My iPhone Died; I Lived.

Last week, my coveted iPhone 5C fell out of my purse, complete in its trendy little phone pouch. It apparently landed near the front door of my car in the parking lot of my gym, and remained there for some time, in the rain, until a good Samaritan spotted said abandoned trendy pouch, and brought it to the front desk inside the gym. I didn’t realize it was even missing until my workout was over an hour later, and it was nowhere to be found. I searched my purse, my locker, my car, around my car, my gym bag, but to no avail. I began tossing things frantically around inside the car, and then thought I’d check the front desk, just in case. Sure enough, it was there, still in the pouch! Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers!

this photo is only a representation and not my actual phone.

this photo is only a representation and not my actual phone.

But alas, upon further investigation, the pouch was utterly soaked, and the phone….well it was non-functional. The screen sort of lit up, but nothing was happening. I walked back to my car, busted phone and soaked pouch in hand, completely dejected. The second the car door closed behind me, I began uncontrollably sobbing. So much so, that I could barely breathe and I could barely see, and I’m not sure how I made it home. I walked in the door, hysterical by this point, and my fiance quickly snatched the phone and threw it into a bag of rice. He then informed me that I’d be without my phone for – at the very least – the next 48 hours.

48 HOURS!!! WITH NO PHONE! The world had officially ended. The rest of the night was ruined and I just sat there sulking, thinking about how stupid I was to let the phone fall out of my purse, and how much it was going to cost me to buy a new one. Not to mention I would not be able to communicate with the outside world or do anything until I had a phone again. Life, as I knew it, had ceased. I’d never be happy until I had the phone back.

Oh how very wrong I was.

The next day, I woke up, and thought, hmmm..maybe I can find a replacement phone on ebay. I also realized that I could sell my old phone and make up some of the costs for a new one. So I listed it right then. As the day went on, and I was phoneless, I started slowly realizing that I didn’t need the phone as much as I thought I did. Losing the phone was NOT the end of the world – in fact, it was just the beginning.

I wasn’t constantly looking for updates. Instead, I was talking to people to find out what was going on with them. I noticed things in the house that I could work on, instead of having my head down staring at a little screen. I stopped feeling stressed about social media – who “likes” me and who doesn’t. WHO CARES??! I actually wound up putting off doing anything about the phone for a whole week because, frankly, I was enjoying the freedom of not living under it’s iron (or plastic) thumb.

I did however realize that I needed some sort of device where I could be reached by my family and my job at the very least, so a week to the day later, I took the still-broken-but-making-some-noises iPhone to a repair shop called Steve’s iPhone Repair, and had it fixed in under 30 minutes and for only about $100. If you live anywhere close to South Jersey and have a busted iPhone, you should definitely pay him a visit.

44 texts and 4 phone calls. That’s what I missed. But no one was upset, my life wasn’t over, the internet didn’t stop without me, and my life certainly didn’t stop without it. My work and my family had alternate ways to reach me if it was an emergency, and everything else, well, it really could wait. I didn’t get lost driving around without WAZE, I just planned ahead. I didn’t need the camera to take pictures – I used my real camera which takes better pictures anyway.

the "real" camera actually works better. who'd 'a thunk?!

the “real” camera actually works better. who’d ‘a thunk?!

The week without a phone reminded me of all the possibilities, beauty, and fulfillment that is out there all around us every single day, if we just…look up. I promised myself that once the phone was fixed, I would not become a slave to it’s tiny screen, offering instant gratification and momentary pick-me-ups ever again. The good stuff is out here, not in there.

My phone may have died, but I am more alive then I’ve been in quite some time. And I’m so grateful for that.



Sometimes, I feel like I’m being stalked by the number 23. It started about 3 years ago, when I started seeing it everywhere. When I’d pull up behind a car and the license plate would have “23” in it. When I’d happen to be walking by someone in conversation and they’d randomly say “23” at the very moment I passed within ear shot. When I’d be about to pay for something, and the bill would be $23. Some days (like today), it’s around much more than others, and those days are usually the ones also happen to be filled with contemplative thoughts about my life – where I am, how I got here, where I’m going,  and how to be better. Those days, I seem to be practically slapped in the face with it. And being that 3 years ago was when I really began the crusade to live responsibly, it makes sense that it started appearing then.


my stalker.

