Behind The Butter

What’s in a Year

If you asked me one year ago what I would be doing this time next year the answer couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last year at this time, I was living in Tampa, a comfortable three miles from my parent’s house. I had recently quit my job as a bread baker to pursue my passion of food writing and had just applied to the infamous Murphy-Goode A Really Goode Job somewhere I had never even heard of before—Healdsburg, California. I never expected to hear back from Murphy-Goode, of course. I mean, why would I? My video paled in comparison to the other thousands of applicants and to be honest, I was getting by just fine in Florida. I knew nothing of wine and certainly nothing of California, which seemed like an entirely different continent to my small Florida bubble.

When I found out I made the Top 10 for the Murphy-Goode job I totally freaked. It was July 7th and in two weeks I would be boarding a plane and heading to the west coast for the very first time along with nine other finalists who I had never met. I was scared out of my mind. But also felt totally alive for the first time in a long time.

The events during the next few weeks that followed that phone call could only be described as completely surreal. I learned how to play Liar’s Dice. I went shopping. I sat in Barnes and Noble and read books on California wine. I drank California wine. I waved Florida goodbye and got on a really big plane. I landed in San Francisco.

And I never came back.

Just kidding. We all know I came back. I came back on a red eye from LA, exhausted but determined. California had changed me, had opened up a whole new part of me that had felt dead for so long. You see, after my brother died, I sort of went through all the motions but never really felt anything at all. My life was comfortable but stagnant, predictable but boring. I had always been the adventurer, the one who took risks and went places. Since the following April I had fallen into the trap of mediocrity and was ready to grasp at any lifelines to escape.
It wasn’t easy, of course. In fact, it was downright rather messy. I had to say goodbye to some things in my life and open myself up to new experiences and the unknown. I moved to California the last week of September with nothing more than a plane ticket, a book of poetry and two checked bags. From there the adventure really began. I crashed futons, I lived with strange boys, I cried on the kitchen floor, I drank a lot of wine.
And, yet, somehow it’s all worked out. There were times when I want to scream and pound my fists into the wall because no matter how hard I tried, everything seemed so HARD. I was broke. I was 3,000 miles away from my mom. I missed my friends. But then things started getting easier one by one. I got a book deal and a little house all to myself. There was no furniture but I was okay with that. For three months I sat in that tiny furniture-less house and wrote my brains out. In March I had one major caffeine headache but a rough first draft.
Here’s some of my favorite photos of the past year. Enjoy!































You Might Also Like

  • Michelle
    June 11, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Happy birthday from Oz. May you have an amazing 25th year. Enjoy life, find your faith, your spirit and the beauty around you. It’s when you bit bottom..that the top is even more glorious.

  • fartygirl
    June 11, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Hey! Heard it’s your birthday this weekend too! Happy Birthday. Love your blog. Beautiful photos. You definitely capture those “sun breaking through the cloud” moments!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs
    June 11, 2010 at 7:12 am

    What a wonderful post! I never realised how much you’re life had changed. I always wondered why you had no furniture! You’re a very strong woman for coping with all of that, so you totally deserve to have an amazing birthday!

  • Marie
    June 11, 2010 at 7:17 am

    this was a great post! so motivating and moving. Happy Birthday as well! 🙂

  • R @
    June 11, 2010 at 7:18 am

    What a beautiful post! Very inspiring

  • Kate
    June 11, 2010 at 7:18 am

    You should be so proud! I just picked up and moved from Florida (the Tampa area in fact!), where I graduated college two weeks ago, to Austin TX, where I’m looking for jobs and seeing what happens. Needless to say, it’s inspiring to hear from someone who made a big adventure work! It is definitely scary, and the money situation makes it infinitely scarier, but hopefully hard work pays off. Keep it up, you are amazing!

