Messy Jessy

enjoying the beautiful mess that is life

The Whirlwind July 18, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,family,reflections,Travel — Jess @ 9:16 pm

There’s so much to blog about… the past three weeks have been a whirlwind and a bit of a blur! I’ve gotten to spend time with some of the people I love the most celebrating friendship, the 4th of July, Road Trips with Mom to Philly, another grad school residency, a baby shower for my sister and soon-to-arrive niece Adelyn Parker, and much more!

There’s certainly blogs and pics to come, it just may be a while!

The time that I normally devote to blogging has been replaced with school work again. I”m choosing
 to doing to “introspective blogging” — meaning focusing more on cultivating my inner and spiritual life. I’ve been “blogging”, but more in the sense of writing journals and reflecting. There may be some “real blogs” that result but my thoughts are too raw and beginning to come to surface.

I’m thankful for the people in my life that keep me from floating just on the surface of living
and help pull me into the deeper waters of the soul and living.

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New Girl in Town: Charlotte Shakespeare Festival June 3, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 8:41 pm
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I spent most of yesterday afternoon writing a really rough, rough draft of my first grad school paper (eek!)  I got home around 5 pm and asked the painfully frequent question around my house “What do you want to do tonight?” I tossed out the idea of going to see a movie, but we both agreed yesterday was too perfect of a June evening to waste inside a movie theatre.

I went to my go to website/blog to see what’s going on around town – Charlotte on the Cheap. If you a fellow Charlottian (how fun is that to say?!), you need to check out the blog and follow on Twitter so you don’t miss out on any Queen City fun! Ok I’ll end my unsolicited commercial now : )

So within a few minutes, I figured out the Charlotte  Shakespeare Festival had just kicked off. It’s free ($5 suggested donation) and outside at The Green, an outdoor park smack dab in the middle of Uptown! Sounds pretty near perfect. Within minutes, I grabbed my sweater (yes I said sweater and  it’snJune 2nd!) and our lawn chairs to make our way downtown.

While JT set up our lawn chairs, I went right across the park to Fuel Pizza for a few slices of real, deal NY-style pizza to go. We chowed down on our food and were serenaded with  pre-show music from a guy and a guitar playing lots of familiar covers.

My lovely date and me

All under the glow of Duke Energy building in Uptown

I’ll make a confession – I was not well-versed in The Tempest. It took a few minutes to get used to the King’s English and thanks to the help of Sparknotes on my phone – I was back in business! It was a fabulous night of picnicking under the stars and watching a modern twist on The Tempest.

Miranda and Ferdinand

If you’re in Charlotte – Don’t.Miss.Out. I can’t promise the weather will be amazing as it was last night, but I can promise you will have a great time! Bring your wine, snacks, and lawn chairs for a cultured good time!

Charlotte Shakespeare Festival presents The Temptest

May 31st – June 17th

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 6:30 pm

Uptown at The Green 

 

Shadow Days. May 10, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,Music to my Ears! — Jess @ 9:23 pm
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Almost every summer for the past five or so years, we’ve always gone to a Mayer Concert when he came to town. Last summer felt a little incomplete when it came to a close and we hadn’t gone to a show. He didn’t tour last year and observed a literal and figurative radio silence to get out of the public spotlight and write Born & Raised.

I was stoked to hear about the upcoming album and wondered what type of direction it would take stylistically. If the first single, Shadow Days, is an indication of the rest of the album – I’m pumped! Shadow Days is a glimpse into a more mature and wiser Mr. Mayer that seems to have learned from some of his youthful mistakes.

I’m a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I’m right here, and I’m right now
And I’m open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over

Excitement turned into disappointment earlier this Spring when John Mayer had to cancel his upcoming Summer tour due to continued vocal cord issues. Looks like I will be having my own mini-concent/jam session in my car once the new album comes out on May 22nd. Starting next week, you can stream for free the entire album on iTunes. Can’t wait to hear the whole album!

 

Hometown Glory March 11, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 11:26 pm
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Last fall we made the 10 mile move out of Charlotte proper and hopped the county line into Concord, NC. Over the past few months, there’s some definite things I love about my new hometown and thought I’d share.

