jen's top 10: homemaking 101

 This year was insane. Lots of hats to juggle, lots of people to be.  For the majority of the year I had to simultaneously be the following: 20hr/week employee, full time chef, full time housekeeper, fully time laundry queen, full time mommy, full time wife, full time wonder woman and part time church worker, virtual family day planner, etc...  And all while handling the stress of the spouses unemployment. Oh but wait, I've always been wonder woman {she says sarcastically}.

No really. It was tough to balance so many different roles.  {Can I get a large mental breakdown on the side please? Wait a minute, make that a super size.}  I really don't know how woman who work 40 or more hours per week and have families do it all.  I'm guessing they can't. That's the only way I can figure it.

Any way, in order for our home to run more smoothly, this year I started doing several small things that have made a major difference. MAJOR I tell you. Here are my top 10:

10.Take care of my clothes as soon as I take them off. Hang them up or put in the correct laundry sorter. NO THROWING THEM ON THE CLOSET FLOOR. Or stuffing in random drawers. Just put them where they go.

9. Use pinchingyourpennies.com to find the best grocery deals.  I don't have to waste time at the store trying to figure out if it's a good deal or not.  Before I create my meal menus I check to see what's on sale, and if I can, plan my menus around that.  {This has gotten a little more difficult since moving to the wilderness since I can't plan my trips to the valley around grocery sales.}

8. Speaking of food, numero ocho is menu planning.  I plan 2 weeks worth of meals at a time.  No more wasting time at night trying to figure out what to have for dinner since I have 14 preplanned choices to choose from. I use the crockpot as often as possible, and frequently cook and freeze my meat in advance.

7. Run 1 load of laundry per day, Monday through Thursday.  I throw it in first thing in the morning, and by mid morning the clothes are folded and put away.  Laundry is the bane of my existence.  I loathe it entirely. I can't think of anything worse than having an entire day devoted to it.  Kill. me. now.  I've tried the "ignore it and it'll just go away" tactic, but as you can guess, that didn't quite work out. By doing it this way, the loads stay small and manageable.

6. Make homemade bread. This may sound like it takes more time than just buying it at the store and it probably does.  But this accomplishes a few things: a) If all else fails and my house is a disaster, at least there's homemade bread in the cupboard.  That makes me feel somewhat accomplished. b)The taste can't even compare to store bought bread, and c)I like to think it makes Deek and Reese feel extra loved to know I take the time to make them something so good from scratch..

5. Vacuum my kitchen every night.  With a shedding dog that lives in my kitchen and a toddler who throws every item of food she comes in contact with on the floor, it's essential.

4. Put my house to bed. After dinner is over we do a clean sweep of the house.  Put everything away - dishes, toys, coats, books, etc... By taking the 10 minutes a night to do this I save myself over an hour the next morning.  I hate, hate, hate cleaning yesterday's mess today.

 3. 1 house cleaning job per day, Monday through Thursday.  I rotate 4 different chores: bathrooms, dusting & oiling, vacuuming, and 1 other deep cleaning item.  Same idea as the laundry - I don't have to devote an entire dreaded day to cleaning.  My house is never perfectly clean at one time, but stays mostly clean most of the time.

2. Run the dishwasher every night after dinner and empty it right away. The next day, instead of putting dirty dishes in the sink, they go straight into the dishwasher.  If I use hand washables during the day I clean them as soon as I'm done using them.  Clutter attracts clutter and this couldn't be truer with dishes.  My dishes never stack up so I never have to spend huge amounts of time to tackle the mounting tower of them in the sink. It's the single greatest housekeeping tip I do.

1. Wake up every morning between 7 and 7:30am.  Reese wakes up between 8:30 and 9:00, so that gives me at least an hour to get ready for the day, scriptures, prayer, start on daily laundry etc...  I find the earlier I get up, the better my day goes.  If I sleep in until Reese wakes up, I feel as though the entire rest of the day I'm fighting to find time to throw on some jeans, let alone apply make up or scripture study.  Whenever I sleep in, by the end of the day I'm usually still in my sweats and nothing has gotten done. Waking up early is magic.

