CGjenny

“Church of the Small Things” and Other Times That I’m Sure That Melanie Shankle Has Tapped My Phone

Let me start here first, because I owe you an explanation for my absence:

Almost exactly one year ago, I went to a conference and got all jazzed about Rocking My Purpose, making connections and doing what I was called to do. The theme that played over and over that weekend was that I needed to write more. I wished for it; I prayed for it and I set my mind to it.

belong conference

Now, almost 365 days later, I’m writing so much that my eyes dry out several times a day, my back aches from my piss-poor excuse for a desk chair and I now know my cat’s litterbox habits better than I know my own (spoiler: there’s a sought-after litterbox in my office and no, I don’t use the litterbox to do my business).

 

The downside of all of this writing is that, at the end of the day, I have no more words. Seriously, my brain is mush and all I’m capable of are grunts, eye rolls and (finger) snapping at my disobedient children. Sadly, coming here to blog just isn’t happening with the frequency that I’d like. But, all of this to say, LOOK AT ME! I’m here today and I have something cool to talk about.

I don’t know when I first discovered Melanie Shankle’s blog but I’m an avid reader (especially her Fashion Friday posts). I also listen to her blog (link HERE) when I’m walking the dog and, between that podcast and Watch What Crappens, I’m surely the “crazy lady who laughs to herself while walking the Weimaraner around the neighborhood.”

I really and truly feel like we could be friends in real life if we were ever to meet (and if I wasn’t so socially awkward, of course). We tend to have the same taste in things and she says things that I have thought so often that I swear she’s tapped my email, messenger and phone (because, I’m sure she’s super interested in what I have to say and has time to sit in a van outside of my house with headphones on, listening to my conversations).

Case in point:

Church of the Small Things
Church of the Small Things

Except for in this case, because I HAVE the white couches and I love them, BUT, they’re slipcovered so that I can wash them as needed (and, boy, do they need it right now….boogers and dog hair for daaaayz <Boogers & Doghair will also, coincidentally, be the name of my punk rock band some day>).

I was selected to be on the launch team for her latest book, Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life, this summer and I was ecstatic.  Truth serum time: I’ve never read anything other than Melanie’s blog. But, hear this: She has another book called “Nobody’s Cuter Than You,” which I’ve been meaning to read for years and let me tell you why:

——-Tangent Time——–

Erika
No one’s cuter than her. No one!

 

Years ago, when I lived in Corpus Christi, I was at a salon with my dearest friend on the planet. I don’t remember how or why we were both there at the same time. We were broke post-college students, so I know that it wasn’t a “spa-day” situation but, regardless, we were both there at the same time and that’s all I know. There was, what I assume,  a bridal party at the same salon that day and, it sounded like they had probably had a glass (or 42) of champagne. One of the girls would exclaim loudly and at the most random intervals, “NO ONE IS CUTER THAN YOU! NO ONE!” It was bizarre and endearing and hilarious and it stuck with my friend and I and we’ve adopted it as our own. Occasionally I’ll send her a text saying, “NO ONE IS CUTER THAN YOU! NO ONE!” and she gets it. So, all of this to say…when I meet Melanie Shankle, that will be the first thing I ask her, “were you with a bridal party at a salon in Corpus Christi in or around the year 1998?” That wouldn’t be strange, would it? WOULD IT?

——-Back on Topic———

So, I got an advance copy of Shankle’s new book (that comes out early next month) over the summer. I inhaled it in one sitting because, her voice is so relatable and easy to hear but also because it’s like she’s in my head. So many of her experiences or things that she talks about run parallel to my own life.

The book is equal-parts like you’re visiting with your oldest, dearest friends on the back porch on a cool morning and soulful, deep thoughts. As cliche as it sounds, I laughed and I cried. Her chapter about her grandparents hit me hard and deep. I love Shankle’s writing style and her book felt a lot like an extra long blog post–which is just what I was hoping for.

 

You can order the book HERE

I mean, just look at her…

Melanie Shankle
Melanie Shankle

She’s cute, she’s fashion-forward and she can wear boots non-ironically. Order Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life now. It comes out on October 3 and will make the best reading for sitting through soccer practices, sitting outside enjoying the cooler weather or holeing up in a quiet room to escape your family during Thanksgiving (oh wait, is that just me?)

I’ll be back soon…I promise.

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CGjenny

Friday Favorites

I’ve had a monumental week, friends. After being in a spending freeze since early January, I went clothes shopping for the first time in 3 months…which is quite possibly the longest I’ve ever gone without buying a single article of clothing.

