Goodbye to my 912 Magnolia Drive…

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I’ve thought a lot lately about what matters in a house. What makes it special?  Is it the exterior? The color on the walls? The location? The furniture and decor?

When you think about what really matters, all of those things are nice. But it’s the people you share a house with that really make it a home that you love.

The beautiful Zeta Tau Alpha house that I called home throughout college was torn down this summer. It has been a long process to wrap my head around the fact that one of the staples of my college career is gone.

The home – and my room – that I spent my junior and senior years of college living in. The living room where Brett proposed. It was hard to let it go, but knowing something even better is coming for ZTA’s Nu Chapter – and for 912 Magnolia Drive – makes it a lot better in my heart.

I got to say my goodbyes – and I even left a few marks on the house as I did. This one was my favorite, on the floor in the spot where Brett asked me to marry him.

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Watching things change is always hard, but it’s been a reminder that perspective is everything. Knowing good things are coming make anything better. Right?

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So, to my 912 Magnolia Drive, goodbye. I can’t wait to see what’s next for you.

Lost between pages…

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Reading is my ultimate escape. I love disappearing into hundreds of hundreds of pages. Lately, I’ve read quite a few good books, and have gotten hooked on a few new authors, so I wanted to share. Here are my top picks…

The Job by Janet Evanovich

I am rapidly becoming a huge Janet Evanovich fan! Her most recent “Fox and O’Hare Novel” with Lee Goldberg, “The Job” was absolutely awesome. I was ECSTATIC when I realized that I could get to read it early on NetGalley. That was one of the best approvals ever, really. FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare works with con man Nicolas Fox to bring down major bad guys. But this time, they trot the globe and it looks like Nick may be the one who takes the fall if Kate can’t help him. Great book. Fun read. Can’t wait for more from these authors.

Deceived by Irene Hannon

I absolutely love Irene Hannon books. They are so fun, and she is one of the best Christian fiction writers out there. Deceived, her latest book, was no different. I loved following Kate Marshall’s story as she digs deep to investigate once she sees her dead son alive and well in a different city three years after his supposed death. The private investigator she hires to help is definitely more than she bargained for. It’s a great, thrilling book about family, faith and friendship. Highly recommend. Just $9.99 from Amazon here.

Handpicked by Dani Oden

Hanpicked by Dani Oden was a fun, lightheaded book about a college freshman named Jill who decides to go through sorority recruitment. She experiences a lot, and nothing is as it seems. She looks at leaving the sorority, but can’t seem to get out. Is everything as scary as it looks, or will Jill find out that sisterhood really is a great thing? While this wasn’t true to real sorority life, it was a fun read, and I enjoyed the novel. It’ll be interesting to see what book 2 holds for the Pledged book series. You can buy this now on Amazon for $2.99.

Tender Deceit by H.Y. Hanna

A very good, fun novel by H.Y.Hanna. I enjoyed this book, and got lost in the intrigue and romance of it all. Set in Singapore, it provided a different backdrop and made for a much more intriguing story than those I’ve read lately. Can’t wait to read book 2, Tender Treachery.

I’ll be back with more soon! Here’s to another great year in books!

Jessie

The beach life…

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TIMG_6533here’s something about a week relaxing on the beach with your family and the people who are just like family… It’s a balm to your heart and soul. It melts away the stress of everyday life, and gives you a perspective that can be hard to find otherwise.

We took off on our annual family beach vacation a few weeks ago, and we had the time of our lives. Nothing compares to this week and the laughter, love and fun it brings to my life.

These people are my world. Every last one of them. And it was a week to remember. It was the third annual trip with this incredible group, and each year has been better than the last one – and that’s really saying something after the first two trips. This time around, we took over the gorgeous Chatham House in Seaside, Florida and made it our home for seven fantastic days. I’m not sure I’ve been in a more modern or high-tech house in my life, which only added to our amusement and enjoyment.

For my part, I waIMG_6949ndered through the most adorable ocean-front town in the South, strolled through my favorite bookstore each and every day, enjoyed some incredible wine – and more than anything I soaked up the time with family.