Let me say that I believe in the Universe; that when you want something, it does in fact conspire in helping you achieve it; and that we are all a part of something bigger than us, I figured it had to be some kind of message. So, I started doing some research (and by research, I mean I googled “23”).  Some of the results included a movie called “23”, another movie called “The Number 23”,  Michael Jordan’s Jersey, and something called the “23 Enigma” which claimed that everything relates to the number 23.  That last one was the only that seemed like it could have something to do with why I was seeing the number everywhere (although I did have a short-lived dream of playing professional basketball when I was a kid), but even that seemed a bit far-fetched and it really had nothing I could relate to or apply to my own life. So those were out.

not gonna happen.

not gonna happen.

Then one afternoon after coming off of a very 23-heavy morning,  I stopped into a gas station at the last minute, even though I had no time and enough gas to get home. For some reason, I just decided I needed to get gas at that very moment. As I sat there waiting for the tank to fill, a truck pulled up to the stop light, and stopped right in front of my face. It was solid white, with nothing but one long line of black writing on the side, spanning the full length of the trailer, from left to right.  It said:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. “ ~ Psalm 23

Now let me just say that I’m not a very religious person. Like I mentioned, I believe in the Universe – a higher power that connects us all to one another – but this was clearly what the number meant; what the Universe had been trying to tell me all along.

Everything I need to make my life better I already have.

Sometimes it’s a hard thing to remember, what with social media, mass media, and pretty much any kind of media constantly throwing all these images and ads at you full of things that you absolutely must have in order to be “happy” and live a better life: a nicer car, a bigger house, the newest iPhone, this hot new diet, the latest album, and so on and so on and so on….

I’m not immune to these media blasts by any means. I look at social media and (more often then I’d like to admit) think about all the things I don’t have, and subsequently start to believe I immediately need to get all those things and then I’ll be as happy as everyone else, as the people in all the pictures. Then depression starts to set in, and the downward spiral into the “have-nots” and “why-nots” begins. .But without fail, before I’ve spun completely out of control, it appears, like a lighthouse guiding a lost ship through the darkness back home.

23…. 23…. 23….

You have everything you need. Remember that. And be thankful for it.

The lighthouse at Assateague. Taken on my vacation this past summer, enjoying everything I have.

The lighthouse at Assateague, taken while on vacation this past summer, enjoying the wonderful things I’m lucky to have in my life.

Up close and personal.

When I started the blog back in 2010, I started to remember not only how much I loved writing, but also how much I loved photography. As the blog progressed, I also noticed that my photography skills were improving, naturally. However, last year, I attended BlogHer Food in Seattle, and realized I had a ways to go as far as photography was concerned. The first thing being if I was going to take this food blogging thing seriously, I should invest in a DSLR camera. So I did a bunch of research, and went with the Nikon D3100, which I adore and would recommend to anyone.

When I got the camera, I didn’t bother to read the manual – I’m just not a “manual” person – I’m a hands-on learner – and I just started snapping photos. The first photo I took was this one, of my cat. Not too shabby for a first try.

my first muse.

my first muse.

As I continued snapping away, I noticed that this camera did produce significantly better photos that my old point-and-shoot, however there was so much more it could do that I had yet to understand. I enrolled in a two-hour seminar at a local photography studio, which was helpful and rather enjoyable, however it was not enough time to really learn what this baby was capable of. So, I decided to sign up for real photography class.

It’s only one class in, and I already know it was the best decision I could have made. Our first assignment was an extreme close-up. I decided, again, to use my cat as my model. I took this shot the other day.

you shall not pass.

you shall not pass.

So, the point I’m trying to make here is that a great camera does make a difference, but a little education really goes a long way. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and certainly not by someone who was just pushing buttons with no real clue what they were doing. 🙂


All is Quiet…

Happy 2013, folks! It’s New Year’s Day – time for reflections, reorganization, and resolutions. I always believed that the tone of New Year’s Day laid the groundwork for the tone of the coming year. It could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but either way, it does seem to hold some truth. So if this day, today, is in fact any indication of the coming year, I’ve got some things to look forward to! 2012 was a good year – a learning year; full of positive changes and some real quality time getting to know myself (allow myself, to introduce…myself).

