One Good Life: My Tips, My Wisdom, My Story by Jill NystulOne Good Life: My Tips, My Wisdom, My Story by Jill Nystul

One Good Life: My Tips, My Wisdom, My Story

byJill Nystul

Hardcover | May 5, 2015

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Called “special, amazing” and “very moving” by Ree Drummond, One Good Life shares the never-before-told story of the blogger behind One Good Thing by Jillee, alongside the tips and wisdom that have earned her millions of devoted followers.
 
 
Jill Nystul started her blog, One Good Thing by Jillee, as a means to take steps forward after emerging from rehabilitation from alcohol dependence and battling a slew of equally tough issues that tested her confidence as a wife and mother. Her goal was to pursue her passion and help others along the way—one day at a time and one step at a time—by writing about one good thing each day.
 
It is clear that Nystul’s ability to appreciate the little things has resonated with readers everywhere. Fans have fallen in love with her crafty household endeavors, delicious recipes, and words of wisdom. One Good Life presents 75 Good Things by Jillee, fifty of which have never before been published, intertwined with Nystul’s personal story, revealed in this book for the first time. Drawing from her own experiences, Nystul shows how she has overcome tremendous hardship to finally re-embrace her faith and appreciate, each day, one good thing.
Jill Nystul is a blogger and founder of the website www.OneGoodThingbyJillee.com, which receives on average 4.6 million monthly page views. She is a 2013 Parents magazine Blog Award winner, and her work has been featured on People.com, Oprah.com, The Huffington Post, ApartmentTherapy.com, BonAppetit.com, LifeHacker.com, TheKitchn.com, ...
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Title:One Good Life: My Tips, My Wisdom, My StoryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.27 × 6.38 × 1.15 inPublished:May 5, 2015Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399167811

ISBN - 13:9780399167812

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contentsprologueMy forty-sixth birthday seems like yesterday, and yet it also seems like a lifetime ago. The date was February 20, 2008. It was not merely a birthday. In fact, it was a rebirth. As birthdays go, forty-six is not one of those overwhelming milestones that make us cringe and dread the turning of a decade. But for me, that birthday was a most auspicious event: It was the day that I graduated from the Ark of Little Cottonwood, a residential treatment facility in Utah. It was close to home and also very far away. I had entered the Ark seventy-eight days before, on December 5.How I came to the Ark is a long story. The short version is that about ten years before, when I was in my mid-thirties and married to a great guy, Dave, with whom I have four wonderful kids—Erik, Britta, Kell, and Sten—and seemingly had everything that anyone could have wanted, I was miserable. Amorphously, absolutely, and horribly miserable for no reason that I could really explain. All I knew was that I wanted more and needed more and that more was something indefinable and elusive. I felt like I needed to escape something but I didn’t know what. The utter confusion and feeling of being completely lost and not knowing why or how to fix it was too much to bear. So I turned to that ubiquitous social lubricant: alcohol.I could give you a litany of reasons and excuses for why I drank. It’s true that I had a great deal of anxiety after each of my children was born. It wasn’t postpartum depression. It was postpartum anxiety, where I had a constant sense of impending doom and bouts of nearly paralyzing panic attacks. My doctor prescribed Prozac, and although it eased the panic attacks, it suppressed my libido, and that was like pouring fuel on a fire. The truth is, my marriage was on the rocks before I started drinking. Yes, the pun there is intentional, since levity often makes what was once painful for me seem less so as I look back. Ultimately, after twenty years of marriage, my husband and I separated for a year. With work, we reconciled and healed. Still, I remained anxious. I turned to food as a coping mechanism and suddenly I was dealing with weight gain. Ironically, I didn’t gain weight during my pregnancies, but after each one, I added on more postpartum weight. I was sleep-deprived. And I was conflicted: I loved being at home with my babies, and although I also wanted to go back to work, the thought of going back to work made me anxious. My second son, Kell, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of two and a half. I have battled foot pain since I was sixteen, when I was diagnosed with a nonmalignant tumor on the bottom of my foot. It was successfully treated with radiation therapy, but wouldn’t you just know it, while everything else was happening and my life seemed as though it was spinning out of control, that