let me reintroduce myself.

Hi. My name is Jen or Jennifer but never Jenny. I used to blog around here back in the day.

I started blogging a million years ago. It was a tittle weight loss blog mostly then it was a random life/book blog then it was a mostly non-used blog and now I want it to healing/finding j/zen blog.

a lot has happened in the last 365 days


I feel pulled back to this space. I have not been taking the best care of myself – physically or emotionally. This place lets me process “stuff” while also holding myself accountable. That part is kind of important. I tend to procrastinate, forget to take care of myself, fall into books an escape, binge re-watch Grey’s Anatomy. In short, I am my own worst enemy. Why can I take care of everyone else but not totally neglect myself?!?

Dang, can I ramble….anther reason I need this space.





never Jenny

a hot mess

a work in progress

a supporter, a cheerleader, a teacher, a mother, a wife

and more that is yet to be determined.

Menu Plan Monday, 9/5

This week brings me back to school!! I start full blast with students tomorrow.

And we have friends coming to town for the next three or four days. I am so excited for our friends to visit, even if it’s the craziest week for me. This has become an annual tradition and with the sucky summer behind us, I’m extra looking forward to this visit. BUT, with my newly diagnosed allergies and food restrictions, I need to stay vigilant. I think I have a solid plan to stay the course.

First week back to school, company coming, and all my dietary restrictions mean that menu planning and meal prepping are absolutely crucial for success. This week, I already figured out my breakfasts and lunches for the school week as well.

Please to enjoy, my kitchen whiteboard!

I’m allergic to everything

I have struggled for years with various aspects of my health….nothing major but some random stomach/digestive issues, chronic sinus infections, and itching skin. When I say years…I mean years. I have done elimination diets, colonoscopy, endoscopy, and more. All with no real relief. I kinda just gave up…I stopped eating gluten (for the most part) and dealt with the rest. I figured I was just supposed to feel this way.

I have basically been gluten free for years in hopes to stave off the most severe itching symptoms. Unfortunately, that only worked on the most severe itching. I was still suffering. I lived off Benadryl and Pepto but really just figured I was stuck living with my belly and itching as is.

I’ve had chronic sinusitis my whole life. Honestly, I cannot think of a time I didn’t have sinus or bronchitis infections. We’ll, in 2020….on my birthday in February and 3 weeks ahead for the COVID shutdown, I was diagnosed with a lower respiratory infection. I mention this because I didn’t follow up with my doctor due to covid. Plus, this has been my whole life….I would just deal with it.

Fast forward to now …I snore a lot and I can’t remember the last time my sinus/nasal cavities weren’t stuffy and I didn’t have a headache. I have been sleeping on the couch because my snoring was waking up my husband. I went to my doc And he prescribed antibiotics and steroids but after ten days I still had no relief. We did another round while my insurance denied a CT scan. I went back to doc and he recommended I see an ENT. I found an ENT that is also an allergist. Thank goodness.

ENT was no joke. He cut me off my Benadryl and Q-tips (with my ears itching and always feeling full, I had been q-tipping too much), set up a CT (don’t worry the insurance denied that a total of three times before a peer review gave me authority) and allergy testing.

Welp…..I’m allergic to soooo much!

The allergy testing had two levels. The first was the scratch and the second level was a deeper test using needles on my back. OVER 40 of the little suckers.

Ouchie back. Lots of itchy spots!
All the check marks are the positive allergens.
Oh boy….food restrictions

Stay tuned….I’m working on a plan!!

Menu Plan Monday

The kitchen whiteboard

The process to create the menu plan helps keep me on track, in several ways, for the week. When planning the weekly menu, I start with the calendar. Knowing what is going on for the week really helps plan the meals. After looking at the calendar, I survey the fridge, freezer, and pantry. I keep writing “I” but really this is a team project. Big Man is right with me planning, prepping, cooking, and shopping.

Random side note: I LOVE using my kitchen whiteboard for planning. There’s usually a running list of the freezer inventory and a grocery list.

