Noteworthy: A Reusable Notebook

If you haven't heard about this notebook yet, you may just be amazed. Check it out.

So what did you think?
xo, jen

Women's History Month + My Friends

March is Women's History month. There are so many important women in history we can learn about and celebrate, but right now I want to celebrate the amazing women in my life since moving to LA.
I love my girlfriends. I love seeing them face to face, laughing, talking, crying, eating, working out or whatever it is we chose to do. I love getting and sending just thinking of you text. I love their families, seeing their children grow up. I love how we try to encourage one another by recognizing our talents, strengths, and weaknesses. I love how we want nothing but the best for each other and celebrate each others victories. To me all my girlfriends are beautiful. I see beauty inside and out in each and every one of them. I feel lucky, blessed really, to have such wonderful women in my life. Thanks for being the mighty women that you are and for being my friend.

xo, jen
note: as I was going through my pictures I realized we don't take a lot of pictures together and a few just simply refuse to take pictures. That being said if you don't see your beautiful face here that is why.

Black History Month: A Booklist for Kids

Last week I was raving to a friend about a couple of books by African-American authors that won the 2015 Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor awards. We thought one of them might be a good fit for her son Justus who is in the 5th grade. Justus was not interested and balked about having to check it out. However, once home and he started reading it, he didn't want to stop. Justus finished the book in one day. Not only did he finish reading it, he recommended it to his friends.
Justus' mom sent this picture of him reading The Crossover.

This was so encouraging to hear. statistically it is more challenging to get boys to read, so when they find something that excites them it is to be celebrated. Another friend then suggested I post a booklist here. So in celebration of Black History Month I compiled a short list of books by incredible African American children's authors and illustrators.
For younger kids:
  • Moses: when Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (award winning author and illustrator)
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • I Love My Hair by Natasha Tarpley (perfect our textured hair girls)
  • Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown
  • Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty (beautifully written and illustrated story of a boy and his father, love and loss. great for boys.)
For older kids:
  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (one of my all time favorites)
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (2015 Newbery Award winner)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (one of my favorite authors & this title is a 2015 Newbery Honor, 2015 Coretta Scott King award winner, & a 2014 National Book Award winner)
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers (this book is so good. for high school kids)
  • Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
  • The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake (great book. especially good for middle/high school girls)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more beautiful and wonderfully written children's books by and about African-Americans. Do you have any favorites you care to share?
xo, jen

Podcast Playlist

Time to cycle through another round of new to me podcasts. The other day a co-worker suggested a couple of comical ones that I'm looking forward to checking out soon. This time around though I wanted food and money related podcasts. My search was kind of random, but turned up some pretty good morning commute listenings. Here's what's playing now:
images via google

What are you listening to?
xo, jen

How to (hopefully) Find a Lost Phone

Just over a week ago I lost my new phone at LAX airport. horrible. The fact that I wouldn't be connected the whole trip, couldn't take pictures, and would have to buy another phone was depressing. So glad my friend had her phone. I borrowed my friend's phone and called my husband so he would look in his car and when he didn't find it, accused him of not looking well. Oh-vey, my poor husband. Having never been in this situation, I really did not know what to do. My friend and husband offered a few suggestions that were helpful and I thought it would be good to share here:

1. To the best of your ability, retrace your steps. Where were you when you last saw/ used your phone? Do you remember putting it away?
2. Borrow a phone and call your number. Maybe someone found your phone and will answer. Also, try Find My Phone. Great app to locate your phone if you've misplaced or lost it. Available on iTunes and Google Play.
3. Call anyone you might know to look for it at the last place you remember having it.
4. Check to see if anyone may have turned it in at the lost and found department in the location you last had it.
5. If you still can't find the phone, breathe and lock it remotely if possible.
6. If you have insurance, it may cover a good portion of the replacement cost. If you don't have insurance, call your carrier and find out what your options are for a replacement.

