find it!  Bummer!!  I found a lotion by Jason at Sprouts last year and gave it a try!  Winner!!!  It is lightweight and absorbs right into my face!  I use it immediately after showering.  (It does not have SPF, so I layer an Olay lotion over the Jason.)  They have an entire line of Vitamin C skincare, called C-Effects, so you can get cleanser, toner, lotion, serum!! 
A library card!!!!  Yep, here is a free one for you!!  We have had library cards since our home in Hobart!  I love to read, Chris loves CD's and DVD's! 
I was an optician during and after college, so I feel pretty confident that I know how to shop for glasses.  I also know how much money I am willing to spend for them!  To that end, we have purchased a number of glasses online from Zenni Optical.  Will they match the quality you will get directly from a private optometrist?  No.  The quality from a Sears Optical, Walmart Vision or LensCrafters?  Probably not.  BUT, they have worked for us quite well and, at their prices, you can buy a set of eyeglasses for each of your wardrobe moods! 
 Refillable water bottles!  Get yourself one!  Drink more water!!!
Quinoa ~ pronounced keen-wah, for those who have yet to meet this versatile food staple.  We use it in place of rice.  I add it to my oats, both hot and overnight.  We bulk up our tuna salad with it.  It is full of essential amino acids, plus calcium, phosphorous and iron.  It is high in protein, too!! 
Last, but in no way least, canned pumpkin (just puree, not pumpkin pie)!  I love the flavors, the colors, the scents of fall!  I love to cook with pumpkin: breads, muffins, cookies.  I also add it to my oats and my smoothies.  I make pumpkin yogurt with plain Greek yogurt, pumpkin, spices and a touch of honey!!  I have also made chicken pumpkin enchiladas!  (Come to think of it, I need to bring that recipe out soon!!)
So, there you go!  A few of my favorite things.  In no particular order.  For no particular reason, I guess, other than sharing information with you and hoping it enriches your life in some small way!  If you have some favorites you don't mind sharing, please leave me a comment.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Buses, Trains and Walking Shoes

