Where Do I Even Begin?

by Jenn (eating bender) on May 8, 2009

I am so touched by all the comments, advice and congratulations I received yesterday. The blogging world is such an amazing place! I feel so blessed to “know,” know or however-you-want-to-describe-it ALL of you! One of the best parts is that the moment is now captured in time and I can look back on yesterday whenever I need a spirit boost. You are all so kind, thoughtful and sweet.

Thank you so much!

To answer some of the follow-up questions that were asked 😉

  • There’s no official date yet for the wedding. We will probably wait at least a year or so before starting the planning process. We’re in no rush – as Andrea put it so eloquently in an email to me yesterday, we are “conscious of living in the moment and soaking it all in” and also recognize that our upcoming graduation and the end of school is a huge transition point in our lives. It’s important to get settled in our new jobs, new home and new way of living before we add the wedding planning and all of its stress joys.
  • Mama and Papa Bender were not in on all of the specifics. They knew that it was probably going to happen sooner rather than later, but like me, weren’t sure when or how! I called my mom shortly after on the golf course and she started crying – don’t worry, they were happy tears! Bobby’s parents did know about it, and his mom called to congratulate me later that day :)

I also can’t tell you how much I appreciate those of you who reached out and let me know that you’d be happy to answer any questions I have about planning, etc. It’s nice to know I have you all as a perfect resource when the time comes, and I feel confident that I will still have this blog to talk about all of it!


Whew! It feels weird not having talked about food almost all week long! But it has been a busy one, to be sure. I took my last midterm exam ever on Tuesday morning :) I still have finals in June, but it’s nice to know that I’m that much closer to being done with school!

To fuel me through a week of midterms, I’ve been eating the food that best sticks to my stomach like glue (in order to avoid grumbling during an already stressful testing session). You all know what it is.


Oatmeal! I’ve really fallen in love with the flax-on-top method (is that technically a food’s version of “that’s what she said” – what does The Master think?). I think it helps keep the oats slightly cooler so that it doesn’t burn the roof of my mouth in my hurry to gobble them up. I also like the almond-butter-on-top spread because I get a little in every bite!


Absolutely glorious and perfect for a morning of class when paired with Coffee Cocoa.


The clutter in the background is really just the tip of the iceberg for my room right now.

In addition to fueling up for morning class, I’ve also needed to bring snacks with me to night classes. It’s really tricky to figure out when I’m going to eat dinner when I have class from 4 to 6 and 6 to 9 on the same night (yes, they literally end and start at the same time – makes for an interesting run across campus). This week, I tried a new bar thanks to Karen from To Be the Whole Package and our blogger exchange last week.


Karen told me that these bars are owned by a high school classmate’s family, and they aren’t available in the U.S. I was pumped to try something so unique! This “California Almond Valley” flavor did not disappoint! It was full of nuts, seeds and raisins with a nice crunch (but not hard to chew at all) and a slight sweetness. It reminded me a lot of a Trio Bar, which I love. Thanks, Karen!

In other news, Tuesday night was a sad night in my kitchen. Why? Because I pulled out the last one:


I’m going to miss you, White Chocolate (Macadamia) Lime Cookies. You were good to me. Actually, Heather was good to me. But you sure tasted good.

I lamented the loss (how nerdy am I?) of the last cookie – it was awesome, by the way – but was incredibly surprised and delighted to receive three packages of blog love on my doorstep to ease my pain.


The first one came from my “twin” Sarah, who sent me an incredible birthday gift from one of her favorite stores, Cherry Republic. I was intrigued by the “Boomchunkas” – more on that later.

I also received some amazing chocolate-frosted mint brownies from the one and only VeggieGirl!


I couldn’t possibly eat just one or the other, so I made a plate of both :)


Um, yes please. The White Chocolate “Boomchunka” was out of this world!! It’s made up of rolled oats, huge cherries and chunks of white chocolate. I can best describe it as an oatmeal-raisin cookie on steroids, with cherries insead of raisins. In other words, paradise in my mouth!

