About Me

37 years old; it ain’t the end but it sure ain’t where I began.

Hello?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

Hi, my name is Janna and I used to live here.  I used to share adventures, stories, recipes and projects here.  I used to love coming here.

I miss coming here.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that the days of TWSST are probably gone, but I refuse to miss a birthday post!  Until the day this site is banned from the Internet or the whole thing implodes….I will write a birthday post.  Because they are mostly for me and I do enjoy going back and reading each years post (bored?  You can too!  Here’s 32, 33, 34, 35, 36).

So 37, eh?  I guess that’s where I am now.  I certainly don’t feel like I thought I would at this age (pushing 40!).  I thought I would have it ALL figured out by now, you know?  Career, Family, Life, Health, Love.  Turns out I have this sneaking suspicion that I’ll never have it all figured out so I can just quit worrying about it.

It hit me a few years ago that turning 37 might be hard for me.   My mom was 37 when she died from cancer.  At the time I was 8 years old and any age over 15 seemed ancient (likely the same time I decided I’d have it all figured out by “then”).  But once I hit about 35 I sat back and thought:  holy shit.  37 ain’t NOTHING.  There’s so  much life left to live.  How awful to be robbed of that life and all of those years watching your kids grow up.  It just really isn’t fair.  And it is really hard to be sitting here, at that same age, and think about it being someone’s last year.  So, yes, 37 is a bit of a hard year for me, and surely part of why I am entering it feeling a bit unsettled.


I’m feeling a bit different this year as opposed to the past couple of years.  It’s bound to happen from time-to-time, right?  That feeling of being in a funk.  When I sat down to write this post I thought:  Do I gloss over this feeling?  Do I mention it?  Do I just pretend like it’s not happening in an effort to make things look good and happy in my life?   I thought pretty hard about this and decided that, no, I don’t gloss over it.  It’s happening, and it’s real, and it’s just where I’m at this year. That’s the whole point of writing  these. I want to remember this year for what it really is, not for what I wanted it to be.  And it’s ok for people to know that things aren’t perfect.

The harder part for me is really pinpointing what’s causing the funk.  To look at my life from the outside, there is really nothing to be upset about.  And really, for the most part, most days I feel just fine.  Except, there’s this feeling.  This nagging feeling in the back of my head that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  That I’m destined for something else.  And sometimes when I start peeling back the layers of my reality, I see glimpses of things that on their own maybe aren’t much, but together add up.  Wanting a more creative life.  Feeling unfulfilled with work.  Trying (still) to get pregnant.  Struggling with balance.  Unhappy with where I’m at with my fitness.

These are important things, and compounded they are taking a toll on me.

Which can feel selfish because these are not life or death things.  I have friends going through much harder struggles right now.  Cancer.  Divorce.  Miscarriage.  How selfish am I to complain?  I have a job.  I have one amazing daughter.  My health, according to my blood work, is perfect.

It’s just…I can’t ignore that feeling.  And it’s got me in a funk.


I think what’s most amazing to me right now, is that my old self may have felt this funk and been fearful. Depressed. Discouraged.

But honestly, what I feel mostly today, is hope.   And hope, well.  Hope changes everything.

I know I’m capable of great things.  I want to work hard and be successful at whatever it is that I do.  I think the challenge for me is having the courage to take that first step.  To make a plan for change.  Whether it be for my career, family, life, health or love.  Because maybe if I can take that first step, I can be one step closer to having it all figured out.


Until next year,
37 year old Janna

P.S. As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   Take a listen here:


36 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

I feel a tad bit rusty here, and I really should be utilizing Abby’s dwindling nap time to do some serious meal prep or yard work right now, but I wasn’t about to break my birthday post tradition.   They’ve really become one of my favorite time capsules here and I enjoy re-reading them each year as I reflect upon my year and think about the upcoming one.

