Week In Review (October 14 – 20, 2013)

My last week in Utah was split between organizing the kitchen cabinets and drawers and decorating for the holidays.  Decorating and organizing are two of my favorite things to do and one of the ways I enjoy contributing to my family.  It’s truly a win-win situation, since I very much like doing those sorts of things and my family very much enjoys that I do them.  Sharing like this is one of the many wonderful things about being in a community, even if in just the most core community of your loved ones.


OJ|MHWL 10:21:2013_01If you follow me on Instagram you might know about #ChristmasInOctober already.  I generally set up our family vacation home in Utah for Christmas during my annual fall trip, so that everything’s all set and ready to go by the time the family flies in for the holidays.  Some people expressed concerned in the comments section of my Vlogtober daily vlogs on MHWL that I might be overstepping my boundaries by doing so, but in actuality, my in-laws who own the house are delighted that I help out in this way.  Some people like me very much enjoy decorating.  Others would very much appreciate someone else helping out in that department.  I would never decorate, organize, or make any changes in the Utah house that weren’t expressly permitted and enthusiastically encouraged by my in-laws.  The family tends to fly out to Utah at different times over the course of the week of Christmas.  It’s often a bit of a rush for my in-laws to fit everything in the couple of days they typically have out at the house before the rest of us arrive.  This is my third year decorating during my annual fall trip so that the house is all set up by the time my in-laws arrive, which makes for a smoother transition and a more relaxing holiday.  It’s kind of magical to arrive at the house all set up and ready to go for Christmas!  This elf is happy to be able to provide that service.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to have a bit of Christmas in October.  Because Don and I are flying in even later than usual this year, I decided to go ahead and bake some cookies for the freezer for the family to enjoy come December.  I find that fresh baked cookies store very well in the freezer for up to six months.  I always recommend doubling up on packaging for the freezer (such as two freezer bags, or in the case of my cookies, wrapped in wax paper and sealed in an airtight container).  All I do to thaw is to leave the cookies on the counter for about half a day in all of the packaging they were frozen in and voila!  You are left with delicious and fresh-tasting homemade cookies.

Comfort Food

OJ|MHWL 10:21:2013_02Even though I am still fighting that pesky bug I came down with the previous week, I maintained my appetite and taste for comfort food.  Comfort food is a highly individual preference, and I find it interesting to learn what other people prefer.  One of my main go-to’s when I’m feeling under the weather is homemade chicken soup.  I learned the recipe from my mother-in-law many years ago, and in the past year Don has taken over making this cure-all for us.  In fact, we filmed a video on it earlier this year which you can find target=”_blank”>here if you’re interested.  I’ve also been enjoying other fall food favorites such as roasted squash (acorn and butternut are my favorite!).  While I love healthy fixings, sometimes you just need a good ol’ dose of ice cream.  I like to indulge in my favorite ice cream treats whenever we are out at the Utah house.  They have a special pumpkin pie shake every autumn, which to me is the ultimate fall treat.  It’s more like a Dairy Queen Blizzard or McDonald’s McFlurry in consistency than a traditional milkshake, but about a million times better tasting with chunks of actual chopped up pumpkin pie mixed right in.  Pure heaven!

The Heart of Life

OJ|MHWL 10:21:2013_03If you read my post from last week, you know I had the joy of filming my first ever collab videos recently with Kristina who is StarOfMay on YouTube (check out our latest collab on Kristina’s channel featuring  target=”_blank”>paper holiday ornaments we crafted together).  What is even more exciting to me, however, is that I made a new friend in the process.  I find it very difficult to make new friends, since I am a pretty intense hermit and can be very nervous and shy in new social situations.  Something about meeting Kristina felt very comfortable and easy, however, perhaps because we have shared experiences and interests with our connections to YouTube.  We met again in the middle of the week for a fun holiday card photo shoot session and lunch together.  I have been buzzing about for the past week on a bit of a new friend high thanks to this positive experience.  I become braver and more sure of myself as time goes on and I keep surprising myself at my own progress.  Stepping even just the slightest bit outside of my comfort zone every now and then pays off big time in the long run.  I can honestly say I am happier now than I have been in many years (and that’s not to say I haven’t been happy.  I am just even happier!) and I have you, my viewers and readers, to thank for that.  Between posting here and on YouTube about my favorite products, organizational tips, and personal life,  your support has helped to give me the confidence to be myself.  Instead of trying to blend into the background, I am learning to stand my ground and be proud of who I am.  Sure, sometimes life throws you lemons, but I think that’s necessary in learning to embrace myself just as I am.  This quote from a John Mayer song really resonates with me: “I know the heart of life is good.”  I truly believe that and I hope you do, too.  Thanks for helping me in my journey.  I only hope I can help you in some way along yours! <3