Planning the meals keeps me on my budget as well as health goals. Staying on budget is critical at all times but especially these last few weeks of summer. And especially this summer. Big Man was out of work over a month and his one week in the hospital was a tad expensive ((but I’m not complaining. I pay for great insurance and everything except part of an ambulance ride was covered.)) The extra expense came from me missing work (I’m the earner in the house), paying for parking, extra gas, and food for me at the hospital…it all added up. And now, these last few weeks until I am back to regularly scheduled paychecks the budget is finite and tiny. Planning is even more important. Planning helps me stress just a tad less about money. Stocking up beforehand is anyway to make planning and prepping easier as well as slightly less stressful.

How do you menu plan?

Monday Menu Plan

Monday: Brined & grilled whole chicken, white rice, and honey carrots

Tuesday: Sausage Soup & salad

Wednesday: flank steak, warm potato salad, grilled jersey corn

Thursday: chicken thighs, leftovers, and salad or green veg

Friday: dinner out….it’s Qs big night!!

Weekend: fresh fish and clams from Randall’s (a local fish market, right on the bay)

A few pictures from last week’s eats!

bofa soup
ginger pork & GF lomein
pork cutlet, mashed pot, green beans, gravy

Polish kielbasa*, mashed, Polish kraut*

*from a local European Market. While I was there, I also picked up a box of delicious hibiscus tea. I hope the store stocks around. I’ll be back.

A back-in-the-day sorta post

I really had no idea what to title this post. Back in the early blogging days, one of my favorite weekly posts was the menu planning. As I get back into blogging, I want to start sharing my food “stuff’s again. I never stopped menu planning and I never stopped taking pictures of my food. I still love cooking.

So….menu planning Monday is back!!

A note about lunches: While I’m home for summer lunches are a little looser but still sort of planned. When I go back to school, I will plan breakfasts and lunches, at least for school days.

Since Big Man has been home from the hospital, we have been adjusting our diet. His doctors have recommended the Mediterranean diet so I’ve been looking up recipes and finding new ways to eat that use less salt, more fresh produce, and are still delicious. I grabbed these two cookbooks from the library and so far, I really like what I’m seeing, cooking, and eating. I’ll keep you posted with more pictures and posts.

He could have died

I do not write or say these words lightly.

July has its share of rough patches but none rougher than the week Big Man was in the hospital.  Doctors and nurses and lots of scary words…

Over the Memorial Day weekend, me and my husband were really sick and tested positive for covid. We both had different symptoms but for about three days, we were both really sick then started to feel improvement with lingering symptoms.

Big Man had lingering breathing issues that led him to call the doctor but because of his symptoms they would only schedule a virtual appointment. Doc said bronchitis and prescribed meds. After the course of med, big man said he thought he felt a little better but not really so he went to work. Work was a very bad idea but I really had no idea how bad he was feeling until Friday rolled around and I knew he was still sick.

After a sleepless night, I sent him to urgent care. Just walking from the parking lot to the registration desk caused labored breathing and panic. Doc saw him, x-rayed him, and sent him home with a bronchitis diagnosis. More antibiotics and a lot of resting for the remainder of the weekend. Monday, Big Man went to work.

Gods, we are stubborn people. I say we because I would have been the same way. The endless loop in our brain that says:

  • Must go to work
  • Must earn that check
  • Must pay bills

Why do we put ourselves through this thought process???

Work did not go well. Summer heat and humidity were in full effect and Big Man was struggling but made it through almost three days of work. We called our regular doctor and were told to go to the emergency room. The ER took X-rays and immediately saw fluid and a very large heart. We knew from this moment, he would be admitted….Big Man spent a week in two hospitals. He was in our local (and I mean 5 blocks from home) hospital for 3 days and had one procedure. Then he was sent to Penn Presbyterian in Philly where he spent 4 days and had a heart procedure before being discharged.

Big scary words were said many times. Heart failure. Those words took my breath away. How can my big, strong husband have heart failure?!? How could this be possible???

I can’t and won’t dwell too much on those scary words because it makes my heart beat fast. I can’t breathe when I think about how close I came to losing my world. I can’t breathe when I think about how stubborn we were…he went to work….a new job he got right before we got COVID. He went to work because he didn’t want to lose his new job.

Why is money the place we started and not his health?!?

We never thought he was as sick as he was and we were so stupid. I could have lost my husband and we were worried about paying bills. This little spin right here has really messed with my head.

I could have lost my husband.

He’s alive and well. In fact, he’s sitting next to me while I write this. He looks good! He’s been following doctor’s orders and doing what he’s supposed to be doing. We have follow up doctor appointments and more health stuff to work on but his heart is back to its proper size and is working the way it is meant to work.