I had the most amazing opportunity arrive in the form of a serendipitous shift (change) at Halloween City.
On Friday, I worked 10:30-3.  I got the chance to work the floor, doing customer service and putting out merchandise.
Let me begin by saying that 1) I have been working 2:30-7 on Fridays at Halloween City.  I needed to change my shift right after the schedule was made, so I could work days because Chris and I were planning to see "Hocus Pocus" at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and 2) I have always worked the cash register every shift at Halloween City.
While be-bopping around putting out new merchandise, (wo)manning the fitting rooms and returning merchandise to the floor, I was also responsible for greeting and helping customers throughout the store.  A woman, with a pretty full shopping cart already, asked my help for a price on one of our large décor items.  I assisted her and then had to hit the fitting room.  She came back by to peruse the witches' hats, so we started talking a bit more.  I then began helping her exclusively.  She shared with me that she was responsible for decorating the newly renovated Union Station, here in Denver.  (Swoon!!  Even tho we hadn't yet stepped foot in there, I was so excited about the prospect of seeing the Station for the first time and it being decorated for my favorite holiday!!)  We continued chatting and brainstorming.  She was sharing with me her ideas for certain areas and vignettes in and around the Great Hall.  It was my most fun shift, as you can imagine!  She proceeds to tell me that about 20 guys from the Denver Gay Men's Choir will be joining her to help with the project.  I told her how jealous I was for their opportunity and it would be so awesome to do.  Without skipping a beat, she says she would love for me to come help!  (Are you kidding me right now?!?)
When I ask when, she tells me the next day from 8A to noon....and I already have plans (to be up in Longmont seeing my girls from Fit Chick Express for the 3rd Annual Love Your Body event).  So, I tell her that I, unfortunately, have a commitment, but I know my husband would LOVE to be there and he would be amazing!  So, we chat and shop some more (I also got her a 20% off coupon should she want to come back for anything else) and I help her at checkout.  We say our goodbyes and I assure her that she will see Chris the next morning.  She is happy, but also says she wishes I was going to be there, too.
I shoot off phone calls to both of Chris's answer!  I send him a text, "How would you like to decorate Union Station for Halloween?  I will give you details at home later."
I am jazzed the whole rest of my shift!!
As I was getting ready to make my own purchases and leave, I see that Laurie has returned...with 20% coupon in hand to buy the motion-activated witch, who moves, speaks and her eyes light up green!!!  We chat some more and I still can't believe my luck!!
I am practically vibrating when Chris and I are home and I can share with him my serendipitous encounter.  At this time, I make the decision that I simply cannot let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass me by and that I will have to miss the FCE event. 
I didn't sleep much (that has become common in this apartment, but this time I think I was still on Cloud 9...but it was also helped by the fact that some neighbors, probably upon arriving home after the bars closed, sat outside in the courtyard from 2:40-4:00A being noisy, until I opened the patio French doors and asked that they keep it down.)  We had planned to walk the 3+ miles to Union Station, leaving no later than 7A, which meant we were getting up between 5:30 and 6A!!!
By 7, we were out the door.  I had packed a couple of my Power Muffins, a couple apples, cash and my empty water bottle.  We walked about 2 miles before getting coffee at a 7/11.  Mmmmmm, pumpkin spice coffee with pumpkin spice creamer!  We were pretty damn cold (having not bothered to wear gloves or scarves and it was probably in the 40's!!).  The warmth of the coffee, and the caffeine, were most welcomed!  We ate and walked ~ we were making good time!
Walking into this massive and magnificent train station took my breath away.  The attention to detail and the nostalgic feel is too much for my words.  You really have to experience it for yourself when you are in the Mile High City.  (There are restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bookstore and gift shops.)
We arrived just as Laurie was speaking with the choir guys.  When she saw BOTH of us, she was thrilled!  She introduced us by first names, tho she didn't know a single name of the others!!!  She said for us to sit tight as she had a particular project for us to tackle!  She gave us the task of hanging the suspended witches' hats and broom, along with some shimmer lights, getting the animatronic witch settled and hanging three glittery skeletons by the concierge.  All three of these vignettes were ones we discussed in the store, so I knew we could create her vision!!
We finished our stuff about 11:45 and then headed into the Great Hall for its transformation.  The guys did a fantastic job, as Laurie made ideal purchases for the space!  She had a very limited budget ($2000-$2500), so it's not going to look filled-to-the-brim or like a haunted house, but it is classy and unexpected and well-received by all of the visitors!  We saw lots of photos being taken!!!
Chris & I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since our coffee & muffins.  There is a brewpub in the former ticket counter space, called The Terminal Bar, which had a posted listing of the beers on tap and I knew we deserved a drink!  Plus, we weren't driving!  Laurie joined us for beers, burgers, brats and shared fries ~~ and then she graciously paid, adding it to the decorating budget.  We chatted about our families, our lives, our careers, how we ended up in Denver.  We exchanged phone numbers and helped her with the last bit of cleanup.  While she was waiting on her car from valet, we promised to meet again for breakfast or brunch and to stay in touch. 
Magical is how I best describe it all!
...from Union Station, we walked to 16th Street Mall for the country's largest Zombie Crawl!  Our first time at any zombie-related event.  Very cool!  Chris got some pics of the ones we liked best. 
The day was beautiful and as we headed back home, we stopped at Soul Haus to cast our vote on the decorated skulls.  Chris was supposed to do one and we even bought it, but when he saw how giant it is, his design plan went out the window.  The money ($5) goes to the Chicano Humanities Arts Council and we now have this huge skull on the front door to our apartment!  (It's also glow-in-the-dark, but the lights are never out in the apartment hallway to enjoy that part of it!)  And, in our favor, casting a vote on that day, the first day of voting, got us entries into a $50 Peppermint or Soul Haus gift card!  Fingers crossed!!  There is a winter stocking cap that is leopard-print with skulls that I really really want (and was close to purchasing a few months ago!)!!
After over six miles of hoofing it around Denver, we planned to enjoy a quiet dinner (well, breakfast for dinner) and relax.  Best laid plans and all ... our friend, Jess, contacted us for dinner and/or drinks.  We said we could do drinks, a time and place were set.  We got changed and were back out, on foot, to meet at Steubens.  Our wait was pretty long, so it's a good thing we had consumed an Angry Orchard cider on our walk!!  To cap off my Halloween-themed day, I tried the Zombie, a concoction of pineapple juice and several rums (I think).  Whoa ~ that first sip found me thinking I could light a match with my breath!  I stirred it a bit and thoroughly enjoyed the quick trip to inebriation!  (The drink menu actually states there is a 2-drink MAX for this adult treat!!!!  I can see why!)
I slept well that nite!
And we spent 4 hours the next day walking: to the Denver Botanic Gardens, around the Gardens, to Trader Joe's and home!!!  Oh, yeah, and we had already walked around City Park (about 7A) for Chris to grab some photos of the sunrise hitting the water, the trees and the building!!!
This weekend was filled with transportation-related venues!!! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breathing Life Into My Day