It’s funny, but the first half of last year seems like a lifetime ago. The year really seemed to take shape for the good around mid-summer (which I aptly have nicknamed “Summer New Year’s), right after my return from the Paris Patisserie Tour. The trip changed me. It showed me that I can wander around a foreign city and be perfectly fine; it showed me that I don’t need my cell phone/laptop/facebook nearly as much as I thought; it showed me that I would be good whether with or without someone; it showed me that I really do have some actual writing and photography skills and that maybe the dream of being a writer was not so far-fetched after all; and most of all, it showed me that the world is a beautiful place and we are all in this together.

I went to Paris looking for pastries, and found myself.

I went to Paris looking for pastries, and found myself.

After I returned, I wound up facing three of my biggest fears before the year’s end: two by choice, and one by force of nature (enter Hurricane Sandy). I’d say that 2012 was a benchmark year.

Last New Year’s Day, I danced around the house and sang raucously along with “You Get What You Give” and vowed to make that my intention for the year. Today, I didn’t dance quite so raucously, but I did get a little groove going, and thought about the pure and simple things in life, and how they are really what makes it all worthwhile.

dreams come bouncing in your head...

dreams come bouncing in your head…

So here’s to a peaceful and harmonious 2013, full of love and greatness, pure and simple every time.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heaven is a Place on Earth called Framlingham.

Framlingham, aka “A friendly place to linger,” is a small town in Suffolk, England, which I stumbled across serendipitously. I was doing some last-minute research for my upcoming trip to England and France – up to this point, I had neglected to do any research on anything in England and been focusing only on Paris and the pastry shop tour I was planning out (and of which I’ll be posting about in full detail in the very near future so stayed tuned!). I realized the day before I was originally supposed to leave (but did not – you can read all about that series of unfortunate events here)  that I hadn’t come up with anything to do in England. I was visiting my brother for that portion of the trip (I’m actually sitting in his living room in Bury St. Edmunds typing this!) so I really was just looking forward to spending time with him, no matter what we wound up doing. However, he was not able to take off work for the entire duration of my trip, so I was going to have some time to myself, which is not a problem for me – particularly in an unfamiliar place, as I love exploring the unknown. I decided I’d venture out on my own. Enter Framlingham.

A friendly place to linger.

I wanted to see castles. I wanted to photograph them with my new camera. So I started googling “castles in suffolk” and seeing what was near my brother’s crib, that I could easily take a train to. Framlingham was not only the closest, but also appeared to be the coolest. It was on.

the castle of my dreams.

I wound up not having to go alone – because I lost a day on my trip, things got shuffled around, and my brother decided the castle sounded pretty cool too, and he’d join me on my journey. So we went exploring together, which made it all the more worthwhile. The town itself was quaint, warm, and welcoming – my kinda place. As we strolled up the path to castle, we also passed an old church, which was incredibly beautiful and monumental in itself – The Church of St. Michael, it had been dubbed.

A friendly place to worship.

The Church was surrounded by old gravestones – so old, that we couldn’t make out what was written on any of them – except one. And although they were old, they were not the least bit creepy. Go figure.

A friendly place to rest in peace.

We continued on up to the castle, and as we crossed the field toward the castle entrance, reaching the top of the hill on which the castle was perched, I could not believe my eyes – I had never in my life seen anything more beautiful. Framlingham was more than just a friendly place to linger – it was stunning.


Now I don’t know if it was the weather, or that I was with my brother, but I as I looked out over the landscape surrounding the castle, I felt as if I were dreaming up this place, one frame after another. We wandered around the entire castle, soaking it all in, chatting, laughing, listening to many owls hooting, and taking as many pictures as I possibly could – I didn’t want to ever forget any of these moments.

one moment in time.

Of course, we had to leave eventually. But we left content – knowing we’d just experienced something truly monumental – both literally and figuratively.

Everyone has a place that changes them – one they feel connected to. Mine just so happens to be Framlingham. I’ll be back.

