to my mother

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To the woman who taught me how to be the type of mother I want to be–a true mama bear that would do anything for her babies.

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Thank you for giving me the best sisters anybody could ask for. I never laugh more than when the four of us are together.

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Thank you for welcoming the love of my life into our family with such open arms. Your marriage has set an example of perseverance and commitment. I learned that true love isn’t always the easiest path but the payoff is unbeatable. I am forever grateful for that lesson.
Finally, thank you for being there throughout my entire pregnancy–to support me, laugh with me, and tell me when I just need to relax and trust my instincts. You are going to make a fantastic grandmother.
I wish we could have been together yesterday but I cannot wait to see you later this week for some baby shower fun.
xo

thoughts on becoming a stay at home mom

If you would have asked me at fifteen years old what I would be doing at age twenty-six I probably would have said something like “I will be a lawyer, definitely single (and definitely no babies), and living in California.” Well, at least I got one thing right.

Truth is, I am twenty-six, married, pregnant, and currently unemployed. When my husband was transferred back in October, I resigned from a teaching position that I finally really loved. My students were sharp, engaging and everything finally clicked that semester. See, I struggled with my teaching career from the very beginning. I always thought I was going to be a lawyer and then when I finally worked for a law firm in college, I realized that the life of a lawyer was something I no longer wanted. In the meantime, I was in love with my major of Communication Studies. I truly looked forward to going to class every single day and could see myself in front of a classroom teaching. Still I was not sure what I wanted to “do” exactly so I applied to graduate school in California.

The two years that followed proved to be the most challenging academic and personal years of my life. My whole life was dedicated to studying and teaching. I had never been pushed harder in school. Consequently, I lost some friends and gained some really great ones. In typical Jenna style, I started to have this aching inside of me that wanted something else, something more upon graduation from my Master’s program. I pushed any doubt to the side though and continued to teach for a year after I graduated. I started creating strong connections in the classroom and truthfully learned more about myself and from my students than anything. Despite that, I took a break from teaching to get some more practical experience and see if the (career) grass is greener on the other side (i.e. the real world). Turns out, for me, it wasn’t. I loved working for lululemon. I do not regret taking a break and trying something new because I learned so much about people, myself, and reaching my own goals.

One of my goals, in fact, for quite some time was to have a baby. Months into our relationship I knew that I was going to marry Reggie, but even before that I knew that I wanted to have a family with him. He is perfect for me in every way. After almost 5 years of dating, we married and immediately started trying to have a family. Over a year passed and no baby. We were disappointed every month but we were hopeful that it just was not our time yet. Then in October of last year Reggie and I decided to move to San Francisco. He had been living there Monday-Friday for work and there was no end in sight to the traveling. We wanted to be together and have a baby so a move just made sense. I was at peace with leaving my teaching position and I was very lucky that my department was incredibly understanding.

We were all unpacked by Halloween and I finally started to settle into our new place and relax. I didn’t even think about a baby at that point because, let’s face it, moves are stressful. That was until November 11th when I realized my period was late and I decided to take a pregnancy test just in case. When the second line appeared, I nearly fell over. I actually didn’t believe it. So I took another, and another. Three positives later and I had to call Reggie. There wasn’t going to be any fancy reveal here–not my style. Instead, in tears, I told him he was going to be a father. Together we sat in silence, crying, realizing our dream had finally come true. Life is funny like that. People who knew we were trying to have a baby would always tell me to just relax and it would happen. I realize that is not true for everyone but, for me, it really was.

So here I am, almost 25 weeks pregnant, and the happiest I have ever been. I laugh and shake my head thinking about my 15 year old self. I am literally her worst nightmare. There are moments where I feel ashamed because I have chosen to not only stay at home the whole pregnancy but for as long as possible after the baby is born. I then shake my head and laugh again because that is ridiculous. There is enough judgement in the world, I do not need to be doing the same to myself for something I know is right for me and my family. I am lucky that I can stay home and raise my son. I hope to go back to teaching years from now but I am not putting a timeline on anything. I have learned my lesson there.

