Meet Our Family

Jennifer – Breast Cancer Patient, Chef Wife, Mother of 3

My name is Jennifer and I should probably also tell you that I’m married to a chef and blog about that in my free time.  Because of this, our life tends to revolve around food, as I’m sure will be obvious is my writing.  You’ll also see references to that blog ( on pictures and in posts.

My chef/husband Tom and I have been married for 23 years.   Woohoo!  I am blessed to be able to stay home full time with our 3 girls while my husband works as the COO of a restaurant group to provide for our family.

Who this blog is for:

This blog is for anyone struggling with cancer, either because you are the patient, or because you are walking alongside someone who has it.  

This blog is a snapshot of my journey as I fight to leave cancer behind and move on with my life.

I write to connect with others who are struggling on this journey.  I write to keep friends and family updated with what is going on with my treatment.  Plus, I really enjoy blogging and have found it’s a great way to connect with others who can relate to what I’m going through.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, or Pinterest!

40 things you should know about me

  1. Only 2 people have ever called me by the name “Jen.”  Everyone else has called me Jennifer.  (Thank goodness!!)
  2. I’m 6’ 1” tall and my last name is Small.  Fortunately this was not my last name until I was 20 so I didn’t have to go through junior high and high school hearing jokes about this.  Now I love it and it makes for a fun conversation in the grocery store.
  3. I don’t really enjoy reading.  (Don’t tell any of my past elementary school students.)
  4. I don’t really enjoy cooking that much either.  Thank goodness I am married to a chef and never have to cook for myself.  (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!)
  5. I wanted to be a Mom and a teacher ever since the 3rd grade.  I became a teacher in 1996 and a Mom in 2004.
  6. I love Butterscotch Krimpet TastyKakes, but live on the west coast and they do not sell them here.  Boo!  If you live on the east coast, eat an extra one for me or mail me some please!
  7. I love all things Disney.
  8. I miss living near In-N-Out.
  9. I started dating my husband when I was 15.
  10. My husband is the only boyfriend I ever had.
  11. I am a Christ follower.  You can find my testimony here.
  12. I LOVE homemade Greek yogurt sweetened with honey or brown sugar.
  13. I am addicted to chapstick and have it with me at all times.
  14. When we started dating, I played the piano better than my chef/husband.  I stopped practicing and he practiced a lot.  He can now play whatever he wants and I have to practice just to play something easy.
  15. We’ve moved 7 times in our 21 years of marriage.
  16. I am 40 years old.  (Thus the reason for 40 things about me on this list.)  (UPDATE – now 44.)
  17. I hate to exercise but love to eat.
  18. I have a BA from Azusa Pacific University in Liberal Studies with a minor in Spanish.
  19. I really have no athletic ability at all which is unfortunate because of point #2 above.
  20. I went to a private Christian school all the way through college.
  21. We got married on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.
  22. When someone asks me my favorite food, I usually say pizza.  Not sure it’s really my favorite, but it’s usually what comes to mind first.
  23. My favorite place to shop is Nordstrom.  Unfortunately it’s usually just window shopping . . .
  24. I often care too much about what people think.
  25. I struggle with worrying about the future.
  26. My Mom died when I was 27.  I really miss her a lot.
  27. I am a morning person.
  28. I am not a night person.
  29. I love to sleep.
  30. My current favorite song is “Blessings” by Laura Story.
  31. I started working out last year to make new friends.  I ended up losing a few pounds, going down 2 sizes and gaining many new friendships.
  32. Every Thursday and Sunday morning I wake up really sore and wonder why I went to workout class the day before.  (See #31)
  33. I used to use coupons but gave up because they don’t make coupons for the food we eat.
  34. We had NO MONEY when we first got married and because of this we ate a lot of Top Ramen.  My husband still loves the stuff, but I refuse to eat it.  I really hate it!
  35. I have traveled to 4 different countries. (5 if you count the one I live in.)
  36. I am a horrible decorator.  Anything that looks nice in our home was chosen by my husband.
  37. Over half of my wardrobe is black.  My last Stitch Fix box almost killed me with all the different colors and patterns. This might change in the future thanks to my new love of Stitch Fix.
  38. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  (See #25.)
  39. It would take me 19 hours of driving nonstop to get my Dad’s house.  This is too far.  🙁
  40. I would love to own a motorhome and travel around the United States as a family.

Tom – Husband, Father of 3, Chef

I grew up in Southern California, where I received my inspiration for cooking from my mom. I have had the privilege of cooking in some of the finest restaurants in California & Washington including Parkway Grill, Smitty’s Grill, TAPS Fish House, San Antonio Winery, Armondo’s, The Lobster Shop, Boathouse 19 and Palisade. I also spent several years cooking on private vintage rail cars traveling all over the country. Currently, I have the privilege of working for Evergreens as the Chief Operations Officer.

In addition to managing restaurant kitchens, I also enjoy teaching cooking classes, developing new recipes, and writing. I enjoy cooking with fresh seasonal ingredients and try and use as much local produce and meat as possible. I believe that food can be simple and still taste amazing. I love to talk and learn about food whether it’s with friends, customers, strangers in the grocery store, my family (even my young children) . . . it’s just part of my life.

9 reasons I’m thankful for my chef/husband

  1. He cooks well. Just getting the obvious out of the way here. But really, I am thankful for this. If he didn’t cook well, who would cook my 5 course dinner every night. Haha!
  2. He loves the Lord and has a passion for the truth. I am thankful that he stands up for what he believes, no matter what others think or say.
  3. He provides for us financially. There are many days he gets up, more exhausted than he went to bed. Yet he gets up with a good attitude, and heads off to work to provide for us.
  4. He has a strong work ethic. Every day he sets an example for the girls and I and all those around him at work by showing what it means to work hard and always try your best.
  5. He is wise (not to be confused with being smart – which he is as well.) My chef/husband is able to look at a situation and have wisdom in it. He is able to leave emotion out of it and truly give good advice and make good decisions based on his past experience and just good common sense. I truly value what he has to say and have been amazed by his wisdom many times this past year as we talk and make decisions together.
  6. He is a good listener. He is always willing to let me talk, even when I ramble on and on about our day.
  7. He is level headed. He is able to stay calm and rational when things get crazy.
  8. He is artistic. Not only has this helped him in his career as a chef, but our house looks nice because he’s able to decorate well. (I am not artistic at all.)
  9. He is a wonderful father. The love and compassion he shows our children is amazing. I love watching them together.

Here’s a video with a bit more about my chef/husband and how he inspires me every day!

The Girls