Yesterday’s got nothin’ for me.

Last night was ridiculous – like 90’s sitcom ridiculous.  But things are never as bad as they seem. Which is why I’ve decided to insert gratuitous pictures of lovely flora (all photographed by yours truly) throughout this post as a reminder that there is still a lot of good in the world.

Yesterday, there was so many things I was never told…

I have travelled a lot in my life – I’d say more than the average person. I’ve experienced delays, and even cancelled flights before. But last night takes the cake (see, I’ve managed to incorporate baking into this post too). I was supposed to catch a flight with a connection and wind up in London this morning, at 10am. I was leaving from a smaller airport, with my connection at a signficantly larger one. I arrived with plenty of time, only to discover that 20 minutes before I got there, my first flight was cancelled. I drove over an hour to get to this airport, mind you.

…Now that I’m startin’ to learn I feel I’m growing old.

Without getting into too much detail, I eventually was able to cry and demand my way into a re-booking that solved the problem, and was even better than my original itinerary. Things were looking up, it appeared.

‘Cause yesterday’s got nothin’ for me…

As I’m waiting at the gate for my new flight, a fellow passenger walks up and informs us that this flight is delayed at least an hour, so if you have a connection, you’re pretty much screwed. I did, and I was. Back to the phone to for another re-booking. This time, the only flight was at another airport, about an hour and 20 minutes away. It would be cutting it close, but it was worth a try. So out to the car I ran, and put the pedal to metal (which, anyone who knows me, knows how adept I am at driving under time constraints).

…Old pictures that I’ll always see.

I knew it was going to be close, and I was actually pretty sure that even the fastest driving in the world wouldn’t make it, but the woman on the phone (who was the most helpful person so far) told me to just try, and if I don’t they can re-book me there. Well, for the first time ever, I missed the turn for the parking lot at the airport – an airport I’ve been to and parked in 100 times. Any chance of making this flight at this point were now long gone.

Time just fades the pages in my book of memories.

I arrive finally, park, get into the terminal, and it’s completely empty – like Stephen King movie empty. A not very nice man appears, and tells me no one can help me, and then proceeds to ignore me. I stand there, and just lose it, no knowing what to do now. A very nice man then appears out of nowhere, and finds me help, via three extremely sweet ladies. Thank you very nice man and sweet ladies, karma is on your side.

Prayers in my pocket, and no hand in destiny…

Finally, I’m rebooked on a flight, but not until 24 hours later, but at this point, I just want to get home, relax, and put this all behind me. Not so fast, though. When I turn to leave, I realize I’m on the wrong side of the airport, and can’t catch the shuttle back to my car. Thankfully, a man actually went out of his way, and walked me to the other side. I have to say, there really are some good people in this world. I hope I can return all these favors.

I’ll keep on movin’ along with no time to plant my feet.

Luckily, this airport was actually the closer one to my house, so it was only about a 15 minute drive. However, I was bawling my eyes out the entire way, and it must have affected my driving, because, lo and behold, I see the flashing lights behind me, and I hear “pull into that parking lot” booming from the patrol car. I feel bad – I don’t want to seem like the girl who cries to get out of tickets – but I couldn’t help it. I was already sobbing before this happened. He was very nice. Again, my faith in humanity was being restored even more.

‘Cause yesterday’s got nothin’ for me.

So, even though my vacation has been delayed by a day, there are some valuable things I’ve learned from all this:

1. the cheapest flight is not always the best

2. there are some really good people out there, willing to help even a stranger

3. I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family in my life, who are always there to offer me support, listen to me vent, and cheer me up.

Thank you friends, family and strangers – you have all made at least one person’s life a hell of a lot better. Here’s to tomorrow. 🙂

Up from below.

Sometimes we fall in love with a person. And sometimes, we fall in love with a place.

I am in love again, with what is probably the farthest city in the continental U.S. from my current crib – that would be the lovely, lavish, and lush city of Seattle, WA.

