Messy Jessy

enjoying the beautiful mess that is life

What I Learned While My Husband was Out of Town August 18, 2013

Usually I’m the one traveling between work, school, and family, but this week was a bit of a role reversal. I was the one at home, while J.T. was out-of-town for work.

This past week has been a good learning experience about myself and our relationship.

  • He does a lot around the house. I mean a lot y’all. Since he works from home and I’m usually done with work later, he often does the dishes, laundry, makes coffee for the morning, takes care of the dog, the list goes on. I’ve always appreciated him, but this week has reminded me again how thankful I am to have a spouse that helps out so much at home.
  • I have a natural workaholic tendency. I took full advantage of having no one but Lola to come home to. I left the office several nights and came home to work some more on my couch. It was  10 pm before I knew it and I was yawning with my laptop in my lap. He brings the life to work/life balance. He never makes me feel guilty for working hard and sometimes long hours, but I want to come home and hang out.
  • I would watch too much crappy TV. Mindless TV (Hello Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion) while working. I can’t wait to watch some “good” TV with him when he’s back! I couldn’t cheat and watch our shows without him.
  • As I was cleaning up this morning and picked up 5 pairs of shoes in the living room I laughed. He hates it when I leave my shoes everywhere. This week’s mail was still on the kitchen bar. The cereal box (I had granola/Greek yogurt for dinner) was still out on the counter. I am so messy – my nickname isn’t Messy Jessy for nothing!
  • I will always be a horrible bed mate. Even with him not here, Lola and I (mainly me) figured out how to take up the whole entire king sized bed
  • Oreos do not stand a chance! I had a package leftover from a recent party. This is why I don’t keep junk in my house!
  • I struggle to just relax and do nothing. It just happened most of my “go to girlfriends” were out-of-town or busy Friday night, so I was all by myself (queue the sappy music). I got take out from a restaurant around the corner and just sat on my couch. What should I do?  The past two weeks have been so busy at work and I’ve been going non-stop, I sometimes struggle to just be still and not do anything, but just be. I watched “I AM” on Netflix (highly recommend this documentary) while i ate dinner.Then in the spirit of “being”, I poured myself a glass of fine bourbon and drew up a hot both. Slowly the noise in my head started to quiet down a bit.

Being married isn’t about some one else completing you or being your fulfillment, despite what Hollywood says. I am strong and independent woman who wants to be with my husband because I feel like life is truly better when we’re together and balance each other out. I’m extremely thankful for some time apart, to remember how much I love and appreciate my husband that sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day shuffle. As the cliché goes … “Absence does make the heart grow fonder”


20 Things My 20’s Have Taught Me August 8, 2013

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 9:11 pm
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Ever since I turned 25 almost 5 years ago, I’ve dreaded turning thirty. Some how being in my late 20’s felt like death march to 30. Within the last few months, that’s changed. I”m not dreading turning 30, In fact, I’m embracing it and slightly excited. And it’s not just because I’m having an awesome 80’s-themed birthday party Saturday night.

As I have been thinking over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reflecting as I close the chapter on the decade of my 20’s.

Here’s 20 Things My 20’s Have Taught Me:

  1. Grandparents are a treasure. Having lost all three of my grandparents in my 20’s, I treasure every minute and memory with them. Get to know them as more than just your “grandparents”. Know how they first fell in love over a bottle of Coca-Cola  or that funny story about the time a drunk guy rode a horse into the bar.
  2. Work hard but not too hard. It’s great to be driven and have goals, but don’t get lost in the rat-race to “success”. I’ve lost my self a few times, but having people in your life to remind you what really matters is important. I am a human BEing not a Human DOing.
  3. Friends come and go, but hold tight to those who stick around. Some friendships are a matter of a convenience and circumstances (same major in college, same team at work), but those who love you no matter what and chose to do life with you are rare treasures!  You need a close friend or two who will you call you out  on your crap and be there to listen to the deepest wanderings of your heart.
  4. Deal with it. Life happens and you’re figuring out who the “real” you is. If you are “stuck” with yourself or you need help dealing with things, don’t be embarrassed to see a counselor and work through whatever it is.
  5. Your faith is will be tested and stretched, but it will grow. God is big enough to handle your doubts, your questioning, and your wanderings. Don’t give up – keep searching and you’ll find a stronger and purer faith on the other side of the desert.
  6. Pursue your dreams. The only person standing in the way of your dreams is you. Don’t be scared – go for it! You can do anything you set your mind to.
  7. It’s a really awesome thing when your parents become your friends. They’re smart – way smarter than you realize. And better yet, it’s a beautiful thing when they can become your “friends” and you enjoy hanging out with each other.
  8. Life isn’t always fair and every day is a gift. It sounds cliche but it’s true. There will be people taken from your life suddenly and you too soon, but always look for the beauty and signs of hope in each day. Don’t take people for granted and always let them know how much they’re loved!
  9. Give back. Learn how to live generously on whatever you have to give – not just money, but your time, energy, talents!
  10. Learn how to let go and forgive. People will hurt you. People will disappoint you. They’re human after all! The quicker you can forgive and move on – the better things can be.
  11. Out of our deepest pains, beauty and growth emerges. Not easy to swallow or see in the moment, Some of the toughest situation offer you the opportunity to grow, if you allow it.
  12. Forget the 5 year plan. It’s great to have a game plan and goals, but don’t get so caught up  in the “what’s next” you forget the “what’s now”. Enjoy whatever season of life you’re in and be open to the “life lessons” you’re learning.
  13. Your spouse is an introvert. It took me a few years to realize this as an off the charts extrovert. Give him his space and “me time” to re-charge and don’t be insecure or think something is wrong.
  14. Social media is awesome, but be conscious of your social-foot print. It’s more permanent than a tattoo. Don’t post or say anything you’d be ashamed of for a future employer or grandchild to see.
  15. Be quick to say “I was wrong” when you really were. You’re not always right and don’t know everything. When you’re wrong – own it and learn from it!
  16. Babies are easier for some people to have than others. I always thought (see #12) I’d be done having kids by 30, but things just haven’t worked out that way!
  17. Love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice and a commitment. Some days you don’t “feel in love”, but in the end you can always choose to find your way back together. Don’t buy into a Hollywood notion of love and romance. A real love story is way more messier, but also so much deeper and beautiful.
  18. Life isn’t all about you. Invest in others and their success. When you want what’s best for others, it brings out the best in you
  19. Learn to love yourself. Find out who you really are and embrace it. Put away the negative self-talk and embrace every aspect of you. If you’re not good to yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be good to you? If there are characteristics and habits you really don’t like, decide to change them.
  20. It’s more about your perspective and attitude than your circumstances.  You can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. This makes the difference in life!

And with that my friends… I’ll toast to the next decade of my 30’s! Grateful for every bit of life and lesson I’ve learned.


How Social Media (Almost) Ruined My Life April 14, 2013

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 7:50 pm
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I wrote a draft of this post a few weeks ago after taking a break for a week from all forms of social media to spend more time in contemplation. After spending this past weekend “unplugged” in the mountains with my family, I decided now would be a great time to post and end my long blog silence. 

I honestly love social media (Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) for several reasons. It’s definitely a great avenue to keep up with friends that you’re not able to see on a regular basis and share life moments together that may otherwise go missed. With all of the glory of social media, there’s definitely a down side. I remember this Fall I was back home in my small hometown in Georgia at a Friday night high school football game when one of my parents’ friends told me how beautiful my new house was. It struck me a little strange because my first question was, “How did they see my house in Charlotte?”  when it dawned on me — Facebook.

In so many ways I feel like Facebook gives us a false sense of community and closeness. There’s definitely something to be said for posting your life through status updates, pictures, and check-ins to the world in a pretty and filtered fashion. Doing real life together is not near as glamorous as the cutest and craftiest creation on pinterest that puts Martha Stewart to shame or having random people post on your wall once a year for your birthday. In several ways Facebook is not only a time suck, but a creativity suck. How can I express and impress “friends” in a few letters to show how cool/fabulous/smart/fill in the blank? I feel in some ways, social media takes “keeping up with Jones’ ” to a whole new level.

I worry about how freely we share the most intimate details of our lives for the world to see. In browsing facebook, you can find out personal information that would have taken a Private Investigator a while to figure out pre-Facebook world. In 2 minutes,  you know can find out where Meredith went on vacation this week (even with the location stamp!- scary!), pictures of that scandalous Halloween party, and update on that old acquaintance from college (She’s currently 4 cm dilated and should be having her baby very shortly — with pictures to soon follow!)

