Three Days in My Life (and how I don’t get it all done)

nourished kitchen yard

This week, I wanted to share with you a little glimpse of three random days in my family’s life: what we eat, what we do, and how I don’t get it all done.  There’s unanswered emails, unwashed clothes, piles of dishes, forgotten leftovers lurking in the back of the fridge.  By sharing this with you, I want you to know that there’s no perfect.  My husband and I are blessed to work from home, so our life centers here, and I still can’t get everything done.  We eat out more than I’d like.  There’s always a load of dishes.  A half-made kitchen project and failure after failure in dishes (yes, I only post triumphs for Nourished Kitchen, not failures).

So this is what our little life looks like.  And if you’d like to follow along more closely, I often post glimpses here and there to Nourished Kitchen’s instagram feed.

Making a Wreath with my Son

It’s time to make sauerkraut

6:30 AM.  I wake up, pull my laptop into my lap and start working.  It’s the same story: posts, emails, posts, emails with my editor and designer for the cookbook that’s due out next spring.

9:00 AM.  My little boy wakes up, and we file into the kitchen to make breakfast.  Scrambled eggs with herbs and cheese, chopped tomato salad, sliced apples, buttered toast.  We have circle time, where we light a candle, sing songs and talk about the upcoming day.

10:00 AM. I get a shower, while my husband and son clean the kitchen and prepare for homeschool. They work on some reading, writing and poetry.  I get back to work.  It’s snowing outside and my yard looks like both winter and fall at once.

Noon. We have lunch.  Leftover soup and grilled sausages, with sour pickles we put up in the summer and sourdough einkorn bread.  My husband and son clean up the kitchen, and I set out our supplies for homeschool.

1:30 PM. My son and I make a wreath after gathering some yellowed aspen twigs from the yard, and by repurposing the bouquets of flowers my husband purchased for me earlier in the week.  We hang it on the door, clean up the ridiculous mess we made, and head outside to play in the snow.

2:00 PM.  I come back in, and prepare a Slow-roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Preserved Lemon for Dinner. Then I go back outside to play when I should be cleaning the fridge (it’s gross), and putting away clothes.  Playing with my kiddo is FAR more fun, though.

4:00 PM. We come back inside, and I make hot cider.  Plain for my little boy, and with an added boost of ginger liqueur for my husband and  I.  I have 4 gigantic heads of heirloom cabbage that’s been staring me down for the last three days, and finally my husband and I sit down, set to task and start shredding our way through the cabbage to make homemade sauerkraut.  We pack our Polish-style fermenting crock FULL of shredded cabbage, and I develop a blister from cutting so much cabbage.  A friend stops by to pick up our food waste.  She feeds it to her pigs, so very little gets thrown away in our home – almost everything is recycled, repurposed or reused in some fashion.

4:45 PM. My little boy invites his friend over, and they’re in and out of the house, playing like made and tracking leaves and mud throughout our home.  I make them a snack of chopped apples, almond butter and more hot cider.

6:45 PM. Dinner is ready, and we sit down for Slow-roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Preserved Lemon, and a big salad with tomatoes because we have more tomatoes than I know what to do with coming into our home through our CSA. I mean to make some more yogurt, but I forget.  I mean to soak beans, but I forget. My husband cleans up the kitchen, and I head into my office to get some more work done while our son cleans up his room and his toys.

8:15 PM. We set up blankets and pillows on the couches in the living room.  I make popcorn with butter and nutritional yeast, and we settle in to watch a movie: National Treasure.  We’ve been studying about the revolutionary war and America’s forefathers, and thought it might be a fun way to discuss fiction vs. nonfiction in relation to our studies.  We can’t get through it, and end up heading to bed.

9:00 PM.  It’s off to bed.  I snuggle in the little boy.  He falls asleep quickly, and my husband and  I head to bed.  I had intended to make yogurt today.  I had intended to thaw meat for tomorrow’s dinner.  And I didn’t.

