Our Annual Pilgrimage

15 Jan, 2016

When Wayne and I first started dating more than 5 years ago things happened quickly and life with him was easy and good. In those early days when we were living together despite having known each other for only a short time it felt like there was a lot to learn. Now I feel like I know him almost as well as I know myself, I can predict how he will react to a certain suggestion and ride out the swell of his moods. But in those early days we jumped at the chance to get to know one another on a little trip to Disney World for the Food and Wine Festival. When I told Wayne how much I had enjoyed the experience in previous years he jumped at the chance. Food? Alcohol? This is totally our thing.

We have been back every year since. This year was the first that we considered not going. I didn’t have very many vacation days left after our trip to Germany and this is, of course, the first year we didn’t live in Florida so we had a flight to add to the expense. Also, our normally decent savings account was pretty nonexistent after purchasing a home, starting renovations, and planning a wedding. We ultimately decided, though, that this trip is important to us. It is perhaps the one tradition that has never been upended and, though we have gone with many different groups of people, one that we always enjoy SO MUCH. We decided to prioritize it over other, more adult things.

This year we had a really cool new surprise. An old friend of mine works in Hollywood Studios now and we met up with him to go see the last year of the Osborne Family’s Festival of Lights. I didn’t even know these existed so I’m obviously not the Disney fanatic so many of my friends are. 🙂 They were awe inspiring and I cannot even explain the joy I felt when I found the perfect spot from which to enjoy the snow machine.


Group Lights

Then Arie and Wayne managed to convince Sabrina and I to ride a few terrifying rides. You can tell by my ridiculous faces how much I like these things right? We’re middle left on the Tower of Terror ride; Right side is really not bringing it in this photo!

tower of terror

rock roll

Arie and that kid in her seat behind us are really enjoying this. I’m dying. Obviously.

If you haven’t been, the Food & Wine Festival is held in Epcot. Little stalls that serve food and beverages meant to represent each country are served from them and there are a ton of countries represented. The lines are long, the food is surprisingly delicious, and it’s kind of hard to get tipsy with all the walking and waiting. We always seem to manage, but it is a tiring day.

epcot beginning


Fake Germany has a great hall just like real Germany did but is much less raucous. Wayne and I pin trade like small children and it’s one of my favorite things but obviously we’re the only ones. 🙂

downton abbey


There are opportunities for silly picture taking alone the way and the permanent countries have really awesome stores explicitly for buying that country’s merchandise and taking silly pictures. Like this ogre in Norway.


By the end of the night we are usually pretty tired and ready to retire to our airBnB or hotel room for the snacks we thoughtfully bought beforehand. Because we are pros at this.


<3 Jessa

PS Send us your dates if you want to meet up on our annual Pilgrimage in 2016! We would love to explore with you!





6 Jan, 2016

I am writing this completely frustrated. It’s the kind of frustration that itches on your insides and makes it hard to be sweet or kind or patient, the way I want to be. It makes me want to rail and scream and SCRATCH.

I think sometimes it’s hard to be honest about yourself to everyone but sometimes it’s hard to be honest to yourself too. I follow this blog pretty closely and when she came out to her rather large readership about her health issues I was really sad for her but also glad that she opened up about the process and all of the ways it was impacting her. It was interesting to read and made me think about my health in a new way and, I don’t know, made me feel connected? Empathy is a big thing.

And now i have a weird situation, nowhere near as serious as hers, but I am experiencing some similar emotional stuff. During our wedding week I started to get hives. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening, sometimes in the middle of the day. Sometimes big hives on my upper thighs and back, sometimes small itchy bumps on my scalp and neck and behind my knees. I chalked it up to stress, felt otherwise healthy, and dealt with it. They would go away after short periods of time with no medication. If I woke up with a swollen lip and didn’t want to risk showing up at work with it I would take a generic allergy pill and it would be gone.

Well, the hives have persisted. Not just persisted, they’ve gotten worse. For the past three and a half months I have been getting hives almost daily. I tried an elimination diet for one month where I ate solely fruits and vegetables and drank only water while I paid close attention to my reactions to see if diet could be to blame. We cleaned our house because we noticed small mold spots to see if that helped. I went on vacations far away from our home and our climate and still got them. Last week was relatively hive free and, while I could not determine why, I let myself hope that maybe it had passed.