And there you have it.  It sounds like a lot, but honestly, if I stick to these 10 tips my home and family and body and mind are all in order. AKA peace in Jen's world.  Somehow I find myself with more free time than ever before.  And don't get me wrong, I am FAR from perfect when it comes to doing all this.  There are always holidays, sicknesses, 'vacationing from one's duties' weeks, etc.. My home has seen it's far share of disaster moments. I just know that when I do do these things I'm just a happier person and everything else falls into place. And who doesn't need them some of that?

Now if I could only get a handle on all of those papers floating around..


to my reese,

 pursed lips before a kiss

Tonight, you made a puddle of your mama's heart.

After bedtime kisses and songs I laid you down in your crib to tickle and massage your little back like I usually do. After about 5 minutes you turned your head to look right at me. The brightest smile danced across your face.  Then you stood up and pressed your lips together, walked toward me, and leaned in to plant the sweetest unsolicited butterfly kiss any mother has ever known. You laid back down and sealed your declaration of love with another knowing smile.

I so wish you didn't have to grow so fast. I wish you could stay my little Rooster forever and that I would always stay your Baba. But for now I guess all I can do is soak in every love and treasure every fleeting kiss.

It would probably be selfish to keep you forever as mine. The world needs those with big hearts to lead the way. And you my Reese, have a giant heart. So much love to give.

But for now I'll just snuggle you close and call you mine.

jen's top 10: year in review

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

And so he wrote the prologue to my twenty ten. Ol' Chuck Dickens really knew what he was talking about didn't he?

This past year proved to be the ultimate pendulum of emotion and experience.  The year I hope to never repeat, but with personal growth I wish to never trade. It was the year of deepening roots.

But instead of dwelling on heavy things, today I choose to focus on the wonderful events that brought me happiness this year. Because all things have it's equal and opposite reaction {thank you Newton}, 2010 had equal amounts of joy.

Without further adieu:

10. Welcoming 2 new nephews into the world and the announcement of another N grandchild. {Fertility Gods, you may now send another one to us ok? Kthanksbye.}

9. Coming in close contact with moose, naked men, and all manor of wild beasts.

8. Frequent days spent at the pool as a family due to Deek's 'free time'. aka unemployment

7. Adding Keeta to the family. This could also fall under the 'Top 10 Worst Things About 2010.'

6. Moving to the wilderness.

5. We have a graduate!

 4. Disney Land & Newport Beach with the N clan.

3. Watching Reese learn how to sit, crawl, walk, talk, discover, etc..

2. Deek got a job!!!

1. Did I mention Deek got a job? Oh yeah, and it just happens to be right up his dream job alley. Hallelujah!

See? Much to love about this past year. It was a roughy but a goodie. Here's to hoping {and crossing my fingers, and blowing pixie dust, and rubbing the lucky rabbit foot} this next one is even better.

Cheers to the New Year!

jen's top 10: christmas edition

I'm a list person. And since this year ends in such a perfectly list appropriate '10', I'm giving it its' due honor and going out with a big list shebang. This week, each blog post will be formatted in list form. A top ten of sorts, of course. And what better way to start than recapping my top 10 favorite things about this Christmas.

10. In light of the commercialism we all secretly love {tell me you don't love receiving gifts and I'll call you a big ole' liar, liar pants on fire}, my list begins with a couple star gifts we were gifted. The first being the Dueter Kid Comfort III child carrier courtesy of Mom and Dad H. Angels sang and time stood still as this package was unwrapped.

9. Reese's new rocking chair. An old fashioned wood rocking chair updated with bright colors and spinning alphabets.  She was all but done with the whole Christmas thing until my madre brought out this gift. It was love at first site.

8. Luminaries. My parent's neighborhood has done this every year for at least 30 years.  Every house, every street. The local scout troupes take turns lighting the public areas. It's simply not Christmas without seeing them. This year we all piled in the car sans headlights to admire the lighted fairy land, and Reese decided no seat would do unless it was in the driver's seat with Papa {or Pappy as she endearingly calls him}.

7. Waking up to stockings Christmas morning the N* {my maiden name} way. Stockings overflowing with gifts and goodies in the natural state. AKA unwrapped. Didn't realize how much I missed it.

6. Inception. Not to be confused with conception. Way, way, WAAAAY late on the bandwagon for this one, but I finally watched it. Wow. Kudos to the film makers for creating a novel, creative, shear entertaining film. And guys, he was totally in reality at the end.

