Week In Review (April 7 – April 13, 2014)

My Week In Review (otherwise known as WIR) posts are just that: a review of my past week.  I post an update here every Monday sharing some tidbits of my previous week as well as an accompanying photo recap with selections from my Instagram.  Here’s the buzz from my week:

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_01Huzzah! Spring has sprung, at last, quite literally.  What a gorgeous week we were so lucky to enjoy!  The rising temperatures coupled with lots of sunshine and a little rain encouraged Mother Nature to finally start movin’!  I couldn’t believe it wasn’t until early last week that I spotted the first crocuses in our neighborhood.  They are blooming about a month later than usual, but better late than never, right?  I love the dainty, colorful blossoms popping up everywhere.  Our daffodils are about to pop open at any minute!  I’m still enjoying lots of fresh blooms inside, including flowers from my sweetheart.  I love keep fresh flowers on my desk in addition to the usual spot on the kitchen counter so I can enjoy them while I’m working on my computer.  I came across these two duckie paper clips and had a little fun doodling with them, something I don’t often do since I clearly lack any artistic talent.  I forget how much fun it is to just draw for the heck of it every once in awhile.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_02It wouldn’t be a proper WIR post without showing you some of the amazing food my husband made for us last week.  We’ve been enjoying switching up our weekly dinner rotation to include some more springtime fare.  The meal with the garlic shrimp and steamed artichokes really felt springy to me!  It was also warm enough to grill a bit.  We recently discovered how much we like grilled pineapple and decided to try it at home.  It’s so easy!  Don just threw some slices on the grill as is and they turned out delicious!  Of course, in addition to our generally healthy fare, I love to squeeze in a little not-so-healthy treat here and there.  It just isn’t spring to me without the special yellow-tinted Oreos.  I know they just use the same filling dyed for effect, but to me they taste better in yellow!  A couple of these enjoyed with a nice springtime blend of tea is the perfect treat for me.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_03Last Wednesday turned out to be a very special “just because” kind of day.  I was feeling a bit blue earlier in the week.  After reading the daily passage in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy (particularly the quote in the photo above), I felt my spirits lift as I decided to treat that day as a special occasion.  I enjoyed my morning walk with Winnie even more so than usual, taking the time to notice the sun in the sky, the buds on the trees, my girl prancing about, and the birds chirping happily.  I realize this sounds hugely corny, but I really did feel uplifted thinking about the day as a special “just because” gift.  It’s funny how the universe works, isn’t it?  As soon as I decided the day would be a special one, things started happening that made it feel like an actual holiday!  I came home from my walk to a surprise gift of a Cath Kidston mug from my husband along with a sweet note to cheer me up.  I have never actually mentioned this brand to him, only recently learning about it myself from a reader.  When I asked him what inspired him to purchase the gift, he directed me to a comment that same reader made on my blog!  It was such a thoughtful gesture and further brightened up my day.  Then, later that evening I returned home from an appointment to see an even larger package waiting for me.  Talk about surprises!  I was not prepared for the gorgeous and generous gift that was neatly tucked inside the beautifully wrapped package (and yes, Don is an excellent gift wrapper).  I immediately fell head over heels in love with my new bag, which I’ve dubbed Beauty, because that so accurately describes it.  My favorite part of the gift, however, was the beautifully written note that accompanied it.  While my day would still have been extremely special without these gifts, the loving gestures turned a very good day into an especially special kind of day.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_04The rest of my week was quite a happy one between the gorgeous weather and my much improved mood.  I’m having fun playing with my new spring beauty products which I hauled last week.  I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz in the online beauty community about It Cosmetics products lately and am happy to report that they are just as great as everyone says they are (at least in my opinion)!  I love the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream.  It offers medium coverage with a lightweight finish.  As you can see, I am dealing with adult acne flareups right now, which is annoying, but not the end of the world, really.  So far my skin likes the new CC Cream.  I’m also in love with the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol 1 Matte Luxe eye shadow palette.  The colors are gorgeous, extremely pigmented, and super blendable!  I’m usually pretty out of the loop with beauty trends aside from what I pick up from watching my favorite YouTube beauty gurus.  I’m so happy I jumped on the It Cosmetics bandwagon!  I’m pretty sure I am fashion-challenged, but I definitely do have a style all my own that I love to wear.  Date nites out with Don give me a chance to break out my favorite spring dresses, including this lace beauty from Free People.  Getting dressed up to go out without having to worry about winter boots, tights, and cumbersome coats for a change is so refreshing!