Last year I had just finished my first Whole30 and felt amazing.  I focused on really trying to let myself Just Be me.  I think I did a pretty good job of that last year.  For the first time in my life it felt like my mind and body had been reset.  I felt energized, confident and happy.   I knew what foods to eat to make me feel my best both mentally and physically, and I could really tune in when things started to stray and when I needed to clean up my diet to get back to “normal.”  I still believe that Whole30 is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.


That being said, a year later…I know I’ve strayed too far from what makes me feel my best.  The stress of moving and losing Summit led me back to some old habits and I started to notice Bianca creeping back in here and there.  So as I type this I’m on day 7 of a Whole14 to try and get back to that “good” place.

Yes that means no cake on my birthday.  No wine.  No chocolate.  No Big Dipper.


But really, when I decided to do these 14 days and realized that my birthday would fall in the middle….I sat back and thought:  what better gift could I give myself?  The gift of getting back to the point where I know I’m at my best.  For me.  And my family.

Besides, I can honestly say that I enjoy a fresh mango almost as much as chocolate.  Almost.

This year it will have to do.

So as I think about the upcoming year, I’ve decided that I need to put a renewed focus on myself.  Not necessarily in the same way that I did last year, instead I want to focus on courage.  To talk more openly about my feelings.  To loosen up.  To let myself have more fun.  To give myself “permission” to make mistakes (with whatever it may be), and to have the courage to move forward the best way I know how.

It also means that I want to really start evaluating what makes me happy.  And to start to find the courage to pursue it.


Life’s just too damn short.

I can’t help but think about my mom at these times.  She died when she was 37.  Thirty seven!  Insane.  I can’t imagine, I mean, I feel like there is so much left to do with my life and she never got that chance.  It really just helps me put things in perspective that you need to find your passion, your love, your purpose and follow it.  I’ve always struggled with figuring that and this is the year I want to focus on figuring it out and DOING IT.

To have courage.

To forgive my flaws.

To smile.

To laugh.

And to maybe whip up some coconut cream with that mango.

(hey, it’s compliant).


Birthday girl who will probably regret posting this picture, but holla!  It’s my birthday.  You’re welcome.


pssst….you can my previous birthday posts here:  32, 33, 34, 35.


…they are a changing…

Why is it that the highest highs are met with the lowest lows?

In the past few weeks it feels like my whole life has changed.   We moved to a new house {finally!}.   Outside of town.   With lots of room to run and play.   A house with room to stretch our arms that has my creative juices bursting at the seams.   With a WOOD SHOP.  And my {almost} my dream kitchen.  It’s close.  Oh so close.


And then just a few days after moving in, I had to make one of the hardest and most heartbreaking decisions of my life:  to say goodbye to Summit.    I know I need to write about this more but to be honest it’s still too raw.  I miss my friend.   I miss her companionship.  I miss all of the things that I thought I wouldn’t, like how she followed me around, and her little black puffs of hair everywhere.  Losing her has proved to be one of the most heartbreaking events I’ve had to endure in a long time.  And it hurts.  I can’t honestly remember much about my life before her…she’d been with me for 14 years and through much of my adulthood.   Every memory has her in it and she was probably the one thing that had been a daily constant in my life.  Losing that is hard.  Changing your habits is hard.   Knowing who to turn to in times of sadness like this is hard.  It’s strange, but it’s hard to know how to grieve without her because she was the one I would usually go to for comfort.  Whether it be together on a hike, or just snuggled up on the couch or floor….her silent companionship often comforted me in times like this.   I feel a little lost and a little empty.


Needless to say, my emotions have been all over the board.  The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.   On one hand, trying to get excited about the house and all of my projects seems trivial.  On the other, I know that it’s a blessing to have so many things to do that will preoccupy my mind.    And in the end, I just know that focusing on things that I enjoy, and the things that I love to do will be healing.