5. A break from the lodge. Two and a half blissful days of no work, total relaxation and being together with family in the valley.

4. Feeding Reese fermented pomegranates.  It's true. I took a taste test first and all I thought was, "Huh... these taste like they've been soaking in 7 up for a couple days. Eh, they're probably fine."  Deek took one whiff and delivered the news. Too bad he was a couple hours late. Needless to say, she was a big fan. Note to self: 'No Alcoholic Beverages {or pomegranates} Allowed' speech should probably happen in the relative future.

3. Brad's wrapping job for Deek's gift. In my immediate family Deek is known for his mad wrapping skills. He's a wrapping fiend. And so in honor of King Deek Brad totally brought his A game. And yes. That's a painted, hand carved from styrofoam winterscape.

sorry you're blinking brad! only one I had...

2. Being with family. Particularly having Deek's entire immediate family together. That hasn't happened for a looooong time.

1. Drinking in the peace and joy that come from reflecting about the birth of Christ. This year I felt an elevated reverence for the holy day that I haven't felt before.  Perhaps it's because this last year, in a mile of understanding I feel like I've gained a couple more inches in knowing Him.  Who He is and how profound His love is for me.  My true personal Savior.


snowed in

This storm has been a doozy. It makes the infamous Blizzard of 2010 look like a newborn kitten.

{side note: Speaking of that infamous Blizzard, last week we had a private meet and greet with the primary weather man from a local news station, courtesy of our friend's other concert guests. I may have accidentally brought up the Blizzard of 2010.  He couldn't believe I dare bring up the "B" word. Oopsy. Slowly put your hands up and back away. BACK AWAY. Note to self, when making casual conversation with a weather man, discussing the weather is not a safe topic. neither is discussing possibley incorrect forecasting.}

Anyway, back to the point of this post.  In the last day and a half it's dropped over 2 1/2 feet of snow.  That's a whole lotta precipitation folks.

To show you what snow measured in feet looks like, I went on a little snow tour during Reese's nap to shoot some pics. Your welcome. And keep in mind it has snowed even more since these have been taken.

First up, our local National Forest sign:

Not too bad right?

Next we'll play Where's Waldo. Errr, Where's the Snowmobile may be more fitting:

That's a fun game. Let's play again. This time, we're looking for my white Honda Civic. Look closely. Hint: you may be able to pick out the sideview mirror:

Yeah. That might be a problem.

Despite the inconveniences the snow may bring, it's worth every last shovel of snow to look out my horizon and see this.

Simply stunning. Winter wonderland, indeed.


meeting mr. c

Last night around 8:30 the winds blew in a surprise visitor. From the North Pole, of course.

I had sent Deek to brave the snowy roads and deliver some Christmas cookies to the neighbors {relative term} while I stayed home to pick up the days clutter.

As I was washing the umpteenth measuring cup I heard a jingle. Like a real Kris Kringle jingle.

"Who in the world?"....

Just then, a full, decked out in red suit complete with black boots and jingle bells and a snowy white beard Santa Claus appeared out of the dark night at my back door.


And do you know how hard it is to get to my back door? Hard enough that Mr. C was only our 2nd unannounced visitor ever.

He's a good man, that Mr. C.

He had been visiting some family parties in our ward that evening and thought he'd just swing by to give a little pre-Christmas treat to Reese.

And by swing by, I mean venture 8 miles into unplowed snowy roads and hike the several hundred yards through fresh powder to my door.

What a dear, dear man.

This is how Reese chose to thank him:

As you can tell, she's elated.

Essential childhood "Sitting on Santa's Lap While Screaming" picture? Check.

After last night's reception, we're really hoping Santa decides to make a return trip later this week.

Please cross your fingers for us.


really? right before christmas?

We had a fabulous escapade down to the valley this week. The height of it all was seeing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform with David Archuleta. Smooth as butter, his voice is.

We returned home about an hour ago, and happily meeting me at my home was Mr. Frozen Pipes.

Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Quadruple million ugh.

No showers, no washing dishes, no bedtime baths, no water for cooking, nothin'.  I could use our emergency preparedness water, but I don't know if I want to drain our supplies.