Just now, while in an advising session with a student, I had to excuse myself while I took an allergy pill. The inside of my mouth is swollen up to my teeth, my braline and inner thighs itch like hell, and my scalp is on fire. Plus I have other symptoms. Shitty ones. Seriously body, what’s up? You want to fight?

One of the hardest parts about this whole thing is the 50 questions I endure every day. They are the exact same questions you want to ask me right now. “Why does that happen?”  “Have you seen a doctor” Have you gotten an allergy test?” “Have you tried not eating gluten, my friend has a gluten allergy and gets hives” “Have you tried eating a whole garlic clove on an empty stomach? It destroys the bacteria in your body” ad nauseum. I know you are being concerned and it’s actually really nice that you want to help but I have these conversations several times a week, or anytime that someone asks me “How are you?” at the wrong time of day. And then people want updates. “Feeling any better?” “Oh I read this, have you tried this?” You are kind but I am exhausted and really really itchy and scared that they’ll never go away.

The other hardest part is that I have to go work with swollen lips and eyes sometimes because I can’t miss that many days of work. It’s kind of embarrassing.

I want my blog to be an honest reflection of me and what I’m going through and this is a big part of it right now. Allergy pills and pills to deal with what I hope are related symptoms and stressing about doctors and stuff.

<3 Jessa


Quiet Time

14 Dec, 2015

Our wedding week memories are distinctly split in my mind between quiet time and riotous laughter. Some of my favorite moments are chronicled right here. Getting ready with my lady friends, sipping champagne, our casual “first look”, and the anticipation of our entrance to the party. I know that it was a celebration of Wayne and I’s love to one another but it also felt extraordinarily like a celebration of our love for everyone that was there and their celebration of love for us.

This first picture is not pretty (through no fault of the photographer) but it is so wonderful to me. Tim caught us in a moment of peace, in our unrenovated future kitchen with the windows open and the dog at our feet. We are chatting and looking at the wedding hashtag #puttingonthewitz to see how our friends are enjoying Durham and spending their day.



Leaning in

Made Up






First Look 2

First Look

From the Doorway 2

From the Doorway

From the Doorway 3

From the Doorway 4

Grand Entrance 1

Grand Entrance 2

Grand Entrance 3

If this post is a little vain forgive me. This blog is as much my interest in chronicling my memories as it is my chance to share a little love in the world. Plus, that train! When I look at these pictures I feel incredibly grateful that I am surrounded now, more than ever, by really wonderful , loving, supportive women. I can’t imagine what I did to deserve them but I am so happy I have them.

<3 Jessa


PS. All photos by Tim Beckford (who is really fancy and fabulous for real!), currently of I Heart New York Photography.


Friday Favorites – Holiday Edition

11 Dec, 2015

You know that rule of thumb parents use to get presents for children? One thing to wear, one thing to read, one thing you want, and one thing you need. I’m following that from now on. 🙂


To Wear: 

Rose gold sequined leggings ALL DAY. Leggings are my whole life.

This mustard knitted loop scarf is on super sale for only $13.

To Read:

Policy and Laws impact so so much. I really love this one example of how people are encouraging one another to care about the policies that impact them and their communities. Plus it has to do with farming and food so…

Incarceration and education are sort of hot-topic areas to me. Education during imprisonment reduces recidivism by 43% and I could not be more excited that Pell Grants are going to be made available to qualified inmates in a test run at certain correctional facilities. This could have a direct impact on the lives of not just the offenders and ex-offenders, but also their families and children. RISE UP.

You Want:

We got this little snail speaker as a wedding gift and I have used it SO MUCH. It is adorable, it travels anywhere because it’s waterproof and suction cupped, and it works really well! Plus it’s only $30. Worth it.

I don’t think this is practical at all but I want these agate coasters. I just want tons of natural stone and wood and materials around me but I’m worried that setting down a glass on this will make a big clink or even crack them? Does anyone have these? Please educate me.

You Need: 

We have 3 king sized beds in our house and only 3 sets of king sheets. We definitely need a backup. Those aren’t cheap but they are so gorgeous!

We need a coffee table and if I had an extra grand hanging around, I would buy this one. It’s gorgeous and industrial looking and I could put such beautiful little bits and bobs in it.


I had to write this post because I have legit not thought about Christmas gifts at all. I’m in the spirit, I swear! We bought our tree the day after thanksgiving and had several cozy fires in the fireplace but gifts? Meh. I’m hoping this list kickstarts my own shopping.

