Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover


Pinterest Project Tuesday: Chocolate chip cookie dough fudge

This week I made chocolate chip cookie dough fudge. Because why not?

I used this recipe, which was linked from a pin I found. Here’s what happened when I made it (I take terrible pictures. I apologize in advance for every post like this that I do):

Fudge collage Starting from 1:

  1. All the ingredients (you might have also seen this if you follow me on Instagram)
  2. Mixing together brown sugar, white sugar, and butter in my stand up mixer (I love my stand up mixer. It’s my favorite thing in my kitchen. Also it was free, courtesy of my mother in law).
  3. Melting butter with brown sugar and half and half. I think salt might also have been added.
  4. All dry ingredients, including powdered sugar (I swear that’s what it is. I know it looks like a prop from Scarface).
  5. Dry ingredients mixed with the melted butter concoction.
  6. Adding in chocolate chips.
  7. The whole mixture in the prepped pan, ready to go in the fridge.
  8. Finished product. Arranging food displays is clearly not a career path.

So that’s it. Like most foods I make, it looks ugly but tastes delicious. A warning: this is really sweet and a little goes a long way.

Did you make anything from Pinterest this week? How did it go?

Sometimes it’s okay to quit

Here’s something that will probably get me kicked out of every successful person’s club ever created:

This. This is perfect.

This. This is perfect.

It’s okay to quit. It’s okay to quit jobs, friends, relationships, hobbies, being an adult (temporarily), and anything else that’s infuriating, exhausting, unpleasant or plain not fun. If it makes you unhappy, it’s fine to let it go, even if sometimes you have no backup plan (except for maybe the job thing. You might want to quit paying bills because, let’s face it, that totally sucks but maybe being homeless or living in the dark sucks more so if you’re going to quit a job, have some form of income). If it’s toxic to your mental health, well being, self-esteem, marriage/romantic relationship, parenting ability, or anything else important, quit it. Drop it. Let it go.

It’s like Shinedown sings–“Sometimes good-bye is a second chance”.

You see, sometimes when we quit, it gives us a chance to look at things from a new perspective. We realize just how much we’ve lost–occasionally gained (because there’s something to be learned from every situation)–from the time spent on something that we knew was poisoning our souls and infecting our lives. Letting go of what hurts us, quitting what makes us sad, opens our eyes more to what makes us happy and gives us a chance to focus on what’s good in our lives. And it affords us an opportunity to start over.

Not making sense? Let me give an example.

A few years ago, I worked at a job I loved for a boss I hated. Like genuinely loathed this woman for reasons I’ve explained before. So every Friday (or Monday or Thursday. Fine, every day), I quit my job. In my head, of course, but I actually said the words “I quit” (followed by a tirade of expletives). It was empowering for a few reasons:

  1. It gave me some control over the situation.
  2. It was cathartic.
  3. It gave me a chance to regroup.

By quitting, I was able to put the stress of the day behind me and take stock of what was really important, like my family, my writing, my hobbies. I was able to be present and have fun and remember that I do, overall, love my life. Because when I didn’t do that, my life was swallowed whole by the bullying and general meanness of this woman and it affected every facet of my life. Every. One. And everyone around me suffered. So to take back some control of my life and my emotions, I gave her a virtual “fuck you”. I up and quit on her, leaving her floundering with no one to pick up the slack and do her work.

And it felt good. And when I went into work the next day, I had at least a few minutes of perspective before all the crap started again and I had to go through the whole process over again.

So maybe that was a bad example. But you’re all smart and I think you get the point. And my main point is this–it is really okay to quit. People do it with bad habits all the time (says the reformed nail biter). It’s not worth keeping anything around–people included–that suck your time and energy and detracts from you doing what it is you’re meant to do or want to do.

Quitting what’s toxic also opens you up to people and experiences that support you and your goals. It gives you the freedom to pursue what your heart is telling you (as long as you can get your head to shut up). It gives you an inner peace that cannot be bought. And it makes our lives so much better.

If you have something or someone toxic in your life, quit it (or them). Just let it go. I know it’s easier said than done and I’m in the middle of this struggle myself. But I promise that in the end, in the long term, it’ll be completely worth it.

P.S. This doesn’t apply to goals or dreams. I don’t think you should ever quit on that. But if there’s something standing in your way of achieving those goals or dreams, then yes, by all means. Quit away.