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_05I had a very lovely, relaxing weekend.  I don’t usually take baths during the day, but decided on a long soak Saturday morning while I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  What an amazing book!  Warning, it is sad and will probably make you cry (I basically sobbed through half of it), but it is such a beautiful story and so worth any tears shed.  Plus, a good cry can be really therapeutic sometimes, you know?  Saturday night Don and I went downtown to one of our favorite Chicago restaurants called Allium.  We enjoyed sharing a bunch of small plates for a romantic and fun dining experience.  On Sunday we were invited to a Palm Sunday supper at my in-laws house and I offered to bake dessert for the occasion.  I reached for the Martha Stewart’s Cakes cookbook, which I only recently purchased, and settled on the Tender Lemon Cake with lemon curd filling and buttercream frosting.  It’s not a challenging recipe, just a bit time consuming with many steps.  The cake turned out beautifully!  I’m always afraid my desserts won’t taste as good as they look, but this one definitely was scrumptious!  We enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening with the family eating good food and having fun dyeing Easter eggs.

Although my week had a rocky start, it ended up being truly wonderful.  I hope you all had a wonderful week, as well.  While getting surprise presents is nice, it doesn’t take a literal gift to turn a moment into a special one.  The gift of being able to choose happiness in this life is more precious to me than all of the Louis Vuitton bags in the world.  I choose happiness today.  I hope you do, too.  Take care! 🙂


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23 thoughts on “Week In Review (April 7 – April 13, 2014)”

  1. I read The Fault in Our Stars and I am right there with you, I cried through a lot of it! It’s going to become a movie…haven’t decided if I want to see it yet or not!

  2. Love everything that you do!

    Love the bag. The cake is fab. I found Martha Stewart’s recipe for that cake online so will make it for Easter Sunday. There is nothing like home-made lemon curd.

    Love the bag that Don bought for you. He is so special but I know that you know that already!

    The dress posted here is just stunning on you. Very Spring-like. Am glad that England is starting to get some Spring weather too. Have finally cast my boots and found my legs.

    Sorted out my Spring clothes – it is good to rediscover the ‘lost’ wardrobe.

    Ready for more sunshine here too.

    Have a great week. Looking forward to your videos this week.


  3. sounds like a great week. I agree that deciding to make a day special is a great idea. thanks for the post. I love reading about your week.

  4. Thank you for sharing your week. I know Feb and March can be a hard time to stay cheerful and motivated. Usually by April 15th every year I am finally in a “happy mood”. The breeze is warmer. The smell of rain in the air. The sound of all the birds help me to look forward to each day again. It’s funny how sunny or cloudy days can effect our moods. I need sunshine to get anything done. Thank God I have a understanding husband. I even have some ready made meals frozen for days when it is cloudy. At least my husband gets a good meal when I could care less if I cooked or not. I am glad you are enjoying this Spring and your walks with Winnie. I look forward to your posts.

  5. You’re absolutely right, we have the opportunity to choose happiness. Spring is the perfect season to enjoy lunches with the family during Easter celebrations. I wish you a great week!

  6. Another wonderful post. I always look forward to your week-in-reviews. I’ve never taken a bath during the day just to relax, except when I was little and sick at home, but it sounds like a wonderful treat. I’m so glad you are feeling better. Even though we don’t know each other in real life, watching your videos really makes me feel like I am with a friend, and it broke my heart when you mentioned you were going through something difficult. Your last paragraph says it all though; you have the right perspective, and I think we all should learn and be inspired by it.

    Spring is arriving slowly here (Canada), there is still some snow on the ground, so I am looking forward to sunny days ahead:) Have a great week!

  7. What a lovely post this week. I agree that reading a daily inspirational can put you in a positive frame of mind, they help me every day. I liked how you ended by saying you choose happiness. It was very sweet. I wish you, Don and Winnie a wonderful Easter.

  8. Wow Jen, way to do the MS Cookbook justice!! Your lemon cake looks flawless.
    I love the way you arrange photos in the collages for your blog and instagram. Do you use a special app or software to do this?
    Hope you have a good Monday.
    Happy Spring!