wound site on the bottom of my foot reopened and refused to heal despite two skin grafts. Thirty dives in a hyperbaric chamber finally healed my foot. By this time, my “turning to alcohol” morphed into full-fledged abuse.Despite all this, I make no excuses. I suppose that from the very first time I stood up in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and stated, “My name is Jill and I am an alcoholic,” I began the process of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. It was Step Four of the twelve-step program that instructed me to fearlessly take a moral inventory of myself. I remember the very first time that I took that palliative drink. So many things were building up inside and the demons were daring me as I drank with the sole and deliberate intention of numbing the pain. The remedy worked that day for the simple reason that when our senses are altered, we feel less pain. Sometimes we feel no pain at all. I was anesthetized. Let’s face it: When you’re passed out, you feel nothing. And so the sorrow would leave until I sobered up, and then the next time it crept up, I would reach for the bottle again. I became caught in the vicious cycle.“Hiding in a bottle” and “drowning sorrows” are clichés because they are facts: Alcohol as a painkiller provides false and temporary sedation. So on and on I went, seeking solace in the bottle, until my family gathered together and staged an intervention. My husband and children found the help that I needed and couldn’t find for myself. I didn’t make it easy for them. It was like trying to corral a wild mare. But somewhere in my alcohol-addicted brain, I knew they were right and there was no other choice but to get help in a place that was safe and dry and could make me whole again.I often think that if not for my family, I would either be dead or in jail. If not for my amazing family and the belief that I now hold so dear in a Higher Power, I have been given a second chance. Call the Higher Power what you will: I just feel there is something or someone out there or up there, along with my family and the angels who worked as counselors at the Ark, who helped me to save myself.I share my story not because I am unique and crave the spotlight, but quite the opposite. I share because I know that there are many like me who are scything the same path I was. I want those people to know that they are not alone—whether they are addicts or love an addict. Addiction of any kind is not shameful. It is neither deliberate nor meant to harm. It is also conquerable. I never say that I “was” an addict. I emphatically state that my addiction remains in a current state. I must be vigilant. I must be aware that I could easily slip. My battle is one that I fight every day, and I do so one day at a time. At the end of each day, I take great joy as I emerge triumphant.During my stay at the Ark, the counselors taught me many important things, not the least of which was the need to find my passion and pursue it. The notion of uncovering my passion was not just a suggestion; it was mandatory if I wanted to stay sober. As a former broadcast journalist, I knew that communication was my passion and—here’s where the irony comes in—I was able to communicate with everyone except myself. That’s when the bottle became the wrong kind of friend. With the help of the counselors at the Ark, my passion became a daily journal that morphed into a blog that became a public website. There were days when my passion was driven and other days when I thought my excitement as I recovered was all just smoke and mirrors. But I stuck with the intention, focused on the passion, and gave it a name reflecting the baby steps I needed to painstakingly march, often stumbling, in order to recover. Every day I wrote down “one good thing” in the hope that I would read my own words as gospel and have the will to overcome the demons. My passion, the blog, became www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com. And that passion got feedback, gratitude, and support as people, strangers, bolstered my courage and often told me their own and similar stories as well. When I realized that there were others just like me out there, with people who loved them and needed them to return to them whole, I wanted One Good Thing to become something for them to hold on to as well.In time, I was not alone. As I healed, others healed along with me, and all of this brings me to where I am now: counting my blessings as I look ahead while I live each day gratefully with the promise of not only one good thing, but one good life.With my siblings, 1967. Dori, the youngest, had not been born yet.oneI grew up in a typical American family. Well, not that typical, because I have five siblings: two older brothers, Cole and Kevin; one older sister, Rebecca; and two younger sisters, JoAnn and Dori. I fall in the middle of the six. My husband, Dave, and I have four children, Erik, Britta, Kell, and Sten, and