<3 Jessa


30 Before 30 – Let’s Have Fun!

7 Dec, 2015

I’m a list person. Lists help me stay organized and motivate me and remind me to do things like buy laundry detergent, bring brownies to work for a birthday party, and have picnics. I legit just realized that I’m going to be 30 in like, 7 months, and that seems like a fucking reason to CELEBRATE!


My twenties have been a freaking great time, for real. In fact, I’m going to do a 20 things I learned in my 20s post before this year is done (HEY! That’s my new first item!) so that I can reflect on it and tell all you disenchanted youth about it. I know the Riotous Living blog is the hot hang out spot for disenchanted youth and I don’t want to let all of my loyal readers down.

The great thing is that I’ve heard from so many people that your 30s is actually even better than your 20s!  I know I’m supposed to be all sad and worried about getting old but what do I have to be sad about? … besides my new weird skin and the intense hangovers and having to wake up to pee in the middle of the night. That’s all pretty weird but seems par for the course. In reality I’ve hit so many stereotypical major life milestones in the past decade that I never expected to meet. If you had told 20 year old me that I would be married and living in my huge 2nd house and planning an entrepreneurial venture I would laugh in your face and then order us some shots of whiskey.


So let’s celebrate the last 7 months of my roaring twenties with some good times and a little edification. But let’s also be realistic here because I’ve only got 7 months and I am an adult and so that means realism right?

  1. Write a 20 Things I Learned In My 20s Blog Post and maybe one of those pretty pictures that allow it to be pinned.
  2. Go on a boat ride. This one is pretty realistic right? I know people with boats. And then I can use the #Imonaboat on Instagram.
  3. Go on an overnight hike. Wayne really wants to do that and I’m nervous about pooping in the woods so let’s compromise and make it just one night, right?
  4. Finish renovating one room in the house. Because seriously, if we can’t finish that stupid bathroom in 7 months I am a failure.
  5. Feel strong again. Be able to do 1 pullup and 10 real pushups. 
  6. Learn a new creative skill. I’m not sure what it will be but this lady at the State Fair was selling gorgeous painted eggs and if my chickens would ever start laying maybe I could learn that.
  7. Develop a skin care routine. See above freakout & pics re: my old lady skin. (no offense to actual old ladies)
  8. See a playBecause it’s been too long and I freaking love theatre. Done 1/3/2015! Book of Mormon was amazing!
  9. Try a fast for at least 24 hours. Rachel says this is really good for you, physically and mentally.
  10. Complete a 30 day challenge. Photos or abs or yoga or something. GD, woman, commit.
  11. Volunteer for a good cause. Again, it’s been too long and I really freaking love volunteering.
  12. Learn to make brownies from scratch. I think this is supposed to be really easy. I’d like to stop buying box mix in my thirties.
  13. Sell things I grew. It’s kind of the whole point of this farm thing.
  14. Wear my wedding dress againMy beautiful friend Krystall asked us to wear our wedding outfits to her wedding so that we could all get pictures. It was sweet and wonderful.
  15. Print and display some of our photos. 
  16. Ride a horse. Save a cowboy
  17. Send 10 pieces of “for fun” mail. Wedding thank you’s do not count. Also I need to send those out too. Please don’t be mad, adulting is hard. I get a year though, right?
  18. Find/Develop my signature go-to potluck dish.
  19. Keep a few hostess gifts on hand for parties. I seriously want to be this perfect womanly adult who sends mail and keeps a beautiful house and has hostess gifts and remembers birthdays. Will that happen overnight at 30?
  20. Make a cutesy vacation video.
  21. Make bread from my own starter.
  22. Learn how to use our gopro. Probably I should put this one before the vacation video bit.
  23. Host a dinner party using all delicious foods that I grew on this farm. OMG, just thinking about this makes me tear up a bit.
  24. Quit my office job. If you’re reading this and you work at my job, well that’s like a not secret secret.
  25. Go through my closet and give away all the stupid practical clothes that I hate or aren’t comfortable or that I don’t feel good in. I should feel good in my 30s cause I freaking love myself.
  26. Get comfortable with lipstick. That red lipstick at the wedding party that Wayne was not sure about was the best idea ever. Those pictures are awesome. Who knew that I’m like, model pretty? :p
  27. Enjoy a totally relaxing day by the pool with margaritas. Ya’ll can come.
  28. Do a 24 hour digital detox. No screens at all!
  29. Watch 5 movies on the IMD Top 250 list that I’ve never seen. 
  30. Fix the tractor. (Wayne is allowed to help)

I feel like this is a good list. Fun and reflective and good for me. What do you think? Questions, comments, concerns?