I’m not trying to be negative or overdramatic. I read someone I follow on twitter the other day state that we’re the first generation to be able to leave a “digital foot-print” and wondering out loud what our Grandkids will think of us when they go through all of our old Facebook status updates and tweets. This was the first time I’d thought about a digital legacy of short for my someday kids and their kids to follow and see.

For me social media became a coping mechanism of sorts. When things were crazy at work and I needed a stress break – I’d find myself making a trip to the handicap stall to read people’s Facebook posts since the last time I’d checked (probably a few hours ago before I’d left my house for work). When I was bored and “vegging” out at the end of the day – I’d distractedly watch TV and  surf Facebook and Twitter from on the couch. This was a great way to escape a meaningful conversation with my husband and drift in and out of surface level thoughts.

I always strive to live an authentic and open life. There’s definitely a level a trust that comes in real community that has to be earned.  I want to know my friends and be known more beyond just my facebook posts and thoughts/musings tweeted in 140 characters or less. I want to be known as the girl who eats a protein shake (on a “good day) or fast food (on a “bad day”) for dinner out of exhaustion and isn’t making a yummy, photo-worthy meal from pinterest to be shared on Facebook or Instagram. I need people who check in with me and don’t just assume everything is great based on my statuses or pictures of life. And I need people who need me to do the same things for things. Hold honest heartfelt conversations. Sit with during dark nights of the souls. All the while enjoying the beauty and awesome times that life brings too.

If you haven’t seen the 15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook (or even if you have) check it out for some much needed humor!


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.


Girls Birthday Beach Bash Weekend 2012 July 3, 2012

Filed under: family,Travel — Jess @ 7:01 pm
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June … the official start of summer and our summer has gotten off to a fun start! I’ve been meaning to write several blogs over the past few weeks, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

My first grad school class was in full swing with two major papers due this within the first two weeks of the month. I had to movtivate myself to get everything done because the sun and sand was calling my name.

Last weekend, I went to Isle of Palms, the barrier island to Charleston, SC for our annual Birthdy Beach Bash weekend with my mom and sister. Since Rachel is due with sweet Adelyn this August, we decided we should probably move up our get-a-way. We had an awesome time relaxing on the beach and just enjoying being with each .

Mom, Rachel, and Me

We visisted all of our favorite eating spots: Acme Cantina, Seabiscuit Cafe, and even found a new spot right on the Intercoastal waterway- Morgan Creek Grill. And since we had a preggers with us, we just HAD to eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream every day! This little B&J ice cream “hut” has to make a killing and is the “chain” on the island.

The Beach Mama

Is she not the cutest?? Rockin’ that baby bump in her bikini!

Saturday evening, Rachel and I went down to the dunes and beach to do a mini-photoshoot to capture this precious time. I shot mostly with her Cannon but got a few pics with my point and shoot.

I think this one is my favorite.

Our long weekend was so relaxing and I can’t wait until next August! : )


What to get Dear ol’ Dad? June 8, 2012

Filed under: family — Jess @ 2:16 pm
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If you’re like me, you’re trying to figure out what get dear old Dad for Father’s Day. How do you find the perfect gift for someone who means so much to you, but already has an extensive tool and tie collection??

Here’s a few suggestions that I’ve found in trying to find the “perfect” gift!

I saw one of my fave authors, Don Miller, tweet about a Father’s Day campaign for The Mentoring Project. CHeck out their website – Don’t Buy the Tie to find out more information on how you can help be a part of the solution and mentoring fatherless youth. I really can’t think of a better way to show gratitude for having a present and involved Dad!

Another favorite charity of mine is The Mocha Club. They’ve got a special Father’s Day coffee mug. For $25, Dad gets a cool mug while supporting  job training and economic opportunities in Africa through the work of the Mocha Club. Now that’s a win/win!

Got a music-loving Dad? How about give the gift of some new tunes. Here’s my recommendation – Folk Family Revival These young and talented guys from Texas have a sound much more mature than their collective age. If your dad loves country, southern rock, Americana or all of the above – this is a sure winner!

Most of the time the simple gift of spending time together is much more valuable than the latest and greatest high-dollar electronic gadget. If geographically feasible take your dad out for ice cream or maybe spend an afternoon doing something together (fishing, going to brunch, movies, etc).

Whatever you do — make sure to tell Dad how much you love him and what he means to you! That’s the gift that never gets old!


Ode to the Blue Terd May 21, 2012

Filed under: family,New Girl in Town,random,reflections — Jess @ 7:27 pm
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The Blue Terd, my affectionate name for my 2001 Honda Civic, and I shared a momentous moment last Friday in the middle of  rush-hour traffic Interstate 85. I considered pulling over to have a moment, but alas the concrete construction barricades prevented that from happened. So instead I decided to snap a quick picture in observance! (For my Mom and other concerned drivers, traffic was at a [almost] standstill at this point)

We have made it to 170,000 miles together!  Oh the miles we have covered together!

The summer after Sophomore year spent driving through the back roads of Kentucky with the sunroof down falling in love with John Mayer. All of the miles spent driving back and forth on the weekends to see my love. All of the body work done over the years as a result of JT’s fabulous driving record (backing into a mailbox, pulling out into oncoming traffic while parallel parked on a side street …). All of the trips down the I-75 corridor from Lexington to Cordele. The “infamous” Coke battle in the Cracker Barrel parking lot with the stains still on the roof to prove. My own personal Karaoke bar – sans the alcohol of course. Driving to Texas for the best “road trip” into married life. Drives along the county roads in East Texas while quickly discovering Insurance Sales was not my life calling.  Packing up the car with no room for any.thing.else. on the final trip leaving Texas.  The days gone by of filling up the tank for less than $15 that now costs over $40, but it still gets 34 miles to the gallon! Moments when I’ve wanted to literally run away, but a good drive on a back road helped clear my mind and bring me back to sanity.

Although there are cracks in the paint job, the CD player has long been in working order, the driver’s window works some of the time, the gorilla glue where the roof lining meets the back window — all of these are signs of a much-loved and used car. Even though the new car bug bit me a few months ago, the new car payment reality prescription has worked quite well!

Here’s to you Blue Terd and hoping to make it to 200,000 together with a few more miles and memories to go!


The Gift of the Sea May 13, 2012

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 8:26 pm

“We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, and relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb … Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now”

— Anne Marrow Lindbergh – The Gift of the Sea


Someone’s in the Kitchen with Grandma April 21, 2012

Filed under: family,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 10:59 pm
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This past weekend, JT’s dad and grandma came to visit. We LOVE her and treasure spending time with her. When you think of the quintessential grandmother that loves unconditionally, cooks amazing meals, and spoils you — yep, this is  Grandma!

We had such a fun time just hanging out and well of course cooking and eating together!

No Grandma visit would be complete without her making biscuits from scratch and her famous chocolate gravy.

We drove around downtown Concord Saturday evening so she could see all of the gorgeous historic homes on Union Street.

Sunday night we relaxed and wrapped up the weekend with grilling out for dinner. After dinner, we decided to break out the ladderball game I’d gotten JT for Christmas. Grandma got the best score out of all of us and her surprised look says it all.

We cooked several wonderful meals together and spent lots of time in the kitchen – she’d have it no other way! I’m truly thankful to be a part of her family and have her in my life. She’s one of the most caring and loving people I’ve ever known, but at the same time isn’t afraid to be a little silly or take life too serious.

Here’s one of her recipes for these really yummy and buttery cookies. They’re not too sweet and are perfect with coffee. After 5 sticks of butter, I stopped counting how many we used for the weekend.

French Buttercream Cookies

Ingredients –
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

In large bowl, combine all ingredients, except flour, on low speed of mixer about 1 minute. Blend well. Gradually add the flour. Blend at low speed of mixer. Chill dough 15 to 30 minutes. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls, place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten balls with fork; sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes until set, not brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet about 1 minute. Cool on racks. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

She’s beautiful inside and out!


Messy Jessy Cooks : “The World’s Best Lasagna” April 1, 2012

Filed under: family,messy jessy cooks — Jess @ 1:05 pm

I know what you’re thinking — that title is a little presumptuous. Let me explain. I didn’t give this lasagna – it’s title, I just agree with it.

When we were in Texas this past week-after-Christmas to hang out with our Texas family, my friend Kim made this to.die.for.lasagna. I was in love.

This past Sunday I decided to make a big pot of sauce because my father in law was coming in town and he loves a good lasagna more than Garfield. I went ahead and tripled the recipe (I need a bigger pot next time!). I was going to keep a pan for us and give away two pans to friends that just had a baby and friends that just moved!

The recipe does require a little bit of effort and quite a few ingredients, but it is OH SO worth it.


  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • package of sliced Mozzarella cheese (12 slices)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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