Jodi Palmer, You’ve Made My Life Yummy

A few months ago, I told Jodi that I would write a little testimonial for A Yummy Life Photography. That, like so many other things, got lost in my post-wedding-new-job-haze. Well, this weekend Jodi announced that she is pregnant (yay!) and is taking a hiatus from A Yummy Life (what?!).

I’m not gonna lie, this news made me a wee bit misty. And, whether Jodi is taking photos or not, I want her to know how I feel. 

Jodi is one of those women that keeps it all together so beautifully, that I forget that in addition to A Yummy Life, taking care of her own happiness, her husband, her gorgeous boys and her lovely home, she has a full time job that she is also extremely good at.

I have been doing what I’m doing for over 15 years now. Every single year my performance review is the same. I need to start saying no. I need to focus on the “not urgent, but important” projects more. I have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. I don’t know that I’ve ever really mastered the art of priorities and saying no. So I greatly admire someone that can do that. And I know the immense sense of relief that comes from saying no, even when it is really hard to do.

So Jodi, I admire you for being able to say no and to do what is right for you. But that doesn’t mean that I am not incredibly sad. The Whole Fam Damily had big plans for you this year. Big, big plans. You are leaving huge shoes to fill.

When I moved back to Utah, we had family pictures taken for the first time in many years. When I asked who was taking them, my Mom said Jodi. I remember thinking “Huh! Jodi is taking pictures now!”

And so began Jodi chronicling what has been the happiest period of my life. Our family. The arrival of my gorgeous niece and nephew. My home. My courtship with Alek. My engagement. My Wedding. Parties. Portraits. She has been a constant presence in our lives.

The thing about Jodi is this: she is so happy and so laid back and so easy to work with. She arrives with a bag and a camera and deals with any conditions that are thrown at her. And I think every single Jenkins/House shoot has been a challenge. Hot weather. Windy weather. Cold weather. Windy weather. Rainy weather. Windy weather. Snowy weather. (Have I mentioned wind yet?) Crying babies. Sick babies. Sick adults. And we’re running late. Always.

And every time, EVERY TIME, Jodi quietly captures these moments that no one else can see. These beautiful, tiny moments that say everything about a person and a place and a moment in time.

I’ve always said that Jodi’s gift is documenting a feeling. I think it’s perfect that she chose to call her business A Yummy Life. See, it’s not just my couch, it’s all of the love that I’ve felt in my house. It’s being HOME. It’s the look that G has when you catch her plotting her next move – such a scoundrel. It’s E’s fragility and sensitivity. It’s seeing myself such a way that I can accept (and love) the outside like I do the inside. It’s our inside jokes. It’s the way that we laugh. It’s the evolution of our family. It’s everything in its right place. Jodi’s photos do all of that.

I have so many photos of these yummy moments, but I wanted to share my absolute favorites from the past three years.

Jodi, you are wonderful and I love you. (And I do hope this means that we’ll be seeing more of you this year.)

xoxo,
Nat

Dance Like No One Is Watching

Two things.

On Monday afternoon Ashley texts that she has tickets to The Wailers and her fie-ance Luke can’t go. (You may remember Ashley from the MILF/Cougar incident.) 

The Wailers. As in, Bob Marley and the Wailers, (minus Bob Marley of course.) Or at least I’m assuming they are THE Wailers. But does it really matter anyway?  Is Alek working? Am I available? Yes and Yes.

Thing one, a band called Outernational is the opening act. They are a bunch of skinny guys in skinny jeans and hipster jackets and I’m thinking to myself “Ugh.”

And then they start to play. And it’s if you took New York City Rock and Ska and Reggaeton and Russian Kalinka Folk Dancing and Chicano Rock and Irish Folk Dancing and mixed it all together and made a big awesome pie. I mean seriously, these guys f***ing ROCKED. Oh and they have a TRUMPET PLAYER. Rad.

Thing two, we were up on the balcony people watching and when The Wailers started, this guy in a gray hoodie made his way down to the front and just started JAMMIN’. Waving his arm, dancing, singing along to every single word. I mean, he was in a GROOVE. It was beautiful. I thought to myself:

“I wish I could dance like no one is watching.”

Then I started getting all of these deep thoughts and started jotting them down in my phone. (I MAY or MAY NOT have had a few drinks at this point.)


I wish I could dance like no one is watching.
Who doesn’t love Reggae? I mean really? What isn’t to love? 
Why don’t I listen to more Reggae? 
I want to be on a beach.
Correction, I want to be on a beach with Alek.
Correction, I want to be on a beach with Alek with an icy cold beverage in my hand.
Ah, Reggae. I mean, this is just…CHILL…
What am I doing out this late on a Monday?
What are all of these people doing out this late on a Monday?? Is this what people do???