On top of it all, we decided to potty train Abby right smack dab in the middle of all of this.  Which has turned out, quite frankly, to be the easiest thing on my plate.  She’s actually done great through all of this transition and loves her big girl room and her playroom.  I am so thankful that she is adjusting so well and she definitely brings a smile to my face everyday.  She is so funny and inquisitive and sweet.   The love I have for that little one is fierce and in some ways her innocence and not-quite-old-enough-to-understand these sort of things has been a nice distraction.


And THEN….(yes there’s more)…there’s the sugar dragon.  Yeah, after almost a full year of learning about food and really making it my focus to fix bad habits, be healthy and eat food that makes me feel my best….I’ve gone an woken up my sugar dragon.    Ok so I’m not popping Skittles and mowing down Snickers….but I definitely catch myself mindlessly eating chocolate chips, dried mango and paleo-fied baked goods.  Oh yeah, and wine.  And beer.  All of which is basically sugar.  And it makes me angry because after trying so hard, for so long, it seems like I haven’t quite broken that habit of turning to food in times of stress.   It’s frustrating.  I know there’s been a lot going on for me but I just wish I would remember that the one thing I can control is how I feed my body, and feeding my body junk (or heck, even too much “healthy” treats like dried fruit) isn’t going to make me feel good.

I honestly didn’t write this post to complain.  Or to make anyone worry.  I just need to process all of this and ya’ll know that for me, writing it out helps.   And I want you to know that I do feel hopeful.   For the first time in a long time, I have a project list.  I have things that I can’t wait to get home and work on.  I know how to slay that dragon and it’s just a matter of committing to whole30 again.  So while things have changed, I know I have the tools to find my path again.   And my support system, my family, is still right by my side so in that sense, I probably have everything I really need.

An oldie but goodie

Did you know that I started this blog in 2011 as a New Years Resolution?   It was about that time that I really got into reading other blogs and I was in awe of the projects, stories and everyday life people were sharing.  I started to learn that there was this big ‘ol world in the Blogsphere where you could connect with someone halfway around the globe.  You could learn how to make something new.  You could get the confidence to do something out of your comfort zone.  You could shed a tear while reading a post written by a person you’d never met.  It was so exciting, comforting and fulfilling in a weird sort of way, and I wanted to share too.  I wanted to make connections.  And I wanted to inspire other people.

Anyhoo, the other day I was going back through some of my posts (I got suckered in by the “Related Post” widget that pops up at the end of each post) and had a grand old time re-reading some of my earlier entries.  Forget inspiration, turns out I can be quite funny too, amiright?

I ended up coming across the story about el Sheepo, whom I would gladly forget about except that he is lying right next to our computer desk, so he stares at me incessantly when I write, and I was cracking up.  Since I have quite a few more readers than I did back in 2011, I thought I’d reshare it today.  Seems fitting since it’s hunting season and all.

So whether this is your first, second (or third?) time reading this post, enjoy.  (Please excuse the poor pictures and red kitchen!  Both have improved since then!)


The first question The Hubs asked when I told him I was going to start a blog was:  “Oh great.  Are you going to use it to talk bad about me on the Internets?”

Who me? Do what??

Honestly!  I see no reason to use this medium to complain about The Hubs.  Yes, it’s a place for me to talk about events happening in my life, voice my opinions  and discuss whatever else I deem important.  But to air my dirty laundry?  I don’t think so.  That’s what girlfriends and wine are for.  Of course there are times where I may pick on him…just because he gives me such great material….but I would never write about anything private between the two of us, or dish on something that was hurtful.  I’m not heartless!  I know where to draw the line.   So, know that when I write things that seem to poke fun of him; it’s all done with the best intentions and probably to get a laugh out of someone (myself included).  Because I know that some of you out there can relate to what I’m saying.  And laughter is the best medicine, right?

That being said though…I did warn him that this particular topic would come up.  And it’s ok because he already knows exactly how I feel about the situation.

