Week In Review (September 8 – September 14, 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 Tuesday 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:


Usually, it is still very much summer in Chicago in September, complete with cicadas, humidity, and soaring temperatures.  This past week, however, has been downright chilly.  It seems that fall is making an entrance early this year.  I don’t mind the drop in temperature so much, because it means longer walks with my pup, Winnie, cozy sweatshirts, and the return of my fondness for hot beverages.  I made a green tea latte for the first time in months using my beloved Bialetti Hot Chocolate Maker.  I use this almost everyday in the cooler months for the perfect, frothy hot chocolate, or tea lattes (possible dedicated post on this machine and what I make in it if there’s interest).

In other news, another new friend made its way into my home last week.  I’ve shared my fondness for Jellycat plushies before, as I have quite a few now, which are mostly gifts from my DH, Don.  Lately, my Bashful Bunny collection has been growing.  I believe I’m up to seven (!) with the latest being Honey Boney, pictured above on the left of the bunny photo in the middle.  They’re multiplying like rabbits (har har)! 😉  Yes, I’m 31 and collect plushies.  Loud and proud!

Another acquisition from the past week is a brand new tripod.  I’ve used and loved my Manfrotto 60″ Compact Action Tripod for the past year, which is small, lightweight, and easy to tote around the house or even travel with.  It is definitely not sturdy enough to support an extension arm for overhead shots, though, which is something I’ve really wanted for my videos for awhile now.  I went for the Manfrotto 055 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod since it is quite sturdy and has an extending column built right in for 90º overhead shots.  This will come in very handy for my upcoming planner review and comparison series on OLJ.  For the head mount I purchased a Manfrotto 804RC2 Basic Pan Tilt Head, which works well and gives me a lot of options.  So far, so good!  I’m considering investing in a second DSLR for multiple angle video shots.  It would also come in very handy for photographing in the middle of filming, which I actually do quite often and can be frustrating having to move around the camera in the middle of filming.  Logistics!  I’m thinking of doing a gear post where I share what equipment I use to make my videos and blog posts if there is interest in that, as well.  Let me know what you think!


Last week held two very important anniversaries that are close to my heart, one happy and one sad.  The sad one is shared by so many others as 9/11 is a date few (if any) would be able to forget in this country.  I talked a bit about my 9/11 experience in a target=”_blank”>Tea & Talk video on MHWL last year, if you’re interested in hearing my story.  I feel like it’s one of those events that people remember exactly what they were doing when it happened, much like my parents talk about the Kennedy assassination.  I know it is a tough day for so many for so many reasons and I like to think that while it is an absolute terrible thing to have happened, there is a kind of power and connection in a collective sadness.  We can forget that we’re not as autonomous as we think we are in this world and that we are all indelibly linked to one another.  Coming together over a shared experience, be it big or small, happy or sad, illuminates this connection.  Knowing that we are not so very different or separate from one another can bring about compassion, which leads to more sharing of peace and kindness and less hate and scapegoating.  Terribly tragic things happen every second of every day in this world, but sharing joy, love, and hope with others can help us feel less isolated and lead to more understanding, collective healing, and kindness.  While my heart aches for that terrible day, I find hope in the strength of the human spirit that surrounds that terrible tragedy.  I hope it helps in some way to prevent future tragedies and instead encourage camaraderie and togetherness.

I tend to get a bit sad around this anniversary in spite of my hope and like to dedicate some quiet down time to reflect.  I’ve never been terribly good at seated mediations, as I get rather fidgety and uncomfortable, which distracts from the purpose.  Instead, I prefer walking meditations, especially during long walks on cool mornings with Winnie.  There’s something so peaceful about spending time with my dog, as well.  I call her my angel and I mean it quite literally, because she brings me peace, hope, and the kind of unconditional love that only an unburdened messenger of God can give.

I pray for peace every day, but send extra special prayers to all who hurt and have been touched by 9/11.


The other important anniversary of mid-September is our wedding anniversary.  This is quite the opposite sort of experience, and a very happy one at that!  In fact, Don and I planned our wedding on this date specifically to help create some more positive memories of an otherwise extremely painful time of year.  On September 10, we celebrated nine years of marriage.  Nine years!  It’s hard to believe we’re almost at a decade.  It feels like no time at all and all of the time in the world at the same time, which feels just right.  I posted a #TBT photo from our honeymoon in Maui.  Many people mentioned we look the same, but I can see our youth.  We’re just babies!  So much has happened since our wedding day and while most of it has been awesome, beautiful, and extremely happy, there have been some rough patches and tough times as well.  I believe getting through the hard times together is critical to the strength of our bond and I am grateful for every bump in the road because we have navigated them together and become all the more close for them.

