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
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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