31 thoughts on “Week In Review (October 14 – 20, 2013)”

  1. If you were in my family I’d want you to organize and decorate for me, too! In fact, can I adopt you? 😀 I’ll adopt Don too, if he’ll earn his keep by making chicken soup! LOL!!

  2. I just love you and your Family. I wished you lived close by because I just know we would have a ton of fun. If you ever come to El Paso, TX gIve me a call. You are welcome to stay in my home. We are remodeling right now but by March things should be in order. I love organizing and maybe you could give me some better ideas. You are welcome to bring Winnie and my doggie gets on well with other dogs. Coffee shops near by and I love coffee. Maybe you could teach me about tea. I only drink Lipton tea now. Would love to explore.

  3. Jen, as your Grandmother’s toss pillow says “When life hands you lemons, stuff them in your bra!” You’re such an awesome friend (yes you’re my friend) to have! You’re an incredible inspiration, thanks for sharing so much of your life. It’s just as encouraging to see you overcome trials as it is to see all of the regular old awesomeness because it’s relatable and it’s real. Anyhoo… I really loved your ChristmasInOctober because from January to September I dabble but come October I get serious about Christmas 😉

  4. I think its great that you did/do that for the Utah house. You remind me a lot of myself, and in many different ways. Don is great, If I even tried to make some of his dishes, they would probably not taste near the same if he were actually making it. Miss Winnie is adoarable, my dog Sammy loves when she show up on your videos. xox Erica (@MissErica03 on Twitter)

  5. I watched your vlog and enjoyed it. The last thing that your mother in law would want to do is decorate the house and get organised before everyone else came out. I saw some of the comments and couldn’t believe what some people were saying, surely it was obvious why you were doing it (since you mentioned it in your vlog) but I’ve noticed in other blogs/vlogs that others do, there are a minority that can leave mean, nasty comments. You seem to have loads of fans that love what you do, so carry on doing what you/we love

  6. I used to love decorating and gift wrapping for Christmas. But somewhere along the line, it left me. I used to have my teenagers decorate, but now they are grown and on their own. I think that it is awesome that you decorate (and love it) for your family! What a wonderful gift of your time!

  7. I know what you mean I have a hard time making new friends too, I am not really a hermit by choice but I only have one friend that I really spend time with, others have moved away or we have lost contact and now that I am 27 and its been years since I have been in school I dont really know how or where to meet people. I don’t enjoy going to bars so very difficult. I would love to get out and do things because I don’t enjoy staying home but some things are just not much fun by yourself. When I visit my best friend though I am suddenly so much happier as well because I feel so much more like my true self. I am happy for you that you made a new friend it really is such a great feeling 😉

  8. The Bible says to focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” This is what I do when I watch your channels! Life can be harsh sometimes, and focusing on that will only make a make a person unhappy and grumpy. However, I enjoy watching your cheerful and productive life that is filled with loving and serving others! It’s been especially nice to see you connect with Kristina – another lovely presence on YouTube! Thanks for doing what you do!!