The situation I’m about to discuss is serious.  It involves my kitchen and a sheep.  I know…I know.  You’re confused already.

Let’s back up 17 years:  The Hubs is a teenager.   He draws a coveted Bighorn Sheep tag.  And I say coveted for a reason….some of the other phrases I’ve heard people use to describe pulling a Bighorn Sheep tag in Montana are:  “nearly impossible,” “if you’re lucky enough to draw one,” “you’d never have a prayer of drawing one.”  My personal favorite?  It’s the hunting equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.  Ok I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Another article on the Internet said an Illinois hunter paid $245,000 for a Bighorn Sheep tag.  Craziness!  So you get it right?  These things are pretty rare?  Coveted one might say.

So Little Hubs gets a tag.  Little Hubs goes out hunting and sacks a huge Ram.  Little Hubs is proud.  His Dad is proud.  His Mom is proud.  His sister is proud.  Everyone is proud because who, at such a young age, gets a Bighorn Sheep tag and shoots a huge ass ram to boot?  The Hubs.  That’s who.   All of this proudness resulted in a shoulder-mount of this coveted ram.   Yes.  That means hair.  And eyeballs (The Hubs says they’re marbles, but honestly it doesn’t really matter because eyeball or marble, they still follow you around the room all creepy-like).

Do you see where I’m going with this?   Do you remember me saying kitchen earlier?

Am I starting to sound (a) rational or (b) kinda like the mean wife who hates the coveted ram?

I can’t decide either.

Why don’t I take this opportunity to introduce you to the man ram of the hour?

There he is in all his glory folks.

Let me just set something straight before I go on.  My issue isn’t with the sheep itself (even though sometimes I feel like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons….wanting to look on the other side of the wall to see where the rest him is!).  But really…I get it.  It’s a big fricken deal to get a tag for one of these.  And it’s a big deal to The Hubs…so I have to respect that.  Did I ever think I would have half of an animal hanging on the wall in my house?  Ha Ha.  Get real.  I’d never even eaten wild meat until I met The Hubs.  Honestly, I prefer an antler mount (where you just show off the antlers…so no eyeballs) to a shoulder mount.  But like I said, I guess I get it, and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that “yes Janna, you will have half of a dead animal hanging on your wall.”

So, my issue is with the current placement of the sheep.  Remember this post where I showed you my spoon collection and hutch?  Something was lurking in the outer fringes of those shots…

Are you thinking “maybe it’s ok…it’s not like it’s front and center of everything.” ??

Actually my friends….it is.

Mr. Sheep has a front-and-center view of everything I do:  cooking dinner (breakfast/lunch/snacks), washing dishes, unloading groceries, eating, entertaining guests.  You name it.

In fact, to the untrained eye (unlike myself), he’s probably one of the first things people notice when they enter our house.  Here’s a shot down the hall through our living room (where the front door comes in).

Maybe you’re starting to see my side of the story.  I’m not sure where or how  “coveted  ram” fits into my decorating style.   In my defense, it was hung before I moved in…so I’ve kind of gently decorated around it for the past 5 years.  And it’s not exactly one of those things you can demand be removed…it would be like telling Charlie to give back the Golden Ticket.

The other issue is –assuming sheepo has to stay— that there really isn’t a better place to hang this thing in our house.  Our kitchen has really tall walls (that extend up to a loft above the kitchen) so there’s plenty of wall space.  In reality I guess I should feel lucky that the sheep got hung here instead of “in-yo-face-style” on our standard 8 ft walls in the living room.  I should also consider myself lucky that I came along when I did, because I know that The Hubs still considers parts of this wall to be prime real estate for future hangings.

I’m imaging a big wall clock here….The Hubs imagines his latest elk rack.

I’m not kidding.  There is currently a debate in our house about where his Elk rack from last season should go (something about how it’s the biggest he’s ever gotten….measures really big…..yadda yadda yadda).  Maybe I’ll write about that someday.  Ooooo….maybe I could do a poll and see where my readers think it should go!  Stay tuned….

