it starts here.

it starts here.

I remember walking around the nation’s capital with a friend of mine in 2014 while declaring out loud “I feel like I’m meant for greatness and yet; I’m falling remarkably short of that greatness.” Now, I get it, this sounds super obnoxious – try to hold back the rolling of the eyes. It wasn’t meant to be quite as douchy as it sounds. My point was simply that I have always felt an itch but I’ve never known where to scratch. I left behind a lot of things when I moved to Maine and in my seven years in this state; I have struggled to find myself. I thought perhaps I left my greatness somewhere in Massachusetts, like maybe at a bar or along the Charles while out running. Probably tossed it in the trash at the Coop and just never went back to claim it. I referred to my own greatness as a tangible solid; something I could pick up and mold. And I also referred to my own greatness as either/or. I either have it now, here in Maine, or I don’t. I’m sure a lot of women think like that. I missed the mark, therefor my life is shit.

What a bunch of crap. Greatness can be curated anywhere, at anytime and for any reason. I didn’t quite get that until some of the stress started to lift off my shoulders and I began talking to myself in a kinder fashion. It wasn’t a light bulb moment but a slow trickle over time that eventually turned into a glass half full. We are the creators of our own destiny.

It took 3 years, a handful of panic attacks, an article about the societal pressures that cause 30 something’s to have nervous break-downs and hating myself for not being perfect to realize the singular thing I could do to achieve greatness. Not just for me, but women everywhere. Start an honest conversation using a platform that feels real. (simple, right?)  It will be small at first. It will take time and hours, days and years. It will cause some commotion and discontent I’m sure but you can’t please everyone. The conversation around women in today’s society goes one of two ways: you are either all done up, looking chic as fuck and juggling the world while making Gwenyth Paltrow-esque meals every night OR you are rolling your kids through the McDonald’s drive-thru, struggling to survive, wearing yoga pants and looking like you just got dragged behind a bumper.

Well, fuck that. I want a conversation that revolves around women who make mistakes, have or don’t have children, care about wellness without ridiculously false expectations, occasionally eat 25 fun-sized Snickers, are educated, getting educated, aren’t educated, want to get educated, hate cooking, love cooking, don’t want to spend $800 on a cardigan, feel a little ugly sometimes and are willing to discuss but most importantly – appreciate a place where the dialogue can be honest without telling each other how to take the easy way out.

My new passion project won’t be unveiled until Summer of 2018. I have rushed into things before and they never felt fully realized. I want a brand before I launch and enough content to pull people in. I also want to invite contributors from all over to write about their personal experiences. But I will tell you this, I’m sick of reading things that are unattainable and I’m guilty of pushing that myself. This brand will be real, refreshing and thought provoking. It will give women a place to come where they can celebrate one another while receiving advice through various platforms.

In the meantime, if anyone has ideas for content or would like to contribute please e-mail me: jennifer@allofthecake.com

Carving out time and peace.

Carving out time and peace.

“You wanna be right or you wanna be happy”-Celeste + Jesse Forever

Well guys. I’m back. It’s been like two months since I touched or thought about this blog. Life has just run away from me. Over the last few months I kept thinking that as I catapulted towards the finish line of school things would get easier. I kept waiting to coast. But, sadly, it never happened. Apparently, I don’t allow myself to coast in academics. (or anything for that matter) In fact, one teacher gave me a 95% on a Portfolio assignment and I imaged smashing his face into a toilet. (shameless, I know) Regardless, it is now basically November and with 6 weeks left to go; I am starting to feel like my old self. The self that can kill a hard workout. The self that can admire the way the rising sun hits my favorite blazing red tree during fall. The self that cares less about telling everyone when they’re wrong and more about building organic relationships. Oh, and the self that shamelessly smiles when my favorite song comes on. As things have winded down; I’ve made some small changes that I wanted to share with all of you because I think they have helped enormously. In the last year; there has been so much discussion about mental health and I think that sometimes people try and use the stress excuse as a way of masking some deeper issues. But, as human beings living challenging lives; I think calling attention to the mental hiccups is crucial. No, we may not be battling anxiety or depression but we are all battling something. After 3 years of feeling like I am walking backwards into a glass wall – I have learned some important coping mechanisms. The ones I have instilled in the last 3 months have made me a collectively more grounded person. I have learned to value being selfish and ask for what I need; when I need it. I have also learned to take a time out when I feel my brain getting hot.