As of today, this I know for sure: I love the life I have created with Reggie and I cannot wait for what the future holds. No regrets, just love.


xo

New Additions

Good morning! Today is actually my birthday, so I am a little extra happy. πŸ™‚

I have lots of fun things planned with the Reg and my family (most of which involve food!). But before I go, I wanted to give you a preview of some of the new pieces that I am adding to my etsy store next week…


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Hair Accessories featuring vintage beads and colorful flowers on antique bronze hair pins.


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Dainty post earrings featuring more of those beautiful vintage beads. These are really tiny (a little smaller than a dime) and made with Sterling Silver.


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Both the lockets and the cabochons shown here are vintage and are going to look perfect on a long, thin gold chain.

I am thrilled with how they look. Truly, I would love to wear each piece.


Okay now it is off to celebrate turning the big 2-6. Maybe I will bring this back?


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xo,


Jenna

Hello…I Love Bob Dylan

I have always said that I was born in the wrong generation. As you can see from my jewelry, I am huge fan of music, particularly that of the 1960s and 1970s. Bob Dylan is easily one of my favorites. I love the way he combines rock, blues, and folk music to create powerful music with inspiring lyrics. In fact, I think Bill Clinton said it best when he discussed Dylan’s impact on music:

“He probably had more impact on people of my generation than any other creative artist. His voice and lyrics haven’t always been easy on the ear, but throughout his career Bob Dylan has never aimed to please. He’s disturbed the peace and discomforted the powerful.”

Here are a few of my recent designs inspired by Dylan’s legacy…


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Blowin’ in the Wind

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

I really love both of these pieces so much. In fact, I am wearing a pair of the Blowin’ in the Wind earrings (in pink) to a wedding this weekend. I consider them a little present to myself for my birthday, which is tomorrow! We are going to Pizzeria Mozza for dinner and then I am heading to Lake Tahoe for a very special wedding weekend. It is going to be a great time and I will definitely be sharing pictures when I return. πŸ™‚

Have a beautiful day!
xo,
Jenna

Off to the Market

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I have been trying to visit Market in St. Helena since my last trip to Napa. I love swanky restaurants with creative meals but at the end of the day I really love simple, fresh food cooked spectacularly. Plus, supporting any restaurant that uses local ingredients makes me smile. Market does all of these things. πŸ™‚


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We started with some cocktails. Mine was the fizzy gin drink in front. Perfectly refreshing for a warm summer night in wine country.


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We started with some laughs and some appetizers.

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Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad. Alfie, our server, told me this was the most popular salad on the menu. For this salad, the Chef picks whatever is best at the morning Farmer’s Market so the ingredients change every day. This one had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bacon, blue cheese, and lettuce. The veggies were cooked just slightly which some people may prefer, but I would have rather them be chopped more and left raw because cooking them only intensified the dressing, which I was not a huge fan of. Also, there could have been more cheese. This little hiccup was okay though because the other dishes we ordered were spectacular.


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This is one of the best Crab Cakes I have ever had. This baby was huge and stuffed with quality Dungeness crab meat. Paired with the coriander lime sauce and what had to be the most fresh grilled corn of all time, this dish was epic! I could have ate this as my meal. Only downside was that the cake itself was deep fried. I really think it would have been just perfect if it was less crispy on the outside.


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Fresh Cream of Corn Soup. Again, the corn had to be one of the best veggies at the Farmer’s Market because this soup was perfectly sweet only needed a hint of cream and a splash of chili oil. We were all really pleased with this soup and jealous of Reggie who had been smart enough to order it. πŸ™‚


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I ordered the Organic Fried Chicken for my entree. I LOVE fried chicken. This one was perfectly seasoned and crispy. The whipped mashed potatoes were so fluffy and buttery.