“But Jeanine, you’re a sun worshipper! How could you live in a place where it always rains?” I hear the voices saying. This is true, but it’s not as if there is no sun EVER. And the crazy thing is that I’ve been to Seattle twice now, for a total of two weeks – and in all of that time, it rained for approximately 1 hour. The first time, I assumed I just got really lucky. But after the second trip of blue skies, sun, and humidity-free air, I’m starting to wonder if this whole “rainy city” thing is a myth to keep people from relocating. Besides, what kind of city would pride itself on its giant outdoor market, if it rained so much that no on could enjoy it? Come on, Seattle, I’m on to you.

O what a beautiful day.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my last post, what brought me back to Seattle was the BlogHer Food Conference, which was an amazing experience for me. I left feeling so inspired – I have so many new ideas now for the blog, for photography, for baking…all the things I love the most! (I guess I’ll just need to write a song about it, too). And I already started working on not one, but TWO new books. I’m so pumped, right now, I feel like going out and running up the Art Museum steps, blasting the Rocky theme song (which, by the way, a fish market fellow – upon being informed that I was from Philadelphia – asked me if I liked the Rocky theme song and listened to it a lot).

i will break you.

So, now it’s time to get down to work. I’ve got new recipes to craft, new tales to post, and new days to embrace!

the wheels are in motion.

Thank you Seattle, for the joy and inspiration you’ve given me. Fearless living, here I come.

you can only go up from here.


Run hard when it’s hard to run.

I was running last night, and did 6 miles. That’s an average run for me these days – 6-8 miles. It wasn’t always that way, don’t get me wrong, but it is what it is, and don’t think for one second that you couldn’t get to that point, too. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss right now. I’m hear to discuss the magic of 3 – 3 miles that is.

I’ve thought about it before – even before I started running long distances. When i was in the early stages of running, I found that getting to 3 miles was extremely difficult. However, one day, I crossed the 3 mile threshold and something changed – training became easier. Ramping up my mileage was suddenly no longer a daunting task, and running was no longer painful – it became fun, exhilirating and even made me happy.

But not for the first 3 miles. For some reason, on every run, the first 3 miles are ALWAYS the hardest. It goes a little something like this:

Mile 1: Awww yeah! I’m gonna rock this run!! Feels like i’m walking on air!

Mile 1.5: Gee, my shins and ankles kinda hurt. And I feel tired. Should I stop?

Mile 2: WTF is wrong with me? Why am I doing this again? My legs feel like lead, and I can’t think of anything other than the pain of every step.

Mile 2.5: GOOD GOD, I’m torturing myself. What for? I hate running!! I’m gonna stop…I can’t take it anymore!!!

Then, just when i’m about to give in, suddenly there’s….

Mile 3: Hello world! I love this life and can go for miles! What’s pain again? Let the real run begin! And the rest is smooth sailing.

Last night, this hit me extra hard. I haven’t done much running since the Broad Street Run a week and a half ago, so this was my big return to running. Those first 3 miles were almost unbearable. I thought about giving up more than a few times. But I knew that if I kept going, I’d get through it, and come out stronger on the other side.

And so I did. But I realized something else as well. I’ve learned so much from running – it’s been a mirror for what’s going on in the rest of my life, and has taught me how to deal with and get through some dark and difficult days. Last night, I learned that there are situations in my life that I’m almost through – that I keep getting close to out-running – yet I just can’t seem to cross the threshold, and I wind up surrendering to the pain. Each time, I do get a little closer though. Even so, I wind up beating myself up over it – because I gave in – again.  But then I remember back to before I reached that 3 mile mark for the first time – I did not know I’d be ok on the other side, and the fear of the unknown was what made it so difficult to keep going. Now that I know, I can handle the pain, and run through it. Not knowing what’s on the other side is my biggest fear. It took time to build up the strengh to run through those first 3 miles. I gave up many times. But eventually, after trying over and over and over and over, I finally did it. And there’s no turning back now.

What I’m learning is that It’s ok if you don’t cross the 3 mile mark right away. It’s ok if you give in to the pain. Just as long as you get back out there, and try to out-run it again. Eventually, whether you believe it or not, you’ll cross over. And it will be great.

Sweet Sounds.

Clearly one can gather from this blog that I love baking, and I love writing. If you’ve read a few posts, you may have also gathered that I love running. There is one more love of mine, which you probably don’t know, as I’ve recently come to realize I have not once mentioned it on the blog: singing.