  1. I called in help. No, we can’t all afford expensive smoothie and meal delivery services but there are small modifications everyone can make. Suddenly one day I realized that my busy schedule was creating dietary chaos. Sugar, I was eating so much sugar. (which meant I was snappy and tired ALL THE TIME) I was also eating huge meals at lunch because I had this urge to feel satisfied during the day. I’ve tried cutting out sugar cold turkey before and depriving myself of all the things I love and truthfully, it never lasts long. Maybe a week and then I binge on whatever I felt was missing in my life. I also realized that attempts to eat healthfully meant a lot of wasted food because I never actually had time to make a morning smoothie with 87 ingredients. So, I sat down and weighed the pros and cons of a service called Daily Harvest. The smoothies are roughly $6-$7 per smoothie depending on how many you sign up for per week. They come pre-portioned in little cute white cups. All you do is add your choice liquid. After throwing out like a bunch of kale, a shit ton of cauliflower and saw the pineapple rotting on my counter I decided to pull the trigger. It’s an $87 splurge per week. To make up for it I have cut out smoothies out and coffee in the morning from my local bakery. In the end, I spend less for something delivered to my doorstep that I can blend in two seconds. (p.s. the strawberry cheesecake sundae is fucking bomb, it’s made from strawberries, cauliflower, almonds and coconut-perfect for a late night sugar craving)
  2. I put my cell phone away. I started turning my cell phone off and tucking it downstairs for the night about a month ago. 8:30 PM – I am officially disconnected from the world (9 on some nights, it depends but no later than that) It has been proven that the blue light emitted from cell phone usage effects levels of melatonin (the hormone that controls sleep/wake cycle) and can create activity in your brain that will keep you awake. Also, 6 AM texts from my insane family members meant that on weekends; I was losing out on valuable catch-up sleep. In the past month, I have had no trouble falling asleep and I have STAYED asleep. I’m often surprised when my watch alarm wakes me up. I sleep more soundly and it is much easier to get up in the morning. On Sundays, I keep my phone off for the majority of the day. It has made such a difference in my tude.
  3. I started taking baths. I have always responded to the sensation of water and now that it is hella cold in the lake/ocean and I can’t open water swim – I have started taking baths regularly. It’s a way for me to have a connective experience with something natural. It is also a way to immerse myself in something healthy for my mind/body (bath salts, essential oils, scented candles, I love Pursoma bath products which range from $12-$36 per bath, they have a great one for when you feel a cold coming on) Taking a half hour to myself means that I get a little bit of time away from the world I live in. I try not to think or focus on anything but how my body feels in the water.
  4. I slowed down my running. After being seriously burnt out from running at the end of 2015; I backed off from running. My body fought every single run. I couldn’t get out the door. I was miserable. But at the same time, I knew I was missing the only time I felt fully immersed in something that allowed me to be outdoors, chat with friends or be alone with my music. The last month, my coach has forced me to slow down through heart rate training. It has shifted my perspective a great deal. The runs are no longer about beating my head against a wall to meet some stupid goal. Right now, it is just about intention. Be outside, control my heart rate, enjoy the experience. I’m not jumping for joy every day I have to run but I can get out the door willingly and I feel good while out there. After, I feel cleansed and renewed; ready to tackle whatever life throws at me.
  5. I stopped asking people for their time. I used to hang out with friends up here in Maine a lot and when that kind of fizzled; I was definitely sad about it. Now, I appreciate the fact that I have time to be alone when and if I need it without the lingering guilt. While having a packed social calendar is fun, it is important to realize that being a grown up with kids means that those around you have less and less time as life progresses. While my schedule might be freeing up, that other person might still be in the weeds. So I stopped asking for their time. I’m allowing friends who have grown distant to just be distant. What this means is that I appreciate when I do see them and I don’t set unrealistic expectations. It’s not always personal. Sometimes its just life.

Other small modifications: blasting music while making dinner, eating for fuel rather than just to eat, giving myself a fucking break when I fuck up, limiting my drinking (I probably have a drink once every two weeks), wearing real pants and looking like I give a shit about myself and most importantly, being nicer to my husband because he is fucking rad and deserves to not get the scary side of me quite so often.