The days really don’t get much better than that, do they? I sure don’t think that’s possible. Here’s to enjoying the beach life when you get the chance!

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Book reviews and recs…

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There’s something about summer that tends to find me lost in a book. Between reading on car rides and at the pool – and soon, at the beach – I’ve been flying through some fun summer reads.

The Beaches and Brides Romance Collection by Cathy Marie Hake and others

If I had held this book in my hands, I may have freaked out with joy. It was HUGE. I originally thought it was just five novellas, but the stories read like full-length books, which is a big compliment in my book. Five difference stories all set by the sea tell you about how the Key West nanny, the Washington widow, the Maine sister, the Georgia lightkeeper and the Virginia artist all find love. This was sweet, uplifting historical Christian fiction that really made me smile. Read via NetGalley. Find more info here.

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I haven’t read a Janet Evanovich book in quite a while, but this book was AWESOME and I just flew through it. Die-hard FBI agent Kate O’Hare is fun to read about, and I got so wrapped up in the story of how she was trying to “catch” international thief and con artist Nicolas Fox. There are so many great twists and turns in this book. It really kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Read via NetGalley. Find more info here.

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Perfected was touted as something fans of Keira Cass’ Selection Series would enjoy, and since those books have been some of my favorites of the year, I decided to give it a whirl. While it’s a teen novel, this book actually made me think more than any book has in the past year. In Perfected, legislation has been passed that allows humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets to the rich and famous. Ella is sold as a pet to a congressman for his young daughter, but is kidnapped by activists and “set free.” She struggles, and it’s such a crazy thing to read about. My only complaint about this book was that the story just ended. There wasn’t a great wrap-up to the story, and I missed that. Read via NetGalley. Find more info here.

Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst

The head of an up-and-coming NYC matchmaking agency needs a dose of her own medicine. Kennedy takes on one of her hardest clients ever – a rocket scientist who is a little challenged in the dating realm. She thinks she can find the right girl for him. But she’s not sure she wants to. Fun, cute summer read. Read via NetGalley. Find more info here.

Wrapping up Oklahoma…

IMG_6074All in all, we spent eight days on the road enjoying Alabama softball, the Women’s College World Series and Oklahoma City. It was so much fun to cheer the Crimson Tide on to their second-ever appearance in the championship series. While it may not have ended the way we wanted, I wouldn’t trade our time out there for anything in the world.

It was a mini vacation for sure for Brett and me. We enjoyed a lot of downtime, and I got in a few extra workouts, long walks, books and more.

One morning Brett and I ventured out on our own and found breakfast at the adorable Kitchen No. 324 in downtown OKC. It was delicious – I was so excited to find something fun and IMG_6120new to check out…. and then I saw the in-house coffee bar. Y’all. There weren’t words. I had the best iced mocha of my life. It was so good, and I didn’t shut up about it for so long, that Brett brought me TWO the next day to wake me up. Bonus points for that man, I tell you. Bonus points.

In Bricktown, a cute little downtown area we were staying in, were lots of fun little shops and restaurants, including Sonic’s international headquarters along with their flagship store. It was our goal to go beat the heat and enjoy a Sonic slush during our stay, but that seemed to be the hardest part of our trip. It took us three different trips down to Sonic before I finally came away with my cherry slush (Brett went with watermelon, blech!)

We completed our IMG_6145list of fun things to do with a morning – seriously, 9:50 a.m. – trip to the movies to see Maleficent. It was fantastic – and if you liked Wicked, you’ll love this. The movie reminded me of the show a lot, in the sense that it was “the other side of the story.” We had a ball that morning, for sure!

While Alabama lost to Florida in the championship series, it meant the world to be there as Jordan ended her collegiate career. We’ve watched hundreds of softball games over the past 10 years, and I couldn’t imagine not being there for her and be there to hug her when it was all over. And we had a lot of fun along the way too – in case you couldn’t tell. Roll Tide, and thanks for the memories sweet sister of mine!

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Be Bold…

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How’s that for a Monday morning giggle? This certainly speaks to the designer in me – and it fits my personality as well. Thank goodness for Pinterest when you need a little inspiration, right?

Here’s to never, ever being regular.