Admittedly, it was hard to soar with the eagles after hooting with the owls, but I did discover a totally off the hook awesome band and I saw something really beautiful.

Totally worth it.

Anonymous

I’ll warn you in advance that this post is probably going to be a bit random. I think it all ends up in the same place…I think.

I don’t know why this thought has been swirling around in my head for a while, but it has. And the thought is this: I don’t want to be labeled. I don’t want to be put in a box. And, more importantly, I am going to continually seek to not label anyone else or put them in a box either.

I don’t know why we label each other. I don’t know why we have to create categories to explain who we are. I don’t know why we put each other in boxes. To me, all of this just means judgement and control and suppression.

I mean, if we just look at the boxes, who am I?

A white-straight-female-liberal-middle-class-Jack-Mormon-adulteress-divorcee-wife-friend-sister-daughter.

Let me back up.

I have been considering a lot lately what I believe in, really and truly. First and foremost, I believe that God is love. Love is bigger than me. Love is more powerful than me. Love is not seen. Love comes in many, many forms. Love requires a leap of faith. Love has the power to transform. Love connects all of us. The more we love, the bigger our capacity to love becomes. And it is love that keeps us alive after we are gone. This I know for sure.

I also believe that at our core human beings are all the same: we all just want to be accepted for who we are and to love and be loved.

I had coffee a couple of weeks ago with my friend Chelsea. She is young and passionate and articulate and brilliant and I LOVE talking to her because she is smart and fascinating and challenging and I feel like my mind expands a little bit every time I see her.

I was telling her that I finally figured out God and that at the core, all human beings just to be accepted for who they are and to love and be loved. And I told her that I thought that the more we try to file human beings away into little categories, the more unhappy we become.

Chelsea is working towards a PHD in Gender Studies and she started telling me about an advanced human sexuality class that she took last semester. The professor asked the following question: “A woman has a double mastectomy and full hysterectomy as part of cancer treatment. Is she still a woman? Why or why not?” It’s interesting to think about right? This led to a two hour discussion about gender and sexual identity. And love and happiness. And about what really matters. And once again I filed away the thought that we all need to stop putting labels on each other.

Then Janaan posted a link on Facebook to this blog post on E Tells Tales.

I have this idea. 

Maybe it’s corny. 

Or maybe it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to us. 

We can’t know until we try it, can we? 

What if we all left an anonymous comment with our deepest wishes for 2012? 

Would they inspire someone else? Would we find hope for ourselves?

I’m thinking it’ll be a little like burning an unsent letter in a trashcan. Or making a wish on a candle.

I’m not even sure what this is going to look like. Maybe you’ll leave an anonymous comment with your dream, and maybe you’ll leave a comment with your profile encouraging someone else? Maybe both.
I’ll just leave it open. 

And somewhere in the comments, I’ll leave my anonymous wishes too.
Because I’ve got a lot that go unspoken, as I’m sure do you.

And as I was reading through all of the anonymous posts (and totally crying of course, because you know me, I love a good cry) it hit me again: at our core, we all want the same things, we’re all striving for the same things and when you strip away all of the labels and see us at our core, we have so much in common.

So, who am I, really?

I am not a white-straight-female-liberal-middle class-Jack Mormon-adulteress-divorcee-wife-friend-sister-daughter.

I am oh, so much more than that.

I am ever-evolving. I am what God made me. I am anonymous. I am me. I am love.

Shazam! Gossip Girl

I’m not gonna lie. I love Gossip Girl. (Now that I’ve accepted that it is a straight up soap opera that is.) I can’t get enough of star-crossed lovers Chuck and Blair. The clothes. And especially the music. Case in point, yesterday’s episode featured three Shazam worthy/download worthy tunes.
Bravo to you, music picker-outer of Gossip Girl! I love you most of all.

Concrete Wall | Zee Avi
Boom sha-clack-clack…Boom sha-clack-clack..
Wicked Game | James Vincent McMorrow
 
Sidebar, James Vincent McMorrow also sings on Shells of Silver, which I am completely and utterly obsessed with, which also came from Gossip Girl. So that took me down a whole James Vincent McMorrow tangent in iTunes. All of his songs are oh so sexy and sad and tragic and delicious. MMMMMmmmmmm…. 
Outro | M83 
I am also obsessed with M83’s Midnight City, and, for the record, I was hot on this song way way before that Victoria’s Secret commercial.

Boom sha-clack-clack…

xoxo,
Nat

Who knows what the tide could bring?

