Hello and Welcome! My name is Jennifer and I started my blog in 2011 as a way to motivate myself by chronicling improvements to my circa 1875 house. I figured if I was writing about what I was doing, I’d be more likely to tackle and actually finish home improvement projects.
Why My Blog is Called “Town and Country Living”
Back in 1997 I purchased my first home as a single mom of three children. I’d owned two previous homes when married, but this was my first major purchase as a single parent. My historic home is located at western-most suburbs of Chicago. In fact, our town is the last stop on the commuter rail line to and from the city. Since we live where the suburbs meet the country, I named the blog “Town and Country Living.”
I remarried on June 30, 2011 and my husband and I talked about buying a new home together. But we both love it here in our little town and decided to stay put. The town has more than tripled in size since living here, but I still consider it to be small compared to the other Chicago ‘burbs.
My Circa 1875 Historic House
My very first house was a Sears catalog kit house located in Geneva, Illinois. I loved that house for its natural woodwork and built-in cabinets and cupboards, but the kitchen was small and awkward. Plus there was only one bathroom and we had two small girls who would grow up and demand more time for primping in that one, small bathroom.
The second house was new construction with a very efficient layout but I hated that house! It was too cookie-cutter for me and lacked any soul or character despite my best decorating efforts. It had four bedrooms which was perfect since I gave birth to a third child shortly after moving in. We sold the new house after three short years and rented a duplex until we could find another home to purchase. During that time I got divorced and moved into an apartment with three children.
Although living in an apartment was a challenge, there were things I enjoyed about it. The complex had a pool and there were plenty of kids living there. We rented a ground floor apartment and just outside our sliding doors was a patio that looked out onto a retention area that the kids called “the pit.” All the kids played there so I could keep an eye on my three rug rats from the patio or from the kitchen while making dinner.
After six years of apartment living, I had saved enough money to buy a house of my own. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking buying a 140-year old as a single mom. Luckily my parents lived close by and my dad was pretty handy and could help out when something needed fixing.
My Family of Four Becomes Five
Being a single mom for more than 10 years isn’t easy. I’d read somewhere that most divorced people remarry in about two years, but I knew that wasn’t happening for me. My kids were still pretty young and I didn’t want the stress of a new husband trying to fit in. Yes, I dated but I didn’t allow whoever I was dating to develop a relationship with my kids. I thought it would be too hard for my children if the relationship didn’t work out.
I only made one exception to that rule, and it was after I was dating someone for about a year. I knew him from high school so I had enough information about him to know he was okay to let around the kids. We dated for six years but in the back of my mind I knew he wasn’t marriage material.
When I got to the point where I didn’t really want to be dating – well, that’s when I met my current husband. Of course, isn’t that how it usually goes? And so here we are, enjoying the best of town and country living in an old house we both love. Oh – my family of five has morphed into 12 with children getting married and having their own babies.
What I Do for a Living
My blog is my side gig and something I enjoy immensely, but I do work full-time as marketing communications manager for Aquascape, Inc. So what do I do, exactly? I handle our digital marketing department which includes the websites, social media, digital marketing, SEO, enewsletter marketing, e-books, and the digital magazine, Aquascape Lifestyles. I do a LOT of writing and also handle public relations. I’ve also written articles for magazines and books, and wrote “The Pond Builder’s Guide to Break Even.” It’s a financial book to help pond contractors in their business.
Aquascape is an international company that manufactures and distributes pond and waterfall products – primarily in North America but we do have customers in the U.K., Australia, Turkey, and elsewhere. Our international market is growing so that’s kind of exciting. We also install ponds, waterfalls, and fountains in the Chicagoland area and provide training to hundreds (if not thousands) of contractors across the globe. Aquascape is obviously where I got my own garden pond.
My Philosophy on Food and Fitness
I can’t write a bio and not include something about food and fitness. Technically, I’m a pescetarian – which means I’m a vegetarian who eats fish. Years ago I watched the movie “Food, Inc.” and couldn’t eat another cow, pig, or chicken after that. I do eat fish in order to get my Omega fats. And although I eat junk food on occasion, I like to get most of my food from unprocessed sources. Sometimes that’s easier said than done! I mean, sometimes you just gotta have Oreo cookies or peanut butter M&Ms. On occasion, I share some of my favorite recipes here on the blog.
Exercise is easier for me than controlling my diet. I guess I love the feeling of endorphins running through my body. I’ve been exercising ever since college and was a certified fitness instructor for about 10 years. I was a stay-at-home mom before getting divorced but taught aerobics a couple times of week for fun. Once I became a single mom I had to work full-time and ended up managing a fitness club which allowed me a flexible work schedule so I could get to kids activities. All three of my children enjoy working out now so it set a good example for them.
I finally left the fitness industry and studied computer science at our community college. I have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Taylor University but that’s kind of unmarketable. I figured my management experience in the fitness industry, coupled with web and computer knowledge would plant me in a solid career. It did.
Once I left the gym atmosphere, I started running to stay in shape. Eventually I signed up for a 5K race and loved it. After several 5Ks (3.1 miles), I tried a 10K race (6.2 miles) and then a half marathon (13.1 miles). I ended up running five different marathons (26.2 miles) over the course of several years. I think I’ve retired my marathon shoes!
Once I reached my goal of running a marathon in less than 4 hours, I backed off the mileage. Now I run for the pleasure of it and I joined the local SPENGA place. SPENGA is short for Spin, Strength, and Yoga. You ride a bike (spinning) for 20 minutes, do strength training for another 20 minutes, and finish with 20 minutes of yoga. I also like to walk whenever and wherever.
So that’s a little bit about me and my blog, Town and Country Living. This is where I share my home projects and improvements, but I also share inspirational decorating ideas along with a few recipes and crafts. And on occasion I share more personal information like my struggle with anxiety.
Thanks for reading a bit of my bio and I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog to get decorating inspiration, gardening info, and more, in your inbox!