What stood out for me was the portion size. Sometimes you order Fried Chicken for your entree and you literally receive an entire chicken. Yea, if I order that just for me there is no way I am finishing the dish. I was pleasantly surprised when only two pieces were served with my dish. Perfect amount for me to devour. πŸ˜‰


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Macaroni & Cheese with Aged Fiscalini Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bacon and Fine Herbs. I am only going to say this once because I pride myself on having the best homemade macaroni & cheese but this is better than my version. My sisters both ordered the M&C and they are not what you would call “plate finishers” but this was done. Between the six of us at the table, we could not stop “oooohing” and “ahhhing” over this dish. Well played Market, well played.


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My father ordered Zinfandel Braised Lamb. I managed to steal a bit–for the blog, I argue– and wowza, this meat was tender. The jus served with the meat was light and had the perfect essence of zinfandel. My father is not one to rave about food like me (unless it is dessert) but he had a hard time keeping quiet about this one. He said this was the best lamb he has ever had. Period.


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The Filet Mignon came from a local farm and was truly spectacular. Served with homemade au gratin potatoes, haricot verts and a porcini butter, this whole dish was cooked and seasoned to perfection.


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Post-dinner cappuccino for me.


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Butterscotch Pot du Creme for the table. Very rich and creamy. If you are a fan of butterscotch, you will love this. But is this definitely a dessert to share because a few bites is just enough.


We loved visiting Market. The food was incredible and the service was fantastic. Our server, Alfie, was knowledgable about the dishes, having tried everything. Above all, he loves to eat and he is passionate about local, sustainable food. At the same time, he did not bombard us at the table. He allowed us space to talk about enjoy our meals, offering any assistance when necessary.

He told us that he used to live in Southern California and then recently moved up to St. Helena with his wife and their 4 children. Now, they have a larger place on more land and my dream…chickens! I actually let out a little cheer when he told us this (I am such a nerd…) because my dream is to have an old farmhouse with chickens in the back yard and maybe a cow….okay, maybe a goat too. A girl can dream, right? Mostly, Alfie told us he is living the dream up there and you could see it on his face through his beaming smile.

I walked out of this place with a full belly and a full heart.

xo,
Jenna

Cooking with Julie: Part 2


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First, how can you not LOVE someone who has a framed picture of Julia Child in her living room?

Above all, Julie is also a really gifted chef and a gifted teacher.

“Classically trained by some of the world’s most accomplished French Masters, Julie has been teaching for more than 20 years and is a Certified Culinary Professional. She apprenticed with former White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier — and worked and studied in France at Hotel de France in Auch with AndrΓ© Daguin, Paula Wolfert, Gaston LenΓ΄tre and Ecole Ritz Escoffier. Julie was director and teacher at L’Academie de Cuisine, one of the top ten cooking schools in the United States, where she teamed with Francois Dionot for five years. She also had the opportunity to work with Jean-Louis Palladin and Giuliano Bugialli. Julie is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has taken numerous classes at the CIA-Greystone β€” and around the world.

After living and working many years abroad in Asia and Africa, she now makes her home in Napa and started the cooking school COOKING with JULIE. In her free time she volunteers at the Food Bank and C.H.E.F.S. (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) as an instructor.

Member of International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), *Certified Culinary Professional (CCP), San Francisco Professional Food Society, and Slow Food.”

  (Source)



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We spent the beginning of class reviewing our recipes. Julie always emphasizes the importance of reading recipes from beginning to end BEFORE starting to cook. This way, you know what is coming next and there is much less stress in the kitchen. Now that is something we all want, right? Cooking is supposed to be fun! πŸ™‚


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There were 8 people total in the class which really allowed Julie to give us individual attention. We were grouped into pairs and each pair was assigned a dish. I wanted to prepare something I had never cooked before so Gingi and I chose the Strawberry Gelato and Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues). Truthfully, we were moving so fast in the kitchen that it was not very easy to take pictures of each step of the process. I did manage to snap a couple action shots though.


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Gingi and I received some great experience learning how to pipe and I have to say I really love pastry making. My dream is to go to culinary school and learn baking and pastry in more detail. πŸ™‚

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Once everything was prepared, we sat down outside for a lovely lunch paired with the wine we tasted earlier in the day. Everything as fresh, flavorful, and incredibly light. The perfect summer lunch.