NASCAR

I’m surprised at how many people in my life outside of the Carolinas know where Concord is. The most infamous place is Charlotte Motor Speedway, home to several BIG NASCAR races. Even though it’s known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway, it’s technically not in Charlotte –  but hey we have the Charlotte Bobcats baseball team in South Carolina so I guess we’re not big on geographical boundaries around here! I’ve been to the NASCAR mecca twice and both were quite enjoyable experiences that had little to do with cars driving in circles. The area is home to many NASCAR race teams and you’ll see streets like Thunder Road, Dale Earnhardt Blvd, and where else can you follow the Dale Trail??

The Avett Brothers

I’ve been a fan of these genre-defying guys since I was first introduced to them a couple of years ago. I was even more thrilled a few months ago when I realized the two brothers were from Concord – pretty killer. If you haven’t checked these out, click here for a listen and buy some of their tunes.

S&D Coffee

There’s nothing like driving through downtown Concord and smelling fresh coffee being roasted. There’s a good chance if you’ve brewed in-room coffee while staying at hotel, you’ve experienced S&D Coffee. I’m still hoping I can get a job there in Quality Assurance.

Concord Mills

People think I’m crazy when I say I often forget about Concord Mills. Sure it’s a HUGE indoor outlet with a BIG movie theater, Dave & Buster’s and pretty much any chain restaurant in a mile radius — but I hate the traffic and massiveness of it all. I’d rather enjoy dinner at my local favorite Afton Tavern and avoid the crazies.

Historic Downtown Concord

When you’re in/move to Charlotte you quickly realize there’s two sides/parts to Concord. There’s the Concord built around the Racetrack and Concord Mills – and then there’s the “real”, original Concord. The city was established well before NASCAR even existing as a textile powerhouse.

Union Street is home to two historical districts recognized by National Register of Historic Places. Homes of former textile industry giants line the streets from a bygone era. The JW Cannon home is my personal favorite and is on the market for a modest 1.1 million dollars if you’re in the market for a 10,000+ square foot, 100 hundred old historical home.

JW Cannon House (picture from CMLS listing)

There’s still a lot more to explore around downtown Concord and I can’t wait to try out a few restaurants I’ve heard about – including Gianni’s Trattoria.

 

Home to You February 16, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,family,reflections — Jess @ 8:00 am
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A few months ago, I posted a blog post telling all tens (of thousands!) of you about my dear and incredibly talented friend, Shellee Coley, and how you could be a part of her upcoming album. Well that time has come friends and she’s about to release her much anticipated, first full-length album.  In honor of this momentous occasion, she’s taking a little blog tour. Shellee’s asked various folks to blog about each song  on her upcoming album and their connection to the song — I feel SO honored! I love all of the songs on Shellee’s album, but felt like I had to write about the song – “Home to You” because I can relate on so many levels to the lyrics and emotions of the song.

For those of you new to me and my blog -Welcome!  Let me quickly fill you in about our life over the past two years. About this time two years ago, my husband and I made the right, but difficult decision to really start pursuing a life closer to our families sprinkled throughout the Southeast and all equally 15+ hours away from our then current home in Texas. This is something we’d dreamed about, fought about, and cried about for several years until we were finally on the same page and started taking some definite steps to make this happen.  We knew going into it there’d be sacrifices, some we were prepared and others we were not prepared to make. Going into this transition, I’d mentally prepared myself to leave Texas by the end of 2010. JT applied for a position that we thought was a shot in the dark with a job application that turned into a start date in Charlotte, NC in six weeks. I was NOT prepared to leave my framily (friends that become family) and our life and little house in Texas.

 Over the next year, there were so many more downs than ups in a rollercoaster ride of having two “homes” and leaving one life to start another in a town full of strangers. There were so many moments of doubt, struggle, frustration, and loneliness. The stress and emotions of so much transition has finally started to wane as we’ve settled into a new set of rhythms and relationships in Charlotte. There’s now much more clarity and gratitude to the lessons learned during this crazy time in our life. My dad always refers to those tough times that you’d initially choose not to go through as “character building” times. It’s those tough lessons and difficult times that bend and shape us into the people we’re becoming. 