Unfortunately, my Find My Phone setting was not turned on so I couldn't use it to try to locate the phone. This just added to my stress. I didn't have insurance so the bottom line for me meant buying another phone. I had already figured out how many extra hours I would have to work to not feel the chunk of change a new phone would cost. So sad.
I did end up calling two of the lost and found departments at the airport. who knew there were multiple lost and found departments. The representative on the phone was friendly and said that they had 4 iPhones turned in the day I lost mine. my spirits lifted. She then told me that the phones are kept in a safe and that I would have to wait until her supervisor got back with the key. She put me on hold to find out what time the supervisor would be back. While on hold, the supervisor returned, she got the phones, and asked me to describe my phone and for the passcode. She tried it and it worked! They had my phone. Hooray!
When we arrived back to LAX I went to the airlines baggage claim office to be reunited with my phone. They told me that a passenger found it on the ground outside the departure terminal. Crazy. Anyway, I'm super grateful to the person that turned in the phone. I hope that something beautiful comes their way.
Have you ever lost your phone? Did you find it? If so, how?
xo, jen

note: something I never did until now is back up my phone. all my contacts and photos would have been lost had I not found it. backing up is always a good idea.

The Drinkable Book - Water is Life

This is amazing...for many reasons! My boss shared this with me and I thought I would share it with all of you. Hope you're as moved and blown away as I was.


Finally, brunch at Huckleberry! This is a cute spot in Santa Monica that I've heard about and have wanted to try for a long time. In this post, I shared about the almond milk from the Huckleberry cookbook.
The wait was long, but aren't most brunch hot spots? The decor is cute. the yellow polka dots were my fave. The staff was really nice and when it came time to be seated, the process was very organized. loved that. My husband ordered some sort of brisket hash and I had the green eggs and ham. His meal was okay and mine was pretty good. The greens were really fresh and the from scratch english muffin was yummy. However, hands down my favorite items were the coffee and the maple bacon biscuit that I took to go. yum yum. So glad we finally got to try this spot and I would definitely come here again and try more of their baked goods.

xo, jen

Made :: Pasta with Peas, Bacon, and Ricotta

Now that I'm pretty much over that horrible flu, it's time to get back to home cooking. baby steps though. Currently, I have Dinner: the Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach checked out from the library. I read Jenny's first book, Dinner: a Love Story and enjoyed it, so I was excited to see that she had another book. It's all about meal planning, the value of family dinners, tips and recipes in the back. Like all recipes, it's good to read it in its entirety before trying to recreate and the ones in this book are no exception. I had to reread the recipe steps a few times.
A couple of weeks ago I made the Pan Roasted Chicken and it was delicious. so easy. Last night I tried another recipe from the book and again another winner. It was simple and oh so tasty...although not the healthiest of meals. I adapted the recipe by using whole grain pasta and my own seasoning. The meal would easily feed 4, but since it's just me and the hubby, we get to have leftovers tonight. yay.

xo, jen

dineLA Restaurant Week

If you're in the Los Angeles area and didn't already know about restaurant week, you still have time to take part. It can be a great opportunity to try a restaurant that may be on your "to try" radar. The menus are prix-fixe and set prices for lunch and dinner. My girlfriends and I usually go together, but it also makes for a great date.

xo, jen

Library Loot

As you already know I love libraries and take advantage of the services they provide. Every week new books are finding their way into my home, even when I say "I'm not checking anything out this week." Here's what's currently checked out on my library card:

What's checked out on your library card?
xo, jen

What's the Word?

Even though we're two weeks into January, there's still plenty of time to make resolutions or to think about what you want your 2015 to look like. For the past couple of years at my church, the women have been doing One Word. Have you heard of it? It's when you pick one word that speaks to you, that challenges you to reflect, grow, consider, etc. Picking a word is not always easy and is actually a little scary because the word we chose usually challenges us to our core. I have my word and as much as I'm excited about it, I'm nervous too. The word calls me to step out of my comfort zone and to take leaps of faith. It's calling me to deny myself and not try to control everything. Yikes. So far I've shared my word with some friends, coworkers, and now whoever reads this. So without further ado, my word for 2015 is:

Some synonyms for BRIGHT are: clear, sharp, deep, fresh, intense, brave, colorful, showy. These synonyms are the reasons why I chose bright. They are all a part of who I want to be.