Even though I told Don that our weekend getaway to Kohler was more than enough of a celebration, he insisted on making a fuss on the actual day and prepared quite the feast for us.  For starters, he made homemade blinis served with caviar (schmancy!), followed by steamed lobster with green beans, and ending with a delightful white chocolate mousse just like the one he made for target=”_blank”>Valentine’s Day in 2013.  Yum!  He also presented me with another gorgeous bouquet and two very extravagant gifts.  That man can’t be stopped!  I’m not complaining, btw. 😉  I gave him a mix tape (yes, people still do that) and a Human Touch® Perfect Chair® Zero Gravity Recliner to hopefully help with his back issues and provide him a thinking/reading spot in his home office.  Everyone was quite pleased with their presents!  Most of all, however, we are both so blessed to have each other to love.  We are also blessed to have our furbaby, which makes our little family of three feel so much bigger and better.  I was a littler surprised at how offended some people were by my posting a photo of our Saturday morning snuggle session.  Let me assure you, this was a 100% innocent cuddlefest.  Don doesn’t wear t-shirts to sleep in and I am wearing a nightgown covered completely by Winnie.  Who knew that bare shoulders were so indecent, lol!  I simply wanted to share the love.  I apologize if it seemed like TMI.


Don and I had a very chill kind of weekend spent enjoying some home comforts together.  It’s so nice to stay in and enjoy our nest between travels!  I had the case of the “mehs” (otherwise known as the “blahs”) on Saturday and turned to some of my tried and true fixes to help pull me out of that mood, including yoga, a good book, tub and tea time, a sunset walk with my pup, and plenty of snuggle time with my hubby.   I am so grateful for the opportunity to make space for these personal pursuits, which did, indeed, lift my spirits.  I woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated on Sunday morning and ready to take on the day!  And the mall, which I generally avoid at all costs on the weekend, but I needed to run a few pre-travel errands, so I braved the crowds and was quite successful (I am thinking of sharing an Italy prep haul?  Interesting or no?).  I spent the remainder of the day doing some packing prep.  While I am pretty efficient at packing in general for both Don and myself, there is one aspect that is more time consuming.  I actually try on most of the clothes I want to bring on any given trip before packing.  I learned this tip from my Mom who has done the same for years.  I know it might seem a bit much to some, but for me, it saves a whole lot of time and trouble when I am actually on holiday having outfits I know fit me well and go together nicely.  I never really have to think about what to wear while on vacation as I’ve generally already sorted it out.  Now that I have done this and have most all of my things pulled, packing will be a cinch.  It doesn’t take me long to prep for Don and our toiletries are always sorted and ready to go.

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

Everyone has a “meh” day every once in awhile.  I’d love to hear what your go-to fixes are when you’re in the need of a pick-me-up.  Feel free to share in the comments!  I hope you’re all having a wonderfully non-meh day 🙂


* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *


37 thoughts on “Week In Review (September 8 – September 14, 2014)”

  1. What a fun video, Jen! It’s so funny because just yesterday I was thinking that all I want for Christmas from YouTube is a “Tuesday errands day” type of video from Jen, and I got it today! 😀 For some reason, your errand-running videos are my favorite 🙂

    Do you FaceTime or Skype with your aunt Julie (I assumed that she would be watching Winnie now) to see Winnie whenever you’re gone? And if yes, does she like that, or does it make her more sad? All the pets I had throughout the years have reacted differently to phone calls/video chat while I was away…

    As for a pick-me up when I have a case of the blahs, my cure is deep-cleaning my bathroom LOL Makes me feel so good about myself 🙂

    Have a FUN and SAFE trip to Italy! I cannot wait for the videos of your trip once you’ll be back.

    1. We’ve never skyped while we’re away with Winnie. I feel like it would just confuse her. I do keep in touch with Aunt Julie, of course, to check in.

  2. I would love an Italy prep video and a post on your hot chocolate maker! Ever since I saw your instagram post of your green tea latte I’ve been dying to know how you made it!!!

  3. Hi Jen! I wanted to say “Congratulations” on your nine-year anniversary! My parents will be celebrating twenty-four years this December; my dad’s parents will be celebrating 55 years this October and my mum’s parents celebrated 49 years this past summer. I have a boyfriend, and we’re currently in a long-distance relationship as we both go attend college in two different cities. Recently, I moved cross-country with my family, and I just spend some time with my mum’s sisters, and my cousins. This past weekend, I met up with my boyfriend and we went out to a café/restaurant for dinner, walked to an ice-cream store, and walked back to his apartment to watch a movie and we exchanged some small gifts and small tokens! 😀 <3!
    Anyhow, I was reading your blog post and I would be very interested in all of those blog posts that you mentioned. I think that would be all very interesting! You have my votes of "Yes" for all of those 😉
    1. On a travelling note, I've been spending the past 3 weeks travelling in cars and trains, and whilst I was in the Mall of America, this past spring, I went to the Vera Bradley boutique and I bought the 17" Roll-Along Tote in the "Boysenberry" pattern and I've been using it a lot for travel since then and I absolutely love it! Without you, I would've never known that they made carry-on size suitcases with a compartment designed for computers, so thank you! BTW, I found some packing cubes at a couple of different sporting good stores, and even one in a home & garden-type store in the camping/mountain climbing section! 😉 2. On another note, one place that I visited on my road trip was Chicago and my mum treated my 16 year-old sister and I shopping! We went shopping on Michigan Avenue, and Watertower Place and when I got to the hotel, I took a picture of all the shopping bags, and I really want to share some of the things that I bought with you, because some items that I purchased were based on your ideas and suggestions. I was wondering, how I could share those things with you? Thanks for your help
    Good luck on your trip to Italy
    Ciao! (That means either Hello or Goodbye in an informal context in Italian. I've been speaking Italian since I was 15.)
    Katherine M.