I write for a newspaper in Houston and am paid enough to make a little extra “fun” money for myself. I’ve been saving my money and had finally saved enough to warrant a shopping trip. I had been wanting some new, bright Spring tops and wanted to see what Nordstrom and Anthropologie had to offer.

So, I rounded up a few neighbors and we shuttled to the nearest high-end shopping center–about an hour from home–and made a fun day of shopping and lunching. It was much-needed and I found 3 great tops, which are a few of my Friday Favorites for this week.

This is what I came home with:

 

Tie cuff tee

I hate spending this much on a tee shirt, but the cut is terribly flattering on this tee and it’s just different-enough to keep it interesting. I love the bright red color too.

Milla Printed Top

I hate the way that this top looks on the Anthropologie website. I walked into the store and saw it on a mannequin and immediately fell in love–but I’m not typically a purple gal. I tried it on though and really, really liked it but wasn’t sure it was worth the $88 price. So, I walked out without it. Then, I thought about it the whole time we were at lunch. I made my friends go back and look at it with me and I was convinced that it was a “Jenny” top. I brought it home and I think it’s my favorite purchase of the day. I also happened to have a necklace from Accessory Concierge that matches it perfectly!

Kut From The Kloth Jasmine Print Blouse

This top I laid eyes on the second that I set foot into the ladies’ department at Nordstrom and knew that I wanted it. The colors are vivid, the material is sheer yet covers enough (I think? I might end up wearing a cami under it though, on second thought) and the cut is fabulous. Would you believe that I tried it on with my turquoise Kendra Scott earrings and it looked great? I told you those earrings go with everything…

And that’s what I came home with. Sadly, I spent most of my money on these 3 tops, but I’ve learned over the years that investing in a few high-end, truly special pieces always serves me better than buying 12 tops at Target.

 

My next Friday Favorite is the book that I’m reading: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor & Park

I don’t think that I’ve read a YA book since I WAS a YA, so this is a bit of a departure for me. But, it’s set in the late 1980’s, so it kind of harkens back to that time in my life. It’s delightfully endearing, well-written and brings back a lot of those teenaged-angsty feels as well as those wispy first-love feelings. It’s not as fluffy as I’d thought–which is good–and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I even found myself YouTubing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” the other night at 10pm, because of this book.

And, that’s about it for my favorites this week! It was a fun shopping trip and I’m excited to wear my new tops very soon.

Tell me what your favorites are this week!

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CGjenny

Life lately

The past few weeks have been a bit of a fuzzy blur around here. I thought I’d use today’s post to catch you up on all of our happenings.

The Lion King:

A couple of weeks ago, Anna participated in a production of The Lion King. They began rehearsals in September, so it was a big commitment for the whole family, shuttling her to and from rehearsals for 4 months.

She had a small role, but she was happy not to have to a speaking role and she was really happy to get to be a BLUE bird (blue is her favorite color). I also got to hone my stage-makeup skills, which was pretty fun, once I got the hang of working with stage makeup.

After it was all said and done, she had a ball. She really enjoyed the performances, even though she was exhausted after doing 3 performances in 2 days time (we all were).

Then, after a weekend of Lion King madness, we were really looking forward to a quiet weekend with no obligations this past weekend. We got exactly that.

Return to the Library:

On Saturday, we made a family trip to the public library to renew my library card, get everyone else their own card and get our Kindles connected to the library’s online lending software.

About every 2 years or so, I re-discovered the library. I get super excited at the prospect of reading all of the books I could possibly ever want to read–not to mention movies, magazines and even a calendar of events to attend! Then, after a few months of active library use, I get disenchanted with something (likely a random late fee or stressing about a lost book) and then I go off of the library again. But, with our newfound “Budget Bootcamp” mode and with one child who’s a voracious reader–who’s single-handedly busting our Amazon Prime budget up with her constant need for a new book to read because she’s read everything over the course of a weekend–we found ourselves back at the library.

Luckily, we all walked out with books that we were excited about. I checked out several, but immediately got sucked into A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand.

I thought I’d read all of Hilderbrand’s books, so I was excited to find one that I hadn’t read. As with all of her books, I picked it up and have been looking forward to my bedtime reading every night since. (The links above are affiliate links)

Another exciting library happening: (if you follow me on Instagram you saw this already)

This roadrunner was outside of the library, pecking at himself in the windows. Being the certified “bird nerd” that I am, I got way more excited than I probably should’ve and giggled and squealed and snapped pics. Ugh. Bless my heart.