Do I take the trek back down to the valley and just camp out for a couple weeks til they thaw? But that would leave poor Deek all alone during the holiday. When would we celebrate our Christmas? We like to do it seperately from extended families.

Cripes, people.

Not to mention, I'm booked to work at the lodge next week. What to do, what to do.

Any one know of a magical way to thaw pipes?


i've been procrastinating...

...Writing this post, that is.

Last week, I had all intentions of blogging about our grand Christmas Tree Cutting Adventure of 2010.

And since, a giant DSLR camera is kind of a big ole' pain in the rear to lug along on one snowmobile with 3 people, a day pack, saw, giant tarp, and tree, I brought along our little point and shoot we've had the last 5 years that's on its' way down hill.

Whew! Talk about a run on sentence.

Anyway, haven't used the point and shoot since before the move, and low and behold, somewhere between packing up our old home and moving here we've lost the usb cord that connects our little camera to the computer. Awesome.

And then, just this morning, my desktop decided to freeze up all crazy like. Not functioning at all. Double awesome.

So here I am on our laptop with no pictures to show. Because what's a story without some good pictures for illustration?

And I'm trying to think of something really exciting to tell ya'll about, but I've got nothin'.


At least that doesn't need a good image to go along.

In other words, that's your warning for the Boring Post Award.

In other words, you may just want to





Gosh, you're stubborn, still reading and all, but really. You've been warned.

And so now you just get a hodge podge of really random things I've been thinking/doing lately. In fact, in honor of the year 2010 coming to a close I'll make it a Top 10 Things on Jen's Mind at 1:14PM December 14, 2010 list.

1 - I'm seeing David Archuleta with the Mo-Tab on Thursday.  Our really awesome friends (the ones that are my parent's age) invited us. They have some hook ups with killer seats, so it's going to be even extra amazing. And the other couple they've invited are some super accomplished (she's on Dr Phil and he's general manager of a local news station) folks. I'm kind of intimidated.

2 - I've been reading Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage lately. It kind of makes my brain hurt, but in a good way. I seriously LOVE it. I think I'm turning into a religion texts geek. But I guess there are worse ways I can spend my time.

3 - Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! I've almost singly handedly eaten 1 batch of sugar cookies, 3 batches of truffles, and 1 giant batch of caramels in the last week. I'm craving salsa.

4 - I'll be really honest, I love the holidays, but Christmas shopping really stresses me out. Deek is hard enough, but to find the perfect gift for everyone else my list? The anxiety eats away my soul. So to fight the anxiety, I put off buying my gifts, which gives me more anxiety because I know, some day in the very near future I have to brake down and buy them. And then once I finally go to buy them everything is picked over and free shipping deals are over. Terror, I tell you. So if you get dried out chocolate oranges from Wal-mart, you know why. Or fossified moose poop.

5 - I'm the new Primary Chorister in my ward. Even though I pretty much bombed my first day, I'm already convinced it's the very best calling in the church.  Apparently I can't sing, read words, and wave my hand at the same time. And to attempt leading a round? Death by complexity ensues. Yes, my hair color is deceiving.

6 - Speaking of my ward. It's the greatest ward there every was. Seriously. You should be sincerely jealous.  Every one ranches their own piece of land and the kids are all cream of the crop. I think it's because they don't have time to waste on PlayStation's, texting, and other electronics. They can, like, carry on normal conversations with each other and other adults. Phenomenal I tell you. And the ration of cowboy boots and wranglers to normal valley church apparel is about 8:1. I love it. It is just so down to earth.

7 - Sometimes I dress up all fancy, even though I haven't stepped out of my double wide in days. It keeps me sane to pretend like I have somewhere ritzy to go.  Try it. Throw on your tallest heels, fanciest jewelry and be a rock star for the day.  Every mundane task is instantly coolified.

8 - This deserves a post of it's own, but lately I've been thinking about how funny life is. How different it is than the fairy tale land you imagine as a child.  Real life isn't a fairy tale. It's better and worse and just different.  The hand I've been dealt is somewhat unique (aren't all of ours?), and I'm convinced 99% of our experiences here are based on attitude, determination to make the most with what we have, and thinking with eternal perspective. As I reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses and compare them to my own life experiences I can see just how divinely tailored each have been for me.  They've made me stronger, wiser, happier, and braver than I would ever have been able to become on my own.  Like I said, a post of it's own is needed, but it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately.