  • Andrea [Sweet N Green]
    June 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Love all the pics! What about the one of the pug wearing the shoes?! I definitely think that should have been in there 😉 I hope you have a great day! Can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

  • Theresa
    June 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna! I have followed your journey and recipes since February of 2008 and have really loved reading your posts about your life and experiences. I hope you have an amazing birthday and an even better 25th year~you deserve it =)

  • Sara
    June 11, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Happy birthday, Jenna! I hope you have an amazing 25th year that’s filled with everything you want!

  • anne
    June 11, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Great photos! Your life is rich with many blessings.

  • Molly
    June 11, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Great post, i’m so proud of you and excited for your future!
    By the way, you look exactly like Reese Witherspoon in the second photo of your ‘favorites’ 🙂

  • Kristin
    June 11, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Have a wonderful and blessed birthday!

  • Lindsay
    June 11, 2010 at 7:29 am

    happy birthday! fabulous post and have a fabulous day!

  • Lauren
    June 11, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Happy birthday Jenna

  • Sarah for Real
    June 11, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Happy Birthday! I’m just in awe, I love your story! 🙂

  • Anna
    June 11, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Happy Birthday, and thank you for this post! There are some of us out there that could use a little inspiration right now :-)!

  • Christie {Honoring Health}
    June 11, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Happy Birthday!

  • Jenna (Hello, I Love You)
    June 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

    This post left me so inspired! One of my favorites Jenna. I hope you have an amazing birthday!

  • amber
    June 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

    One of your best posts ever!!! You are truly inspiring!!

  • Angela (ohsheglows)
    June 11, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I needed to tell you I teared up when I saw the picture of you and your family. Im such a sap. Gorgeous pictures. I think my fav is the school bus!!

    Happy Birthday! xo

  • Seana
    June 11, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna!

  • Jocelyn
    June 11, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Happy birthday! 🙂 What a year!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    June 11, 2010 at 7:46 am

    You’ve had a wonderful year! Here’s to many more to come. 🙂

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    June 11, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Happy Birthday!!!! I hope your day is perfect.

  • Rachel @ Suburban Yogini
    June 11, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna, God bless x

  • Sahar
    June 11, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna!! I hope there are many more years to come filled with even more adventure and happiness! Thanks for the inspiration, birthday twin 🙂

  • Whit
    June 11, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Jenna, you’ve come so far in the past year and it’s been so good to see. Congrats on everything, and happy birthday!

  • julia
    June 11, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Happy birthday! May you continue to follow your heart 🙂

  • Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit!
    June 11, 2010 at 7:52 am

    I love how birthdays allow for a time of reflection on the year, and what a year you’ve had. Happy birthday, Jenna!

  • Marilou @ Mostly Healthy
    June 11, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna!

    It’s very inspiring to see how you’ve come so far in the last year.

    Here’s to a more exciting one! 🙂

  • Lori Lynn
    June 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I love the pictures! Glad it all worked out. 🙂

  • Carolyn @
    June 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Wow! It doesn’t seem like a year since the Murphy Goode contest! Here’s to another wonderful year!

  • Danielle
    June 11, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Oh, Jenna. Could it be that this post is my favorite of all time? Amazing things happen to us when we are true to ourself and honor our dreams and take risks (and oftentimes, drink wine, 😉 ha) and you deserve all of the happiness and opportunities that this past year has brought you. Happy Birthday, my dear, may this next one be even better than the last! xo

  • Gwen
    June 11, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Happy Birthday!!

  • Helen
    June 11, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Jenna your story is amazing! I wuld love to have the courage to do this, just turn up somewhere and see what happens. You are so brave. I am so glad that this year has worked out so well and that you are so happy. Happy Birthday!

  • Therese
    June 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Man, you certainly have had a lifechanging year, those are AWESOME (although they’re usually more often after the fact).

    I hope your birthday is filled with more joy and love than you can handle!

  • Stephanie
    June 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and hardly ever comment. Very awesome post. Keep on keeping on!