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Sorrel & Mint Buttermilk Soup


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Vegetables Grilled Spanish Style with Picada


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Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Goat Cheese


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Strawberry Gelato with Balsamic Vinegar

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Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues)


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Cooking with Julie is an amazing experience and I highly recommend her to anyone who visits the Valley. My mom loved the experience and she cannot wait to do it again! πŸ™‚

Have you ever taken a cooking class? If not, what would you want to learn?

xo,

Jenna

My Love

My husband Reggie and I just celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. We met at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Co in 2005. When we met, I was an 18 year old freshman who followed her high school boyfriend to college, only to quickly get my heart broken. Reg was in an on again, off again 5 year relationship. We actually met through my college roommate Melissa, who happened to have an older brother who was friends with Reg. After years of being friends and now single, we connected one night, started dating and have not looked back since.

He is truly a perfect match for me. When I think about the person I dreamt of spending my life with, I realize I was selling myself short, because Reg is so much more. He is a huge supporter of everything I doΒ even if it has changed several times over the years. I am incredibly lucky. πŸ™‚


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xo,


Jenna

Eating Green

I am a huge sports fan and being from the Boston area, I am a huge fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and of course the Celtics. Since the Celtics are playing the Lakers in the NBA Finals and I live in Southern California, I am really enjoying continuation of the historic rivalry. Add in the fact that I am a cheeseball, and you get lots of green food for the playoffs—both in color and preparation.


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Luckily, my CSA provided me with some beautiful, seasonal avocados. I watched Food, Inc. over the weekend and it is quite the game changer. If you have not had a chance to see this documentary, please do. Also, I would just like to add that Reg and I want the farmer they interviewed to be our friend. Love that guy! πŸ™‚

We are going to continue our research on where our food comes from but I will say this: my husband, who was practically committed to a McDonald’s diet at one point in his life (gotta love college), said he will never look at food the same way again. And we will most certainly be renewing my CSA subscription. If you are looking for one near you, I highly recommend checking out Local Harvest.

Okay back to the guacamole. As a kid I thought anything avocado was disgusting. I was a picky willful child who would have preferred to eat Macaroni & Cheese for the rest of her life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love M&C but nothing compares to a ripe, buttery avocado. Once, I tried some fresh guacamole, it was love at first bite.

I use lemons instead of limes for the acid. It just gives it a more subtle flavor and really allows the avocados to shine!


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Jenna’s Simple Guacamole

8 Servings

2 medium-sized avocados (ripe)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup minced red onion (optional)

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Tortilla Chips, Carrot Sticks, etc. for dippers

1. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Using a large spoon scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in a medium sized bowl.

2. Use a fork to start chopping up with avocado.

3. Add the garlic, lemon juice, onions (if using), salt, and pepper. Continue to combine until guacamole reaches desired consistency.

Enjoy and GO CELTICS!


xo,


Jenna

On The Road Again


We stopped at local diner Jim-Denny’s for breakfast before leaving for wine country. Jim-Denny’s is a sort of institution in Sacramento, known for its solid, American food. There are about 10 seats in the whole restaurant. My favorite part though, is the no nonsense woman (whose name I unfortunately did not catch) takes your order and cooks your food right in front of you.

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My handsome breakfast buddy. πŸ™‚


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The original restaurant phone. I took this picture because I love old telephones but what made this one hilarious is the note directly on it’s left. Scroll down a bit more to see what I am talking about…


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Love this! So sassy! Too bad no one called while I was there. I was going to rock that order!


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I ordered a half order of biscuits and gravy. I should probably mention that everything here is LARGE. So tell them how hungry you are before you order so you don’t waste a bunch of food. In our case, she asked us right away and we received the perfect amount of food.


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My hubs ordered one of their famous pancakes and it did not disappoint. Thick and fluffy, this pancake was the size of my head–and if you have every see me try to put on a turtleneck, you know that it is huge. Did I mention this was the Jr. size pancake?

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Side of scrambled eggs and crispy bacon for my man.


