Dirty & Nude


I often joke that if it comes in a shade of dirt, it’s in my house & closet.

I almost exclusively dress, and decorate, in black, white, red and brown. I have always been drawn to these neutral tones: in high school, all my prom & homecoming dresses were white (despite the snobby protests of my female classmates) and my wedding was virtually void of color. I always associated black & white with timelessness. And after looking back at those lime green 2006 prom dresses, I’m glad I did.

Until Stitch Fix, I owned only two pieces of blue clothing. I told my stylist that I hate the color blue, and since then I’ve only purchased pieces in shades ranging from aqua to indigo. Those SF ladies like a challenge.

I also have a pretty strict policy on animal print. As in, I do not wear it. Ever. I’m afraid to mention it to my stylist out of fear she will prove me wrong.

While I occasionally branch out into unknown territory, I don’t foresee abandoning the personal brand anytime soon. At least, not until the camera crews show up from What Not To Wear.

In keeping with the dirty & nude color scheme, here are some pieces on my wish list.

Anything & everything from DiamondsAreEvil.com 

I discovered these pieces in Austin, & fell in love. An architect student began making jewelry from leftover scraps from wood shop, using a laser cutter. Each piece is made with responsibly-farmed Baltic birch plywood, which is lightweight but incredibly durable. I love the texture of the pieces & the geometric shapes.

Francesca’s earrings

This boutique is my go-to for gifts (and occasionally something for myself). Whatever your tastes, from classic to funky, they have it. Vintage-esque accessory styles appear to be back, and although I prefer stud earrings, I couldn’t help but lust after these Avalon Jewel Drops.

Initials, Inc. Signature Bag in camel

Oh, Initials. I am not always a fan of the prints they release season-to-season (they make my eyes hurt!). But, when it comes to functionality, they pretty much take the cake. I’m in love with my neutral-toned, chevron tablet case from this company: the wristlet strap and zipper pocket make it perfect for carrying my work iPad & notes to and from meetings. I also love the organizer bins, and ordered them in tribal prints for my office. The initials options allow me to label everything, and my inner type A loves that.

My friend, Lindsey, is a consultant & when I noticed this camel, faux-leather bag of hers I about stole it from her. Too bad it had a big, black “L” on the side. Guess I’ll just have to get my own. I also love the additional options to personalize with Initials, like leather tassels to clip onto the signature bags. It takes the piece from classy to a little bit hipster/50 Shades.

And what woman doesn’t love that.


Kids Keep You Honest


A new school year has a special energy to it. It’s that “this-is-my-time” energy…The idea that change is really possible. You can finally ask that girl out, make the cheerleading squad, take the football team to all the way to state, or maybe just make a good enough grade in English to keep your parents off your back.

Or maybe that’s just small, hometown stuff.

Cory & I ran around Tishomingo Friday night with my parents, stopping by the first football scrimmage of the year. We wanted to support kids we knew and family friends, plus check out the much-buzzed-about new football coach in action.

As we made our way to the stands we had to weave through clumps of socializing teens. Cory says to me “I forget how strange this age is.”

Whew, me too. Thankfully.

As weird as that time-warp was, it got even better on Saturday night. I stopped by my in-laws & had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with some of Cory’s first cousins (He has fourteen. These people reproduce like the Duggars).

Anyway, two of which just started the 6th grade. We had some real-talk, swapping stories about embarrassing middle school moments. I shared about the time I sat at an entire table by myself in the cafeteria because no one liked me. Then I was upstaged by the time Trevan’s teacher refused to let him leave class to go to the bathroom, so he ended up pooping his pants. Right there in the middle of class. We collectively agreed that Trevan won the “most embarrassing middle school moment” award.

We talked about obnoxious teachers, step parents, making friends, fighting with friends and even did a little gossiping on the older cousins. The eldest batch is 22-29, and we are much less sneaky and much less cool after hearing the 12 yr old perspective. Kids keep you honest.

In other news:
We met Raylee Sage Willingham, Cory’s 14th first cousin

I helped my father-in-law create a Facebook page

Cory’s grandmother attributed life-long  girl friendship to the mutual sassiness & lots of secrets

I joined a book club (more on that later)

Mack has been made free of the cone

What did you do this weekend?


Hair of the Dog


I had a terrible Monday.

It reminded me of a childhood book, a favorite, called “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. Ole Alex, the main character, has fiery red hair. And if you’ve never befriended a ginger, allow me to paint a picture for you. They’re a little hot-tempered, prone to fits & generally the last to be chosen in dodgeball. But gosh, they’re scrappy. A friend recently confided in me that during his undergrad, there was a “kick a ginger day” on campus. All day long he carried an axe handle to and from class, beating off his blonde/brunette classmates. Geeze.