  • Meg
    June 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Happy Birthday to a truly beautiful human being 🙂 You’ve accomplished SO much, and have so much faith and strength. Congrats, Jenna!

  • Heather
    June 11, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna.

  • AshinMT
    June 11, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Happy Birthday! Today is actually my birthday as well- and I too am 25. Gemini’s unite! weeeeiiirrrddd. I hope you enjoy your birthday and do something that YOU enjoy doing.

  • Deanna
    June 11, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Love this! 🙂 Happy Birthday!

  • Lindsay @ Summit Sandwiches
    June 11, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Happy birthday Jenna! You’re an amazing person, and it really shows through your writing and photography. Congratulations on a big year of growth and happiness! I’m sure many more wonderful experiences are in store for you in the coming year.

  • allison @ livingoneday
    June 11, 2010 at 8:05 am

    this was one of the most beautiful, well-written, and honest posts that i’ve read in a long time. well done, jenna. you have proved everyone (including yourself, im sure) wrong – you CAN make it, even when the odds are stacked against you. it’s been a pleasure to read about you, and i look forward to so much to come. Happy Birthday!!!!!

  • Katherine
    June 11, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Beautiful post! Have a very happy birthday!

  • stacey
    June 11, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Happy Birthday!

  • Tina
    June 11, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! I really enjoyed this post. I’m so glad you have found happiness! Cheers to another amazing year!

  • Hailey (Adventures in Health)
    June 11, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Happy Bday Jenna, looks like you have had an amazing year! Your blog is very inspiring and I read it daily. -Hailey-

  • crunchy granola gal
    June 11, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Happy birthday, Jenna! I’ve been reading for a couple of years now and am totally impressed with your resilience and your ability to keep your chin up no matter what you’re faced with. I hope this year is even more exciting than the last!

  • Lauren
    June 11, 2010 at 8:12 am


    Happy 25th!!! Gorgeous pictures, fabulous post…

    You really look like Reese Witherspoon in the photo with the Sculpture. Never noticed that before. 🙂

  • Dorry
    June 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Happiest of happy birthdays to you!! Enjoy your day.

  • Brittney
    June 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna! I LOVED your year in pictures. Beautiful 🙂

  • Miranda @ Mirandasjeans
    June 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Happy Birthday! Great pictures, and good for you for getting out there and trying something that scared you! We should all be so lucky to get to experience things that scare, thrill and make us happy.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    June 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    this was totally and completely inspiring…and i love the last photo at the end…definitely inspiring me to figure out what i’m passionate about and go for it!

  • Miranda @ Mirandasjeans
    June 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Happy Birthday! Great pictures, and good for you for getting out there and trying something that scared you! We should all be so lucky to get to experience things that scare, thrill and make us happy.

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    June 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! What an amazing year of change!

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete
    June 11, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Happy birthday! It seems like you have had one hell of a year. To me, it seems that it is the times that you struggle when you grow the most as a person. I struggled so much when I was getting my undergrad. I was so broke, but you know what? I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I am me because of all of that. May your next year be another adventure!

  • Sarah
    June 11, 2010 at 8:23 am

    May this new year bring you the best of the best–Happy Birthday!

  • Evan Thomas
    June 11, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Love the recap–happy birthday!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes)
    June 11, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I love the photo recap. And as someone who’s never even met you personally I’m so proud of how far you’ve come in a year. Change is huge and scary and you have conquered it with grace and fun.

  • Jennu
    June 11, 2010 at 8:25 am

    What a great year! I hope my post-college life is as multifaceted as yours:)

  • Carrie @ I See Monsters
    June 11, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Happy birthday! The photo of that coffee cup is incredible. You made something so ordinary look extraordinary. Brava!

  • Taylor
    June 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Happy Birthday! I hope you have a really great day!

  • Kathryn
    June 11, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Great post! This is exactly how I feel about the move I made to Tampa almost one year ago. I love looking back and seeing how far things have come/changed/made me grow. Congrats on a great year!

  • eatmovelove
    June 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Great great post.
    Change is tough – but it’s how you grow.
    Congrats on taking responsibility for yourself and your life.

  • Freya
    June 11, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Happy birthday! Congrats on a year filled with lots of excitement — can’t wait to see what else is to come!

  • Karen
    June 11, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna, you have had one amazing journey this past year, thanks for sharing. Enjoy your birthday weekend with your Mama, so nice when it falls on the weekend, you get to enjoy it for more than a day. 🙂

  • Katalina @ GreenLivingNewYork
    June 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Super post!
    so happy for you and your family, and I am so glad you feel goos and enjoy your life!:)

  • Kim (Imperfectly Perfect)
    June 11, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! You’ve come a long way in a year! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I hope this next year brings only wonderful things for you!!

  • Jessica @ Jessica Balances
    June 11, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Congrats on a beautiful year of life, Jenna! 🙂 You have such an amazing story. Enjoy your birthday!

  • Sassy Molassy
    June 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Love the photos, Jenna. So glad you were able to find your emotions again in California. It truly seems like you’ve been living without reserve the past several months. And life is worth LIVING so just keep on doing it. 🙂

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary
    June 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Happy birthday fellow California girl 😉 I can say that the state of Cali is lucky to have you! Love your blog… Been reading for over a year and can’t seem to get enough. Keep it up 😀

  • jenny in new york
    June 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

    That was such a moving post! You’ve had an inspiring year and the best is yet to come. You’re young and fabulous and I wish you many more years of that!

    Happy birthday Jenna

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople
    June 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Happy Birthday! I like looking back through the year of pictures as well. =)

  • Gina G
    June 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna! beautiful post 🙂

  • sarah shep
    June 11, 2010 at 8:48 am

    You are such a beautiful girl, and I’m so glad you are able to accept both your struggles and your blessings. It’s been hard for me to find my optimism in the past 2 months since my Dad passed away, but Mom and I are getting through it all, slowly and surely. Your blog continues to both entertain and inspire me daily. Happy birthday, Jenna. I genuinely hope you have a more than fantastic day. 🙂

  • Sami
    June 11, 2010 at 8:49 am


  • Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble
    June 11, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Great things come with taking great risks! Looks like a great year! Happy Birthday!

  • kirsten
    June 11, 2010 at 8:52 am

    great post jenna, I can’t wait til your book comes out! 🙂

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing
    June 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Happy Birthday girl! You are truly amazing and honestly, a HUGE role model for me. I wish you only the best!

  • Kristin
    June 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Happy birthday! Its my bday today too. Hope you have a great day. And a toast to you for being brave. All the best to you for the new adventures to come!

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly
    June 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jenna! Congrats to you for listening to yourself, taking a plunge and going for a new life that was scary and unknown! You are an inspiration to those looking to make a change. Change is hard and change is scary but sometimes it just what we need! Enjoy your day and celebrate your heart out! 🙂

  • Mindy
    June 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Happy birthday Jenna, quarter of a century–woo! You’ve had quite the eventful and memorable year.. here’s to more to come!

  • Kailey (SnackFace)
    June 11, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Jenna, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! What an amazing year. I love your story and seeing where life takes you. I’m so happy we all get to come along for the ride 🙂

  • Rachel
    June 11, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Happy birthday! What a great way to evaluate and sum up a year of such immense change. Congrats on all of your accomplishments, and I hope that this next year is one of equal amazingness 🙂

  • Samantha @ Food Edu
    June 11, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I didn’t realize that you did all that in only one year! Good for you–that is something to celebrate!

  • Ashley
    June 11, 2010 at 9:11 am

    great post love all the pictures!

  • cabernetsv
    June 11, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Wow, I started reading your post and as I came to the photos, Ozzy Osborne’s “Road to Nowhere” started playing on the radio – it was like a video from there as I scrolled down, enjoying your photographed experiences from the past year. One thing I really like about you is that you periodically take time to look back at your life and appreciate how everything has influenced who you’ve become today. Birthdays are an especially good time to do this, so cheers to you Jenna *raising glass of vino*, Happy Birthday, and never stop “looking for the answers”. Life is best lived when you experience each day with a sense of curiosity.

  • alison
    June 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Happy Birthday!!
    I’m not sure many of us find ourselves where we *thought* we’d be. Life is funny that way.

  • Kerry
    June 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Talk about change AND perspective! Amazing. Happy Birthday my fellow Gemini, JENNA! Have a great weekend !

  • cabernetsv
    June 11, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Wow, I started reading your post and as I came to the photos, Ozzy Osborne’s “Road to Nowhere” started playing on the radio – it was like a video from there as I scrolled down, enjoying your photographed experiences from the past year. One thing I really like about you is that you periodically take time to look back at your life and appreciate how everything has influenced who you’ve become today. Birthdays are an especially good time to do this, so cheers to you Jenna *raising glass of vino*, Happy Birthday, and never stop “looking for the answers”. Life is best lived when you experience each day with a sense of curiosity.

  • Cara
    June 11, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Aww happy birthday! I am glad the year turned out so well for you. And best wishes for an even better one for your 25th!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    June 11, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Happy birthday Jenna! And you are right, WHAT a year!! Insanely jealous of your amazing life, as always 🙂

  • Sarah
    June 11, 2010 at 9:38 am

    happy birthday! so crazy to look back at all you have done in a year:) hope you do even more in the next year!

  • jenna
    June 11, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Happy Birthday beautiful girl!! 🙂

  • Amy
    June 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Happy, happy birthday, Jenna. You are very inspiring!

  • Corinne (breathe and savor)
    June 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I love how life can change with a single phone call! So surreal all that really goes down in 12 months time and how often we can distinctively pin point a catalystic moment!! What a great recap in pictures. Welcome to 25 🙂

  • Corinne (breathe and savor)
    June 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

    and duhhhh HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    June 11, 2010 at 9:47 am

    You’re a wonderful, amazing, beautiful girl. Thanks for taking us all along with you on ‘Jenna’s Incredible Adventure’. It’s been quite a trip! Looking forward to the next year. Happy-Happy Birthday to You! And to the girl ‘what brung you here’. Your adorable Mum!!

  • Angela @ A Healthy Fit
    June 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Loved reading about your year. It is amazing what a year can do. Welcome to life at a quarter century! I’ve found it keeps getting better.

  • Daisy
    June 11, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Happy Birthday Gorgeous! Love the shot of you walking through my neighborhood (Boston!!) come back!

  • Kellie
    June 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

    amazing photos!

  • Christa
    June 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Happy birthday, Jenna! Many blessings to you and yours!

  • Monique@That's What She Said
    June 11, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Happy Birthday!!! THAT is an awesome story!!! I can’t believe how close I live to Napa/Sonoma and have never gone more than two or three times in my life!!!

    Have a great one! You look so gorgeous in all of your photos btw 🙂

  • Ann
    June 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

    You f**king rock. You do. i want your life! Happy Birthday Jenna!

  • lori
    June 11, 2010 at 10:03 am

    thank you so much for sharing your post today. It has been almost 4 years since I lost my dad to cancer. I appreciated your honesty and can so relate to the coasting through life, not really participating and trying to regain your centre. I am not as young as you are and have children that rely on me so big moves and changes are impossible but I feel like I am gaining back a little of myself and embracing the new that has emerged through the heartbreak. so again thanks for your honesty it has given me a few moments of reflection on the path that I have travelled.

  • Katherine
    June 11, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I love the photos; great post for a Friday

  • Amy @ Amy Starts To Run
    June 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Happy Birthday! I love reading your blog. You are honest, hysterical, engaging and inspirational. Cheers to the next year!