It is ALWAYS the little things that make the world go round!
Cool, fall breezes
Foliage changing from green to yellow to orange to red
Leaves on the ground, bringing to life the smell of decay that is autumn
Pink scooters passing by your window
Morning runs along the lake in the park
Dancing to the iPod playlist
Smoothies made with frozen banana, almond milk, chocolate plant protein powder, cinnamon, pumpkin and peanut butter, with a splash of water!
Feeling energized, invigorated and invincible!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Long "Holiday" Weekend

What a full and (mostly) glorious weekend!
Chris was off on Friday and friends of ours, Jess & Emily, were coming down to the city from Longmont.  We were able to meet up with them for breakfast in Cap Hill at a place one of Chris's friends has been recommending, Jelly Café.
Mmmmmm!!  Jelly is definitely worthy of the praise!  And now we know why there is always a wait to get a table!  I thoroughly enjoyed the Harvest Hash and coffee!  I only wish my portion had been bigger and that I had chosen the whole wheat toast over the sour dough.  The menu offers something for everyone and I will have to try a new dish next time! 
We "owe" Chris's friend, Jess, a meetup for brunch, when I can have bottomless mimosas! 
Jess & Emily were married last month, but we weren't able to make it back up to Longmont b/c Chris was required to work the whole weekend and I was still waiting on my brake repair.  It was awesome to see them here for a couple hours and to give them their gift! 
Saturday was sunny and warm for our trip to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, a bit north and east of Denver.  The Sanctuary was actually on our To-Do list from last year, but we didn't ever make the trip, which is actually a good thing b/c it is closer to Denver than Longmont.  This is a place filled with animals rescued from a variety of situations, to include bear, tigers, lions, porcupines and wolves.  For the experience, you walk a raised boardwalk, called Mile Into the Wild, over the acres of habitats.  We arrived just before 11.  The animals were either hunkered down out of sight or on the far side of their respective habitats, visible mostly thru binoculars (which I forgot to bring) and a zoom camera lens.  Maybe they needed it to be hotter to be up & about, active & playful?  Eventually, we did get better sights of the big cats, my favorites, when it started to become feeding time.  All of the animals seemed happy and content as they lay warming themselves in the October sunshine.  I just wish they had been utilizing their water features and rolling & jumping around with one another.  It was a gorgeous day to be out of doors, getting a little sunburn around my tank top!!
On Sunday, Jess & Emily came back down to Denver.  This time, we met at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Chris and I had just become members and were thinking of making our first visit, weather-permitting, when we got the text from Jess!  We decided to meet at 10 as the forecast called for some rain after noon.  We were all psyched to see the Chihuly exhibit, even tho it was overcast.  As members, we can come and go at will, so we knew we would make a return visit on a sunnier day, regardless.  Well, our visit was shortened after it continued to drizzle and the temps were dropping.  We made a bee-line back to our place to cook up some pizzas and watch football.  Jess & Emily had decided to become members when they arrived at the Gardens, so we will all get the chance to see the gorgeous grounds all through the seasonal changes, the holiday events and the upcoming exhibits.  Chris and I will be going to see Chihuly at Night early next month ~ definitely bundling up and drinking plenty of warm liquids!!!
Jess & Emily left right after the Broncos game (a win, of course) and we settled in to watch our beloved Bears.  Who thanked us with a win over Atlanta!!  Da Bears!!!
We also caught the first episode of the new season of "American Horror Story ~ "Freakshow"!  Creepy!!  We like it!
It's super chilly, yet sunny (300 days of sunshine in Colorado!!) this Monday morning, Columbus Day. I think today's high (around 4PM) is about 56 degrees, a good 10 degrees below normal! Chris has the day off and is making us breakfast ~ a frittata!  I can't wait!  I'm pretty darn hungry and the smells coming from the kitchen are making my stomach growl! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shared Wisdom ~ From Me and the Universe

