Parmesan Crusted Chicken: delicious and simple chicken recipe

This is my go-to dinner recipe. I can’t even remember where I found it but I make it all the time and have had the recipe memorized for years. It’s super fast to prepare, just a few ingredients, and everyone I’ve served it to has loved it too!

click for pdf download

More home updates

Since the first home update pictures, we finally had our kitchen and bathroom cabinets refaced. This means the cabinet boxes are the same, but we got new doors, drawers and hardware. This is a much cheaper option than replacing the cabinets and we were able to keep the existing countertops and backsplashes. We love how they turned out, especially that the drawers roll smoothly, we have roller drawers in the kitchen and they are soft closing drawers. The new cabinets and drawers definitely make us feel like we traveled from 1980 to the present day.

We also (thanks to the stimulus) put artificial grass in the backyard! The yard had some nice landscaping with rocks, lots of bushes and trees which now are very tall and mature. The turf company guided us to remove some of the very overgrown bushes to open up the yard more and we are so happy with their work and the new space we have! The backyard has areas that are always shaded which made it difficult to revive the grass and dead patches. Our new yard feels so much more open and fresh!

The Art of Decluttering

One of the most impactful books I’ve read is ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing‘ which is a best selling book by Marie Kondo. Her philosophy is only keeping what brings you joy and she walks you through steps on how to simplify and declutter your life and living space.

This book was kind of perfect for me because I hate clutter, but usually have little areas around the house that seem constantly cluttered. I love the feeling of de-cluttering and getting rid of things that are broken, I don’t use, don’t wear or that have served their purpose, but at the same time I like keeping things like souvenirs that remind me of my childhood or places we’ve visited. I reread parts of her book when we were preparing to move and we donated at least 20 large bags. I couldn’t believe how much we accumulated in just the 4 years we lived in our previous rental. 

Some of her key points that helped us declutter were:

-Only keep the items that bring you joy. Don’t just look at things in a closet, pick them up and see how they make you feel.

-Donate items that have served their purpose, think about how someone may be looking for that item or it may be very useful for someone whereas it’s just been sitting in your house.

We were very motivated to declutter because we didn’t want to have to pack and move things we didn’t really need. When we moved to our current house, it was much easier to unpack and everything had a place, there was no room for a junk drawer, room, closet or bookshelf. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. 

Welcome home

It’s been one month since we moved into our forever home! We are really loving our little rambler in the canyon. It’s so quiet and peaceful, especially compared to our rental the last 4 years which had a major city road behind it. Now, instead of hearing a constant flow of traffic or motorcycles roaring up the hill at 3 am we hear birds, wind blowing through the huge pine and redwood trees surrounding our home or silence. We love the natural light and single story – no more stairs! This is our 10th home or apartment we’ve lived in together since getting married and we are so happy to finally find a city and home where we want to spend the rest of our days.

Our home was built in 1978 so there were some updates previously done (like new windows) but some things we’ve contracted out to do like removing popcorn ceilings! We also got new interior doors on half the house, new carpet, painted the insides of all the cabinets which were dark brown and this week we are getting our kitchen and bathroom cabinets refaced and they will be white! It’s amazing what a can of white paint can do, not only to brighten our kitchen but the previous all green bathroom, bold accent walls in colors I’d never choose, and a bedroom that was floor to ceiling covered with wall paper. Another thing we’ve really been excited about is getting our garage interior painted and epoxied (the floor). It feels like a much cleaner space than the previous gross floor and walls that were just dry wall. Here are some pictures of the house so far, including our half unpacked kitchen. We didn’t want to unpack everything since we knew the cabinets were going to be refinished so we’ve been half using stuff in boxes still. Lots of work has gone into this house to make it ours and lots to come!

a few before and afters and then just random pictures of our lovely little home:

 

Here’s our dark kitchen that will look so much brighter and modern hopefully by next week!

 

What’s your favorite way to relax?