    🙂 Andrea

  9. Jen,

    I love this time of year! It’s so awesome to see the beauty of God’s creation….so perfectly designed! We are also fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s so important to remember that and be careful not to compare ourselves with others. For women it’s hard not to do that with all the so called “beauty” gurus out there, Hollywood, Cosmo and so on. As you have stated before, beauty lies within. If it’s ugly on the inside, it will manifest itself on the outside no matter how much glitz and glam we decorate ourselves with. If you get down to it, it’s the condition of our heart that matters, not our skin, hair, nails or whatever else we do to try to make ourselves into something that we’re not. God judges the heart, man judges the outward appearance. Let’s all make sure to condition our heart with God’s Spirit, Wash our minds with the Word of God and worship Him in the beauty of holiness. God bless!

  10. Thanks Jen for sharing! It looks like you are having an especially lovely Spring so far. I love how you see the beauty in the little things in life and you always inspire me to do the same! I hope and pray your mood stays lovely and cheery. Life is too short to be sad although I know sometimes it takes a little rain to make the flowers grow. Take care Jen and hope to see you again soon 🙂

  11. Well – you certainly had a wonderful week! Firstly, spring ahhhhh – I love spring, the newness, the temperature. I’m happy that it finally made it to you guys in the east. Not going to lie, you guys are made of tough stuff out there with your cold winters & hot, hot summers!
    My puppy & I have been having a marvelous time on our daily walks, the temp has been just perfect. At this time of year we can go on nice long walks as she doesn’t over-heat at all.
    I got a giggle when I saw the beautiful cake you made, it looked amazing, don’t get me wrong. But, I too just picked up the very same Martha Stewart’s Cakes & this weekend I made the chocolate truffle cake 🙂 My husband wanted the tender lemon cake, but I thought that would be nice to serve for Easter 😉 Anyway I’m glad you made it and gave it a review! Although, Martha is basically the master – so I wouldn’t expect less.
    I got my first Sephora order – so excited to play 😀 The Too Faced Chocolate Bar pallet looks wonderful! And it actually does smell a little like chocolate. The colours are so pretty Jen! My only complaint is that the pallet really doesn’t close nice & tight … but I can live with that 😉 I also picked up the Hourglass Ambient “Radiant Light” & “Diffused Light”, I’m very excited to try these out – especially the diffused light, it is supposed to help kind of cover the imperfections – and lately I have had my share :O
    I should be getting the Sigma order this week, can not wait to play with my brushes 🙂
    Jen, your new bag “beauty” is really something! Don is a special husband! The kind of husband we all want for our daughters. It is a wonderful thing seeing love in action!
    Anyway – Happy Spring!
    Shaunie 🙂

  12. Hi Jen! I’ve recently re-stocked on all my dogs summer essentials and I was wondering if you aren’t too busy, if you could make a video, a blog post, or even something on Instagram or tumblr of the things you keep In winnies dog walking bag. I would really be interested and it would be really useful. Thanks for reading!

    1. I actually have one already! It’s from a couple of years ago but I still carry around essentially the same things: httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4nTIh6M1tw

  13. Hi Jen – Love your videos & blog. Thanks for all of your sharing, especially organizing tips! I saw this & immediately thought you might LOVE it! It’s a way to keep yarn nice & neat – I’m not into knitting, but I saw that you are super into it these days – check this video out at the 8-minute mark! It’s knitting + organizing 🙂 I thought of you right away!


  14. Hi Jen!!

    I also just read The Fault in our Stars…very good book. Yep…cried my eyes out but so worth it. I am now reading Wherever you Go, There you are. It is all about being in the moment and enjoying that very moment you are in. Just started reading it, but I am enjoying it and learning alot. Trying to take it all in. It sounds like you were “in the moment” on your walk with cute little Winnie. I am having more of those moments and I am finding they mean a lot and make you feel good! :0) I am on a new journey of really finding myself and making the very best of all my blessings. Life is good. 🙂

    Love your posts and videos! I learn a lot from YOU, too!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Kim McCoy
    Williamsburg, VA

  15. Don is truly one of the good guys, and I miss him! The gifts are wonderful…Beauty is truly a beauty…but the thought and consideration behind them is the icing on the cake. I personally love your fashion sense and the way you style your clothes and accessories!

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