Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ten on Tuesday: Birthday Wishlist

Earlier this week, I may have exclaimed something like "I'm going to be 25! THAT'S A QUARTER OF A CENTURY." But really, it's hard to believe that this will be the sixth year I've shared a birthday wishlist on my blog. Also funny to me is how similar all six of those lists have been - evidently, I'm really into photography, Apple products and tea. Who knew? 

Here are the things that made my wishlist this year:

01 // Swell water bottles are all the rage lately and I'd love one that could fit in my bike's water bottle cage. While there was a bicycle pattern out earlier this year, I'm kind of loving this simple mint design.

02 // Working from home means that I've been using a laptop almost exclusively these days. I recently purchased a laptop sleeve from Amazon, only to find out that it was too big. As a lover of all things Kate Spade, I'm loving this simple pattern in black and white.

03 // The big item on my wishlist this year? An Apple Watch. I never thought I'd be saying that but I love the idea of not having to check my phone for timelines while shooting weddings, and not having to pull out my phone every time I get a text message. Plus, there's GPS and anyone who knows me knows that I get lost, well, often. 

04 // As a fan of leaving funny notes around the house, I'm dying to get one of these adorable letterboards from Letterfolk Co.  But I can't decide: black or gray?

05 // Lately, I've watched my middle school shoe tastes come full circle. Gray converse? Yes please. The best part is that I can totally pull these off in a kids 4. (If you're petite and haven't started shopping in kids shoes, you're missing out.)

06 // Another blast from the past, I'm totally loving the Instax film trend. How cute is this pink instant camera?

07 // And, then there's Britney. Did you know she just released another album last month? We're big fans. I'm traveling to Vegas with work for my birthday this year but she's not performing that week. I'd totally settle for these clever pencils instead.

08 // Continuing with past year's themes, there has to be something tea related on the list, right? I saw this electric tea kettle in store a few months ago and loved the pattern.

09 // I've also got to include something crafty. I'm recently in love with the idea of applying vinyl to all of the things -- the front of my planner, my coffee mug, tee shirts. I'd love to be able to do this myself with the Silhouette Cameo. A girl can dream, right?

10 // And then there's the grown-up item of "I actually kind of need this." With photographing so many weddings this summer, I've found a few pieces of photography equipment that I need. I'm dying for a House of Flynn Evermore bag but a flash seems a little more practical.

So tell me, what's on your Fall wishlist?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What do you do to relax?

While I have loved the last several months as a Schwinn Ambassador, my bike riding experience recently improved when Trevor received a Schwinn Streamliner of his own. I asked Trevor to take a few moments to reflect on his Schwinn experience so far and this is what he had to say:

I have found an obsession and it is called bicycle riding.

It was not on purpose.  It just happened three weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have a bicycle sent to me by Schwinn.   I started pedaling around my development, weaving in and out of the uneven cement ramps manifested from years of drought and dust erosion that may once have been a flat sidewalk.  The memories attached to each pedal rotation grew with the wind rushing around my body.  Reminiscences of the times when I was a teenager zipping around the neighborhood with my school buddies without a care in the world . . .  we all just enjoyed the moment and that was the wonderful simplicity of the experience.

I suffer from Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, and whatever else a psychiatrist can tell me I have “symptoms” of.  These neurotransmitter ailments have kept me from being able to concentrate on anything without getting lost in the array of thousands of other thoughts that have little to do with any task at hand.  The toughest question I have ever been asked is “What do you do to relax?”  I have never been able to answer such a seemingly simple question before. 

I now have a crystal clear answer to the question of how I relax.  I get on my bicycle and begin a 4 to 9 mile journey every day.  I am free from negative thoughts, and the anxiety of figuring out what to do with the day, the week, the month.  In that moment of speeding through the paved paths and stone roads, I am thoughtless.  It is a feeling I do not get with any other activity I have tried.  For however long I ride, I am free from mental illness.  These peaceful rides of clarity done every day, religiously, is a gift I had no idea that I could open.  I am grateful.

This year, I am partnering with Schwinn Bikes as a #SchwinnAmbassador to share my wellness journey.

Catch all of our updates here, on Instagram (with the hashtag #fromwherejenrides) and on the Schwinn Red blog.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Caring Crate: Virtual Trip to the Beach


It's no secret that I love mail, and that I especially love packages. So, when Janelle of Caring Crate reached out about photographing her new subscription box geared toward those living with chronic physical or mental illness, I said yes.  Or something closer to "REALLY? I would love to! Yes!"