So last night we were flipping through channels and Alek came across Castaway. Alek will stop and watch Castaway through to the end no matter what part it is at. I can’t do it. I can’t take it. Wilson. I can’t watch that over and over.

Well last night, we caught Castaway right before Chuck was about to lose Wilson. So I said “Awwwwwww, no! Come on, he’s just about to lose Wilson! I can’t take it!!” And yet, Alek made me watch it through to the end.

Losing Wilson is definitely one of the Top 10 most gut wrenching movie moments of all time. Also in the top 10? When Chuck gets back and he and Kelly can’t be together anymore. That part where he’s in the hotel room clicking the light on and off and looking at her picture in his pocket watch? I will lose it. Every time. Guaranteed.

So I’m like basically bawling and Alek is like “Awww Babah! Are you crying?” And I’m like “What did you think would happen?” And Alek says, “But we have to see the part where he talks about the sun’s always going to rise and you never know what the tide will bring in.”

I must admit, I did not remember this line. Mostly because I actively avoid watching this movie.

So we watched.

And I cried.

And then the line. And the line, well, it’s brilliant.

“We both have done the math. Kelly added it all up and knew she had to let me go. I added it up, and knew that I had lost her. Because I was never going to get off that island. I was going to die there, totally alone. I was going to get sick, or get injured or something. The only choice I had, the only thing I could control was when, and how and where it was going to happen. So I made a rope and I went up to the summit, to hang myself. I had to test it, you know? Of course, you know me. And the weight of the log, snapped the limb of the tree, so, I couldn’t even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over nothing. And that’s when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day, my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back in Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow, the sun will rise and who knows what the tide could bring?”

xoxo,
Nat

Two Miles with a Russian Twist

So, the other day I’m driving home and yakking my face off to Alek and we figure out that we’re both going to be at my parent’s house for the evening because the bane of my existence (my incredibly tiny washing machine) needs a new something thingie and is out of commission for a few days.

Yeah, we’re basically doing laundry at my parent’s house, OK? Look, it’s SO much nicer than a laundromat. It’s all warm and delicious and full of DIRECTV…and love. Come to think of it, I probably should give my Mom a roll of quarters or something.

Back to yakking my face of to Alek. I decide that instead of going to the gym I’ll work out at my parent’s home gym. Then I can hang out with Alek AND workout. Multitasking baby! I told Alek I needed to run. Alek said I needed to move my cardio imagination beyond the treadmill. And when I got there, Alek had put together a little circuit for me:

Alek had already worked out TWICE that day (yeah, you read that right.) So he did laundry and checked in on me enough to push me to do 5 rounds of the circuit instead of 4 (tricky, tricky bastard) and sprint to the finish on the last mile.

I ran the two fastest miles of my life. And I didn’t puke (I totally ALMOST puked, but kept it together. Yes! Success!) AAAAANNNNNDDDD it still took me 43 minutes. Mostly because I hate burpees. I mean I.HATE.BURPEES. I hate them so much that I probably did 50% more than were on the circuit because I was so focused on distracting my mind away from the fact that I was doing burpees that I lost count of where I was at.

Alek was totally right. I do need to move my cardio beyond the treadmill. This circuit was fun. I mean, like, FUN. And it totally kicked my ass…and my core, and my legs, and my arms.

I was talking about it at the office the next day as I dove into a massive Cafe Rio salad (yeah, you read that right) and my colleague, Jenae Frick of YogaEatRun decided she was going to give it a whirl over the weekend. So visit her blog to get the low-down on this circuit as well as a demo video of each exercise.

Really, if you’re interested you should totally watch her video because I’ve explained it to a bunch of friends and a couple of people tried it and openly mocked how long it took me, only to find out later that you do FIVE rounds of the circuit. Also, Jenae knew immediately that the “Ab Balls” (a.k.a. “you like get into boat pose with a ball and then go from side to side and touch it to the ground”) are called “Russian Twists.”

So there you have it, two miles with a Russian Twist, or rather 100 Russian Twists. As Jenae says – “Sweat like a Pig. Work like a Horse. Look like a Fox.” Too right. It’s totally worked for Alek.

xoxo,
Nat

Shazam! Shells of Silver

I am OBSESSED with The Japanese Popstars “Shells of Silver.” Like many many MANY songs I’ve Shazam’d lately, it was on an episode of Gossip Girl. (Does that show have the best music or what? But I digress…)

This song is sexy and soulful and dreamy and full of love and sadness and longing and it’s oh, so perfect.

