drink it up


0“If I forget to tell you later, I had a really great time tonight.”  Growing up, my mom had a strict policy regarding ‘age-appropriate’ movies, but the rules went out the proverbial window whenever Pretty Woman was on TV.  My mom placed her hands over my eyes whenever things got racy, but I still got to see Julia Roberts sing, “I just need your extra time and your ka-ka-ka-kissss” in the bathtub, and thank Richard Gere for a wonderful date before they even boarded his jet-plane (heading to the opera in San Francisco).
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My heart is bursting with gratitude, and this weekend I felt like Julia when I wanted to thank everyone for good times and happy moments before they even occurred.  Truth is, good times seem inevitable when you surround yourself with kindred spirits and loved ones.  It also helps when you’re able to spend summer in Minneapolis (seventy and sunny in the city of lakes? Yes please).

2We went to a block party last night, and a few people asked how we’ve enjoyed living in Minneapolis so far.  Our answer?  A mixture of ‘we’re never moving,” “we love the blend of culture and nature,” and “we’ve never met such warm and welcoming people.”  We spent today at the Minneapolis Aquatennial, a celebration of the city’s connection to water, and the famous milk-carton races reaffirmed our sentiments from the block party.  It’s pretty awesome when a city challenges the residents to race boats made entirely out of milk cartons…
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How much milk would you drink to help your team build a boat?
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The races also provided an opportunity to play with my new camera.  I tried not to be obnoxious as I ran about snapping pictures of boats, cartons, strangers, and anything else that ticked my fancy, but it was hard work pulling my finger away from the shutter button.  Is there a word for camera obsession?  “Hi, I’m Jen and I can’t stop taking pictures….”5We ended the day with ice cream at Lake Calhoun pier.  I forgot to tell Jon & company (company referring to the friends we spent the weekend with) ‘thank you’ before the weekend began, but I have plans to thank him (& them) with a rooftop BBQ on Thursday (gotta grill while the summer’s sun still shines…)

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Does your city have any unique traditions?  What was your favorite childhood film?  And, most importantly, how was your weekend?

certified kindred

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My legs ache, my hands are blistered, and the goofy symbols on my wrists are making me laugh.  A certified FP+KS+BF came to visit, and memories of the blissful three days are stamped all over my body.
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Some confusion?  Leg pains from biking the city, blisters from paddleboarding the lakes, and ink marks from bouncers insisting we need an X-on-the-wrist to enter. Oh, and FP = Favorite Person, KS = Kindred Spirit, and BF = Best Friend.  Did anyone solve that equation without the explanation?
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Acronyms and text lingo get all kinds of negative press, but, more and more, I’m finding myself adapting the language to create new ways of saying things.  There might be some initial confusion, sure, but perhaps the new sayings become commonplace with time?  I mean, why not describe people as certified FP+KS+BF?
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I check Urban Dictionary every morning as part of my coffee+pandora+’check the news’ routine. I told Emily my favorite ‘new words of the month,’ and now I’m sharing them with you:Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 8.24.31 AM
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And now I’ve essentially gotten away from telling you about my dear friend, Emily.  The two of us met while nannying for neighboring families in Milan, and we’ve remained friends evvva since. Emily went to law school in California while I volunteered in Mexico, and then she moved to New York when I started grad school in Chicago.  A bit of jaunting around the country, and now she’s in Texas and I’m in Minnesota.
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We’ve managed to visit each other in all the cities I just mentioned, and the travel has me musing about the importance of commitment over convenience in friendship.  Yes, it’d be great if we could be BFF with the people in our town, but there’s something beautiful about committing to a friendship that travels around this great big world.

make a wish

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The great debate in my apartment is whether dandelions are a flower or a weed.  I think the persistent ‘flower’ makes massive fields look like blooming gardens, but Jon thinks the white and yellow ‘weed’ needs to be picked and pulled, stat.  
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The good news, for me, is that I don’t have to feel guilty about plucking and pulling to make a wish or two or three.  Maybe even four? I’ve plenty to be grateful for this summer, but it never hurts to make an additional request or two, right?
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Aside from the great flower debate, we’ve also been discussing the pros and cons of biking vs. hiking.  Jon likes to escape the city for a hike through the woods, but I can’t think of anything happier than hopping on a bike and finding a new spot to brunch.
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I guess if weeds vs. flowers and biking vs. hiking are the great debates, life is pretty good.  Hemingway said that, “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”  He spoke those words in Paris, but they are ringing true here in Minneapolis.