I always find myself more relaxed, happy and less stressed when I am outside enjoying nature or exercising. Exercise has always been a big part of my life but more recently when the kids have started school I’ve rediscovered my love of hiking and walking trails. We live in the perfect city for hiking, Chino Hills has over 40+ miles of trails! It’s an especially beautiful place in the early spring when the wildflowers bloom. The last few winters have brought enough rain that the drought finally ended (although I think it’s back). There is beauty in all parts of the world and our earth is pretty amazing.

 

Gratitude Jar

November and fall are a natural time to feel more grateful as we start to focus on Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. When I was younger, I remember my mom having a gratitude jar where we would write down things we were grateful for and paper feathers and then read them on Thanksgiving. We have done that with our kids a few times and last year mixed it up by having a jar filled with gratitude ideas or prompts. We try to find an evening time when we’re all together (like most nightly dinners) and each person will pull out an idea strip, give their answer and then each person will go around and say theirs. Most of the idea prompts are super simple such as “a hobby I am grateful for”,  “a person outside of my family I am grateful for” or “a sound I am grateful for” and it’s always interesting and insightful to hear everyone’s take on the same idea.

We’ve loved this family activity as a way to be together, express our gratitude and be more cognizant of the many blessings we have.

Click here to download the full PDF:  Gratitude Jar Ideas

Delicious Fool Proof Chocolate Bundt Cake

I’ve never described myself as a ‘baker’ but I would definitely describe myself as an ‘eater’. Last year, I found a chocolate bundt cake described as ‘fool proof’, this was intriguing to me as a novice baker and someone who loves chocolate cake. It’s now my favorite chocolate cake recipe and great news, it’s actually simple to follow the recipe and make! I’ve made it a few times since I first tasted it at my friend’s house. The recipe is from A Bountiful Kitchen. 

foolproof chocolate bundt cake easy recipe

foolproof chocolate bundt cake easy recipe

click image for recipe ^

Teaching English online: VIPKID

Last fall, I started teaching English online with VIPKID (this is partially the reason this blog was neglected for a few months!) If you’ve ever job searched online, you’ve seen postings for online English teachers. There are quite a few companies and I kind of always thought they were scams. A friend in our ward has been with VIPKID for a few years and assured me it’s not a scam and now that I’m a teacher with them I can also assure you it’s a legit and great way to earn extra income.

My favorite thing about it is the flexibility! There’s not a minimum of required hours or classes so I set my schedule. I open my time slots between 8:30-11 pm after the kids go to sleep. I still play soccer on Thursdays and Fridays so if I have a late game, I can adjust my schedule.

I also love teaching the kids. I work with the older kids, they are usually between 8-12. Most all of them take English in school and have been studying for a few years so they have a good background. Most all the kids I’ve taught have been excited about learning and are well behaved.

Things to know about getting hired at VIPKID:

-You need a Bachelor’s degree

-You need to be eligible to work in the US or Canada

-You need at least a year of previous teaching experience (not necessarily teaching English. It can be tutoring, coaching, etc)

-You need to be a native English speaker

-You need a computer, internet access, working camera and microphone (I use this headset)

Things to know about working with VIPKID:

-Each class is 25 minutes long, one on one with the student.

All the lessons are prepared for you! There are about 25-30 slides you go through with the student. All the slides have instructions that only the teacher sees.

-After each class, you write feedback.

-You are paid a base pay, plus a base for each completed class. There are more incentives as well. My base pay is $8 per class. The base pays range between $7-$9 per class. The base pay is determined by your trial class during the application. Teachers are paid every month.

-Part of the application process is teaching a trial demo class (to a VIPKID teacher acting as a student or film yourself teaching an invisible student).

-VIPKID has a mobile and desktop app which make it easy to check your schedule, see information about the student and preview the lesson.

-During the lessons, there is always tech support who they call Firemen. They are always available to help with technical issues (for example your microphone, camera, if the student can’t hear you, etc).