It’s Friday guys and tomorrow night I get to see a bunch of people I love at the most ridiculous annual Halloween party ever, so lets unplug, unwind, have a few laughs and wind down the hours.

xoxo,

Jenny

What is healthy anyway???

What is healthy anyway???

*I wish healthy looked like this–life would be so good. JUST KIDDING. 

Last fall, I officially began backing off the running. I fell badly while out gallivanting with my 11 year old daughter Emma and lesson fucking learned–those pre-teens will school your ass every time regardless of experience on the road. (well, this wasn’t a road, it was a cross country trail but whatever) Something just went hay wire and before I knew it, I was on the ground, bleeding from both knees thinking: “am I crawling home or what because this skinny chick can’t carry me up this ginormous hill” I did go to the doctors and was given an unsatisfactory answer but I have been lax in seeing a specialist. I still can’t put weight on it and when I fell off the chairlift Monday night (yes, that happened); I busted the same knee all over again. Lack of activity became immediately noticeable. I went from running 30+ miles a week to running like 12. The weight I lost from running like a god damn maniac came back very quickly. I can’t imagine why, Dairy Queen is calorie free—is it not??? I could feel it piling on and the more weight that trickled on; the worst I began to feel about myself. I was in such pristine shape last year that I actually liked every single race photo I was in. (except those Reach the Beach pics, those are always shameful, ugh, like here I am on a 24 hour bender and you caught me with my mouth open and half a butt cheek out)

Last month I decided that it was time to give myself a break because the likelihood was; I would never again train the way I did last year. The scale said I was good but internally; I didn’t feel good. And lets be honest, healthy starts in the kitchen right? Getting your body moving is essential but it’s really the icing on the cake. A friend of mine wrote about this recently; modifying the expectations you set for yourself. It was an excellent reminder that a change of strategy isn’t always a bad thing. In fact it can be very, very good.

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For me healthy used to be pushing myself until my breaking point. Getting up at dawn, running a bunch and then going on full throttle the whole day. It would be to shove into my mouth whatever I could get my hands on. Post race, it was sitting on the couch and eating the rest of the day. I was strung out, disconnected from my body and not as happy as I should have been considering all the great things happening around me.

I’ve really put food into focus the last month. But that does not mean that I haven’t made a million mistakes. Yesterday, I had a banana for breakfast and no lunch which means by 2; I laid into Roland’s candy drawer like I was saving a child from a small fire; consuming 4 fun sized Nestle Crunch bars. I mean, you would have thought I hadn’t seen food in a month. It happens. I went home and I made better choices. My lack of meal prep for the day caused me to slip, whatever, who gives a shit. I don’t.

Healthy for me is nourishing myself from the inside out while realizing I will fuck up from time to time. I am trying to listen to my body more and how it reacts to certain foods. (case in point, I feel all kind of fucked up after returning to sugar) Sleeping is key. Working out 4-5 times a week hard is necessary. Working out for me right now is a couple of short runs every week until I begin my new training plan and some rides on my Peloton. Good enough. You know? Healthy is realizing the journey is paved with stones in which I will wobble. Maybe even fall. (if its a chairlift, I’m fucking falling) Trying new things is good. (i.e. skiing) Spitting out food is perfectly fine. (i.e. french yogurt that looks like vomit) Saying no to some foods (kale) while readily embracing others (spinach) is cool. Bread, yea, from time to time I will polish off a loaf. (probably solo–dipped in olive oil) Concessions are good, sure. Deprivation, no fucking way. Healthy is also not allowing the scale to rule my life. Right now, the scale says I am 10 lbs. heavier than I was last year but I feel really good. I’m targeting different muscles, I have different goals. That number is infantile to how my body is telling me I’m doing. When I look in the mirror, I’m not upset at what I see. And I think that is positive change all on its own. Healthy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Life, with its mountain of temptations, makes it too hard to do it right all the time.

Healthy is whatever you can give your best to every single day. It doesn’t look like what Gwenyth Paltrow is posting because lord knows we can’t meet her expectations. Whatever you want for yourself, whatever you can strive for with excellence, whatever little victories you can scoop up–that’s healthy. We have to learn that this world is harsh and bold; every day holds its own challenges. The key is to rise above them, take a deep breath and give yourself a break.