Quince for Making Membrillo

It’s Snowing (again)

6:00 AM.  I suffered a rotten night of sleep again.  I woke up at 3:00 AM with things revolving around in my head, drifted back to sleep and woke up again only half-rested.  Before I stretch, or drink a glass of water, I pull my laptop into my lap and start working – answering emails, sending out newsletters, answering emails, checking Nourished Kitchen’s social media streams, answering emails.

9:00 AM. My little boy wakes up, snuggles into bed and announces he’s H.U.N.G.R.Y.  I stop working. I meant to flake and soak oats last night (I use this grain grinder/oat flaker combo) so we could have soaked oatmeal porridge  this morning, but I forgot. We had scrambled eggs yesterday, so I don’t want to make that again.  I resolve to make soft-boiled eggs with bacon.  It would be good with toast, but I have no bread so I slice up an avocado.  Something distracts me, I forget about my eggs and before I know it, they’re hardboiled.  So we have hardboiled eggs, avocado, and bacon for breakfast, and my little boy is irritated.  After all, you can’t dip a strip of crispy bacon into a hardboiled yolk.

9:30 AM. I finish some work up, and my son and I set up homeschool for the day.  We work (very loosely) from a Waldorf-inspired Curriculum.  We read animal stories, draw pictures.  Practice writing, play alliteration games and do some math problems focused on the four processes, translating word problems into action and into written form.  He’s having fun, and I am too.  We finish playing a game of Dinosaur Monopoly we started last night.

Noon. Right now I have 25 pounds of quince, 40 pounds of apples, 20 pounds of olives and 10 pounds of hot peppers waiting for me to preserve them. I know we’ll need to eat again, and, again, I have nothing prepared.  My husband says we should just go get Mexican food, but I ask him to stick our leftovers into the oven (kale and egg pie, and broccoli chicken casserole) so we can save money. Our son is playing on his own, and my husband and I start in on the quince.

12:30 PM. About 15 pounds into the quince, we pull out lunch from the oven, only to realize it’s terrible scorched.   We go out for lunch, to a Mexican joint.  Cheese dip. Chips. Tacos with avocado and achiote chicken.  And a margarita (for my husband).

1:30 PM. We return home, finish the quince. I start making membrillo, then I burn the bottom of the membrillo.  I pretend it’ll be okay, but the contents of the entire pot taste faintly smoky.  Feeling all dejected, I go back to the office and continue working – meal plans, emails, posts, and working on some photos for the cookbook that’s coming out next April: Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle.

3:00 PM. I wrap up in a scarf, hat and coat.  My little boy and I play soccer outside on piles of fallen leaves dampened by the morning’s snow.  He wins.  12 to 3.  I try to go inside and finish working.  Laundry needs to be put away.  My office is a brutal mess.  But, my little boy pouts, and I stay outside playing tag, playing soccer and running around.  It’s my exercise for the day.

4:30 PM.  My husband and I walk our son to his martial arts class.  We should go back home and start making dinner, but, instead, we’re so overjoyed at being alone (a rarity) we decide to take the time and have a date at the local rum distillery. We snack on popcorn, and have a cocktail and revel, kissy-faced, in each others’ company.

5:45 PM. We pick up our son, and head home.  I make Potato and Poblano Pepper Soup (following this recipe, only using white potatoes instead of sweet).  I chop up some apples for dessert.  Nothing fancy.  Not even close.

6:45 PM. We eat. We talk about our day.  And we settle in, watching an episode of the old Star Trek on Netflix.

8:00 PM. It’s bed time.  While I put our little boy to bed, my husband cleans the kitchen.  I fill up hot water bottles.  We live in and old, drafty house and the hot water bottles keep us warm all night despite the creeping cold.  We read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. My husband finishes up, comes in and reads Electric Ben.

9:00 PM. My husband and I head to bed.  Burnt membrillo’s still in the pot.  Oats are yet unflaked and unsoaked.  I meant to start some bread for No-Knead Sourdough, and that didn’t happen either.  We make love.  We watch some Louis on netflix, and fall asleep.

Huckleberries in Colander

Art Class and Not Cleaning

6:00 AM. I wake up and start working.  Emails. Newsletters. Social Media. Emails.  Emails.