I think that’s a lot. My hat’s off to my mother every day.When I was about two years old, my father started an electrical contracting business, and by the time I was in my young teens, it took off. Dad’s company was responsible for the entire Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, and at one point, we even owned a private jet. We moved from a modest suburban community to a luxurious, gated community in Long Beach, California, called Bixby Hill. Everyone called it “Pillbox Hill” since so many doctors lived there with their families. Looking back, I realize that my childhood was one of privilege, and yet despite all the trappings of affluence, I was lucky enough to be raised in a very loving and functional family. My parents, Carole and Richard Warner, stood by me through everything and remain a loving and grounding influence in my life. There was never any doubt in my mind that my parents had a wonderful, if not idyllic, marriage. As a child, I looked up to it as a shining example. I always thought that every marriage was like theirs until I got older and realized that not every marriage was like theirs, which further impressed me with what a great relationship they had. Later on, when my husband and I went through our separation, I wondered whether some of our issues stemmed from my idealized view of my parents’ marriage: Did I expect that my marriage should live up to theirs? Expectations can really bite you in the you-know-where.The Warner family, 1972My father as a young man, circa 1952It’s almost embarrassing to admit that my family was so functional. How many people can say that? My family always says that we put the fun in dysfunctional because we are and were, admittedly, a little quirky. But loving. Oh, so loving.My parents both grew up in Utah—my mother in a small town called Kanosh and my dad in a small town called Fillmore—just a few miles down the road from each other. They met in high school. They weren’t high school sweethearts, though—just friends who happened to fall in love a few years after graduation and stayed in love, as they are now in their eighties.My parents’ wedding, 1952Watching my father, a man from such humble beginnings, catapult a dream that became such a successful company was always an inspiration to me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I have always had a drive and a need that occasionally border on a compulsion to succeed. Whether it was in my grade school Toastmasters club (a national club that addresses public speaking, communication, and leadership skills), campaigning and becoming the first female student body president of my junior high school, or choosing a career in the competitive, challenging field of broadcast journalism, I was always driven to overcome, to succeed, and to shine. As the saying goes, I wanted to be a planet, not just a star. Some could argue that my ambition was the result of being a middle child and feeling a need to make myself more noticed. I do believe there is something to that. Perhaps it was my birth order in addition to God-given personality. Although I was hardly the forgotten one in the middle who felt as though she was caught in the shuffle. I got plenty of attention as a child. On the other hand, perhaps any one of six, regardless of the attention paid, feels a need to stand out in a crowd.My mother, circa 1950My mom was always very nurturing. For example, as a small child, I loved to write. That passion started early on. Creative writing was my favorite subject in school. Once, I wrote a story about “A Day in the Life of a Piece of Chewing Gum” that my mom still talks about to this day. In my sixth-grade class, in Toastmasters, I loved to write stories and then read them to the class. I guess you could say I was sowing the seeds of my broadcast journalism career early on. My mother always read my stories, praised them, and then posted them on the refrigerator. She was always so proud of me. She made me feel like I was the best writer on the face of the earth.In addition to writing, there was a need in me to perform from a young age. When I became a broadcaster after graduating from Brigham Young University, that need was fulfilled. Although I left that career when motherhood called, as I write my blog and this book, I feel that my life is still a performance in a way. I’m putting myself out there. I may not be tap-dancing (although I did try that and loved it), but I am still on a stage of sorts. When I got to BYU, I considered a major in theater arts until I quickly realized that I didn’t quite blend in with the theater arts group. That was when I changed my major to journalism.From the beginning, as far back as I can remember, it was my mother who supported each and every one of my dreams and aspirations. With her guidance and support, I reached for the stars. She always encouraged my creative side, not only when it came to writing, but with so many other things as well. She