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One egg over medium for me, please!


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Oh and boat loads of this stuff. I have not really mentioned it here yet but I love coffee. Really, really, love coffee.


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We had some final meetings for work and then it was time to hit the road. Wine country is only an hour away from Sacramento. If you are visiting the Valley and want to know what airport to fly into, do not even think about San Francisco or Oakland unless it is much cheaper. Sacramento is by far the most convenient and just as close to Napa or Sonoma, if not closer with a much smaller crowd.


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Side note: These last two shots are a bit “distorted” on purpose. Reg bought me some Diana+ lens adaptors for my SLR so I spent the drive playing around with them. I love how dreamy they make the images look.

By the time we arrived in Wine Country, it was just about lunch time and I was ready to…


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I knew exactly where I wanted to go too. I went to Taylor’s Refresher years ago in St. Helena and knew I had to try it again on my next visit. This time, we checked out the Napa outpost and the food was still fresh and delicious. The name, however, has now changed to Gott’s Roadside. Honestly, I think the name change is a crazy idea. It is part of the charm! The food was still really good, which is the most important thing, right?


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It was really hot out so we decided 2 beers was the most appropriate way to begin our lunch. We ordered the North Coast Blue Star Wheat. Perfectly refreshing.


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Then it was time for the main event. Last time I visited Taylor’s/Gott’s I ordered the special which was a turkey burger topped with cinnamon apple onion chutney and it knocked my socks off. Other people must have liked a lot too because now it is on the menu full time.


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My husband ordered the Patty Melt. I didn’t try it but he said it was super delicious. Since his nickname is The Burger King, I am inclined to believe him.


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Here is my lovely Turkey Burger. They serve most sandwiches on toasted egg buns. I have to learn how to make them at home! When I do, I will share them with you because they really elevate the sandwich to a whole new level. This was delicious. We also split an order of garlic fries that were good but really buttery so I only had a few. Don’t worry nothing was wasted though because Reg demolished the rest of them.


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It happened to be Cinco De Mayo when we were there so they gave us these little sombreros which I think are really for salting the rim of your margarita glass but I am very mature and decided to put it on my (large) head.


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I heard great things about the Obxow Public Market, which is like a mini version of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. However, I had no idea it was that close to our lunch spot so we happily walked over after our lunch. We were not disappointed.


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A grocery area full of local produce!


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Oysters, anyone?


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Spices from all over the world


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Locally made chocolates

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Organic Ice Cream–don’t mind if I do!


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For me: Rice Milk Horchata and Je Ne Sais Quois (I don’t know what) Strawberry. The horchata flavor was creamy but super light and dairy free! The strawberry had a touch of balsamic vinegar to it—very creative and rich without being heavy. I really wish they had this in Southern California!


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For him: Rice Milk Horchata and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Also, very delicious and had that same rich but light quality.

If you are ever in the Napa area, I highly recommend visiting the Oxbow Market. There is something for everyone there, including a wine and cheese bar that was not photographed. It is a cozier version of the Ferry Building with incredible local finds. I will definitely be going back!

Until next time…


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Jenna

New Chapter

So, recently I left my full-time job with an amazing company. I have nothing but amazing things to say about my experience at lululemon but it was simply time for me to move on focus on my jewelry and my family. I learned so much about the life I wanted to live and they gave me the tools to live that life every day, albeit away from the company but not without their blessing. How cool is that?!

Anyway, today was my first full day away from my old job and it felt odd but mostly exciting. I feel a certain freedom to pursue my goals but also miss the people I work with immensely already. To celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in my life, today was filled with some fun activities…

-Traveling to the Jewelry District to pick up some jewelry making supplies for a class I am taking at UCLA

-Target run to get some essentials (I heart Target a lot)

-Photographed some new jewels for my etsy  store

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Made (& devoured) an amazing spinach, bacon, goat cheese salad with balsamic fig dressing

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and LOST is on tonight!

I have to go to bed early tonight too–I teach a 6:15 AM barre physique class!

Good night friends!


“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” -John Lennon