Week(s) In Review (August 5 – August 18, 2013)

I decided to make this week’s WIR post a double feature, accounting for the past two weeks that we’ve spent at our family abode out in Utah.  There seems to be some confusion about the Utah situation, so I thought I’d take a moment to clarify just in case you’re not in the know.  Don’s folks built a home out here about twenty-five years ago as their family vacation spot.  It’s located just outside of Park City, which is an ideal location for that true country feel with accessibility to an international airport (Salt Lake City) and some primo skiing (Deer Valley is our favorite!).  My husband Don has spent Christmastime and large chunks of his summers out here ever since he was a little kid.  I came out to the house for the first time the Christmas before we got married (2004) and have been enjoying a week or two stay at the holidays and in the summer for the past nine years.  My in-laws, Keith & Suzanne, are extremely generous with the house, allowing me and Don to make his old childhood room suitable for two adults and encouraging us to visit whenever we can, not necessarily only when the whole family comes out.  I fell in love with Utah during my first visit back in 2004 and have been making more frequent and longer trips out for the past few years.  This summer I was very fortunate to be able to carve out an extended stay with Don.  We can both work anywhere so long as there is internet (even with the extremely slow connection out here!), which makes the staying longer easier.  We’re happy that the family has now joined us for the remainder of the trip.

The Beauty Around Us

OJ|MHWL _08-19-2013_01One of the things I love most about Utah is how different the landscape is from our home base, Chicago.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the midwest!  Chicago definitely has a lot to offer in terms of cultural, social, and natural resources.  There’s just something about being out in the country, surrounded by the beautiful Wasatch mountain range of the Rockies, that makes me feel really…grounded.  The fresh air, plethora of both wild and domestic (farm) animals, and wide open spaces definitely contribute to that feeling, as well.  I spend so much more time outside when I am here, even if just to sit on the porch and watch a storm roll in (another awesome benefit of those aforementioned wide open spaces) or eat dinner on the deck and then roast marshmallows over a fire with the family.  Even running takes on a different feeling.  Instead of passing by well groomed lawns, suburban houses and shops as I do at home, I run down country roads alongside farms of fields and animals with the gorgeous mountains as my backdrop.  Plus, running at an altitude of 6,000 feet as compared to 600 at home brings its own challenges, making something that can be static suddenly new again.  I’ve always felt that I’m more of a country mouse than a city mouse, but as it turns out, it’s nice to be able to experience the best of both worlds.  I count my lucky stars every single day for the blessing of this opportunity.

Go Ahead, Indulge A Little

OJ|MHWL _08-19-2013_02I am no stranger to enjoying the finer things in life and I make an effort to grab moments to relax and indulge whenever I can.  Life is short, you know?  Why not take advantage of opportunities while you can.  Opportunity is fleeting and there’s no shame in enjoying what brings you pleasure so long as it’s not hurting anyone.  There have been some delicious indulgences I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy these past two weeks.  Being out in nature in this beautiful place at this gorgeous house with my wonderful family is top on my list.  In terms of more personal pleasures, however, there are some highlights to share.

The first indulgence is the luxury of a brand new mattress.  The beautiful wooden sleigh bed in our room here is actually a hand-me-down from good family friends of ours.  As much as I love the bed itself, the mattress was…well, let’s just say in dire need of replacing.  I am not certain, but I am estimating it was a good twenty-five years old.  Considering how much time one spends sleeping and how much the quality of a mattress can affect not only your sleep, but your mood and physical well-being, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and buy a new one.  I have two words to sum up this indulgence: total bliss.

Another personal pleasure I partake in is my bath time ritual, which I do on a regular basis at home as well.  As much as I prefer the actual tub in our Chicago house, the one out at our Utah house has something I cannot get at home: a stunning view.  Taking a bath right around sunset is particularly enjoyable.  There’s nothing quite like a good book, a cup of tea, and the glorious mountain view while soaking in the tub.  Let me rephrase: total bliss.

Lastly, I tend to indulge in some quality sweets while I am out in Utah.  I have a huge sweet tooth, am an admitted chocoholic, cookie monster, and cake fiend.  I definitely know how to indulge in the sweeter things on a regular basis (moderation is key, though!).  Chicago is known for its fine dining, local bakeries, and access to internationally renowned chocolates and candies.  So what does Utah have to offer in the sweets department?  1) The best dessert  buffet spread I’ve ever seen anywhere at Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Sunday brunch (see my apparent glee before diving into my dessert plate in the above photo).  And 2) the best milkshakes I’ve ever had in my life found at the local legendary spot, Dairy Keen (not to be confused with Dairy Queen).  These are no typical milkshakes.  They’re actually more akin to a Dairy Queen Blizzard or McDonald’s McFlurry, but about a thousand times better.  Plus, the options for customizability make for a truly unique treat.  I try to limit myself to one brunch per visit and ice cream runs just twice a week when we’re out here for the sake of moderation.  There’s a balance to be found in everything, including indulgences.  But awesome dessert buffets and the best ice cream ever?  Say it with me: total bliss.