was also a big advocate of instilling confidence in her children and letting us know that we could do anything if we really wanted to. All we had to do was try.ENCOURAGING CREATIVITY IN KIDSWith today’s hectic schedules, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of time for playing or just being silly. The most important thing you can do to encourage creativity in your kids is to give them the time to be creative—to simply play, dream, and be, to say and do silly things. Don’t schedule every minute of every day, with things to keep them “busy.” Scheduling well-thought-out time encourages creativity and creates memories that will last a lifetime. I can still remember spending hour after hour with my neighborhood friend playing dolls and pretending we were “snowed in” with our babies. Consider what imagination that took, since we lived in sunny Southern California!Read BooksYou can encourage your kids to read if they see you reach for a book when you just want to relax and unwind for a while. Children model their own behavior on ours. Inspire your kids to get lost in books for hours on end if they want. I can remember summers spent reading hour after hour when I had found a particularly engaging book. I always looked forward to the summer reading program at the library. Your local library is a treasure trove of not only books but ways to help kids love books and become lifelong readers. Some of my favorites were:The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler WarnerJames and the Giant Peach by Roald DahlLittle Women by Louisa May AlcottKeep Kid-Friendly Art Supplies on Hand and in ReachFirst of all, don’t worry if somehow the crayon gets on the wall instead of the paper. Tips for getting it off are posted on my website. If weather permits, take the art projects outdoors. How about drawing a family portrait, making hand puppets from paper bags, drawing one of their dreams, a vacation they want to take, their favorite food?Join in the FunTake some time out of your chores to sit down and, with colorful and thick pieces of chalk, make a fancy sidewalk drawing with your kids. They will be most impressed. Or take a trip to the local thrift store and stock up on some dress-up clothes: hats, gloves, purses, jewelry . . . the “fancier,” the better. And enjoy a fancy ladies-only tea party. For the boys, my sons loved picking up miniature Hot Wheels cars at the thrift store, coming back home with their “finds,” and making elaborate garages and tracks for their cars using cardboard boxes and duct tape. Doesn’t that sound fun? Or make a “store” with an old cardboard box and the “food” out of old boxes from your pantry. The ideas are endless and inexpensive. The keys to raising creative kids are joining in the fun and being a role model.If I had to pinpoint one of my earliest childhood memories, it would be that of my mother sewing. For sure, my mother could be described as Susie Homemaker. But, if my peers in home economics class were any indication, by the time I came of age in the 1970s, sewing was nearly a lost art. My mother grew up during the Depression and watched her own mother sew the clothing for her children. And even though my mother didn’t have to sew our clothes, particularly after my father became so successful, it was something that she wasn’t giving up and encouraged us to learn. I can still sew, and it’s a skill that I’m grateful for. There is something about the art of mending, repairing a seam, or merely fastening a button that is satisfying. Unless they are professional dressmakers, seamstresses, or tailors, most people I know can’t repair the smallest rip in a seam. They’ll sooner just throw the garment away. I distinctly remember when I was taking home economics in school (while the boys were in woodshop—those were the days!) and our assignment was to make some sort of garment. Remember the rage of those dresses with attached hoods? While the other girls were struggling with the sewing machine, needles, and thread, I made a dress that was not only hooded (a large feat in itself given the intricacy of the work) but lined as well. I must say, it was pretty amazing. And there are few things as satisfying as mastering the arts of our grandmothers and keeping them alive.REVIVING THE ART OF SEWING AND MENDINGThe ability to sew on a missing button, patch your favorite pair of jeans, or hem a thrift-store skirt is most rewarding. Mending your own clothes is not only good for the soul because it connects us with a simpler time and inspires creativity; it also saves money as we repair our clothing rather than toss perfectly good pieces or spend money to have someone else fix them for us. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert seamstress just to sew. However, you will need to assemble a few simple essentials for your kit:   • Needles: Look for a pack of needles that comes with a nice assortment of different sizes for a variety of projects.   • Thread: Stock up on the basic colors of thread, including black, white, beige, and navy. You may also want to pick up some smaller spools of different colors, depending on your sewing needs. Prepackaged spools of thread come in a variety of colors and are fairly inexpensive. You can find them at superstores like Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s, your local dollar store, and even at the supermarket in the laundry aisle.   • Scissors: You want a good-quality pair of scissors specifically designed for cutting fabric. These scissors should be used only for cutting fabric and should be off-limits for cutting anything else. This will help them stay sharp.   • Straight pins: Pins hold hems and seams in place as you repair and alter clothing. I like the ones with the colored balls on the top called dressmaker pins. They’re easier to grab and hold on to and easier to spot when you inevitably drop them on the floor.These are the essentials you’ll need for a sewing basket. There are many other items, however, that are useful and handy, such as a cloth tape measure, buttons, snaps, hook and eyes, and various other types of fasteners. Other good additions would be Velcro, a white pencil for marking dark fabric, and a thimble.The sewing basket itself doesn’t have to be complicated. Find a portable container that’s easy to tote to your favorite comfy chair, stock it with basic sewing essentials, and you will be well on your way to being able to tackle most of your mending and sewing needs. Breathe in the soothing power of this newly found lost art!•   •   •EVEN THOUGH there were six of us kids, we all got alone time with our parents. Having alone time with my mom was easier since she was at home. Having alone time with my dad was far more rare and extraordinarily special since he worked so much. Still, he managed to carve out special times for us. One of my favorite “alone time” memories with my dad was just the two of us going to a Dodgers game. It was a treat for my twelfth birthday. I remember that he drove like a maniac to the stadium. At least, that was my perception. Perhaps I was simply accustomed to driving with my mom. It was unheard of that my dad and I would go alone to a game, and I was on cloud nine eating those Dodger Dogs as we sat and watched the game. We also went to daddy-daughter dates at church socials. We’d get all dressed up: I’d wear a party dress and he’d wear a jacket and tie. All of us girls went to those with our father, because you did it by age group. Those are memorable nights as I recall dancing with my father.As for my mother, despite the fact that she was at home taking care of the six of us who were born in the proverbial stair steps, we also managed to carve out alone time. As terrible as it was when I was diagnosed with a painful yet benign tumor in my foot, somehow my mother turned the experience into one of the silver-lining variety. She had to drive me to the radiation treatments, which were at the orthopedic hospital an hour from our home in Long Beach, and the treatments were over a sixteen-week period, much of which fell during the summer. Not a great time for a sixteen-year-old girl, whether it was summer or not. Of course, it was always summer in Southern California, but while my friends were enjoying the break from school, I was undergoing radiation. We turned the drive into our own private book club. I read aloud while Mom drove. My favorite read was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. With all that I was going through with my foot, those back-and-forth trips still evoke sweet memories. Whether you have an only child or a dozen, making time that’s one-on-one is essential. Even just fifteen minutes can be better than nothing at all.“DATING” YOUR KIDSAs parents, we want only the best for our kids. We cook them healthy meals, keep a clean house, enroll them in opportunities to play sports and learn a musical instrument, and so on. But sometimes we forget that what is best for our kids, and what they want the most, is our time. If you have more than one child it’s important to carve out one-on-one time. With today’s busy schedules it might seem impossible, but here are some tips for planning a “date night” with your kids.Plan AheadSchedule dates well in advance. A little forethought will help build anticipation and help busy moms and dads stay committed to keeping the date.Focus on the ChildIf you really want to create a positive “date night,” do things that truly interest your child. Plan activities that will appeal to each individual child’s current interests and future aspirations.VarietyDon’t make every “date night” a dinner out. Spice things up by checking out the entertainment section of the local newspaper to see what’s going on at your community center, library, or other venue. There are high school plays, sporting events, farmers’ markets, tag sales, garage sales, local community service projects . . . Really, the possibilities are endless.Keep It InteractiveEven if “date night” is a movie, try to end the evening by taking a walk or getting an ice cream cone so you can have some time to talk. Talk about anything and everything. Ask your kids about their interests, opinions, and feelings. Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no.Display AffectionAll kids, even teenagers, need affection from their parents. Be sure to offer your kids genuine affection through loving words, affirmation, encouragement, small gifts, and lots of big bear hugs!A Few Creative Date IdeasFly kitesGo on a hike and take picturesPlay a favorite board gameTour a local museum or historic siteAttend a local high school playGo to a sporting eventVisit the local zooAssemble a jigsaw puzzleGo on a horseback rideAttend a star-gazing event at a local planetariumAnd, as I said before, “date nights” don’t have to be complicated, and even fifteen minutes is better than nothing. They can be as simple as taking your child out to get an ice cream cone or kicking a soccer ball around in the yard. These simple one-on-one activities with your kids will have a huge effect on the quality of your relationship—now and in the future. Make the time to “date your kids” and see how good it feels.One would think that coming from such a large family would make me crave solitude. In fact, it was always the opposite for me. I always had lots of friends and I was exceedingly social—something that became a sticking point in my marriage later on because my husband is quite the opposite. (More to come on that later.) I loved spending days at the beach, the mall, roller-skating, bike riding, and just keeping busy and active. I must say that one of the best things for me today has been the advent of Facebook. I simply love rediscovering all of my old friends as well as developing old acquaintances into new friendships. I guess it’s true that certain aspects of us don’t change, and socializing is still so important to me whether it’s in person or electronically.I had my first boyfriend when I was in the sixth grade and one special boyfriend in high school who was semi-serious, though not of the sweetheart variety. I loved the dances and the football games and the rallies. It was a very all-American California type of scene in Long Beach. I loved school as well and I probably would have been a better student if my social life wasn’t the top priority.All in all, my childhood was pretty wonderful. It’s almost embarrassing to admit. For sure, I can’t blame my parents or my upbringing for what happened to me later on in my life. My childhood was the kind that fairy tales are made of. Even our birthday parties were magical: Even though my mom had to give a lot of birthday parties for us six kids, she wanted to make sure that each one was memorable and made the birthday kid feel special.One of my favorites was what my mom called the Mixed-Up Menu Birthday Party. It was basically a dinner party (in the middle of the day). The guests arrived and sat down at the table and were given menus with a three-course meal. But there was a catch: The menu selections didn’t really describe what the food would be. The selections had crazy names, so no one really knew what they were ordering. For example, fruit punch was “Nectar of the Gods,” a green salad was “Bunny Brunch,” spaghetti was “Crazy Curls,” ice cream was “Freeze Frame,” cake was “Crummy Yummy.” It was such fun! Of course, in the end, if you didn’t like your menu selection, you could always choose another.Sten participating in the Birthday Treasure HuntThe Mixed-Up Menu wasn’t the only unusual aspect of our birthday celebrations. Really, with six kids, it was tricky to make everyone’s birthday really stand out, so we always had the Birthday Treasure Hunt. We didn’t just wake up in the morning and get a pile of presents and after a few minutes of tearing open boxes and paper it was all over. The Birthday Treasure Hunt was an honored family tradition that continued until I left for college (and my little sisters were still treasure-hunting while I was away from home). It’s one that I have continued with my own children. Growing up in Southern California made it easy to have the hunt indoors and outdoors. Even though we live in Utah now, even my two kids who are born in the cold month of April have both indoor and outdoor treasure hunts. There’s just something about the great outdoors. We all bundle up and off we go.THE BIRTHDAY TREASURE HUNTThe Birthday Treasure Hunt starts with a sign in the birthday kid’s room, placed on tiptoe as the child slept, so that first thing in the morning they see: Happy Birthday, (name of birthday kid)! Let’s Go on a Birthday Treasure Hunt!Poster board or a large piece of paper works well for this sign, along with multicolored thick markers for color, some stickers, and if you’re not concerned about vacuuming post-hunt, there’s always glitter to make things really sparkle.The greeting sign