  4. I would love to see a post on your hot chocolate maker and your Italy trip pack/prep. Also congratulations on your wedding anniversary. My wedding anniversary is also in September, it happens to be 9/11 we were married long before the tragic events of that day and our son was born a year later on 9/11 as well. I think the blahs are common. Glad to see you are feeling better though. Look forward to future posts.

  5. Definitely in for Italy prep video. And I didn’t think your photo in bed was risqué or offensive. It’s very sweet, actually :). Happy Belated Anniversary. You two seem to love each other very much :).

  6. We share September 10 as our anniversary date as well! We celebrated 20 years of marriage last week (actually flew home from our getaway on Weds)! And a Jellycat bunny shares our home as well. He is a lovely light purple that I found last spring at Anthropology. He found his way into my son’s Easter basket, but didn’t get packed to move away to college, so he lives in my room now!

  7. Kinda sad that you won’t have any MHL videos for a few weeks, but you deserve a fun trip. Looking forward to Italy recaps! We went to Italy two years ago, but we were in Milan, Rome, and Genoa so I don’t think any of our locations overlap.

    Question: What youtube channel were you catching up on during your apple/cashew butter lunch?

    Also, I know you did a packing carry-on video pretty recently, but would love to know what if anything you do differently for really long flights like the Europe one. We are heading to Europe for Thanksgiving, so I’m always interested in tips to make my carry-on more useful for a 10+ hour flight.

  8. I would love to see a video of your prep for Italy! I haven’t travelled internationally and would be very interested in hearing what tips you have for a longer trip of that nature.
    Love your videos by the way!

  9. Jen,
    I will be celebrating our 17th Anniversary in August, it goes by so fast! You and Don are such a sweet couple and definitely are such a warm and loving couple. Hold on to every second you have with each other! Since I found your channel, I can’t help but feel the need to keep on watching……so I am. LOL!!!!!!!! Since watching my entire kitchen has been organized like……you guessed it “JEN”!!!! It is such a load off when you need something…….it’s right where it should be. How about that. Have a great day and keep up the great work! Your a busy bee!

  10. Congratulations on your 9th anniversary! Looks like you both had a lot of fun 🙂 I would definitely love to see an Italy prep video! Sounds so fun 🙂 I am about to travel and ordered a solar powered phone charger from Amazon. I thought it would a good addition to long airport travels and on the journeys outside there as well. You can charge it beforehand from your computer and wall outlet as well and it charges up to three full times! Good for emergencies too.

    Seher | Organizational Blogger

  11. Another vote here for an Italy prep video. Happy belated anniversary! My dh and I just celebrated our 10th in August. As for blah days….usually a good book a long run outside cures my blahs.

    1. Also wanted to add on the shoes…..I get the same comments on shoes. I have both the Born shoes and Danskos,in exactly the same style and color. Lol. I have walked miles in the Danskos, they are so comfy. Who cares what people think about your shoes? I also have a wide toe box and I am flat footed. Haha I got excited when you showed the shoes, I have the same shoes as Jen!

  12. Hi Jen!!

    Ya know what…..phooey on those people commenting about your snuggle picture. They must be stuffy old poops. I thought it was really sweet. I enjoy my snuggle moments with my hubby and poochie, too. :0)


  13. I enjoyed your update and am psyched for the planner reviews coming soon…. I’m curious about the Bialetti! I have a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker that I love, but don’t know much about the rest of their line.

    Congrats on your anniversary, and that’s not a TMI photo at all!

  14. Have a wonderful trip! Take the time to immerse yourself in being away and all that this amazing trip has to offer. All the work will still be here when you get back but forget about all of it for a few weeks.
    I am having a Meh Day because for the past couple years this is the day we usually leave to go to Hawaii for a few weeks but instead we did some major home remodeling projects. So for today I am meh because when I wake up tomorrow I won’t be “On Island”. I got up early for a work-out and will treat myself to a little Retail Therapy later.
    Safe Travels!

  15. Hi Jen! Have a wonderful time, relax and enjoy yourselves!
    Can you tell me where you got the North Face jacket – the one without the funky yellow plaid pockets? Thanks, Jamie

  16. Hi Jen,

    I loved your Italy prep… I loved those Keen shoes so much, I went to Zappos and bought a pair.. I think they are chunky cute.
    Hope you have/had fun and rest on your trip. Cant wait to see all your pics and blogs.

    Grammy Pammy

  17. Hi Jen

    Love all your vlogs! I would love to hear what face products you used on your long haul flight to Italy. We’re travelling to the US (Disneyworld) and I find that my face dries out on the flight!

    Many thanks
    Gemma (from England)

    1. I didn’t use any really and regret that decision since my skin totally freaked out on both flights. My smart decision, however, was to not wear any makeup.

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