Do you have One Word? Care to share? 
xo, jen

here's a couple of items/resources you may be interested in:
resource 1
resource 2

Listening to Lately :: Podcasts

Since getting my new phone I've been listening to podcasts. Podcasts are not anything new, but there seems to be a resurgence going on. They're the new "it" thing. My husband is always playing a podcast and when we take road trips, they're a must. It's pretty amazing how many there are. There's something for everyones listening pleasure. really. I tend to lean more toward the design, lifestyle, inspiring shows. If you haven't already, check out the iTunes store or Google Play and see what you might be interested in listening to.
Here's what's on my playlist:

The Lively Show / After the Jump / This American Life / And although I haven't listened to this one yet, from what I understand, it's a hot one:Serial

Do you have a favorite podcast that you subscribe to? Please share.

xo, jen

Made:: Almond Milk

Something that I've been making on the regular (two times a week) for the past month is Almond Milk. Before making it, I really thought it would be a daunting process. To my pleasant surprise, it's one of the easiest and tastiest things in the world to make. Seriously, if you make your own milk, it will be hard to go back to store bought. There are many recipes online or you can try the one I use. This recipe is from the beautiful and yummy Huckleberry cookbook by Zoe Nathan. The milk is so creamy, fresh, and tasty. And because there's no preservatives or added junk, you can feel good about what you're putting into your body.

Vanilla Almond Milk
3/4c of raw almonds
4 dates, pits removed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
cold water
Soak almonds and pitted dates in 1 cup of water overnight in the refrigerator. Drain water from the almonds and dates. In a blender place the almonds, dates, salt, vanilla, and 3.5 cups of cold water and blend for a minute or two. Strain the mixture using cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. Bottle and refrigerate. Milk will keep for 4 days. Enjoy!

notes: Vanilla bean can be used instead of extract. Split bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into the blender. Add the vanilla bean pod to the bottled milk. The milk will separate so just shake bottle to mix. Also, I read somewhere that you could use the strained almond mixture for almond meal once it's dried out. I haven't tried this so if you try it, let me know how it works.

xo, jen

Back on the iPhone Wagon

Just over a year ago I jumped off the "iPhone wagon." My iPhone 4 was dying a slow, painful (for me) death and needed to be replaced. Instead of staying on the wagon, I decided to try something different. It was great and I felt free from trying to keep up with what seems like "the constant phone upgrade." although I never upgraded, the self-imposed pressure was always there. The new phone I decided on was cool. There were a lot of great features (especially the camera,) so many that in the 13 months that I owned it, I barely scratched the surface. What I later realized is that most of my family and friends use iPhones. When group texts with pictures were shared, it was disappointing trying to download pictures that would rarely download. Friends would ask did you get my text or pictures and my answer was no. Also, Facetiming was not an option. Needless to say, it was not only a little frustrating, but at times I felt disconnected. Has this happened to any of you? I just had to suck it up...or so I thought.

After the holidays my husband was ready to upgrade. We went to a couple of places and found a great deal with our current carrier. A deal that also allowed me to sell my current phone back and switch back to iPhone. Hooray!
And can I just say that it's only been a couple of days and already I feel better connected to my family and friends and a bit more organized. The phone also has a lot of new, fun features since the iPhone 4. This is a wagon I'm glad to be back on!

xo, jen

Happy New Year

Looking back, 2014 was a really good year for us. Not that everything was easy because it wasn't or that we didn't experience heartaches because we did. Then what made it so good? Really it's simply the fact that we're still here, still pressing forward, hopeful that 2015 will be filled with good health, new adventures, life lessons, and the strength to handle tough times. That's it, still here and hopeful. So welcome 2015, I'm glad you're here.

Happy New Year!
xo, jen