-VIPKID utilizes “TPR” which means ‘total physical response’. This method uses hand gestures in coordination with language teaching. A simple example, is pointing to your eye while saying the word ‘see’.

-Students earn rewards (5 stars) and teacher use reward systems they create, here’s some examples of ones I’ve made:

VIPKID reward chart

-Lessons are not guaranteed. You may go a while when you’re first hired with open time slots and no booked lessons. It took me about 2 months before I started getting regular and more consistent bookings.

Teaching English online VIPKID

The Bottom Line:

If you meet all the requirements, enjoy teaching and working with kids and need a flexible schedule, VIPKID is for you! It’s not enough income to pay a mortgage but it’s a great wage especially since there’s no lesson prep on your part.

I’ve tried to address all the questions I had when I was applying and when I first started teaching. Overall, VIPKID is a great program with awesome students! It’s been a great way for me to make a little income, connect with students and not have to leave my house or kids since they are asleep when I’m teaching. If you’re interested in applying, start here!

My referral code is ‘JENNI1230’ or you can click any of the links above.

5 ways to increase your self confidence

No matter who you are, there are always situations where you may wish for a bit more self confidence. I think I was pretty shy as a child and learning to speak to adults and really anyone is something I learned a lot on my mission. While I’m not the most self confident person in the world, I do feel that with practice, I’m able to talk to basically anyone. Here are 5 things that have helped me:

1.Firm handshake – a firm handshake can convey that you are a strong and confident person. You don’t need to use a death grip when shaking someone’s hand but you should also try to avoid the ‘dead fish’ handshake.

2. Good posture – body language says a lot about you and your personality. Standing tall can make you feel and appear more confident even if you are feeling nervous. Pull your shoulders back because you are in charge.

3. Have a quick look to appear ‘put together’  – Doing something small can often help you feel more ‘put together’ with your best face forward and more confident. This doesn’t mean you have to be extra fancy or wear a lot of make up. Often looking your best can help you feel your best. I find that small things like having my nails nice or painted, I feel more ‘put together’. Other small ways to look and feel your best include brushing your hair, adding an accessory like earrings, putting on a lip color, cleaning your shoes from any scuffs, etc.

4. Whiten your teeth – smile with confidence by using a teeth whitener. My favorite is the teeth whitening system from Smile Brilliant (save $25 with code ‘jamtartmd25’). The trays are custom fit to mold to your teeth. It comes with whitening gels to use in the trays followed by a desensitizing gel. To see my previous results, click here.

5. Pretend that everyone likes you – whether it’s meeting new people or giving a presentation or speech, pretend that everyone already likes you and are friends.With this mindset, you can overcome hesitation, fear, or nervousness. Chances are that they like you anyway!

5 ways to increase self confidence

5 ways to increase self confidence

Romper from Carissa Miss, an awesome apparel shop where 100% of the proceeds goes towards the National Footsteps for Fertility grant.

Stop now and do this stretch!

One of the most use body parts that we often forgot to stretch is our hands and forearms! Most everyone uses their hands all day whether it’s kids playing, writing at school, typing on a computer or phone, working, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.

This stretch below is one of my most favorite stretches that instantly relieves any tension in the wrist and forearm. It only takes a few seconds but is crucial for good wrist health and flexibility. This stretch and other simple stretches such as wrist rotations can help prevent wrist fatigue, pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome or overuse.

Extend arm with fingers towards the ground. Use the opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body. (Stop if you feel any pain!)wrist forearm stretchwrist forearm stretch

Extend arm with fingers pointed towards the sky. Use opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body.

wrist forearm stretch

These stretches are so great for any repetitious action especially working on a computer or phone. Even after playing the piano, cleaning, washing dishes, knitting, or driving for a long time my hands, wrists and forearms can be tight or exhausted and I find it so beneficial to stretch them.

Other awesome stretches for the hands, wrists and forearm include wrist rolls, squeezing a tennis ball or stress ball and the prayer pose stretch.