So there you have it.  My biggest decorating dilemma.  Should I embrace the sheep and make him part of my style (you know, Santa hats at Christmas…camo in the fall)?  Probably not.  For now…I’ve chosen to pretend it’s not there live with it because (1) it could be worse (I think) and (2) I don’t even notice him staring at me anymore.  Plus, it’s always a little amusing when someone new comes over and I see them notice it for the first time.

The best I can hope for is moving into a new house someday where I will decide be an active player in the placement decision.  Wait, no.  It will have to be a requirement that we have some sort of rustic den or man cave in a new place.  Isn’t that where all the animal heads/racks and beer fridges should go anyways?  Not in a kitchen.  No no.  Far, far away from the kitchen where I’m actually trying to eat.  (Have you ever tried eating something with a big bowling-ball eye staring at you the entire time)?

Gosh.  I feel like maybe I have aired a little bit of my dirty laundry here.  I guess it’s just another day in the life of a hunting wife.  Trying to find balance between somewhat of a stylish home and coveted sheep heads.  Ugh.


Since writing this, the sheep head has obviously been taken down (not in any way, shape, or form, due to the post mind you).  You can read about that, here.

archery season opener: hunting-widow edition

Sweet Jesus the summer went by fast.  So fast that apparently I didn’t have time to blog about anything at all.  Obviously we have some catching up to do, and catch-up we will since it’s officially Archery Season….bow season….hunting season…whatever.  All I know is that I we have a lot of time on my our hands these days and I’m loving it.  This euphoria usually lasts about 3 weeks and then I get completely bored, overwhelmed with being a single parent, and cabin fever sets in.  But for three glorious weeks I bask in the fact that time is on my side.  Time to do whateva I want.  Time to do laundry (ok, it’s sad that I listed that first).  Time to clean the house.  Time to workout.  Time to cook.  Time to write.  Time to take that graphic design class I signed up for in April.  Time to think!    All I know is that I will not be frantically packing (and unpacking) bags for weekend getaways.

So to get me back in the blogging mood, I decided to document opening day, hunting-widow edition. To do this I snapped a photo each hour throughout the day.  Not necessarily on-the-hour, because surprisingly it was sometimes hard to remember to take one before the hour was up…but it’s kind of a cool way to tell a story through pictures.  And it sorta kicked off our hunting season (which admittedly is drastically different from a hunters) of being a Party of Two (ok, three if you count Summy).

I learned that I take a lot of pictures of my kid and food.  Clearly, I’m fascinating.

You know I’m dying to write a caption or give you a backstory to some of these…but, no, pumpkin, no.  I’m not going to.  A picture speaks a thousand words right?  So I’ll let them do the talking for once.

And hopefully, this will be my giant leap back into writing and sharing.

















If you need me I’ll be freakishly organizing and purging our house, along with feverishly planning projects I can “surprise” the Hubs with (who doesn’t want a tile backsplash installed while they’re away?  hello.).

35 years old; it ain’t the end, but it sure ain’t where I began…

I have a tradition of writing a post on my birthday.  It’s typically one that is a little more personal, a glimpse into my little world and my goals or dreams, or just a few fun facts to help you get to know the real me a bit better.  While I try to be as real and authentic as I can in all my posts, it’s hard to know what each reader walks away thinking.  So these are always a good way for me to open up a bit and share a piece of me with all of you.

So, this year I guess I’m 35.   I have this convenient problem of never really being able to remember how old I am.  I mean,  is it 33 or 34?  I just never know….because it all still feels like 28.    I have this fear that I’ll wake up 70 years old and still feel 28, which seems like a nasty trick.   Just stuck inside some old body.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I used to think 35 was old.  Like, ancient.


And now I am 35.