9 - Sometimes I just really crave fast food. Or any food that hasn't been prepared by me. 3 meals, 7 days a week, all prepared by mwah.  If we're lucky we make it to a restaurant or other food joint once every couple months or so.

10 - Keeta, my dog. I have a love hate relationship with her. In the past few months, I've almost posted her for sale in the classifieds about 1.5 millions times.  But then, she has moments of such pure lovability I couldn't ever give her away.  The thought of giving her to someone else breaks my heart. But that doesn't mean she still doesn't absolutely drive me insane.  It just means that if she ever just really pushes me over the edge, I'll just take her in the back yard with my shotgun.  Love, hate, love, hate....

And so you see.

Boring post of the year is now over. The end. Ca put.

Until next time!

Reese and I today. Courtesy of PhotoBooth.


at least my frozen goods won't thaw

So one of the "perks" about living where we do  is that in the winter, we're not allowed to park by our dearest double wide.

We "get" to park a couple hundred yards away in the lodge parking lot.  I know, it is like soooo awesome!! (said like a cheerleader from, like, the vall-ay!!)

Do you realize what this means? Do you? Do you, do you, do you??

And can I get any more obnoxious in one single post?

Why yes. Yes I can.

Anyway, the reason for this is because the sewer pipes for the lodge run near our home.  And when heavy things, ie. our truck, drive over the snow where the pipes lay, the snow turns to ice which makes the ground even colder, which then freezes the poop pipes. And if that happens then Deek gets to pump poop.

All together now, "Ewwww....."

And yes. I just said poop pipes.

So, moral of the story. Everything we want to take in or out of our house needs to be dragged (or is it drug?) out by sled.  Food, Christmas gifts, luggage for trips down to the valley, children, etc...

The entire hike to the truck is covered in snow, so whenever I need to go somewhere that requires a vehicle, I have to bring two pairs of shoes: my hardcore winter boots and the normal shoes I plan on wearing to my destination.

Although my hardcore boots would look pretty fancy shmancy worn to church.

So far, I really haven't minded this extra little step to take things to and from home.  The food we have to eat is even more appreciated.  Now, in order to get my groceries into my home I have to do the following: Load food into coolers, load cooler into truck, cry, load food out of truck into toboggan, tow toboggan with food and child to home, cry, load food up steep porch stairs to home, lick away the frozen tears. And this is after the 40 minute drive each way to the nearest grocery store.

So much for pulling into a garage and running the food into my house.

This is why I try and only go grocery shopping a couple times a month. It's a lot of work to eat, yo.

I'm pretty much akin to yestermilleniums cave people.

Me. Work. Fo. My. Food. Grunt.Grunt.

Here's a picture that gives you a slight idea of how we haul everything in (And pardon the person-less picture. Deek was at work and Reese hasn't mastered the photo taking skills):

 Rah, rah, shish coom bah. Or something like that.

Just another day in the life of your average wilderness woman.


snow clothes finally came

And so we've tried to put them to good use.  And have you ever seen a cuter hat?

Gosh, I sure love that munchkin.


dear anonymous letter writer,

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

A million times thank you. Not only for the generous gift but for your thoughtful letter as well.

I received your lovely surprise in the mail yesterday. And what a surprise it was! I wish I could adequately express just how much it meant to me. Words would never do.

Did you feel my prayer of thanks? I asked God to generously bless you.  What a tremendous person you must be. A heart purer than gold.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect, in more ways than one.  Thank you for reminding me what this season is all about.  To make someone else feel the way you made me feel?  Surely an impossible task.

You filled my day with magic and wonder and the spirit of giving.  And the sacred spirit of thanks. How is it that a stranger would give so, with no recognition in return?

I hope to someday be like you, try to pay it forward. Such an example of Christ.  Your letter is one I'll continue to carry with me throughout my life. Reminding me what it feels like to not only be the recipient of such love, but urging me to action. A constant reminder to selflessly give.

I pray this Christmas season finds you filled with comfort and happiness and most of all joy.  And the knowledge that this little person thinks you're something great.  A legend even, that I'll always carry in my heart.

Many, many thanks indeed.

Love your friend,