I get emails from "The Universe" daily.  They are very inspirational, thoughtful and thought-provoking.  Here is what I got today:
Jennifer, you are the one who was sent to make a difference, to be a bridge, to light the way, by living the truths that have been revealed to you, so that others might do the same.

So now you know why you've always seen the world so differently than others.

To help,
    The Universe
That got me thinking...
I have a friend who has called me her muse.  She looks to me as a sort of life coach.  WOW!  That is a huge compliment.  I don't set out to light the way; I just like to share the "wisdoms" I find along the way, so that we might all become enlightened, less burdened, slightly less stressed, more happy, live with joy & wonder, be present in our lives, enjoy our loved ones even during the trying times (or especially during those times).
I have made it a practice to surround myself with positive and healthy people, images, messages.  I guess I do have a "goal" (more or less) of bringing that philosophy to others. 
Am I leading by example?  I hope so.  Tho, I am not intending to be a leader, merely a messenger, I am happy to lead the charge, light the fire, clear the path, like the Greek goddess, Artemis, through the forest, for any who may be willing to follow.
I will never proclaim to have the answers to life, love, marriage, family, friendship, health, wellness.  I love to read and I love to share what I learn along MY journey, knowing that others before me & along side me have similar journeys and their knowledge can be helpful to many of us.
These days, it seems pretty easy for just about anyone to put together a blog or website, maybe get a book deal (or self-publish), as a self-proclaimed life coach, or whatever euphemistic title of one's choosing.  True, some get an "education" and "certification", but I don't know what the real qualifications are for such branding.  Maybe, one day, I will combine my life experiences, my fitness & wellness work and my sincere interest in promoting joy, happiness, wholeness & authenticity into a career.
What will I call myself?  What will my business card say?  How will my website/blog "About Me" section describe what I "do" for others?
In the meantime,
I am a fellow traveler, meeting new people and making friends along the way, striving to be joyful and authentic each day, keeping my health and happiness a top priority and sharing what I learn along my personal journey, in the spirit of compassion, understanding and love.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saturday Meandering