Shellee’s song “Home to You” resonates so deeply with my soul. Shellee captures the purest essence of the word and meaning of “home”. For me, home is the love and memories made within our four walls, but not just limited to or defined by a physical place. Through transitional times of living, I’ve learned that home really isn’t about the four walls that surround you or where you lay your head at night. It’s about the people and family that surround you and hold your heart and memories. There were so many times where we didn’t know where we headed, but we always ended up finding ourselves at home with each other.

To hear an audio clip of the Shellee’s story behind the song and to stream it, visit her website by clicking here.  

 

Lazy Coupon Queen Wannabe January 25, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,family,random — Jess @ 6:27 pm
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I’m sure most of you have seen or at least heard of the Extreme Coupon show on TLC. Well confession: that is definitely NOT me.

Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about just in case you’ve been under a rock : )

Sometime last year my sister got bit by the coupon bug. She’s not crazy like the folks on that show, but she will often save more money than she spends. Which I think is quite admirable!  When she visited last Memorial Day – she gave me a mini lesson, but I confess I don’t really understand all the stack stuff still!

Remember this picture?? The sign of a happy coupon camper with TONS of free stuff and coupons from Speed Street.

She probably used all of her coupons from that day months ago and mine are expired still in an unpacked boxed.

So as a new year goal to save more money each month, I’ve been trying to coupon more. I feel like couponing is one of those “all or none” kinda things to make it work best. And I’ll confess I’m a bit of a lazy coupon-er.

I have subscribed to the Sunday paper and sit down each week to cut out the coupons I’ll aspire to remember to bring with me to the grocery story before they expire. I thought if  I was a little more organized than my single white envelope – maybe I’d stand a better chance! I found some really cute coupon organizers on Etsy — I mean they seriously will velcro onto your shopping cart!

But at the rate I’m going it would take me a few months to save the money it cost to buy this cute organizer that will help me save money — see where I’m going??

Now I know there are tons of websites and blogs to help you maximize the savings — but at the end of long crazy day, that is really the last thing I want to do.

Any tips or suggestions for this Lazy Coupon Queen Wannabe that doesn’t want to buy 80 tubes of toothpaste at once, but just save a few bucks??

 

What Did You Do This Weekend? November 21, 2011

That’s the common question of office small talk on Monday mornings. Since you probably weren’t at work with me today to ask around the proverbial water cooler, I’ll tell you!

  • CLEANED!! I did a lot of cleaning. That’s the only drawback to a bigger house — more to clean! All of those random, “company’s coming” cleaning tasks that you NEVER do — you know, like putting Old English to make your kitchen cabinets shine kind of stuff!
  • Baked – I love making these pumpkin cake bars (see recipe below) It’s like pumpkin pie — but oh so much better!
  • Had a Girls’ Night Out! on Saturday. One of my friends is about to have a baby girl any day now, so we went out for one last hoorah before baby girl gets here. Nothing too wild and crazy! We ate dinner at On The Border and came back to my house for dessert and watched Bridesmaids. It was great to have some “girl time” and get to know a few other ladies in Charlotte a little better.
  • Woke up Sunday morning with a massive migraine which had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the previous Girls’ Night! I woke up at 5 am and took meds, back up at 11 am and took more meds. Sunday definitely started out rough and took it easy most of the rest of the day. I procrastinated Thanksgiving shopping, but luckily today I secured “Hank” and he was not “the last turkey in America”.
  • Oh! Did I mention I applied to Grad School? I think I’ve decided on the Master’s of Organizational Leadership at Eastern, but will probably apply to Eastern and Trevecca. I was waiting on my transcript from Asbury to apply because I couldn’t remember my exact GPA and decided it probably wasn’t best to “guess” on my application. Reviewing all of my old courses (and grades) brought back memories from what sometimes seems like a whisper from another lifetime ago. Now, I’ve got to work on my essays and get a few reference letters.  Things are looking good and I’m still excited! Trying to envision what my life will look like as a grad student and working full-time — lots of reading, papers, and less TV!
Here’s my favorite pumpkin cake bars recipe. Skip the pie this year and make these. Seriously! You.will.not.be.disappointed.