Then Sunday.

We went to church (more on this in an upcoming post) then came home to begin preparing Superbowl snacks. We made a rule for Superbowl this year that we’d eat what we already had in the freezer, fridge and pantry. We had cream cheese, sausage and crescent rolls, lunch meat and cheese so I made the following goodies:

Cubano sandwiches: image courtesy of Pillsbury

Recipe HERE

These were yummy and used up 2 cans of crescent rolls and a lot of the turkey and ham that I’d purchased for Anna’s post-Lion King party that we hosted. Everyone in the house enjoyed these (which is a rarity).

We also made this:

Image courtesy of: www.plainchicken.com

Recipe HERE

I went to lunch with friends last week and had deviled eggs with bacon jam on top. Oh. My. Word. So, I had a hankerin’ for more of those and figured that we could replicate them at home. So, we attempted this recipe for Bacon Jam.

Image courtesy of www.allrecipes.com

It’s with a broken heart that I have to report to you that this was a colossal fail. I’m not going to blame the cook (who was Kevin) but something went terribly, terribly wrong and we ended up with a charred blob of black goop. There were some tears shed, but my deviled eggs went on, albeit without bacon jam.

After spending lunchtime in the kitchen cooking our snacks, we settled in to watch the Kitten Bowl and then the big game.

Captain Thunderpants settling in to watch The Kitten Bowl

 

So, that’s what my life has looked like lately. What’s going on in your world?

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CGjenny

Friday Favorites–Frugal Friday

I don’t know about you, but we’re in a major “budget triage mode” around here, trying to contain the financial hemorrhaging that the Holidays caused.

I was working on a thrilling Friday Favorites post about my favorite underwear, which happen to be $17 a pop, when I realized that encouraging you to buy those undies right now didn’t jibe with my own, personal seasonal spending freeze–and maybe you’re experiencing the same thing.

Alas, don’t fret, Grasshopper, I’ll likely tell you all about these magical $17 underwear next Friday–but this Friday, I decided to highlight a few of my current favorite indulgences that cost very little (a Netflix membership) or nothing at all.

First up–a Podcast that I adore:

Image courtesy of http://boomama.net/

The Big Boo Cast is brought to you by Melanie Shankle (link to her blog HERE) and Sophie Hudson (her blog HERE).

Maybe it’s because I’m born and raised in the South, but listening to these two Southern ladies talk makes me feel like I’m having a long phone conversation with my aunts, my old middle school friends and my favorite adult friends, all at the same time, while also eating a giant vat of banana pudding. Their humor tickles me and they talk about the stuff that I’m interested in (spoiler: it’s not heavy stuff) and, honestly, it just feels like home.

I often save their new podcasts for my daily dog walks and find myself giggling while traversing the hiking trails in my neighborhood–looking like a bonafide loon, I’m sure. “Oh, you know Jenny?..The one who laughs to herself while walking the Weimaraner?”

Music:

I put on a Rest and Relax-type of station on Spotify one day and I kept finding myself running to my phone to find out who this one particular artist was whose music kept playing on the playlist. It was Jose GonzalezHis songs also appear on the The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty soundtrack.

 

Gonzalez’ music is great, ambient music that I can put on and just largely ignore while I’m cooking or working around the house. The rhythms and guitar playing are fabulous and it appeals to me in a very “Iron and Wine” way. Here’s the video for one of the songs from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that I really like:

 

TV:

I’m surely the last person on the planet to finally watch The Crown on Netflix, but my husband and I have finally delved into it. Sadly, we’re only halfway through because we watch it at bedtime and, well, there’s something about staying up past 9:30 pm on a school night; dark and gloomy scenes from 1950’s England and mid-life that cause us to not be able to stay awake for a full hour of a show. BUT, don’t let this paint the series as boring–it’s not. I find it fascinating. And, now that I’m watching it, I feel like I know The Queen and her family in an intimate way–just like when I read The Royal We and felt like I was a close, personal friend of William and Kate’s from University (spoiler alert: I am, in fact, NOT).

Are you trying to reign in your post-Holiday spending? What frugal favorites do you have to share? 

This post contains affiliate links which help to support and maintain this website.