when the cold of the day moves over
and the warmth of the night moves in
there’s a howling that sticks beneath my skin

so i try to stay warm and moving
but the silence is just too strong
like the bloom of a’ rose is sharp and long

shells of silver
shells of silver
shells of silver

This feels strange, as the closer we get to the grave

everybody wants love, but it’s not enough

to have a good heart, but it’s not enough

xoxo,
Nat

Yummy Lotion Redux

I know we’ve talked about this before, but we are still CA-RAZY about Yummy Lotion. This is now an everyday staple for all of us, babies included.
To make your own Yummy Lotion:
You’ll Need:

  • (2) x 15oz  or (1) x 27oz Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion (any flavor)
  • (2) x jars (8oz) Vitamin E Cream (NOT lotion, cream) by Fruit of the Earth. This comes in a 2 pack of 4oz jars ta’ tha’ Walmarts
  • (1) x 7.5oz Vaseline
Mix baby lotion and Vitamin E cream in a glass or stainless steel bowl with electric beaters. Or a fork or whatever. Just mix it up.

Add Vaseline until fluffy and creamy.
Note: this is not rocket science and it turns out no matter what. Feel free to play around with the mix until it suits you.
Pour mixture into a gallon zip lock bag.
Cut a small hole in the corner and squeeze into clean jars.
We found our large jars at World Market for $2.99.

xoxo,
Nat

The Chocolate Loft

When I moved back to Salt Lake I was single and I had fallen in love with the idea of urban living. (Read: I wasn’t really into a driveway to shovel during the winter months.) I told my realtor that I wanted to live in “the most urban location possible.” He said, “All roads lead back to Zion, eh?” And then we laughed and laughed.

The building where I live was originally built in 1901 as the J.G. McDonald Chocolate Co. This is how we started calling my place “The Chocolate Loft.”

In the last few weeks I’ve had a number of people ask me for pictures of my loft or for more details on my furniture and what-not. And for some reason it takes me FOR-EV-ER to gather up pictures and send them over along with descriptions of the aforementioned what-not.

Today I thought how nice it would be if I just had a link I could send to people. So really, this post is for my own selfish purposes, but I hope you enjoy it too! (And to the people that have asked me for pictures and other info: I’m really sorry that it took so long.)

It should be said up front that my sister, the lovely lovely Janaan, was my interior designer/decorator/personal shopper/muse and deserves all of the credit for how my house looks. She had the vision for the space and knew how to pull all of this together and I knew how to point at what I liked most and pull out a credit card.

I immediately fell in love with the large, paned windows that are original to the building. And while they aren’t very energy efficient, they are very beautiful. The natural light that these windows provide makes the space feel like much more than its ~870 square feet. I chose white window coverings (triple-paned AND insulated) so even if the shades are drawn it still feels open and light inside.

The space required very little work, however renovations still took two months. At one point I burst into tears over a contractor delaying a schedule YET AGAIN and Janaan (who had just spent two years renovating her home) just laughed and laughed…and laughed some more.

Janaan calls my style “rustic modern.” I am going for an eclectic mix of industrial and natural and funky and new. Given the limited square footage and my tendency to let laundry pile up, I also need things to be simple and uncluttered. One nice thing about living in a small space is that you really have to think about what you buy and where you’re going to put it. (Or let’s face it, you rent a 20′ x 20′ storage unit and blame it on your husband’s hobbies and tools. Look, I have a lot of Christmas decorations OK?)

The biggest challenge I had was the HUGE column right inside the front door. It was painted white when I bought the loft and so IN YOUR FACE when you walked inside. Alek suggested that I paint all of the columns with a rusted iron faux finish that matched the rusted iron benches in the front of the building. That treatment changed the column from a barrier to a point of interest. Or at least, a more interesting barrier.

I added the console table stacked with my collection of crystal candlesticks to create a more formal entry point. Also, this totally justified the obsession that I had at the time with crystal candlesticks.

Alek applied a gray venetian plaster finish to the walls. If you’re a new guest, he will make you touch the wall. Guaranteed. It looks rough but it is totally smooth.  

(Faux Finish Painting: Alek House | Console Table: CG Sparks | Candlesticks: Various Stores | Mirror: TJ Maxx | Light Fixtures: Lamps Plus)

I’ve always dreamed of white cabinets and black countertops so I re-faced the kitchen in a distressed white and swapped out the counter tops for black granite. I bought apothecary jars to sit on my counter and love to fill them with delicious treats. They are always the first stop when people come by to visit. (Unless I’m on some radical new diet and they’re filled with raisins and Kid’s Cliff bars. Then, people aren’t so interested.)

My mid-century Tolix stools were purchased for a STEAL while Janaan worked at Sundance Catalog (best.job.ever!). They look perfect tucked under the counters, provide a lot of seating for guests and are a handy way to get up into the higher levels of my closet.