Janelle described the box to me as a collection of products to "help you feel better and feel good" and after receiving both the June and July Caring Crate packages, I have to agree. Self-care is such an important aspect of managing a chronic illness and yet it can be hard to get out and shop, or even to know what you might need on your next hard day. 


Each month, subscribers receive a box with four to five full-sized health and wellness related products. Typically, these products revolve around a central theme and July's was a "virtual trip to the beach." This theme was especially timely for me - today marks one week that Trevor has been away for a real trip to the beach and after seven days of single-parenting our dogs, I needed a little self-care.

On this month's card, Janelle quoted, "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor" and how true those words are for someone with a chronic illness.


My favorite item in this month's box was this bracelet, a brass cuff, from Anchor Me's Lost at Sea Collection. The design on the cuff is actually morse code which spells out "strength." I am a big fan of tangible reminders but love how subtle this design is.

Sometimes, it can feel scary to know that others will read your own little "note to self" but I love the idea of starting a conversation with a friend, or even a stranger, over this one.


This month's box also contained two beauty products - a lip balm and a face mask.

Green tea is one of my favorite flavors of summer and so I was thrilled to see it as a lip balm flavor. Better yet, this balm from Two Blooms is made from ethically sourced and natural ingredients, like coconut and avocado oils.

Meanwhile, the SeaLuxe Seaweed Face Mask, made from wild harvested kelp, spirulina, sea clay and benonite clay, was a perfect fit for this beachy box. A hot bath with last month's Native Nectars sea salt soak and this mask are totally on my to-do list before Trevor arrives back to New Mexico tonight.

At first, I actually thought that the box might actually contain three beauty products. Based on it's square shape and adorable packaging, I thought that The Lemon Square was a handcrafted soap. Turns out, while handcrafted, it wasn't for bathing but for eating.

Caring Crate is actually a Canadian company and I love that so many of the products featured come straight from local Canadian companies. The Lemon Bar is based in Vancouver and each bar is made from fresh lemons, fresh butter from British Columbia, and graham wafers, with a dusting of coconut.

I would be lying if I told you that The Lemon Bar was still inside this wrapper. I had every intention of just photographing it but when I opened it and smelled that fresh lemon, well.. You know the rest.


When I let Janelle know that this month's box arrived, I nearly typed, "this is my favorite Caring Crate yet!" but realized in that moment that each box will likely be my new favorite. I suppose that's the nature of a good thing. And, the theme for August's Caring Crate has just been announced: The Better Sleep Box.

While I love the products inside these boxes, and getting a chance to treat myself, what I love most about Caring Crate is that it exists just for people like me. There are subscription boxes for everything but Caring Crate is the only one designed for those living with a chronic illness and honestly, guys: it feels special to be included.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Food as Medicine: Thoughts on Turmeric

This week marks the second anniversary of my brain surgery and cranio-cervical fusion. Over these two years, I have tried several things to improve my health and pain - including trigger point injections and physical therapy, medications and massage - all with varying levels of success. Of all the changes I have made, diet changes have been the most helpful.

Current science believes that inflammation is one of the biggest underlying issues in chronic illness and many of my diet changes, like cutting refined sugars and dairy, have focused on cutting inflammation. There are even diets specific to reducing inflammation like the Autoimmune Protocol diet, or even going Paleo.

It sounds daunting but in reality, it's actually been delicious.

One of the herbs I have recently tried to work into my diet more is turmeric, which gives curry it's vibrant orange color. There have been hundreds of studies on the disease fighting effects of turmeric, including research on its ability to help prevent Alzheimer's, to treat Arthritis, and to even prevent and treat certain types of cancer. One of these studies even identified more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds in the herb.

A few months ago, when Trevor's family was visiting, I tried a turmeric cocktail at Vinaigrette, a great local farm-to-table salad restaurant. They've since swapped that drink out with a turmeric mimosa that I'm excited to try. In the meantime, I did find a great Turmeric Ginger tonic on Epicurious and it even has chia seeds, another super food.

We've also been squeezing lots of turmeric into our weekday diet with Curried Chicken Salad for lunch – either on a bun or over greens. While Trevor has his own secret recipe from culinary school, this option from MyRecipes seems like a close match.

Still, I was on a hunt for other non-curry recipes, and I stumbled on a great list of spicy recipes to try. I figured we could start at the top and work our way through – though I was most drawn to the shrimp with mango and basil – and so I made the Super Power Morning Smoothie earlier this week.

Not surprisingly, we had all of the ingredients needed - like banana, mango chunks, turmeric and chia seeds - for this morning recipe on hand. And, we even had fresh ginger on hand – allowing for an extra spicy addition.

So tell me, what are your favorite ways to eat turmeric? Who else is a big fan of curry?