As Hot As The Sun


We’re staring down what I believe is our 7th heat wave for the summer, which I think is a record. Regardless, it’s YUCKY out. This oppressive heat and humidity is even causing some schools without air conditioning to close early due to heat indices of more than 100. I don’t like it one bit. I even planned meals and shopping ahead of time, just like I was planning for a snowstorm, but the opposite. No baking. Except today’s Todd’s birthday so I’ll be baking a cake and stacked enchiladas. And cranking the air up so it doesn’t heat up the whole house.

Happy birthday, Babe! I would have gotten you a present, but I had to pay the electric bill.

Speaking of Todd, he finished my bookcase! It’s beautiful. I need to touch up a few spots with paint so he said I can’t show a real picture of it until I’m completely done. You’ll just have to come back to see that.

Now that the bookcase is in its home I can move the storage cabinet to it’s appropriate home. Then I can start putting stuff in said storage cabinet. And once the touch ups are done on the bookcase I can start filling it with all my cherished books. (I’m seriously smiling the smile of a love struck goofball as I type.) And once the cabinet is in it’s place I can move the desk down so there will be room for my glider and side table. But before I can put them there I have to paint them. And I have to hang my pictures and organizing thingies and calendar. And then I might be done.



Here’s a before picture of the glider and side table. (I’m actually showing this to you because you can see part of the bookcase in the background, but it’s not a full-on picture of the bookcase so it doesn’t actually count as a real picture. Right? And Todd doesn’t know the password to my blog so he can’t go in an remove it. But it is his birthday, so let’s just not tell him I did it. M-kay? Shhh…)

The plan here is to paint the glider the same white as the bookcase and the table the same mint color as the bead board  in the back of the bookcase. And I have new cushions for the chair, but I’m not going to show them to you yet. Suffice it to say, they’re lovely!

I’m on a bit of a time crunch to get all this done because my mom and sisters are coming out in less than four weeks! So now I’m going to go bake a cake and do a little website work for a couple of clients (I have real, live clients!) and tomorrow I’ll get back to painting.

You guys! It just hit me that I get chocolate cake tonight! That is exciting.


Texas Adventures – Part 2

Texas Adventures - Part 2When last we met, our people had just left West, Texas, and were making their way through the deluge in two cars, one black and one white, down to Austin.

We pulled out of Slovacek’s parking lot and hit I-35 S for the remaining 2 hour drive. The weather vacillated between a good, heavy soak and, as some might say, “pouring pee out of a boot.” (That means it was raining really, really hard. And that’s not the precise saying, it’s more of the PG version. But you get the gist.) The white car and the black car became separated, but both drivers knew where they were going so we just planned to meet up at the restaurant.

As we were gliding through the water driving down the road, I got on Facebook and was assailed with messages from friends asking if we were okay and posting links to the Weather Channel and the National Weather Service and various other news outlets. Turns out there had been a tornado south of Austin and we were under a tornado watch with flash flood warnings all around. I pointed these things out to Terri and, for some unknown reason, it made us giggle. Maybe it was the hysterical laugh of those who are looking an unfortunate end in the eye. I don’t know. It was inappropriate, to say the least, but there we were, huddled together, looking at my phone and snickering quietly because we didn’t want the guys up front to know.

I really don’t know why we behaved so. There’s often no explanation as to why my family behaves the way we do.

Finally we made it to the restaurant.

If you ever find yourself in Austin I highly recommend you try the original Salt Lick in Driftwood.

The Salt Lick

As one who appreciates good food, I would say it was definitely worth the trip through Armageddon. One friend of mine suggested I order the brisket and ask for the end cut, which I did. Oh my, people. Here’s a picture of my plate. I ordered a combo which had pork ribs also.


But look at the brisket. See how charred and mouth watering it looks?


So here’s my take. The brisket was beyond delicious. It was both crispy and juicy, all at the same time, and melted in my mouth. (The taco soup I’m planning for dinner, which I love, is starting to sound a little bland.) I was much less enamored with the ribs and wish I would have just had a big ol’ plate of the briskety magnificence. Next time. Yes – I vow there will be a next time.

The barbecue sauce is very good as well. I’m just partial to a tomato based sauce and theirs is mustard based.

The rest of the fixin’s were good, too. I may or may not have licked my plate. And if I didn’t, I wanted to.

We all decided to complete the experience with dessert. I mean, right? So I had the boysenberry cobbler with ice cream and a cup of coffee. Mmmm…


Excuse me while I have a moment…

Okay. Sadly, I wasn’t even able to finish it. Oh, how I wish for a doggy bag right now.

The other offering was chocolate chip pecan pie and it looked pretty much droolworthy as well.

Pecan Pie

Dangit! I should have shared with someone. Why didn’t I think of that then? That’s what my greediness gets me.

Once the food was served conversation was a little sparse because we were all too busy making yummy sounds. When we did chat, the topic was pretty much the weather and the rain and the tornado farther south and the flooding and what a great blog post this was going to make.

When we left the restaurant we switched up the riding situation. Terri and I moved to Jarred’s car with mom and Michele moved to ride with Joe and David. Before we could leave Austin, however, the boys wanted to make a quick stop and see their tattoo guy. Unfortunately, the tattoo guy couldn’t make it into work because of flooding. But we were there long enough for me to get this picture:


I then posted it to Facebook with the comment that my mom, sisters and I were getting Mother/Daughter tattoos in Austin. People believed me and wanted to see a picture when it was done. So I found this picture on Google and posted it:


We laughed and laughed because, no. Even if we would get tattoos we wouldn’t get that tattoo. We’ll just have to put more thought into what we want before our next girls’ trip.

And just like that we were back on the road. Up I-35, headed back to West for a stop and then on to Fort Worth. Just out of Temple the interstate came to a near standstill. Jarred got off and found a way around to Bucc-ee’s and Joe eventually followed suit.

Bucc-ee’s alone was an experience. It’s an enormous gas station with a convenience store, deli, clothing and home decorating. Because you never know when you’re going to find just the right piece in a gas station. It really was a fabulous and magical place.

Anyway, long story just the teensiest less long, the interstate was flooded a few miles up the road and was shut down. A policeman at Bucc-ee’s was saying there was no way around it, but when Jarred and Joseph asked him about some roads they had mapped out he told them that should be fine. So we headed out again.

By this time it was dark and it was still raining, though not nearly as hard as it had been. Jarred was in front of Joe and all of a sudden this black sedan came whipping around us, over the double yellow line, and scooted in front of the vehicle ahead of us as a semi was coming the other way. Jarred said very unkind things about his brother for driving so recklessly and at the next opportunity he tried to catch up. But the little black car kept whipping around cars, trying to gain more ground. So Jarred kept whipping around cars, trying to catch up, questioning Joseph’s mental state the whole time.

Finally we came to a crossroads and there was the black car, waiting to turn right. We found out later from Michele that Joseph commented on Jarred’s idiot driving, wondering out loud why he kept going around all those cars and why he was in such a hurry. This, of course, caused us to dissolve into puddles of laughter.

You know – reading through this I realize that maybe we just think things are way funnier than they really are. Oh well. At least we have fun.

At one point Jarred said something about hoping he didn’t get pulled over. I told him I hoped not, either, but it would add considerably to the blog story. He did not oblige so I’m sorry. No story about getting pulled over by the police. Which is just as well. The rest of us in the car probably would have been laughing uncontrollably and Jarred could have been carted off to jail because of it. I have no idea what the charge would be, but I suppose it could happen.

One more stop at the Czech Stop in West for the much anticipated kolaches. As late as it was most of us just bought them to have for breakfast the next day. They made for a delicious morning repast!

We finally made it home unscathed and unticketed and saw this on-line:

Troy Flooding

That’s why we had to find an alternate route.

And to think, this is only Friday we’ve gotten through.

Texas Adventures ~ Part 1

Texas Adventures - Part 1A couple Wednesdays ago I flew from Pennsylvania to Texas for a special girls’ get away. My mother and sister from New Mexico flew in the same day and we were picked up by my Fort Worth sister.

The next day we just kind of hung out and enjoyed each other’s company. Then Friday came. But before I tell you about our Epic Friday (as it’s come to be known in certain circles), let me give you a little back story.

A few months ago my Texas nephews and I had a Facebook argument conversation about barbecue. They said Texas has the best barbecue and I said Texas isn’t the only barbecue in town and I’m really not sure how it all went down. I tried to find the thread but there have been a lot of status updates since then. Anyhow, they decided we would have to make a trip down to Driftwood, just outside of Austin, so they could take me to the original Salt Lick.

Turns out Waco is on the way to Austin and, as it happens, Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper just opened a store in Waco and the grand opening was… wait for it… Friday! Not only that, but West is right before you get to Waco. West is famous for their kolaches – delicious Czechoslovakian pastries – and the boys had plotted our course with stops in West and Waco.

So Friday morning came and seven intrepid adventurers set out in two cars.

Friday morning, October 30th.

Do you watch the news?

Did you hear about the weather in Texas on Friday, October 30th?

Here are just a few of the headlines:

“Deadly Floods, Possible Tornadoes Strike Texas as Storms Sweep Through”

” Flipped trucks, widespread damage in south Austin, Texas, after rainstorms, flooding”

” Flash flood warnings continue in South Texas, with rainfall totals over 1 foot”

You get the idea. The weather was bad. But since we were foolish intrepid we went anyway.

So we drove through the pouring rain and sighed our relief when we made it to Slovecek’s in West. Slovecek’s is a gas station with a meat market, bakery, gift shop, and beer cave, among other things. It also has the nicest public bathrooms I’ve ever been in. Which was rather convenient due to the quick stop at Starbuck’s on our way out of Fort Worth. Here we indulged in Klobasnek, Czechoslovakian meat pastries, for breakfast.

Once sated, we returned to the cars and continued on to Waco for the grand opening of Magnolia Market. The rain had lightened significantly and we thought maybe it was passing.

We were wrong and not a one of us was willing to stand in the rainy line. Especially because I think there were two umbrellas between all seven of us.

So my car pulled up to the curb and I jumped out, hiding my camera in my rain jacket, and snapped a couple of shots. We never did see Chip or Joanna. Waco was a bust.

Finally we were on our way to Austin and the real reason for our road trip…

Coming up: Disturbing weather reports, delicious food, huge gas stations and more rain. Much more rain.

Days Four and Five

16 Days of ChristmasOn the Fourth Day of Christmas…

We went to the happiest place on earth! And while Disneyland is a magical place to take children, I can say in all honesty it’s much more fun with grown kids. The only whining came from me and nobody in our party ever cried. Not once. And I’m pretty sure that’s a first – at least since our babies were born.

The crowds weren’t horrendous and the longest wait was 50 minutes. I bought an eggnog latte and Katie and I each had a Mickey cookie to occupy us while we were waiting to get on the Peter Pan ride. Meanwhile, Todd and Taylor were ensconced in big leather chairs at the ESPN Zone, watching some basketball game. When their game was over they hopped the monorail for Tomorrow Land, trekked over to Fantasy Land and waited for us to get off the Peter Pan ride. Which lasted a whole two minutes.

Anyway, most of the rides were 20 minutes or less so we easily rode everything we wanted to and then some. Of course, we had to ride Pirates of the Caribbean twice. And then we had to watch the movie today, but more on that later.

Pirates Collage

Small World Collage



We hadn’t actually planned to ride It’s A Small World, but we needed to kill some time before our FastPass ticket for the Indiana Jones ride.



Disney Collage




Things have changed quite a bit since the last time we were there. And yet everything is the same.




On the Fifth Day of Christmas…

It was a rainy and chilly day and we had no plans. So we did basically nothing. I did take a really good nap this afternoon and I’m pretty sure everyone else did as well. We also watched Pirates of the Caribbean, decorated the tree and wrapped some presents.

Doesn’t sound like “nothing” to me.

I can’t divulge tomorrow’s adventure, but it’s gonna be a good one.



On the Third Day of Christmas…

16 Days of Christmas

backyardI sat outside and read. And took pictures like this and texted them to friends who were complaining about a 2-hour snow delay and the unexpected extra snow this morning.

I know what you’re thinking. My lack of compassion is as glaring as the bright and warm sun that’s shining through the trees in this picture.

You would be right.

There is a walking/riding trail right outside the neighborhood here so we went for a two mile walk this afternoon

Irvine WalkingI learned two things on this adventure.

  1. Katie can talk and walk at the same time for at least two miles.
  2. My bladder is good for two miles. Just.

It was a delightful adventure on this third day of Christmas.

Stay tuned for more adventures to come.

How Many Days of Christmas?

16 Days of Christmas

The Jenster Clan ditched the winter wonderland of the East Coast and hopped a plane (or two) for SoCal to spend Christmas with Mr. Jenster’s side of the family. Since every day is an adventure when you’re West side it should make for some fairly decent blog fodder. “Fairly decent” meaning same mundane but with a change of scenery.

So I give you the 16 Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas…

In N OutWe left 6+ inches of snow on our sidewalks (which was shoveled by fabulous neighbors) and winged our way to Irvine. Both legs of the flight were without incident and, in fact, it was one of the most uneventful days of travel I remember having.

To celebrate we went to In-N-Out and ate outside.

On the Second Day of Christmas…

Mr. Jenster and I woke up at 5:30 AM which, when you think of it, was actually sleeping in because it was 9:30 AM East Coast time. It was a great way to start the vacation because we had a super lazy morning.

Oh. And get this. I only brought one pair of jeans because it’s warm. Like hot, warm.

Winter Weather

So this afternoon a few of us went to the beach to wiggle our toes in the sand and take pictures and stuff like that.

Laguna Becah Collage

Oh, how I miss my ocean. I don’t really think about just how much until I’m here, breathing in the salty air and listening to the waves crash along the shore. It’s an instant infusion of peace and balance and, for me, proof of a wildly imaginative creator.

I would love to make a trip to my beach (not just my ocean), but if it doesn’t happen this time I guess Laguna Beach will just have to do.

Fourteen more days of adventure!

NoThanks – Day 7

Tonight I am thankful for a warm, dry house and a comfortable bed.

I’m especially thankful for a warm, dry house and a comfortable bed tonight. While there are so many people still displaced from Sandy or living in damaged homes with no electricity and no way to heat them, I am warm on this snowy night.



Treasure Hunting

In an effort to kill two birds with one shot (photo shot, that is) here is a picture of Katie’s new old car AND the first snow of the season.

I wish she would settle on a name for her car. I’m voting for Scarlet, but the jury’s still out. It’s just that it’s so much easier to throw out a name whilst talking about her car than saying “her car”. Which sounds better to you?

1. Katie’s car wears the snow as if it’s a mink coat; or
2. Scarlet wears the snow as if it’s a mink coat.

(Killing birds, mink coat – I hope PETA doesn’t read Jenster’s Musings.)

Anyway, Todd’s been a very busy boy. In recent months he has gotten into wood working and has been slowly amassing equipment. All those power tools need a place to live and not in the middle of the garage willy nilly. We have a double garage with two windows on one wall so he’s decided to make that side his workshop. Which is a great plan, except for the fact that we have several boxes neatly tucked along that wall. Boxes that were put there by the moving guys when we moved into the house nearly 6 years ago. So now he’s going through the boxes and making a throw away pile, a yard sale pile, a put away pile and an I have no idea so I’ll have to ask Jen pile. It’s turning into quite a treasure hunt!

One of the first treasures he came across was a bag with our Christmas stockings in it. Yes, folks. We’ve celebrated Christmas six times in this house and never once with stockings. Christmas 2012 is going to be awesome!

Look at what other treasures he found:

I used to collect music boxes and bought this one at the San Francisco Music Company on Pier 39 in San Francisco about 25 years ago. You pull the little cable car down to the bottom of the hill and it slowly goes up the street to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.

My two favorite stuffed animals ever. My grandparents gave me Winnie the Pooh when I was really little and I can’t even count how many times he had to be sewn up here or there. When I was in elementary school and we would be learning about fire safety I would lay in my bed at night and go over how I would get out of the house if there was a fire. My plan would always include grabbing Winnie. When I would start to imagine the fire and NOT getting Winnie out I would end up crying in my bed. I loved Winnie.

The other is the first stuffed animal Todd gave me. I called him LT – short for Little Todd. Cheesy, I know. What can I say? I was young and silly.

I have no idea where I got this. Really? A size 5?

My Grandmother’s jewelry box.

Because of my love for music boxes I was given this one when my grandfather passed away. It had been given to him and my grandmother for their 50th wedding anniversary by my other grandmother so it’s doubly special to me.

There were other goodies (and a ton of junk) that was found, but there are still a few more boxes to go through. I can’t wait to see what’s to be found next!