9:00 AM. My son wakes up, and comes into bed with us to snuggle.  After a few fidgety minutes, he runs off to take his shower, and I get out of bed to make breakfast: eggs fried in butter with melted cheese, chopped tomato with garlic salt, fresh avocado, hot chocolate.

9:30 AM. I start removing several pounds of garden huckleberries from their stems.  I think I’ll make a huckleberry cobbler … or something.  Something that’ll dazzle you, only that it probably won’t.  I get distracted by an email that comes in on my phone, and I get back to work.  I listen to the Real Food Con, but don’t stress about not hearing everything because I plan to order the Full Real Food Con Package with recordings, videos, cookbook and all the bonuses.

10: 30 AM. My husband and I get a shower together while our son practices Reading Eggs on the computer.  We talk about Christmas, and plan to save the money we would have spent on Christmas for a vacation later in 2014.  We plan to do handmade gifts this year.

11:30 AM. I finish up a few items for work.  And the huckleberries I intended to make into something are sitting in a colander in my kitchen sink.

Noon. We have lunch – a big salad for me with greens, onions, sweet peppers, bacon, brussels sprouts, boiled eggs.

1:00 PM. We check the mail.  Then my son and I head over to his art class.  He takes art once a week with a local artist.  It’s a 3-hour class, and that usually affords my husband and I time to finish work, and to clean the house, but today I’ve accepted my son’s invitation to go to class with him.  We sketch spooky Halloween scenes.  We make a collage based on our sketches, and we paint pumpkins.

4:00 PM.  My husband meets us, and we walk home together.  While I should be cleaning, I need to finish some emails and handle some work instead.

4:30 PM. We walk our son over to his martial arts class, and then go to the library to drop off a few overdue items.  We walk home, and pack.  We’re leaving for a long weekend to visit family.  I realize that I forgot to thaw meat for dinner, and I haven’t any beans soaked either.    We decide to go out for sushi.

5:45 PM. We pick up our son, and walk over to the sushi joint.  We order a few rolls, some sashimi and my husband and I split a flask of sake.  We watch the Red Sox on the TV.

7:45 PM.  We finish up, and head home.  I put the huckleberries into a container and put them in the fridge.  That dazzling huckleberry cobbler, gratin or whatever will just have to wait.  My husband flakes some oats and soaks them for breakfast.

8:00 PM.  I handle some last-minute emails and other work while my husband and son fill up hot water bottles for bed time.

8:45 PM. It’s officially past bed time now.  We all snuggle into my son’s bed.  He reads to us, and my husband plays a lullaby on the guitar.

9:30 PM.  My husband and I head to bed.  We talk about business, plans for the long weekend, and we fall asleep.  My office is still a mess. The membrillo is still in a big pot, untouched on my counter, and our entry way is loaded with random junk that wants recycling, repurposing or selling in a garage sale.  And I’m okay with that.

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What people are saying

  1. JUDITH scott says

    i have been reading your blog long since the plethora of food blogs came on the scene. i KNOW i was one
    of the very first to sign up. i have witnessed you through tough political times,through nation splitting issues and you have remained,with great dignity ON MESSAGE in such a way that i just COUNT on you. i COUNT on your consistency. this added view into your world is NO surprise to me. it is full of the humility and normalcy i’ve come to expect from your ‘high end’ posts! thank you jenny. the world,OUR world, is a richer place with you in it.

  2. says

    I loved your posts, they brought tears to my eyes. I lived off the grid for a decade with my husband raising a little boy, homeschooling, eating from our garden…and being, oh, so human; teaching, writing–busy. Your posts brought it all back–the cooking, homeschool ( loose waldorf style) mornings, never quite getting to it all done yet living deep and rich into our lives.

    It’s so important to be ok with not being perfect and concentrate on being whole! My little boy is in college, I’ve moved into town to run a cooking school in traditional world foodways, life goes on. Thanks for enriching us all and sharing, you inspire me.