The mint brownie was equally delightful. The top of the brownie tasted like mint fudge! Thick and more “crunchy” than what was underneath. The bottom layer was melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake, more or less. I may or may not have gone back for a second small piece of each of these treats 😉 Thank you so much ladies! You know how to make a birthday (ahh it’s tomorrow)!

Yesterday, I received another birthday surprise from Miss Heather Eats Almond Butter.


This ridiculously sweet Tennesseean sent me a card and a batch of her Maple Nut Oaties. I have seen these on her blog and in Meghann’s bake sale and have been wanting to try them for quite some time!


Everything you could want in a cookie. Seriously. You’ve got your oats, you’ve got your chocolate, you’ve got your nut butter…every ingredient is drool worthy. What the HECK am I going to do with all of these treats in my house? Combine that with the cake I received from my roomie and I pretty much could open up my own potluck bakery. It’s dangerous 😉 But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you so much, Heather. All of you are incredibly kind and my birthday tomorrow is so much “sweeter” with all of you in my life! Pun intended and unintended.


  • I was lucky enough to be a guest on Mara’s blog this week. I’ll post the recipe here soon, too!
  • There are a lot of great challenges going on in the blogosphere right now! Check out Summer Shape Up or Project Glow – I’m actually doing an aspect of the “glow” program and will let you know how it turns out in a couple of weeks (when my skin is, hopefully, clearer!)

And I’m off! I’ve got a big day ahead. My dad has actually been in the Chicago/Milwaukee area this week for some family matters, and he is coming back to campus tonight to take me out to dinner for my birthday! I can’t wait to see Papa Bender! I also can’t believe I’m turning 22 tomorrow. In the words of Allison, I’m becoming a “grown up” 😉 Time flies!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


1 Kiersten May 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

I know I am a little late, but congrats! How exciting! All the goodies you received in the mail look yummy, especially Heather’s oaties.

2 Hangry Pants May 8, 2009 at 11:40 am

Awww you are awesome! I am so happy for you! You know I’ve been telling everyone I know that my blog friend got engaged and all about your sweet story!

Yay for treats!!!! I am so glad you enjoyed me cookies!!!!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

3 gina (fitnessista) May 8, 2009 at 12:05 pm

hahah yesterday when the pilot came home, i was like “I HAD THE BEST DAY EVER!”
of course he asked why and i said “JENN GOT ENGAGED! and the story was so beautiful..and i cried” and then he laughed at me
i’m seriously so excited for you! is the wedding going to be in az?!?
i love all the bday goodies you’re receiving! so awesome!
have a fun dinner with papa bender 😀

4 Sarah May 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Are you not just overwhelmed by all the emails, packages, and LOVE coming your way? I’m sure you can relate to my stress to write 4,398 thank you notes.

I am struck by how level headed you are in all the excitement. I think when I was your age and engaged, I was running around shouting “Look at my ROCK!” and slamming it under everyone’s noses. Job? School? Whatever, I had my MRS.

I also find it funny that I am now constantly linked to the TWSS action. My mom doesn’t understand and I had to give her a TWSS tutorial yesterday. That may be post worthy…hmm… I think your “flax on top” approach to the material is ingenious.

Happy Birthday Jenn!

5 Erica May 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm

So glad you’re enjoying every minute of your engagement so far! Happy Early Birthday! So exciting that you have all those fun treats! I wouldn’t be able to control myself 😉

6 Marianne May 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm

This is really your week, isn’t it? Enjoy it and soak it all in :) And a Happy Early Birthday 😀

7 jenngirl May 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Jenn, I am so happy for you. If anyone deserves such love and happiness it’s you, and I hope that you and Bobby take a good long time to savor each and every moment of your engagement!

Looks like you are all stocked up on the delicious treats, ahhh I can’t believe your bday is tomorrow!! YAY!! One day, we should celebrate ours together 😉

8 Sara May 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Congrats again! What a great amount of sweet treats you got! They all look amazing. Yay, for May birthdays! Mine is next week. Happy Early Birthday. :)

9 ksgoodeats May 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Holy moly! So many delicious looking things in this post I can’t get over it! Soak up the engagement glow for all it’s worth AND when I come to the Chi, I’ll be buying you a Blue Moon or two in celebration 😉


10 Rose May 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

This is an eventful month for you! You’re engaged, turning 22, and graduating soon! Be sure to enjoy all the fun moments that await!