The New Kitchen

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*This is not a picture of a kitchen, but it certainly is a swoon worthy space.

Well, I think it may just about be official–we are moving. We had the inspection and contrary to my hopefulness, everything looks to be in good shape–so with only one more tiny negotiation to go, I think it’s safe to say, this is happening. I do like the house we chose, don’t get me wrong, it’s the anticipation of it all that is just hampering my happiness. It’s the unknowns and the change that is keeping me just a little bit down. No, I haven’t lived a lifetime in this home, but I am about to host my 5th Harvest Party here, which will also be my last. Memories, have been laid down here. A life–was built here. We brought Miles home from the hospital here and planted the seeds that would eventually become–our very prosperous life. The last day will be emotional and so for now, I am trying to focus on the one thing that truly makes me happy–my new kitchen.

This new house has a kitchen that some, might love, I happen to absolutely, 100%, fundamentally-hate it. I hate everything about it. But, I am lucky. I am married to a builder and we can fix/change anything. I am also extremely lucky to have my father-in-law, who can sketch up a kitchen in no time flat and happens to have the ingenuity of a genius so my crazy fanciful ideas can hopefully become a reality. There are many things to decide and so many designs to integrate but I do know that I am starting by ripping everything out: appliances-gone, cabinetry-see ya later, you so ugly, tile flooring–peace out, you’re even worse, lighting, update, update, update, it’s so tired. To start, I am going with an white on white approach. White cabinetry with a modern, shaker style door. I consider this to be timeless, it’s simple and will hang on style wise for many years to come. I will have crown molding at the top of the cabinetry and maybe one or two glass doors with nickel gap boards as a backsplash. For the countertops, I am choosing Carrera Marble, and I’m hoping to find a slab that has a little more grey in it. I’m going to choose a cast iron apron sink with a white finish and some sort of industrial looking faucet. For the range I am choosing a 36″ Bertazzoni range which looks absolutely stunning, a hood to match the range, most likely a Bosch dishwasher in stainless steel (as I happen to LOVE mine) and the fridge is still up for debate. I love the idea of a restaurant style fridge with a glass door, Josh happens to think I’m crazy. At some point I will figure out how to win that argument.

I have ordered my 120″ farmhouse table with an antiqued pine finish and zinc strapping from Restoration Hardware, I have yet to decide on the chairs as of yet but that will come soon. I’m thinking two fancy chairs for each end of the table and 4 more casual chairs for each side. For lighting I am keeping it classic with just a hint of modern. I need to order new track lighting, a new chandelier for the dining room and the library as well as two sconces for the dining area. Paint colors are going to be the most fun part. I’m thinking something a little crazy like a dark charcoal for the kitchen to offset all the white and something a little softer for the living/library spaces.

We also have a gorgeous sun room which we have yet to decide what to do with. My father-in-law suggested French doors to close it off as necessary and I happen to think that is a wonderful idea.

I want this house to be outfit for entertaining. I want lavish and intimate dinner parties. Although, we may be on a Ramen budget after all is said and done but I’ll figure that out. None the less, I see people here–and that is what is keeping me excited. Also, I love the idea of being able to design my own space. The house we live in currently was a place I really had no say in and although I now love it to pieces, I didn’t use to. I’m excited to put my own style, my own flare, into our new home. One of the only major design obstacles is the amount of windows, which I know is not the worst problem to have. Part of me wants to leave some of the windows naked and use a bold white for the trim to dress it up. There are times when I think minimalistic can be really fantastic. Do I dare try that here?

We close August 15th and in the weeks following it will be renovations and choices. After the dust clears and the place is cleaned, we will move in and settle down. We will watch the kids play and make meals. We will hopefully watch the bees flourish in their new environment. I’m hopeful, even with the hesitation to move–that this becomes quickly, the right choice. I would love to know that we chose a place that we can thrive in and of course, continue to make beautiful.