is just the beginning. After the exclamatory sign, the birthday boy or girl sees a note taped to the inside of the bedroom door that might say, Happy Birthday! Ready for your Birthday Treasure Hunt? Let’s start by looking in the bathroom. Then a note taped to the outside of the medicine cabinet or bathroom mirror reads something like, Grab your toothbrush and rinsing cup, and inside the cup or tied to the toothbrush is a note that might read, Nope! Nothing here! Let’s keep looking! How about the washing machine? At the washing machine, a sign says, Open me, and there inside is yet another note that says, Okay. Now it’s time to have some juice! The child heads to the fridge and there beside the juice is another clue that says, Nope! Nothing here, but have your juice and then check out the bread box. Tired yet? This goes on until the final destination is reached and the treasure of presents is discovered with everything but a drum roll. Even a particularly big present, like a bike, can still be found in an unusual place—like in the bathtub behind the shower curtain among other small gifts. For me as a kid and teen and for my own kids, it was like finding that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.Happy Birthday Hunting!Last but not least when it comes to birthdays, there is always the cake. I am not talking about the garden-variety chocolate cake or white-frosted devil’s food cake. And I am not talking about bakery cakes, either. I am talking about my mom’s homemade pineapple cake. The recipe was handed down from my grandmother to my mother, and we all just loved it. That was the birthday cake that we all wanted. As a matter of fact, that was the cake that we had on any special occasion—whenever my siblings and I had a choice of dessert, we always asked for my mom’s Pineapple Dessert. I asked for that cake a lot.Even my brother Kevin, who hated all things fruit, loved that cake. Although my mom’s chocolate cake with seven-minute frosting was hard to beat and totally delicious, that Pineapple Dessert was the absolute best. I don’t really know how to describe it . . . It’s not really a cake and it’s not really a cobbler or a crumble . . . It’s simply Pineapple Dessert. To this day, I would rather have that than any kind of cake in the world. I guess you’re just going to have to make it and try it for yourself.1 heaping cup powdered sugar2 eggs, beaten½ cup (1 stick) melted butter1 11-ounce package vanilla wafers1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained2 cups whipped cream (or nondairy whipped topping)With a hand mixer or whisk, beat together the powdered sugar, eggs, and melted butter. Put the vanilla wafers in a large plastic resealable bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Pour half of the crushed wafers into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Pour the egg mixture on top of the wafers, then layer on the crushed pineapple and the whipped cream. If you’re using fresh whipped cream, sweeten it with a little powdered sugar. Sprinkle the rest of the crushed wafers on top. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Enjoy!Note: Since the eggs in this dessert are uncooked, I use pasteurized eggs for this recipe.•   •   •MAYBE ONE REASON I have been able to always make lemonade when life has given me lemons is that we had lemon trees in our backyard when I was growing up. In California, they are not really trees; they’re actually more like bushes, but we called them trees. You know how growing up I thought that every marriage was perfect like my parents’? Well, I also grew up thinking that everyone had lemon trees in their backyards.Whenever I needed lemon juice, I just grabbed a lemon from our tree. When I was older and had to go to the store, I thought, Wait a second. Why am I buying lemons in a store? How come there are no lemon trees in the backyard? When I was a kid, everyone I knew had some sort of citrus fruit in their backyard. I made tons of lemonade and had lemonade stands along with all the kids in the neighborhood. Our house was on a cul-de-sac, and it was just an idyllic place to live because we could have our lemonade stands and ride our bikes and roller-skate and we didn’t have to worry about strangers or cars. It was heaven. Like living in our own playground. We simply had no worries.Every Fourth of July we had a block party, and the neighborhood—kids and grown-ups—would get dressed up in red, white, and blue. We’d put red, white, and blue streamers on our bikes and we’d all go pool-hopping because everyone in Pillbox Hill had a pool. And there would be different foods at everyone’s house—barbecues and soft drinks. The air smelled so good and clean and flavored with hickory. And wafting through the hickory coming from the barbecues was the smell of sweet citrus. Now that I live in Utah, which isn’t citrus country, I thought to myself, why not . . .GROW CITRUS INDOORS!Those of us who don’t live in a warm, sunny