11 Meghann May 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Wow! look at you with all your fun goodies!!! You are exactly one day younger then my little sister! Have a Happy birthday!! You have sooo much to celebrate so make sure to go all out and enjoy every minute of it :)

12 carolinebee May 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Woo welcome (almost) to the big 22! It’s good times 😀 Is it just me or is “boomchunka” the most fun thing to say ever?? Have fun with Papa B!

13 Heather Eats Almond Butter May 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

What an amazing week you’re having. Last mid-term, got engaged, birthday goodies, and dinner with Papa Bender?!? So much fun.

Again, I am so happy for you, and I think you’re wise to enjoy everything in the present moment. Enjoy your last quarter so school AND post graduation life in the real workd. Wedding plans can wait. :)

I really want one of those chocolate frosted mint brownies…like right now. :)

14 Melissa S. May 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Me and Brad are so happy for you! I called him immediately after I found out, screaming to him on the phone! He laughed his head off and says congrats too…wants to send you some cookies too! hehe!

but I’ve got a package in the works for you lady; let me know when you’re going to be leaving school so i don’t send it to the wrong place. :)

Again, CONGRATS!!!

15 Bec May 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Happy early birthday, have a great dinner with your dad as well :)

16 Andrea (Off Her Cork) May 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Wow engagement and a birthday all in the same week?!! What a lucky girl! :)

Love all the packages, yay for blog love!

17 Allison May 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Love all the goodies! That cherry sampler looks amazing, and I’m totally jealous of the VG treats :) I had no idea what I was going to start by asking if you were ready to be a grown up – but now it’s snowballed, and there’s no stoppin’ ya 😀

18 Jess May 8, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Happy birthday Jenn!! You are having such a fabulous week!!!! You deserve it for all your hard work!!! Enjoy turning 22 to the fullest!!

19 Oh She Glows May 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm

WOW congrats!!!! 😀 Sorry I am a day late, lol. So happy for you girlie!!!!

Thanks for the shout out too :)

20 RK May 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Happy Birthday Jenn!!! You sure have had an eventful week – I don’t know how you can remain so calm/levelheaded :)
Those blogger goodies look absolutely delicious. I want some of those brownies in a bad way!

21 Shannon (The Daily Balance) May 8, 2009 at 2:57 pm

what DELICIOUS looking treats! YUMYUMYUM! 😉

22 bobbi May 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I so need to get some more ground flax seed!!! I am sure you are sooooo glowing this week Jen!

23 Alisa - Frugal Foodie May 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I just read your other post. Congratulations! Beautiful ring too. And it sounds like a belated happy birthday is also in order. What an exciting time in your life, so many new adventures!

24 snackface May 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm

HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY!! What a week for you! Finals, birthday, oh and that little thing…engagement!! I’ve told my friends that my blog friend got engaged! I’m not sure they entirely understand the friend-through-blogging concept.

I prefer the flax-on-top too. It adds a nice crunchy crust, like a crumble-top pie. And I do the same thing with nut butter on top! Twinsies.

Amazing packages! I would love all of them, pronto.

You are very right. We need to meet. Furreal.

Enjoy your birthday and the weekend, love!

25 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) May 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Congrats again on your engagement! So happy for you and Bobby!

Happy Early Birthday!

Have a wonderful time at dinner!

26 Kath May 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Happy Early Birthday!!

27 Aimee May 8, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Happy Birthday!! Enjoy dinner with your dad.

28 Emily May 8, 2009 at 4:43 pm

awesome eats!

wow, congrats on being close to done with school and happy birthday and congrats on the engagement too (i just read that last post)! if you happen to be considering a vegas wedding, i can tell you how to do that one right :)

enjoy your weekend!

29 Shelby May 8, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Those oats look so freakin good! I want some right now, and I just ate!

What are you going to do with all those treats?! I could help you out 😉 haha

30 Emily May 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

All of those tasty desserts! YUM!