I have a huge issue with…

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Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or maybe I am just becoming a crotchety lady in general–but I seriously do not understand why my Facebook news feed has become all about everyone in my whole entire life–on some sort of diet, food craze or workout phenomenon. I literally am about to lose my shit with this. All day, every day, every single minute, of every single day, I have in my face–someone’s announcement of how they cut calories, worked out for seventeen hours or photos of people looking like they just had a stroke, red in the face, post workout. Now yes, I post occasionally about my running. I will run 10 miles on Saturday and then thank someone on Facebook for the great company and announce that my run, was indeed glorious. Or sometimes, I declare that I hate running or that I just shoved a giant ice cream cone in my face. But I wouldn’t call what I do constant or consistent. And yes, there are people that really inspire me and whose journey–I LOVE following. Russ, the husband of a gal I run with on Saturday’s has had an incredible weight loss journey. Once in a while, Meg will post his progress and we are all glad for the update, as it’s just been wonderful to watch him change his life style. Not to mention, he is incredibly humble when it comes to the whole thing. His story is real and unaffected by trends. He is just a guy, who turned to running to help him shed pounds and learned life’s #1 lesson: portions, portions, portions. Then there are Carrie & Kristin, both gals I went to high school with who are creating a positive environment for change, asking people in a non pushy fashion, to watch them make better life choices while inspiring others to do the same. All this–I can handle. All this–I think is great. The rest, makes me want to throw up in my mouth every single time I look at it.

Why? Why you may ask, is this stirring up something inside of me?

Because I am SICK and TIRED of watching people just shit all over themselves, which inadvertently, creates a pattern that makes other people want to shit all over themselves. I’m going to tell you all, the world’s biggest secret: it’s all about how much and what kind of food you stick in your face. There is no magic pill, no wonder diet, there is no easy fix–calories in, calories out. PERIOD. Yes, you can eat your one egg white with half a grape and maybe you’ll be skinny someday but you will also have a terrible attitude, dull hair and probably worse skin then 95% of the population. And yes, you can drink that protein shake that claims to have eight zillion vitamins and fillers to keep you full but how do you think they get all that “stuff” into a chocolate powder: THEY PROCESS IT. When you go outside, do you see vitamin packed chocolate powder growing on the trees??? Uh, nope, no you don’t. Do you see tiny pills coming up from the earth, ready to pop into your mouth and steady your metabolic rate? Uh-no. There are some exceptions out there, sure, some of these ready made shakes, actually pack some of the good stuff but most of them, do not. Great marketing, that makes you feel like you are doing something wrong, so you will buy it and fix yourself.

Body image has been a sticking point for every woman since probably the beginning of time. And I have my own list of issues but mostly, I like my body. I may joke about it from time to time. I may call myself awkward and feel unpretty–but I know with every mile I log on the road, I am doing something good for myself. The hard work, has paid off and there are certainly moments when I don’t feel my best, but most of the time I am damn pleased with what I have carved out in the last year. Watching men and women torture themselves is killing my spirit. It’s awful. And I have a huge issue with having to see it every single damn day.

Weight is a simple equation without a lot of variables. When you go to the grocery store, you shop in the perimeter. If you eat carbohydrates, you should be anticipating using them for something, so they don’t just turn into sugar which then turns into fat. If you don’t eat a lot of sugar, you will reduce your calorie intake tremendously, you will also prevent your body from going into insulin overload. And sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. So if you are dumping 10 pounds of agave on everything, you are still harming your body. And, if you are scooping out coconut oil and shoving it in your face, you will still get just a little bit fat. Bacon is not the enemy, if you eat it like a normal human being. Fat can be good, in limited quantities. And “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is probably going to give you cancer. Also, your “lite” yogurt has as much sugar as a Snickers bar, so you might as well go shove one of those into your mouth. Read labels. Use your best judgment. Simple food, is often best. Unprocessed, real food is always the best choice. Things that come from the ground, your body knows what to do with. Don’t get caught in the hype.

I wish all my friends valued themselves. I wish, that most days, I valued myself more. But I know this–I love myself enough to never play into the hype, to never starve myself or deprive myself. I love myself enough to know that with certain “allowances” comes the need to work hard.  I love myself enough to create quality meals that are well rounded and filling. To teach my kids the fundamentals of what eating well actually means and to teach my daughter that all this shit, is exactly that, shit. Food can be a glorious thing. It brings people together. I’m tired of people demonizing it simply because we have turned food into something—other than what it actually is—a natural product.

I encourage you all to get in front of the mirror today and have an honest conversation with yourself. Get naked if you must. But take a good, hard look. You’re beautiful. And there are plenty of people who think so.