Anyway, hair color aside, yesterday was horrible, no good & very bad indeed. It was the kind of day where nothing goes right, people are mean, you stump your toe, spill coffee down your shirt, have to put your ginger English Bulldog in a cone of shame, etc.

What’s your remedy for a really bad day? Sometimes, mine is as simple as yoga pants, a glass of wine & an ’80s movie. But if it’s really bad, terrible-horrible-no-good-very bad, I have a different method.

1. I consult the mentors. They are extremely supportive & invested in my personal & professional growth. They are successful & empathetic leaders. They don’t believe in shame as a management style, but believe instead in championing others. So when they dish out the truth, it sounds like: “Jess, you made a mistake there. Try again. You can do this” or “Jess, the critics are mysoginistic ass monkeys. You’re a rockstar. Keep going” or some combination of both statements. Wherever I end up, I will have them to thank. Mentors are crucial.

2. I call the parents. They’ll laugh with me, love on me & remind me of who I really am. Aside from my husband, they know me better than anyone. Whether it’s really good news or a really bad day, they always get a call. Sometimes two. (Okay, three. Max.)

3. I get comfy. I let Cory make me mac ‘n’ cheese (or any other chemically created, high caloric bowl of happinesss). The thing about marriage (that no one tells you about) is that you can’t be everything to one person. It a romanticized idea, but an impossible &  unhealthy pursuit. While I consult Cory in all matters, I also try to leave my distress at the door. When I come home, I come home. & I don’t expect him to be there ready to fix all my problems, be my therapist. I just try to relax & enjoy his company.

The final step in the Monday Hangover Cure? Wake up Tuesday & go kick some ass. Keep going. Accept things didn’t go as good as they could have. Acknowledge you have more to give, to contribute, to learn. Remember that showing up & being seen is hard, but at least you had the guts to stand in the arena.

Whether you really are a ginger or just a ginger-at heart: grab that proverbial axe handle & keep swinging.

Happy Tuesday.

– J.

photo credit: jessica wilson {jek in the box} via photopin cc

C & J Do Austin



During my short time in the Lone Star state, I’ve been able to define two types of Texans.

You’re either “Fort Worth, TX” or you’re “Austin, TX”.

Cory is Fort Worth, but he married an Austin. & since he’s never been, we decided to take a weekend get-a-way to the capital city. I have only been once before, as a kid. My clearest memory is standing on the Congress Bridge at sundown & watching the bats.

It’s only a 1.5 hour drive from CS.  We decided, why not? We didn’t have a special occasion to celebrate, just wanted to explore. Besides, do you need a special occasion to do something awesome?

We stayed at the Adam’s House Bed & Breakfast.  Constructed in 1911, it sits in the oldest residential district of Austin. It’s close to 6th, the SoCo district & within walking distance of some great local cafe’s, like Mother’s & Hyde Park Bar & Grill. The sheets are like butter & they serve some real, kick-ass homemade granola at breakfast. I throughly enjoyed watching Cory choke on his as the innkeeper inquired about what he does for a living. Austin isn’t the place to mention that you mine coal, or as some environmental groups call it, “rape the Earth”.  Awkward.




After breakfast, we hit the town & decided to go to the Austin Zoo while it wasn’t so hot. We thought this was an actual zoo. Turns out, it’s an “animal sanctuary”. So basically, every circus animal reject & millionaire’s tiger (like Mike Tyson’s) come here to live out their days. Along with pot bellied pigs, exotic reptiles and birds. We watched lions wrestle & fed goats. It was weird & still kinda wonderful. We are still country, farm kids at heart.


IMG_5598 IMG_5603

(What I’m wearing: It’s my latest Stitch Fix. The necklace SF sent me is made by an Austin designer, Stitch & Stone. Cool, right? They set up a booth every Saturday in SoCo. If you haven’t gotten a fix yet, you can sign up here. You’ll get a $25 discount for using my referral. Yay, discounts!)

We spent most of Saturday in the SoCo district, shopping local vendors & consignment stores. We also ate desert before lunch at Hey Cupcake!, probably the most popular food trailer in the city. Cory stuck to the classic Red Velvet while I had the Michael Jackson (Get it!?)






Of course, we had to see the bats. It’s the largest colony in North America, & now one of the top things to do in Austin. Sundown was at 8:10, & at 8:13 they came pouring out in well-choreographed streams. We sat under the bridge & watched. It was a pretty remarkable example of nature’s perfect design. & I prayed one wouldn’t land on me & infect me with rabies.


Post-bats, we met up with a good college friend. It was a fun, relaxing & yet still adventurous weekend. We decided we may not be totally Austin people, but we would love to visit on occasion. We didn’t hit everything on our to-do list (Cathedral of Junk, anyone?) but we always have next time.


Childhood Dreams



The older I get, the more connected I feel to the 7, 8 and sometimes 9 yr old Jessica.

She was really flamboyant, loud and imaginative. She was into expression, art and (on the weekends only, of course,) running around naked on her best friend’s farm. (It was a family of complete hippies. They let their kids say “shit,” the dad smoked weed, the family pet was a hedgehog and the mother birthed all four children on the bathroom floor.) On one particular occasion, the mom explained to me the spiritual interworkings of the universe. As we sat in the family sauna on a winter night. It was pretty trippy.

Anyway, I am still so very connected to who I was then. I enjoy nudity, art and obsessed with the idea of a home birth.

Okay, I’m kidding about that last part. Kind of.

So when I came across the writings of little me, I had to marvel at her insight & sense of purpose. At seven, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I knew I wanted to tell a story, and help other people tell their story. I didn’t know then if it was through writing, but found out just two years later.

I also knew I wanted to be a mom. Not an artist OR a mom. Not an artist, THEN a mom. I wanted to be an artist AND a mom. I didn’t believe in a world where I had to choose.

What a little feminist.

And while I have #1 mostly covered, I hope the rest follows suit. There is nothing truer or more pure than a childhood dream. Except, maybe, childhood dreams fulfilled.


Weekend in Review//Stars, Cars & Boys


When I’m feeling tired from all the going-going-going, I remind myself to stay grateful we have so many great people to spend our time with. Since Colorado, we’ve been traveling or hosting friends at our house every weekend. It’s been a fun, albeit sleepy, few weeks. Here’s the highlights from this weekend.

We went dancing.

I made a new girlfriend.

The new apartment is coming together. We are purging our shit & enjoying the extra space for ourselves & our visitors.

We saw much-needed rain (finally!)

In lieu of church, I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning watching a meteor shower from the hood of a car. & I came to the solid conclusion that it was better than the pew, anyway.

Timothy Goodman favorited my tweet about him & the addictive Forty Days of Dating design/life project. Swoon.

I began working on my FIRST design freelance project. It’s scary & exciting.

What have you been up to this weekend?


Imitation vs. Inspiration


I cannot stop watching this video.

Jay Z performed “Picasso Baby” at the Pace Gallery in NYC. FOR SIX HOURS STRAIGHT. He was interested in the concept of performing art, how it manifests energy inside and outside the gallery setting. He wanted to see how artistic energy evolved between artists, so he performed his song to individuals one at a time. Some danced with him, challenged him, critiqued him or laughed with him. One woman, with a  mohawk, gave him sexy eyes that could intimidate Queen Bey. My favorite article on one man’s experience is here.


But here’s the kicker: Jay Z 100% copied this idea.

An artist, Marina Abramovic, originated this concept and applied it to her medium for a performance entitled “Artist is Present”. Then she had the lady balls to show up to Pace & have a little moment with Jay Z.

This video makes me smile like little else has this week. It’s fun, playful, energetic and artistic. Whether it is copied or not, it is great art in motion. Which leads me to…

Whatever the medium, can “copying” be avoided? What is the line between emulation and inspiration? And how thin is that line? When you begin in an artistic industry, whether it be print or design or photography, can you even pull off true “creation”?


Pinterest is the garbage can of creativity. Think about it: someone does something incredibly innovative, we find it on the internet & then BAM! – it’s all over every wedding, baby shower or photography session out there. Instead of acting as a soundboard for ideas, it’s a place where you can go to find creative ideas without actually engaging in thought or creativity.


So, I switched my style up on Pinterest. It is now a place to gather images that serve as inspiration, not a source for imitation. You can check it out here.

I pull my ideas, especially for design, from many places. And from many other creatives. If I do much digging on any one blog or blogger, I find out where she/he is getting inspiration. Then, I can really see how that energy seeps into their own work. (For example, I loved the Jealous Curator‘s  visual concept in her blog post about this very same video. Did I “cheat” in a way? Or am I just feeding off her energy, which she got from the article I referenced, which he got from Jay, which HE got from Marina?) Are any of us creating true and unique art?

Tell me in the comments what you think. Was what Jay Z did artistic or creative? Does Pinterest really suck? How do you define/determine what is imitation vs. inspiration?


[images pulled from video]