Pumpkin Cake Bars —

Ingredients:

  • 1  package yellow butter cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 8 oz cream cheese — softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Directions

  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  •  Combine the cake mix, egg and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Press into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  •  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Beat in eggs, vanilla and butter. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
  • Pour pumpkin filling mix over the cake bottom.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.
 

Happy Hanksgiving! November 17, 2011

I’m so excited about Thanksgiving being just a few days away (a week from today!). Ever since we’ve been married, Thanksgiving’s with JT have taken on a new meaning – adventure! In case you missed my special posts last year recounting the “Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past” and of course all of the adventure that last year brought in our first Thanksgiving spent with JT’s family in Kentucky.

This year will not disappoint I’m sure! It will be our first of many holidays spent in our new house. JT’s dad will be here and our Charlotte friends, Rick and Melissa’s (she’s 9 months pregnant!) are coming over too! After watching this week’s Thanksgiving episode of “New Girl” – I have promised Melissa that I’m not like
“Just Jess” in my cooking skills in the kitchen. I did forget one Thanksgiving to defrost the turkey, but promise NEVER to use a clothes dryer as a cooking method!

 

My parents are coming up late Thanksgiving evening and spending the rest of the weekend. My Aunt and Uncle are coming down (and bringing the last of my stuff that we’ve been storing at their farm) at some point during the weekend. This Thanksgiving will be spent with lots of food, family, and friends — I think that sounds like a great plan!

If you haven’t seen William Shatner’s precautionary tale about deep-frying turkey —

 

Choosing November 10, 2011

Filed under: Charlotte,reflections — Jess @ 7:40 pm
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On a day when I feel like I could list hundreds of things that have frustrated me this week, I’m choosing to be grateful for and focus on a few.

  • Taking realistic steps towards Grad School. This is something that I’ve talked about for a few years but the timing of finances, schedules, times, etc just hasn’t really worked out until now. I’ve nailed down two schools: Trevecca Nazarene University and Eastern University. My plan is to pursue a Master’s in Organizational Leadership at one of these schools. I’m getting a few steps closer to finally figuring out what I want to be when I grow up : )  And the past five years have taught me that the “Five Year Plan” was invented to keep you laughing!
  • Skyping with friends last night. I desperately miss the “everyday-ness” of  a few close relationships in Texas and being involved in each other’s life on a day to day (or at least week to week basis). There’s something to being known and people choosing to love you and be a part of your life.
  • PB&J sandwiches made with love for dinner at work because I’m working late tonight.
  • We have our first visitors coming this weekend to hang out in Charlotte and our new house for the first time! Maybe even a trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame is in the cards for this weekend!?!
  • All of the beauty of  Fall that surrounds me — hues of red, yellow and orange.
  • Candy Cane Joe Joe’s — I had to resist some serious temptation last night while shopping at Trader Joe’s. They have great “junk food” any time of year, but somehow during the Holiday season they outdo themselves with pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cream cheese — I think you see where this is going! With all the yummyness that abounded, I splurged with the Candy Cane Joe Joe’s! They’re “oreo”-like cookies with peppermint filling. All of your Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie lovers – Rejoice! – these are for you.
 

What a Difference a Week Makes! October 30, 2011

Filed under: Charlotte,Home Sweet Home — Jess @ 9:47 pm
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Here’s a few pictures of some of our progress. Hard to believe we’ve been here for a whole week! It really is starting to feel like home – or at least the rooms (kitchen, living room, master bed and bath) that count! There’s SO much that I want to do and buy – just trying to be patient!

Master Bedroom

There’s still some work to be done (window treatments and ultimately new furniture), but for now I love this room!  What you can’t see in this pic is the flat screen TV mounted on that wall. Last night, JT commented that he felt like he was in a hotel – ha!

Master Bathroom

There are SO many things I love about this room – the tub, the HUGE shower, a separate “water closet”, his/hers vanities!

The Kitchen 

I love the appliances! This week I’m planning on testing my abilities to cook with gas since it’s a first for me.  Hopefully no burnt meals will ensue. This weekend we made pumpkin pancakes using the center cast iron griddle insert. The pancakes were delish and I loved cooking on the griddle.

 

 
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