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CGjenny

What I’m Reading

If you saw my post about my 2017 goals, you know that I’d like to read more thought-provoking books this year. I typically read about 1-2 heavy-duty books a year and then “recover” with lots of “beach-reading” afterward. I guess what I need to do is find a happy medium so that I don’t need to binge read the fluffy stuff after a challenging title. 

That said, here’s what I’m currently reading:

The NestThe Nest is about a group of siblings who are awaiting the delivery of their “Nest”–the money they’re set to inherit when the youngest sister turns 40. This is a dysfunctional family and the characters are interesting and engaging. The Nest sucked me in immediately. I’m about halfway through right now and it continues to hold my interest.

What I’ve just finished:


Commonwealth

I started reading Commonwealth right before Christmas and it left me wanting more each night, as I struggled to stay awake to read just one more chapter. Toward the end, the characters got a little fuzzy for me (could’ve been the general overwhelm of the holiday season and how tired I was each night before bed) and the ending fell a smidgen flat for me, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

What I’ve read recently:


The Hating Game: A Novel

Holy sexual tension! Um, this book was engaging in an “it makes me feel kinda funny, like when I used to climb the rope in gym class”–way, so, that alone kept me reading it, but I found the ending to be predictable and one dimensional. It would make for a good in-flight or poolside read though.

 

The Blue Bistro

Criminy! Again with the sexual tension! Like all of Hilderbrand’s books, this one takes place in Nantucket and it’s a feast for your imagination with visions of perfect, quaint little Nantucket lives. This book was an easy read and very predictable–which is sometimes all I can manage. Another good book for a quick weekend read. 


The Nightingale

So, I read The Nightingale back in the Fall and I adored it but…it gutted me. It is brilliantly written and tells an important story but, manalive, it chewed me up and spit me out. I highly recommend this book but prepare a few fluffy reads for your recovery from this one. 

 

What are you reading these days? Please share! 

This post contains affiliate links, which help to support the maintenance and upkeep of this blog. 

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CGjenny

2017 goals

I’m an action-oriented, list-making type of person, so I enjoy the beginning of a new year and all of the promise and potential that it holds. I’ve never really been a resolution-maker but lately, I’ve grown accustomed to setting some goals and intentions for myself at the beginning of the year. 

This year, I have some goals and I thought I’d share them here, in the hopes that they’ll inspire you and also hold me accountable.

Without further ado, here are my goals for 2017…

Continue reading “2017 goals”

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CGjenny

Self-care in early sobriety

I didn’t go through a traditional “recovery” program when I stopped drinking. I just stopped, with very little plan in place. Luckily, things didn’t get bad enough to seek any sort of help and I was able to quit on my own. But, the more I read about more traditional recovery methods, the more I see the term “self-care” and I realize that I practiced some self-care habits without even knowing that it was such a thing. These self-care habits helped me immensely in my early days of sobriety and I thought I’d share some of mine with you today.

Detox Tea:

detoxtea2

 

I drank this concoction daily–often multiple times a day–during the early days of my sobriety. I think I first tried it due to a head cold, but found it so comforting that I continued on with it through that winter and beyond.

To make:

Take one small “knob” of ginger root, peeled and diced into chunks. (Not too small, because then the chunks will float up and you’ll inadvertently drink them. You want the chunks to hang out in the bottom of the mug.)

Pour boiling water over the top and let it steep for several minutes.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon in plus a shake of cayenne pepper, about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and either a little Stevia or a drop or two of honey to taste.

This “tea” also does wonders for a sore throat or cough. The cayenne warms from the inside and it’s oddly comforting. It’ll cure what ails you–be it physical or emotional.

Workout:

I threw myself into a few different classes at my gym during those early days of sobriety. I was searching for a place to be social, (well, about as social as I ever care to be…spoiler alert: not very social) that didn’t involve the prospect of “going for drinks” and my local YMCA filled that niche for me. I found a few classes (and instructors) that I liked and I went religiously to those classes. This, along with omitting the calories from alcohol, resulted in a pretty significant weight-loss for me. For the first time in my life, I felt strong–in every sense of the word. It was a game-changer for sure. 

Reading:

I dove into a few books during this time too. I enjoyed having time before bed when I was sober and I looked forward to reading before sleep. I remember enjoying “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom during this time. It was great to feel like I wasn’t alone.

Also, this book: “Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety

I still practice self-care on a daily basis. I’ve learned that I have to address my needs before they pile up and explode in my face. I make no apologies about taking care of myself.

selfcare2

Tell us how you practice “self-care”…

cheers-jenny

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