  3. Rose says

    THANK YOU So much for this post! I love your blog…it has really inspired me, and slowly but surely I am turning my health around through real food. It means so much to me that you have a ‘real’ life, and that you forget to soak…things burn…and kids need attention. Sometimes I feel this journey is impossible because I ‘can’t keep up’…but if I can keep up most of the time (or sometimes) then thats OK too. It reminds me to think holistically, and to place the bar to high. Thank you!!

    • Kate says

      Yes! I feel this way from time to time, too, Rose, which is why I found this post so reassuring, Jenny. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Honor says

    Thank you for sharing this! It makes me smile and relax, without feeling any guilt over the million things I haven’t gotten to yet :)

  5. Jennifer says

    Ok. So, what the heck is mebrillo, anyway – and just how much do you really like that pot? You know, my sister’s significant other just tossed such a pot. It was an All-clad. It was expensive. It still breaks my heart to think about it. But sometimes I guess it’s not worth the elbow grease…..

  6. Jessica says

    I’d love it if every real food blogger did something like this. Somehow bloggers have a facade of having it all done’ so this is refreshing and wonderful.

    • Susan H says

      Amen Jessica! I so hear what you are saying! There is a facade of “doing it all” by many bloggers; then to only find out they have assistants, cooks and or nannies helping them get all this stuff done. Eating real food takes a lot of work. I walk away from something that needs to be done everyday, and then feel like I didn’t push myself hard enough. But the truth is, my life is a lot like Jenny’s. It’s busy and it’s just me (and sometimes the hubby) in the kitchen. So much slicing, dicing, chopping, broth making! It’s exhausting (but worth it on every level), so I find it super refreshing to see that Jenny is just like us.

      Thanks Jenny for such an excellent post! It touched me on so many levels!

  7. Susanna says

    Thank you for being willing to share with us. I feel like I never get it all done and part of me knows no one ever does and part of me still tries and it’s so helpful to hear from others that they’re doing their best and not getting it all done either and still having a great life. I felt like I was in your kitchen as I read that, part of a happy family :)

  8. Jennifer Voss says

    I just found your blog today and was drawn in by the phrase “how I don’t get things done” thank you for sharing 3 glorious days of your life with us–I’m all over the place too and sometes we have to stop & be sure right priorities stay on top!

  9. Michelle P says

    Thank you for posting this! It is so easy for me to think that I am just too disorganized, and apparently the only one who forgets to thaw meat, soak beans, and clean the fridge. Good to be reminded that relationships are priority, not the food we eat, and that I don’t need to beat myself up when we have to eat something a little less healthy than I had hoped. It really helps to hear that someone who knows all this great stuff even has days when eating out is the answer ;-)

  10. Kathryn Hitchcock says

    I like your post on this life of yours. It’s mine, too, and refreshing to hear someone else talk about intentions unfulfilled. I have water kefir to bottle (it’s demanding!) and kombucha to taste (perhaps it can wait until tomorrow or is that the day I’ll be able to go continuous brew? I’ve got the container to do so. . . ) But I chose on this blustery southwestern Ohio day to drink a hard cider and eat popcorn. Nap? No, off to library.

  11. Wymeng says

    This is awesome Jenny. Just goes to show that good intentions & hard work produce rich rewards – beautiful, full family life. You’re blog also shows that the wheels still fall off along the way and you put them back on again & again & again. Brilliant! Thank you.

  12. Karen D. says

    Jenny,
    Thank you so much for your honesty. In this day of Pinterest and Facebook, everyone seems so concerned with giving the appearance that they are perfect – perfect house, perfect kids, perfect life, it is refreshing to hear someone admit to being human, like the rest of us.

  13. Marcy B says

    It sounds like you got the important stuff done-loving on your family!
    What I want to know is, what hot water bottles do you use? It sounds wonderful! Since ditching our microwave I no longer have my heated rice pack to tuck at my feet at night.

  14. Sarah says

    Phew! So I’m not the only one……

    And just yesterday I was thinking about how if I worked from home I’d get so much more done.

    Thanks for the great post!