  • Lauren
    June 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Hey Jenna! Just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you’ve been for me. I myself, am a risktaker, (I dyed my hair red last night!) but sometimes I forget that I can’t let fear of the unknown hold me back. We have to live life to the absolute fullest, right? Even if that means jumping into what seems to be a giant black abyss. This summer I am actually flying all by myself for the frst time (I’m 16) to visit some family. Three days after I come back home, I’ll be traveling to Brazil for three weeks! It’s going to be scary and different, but I couldn’t be more excited or at peace about it. Hope you haea good day!

  • Crystal
    June 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Happy Birthday!! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂

  • Mary
    June 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

    You’ve made it through the year with your head still above water and made some wonderful stops on the path from there to here. there. Congratulations on so many, many things. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  • Shannon
    June 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Happy Birthday Jenna! Amazing post!

  • nic
    June 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

    of course i can’t leave here withouth saying:
    a very happy birthday to you love!!!
    loved following your life the past year!!!
    can’t wait to see what you’re up to in the following, dare i say, few years!! 😀

  • *Andrea*
    June 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

    happy birthday! i admire you so much for taking a leap of faith 🙂

  • Lauren
    June 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Happy Happy Birthday Jenna!

  • lola
    June 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Happy bday again Jenna!! :D:D:D and i have to say it again, your life reminds me of Eat Pray Love! I hope one day we’ll see the EatLive Run movie!!!

  • M.
    June 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Happy Birthday and happy year of growth and experiences.
    I still am moved when I think how you did not give up on life after your brother’s passing. You have seen the darkest days and it is really something to be able to throw caution to the wind.
    I do not know you, but I sense you are seizing life one moment at a time and savouring it all,the smooth and the bumpy paths not just for yourself but for your brother too.
    Blessings to you and your family and may you celebrate your day of birth with lots of laughs and love.

  • Cheri
    June 11, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Happy birthday, Jenna! This is a beautiful post.

  • maren
    June 11, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Happy Birthday! What an amazing year!

  • Hal
    June 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

    This is an incredible post. Your pictures are breathtaking. I have been following you for a few years now and you never cease to grow in wonderful ways. Congratulations on living and loving life.

  • Allie
    June 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

    beautiful post. it seems like you’ve lived many years in just one. happy birthday.

  • Christina Lore
    June 11, 2010 at 11:11 am

    so glad i made the cut of fave pics. hope you and lynn are having a glorious time celebrating the quarter century bday!! miss you and wish i could drink wine and eat cheese with you today!

  • Betsy
    June 11, 2010 at 11:14 am


  • ida
    June 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Happy Birthday!! you are so strong and brave. Thanks for sharing your life with us, you’re such a inspiration.

  • Katy(The Balanced Foodie)
    June 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Happy birthday sweet Jenna! Hope to meet you sometime this year! 🙂 I LOVE this post, you’ve had a beautiful/difficult/messy/wonderful year and you’re coming out on top! It gives me hope that “this too shall pass” and maybe in one year I will be saying the same thing. “I never thought I would be here but I feel more alive”! Love it. 🙂

  • jenny (green food diaries)
    June 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

    happy birthday jenna, from a fellow gemeni. i admire how strong you are!

  • Tammy (Defining Wellness)
    June 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Wishing you a birthday filled with all your passions. What an adventure you’ve been on . . . and so many more to come! Hugs from Philadelphia!

  • Molly
    June 11, 2010 at 11:39 am

    everything happens for a reason. have a wonderful birthday, Jenna!

  • Emily
    June 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Happy Happy Birthday!!! It looks like you’ve had a great year. I love the skyline pics — amazing!

  • Amanda@Thegrainsofparadise
    June 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Beautiful Pictures! Congrats on hanging in there:-) Happy Birthday! Aloha 🙂

  • Mellissa
    June 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Love all the pictures, it is so fun to go back and think about how crazy a year has been.