My top 10 vacation moments (and a giveaway)

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had lots of opportunities to travel and explore and see different things. However, when I was asked to write about the most exciting vacation I’ve ever taken, I drew a blank. I just couldn’t. Because they’ve all been exciting in their own way.

Instead, I decided to write a list of my top 10 exciting vacation moments (in no particular order except the way they popped into my head). For your entertainment, I’ve also decided to include the year, the location, and my age at the time of said moment.

Let’s get started. Jana’s Top 10 Vacation Moments in No Particular Order:

  1. Walking the plank of a pirate ship (age 10, 1988, Aruba)
  2. Participating in a toilet paper/rotten egg/tomato fight with the Coast Guard, honoring Key West’s brief cessation from the U.S. (age 28, 2006, Key West, FL)
  3. Standing on a glacier (age 16, 1993, somewhere in Canada)
  4. Sleeping on a Native American reservation and all that goes with it, excluding the trauma of the porta-potty but including sitting on rocks watching wild horses frolic (age 16, 1993, Wyoming)
  5. Visiting Carcassonne, an ancient town built into a fort (age 17, 1994, France)
  6. Achieving second place in a beer chugging contest (age 22, 2000, Cancun). Note: I am particularly proud of this one. It was beer in a yard glass. 
  7. Accidentally attending a funeral at the Notre Dame (age 17, 1994, France)
  8. Watching my daughter’s face the whole time (age 34, 2012, Disney World)
  9. Winning money in the casino on our honeymoon despite my husband’s poor advice (age 26, 2004, Bahamas) Note: I almost never gamble so this was a big deal. I don’t even participate in football or basketball pools. 
  10. Staying an a house with an elevator and a wrap around porch on the top of the house (age 31, 2009, Outer Banks, NC)

So that’s just the top 10. I could have included seeing the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls or whitewater rafting or almost drowning in a kayak (don’t judge me) or seeing a woman pee in the middle of the street in Santa Barbara or a whole host of other moments that remind me why going on vacation is so amazing (well, the peeing thing was kind of gross but 20 years later, I still remember it). I’d love to hear about your favorite or most exciting vacation moment so please let me know in the comments below (this is also important to what’s coming up next). 

August Blog GiveawayAnd now, something exciting–a giveaway. Of money. All you have to do it fill in the entry form below and you’re entered. Simple, right? Oh, and did I mention first prize is $500? That’s a lot of money to put towards a vacation (or anything else you want).

A few quick notes: 1) the money will be paid via PayPal so make sure you have a valid PayPal address; 2) this contest is open to anyone, not just US residents; 3) all terms and conditions are included in the RaffleCopter widget, should you want to read them; and 4) all entries are optional. You can use all the methods or just a selected few. Entirely up to you.

So what are you waiting for? Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pinterest Project Tuesday: Homemade dog ice cream

I love Pinterest. There are ideas and projects on there that I never thought I could do and some that I knew I could do if only I had the right directions. And all the creative people out there provide just that. So, beginning this week, I’m going to have a regular post, on Tuesdays, documenting the a different craft projects or recipe I try each week.

Up first: homemade dog ice cream.

I have 2 dogs. Here they are. Please bear in mind that while they look similar, they are actually 2 different breeds. Barkley is a Bichon Frise and Dobie is a Bichon/Poodle/we’re not sure what else. This information is completely irrelevant to anything except my clear need to overshare:

Barkely Dobie

They like to eat treats, particularly doggie ice cream. But when we’ve bought it there have been two problems: 1) that shit is expensive and 2) they fight over it like mad men. Also they eat the cups when it’s done and maybe get a little crazy when we take it away. To rectify all the issues, I had the brilliant idea to make my own. After all, how hard could it be?

So, like I always do, I took to Pinterest and found this recipe. Here’s photo evidence of me actually bringing it to life:

putting it together

The procedure: 1) All the ingredients: banana, 32 oz container of plain yogurt, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp honey. Not pictured: the cooking spray I used on the measuring spoon so the peanut butter and honey didn’t stick. 2) Mixing bowl, masher, measuring spoon, and ice tray. 3) A mashed banana. I think it looks gross, too. 4) Everything mixed together plus my electric mixer because a spoon just wasn’t doing a good enough job.