clime (or who live in an apartment without a backyard) can still enjoy fresh fruit picked right off the tree by growing our own citrus trees indoors. The most popular indoor fruit tree is the Meyer lemon tree. Its beautiful white blossoms act as a natural air freshener, it yields several pounds of full-size lemons every year, and trust me, once you taste fruit from your very own tree, you’ll never want to buy fruit from the store again.How to Grow Your Own Indoor Citrus TreeBuy RightMake sure you buy the right type of tree from the right place. Meyer lemon, kaffir lime, and calamondin oranges are all dwarf varieties that can be grown indoors. Buy from a reputable nursery to avoid diseased or inferior plants.Pot That PlantWhen you get your tree home, you will want to put it in a pot slightly larger than the root ball, with several holes for drainage in the bottom. Well-drained soil is essential for healthy citrus trees, as is soil that is slightly acidic (a pH range of 6 to 7 is best). I would highly suggest buying a premixed potting soil formulated specifically for citrus.A Sunny SpaceCitrus should ideally get ten to twelve hours of sunlight a day, although six to eight hours is usually sufficient. Place plants by a south-facing window with good airflow and, if necessary, supplement the sun with grow lights during darker months. If you want, you can put your tree outdoors on a sunny patio or balcony in the warmer months, but it isn’t a requirement.Avoid a ChillCitrus trees are happiest when temperatures stay between 55 and 85 degrees, and they dislike abrupt temperature change, so be sure to keep them away from chilly drafts and heater vents.Keep It MoistRegular watering is key to your citrus tree’s survival, but water just enough so the soil is on the dry side of moist. These trees do not like to sit in a puddle of water. They also crave humidity (think Florida), so mist with water regularly and, if necessary, position near a humidifier.Pollinate to ProduceTo get citrus trees to reliably set fruit indoors, where no bees are buzzing around, you can hand-pollinate using a small paintbrush. Collect the yellow pollen from the tips of the feathery anthers inside a flower, and then brush the pollen against the sticky surface of the stigma in the center of a blossom. Repeat with each flower.Reap the HarvestThe time from blossom to harvesting your fruit varies. In general, most lemons and limes will ripen in six to nine months, and oranges will be ready to harvest in about a year.Soon enough, you will be harvesting your lemons, limes, and oranges and making desserts (and other yummy stuff) that will make you feel like you’re in sunny California even if it’s snowing outside.•   •   •LOOKING BACK on my childhood wouldn’t be complete without the imagery of the beach. You just can’t escape the beach culture when you grow up in California, and I was the quintessential California girl—and even though I never mastered the art of getting up on a surfboard, I was still a surfer girl. I also never mastered the art of getting up on water skis. Now, bodyboarding was another story—that’s where I excelled.My dad at a beach party, 1987Dave and our nephew Danny at a beach party

Editorial Reviews

“Fans of her blog as well as those who follow her on Instagram and Pinterest will be intrigued by her background and relish her suggestions. Even readers unfamiliar with the popular blogger will appreciate her honesty and benefit from her commonsense advice.” —Booklist"[F]or Moms who love small but valuable life hacks...Jill Nystul (aka “Jillee”) is the creator of the website, One Good Thing...has tons of tips organized Moms will love — everything from cleaning and health solutions to tips for getting more organized." --Bustle  “Wow—what a special, amazing book! One Good Life is filled to the brim with the useful and unique tips, recipes, and advice that Jill’s faithful readers have come to love and adore. But it’s her hard-fought journey to sobriety that will capture readers’ hearts. It will be impossible for this beautiful—and very moving—book not to inspire everyone who reads it.”—Ree Drummond, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks"Jill Nystul has been through more than her fair share of hardship and has come out on the other side not just okay but as a beacon of inspiration and success. Her hard-scrabble story, told with cheer and levity, is a delightful testament to the power of positivity and taking charge of one's own life. Also, how great to have all of her famous household tips, blogger business secrets, and recipes woven into the book, too--her blog advice is spot-on. Anyone looking to improve their outlook on life (or just their life, in general) will benefit from this wonderful book...so basically everybody." –Andie Mitchell, New York Times Bestselling Author of It Was Me All Along“…feel-good read that provides a practical punch!”—Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine