Archive | June, 2013

On Loving What You Do

26 Jun

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Two years ago I moved to London all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, determined to change the world one child at a time!

Actually, that was technically two years and two months ago.

Two years ago exactly I was working as a social worker in London all tired-eyed and limp-ponytailed. I was screamed at/threatened on a daily basis, and found myself with the unpleasant task of acting as my coworker’s bodyguard.

To say my job as a child protection social worker in London was the hardest point in my working life would be dramatically understating the situation.

I’m a dramatic person.  I know drama when I see it.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in an air-conditioned Target in Scottsdale, rambling through the shoe section with a fizzing soda in hand. I paused to take pictures of the exceptionally-fabulous, tried on sandals, and made notes for an article that would later go live on one of the largest women’s websites in the world.

That stroll through Target was a *moment* for me.  A look-how-much-my-life-has-changed moment.

Before SheKnows I had enjoyed aspects of my career, but I had never loved my job.  I had never looked forward to work, gushed about my assignments, or understood the “do something you would do even if you weren’t paid” mentality.

In fact, I assumed that anybody who said they would do their job without compensation was straight-up lying a la “Oh yes, my favorite food is broccoli” or “I can’t wait to go running today!”

Guys, what does this mean about the world?

Do some people actually enjoy broccoli?

Read my first article for SheKnows here: 5 Things You Should Be Buying at Target Right Now.

God Save The Queen!

25 Jun


This week the annual Denning family Wimbledon bracket challenge began.

Tennis is serious business in my home and the Wimbledon bracket challenge is the most intense of the intense.  The past two days have already included group text messages about Rafael Nadal, Grandmama’s guesses, daily point tallies, and my everlasting devotion to Andy Murray/Great Britain.

God save the Queen!

Last year I won the family US Open bracket challenge (AndyMurrayGreatBritainGodSaveTheQueen!) and have yet to receive the expensive reward I recently decided should have been allocated to me.  When I told my family that I would like a cash prize this year, my dad choked on his water.

It’s like my family isn’t even trying to play by my rules.

My little brother aka Official Denning Officiator In All Things Tennis sent out a group email earlier this week outlining the rules of the bracket challenge.  He ended with the following:

The prizes for this year’s bracket challenge will be either (1) a not-too-expensive book of your choosing or (2) a 15 minute one-on-one session of alone time with your choice of parent. If you win against the rest of the world, you also receive $50 (2nd place is $25).

The “Not-too-expensive” part of the book prize came after I announced I would like the complete works of Shakespeare in hardback.

The 15-minute session with my parents is a joke alluding to my childhood days.

The $50 cash prize is mine.

God save the Queen!

One Of Those Photos

24 Jun


Do you ever see a candid photo of yourself and go, “Surely this can’t be what I really look like!  Surely one of my supposed-to-be-my-soul-mate friends would have stepped in years ago and confronted me about the problem that is this facial expression!  Surely the camera was on the fritz!  Surely so many things!”

Sadly, this is not one of those photos for me.

This photo is all Jill.  Classic J. Lo.  Jillian 101.

The hand in the air, the furrowed brow…if you’ve ever wondered what I look like telling a story, look no further.

I’ll have to save my surelys for another shocking picture.

On another note, my hair color is one of my favorite things going on in my life at the moment.  This may sound very shallow, but this time last year I was recovering from a bout of wannabe-Addison-Shepherd hair and that sort of experience does things to a girl.

I’ve made a vow to not change my color from now until forever, and it is your responsibility as a reader of my blog to hold me to that.  Talk me off the ledge.  Remind me I’m not Isla Fisher.  This is really for the good of everyone as I can get quite emotional about poor hair decisions and you really don’t want to read my hair-color-inspired poetry, I’m warning you now.

As a final note in this incredibly insightful and thought-provoking blog post, I’d like to point out that I don’t think the facial expressions of those around me in this picture accurately depict how people respond to my stories.

I’m sticking to that.

I Choose Richard

19 Jun


I’ve tried to stay away from potentially controversial/hot button/polarizing subjects on this blog, but I can no longer remain silent:  If I was Monica Gellar I would have chosen Richard Burke.

Richard and his rugged manliness and Kennedy bloodline and utter charm.

Richard and his sexy-as-hell voice.

Richard and his grownup behavior.

Even Richard and his mustache.

Richard. Richard. Richard.

Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck. Tom Selleck.

Richard + Jillian.

Tom + Jillian.



I’ll stop now.

Actually, no, I won’t. Let’s talk about TomJill for a minute. Working, or only in my head?

Father’s Day

18 Jun


My dad is not an overly romantic man. He is solid, logical, practical, frugal. He always orders water, prefers unbuttered popcorn, and will pass on a fancy restaurant for a good omelet at home. My dad is the dictionary definition of “low maintenance.”

He is the opposite of words people use to describe me, his emotional, impulsive, can-we-eat-out-every-day-until-forever? daughter. Sometimes I wonder if he sits back and goes, “Where did my daughter come from, this girl who prefers vacation to real life and spends her money so very freely?”

Then again, my dad is excellent at accepting things for what they are, so those thoughts probably never even cross his mind.

Have I mentioned that we are opposites?

My parents were married on January 4th. On the 4th of every month, without fail, my Dad buys my mother a Butterfinger candy bar as a reminder of their anniversary.

If my dad goes out of town, he makes sure to buy a Butterfinger in advance and pass it off to my little sister for delivery. If the 4th falls on a Sunday, Saturday night you will find my dad at the grocery store, candy in hand. Hundreds of times I’ve seen my dad kiss my mom, say “Happy Anniversary Laurie,” and hand her a candy bar.

It’s simple. It doesn’t sweep my mom off her feet. It’s part of the Denning routine, as regular as dental checkups or taxes.

Yet, the 341-and-counting Butterfinger bars have had such a huge, life-altering effect on his children, particularly his daughters.

My little sister got married in December, and now every 28th of the month, without fail, her husband brings her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Somewhere along the way she decided that’s what she wanted. We never spoke about it. It was just a given.

One day I will have an anniversary and I, too, will ask for a monthly candy bar. It probably won’t be the same candy, because the idea of sticking to anything for 28 years, let alone a certain kind of chocolate, just seems daunting. So, yes, my husband will have the slightly more difficult task of monitoring my ever-changing candy moods. But in the end, I hope I have that. I want the Butterfinger bar.

341 Butterfinger bars. That. Right there. That’s what makes my dad such a great man.

Happy Father’s Day, Paps.

On Painting

17 Jun


I’ve always wanted to paint.

It’s the really romantic side of me coming out, the side that relates to Taylor Swift when she says that she might just grow up and paint in a cottage by the ocean by herself.  In my future I always paint and I often live by the sea.

My sea house is clean with white billowy curtains and crisp sheets and books scattered about, halfway finished.  It’s the type of house where you might open a drawer and come across a chipped teacup, and no matter how hard you look you will never,ever find a matching saucer. And wildflowers, there will be wildflowers in every room, just because.

I have a thing with dishes.  I don’t think they should match.  I want to fill my life with loads of random dishes, the more outrageous the better.

Dishes and shoes and books.  That’s all I’ll ever need.

Oh, and paint, for my cottage by the sea.

And outrageous daydreams, those too.

The Definitive Guide to Amy Adams

14 Jun



This weekend Man of Steel opens and the world will line up to see if this Clark Kent adaptation will be more compelling than 2006’s forgettable Superman Returns. My best guess is yes, based on one fact and one fact only — Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

Amy Adams is one of those actresses I have on my mental, “Just Biding Her Time Until She Actually Wins An Oscar” list along with Michelle Williams, Jessica Chastain, and Jennifer Aniston in a world where she is given the roles she deserves. Amy is a woman who can pull of a real-life Disney Princess as convincingly as she pulls off a feisty, punching bartender. She has flawless hair, is ever humble, and attacks every role she plays with complete sincerity and focus and now I’m gushing now so I’ll stop.

For more on Amy Adams’s life before Man of Steel, read the rest of my article for Portable here.

SPOILER: I talk about Justin Timberlake’s hypothermic body.

Also, my editor at Portable wrote this article on supporting women in film this weekend and I think it’s just wonderful.

Happy Anniversary

13 Jun


Today my blog turns six months old.  It’s our six-month anniversary, if you will.

I realize that by even writing this post I’ve become the needy individual I always feared I had in me, the one who requires public, monthly anniversary celebrations.

Next I’ll be demanding weekly acknowledgements of our relationship complete with poetry and “remember when” scrapbooks.  Before I know it, I’ll be so mushy and clingy this blog will grow sick of me and I’ll be yelling after it, “Wait! I can change!”

And so it goes.

When this blog was only an idea, simply a, “maybe-I-should-do-that-but-I’m-mainly-too-scared-to-even-admit-it” thought, Rob and I made a deal.  If I started this blog he would do stand-up.

Six months and 133 posts later, this blog has taken the internet by storm, garnered me four movie deals, and introduced me to Tina Fey.*

Rob still hasn’t done stand-up.

This is a bit of a theme in our friendship.

When our dating lives hit a dismal point, Rob and I decided to take action.  Rob agreed to join an online dating service if I… pursued a tenuous-at-best crush.

Let the record show I followed through on my end of the deal, and no matter how hard you search, you will not be finding any photos of Robert on a matchmaking site.

I should probably stop making these deals with him.

Then again, if it weren’t for one of those deals, there would be no blog.  And if there were no blog, there would be no deep and abiding friendship with Tina Fey.  And without that deep and abiding friendship, well, I simply don’t know where my life would be.

Happy anniversary, dearest blog.

See you next week for our six-month-and-one-week anniversary.  I’m expecting jewelry of the gold variety.

But you knew that.

*Not all of this information can be verified.

Thoughts For A Tuesday

11 Jun


  1. I should not play games on my iphone.  Should not.  Don’t tell me about a new one.
  2. A city is not a home until I have a go-to nacho place.
  3. I miss Malibu.
  4. I miss Caitlin saying, “You look like sexxxx today, you have to document this,” thus preempting the awkward, “Take a picture of my cute day” conversation.
  5. I want to be best friends with Jewel.
  6. I do not understand how it is so hot here that my chocolate melts indoors.
  7. There should be some block on my computer after midnight so I cannot buy impulse plane tickets across the country.
  8. I don’t deal well with loneliness.
  9. Shoes are my favorite part of an outfit.
  10. Burberry Brit was meant for me.  And I was meant for Burberry Brit.
  11. I should quote Jewel more often.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mariah Carey

10 Jun

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I have 153 Mariah Carey songs on my ipod. That’s not a joke, a humble brag, an overt brag, or any type of brag at all. It’s simply a fact. I love Mariah Carey.

Mariah first entered my life when I was an impressionable elementary-schooler convinced “Fantasy” was the best song ever created. I’ve stuck by her side through the highs, the lows, the Bieber.

Mariah gets a lot of flack for her diva behavior and sometimes (often?) questionable interviews, but in the end, the woman can sing and she can sell a record and she does it all looking fabulous and never apologizing for who she is.

With her recent run on American Idol  and the success of her newest song “#Beautiful” (more on the title later), Mariah is back on the public’s radar. She never left mine. Here are a few things Mariah Carey taught me.

Read the rest of my article for Portable here.

I know I say “favorite” a lot, but my goodness was this article a delight to write.