  15. Amanda says

    This is so wonderful. Have you ever read the book Daring Greatly? In it, she talks a lot of about our culture of “never enough” and the glorification of busy, and how our lives should really be about the opposite–doing what we can, spending time with who we want, and letting the unattainable idea of “perfect” go. It sounds like you do this all so well, and that is so inspiring to see/read. I am, in turn, so very grateful for this post. Thank you.

  16. Julie May says

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty, Jenny. It’s rare to find a publicly posted autobiographical account that validates the values of living in the moment, engaging in rich relationships, and balancing work and home over absolutely perfect housekeeping, flawless cooking, and maxed out work productivity. I think what really inspires me about your post is that you are always striving to do better for your family but if everything doesn’t happen today or tomorrow, it’s not a failure or a cause to give up the mission. You just try again the next day. Lastly, I have to agree that playing outside always trumps laundry and housework! I’ve never heard an adult say they wish their parents would have played with them less so the house could have been cleaner.

  17. Liz says

    Well if I liked you before, I love you now. How nice to see the real life, and not the one I imagined that made me feel guilty and inadequate, ( media in general not you persa) god bless all us hard working, big loving mamas! Xx

  18. Jodie says

    This is wonderful ~ Thank you! It made me think of Oak Meadow, the curriculum I used with my daughter for 8 years, and all the wonderful stories and drawings! She had an art class as well, and this post brought back so many memories! Don’t worry about the pot on the stove or the recyclables hanging around…because suddenly they are 18 and ready to start their own journey. We are blessed with our own flexible business, and I am so glad we took the time to enjoy our children and each other. It is refreshing to know that someone like you who I admire is also enjoying life. BTW I am enjoying your fermenting classes. Starting on the sourdough next week….if I get around to it ;)

  19. Jean says

    Three Days in the Life. Almost makes me feel guilty to add yet another e-mail to bother you. How refreshing to know I’m not the only one who lets the dishes, etc. go to enjoy the real fun things in life. You’ve got your priorities right, girl!

  20. TB says

    Thank you SO much for sharing this! It’s so easy to project that others (especially those living in the public eye) are “doing it all,” both with perfectionism and with ease. I love knowing that sometimes you have to go out for food, and that sometimes, you forget about the food, and it either burns or becomes “hardboiled”. Gives me permission to be the imperfect human I already am. Much gratitude and respect for you!

  21. Jennifer M says

    Loved reading that…! But now I don’t want to ever bother you with a silly question like “where do you think summer meal plan number 9 is?” because I’ll probably be contributing to you forgetting to soak some beans or oats! Thanks for all you do!

  22. says

    Your post made me smile as I look around at all I’d like to get done this evening. It will get done eventually, but at the moment I have my baby boy tucked in my arms, warm tea to sip and a few minutes to check emails- and enjoy your story. Thank you.

  23. Cindy Ritchey says

    I love it that you eat out!! :-) CB is a regular vacation spot for us and I was trying to imagine the restaurants you mentioned. I’m pretty sure we ate at the Mexican one last time we were in town. I also noticed your office building while strolling along Elk. Thought about popping in to say, “Cherrio”, but did not. We did meet once…at an event by the library several years ago. :-) Anyway….really enjoyed this because, for some reason, I thought you never left your kitchen….EVER! HA! :-)

  24. Nancy says

    I’ve taken some of your classes, and I really liked you before but I just LOVE you now, girl…thank you for sharing that wonderful window into your world! What you gave through that view is what the whole world needs more of–honesty, acceptance that life is not perfect, humility, grace, and LOVE!

    We are trying to restore our lives after a tremendous hardship. I found you and took your classes to assist in my healing. Both my husband and I feel lucky to have lived through what we have, finding ourselves still breathing, still holding on to our family and each other. I’m finding that I’m not as hard on myself these days when I go to bed leaving messes for the next day.

    Thank you for sharing that you sometimes do that too, and that you go out to eat Mexican food…I would not have guessed that. Yes, I do love you now. You feel much like a sister. I knew you were the real deal before, but you are so wonderfully human while being that! Share more. Please.