When everything was done, it looked like this (and note I had to add an extra ice cube tray because I grossly underestimated just how much this would make and I wound up throwing some out anyway because it was too much and I angered the husband beast by using up two ice cube trays already. The man loves his ice):

finished ice cream

Fortunately, the ice cream was a success. I kind of figured it would be because my dogs aren’t exactly that picky about what they eat (seriously, they eat garbage and socks. And one poor oven mitt). Also, though, and slightly more disturbing, is that my husband and daughter ate it, too. And enjoyed it! (I do have a picture of that but I’m not posting it because I feel that is better suited for private shame.)

dogs and ice cream

The best part about this is that there’s no fighting due to individual servings and we don’t have to wrestle a plastic cup away from them. However, should you choose to make this, I recommend you have your dog or dogs eat the ice cream on a hard, easy to clean surface because that shit is messy!

Not including freezing time, this took me maybe 10 minutes to make. Completely worth it.

The economics of inconvenience

Pitch Perfect. Perfect for every situation.

Quick update on the house situation: we put in an offer on another house and it that offer was accepted. We have the signed contract, we're scheduling the home inspections and, based on the age of the house, it looks like everything is done correctly and with the proper permits. And we don't think these homeowners lied. So, for now, our impending homelessness has been avoided. That's good news.


We have been so inconvenienced throughout this whole process that it makes me a little sick. Now, please don't misunderstand. The home buying/home selling process is the basic definition of inconvience. Having to keep your house in “show ready” condition all the time is pretty much impossible when you live with a slob, a child and 2 dogs (or whatever the composition of your house may be. Also, I will say that some people have a very lax definition of “show ready”. Many of the houses we looked at were a wreck) so you have to do regular deep cleaning daily. Being called at random times saying potential buyers want to look at your house in the next hour or two is annoying. Living your life at the mercy of your realtor's ability to answer a phone sucks. Driving all over the place, losing numerous evenings and weekends, negotiating contracts, and going out to eat so many times you don't even want to set foot in a restaurant (because you fail to anticipate just how long things take so you don't bring food or snacks) are monster pains in the ass.

But that's expected. Most of it, anyway.

What's not expected is going through all of that and then having to go through all of it again. I haven't put a specific number or dollar figure on how much our inconvenience has cost us but I do know that, as a result of this, we've overspent our budget in a number of categories:

  • Gas. We're moving about 30 minutes south of where we currently live. So every time we had to drive down there, it costs us more money in gas. We have fairly fuel efficient cars but the extra trips definitely add up. At least we can drive in a way that avoids tolls. That's a bonus.
  • A second home inspection. We had money for one. That's it. There's no guarantee we'll get the money we already laid it in a timely fashion so we now have to pay out of pocket. Again. We only have a finite amount of money in savings and because of this nonsense, it's dwindling at an alarmingly rapid pace. And I don't know what it's like in your house, but our money gets spent a lot faster than it gets saved.
  • Time. Okay, this is a bit more difficult to quantify in terms of dollars but, if you ignore how much of our free time has been eaten up, my husband has had to take way more time off from work than he had planned. Like our savings, he only has a finite amount of time off, and we already had to cancel our family vacation. Now we don't even think we can reschedule at any point this year. As for me, I don't have an office job but I am trying to run a mentoring program and do some freelancing. Losing this time is time I've lost to work on both.
  • My child's school. Because we do not currently live at our new address. I have to go through the school choice process in order to enroll my daughter in her assigned school. And the district we are moving into is a gigantic pain in the ass about school choice (how their district rules supersede state law confuses me but whatever). Last week, I drove down to the office to hand in our paperwork. Now I have to call the office, explain what happened, drive down there again to drop off revised paperwork, and let the new school know what's going on. And if choice falls through, the child will have to miss the entire first week of school due to the registration process. At least the school supply list is online.

Given everything, I understand that the situation could be way, way worse. We could have zero dollars in savings. We could have no money in the budget available for extra gas. We could have no time off work or even have found a new house right away. We could have to pay a hotel or temporary apartment if the new sellers didn't agree to our settlement date. We could be back in debt.

So I appreciate the fact that all of this is just an inconvenience. But I never expected an inconvenience to be so damn expensive.