My desk/room is a mess at the moment too! Something needs to be done about that! haha

31 eatlivelovedream May 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Congratulations on the engagement Jen!!! That’s so wonderful:)

32 glidingcalm May 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm


and i love the flax on top of the oats! it has ALWAYS been my fav way!

congrats again to you and Bobby boy! and yay for so many baked treats! heather’s maple oaties are to die for!

33 Alison May 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Happy almost birthday!
Love that picture of your breakfast.
I’m so jealous of your goodies. You lucky girl.

34 Jessica (jesslikesithot) May 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Happy almost birthday Jenn!!!!!

You’re too adorable and I’m so happy for you and Bobby! :)

35 broccolihut May 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Have a good one, my dear–I shall be thinking of you:)

Lovin’ all the cherry action–it’s one of my favorite fruits (aside from mango, of course!).

36 Danielle May 8, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god… congratulations my dear! And very happy birthday! I am sending you an e-mail ASAP :)

37 eatavegan May 9, 2009 at 2:07 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I just turned 22 the day before yesterday — we’re almost birthday twins! I wonder if you, like me, sometimes blame your love of decadent desserts on the fact that you’re a Taurus… We like rich cake, what can we say? Totally valid. Hope it’s a fantastic day for you!

38 coco May 9, 2009 at 2:50 am

congratulations about the propose!! (sorry to be late)
And happy birthday!! :) HOpe you have wonderful time!

39 Lara (Thinspired) May 9, 2009 at 3:34 am

Jenn, you have such a good head on your shoulders 😉 I am so happy for you, what an exciting time!
I got your email last night but wanted to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY today and I will be in touch soon :) I am a bit jealous of your maple oaties, but I guess you are the birthday/engagement girl, so you deserve them 😉

40 Sarah May 9, 2009 at 8:42 am

ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope it’s great : ) Those cookies seriously are the best ever, I used to dream about them all year. The store is awesome too (so if you ever make your way to Glen Arbor, MI, stop by!) they have a million samples out all the time, it’s paradise.

41 Sharon May 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

Congratulations!!!!! YAHHHHH!!!!!!!

42 Erin May 9, 2009 at 9:05 am

All your treats look delicious!

Happy Birthday!

43 Meghan Telpner May 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

I always mix my flax seeds into the oats post cooking. I add a little extra water to the oats as the flax seeds absorb so much liquid (part of what makes them so beneficial to our digestion- the added bulk make the colon very happy). It’s also an awesome source of protein and omega 3’s to to make the whole breakfast fuel our sweet bods a little longer. I skip the almond butter and throw on a few slices of banana and some chopped walnuts. Oats are awesome and feeding the nervous system too. So that combined with the good fats in the flaxseeds makes this the best breakfast for stressful times… as long as you deep breathe and relax before eating. Must rest to digest.

44 ttfn300 May 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENN! :) such great treats, too! sending much love and smiles your way!

45 TorontoGirloutWest May 9, 2009 at 11:37 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jenn!!!! :) With all the awesome stuff that has been going on in your life I have no doubt it will be AMAZING!

I’m thrilled you liked the bars too – let me know when you want to be re-stocked! I’d be happy to oblige! lol

46 burpexcuzme May 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I am SO out of the loop. you’re getting married? WOW CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know you’ll make one heck of a beautiful bride!
and how blessed you are to receive so much wonderful gifts! have a great birthday!

47 luckytastebuds May 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Hope you have a LOVELY birthday and a fabulous weekend with the fam!!! :) I’m sure you guys have LOTS to celebrate including the engagement so…lots of good food?? heehee Yay for all those great looking treats! You are SO loved hun, and I know exactly why! 😀

48 homegirlcaneat May 10, 2009 at 3:19 am

You have so much love in your life right now, I love it!

Happy BIRTHDAY you newly engaged woman! I wish I knew you better just because I would want you to make me some cocoa coffee and want you to tell me all the deets on the engagement even more! I loved that story so much I told my friend and we both smiled and jumped around doing a little I-can’t-wait-to-be-in-love dance!

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