I could have lost my husband.

He’s alive and I’m gonna keep him that way!

*thanks for reading! I needed to get this out.

Hi, it’s me

I feel a call to blog again. I’m not sure where this will go but I’m feeling the need to write. This might get weird but I’m gonna ask that we skip over July events for now.  July was probably one of the hardest months of my life. Stay tuned, this post is not the right time/place for that heartdump. Everyone and everything is fine so it can wait.

I miss blogging out my thoughts and what’s going on in my world. I loved blogging back in the day. Blogs connected friends across state lines. Heck, if I’m being honest, I met some of my best friends thru blogging. Some of you wonderful people I’ve still not hugged in real life.

I’m seeking connection and friendship. I’ll be honest, the last few years I’ve struggled to connect. I’ve struggled in lots of ways. So back to blogging I go. One thing I loved about the actual writing of blogging was the journaling aspect. This is something I know I need right now. I’m sharing this in blog format because maybe I’m not the only one who needs connections, friendships, and journaling thru life.

So August is here and that means I have this month to prepare for back to school. September will be here before I know it and there are things I need to get done!! One thing I love about new months, new weeks, new notebooks, new days….it’s the newness, the cleanliness, the fresh start of it all. I’ve been carrying some gunk (mentally and physically) and it’s time to work thru some of it.

Enter the blogosphere…well, re-entry!

Goals for August:

  • Finish two library books: True Biz (I already started this a couple weeks ago but haven’t finished, which is so unlike me) and Signs of Survival
  • Practice ASL daily and attend weekly classes
  • Devote time to studying for “The TEST”
  • Organize, Purge, and clean “MY room”
  • Return to meditation and yoga. I’ve been avoiding this and it’s time to get back to my mat! We miss each other so we’ll need to take some time to get to know one another again.
  • Lots of walking, lots of 10k step days.
  • Try one new recipe of food each week (I’m taking daily pics and I’ll create a weekly TikTok with my foods)

This is where my head is at…it’s a lot! I think I’m going to enjoy blogging again.

Did you miss me?

Christmas 2020, the Covid Chronicles

This whole year has been very different from years past. Christmas was no exception. Oddly familiar and yet, not.

Let me tell you about..

Five days before Christmas….Qs boyfriend’s dad tested positive for covid-19. Q came home to isolate …

A bit of background: At 21, Q is a senior in college with a boyfriend and two jobs. She shares time between our house and her boyfriend’s parents’ house.

Four days until Christmas…Q at home and holed up in her room. We have a tv tray outside of her door. She texts for food, we feed her. It’s not perfect but we are making the most of it. I hate how we have to do it, but I like being able to spoil my girl.

Two days until Christmas…day of testing! Q decided to get the non-rapid test because she felt she’d get more accurate results.

One day before Christmas…more waiting, more feeding through a door… waiting on test results SUCKS.

Christmas Day…. covid style….Q insisted we still make our traditional brunch foods. Of course, I complied. It made me happy to make Q her favorites. It killed me to not see or hug my daughter.

Later that night….much later…after midnight…test results… POSITIVE.

This almost killed me. Q was in her room, alone, crying her eyes out. I couldn’t go in her room. I couldn’t hug her. She was hysterical and I could do NOTHING. And then, she left and went back to her boyfriend’s house of covid. There at least she could move beyond her tiny room and have some human contact. I understand but I hate it.

Since Christmas…

I’m in quarantine with my favorite person and my favorite dog. We’re here until the first week in January…its a good thing we like each other. 🤣🤣

My mom went and got us produce, we have plenty of food, and all the streaming services. It’s not totally horrible but this is my winter break.

I never really really watch the Star Wars prequel trilogy so I started a SW marathon… prequel trilogy and Solo have been watched so far…. tonight is A New Hope (is it weird for anyone else to call Star Wars this “new” title?!?). It’s a good thing for Star Wars or I’d keep watching corny Christmas movies and I’ve already watched enough of those this season.

I’m usually so upbeat and positive but this has me bummed. I slept almost all day Sunday and Monday. Obviously, I’m not mentally at my best. Today, Tuesday, has been a bit better. I deep cleaned my kitchen and made a menu… something is better than sleeping all day.

Santa in my neighborhood