Hope y’all had a lovely three day weekend 🙂

milk and honey

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Jon’s dad has told me the story of how he got engaged not once, not twice, but perhaps five or six times.  I know his wife took 24 hours to say yes and that he borrowed money from his brother for her ring.  
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Lately, Jon keeps telling me that his softball team begins playing on Friday, April 25th — he reminded me last Monday, last Friday, and just before he fell asleep tonight.  His face lights up with 7 different kinds of joy each time he talks about his team’s inevitable victory.
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I’ve never told Jon’s dad that I already know how he got engaged, and I never remind Jon that the softball information is on the calendar. Thing is, I like seeing their faces light up when they talk about something that gets them 7 kinds of excited.
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You know what gets me excited?  Are the pictures giving it away?  Spring.  It’s probably not necessary to tell everyone that my favorite season has arrived, but I’m busying enjoying walks and bike-rides and blooming flowers and feeling the plain-old-goodness of 50 and sunny.
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Do you have a story that never gets old?  Something that makes you smile every time you tell the tale?

fall in love in 5 seconds (guaranteed)

jon’s love for me must have something to do with cheese.  the man is wisconsin grown, and he was raised on cheese curds, string cheese, cheese puffs, and all things served with cheese.  and then there is me: a certified cheeseball.  Imagei definitely amped up the cheese today with the mushiest RAH RAH RAH (random act of happiness) yet: a 5 second way to fall in love.  what does this mean exactly? it means, in my mind anyway, that you can fall (or run/walk/skip) in love simply by going down the stairs. perhaps this isn’t exactly what people envision when they think of falling in love, but it still qualifies by definition (especially if you actually fall down the stairs).

since architects aren’t building stairs of love all over town, i took matters into my own hands and decorated the stairwell at lake calhoun with red and white hearts.  i ran down the stairs a few times for good luck.  i didn’t actually fall down them, but maybe someone else will? that might be a little funny. and perhaps they would fall in love after? or maybe they would smile once they tumbled to the ground and realized that someone had decorated the stairs with hearts.  either way, a win win.  ImageImageImage
a big thank you to bluebird boutique for helping me look so stylish today — couldn’t have done it on my own : ) And if you like these photos, check out Theresa Swensen photography in Minneapolis.  Teresa’s a sweetheart that just decided to start a career in photography, and can take gorgeous photographs for you!

random acts of happiness

random acts of kindness are fine — compliments and cookies and whatnot — but i’ve always thought that random acts of happiness would be much, much better.  instead of trying to be kind, why not try to spread cheer?  it’s easy enough to help someone carry their groceries or cross the street, but what would it take to make someone measurably happier?  it’s a tall order, and i’m not entirely sure i’ve got the answer, but i’m up for the challenge.  i began today by having some silly poems that i wrote screen-printed onto balloons to disperse around the city.  the poems for the balloons are as follows:

“i talk to strangers
hoping to meet
someone like you”

“a day without you
is like a morning
without coffee”

“your smile
made me forget
my parking ticket”

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when jon got home from work, i enlisted his help finding locations for the balloons that would make people smile.

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we decided on the following:

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i also found a few things in the neighborhood that made me smile:

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we ended the night at lake calhoun where i began thinking of my next RAH (random act of kindness):

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all dogs allowed

all dogs allowed

I met Dan, a fellow dog-owner, when I took Kinzie to play at the Lake Calhoun dog park today.  While the dogs played, Dan explained that the dog parks are one of the things that distinguishes Minneapolis from its midwest … Continue reading