Before I was a baker, writer, or runner, I was a singer. I’ve been a singer pretty much since I learned how to talk. I may have even sung my first word (it was “Dad.”).  I started wondering why I hadn’t mentioned singing at all on the blog, and without getting too much into it, it was because shortly after I started the blog, I suddenly lost my “voice.” Not literally – I could still physically sing. I just could not mentally. It was not stage fright – anyone who knows me knows that the concept of “stage fright” is completely foreign to me. It was literally like I woke up one morning, and never wanted to sing another note, period. Suddenly, the thing I’d loved the longest was torture for me. I was practically repulsed by the idea of getting up in front of people and performing. So I just stopped.

I did virtually no singing/performing for about 9 months, excluding a couple of fill-in gigs and a back-up singing gig here and there. But nothing that was mine – I had removed myself from singing just as the desire had removed itself mysteriously from my heart. I even managed to convince myself (and one of my close friends) that I never really wanted to sing anyway. That performing wasn’t “for me.”

Then, I woke up.

Performing, singing…these are a part of me – they are ingrained in my soul – part of my make-up, my DNA. I’ve been singing since I was THREE YEARS OLD. It’s who I am – it’s my essence. I mean, I have a treble clef tattooed on my shoulder, for pete’s sake. Before anything else, there was singing. And anyone who’s ever sung their heart out on stage knows what a wonderful, amazing, fabulous, and therapeutic release it is. Singing makes me feel alive. Music is the key to the soul. My key must have temporarily slipped under the rug – but thank God it has been found.

So, in keeping with the baking theme, I’m now singing with an acoustic duo, called Sugarbox, and as the name implies, it’s pretty sweet.  Click the image below to check us out, if you’re so inclined. 🙂

the sound of sugar.

So if you’ve lost your “voice,” fear not – it will return, when you’re ready. In the meantime,  running a marathon might help. 😉

Half Time.

After months of training, I did it – this past Sunday, I ran my first half marathon. Being that it was my very first time running 13.1 miles (the most I’d run up to that point was 10), I was nervous. My goal was to finish, running the whole time. I wasn’t too concerned with time. I just wanted to be able to say “I ran a half marathon” and have it be true. And so it is.

and i have the medal to prove it.

There are three things this experience has taught me:

1. It’s all about pacing yourself. I have a tendency to be a tad competitive, however in order to run a distance such as this, I realized I’m gonna have to let that go. People are always going to pass you. You are always going to pass people. Your goal and their goal are not the same goal. Focus on your goal, and don’t allow yourself to feel inferior because someone appears to be faster than you. You have no idea where they came from or where they’re going. Let them do their thing while you give your full attention to yours.

2. You can’t be great overnight. If I really think about it, I guess you could say I’ve actually been training since 2008, which was when I started running on a regular basis. Last year, I really picked up the pace though (literally) and when Jan 1st 2012 came around, I believed in my running (and training) ability enough that I decided a half marathon would be a New Year’s Resolution. I worked my butt off, folks. When I crossed that finish line, I cried. I’m not ashamed. Getting to that point took hours of hard work, intense training, and proper preparation. It takes all three of these in perfect harmony to run a marathon: and that principle can be applied to anything you really wish to achieve for yourself. You can do whatever you put your mind to, you just have to be willing to put in the work.

3. I will survive. As I was running along the Atlantic Ocean (yes, this marathon was at the beach!), “I Will Survive” came on my ipod. I did not have a pre-programmed “race playlist” – I like to let my ipod surprise me. Well, as the song played, and I ran and ran, I realized that no matter what happens, I really will survive. If I’m strong enough to run non-stop for 13.1 miles, I’m strong enough to stand on my own and do what’s best for me in other areas of my life; even if at first I’m afraid, and I’m petrified. I’ll hold my head up high. 🙂

I guess what I’m getting at here is that running a half marathon has changed my life. It taught me lessons I really needed to learn, such as patience, pacing, and doing what’s best for ME. I have had a recurring dream my whole life that tornadoes were chasing me; I refuse to ever dream that dream again.

I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the Yellow Brick Road.