<3 Jessa



30 Nov, 2015

There is so much going wrong in this big beautiful world that we live in. Horrific weather patterns, Donald Trump running for president, mass killings, poverty, etc etc etc. Every day there are news articles and Facebook posts that make me sad  or disgusted or angry (especially the crap my friends share that isn’t even true), which is in stark contrast to the emotions I feel on a regular basis: happy, safe, content, productive, helpful.

I don’t see how anyone can be anything but thankful every single day when you are reminded of what you have that so many people don’t. I am thankful for a beautiful and loving family. This Thanksgiving was the first where my parents were both together since I was a child and I am so grateful that they have a good relationship and were able to spend my sister’s favorite holiday with me. I am thankful for a beautiful home home with beautiful rooms (I’m working on some of them) that allow me to host a full house for a huge holiday dinner. I am thankful for my safety and for the sense of security I have because of where I live and who I am. I am endlessly thankful for my health and my ability to do hard work. This was one of those years where I was reminded that, even at a relatively young age, my health should not be taken for granted. I am thankful for a partner who makes me laugh, who is a warm snuggle buddy and who puts up with my TV shows. And I am thankful for all of you.








We live in a world that needs more empathy and compassion. I am thankful that I am part of your circle and that you are part of mine. That we strive to further understand one another instead of judge, and that we work within our small circles of influence to make this world a better place.

<3 Jessa


Fall is here again

9 Nov, 2015

One day i woke up and some of the trees were changing color. It is amazing to me that each species knows exactly what to do and when to do it. It feels like they are all working together to create a beautiful painting for me. Some of them stay deep, dark green and fluffy looking. Those are the background. Some of the trees have leaves that change in stages so that, no matter when you look, some are yellow and some are red and some are brown. Up close it looks strange but when you stand back the tree looks like it’s covered in confetti. It looks joyous.

My favorite little bushes turn bright red and then, over time, tame down into a gorgeous cranberry color. And my favorite trees lose almost all of their leaves so that they get a stripped down, bare look – and the few leaves that are left are so incredibly noticible. It’s the leaves on the very ends of the branches and the very top of the tree and they are so bright in contrast to the bare wood that it looks like one of those toys you get at fairs and sporting events of the plastic fluffball with LED lights at the ends. The days are shorter and the time change has made it so it is dark by the time I leave work but I don’t mind too much because I really love the sweaters and the leaves and the down comforter on my bed. I get tired around 10pm because it’s already been dark for 4 or 5 hours and so feel really well rested for the next day, which is strange. 🙂

And then one day, this past Saturday, to be specific, the ground around our home is blanketed in brown leaves. When I walk around our property my feet kick them up and I can hear a satisfying crunch in my footsteps. How did they know to come down all at once? It’s like magic and I am reminded that nature often feels like magic to me. We open the windows to let in the cool breeze and as I’m walking around the house doing chores I can hear the chickens scratching in the leaves to find their next meal. I really love that noise.

The very next day – Sunday – you invite friends over for a satisfying meal and the temperature drops into the low 40s in the evening. And you light your very first ever home fire in the fireplace – perhaps the first fire our 1950s home has ever seen if you consider how clean the inside of that thing is. Fall makes me grateful for everything that I have: the family and friends and partner and home and life that I have instead of being worried about the things that I don’t. Having seasons, accompanied by the change in weather and change in foliage and change is really  healing.



<3 Jessa


Happy Birthday to My Mamadukes

20 Oct, 2015

My mama is one of my best friends. She has been testing in ways that I wish she had never been tested and she has been strong in ways I could have never imagined. She raised me to be independent, and strong like her. She raised me to rely on myself and no one else but since Jamie died sometimes I feel like we are holding one another up, like a ladder holds itself up with it’s two legs.

My mama used to wake me up for school by rubbing my back softly, and then 15 minutes later she would come do it again because I always wanted to sleep more. She would make me tomato soup with crushed saltines and grilled cheese when I was sad. She supported me when I decided I wanted to stop eating meat, even though that must have seemed really foreign to her.