  • Teresa
    June 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Happy Birthday !
    Always including pictures of dogs in your post… it !

    Have A Good Day ! Cheers !

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine
    June 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Happy birthday Jenna! I started reading last summer, and it’s hard to believe it’s already been a year- I’ve loved all your gorgeous pictures and new adventures. Hope this year is just as exciting for you!!

  • Sana
    June 11, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Your year has been amazing! I mean you cycled 100 freaking milesss!

  • Dee
    June 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Beautiful photos and post, but is Murphy Goode really infamous? Does it really have a bad reputation? Because this is what this word means and I don’t think you meant to use it! Blessings and Peace!

  • ashley
    June 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Great post! Love reading about grand adventures that work out perfectly! Also I love the picture of the dog- and War is terrorism!

  • Faith @ lovelyascharged
    June 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Jenna, this is really inspiring! It’s great to see that sometimes a path for life can carve itself out before you even know it. Happy birthday, and have another fantastic year!

  • Jess (Nurse Jess the Blog)
    June 11, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Wait, did you get the MG job? I listen to a podcast where a guy had done it, but he didn’t win!

  • Alex
    June 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    you are an inspiration! keep writing from the heart, i love it! thanks and happy birthday!

  • tasha - the clean eating mama
    June 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Happy Birthday! I love this post – for some reason made me very calm. =)

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers
    June 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I love how looking back on something can give you a whole new perspective on it!!

  • Sarah (Oc2Seattle)
    June 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Happy B’day, Jenna! Hope this next year is as exciting as the last with lots more great things coming your way. The photo recap is great – it’s amazing to look back on a year and see all that you’ve done. Cheers!

  • Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries
    June 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRETTY LADY! And, what a great post!

  • Andrea
    June 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Happy Birthday, Jenna. You have had one heck of a year. Hope this year is great for you.

    Love all the pics, but the one of the cow is my favorite. I have no idea why…

  • Brittney
    June 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Jenna. I read every day but have never posted a comment! I just want you to know how inspiring you are. You really are an amazing girl! I hope your 26th year is the best one yet 🙂

    • Brittney
      June 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      Sorry didn’t mean to age you a year! haha. Make that 25th year!

  • Kelly
    June 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Happy Birthday Jenna! You have such a beautiful outlook on life, but I know it must be tough sometimes with so much uncertainty. You have such a lovely spirit. I know good things will continue to come your way. 🙂

  • Lauren @ Running Examiner
    June 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Wishing you a very happy birthday and another monumental year. All the best to you on your 25th!

    xox, Lauren

  • Kinder
    June 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Happy Birthday! What an amazing year you have had!

  • Michal
    June 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Happy Birthday! Your post is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing so much of your story with us 🙂

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]
    June 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes because you are my inspiration to be strong. You prove that we can do anything if we put are heart into and don’t give up. I’m so glad you gave California a “second chance”. It’s a wonderful place and I’m so glad you let it breathe adventure back into your soul. I hope your 25th year is nothing short of extraordinary, wherever you may be. Happy happy happy birthday : )

  • Sarah
    June 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Happy, happy birthday love!!!! Tell your mom I said hi too 🙂

  • diana@mymarblerye
    June 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    happy birthday beautiful!! what an amazing year for you…both in eats and in personal growth. imagine what the next year brings!

  • Laura @ youngDCliving
    June 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    This is such a great post! Happy birthday! 😉

  • A Teenage Gourmet (Sami)
    June 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Happy Birthday! The cloud picture is my favorite.

  • Stacey
    June 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    What an amazing year, you have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. Happy birthday.

