Honest Holidays


Nothing is working like I thought it would.

It seems I created wonderful, meaningful ideas for my kids to do just as they have found a million more fun things to do somewhere that is mostly not here. (See virtual advent on Instagram.)

Our tiny house is feeling TINY. We are very close to our stuff out weighing the places we have to put it. Counters, tables, floors are full of things we must need but, seriously, do we really?

Our tree is only half decorated and we never got around to putting up the Dicken’s Village (expect for five little villagers and the sign which makes our super cool record player look like a three year old decorated it).

What I should have put in the advent calendar is empty the dishwasher, put your headphones somewhere you can find them, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. And then, I should have said we are not giving you any money or driving you anywhere until that one thing gets done today.

My inner grinch is emerging once again.

We are in the space between having children and not having children. We have teenagers and none of us knows how this works. They miss being kids, we miss them being kids and at the same time, there is all this new fun stuff about having grown-up kids.

The problem is we are still holding on to what we used to love even though so much of it has outlived its magic. We still want to pretend but pretending isn’t our thing anymore.

All this time, I have wanted my kids to experince ways they could give, share, participate in their world and they are actually doing that now. It doesn’t look like I thought it would, so it’s easy to miss.

They are not finding the supreme satisfaction of identifying a bird but they are really excited about our friends coming over this weekend.

They aren’t so excited about their big Santa surprise, but they are thrilled to find a way to help in Alleppo. (

My kids have become people that I get to do life with instead of people I am entertaining.

I would like to say I’ve learned some things from this year, like what I will and will not bother doing next Christmas. But the truth is, the only thing I have really learned is that I can’t figure this out. I can only show up, give what I have and let it be what it will be…or not.

There is a lot that I love about our life and I am thankful for this space and time but I also feel the need to make known that small+simple does not equal easy. Everything doesn’t have it’s place and everyone doesn’t always have what they need.

Life is messy. Our house is messy. The holidays are hectic. I am counting down the days until they are over.

Wait…I just realized what I’ve learned from this year. The one thing that will never have a place in our house is perfection.

And that is what makes this a home a place we can all enjoy this holiday.


A Minimalist Grocery List


Must buy fresh:

Apples (or favorite seasonal fruit)

Almond butter (fresh ground from Fresh Market)


Quinoa Bread (Fresh Market Bakery)

Salad Mixes/Pre-chopped vegetables





Always in my pantry/freezer:

Butter (organic, unsalted)


Fruit Spread (Smuckers all-fruit, Strawberry and Blackberry)

Almonds/Pecans/Walnuts/Sunflower seeds

Chicken Tenders (Bell&Evans, Gluten-free)


Garlic (love the little frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s)


{Now I know what to buy in bulk which always been tricky because I hate wasting anything. That leaves me eight ingredients that are always on my list. I can buy eight things even when I am hungry, distracted and overwhelmed-which are common symptoms I experience while grocery shopping.}




The Art of Eating: Dinner


This is my cheap and easy dinner.

It’s simple and delicious.

Garlic Chicken Tenders+Rice+Roasted Kale with Lemon=my favorite meal

We eat this so often it’s embarrassing. We almost always have the ingredients and it takes between 20-30 minutes to put it all together.

The other night I bought a nice pizza for the rest of the gang and cooked this up for myself. I figured since we had eaten it the night before no one else would want it. Both my son and my husband ate their pizza and then ate the chicken and rice that was still on the stove for their second dinner. My daughter is not always eating meat but her favorite version of this meal is rice+avocado+soy sauce.

This meal always tastes good, always sounds appetizing and it doesn’t get old.

I get the rice started in my little rice cooker after rincing it a bit, pour the kale on a cookie sheet, drizzle it with olive oil and put in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, heat up olive oil and crushed garlic in a skillet and cook the chicken (from frozen) 5 minutes on each side. For extra crunch and extra garlic yum, sauté the kale in the skillet with the tenders for that last few minutes.

Serve in one bowl, rice on the bottom, chicken and kale on top with lemon and salt sprinkled on top.

My Dinner Essentials

frozen chicken tenders (Bell&Evans*)

jasmine rice

kale (pre-chopped and washed)


olive oil


sea salt

avocado (for my girl)

*Special note about the chicken: These tenders are yummy and worth the extra cost, not just any tenders will do. It is because they are so delicious that we are happy to eat them night after night.



The Art of Eating: Lunch


After Thanksgiving (and four days of eating leftovers), I was ready for some healthy food. With all of the many opportunities to eat delicious treats over the holidays, Winter is the perfect time to eat clean and healthy in all the meals between.

For a while now I have been on the lookout for a good fall/winter idea for my seasonal lunch. While scrolling through Pinterest, I found this crunchy salad at The Harvest Kitchen and then I remembered about my favorite creamy coconut soup from The Gluten-Free Goddess and this old standby from a few years ago compliments of a Cup a Cup a.

Both the Harvest Salad and the Green Soup have “detox” in their title. While that word is not appetizing to me at all, I do love that both of these meals include ingredients like ginger, apple cider vinegar, lemon and garlic known for their cleansing properties.

If I am recommending a recipe it is because it is, in my opinion, both GOOD and GOOD FOR ME. I do not have a powerful appetite so deliciousness (even if it is plain or simple) is essential. No choking down anything just because it is on some list of super foods.

I want to want to eat.

In order to keep this process simple, I buy the ingredients for/make only one of these recipes a week. For me, three recipes on rotation is enough variety.

It helps if I make the meal the same day as I buy the ingredients. Once I put all of these vegetables in their spots in the fridge they tend to get comfortable there. The thought of pulling them out can feel overwhelming but when they are already out it almost seems just as easy to make the food as it would be to put it all away.

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you are not judging me for feeling overwhelmed by putting away or taking out groceries.

It seems petty, doesn’t it?

But, in my study of rest, I have learned there are some very tiny things that overwhelm me. I spent many a years trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t be overwhelmed by certain things. Now, I try to work around them.

Skipping over the small step (but giant leap for jenny-kind) of putting away/taking out ingredients gives me twice as much energy to put toward actually creating my colorful salad or creamy soup.

In my dream world, I cook on Sunday or Monday so that I have a large container full of tasty food waiting for to get hungry in the middle of the day. It is also easy to pack in my bag when I know I will be out most of the day.

If you do not want to spend any time chopping or cooking, you can combine several packages of salads (coleslaw mix, broccoli carrot slaw, diced cauliflower, baby spinach and kale or whatever is on sale) with sunflower seeds and roasted almonds (or whatever nuts you like). Toss it all in a dressing of olive oil, lemon, apple cider vinegar and ginger. There you go-lunch for the week. I prefer to add the nuts right with each serving it so they stay crunchy but it is still yummy if they are already mixed in.

My Lunch Essentials

Ingredients for this week’s meal:

olive oil
spinach, kale
parsley, cilantro, and mint
coconut milk

*large container with lid to store in fridge

*serving size containers for lunch on the go


What about you?

Do you have a usual lunch?

Do you pack a lunch?

Do you ever forget to eat in the middle of the day?

What are your strategies for eating food that is good and good for you?