  9. Hi Jen! Just wanted to say that the picture of you and Winnie is lovely, you both look darling! Well done Kristina for getting such a beautiful shot! I think that it is wonderful you can help out your family so much! Whilst also doing something that you enjoy that takes the pressure of your in-laws.
    All the best to your whole family from across the pond in the UK. Sophie

  10. Jen you are truly an AMAZING person. I know if you were in my family, we would be all over you decorating and organizing our home, vacation home, etc. Stay true to who you are!!

    I have been following Kristina since I started crafting and got the pleasure of talking to her at length at the Craft Show in California. She is SUPER sweet and I couldn’t pick the perfect new friend for you. She is hilarious and one hell of a card maker. You guys make a great combination.

    P.S. Winter Wonderland will be going up at our store here in California tonight, super excited. I am told that I probably need to come this week, because everything goes quickly.

    Thanks Jen for always sharing! I would have never known I about the Container Store if it wasn’t for you!!!

  11. Hi Jen, I am so glad to have found your blog. You seem like an amazing woman & your family is vey blessed to have you to make their home beautiful for the holidays.

    I also wanted to say, I totally get your “freing high” feeling. I too have a very hard time making friends because of where I am living. It seems you have a magnetic personality & anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend in their life.

    Thanks for sharing yourself with us.

    Have a great Day!

  12. Jen you are my You Tube angel 🙂 I love watching all your videos. I have social Anxiety, but things are better now thanks to your You Tube channel.. ( I have sent you a package with letter explaining) Take care, hugs frao Denmark

  13. Jen, I’ve only recently discovered but all my family know who you are and for the few short weeks I’ve been following your blog and vlog, you have already given me loads of confidence. Everyone admires my university notebooks, set out fairly similarly to your project books – you have no idea what a blessing that video was and made lots of things click into place for me. I have an anxiety disorder and all of sudden I have a system and confidence in myself to get things organised and be in control.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can’t wait for the planner video 🙂
    Hugs from the UK

  14. First time commenting here but I just had to say that I really enjoy all of your videos and blog posts! I don’t comment on the videos because that comment section gets a bit ridiculous and if I were you I wouldn’t even bother reading them. lol People are strange. Anyway, I would jump for joy if someone wanted to organize my kitchen or decorate my house for the holidays! I like decorating but I would never turn down that kind of a blessing! Thanks for all that you do and please don’t let the weirdos slow you down or influence you in any way. 🙂

  15. What a wonderfully successful week! I want you to know that I’m just so incredibly proud of you. Putting yourself out there in a new, friend-making situation can be scary, but you did it! And you did it successfully and found a lovely friend that you’ll have numerous opportunities to reconnect. I hope you touch base with Kristina the next time you’re in Utah and maybe film another video. Or perhaps some of her travels will bring her to Chicago. Anyhoo, I’m so happy for your happiness. It is clear that by overcoming some of your challenges, you benefit, but you also provide infinite inspiration for so many of your viewers with similar issues. You are so deserving of all the happiness, love and friendships life has to offer. Every little step is a huge accomplishment with rewards galore. Keep up the great work! Big Squeezes!!

  16. Jen, I usually forget all about looking at the comments section in blogs and vlogs, but I’m usually sorry when I do look. Some people are just unhappy with their lives, either from their choices or by circumstances out of their control. Often, it’s their choices that have created situations that they don’t like. They become bitter and angry and lash out at others that they perceive have a better life than their perception of theirs. When they turn this anger outward, they will blame these people for their problems and don’t look to ways that they could improve their situations or to appreciate the good things that they have in their lives. It breaks my heart when I see you get teary in your vlogs and repeatedly explain yourself in your blogs. Know that you will never appease these people because they’re really angry with themselves and their lives. All of our lives are difficult enough without putting the burden on ourselves of trying to appease angry and mean-spirited people. You are very brave to put yourself out there like you do and you should be proud of yourself like I know that your family is. That being said, I’m a senior and disabled. My children are grown and gone, but I would be thrilled to pieces if one of my daughters-in-law (or sons) would come into my home and make it more functional and beautiful like you do for your family! Don’t lose confidence in yourself, Jen. You are a wonderful person, and I’m sure that everyone that really knows you feels the same.

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