    Nancy

  25. says

    Thank you for this post. The honesty. At times I’ve read your blog and felt defeated. This post reminds me that you are real and not a real food robot.

  26. Jenny Strohmeyer says

    Reading this was a nice little interlude before I head downstairs to the kitchen to tackle the dishes….again. Clean ones in the dishwasher, clean ones in the sink drainer, dirty ones all over the counter. Nestled in amongst the dirty ones is the soaking flour waiting to be made into sourdough bread, and the huge pot for the turkey I’m going to cook by boiling it so it will make lots of broth. Glad to see from your post and all the comments that I have plenty of company today!

  27. Amy says

    Thank you for sharing…it feels like one of my typical weeks. I live that your hubby got a margarita….that is so us!! I love the transparency of your thoughts “what you should have done, planned to do” but just couldn’t. Thanks!

  28. Diana says

    Thank you! This post made my day all good again. Home educating 4, a house, pets, food, etc. I don’t get it all done.

  29. says

    I love that you shared this!
    I love that you’re human!
    And I love that, with a single post, you made me feel SO much better about the fact that *every* horizontal surface in my house seems to be covered in apples that simply are NOT turning themselves into applesauce, that our house is freezing for the simple reason that I cannot turn on the heat until I vacuum out the heat ducts, and that there jelly on my counter that is showing no signs of wanting to jell. Ever.
    Oh, and it’s snowing on my laundry.
    Cheers! :)

  30. says

    I love it that you have plans and then either forget or don’t have time. I feel so much better now! It’s not just me!
    Thank you, thank you thank you for this post.

  31. Julie says

    Thank you for the amazing, beautiful look into your life. Blogs and Facebook give us the highlights with a cleaning crew. This is real. Plus I was super excited to see the photo of garden huckleberries on the blog. My father-in-law just gave me a three gallon(!) pail full. What in the world do I do with them that doesn’t involve loads of sugar? Cheers to everyone trying to balance life in the slow lane.

  32. says

    Wonderful post, thanks for letting us glimpse into your life and feel encouraged that if we forget to soak our oats, it’s OK ;)

    Also, I just want to say what a lovely community of readers you have. So many commenters and trolls have been hitting many dear writers/bloggers I know fairly hard – and I just love that here, no one is cutting you or anyone down. So refreshing and the way it SHOULD be! Keep up the great work :)

  33. Tania says

    Thanks so much for this post! I can really identify with what you talked about – sometimes my homemade whatever, though well- intentioned, will just have to wait. And my family and I go out for sushi instead. It’s such a challenge to get it all done – so glad to see that it’s not just me who struggles.

  34. says

    Jenny, can we sit down and chat over a cup of coffee one day. I love your genuineness. Right now there are 2 boxes of apples that have been sitting in my trunk for a week. It’s much colder in there than my basement. I also have two giant bags of tomatillos and green tomatoes that need processing. Hearing about your days made mine seem much more normal. Thank you.

  35. says

    Thank you for this. I love reading your blog, love your recipes and ideas, but life gets in the way so many times that the farthest I get is admiring the pictures you post of your own baked goods and meals. While my family just has a bowl of soup for dinner with some scrambled eggs (like we did tonight) because I didn’t have any time to go to the store or think up a glorious recipe. I had a really tough day today with my little ones and reading your post tonight reminded me that every parent is going through the same thing. We are all human and we all have laundry that never gets folded and dishes that never get washed. Oh, and a gym membership that never gets used. Thanks again and hope you have a wonderful fall/winter season!

  36. Skye says

    Thank you for such a generous and intimate look into your beautiful family’s beautiful life, Jenny. It is so rich and lovely and messy and real. I relished every perfectly imperfect happening! : )

  37. Victoria M. says

    Thanks for this post Jenny!
    Many times I beat myself up because I feel I’m not organized enough & can’t get it ALL done. Even after I just recently discovered your blog I was mentally coordinating how I could incorporate your ‘lifestyle’ into my daily routine and then I read this refreshing post. You reminded me we are all hopeful AND fallible at the same time and we simply do our best. Cheers to you for candid honesty!

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