My mama went horseback riding with me, took me on hundred mile yard sales with her, and let my friends throw me a really ridiculous barely legal 18th birthday party where everyone was dressed in lingerie and nudie mags were taped into a tablecloth. My mama is fun, she is wild, she is determined, and I am so glad that she is mine.

Happy  Birthday Mama. I can’t believe you are turning 35 again!










<3 Jessa

Gorgeous photos taken by Tim Beckford of I Heart New York Photography.



Host with the Most

14 Oct, 2015

When I was a child my family belonged to this thing called the Florida Indian Hobbyist Association. It seems like total appropriation now, but before I knew about those things it was the highlight of my year.  Every year my family and about 40 others would go camping in Fort Wilderness (it’s a Walt Disney campground) with our tipis. Yep, tipis. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories. My sister and I would run around on the playground, play tetherball, and visit the big trading post for Mickey things. I remember vividly being taught how to bake apples in the neighbor’s dutch oven over a real fire.

As traditions sometimes do, that tipi was packed away and has not been unfurled for at least a decade. When we bought this house I asked my dad if I could have it and he brought it up with him when he came for our wedding. He set it up in our pasture and after the party several drunk guests found dubious refuge in it.

That weekend Wayne decided to put the tipi on AirBnB on a whim, with legit one cell phone photo and a small description that it was on a relatively remote corner of our property with access to our private pond. Within days it was booked, and then booked again, and then booked again. We bought it a camp stove, built it a composting toilet, and broke out the old camp dishes that my family used to use all those Thanksgivings ago. I even found a gorgeous double dream catcher at the thrift store to hang.

Having strangers on our property is so far really freaking cool and a little hard. You never know how well or how poorly you will vibe with someone, or what little things they might do that seem careless or disrespectful to you. Alternately you never know what really amazing people can bring exactly what you needed that day into your life: encouragement about your farm dream, appreciation of this odd little piece of your background, or a smiling happy baby to snuggle for a few hours. Anyways, so far I’m glad we’re doing this and I’m excited to share our life and our farm with people in the future in this small way – since long term roommates is not really our scene.



tipi with cot






set up



Check us out and come camp with us. 🙂

<3 Jessa




Farm, Life

Ceremony Pictures!

2 Oct, 2015

I had an idea about what I wanted to write about today, but all of that flew out of the window when Adam from Crafted Focus Photography sent me all of his magic. Adam was our photographer for the ceremony and I am so glad that he was. He was so easy to be around and really captured the feel of our day.

Photography, for me, is one of the most important parts of any big event. You want people to feel comfortable all day long and you want to feel like you can really enjoy the day without worrying whether it’s being captured. It’s also one of the only things that will last forever; long after we grow old and my hair thins and our tattoos fade we will be able to look back on these gorgeous images and remember the best day I’ve ever had.

I was very choosy about hiring a photographer. I spent hours combing websites and reading reviews. I wanted a photojournalistic style, someone who would be able to capture – not just images – but emotions and feelings.  For this intimate day, and ceremony, I didn’t want overly brightened images that make me and my friends look “perfect”, or whatever “perfection” in weddings is. I wanted truth and natural beauty. Nothing posed, just candid shots of real life. That’s what I got.

The boys prepared for the day with haircuts and hot shaves at Rocks, a local barber shop with a bar in it.









My beautiful ladies (and a confused/bored puppy) prepped with me in the guest room.



6 Pup


7 Champagne


Last Touches




And then there was a lot of crying. Why do we cry so much when we are happy? Also the progression of these photos is pretty hilarious. Hug, cry, hug, cry harder, basically collapse in mama’s arms, cry, hug.


And then it was just love. Washing over and around us, palpable between us. I am so incredibly grateful to the people who spent their time and money prioritizing us and being there for us. These people basically threw their own party, cooking and setting up and painting and staining and cleaning. This day was almost perfect.





 Ring Bear


13 Love












Seriously, how beautiful are these? And this is just a sampling of my favorites. Thank you so much Adam. You have given me such a gift. I owe you many beers and some homemade lasagna.

<3 Jessa


Photographer: Adam Brophy of Crafted Focus Photography

Barber Shop: Rocks Bar and Hair Shop

Venue: Riotous Living Farm 🙂