This year I don’t really have a list of fun facts to share with you (like I did at 32.)  I’m not fearful of the coming year, wondering what it will bring and terrified of losing myself (like I was at 33).  And I’m not really too sentimental about reflecting on the past year (like I was at 34).   This year?  I feel…..content.   Weird, huh?  And I’m not really sure how to explain it other than things are good.  I feel healthy.  I feel happy.  I feel like maybe I’m finally figuring this mom thing out.  I feel motivated.  I feel confident.

Content or not, I still find myself questioning everything constantly – how can I be a better mom?  Can I do better at my job?  Do I even like my job?  Why can’t our house stay clean for just one freaking second?   How can I strengthen the relationship with my Husband?  When do I get some time to myself?  Why are there no houses for sale that I like in Missoula?  Shouldn’t we be talking about baby #2?  

I mean seriously.  I question everything.  Big things.  Little things.  Important things.  Inconsequential things.

And the more I think about it, the more I think that’s ok.  I don’t want to settle and never question anything.  Questioning things makes you think.  It makes you evaluate your circumstances and helps you realize that if you don’t like something you can change it.  Or you can work towards changing it.   I am living proof of that.  I made a huge commitment to myself this year and put myself and my health first by changing my diet (and my families diet).  And I’m seeing positive results because of it.   And I did it because I questioned the way I was feeling; I knew it wasn’t right and it could be better; it could be different.

So, after a little thought and reflection about how I feel regarding turning 35, I decided that my goal for this year is to JUST BE.

be happy.

be thankful.

be thoughtful.

be creative.

be spontaneous.

be loving.

be unique.

be daring.

be me.


If that means questioning things, so be it.  I’m ok with that.  As long as I remember that overall I do feel content and happy right where I’m at.

I’m the first to admit that letting yourself “be” is likely harder than it sounds.

And I hate to sound cliche’…but as a mom you really do tend to put yourself last.  To put your own feelings, wants, needs and dreams aside so that your family can flourish.  That’s ok to some extent.  But you can’t put yourself so much in last place that you’re forgotten.

That’s why this year I’m going to let myself just be.  It doesn’t mean I’ll be first all the time, or second or third.  Sometimes I’ll still be last.   But as long as I’m being true to myself and honest about what I’m feeling then it’s ok.

I feel good about turning 35, even if it’s hard to remember or acknowledge.  I’m looking forward to this year and what it holds, and I’m going to let myself be happy and enjoy it….no matter how ancient I am.

I may also enjoy some Big Dipper ice cream and just be stomach-achy.  But that’s another story.



As always, I’ve borrowed my title from one of my favorite Jewel songs, Stephenville, TX.   Take a listen here:

a new adventure

When I first started this blog my intention was to talk often about living in Montana and the many adventures I find myself on – whether it be skiing, rafting, running, camping, hiking or biking, I’d say that the Hubs and I do our best to take advantage of living here.  I’ve written a few posts about it (like here, here, here, here, here and my favorite, here), but for the most part I haven’t used this space to capture those moments.   Don’t get me wrong; I spend a lot of my time and energy pursuing those activities, it’s just that when it comes to this blog I have chosen to use it to document some of my other passions – and who am I kidding –  to ramble on about nothing.

So awhile back when a group of friends started talking about starting an adventure blog I was pretty excited.  A team of contributors?  All with different interests and passions?  Sounded like a good idea to me (mostly because I could contribute, but really only need to write one post once a month).  Because let’s get real:  much more than that and TWSST would suffer even more than it already does.

If you want to follow us on this new adventure, check out Montana Backcountry.  You’ll find content ranging from hunting, skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, wild game recipes, trail running, rafting, climbing and camping.  Of course I’ll bring the perspective of trying to do all of that with a 2 year old toddler…so that always makes for a good story.

You can find us here:  Blog, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

We are fairly active on Instagram and Facebook, and the blog is picking up speed.  So go ahead, pick your poison (or all of them)!