As you can see I very much enjoy my time spent out in Utah.  I am doing my best to keep up with my work, including blogging, filming, and editing, while also allowing some time for leisurely pursuits as well as hanging out with the family.  Finding the right  balance is made easier when I feel grounded.  Simply being here in Utah consistently provides that for me.

I hope that you are able to enjoy the beauty of nature, indulge when you can in what brings you joy, and strike a balance between work and play this summer and always.  And don’t forget to grab that opportunity to enjoy total bliss whenever you can!  🙂


17 thoughts on “Week(s) In Review (August 5 – August 18, 2013)”

  1. Hi Jen! I am a huge fan of all your channels. You are such a sweet person and so refreshing to watch! I scope out the comments every once in awhile on the videos and I see there is a lot of speculation about some exciting news that may be soon to come. Well, if that is the answer to why we haven’t seen any Martini Mondays lately I would be so excited for you! Of course, there are many possible explanations. 🙂 Take care!

  2. My husband and I spent some time in Aspen last Christmas. I’m looking forward to our trip back to Aspen for the holidays this year. Any advice or remedys for elevation issues? We went to the oxygen bar and that helped some.

    1. For me, dealing with elevation is all about hydration. I make sure I’m well hydrated the day before and the day of travel and then drink TONS of water throughout my trip. That always helps me!

  3. I started watching your vlogs on YouTube last Fall (November 2012), so this is actually my first time watching Vlogust in real time 🙂 I have been enjoying each video and look forward to noon every day (I watch on my lunch breaks at work). It has been great getting to know more about your Utah home through the videos and thanks for adding the short description at the beginning of your WIR. I knew the home was your in-law’s from you mentioning that in your vlogs, but I had no idea of its origins. I have never been to Utah and will have to add that to my list of places to travel. In the meantime I will enjoy it vicariously through you and be in total bliss!! Have a great week Jen 🙂

  4. I watch your videos, and I have to say that I think it’s offensive when you refer to people living in Utah as more laid back and country. You make it seem like they just don’t care and you can get away with wearing shorts and a tshirt everywhere you go. While that may be true, you are generalizing that everyone who lives in Utah is country and simple. You visit one small section of Utah and you lump the citizens into one community/group. Be careful how you label people in the future.

    1. I am sorry if you feel offended by my choice of words. I know not everyone is more casual out in Utah, but when we visit we are and that’s all I meant by that. I never meant to sound as if I were generalizing people at all. In my videos you can assume I’m generally just referring either to myself or my family.

    2. Jessica,
      Jen is on vacation, she is not living there like you and many others. I understand that you may have a job and you work very hard, but so does Jen! If you take a vacation to Florida or California, a lot of people looked more relaxed. But where Jen is from (The Chicagoland area) it is very different. People are running around and it’s a huge city! But still people travel to Chicago and stay in fine hotels and find it layed back and relaxing. On the other hand the people that live there may think otherwise. Please truely think before you post something on the Internet, and make sure what you say applies to everyone. I don’t mean to be rude in any way. I believe you a wonderful person! Just please think before you say something.

  5. Hi Jen! Thanks for a lovely post. Im curious as to which mattress you bought since I am in the market for one myself.

    1. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. It’s not a well known brand. I actually don’t even know the name of the company who makes them! They’re made locally in Arizona…

  6. Hi Jen!
    I am absolutely enjoying your vlogs in Utah! It’s so gorgeous and just seems so laid back and peaceful there! The family home is breathtaking as well. It’s so neat to hear the special memories it holds as well 🙂 TFS!

  7. Hi Jen, just wanted to say I am really enjoying your vlogust vids and am watching them all. I really enjoy all your work! I was wondering if you will be going back to the place you visited earlier in the year when you were in Utah? I remember it was really pretty with streams, and a skylift which was closed for the season and also a gift shop. Was hoping to see the view from the sky lift! Thankyou for taking us vicariously on holiday with you, it’s a real treat for me being from the UK. I love it when you take us shopping with you as I have to wait to visit target until we on holiday in the USA (not long to wait though until our WDW holidays) I can’t wait to get back to a bath and bodyworks!

  8. Too true to everything you wrote about! I’m enjoying, like a commenter said earlier, seeing Utah vicariously through you. It is a beautiful place. My sister and her family moved recently to Utah so I am looking forward to visiting them at some point.

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