Five (+1) On The Day After Friday

I was on the run all day yesterday and the only chance I had to do my Five on Friday post (3rd edition) was as I was climbing into bed last night, but I would have had to do it on my iPhone and there was no way that was happening. So I’m changing things up a bit this week. To keep with the alliteration, this week’s edition is Six on Saturday.

Yesterday morning my heart soared with unabashed joy because:

1.     It was deliciously chilly and you all know how I feel about fall. It’s the most wonderful time of the year;

2.     I wore jeans for the first time in several months and they fit; and

3.     My Friday Bible Study Group (aka my Homies) had our first official meeting.

And all that was all before noon!

4.     Todd and I met some good friends (and made a couple new ones) at a new-to-us restaurant last night. It was my first experience with Guatemalan food and I am in love. And not just a little in love, but wholeheartedly.

5.     This morning was another CLEAR brunch and it was fabulous. I know I say that every single time, but it really was fabulous. If you live anywhere near me you should come. Really.


6.     This afternoon I went to a wedding shower for a young friend of mine at the house she and her husband-to-be will be sharing after their nuptials. I’d like to share a few thoughts:

        *      The house is a charming cottage with gorgeous moldings and hardwood floors and dormers and a wonderful side/back yard. It’s the perfect starter house and the vintage charm makes me the teensiest bit jealous. But in a good way.

        *      Her sister/my friend (and photographer extraordinaire) staged the shower outside under these wonderful large oak (I think) trees and it looked like something out of a magazine.

        *      It started raining, but the wonderful large trees of some type made a great canopy.

        *      The great canopy only worked for so long so we all grabbed stuff and moved the party inside.

        *      It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Goodnight, Irene

So here’s how the whole Madame Irene thing went down in Casa de Jenster Saturday night. We had wind and rain and rain and wind and then we found out there was a tornado warning in our area so Katie and I decided to take advantage of the basement. After all, we lived near Tornado Alley for all those years without a basement or a storm shelter. Now that we have a basement it just seemed the prudent thing to do.

At 11:20-ish Saturday night we got all comfy downstairs and turned on the TV to watch Saturday Night Live. But SNL never came on because the news people felt it necessary to tell us there was a hurricane with wind and rain in our area over and over, ad nauseum. By that time we were seeing all the damage that had happened down south and hearing about all the power outages and we were prepared for the worst.

Canned food – check
Chips/cookies – check
Bottled water – check
Cases of soda – check
Flashlights – check

My biggest concern was how I would make coffee if we lost power. Seriously! How would I have made coffee if we lost power?? But we did’t lose power. Our basement didn’t flood. We didn’t lose any trees or branches or shutters or anything at all.

Here’s what I can’t figure out, though. Katie “called” the futon on the way down and I said I’d take the love seat. So here’s this little girl (I know she’s nearly 17, but she’s little in stature), comfortably sprawled out on the opened futon and then there I am, not so little, folded into the parameters of the love seat WITH THE DOG. Eventually Todd came down and he took the recliner. Doesn’t that seem all backwards to you?

Anyway, Irene hit around 2:00-ish, but we couldn’t hear the havoc she was wreaking from our safety of the basement. Sometime about 4:00 Todd sat up, said, “This is bull^#:%” (this from a man who doesn’t normally cuss) and went up to bed. I finally got up sometime around 7:00 after a night of very little sleep and went up to sleep in Taylor’s bed so I wouldn’t disturb Todd or hit his shoulder (he had shoulder surgery about 8 weeks ago) and finally fell into a deep sleep. At 11:30 I came downstairs to see Todd dozing in his chair and Katie sitting at the table eating a bowl of cereal and reading. Third service starts at 11:30 and Katie looks at me and says, “I take it we’re not going to church this morning.” Ya think?

We turned on the news and that’s when we started seeing all the wide-spread flooding in our area and all the people around us with no power. This morning as I drove to work I found out the main road outside of our development is flooded so I had to get creative and find another route.

This area is peppered with creeks and stream and rivers so it’s no wonder we would have a lot of flooding after the torrential rains. Here’s a picture I “borrowed” from a friend of a friend and shows a big intersection not too far from here:

Last week was quite a ride for us east coasters. An earthquake, a hurricane, tornadoes and flooding. I’d ask what’s next but I don’t really want to jinx it.