  • Lisa @ bakebikeblog
    June 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Happy Birthday!!!
    WHat an amazing year you have had 🙂

  • MyThy as in "Mighty"
    June 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Happy Birthday weekend Jenna! You are beautiful and strong and I enjoy reading your blog each day. Love the photo of you, your mom and gramma. I love NorCal every bit as much as I love SoCal. If you ever want a tour of OC, shoot me an email! 😉

  • emily
    June 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Happy birthday!!!

  • Rachel
    June 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Is it weird to say that I’m proud of you? I’ve followed your blog for almost 2 years now, and I just have to say that these pictures really made me smile. 🙂 Your words always speak so true and I wish you the very best on your birthday and in years to follow!

  • Picnics and Peonies
    June 11, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    It’s like you broke free from a safe, predictable life, and made an incredible and fabulous existence for yourself in California. I am SO happy for you that everything seems to be going your way. Have an amazing birthday and enjoy your mom-time!

  • Andrea
    June 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    For tonight I will drink half a bottle of champagne, but tomorrow I take your inspiring message and try to live with just as much motivation as you’ve displayed!

    Have a lovely birthday.

  • Jenna
    June 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Love your blog Jenna!

  • Allie
    June 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Happy Birthday – I loved reading this post – you’ve accomplished some great things in the last year. Hope this one is awesome too 🙂

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run
    June 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Happy Birthday!! It’s amazing (and inspirational) to see how far you’ve come in just a year. I hope your 25th year brings just as many exciting opportunities (and even more happiness) than this past year did!

    Hope you had a great day with your Mom 🙂

  • Kathleen
    June 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Happy Birthday! I loved your year in photos…beautiful! Cheers to many more adventurous years ahead!

  • leslie
    June 12, 2010 at 6:23 am

    happy, happy birthday, jenna! it’s not only incredible what you have gone through and faced in a year, but how much LIVING you have done in that time. your zests for life and spontaneity (along with a lot of delicious food and wine, of course) are absolutely contagious, and i’m sure they will take you through a wonderfully exciting 25th year. i’m turning 25 this year too, and personally, i think it’s going to be the best year yet. 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss
    June 12, 2010 at 7:32 am

    We were in San Fran a few months ago and it was AMAZING!! We wanted to go to wine country but never made it that far. Your trip looks incredible. 😀

  • bobbi
    June 12, 2010 at 7:47 am


  • Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies
    June 12, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Your year has definitely been one for the books!! Amazing photos.

  • Heather Rose
    June 13, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Happy birthday (a little late, but I’m just getting caught up on my blog reading)! What an awesome post, very inspiring!

  • ashleigh
    June 14, 2010 at 7:51 am

    What a great post with fabulous pictures!!! I hope you had an amazing birthday!!

  • kaitlyn
    June 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    i’m a subscriber to your blog, and just had to say – you’re such an inspiration! i went through something very similar after a boyfriend i had dated for several years became mentally ill – by a freak accident i got a teaching assistant position at UCLA and it completely changed me. learning to live fully and completely, and for myself, in ways that think i had strived to while backpacking alone and learning about organic farming in europe or moving to spain – i think there’s an inner sort of striving to get to know where you’re supposed to be, dip your toes in the water of being “adventurous” or “independent” and faking it until you make it. i’m now pursuing my career in LA, and know how meaningful that is on every level, both inside and out – your life radiates with that in every photo! it’s an inspiration, congratulations and happy birthday.

  • Kacie
    June 20, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Hey Jenna!!!

    Just Wanted to let you know how inspiring this post was for me!! I’m getting ready to go through a giant transition myself, except the destination is Tennessee 😀 Anyway, you inspired me to write my own post reflecting on this last year! Thanks so much!

    Enjoy your weekend!
    Kacie Q

  • Stephanie
    December 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Slowly but surely I am making my way through some of your previous entries that I missed. I like this one. I am from California… born and raised… but I know what it feels like to move away from home {lived in Japan… first REAL job out of college… talk about scary!!!}. I am glad things are working out for you… a lot happens in a year… so make the next year count 🙂