We took a trip out of the city on Saturday.  We wanted to head into the mountains to see if we could catch any vibrant fall foliage, as well as check out Central City and Blackhawk, which are mostly known for their gambling establishments. 
We passed Blackhawk and headed for Central City first because we heard it was older and would provide us our best option for being outdoors and walking around.  What a great little town (I think the population is only in the 600's.)  So many beautiful old buildings; thoroughly reminiscent of the Old West!!  I could almost see & feel Doc Holliday marauding around the streets (and he had, according to info I picked up at the Visitor Center!!).  Chris took photos of the mountains, the buildings, random structures, an old train engine and passenger car.  Sadly, there are many empty buildings.  There wasn't a single coffee shop ~ we saw one which had closed its doors, presumably squeezed out by the casinos where you can get free coffee & pop on the gambling floors.  Ideas for filling up this quaint town rolled through my brain:  B&B, coffeeshop, bistro, fitness facility, bookstore......but I just wonder how hard it is to make a living when the snow falls.  But the small town feel of the place and the community activities they host are the kind of place I could settle into ~~ and hibernate for the winter months! 
Blackhawk has the newer and bigger casinos, the Ameristar, the Lodge, for example.  We did go in Lodge Casino, quickly passing through on our way to the older part of town, grabbing a free coffee, then promptly tossing it once we got outside as it was crap (barely lukewarm and lacking flavor).  We gravitated to the boardwalk-style of old buildings, more like Central City, where we found Big Foot!!!!  Inside Sasquatch Casino!  We collect dollar gambling chips from the casinos in Las Vegas and had hoped to get one from Sasquatch, but they don't have table games.  Darn!  They did, however, have a stained glass big foot in the window....with the initials "CJ" on the little toe! 
Our departure took us north along 119 toward Nederland, then east, through the canyon to Boulder (our future home), where we stopped for a brew and a small bite at Walnut Brewery.  I was rewarding myself for doing all the driving ... in the mountains ... and trying not to brake, in the steep declines and twisty turns, as often as I usually have!!!  That Brown Ale never tasted so good!  The BBQ sliders and mashed potato meatballs weren't too shabby, either! 
This weekend, I think we will, again, wander into the Rockies.  Sunglasses, snacks and water on hand.  This time, driving a bit more west and north, in search of the elusive vibrant fall foliage.  Which may only be the yellows of the ever-abundant aspens, but we'll take it.  If we are lucky, an errant red-leafed tree will give us a wink! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Our Favorite Holiday's Month Is Here!

Make October AWESOME!
I started out with a delicious piece of toast slathered with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter I picked up just yesterday!   Mmmmmm!!
Chris and I are mulling over attending the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's Mile High Horror Film Festival.  The Alamo offers full-service, meaning you do not have to leave your seat during the movie (unless, of course, what you need is a bathroom break!).  They serve meals & alcohol, along with pop and popcorn.  I cannot wait!  We are considering "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the original, of course!  If not the horror festival, maybe a little "Hocus Pocus"!
We did a little Halloween decorating the other nite.  Mostly on the patio, but there are a few things I placed here & there inside.  It was also a great time to look through our costume & accessory totes.  I pulled out a couple things for my main costume.  If we attend more than one costume party (fingers crossed), then I will head back in there (and my regular closet) to put something together.  And I just might utilize my 30% discount at Halloween City to pick up a masquerade mask for the Exotica Erotica Ball.
I start my Express Kickboxing class today.  30 minutes, full-out, using 2 lb. dumbbells!  I hope we are all out of breath and full of sweat at the end! 
It is sunny & cool here.  A true Fall day!! 
I have enjoyed seeing the pumpkins and Halloween decorations around Denver as I travel to the gym and the grocery store.  Our kind of peeps!
This weekend, we are hoping to head into the mountains a bit to see the spectacular colors.  There has been snow this week in the High Country!  And more to come tonite!  However, the weekend is to be in the upper 70's and the sun should be brightly shining, so I am hopeful that the roads where we need to drive will be clear & dry.  I need to be up in the mountains; I need to see the fall foliage; I need to walk among the decaying leaves, with their particular smell that is indicative of autumn and the end of the harvest.
I bought a sweet potato soup mix at World Market last week and a box of pumpkin cornbread croutons at Trader Joe's, which we might enjoy this weekend!  I'll bump up the nutritional value of the soup by adding some chunks of baked chicken breasts.  Doesn't that sound like how fall should taste??!!
In addition to pumpkin butter, I snagged a Balsamic & Fig Butter at Sprouts.  That should be scrumptious on biscuits!!  Maybe even a ginger snap or gingerbread cookie!!!
Merry October 1st!

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