(Cabinets: I’ll Never Use Those Guys Again or Recommend Them. I’m totally serious. If you want cabinets, call Faux at FX Designs. That’s what I wish I had done. | Countertops: Rock Solid, Orem, UT – loved working with those guys | Tolix Stools: Sundance Catalogue | Apothecary Jars: Taipan Trading)

Speaking of my closet – I did have to sacrifice one of the concrete walls to fashion and functionality (mostly fashion.) The “guts” of the closet are all IKEA and the doors were all done by the same cabinet company that finished the kitchen.

I replaced the bathroom floor with white subway tiles (Favorite line of all time from Mom, who specializes in choosing tile and granite in colors that will look good, yet totally mask dirt: “That tile is going to be the bane of your existence.”) Rather than install built-in cabinets, I opted for these stand alone pieces from CG Sparks. Sorry next owner of this place, those go with me when I leave. Basically, I just want to buy everything I see at CG Sparks.

The bathroom was supposed to be finished in this amazing Benjamin Moore paint that adds a bit of gold sparkle and shimmer to the paint. Let’s just say my original painter had NO IDEA how to apply this treatment and $500 in paint later, I gave up and had Alek paint it white again.

We used the Expedit storage shelves from IKEA as a separator between the bedroom and the living area. This was the perfect solution since it was large enough to separate the two spaces, but the open shelves created areas to accessorize on both sides of the room (Oh please, what am I saying? The open shelves gave me a place to stack more crap, cute crap that I need to have around, but crap nonetheless).

All of the pipes in my building are exposed and Alek surprised me after a business trip by painting all of the water pipes in a faux copper finish. He even added a little patina to the joints.

I fell in love with this loft the minute I laid eyes on it and it has been filled with love ever since.

Well, minus those little bouts with the first painter and the first tile guy and the first counter top guy and the cabinet guys.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is not to be intimidated by living in a small space. The loft has provided a home base for family and friends when they are downtown for dinner, concerts, or the Saturday Farmer’s Market. We’ve hosted anywhere from two to fifty people and it is not uncommon for us to have people over after the bars close until the wee hours of the morning. I just ask for a 10 minute heads up so I can make the bed and stash the laundry.

xoxo,
Nat

Dirty Little Secret.

So, here’s the thing. We live in a about 870 square feet. There are two adults and a small, blind dog that does exactly two things – beg for treats and lay around. So you’d think we could keep the house clean, right? (In my defense, I actually think that our house is mostly clean. Messiness, well that’s another matter entirely. Unless you are ON IT, within a matter of minutes the place can be a complete and utter disaster. But I digress…)

Here’s the other thing. We don’t really have a huge amount of down-time at home so when we’re both here together at a decent hour with no obligations and a packed DVR, it just seems like a tragedy to have to spend time cleaning. When it’s just me here at a decent hour, I usually have about a million other things to do. (Alright, that’s an exaggeration, it’s more like twelve-thousand things to do.)

To make a long story short, we now have a housekeeper. She whisks in here like sunshine does her magic once a week. And yes, I do mean magic. Some people are about the weekend, but my favorite night, by far is Thursday night.

Tonight we walked in the house at 11:00 and this is what awaited us:

Aaaaahhhhhhh. Bliss.

At first, I had a hard time telling people that we had a housekeeper. Frankly, I felt like less of a woman. I mean, I know I can’t craft or bake or take great photos or sew or cook. I am not raising another human being to be a productive, capable, polite, contributing member of society.

I shouldn’t admit that I can’t do it all, right? I especially shouldn’t admit that of all the things I can’t do, finding time to clean 900 square feet every week is on the list.

Why can’t I keep it together? What is my problem?

So I decided to just bury it away. No one needed to know.

But when I’d walk into the Chocolate Loft on Bliss Thursdays, I wanted to tell the world! I wanted to spread the joy! All of the hard work that had been done while I was away meant that I had a precious gift back: time.

Time to put up a Christmas tree and send Christmas cards. Time to wrap presents. Time that meant that for the first time in three years, I was not so stressed out that I found myself sitting on the floor, crying in frustration, in the middle of a Christmas Eve meltdown.

I had time to write. Time to read. Time to work. Time to work-out. And most importantly, time to just sit and BE with Alek.

Like I said, bliss.

Anyone that knows me knows how I love to blather on and on about my latest obsessions. Well my latest obsession is my incredibly hard working always cheerful and supremely good at what she does housekeeper. She is worth every penny.

And if it makes me less of a woman…so be it.

xoxo,
Nat

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