We are back from China.  And moving towns next week.  And this is my last week of work.  And one of my close friends, Jon, has aggressive, rare cancer.

I feel like I’ve been choking on my words, so it’s been hard to fill this space with much.  I have things to say, just not quite ready to say them.

I do know we step up when we’re needed, and we rally as long as we have to.  I’m glad to be back home, and grateful, as always, for the opportunity to travel with the people I love.

*If you are looking to give back this holiday season, any little amount helps Jon and his family with the excessive costs of medical care, transportation, and lost wages from missed work.  There is a GoFundMe site set up for him – even if you can’t give anything, share the link everywhere you can.

First Anniversary

Today marks a year since our wedding.  It went quick, and was marked by so many life changing moments and losses and gains that we now see how each year will bring a stronger foundation to our marriage.

View More: http://alejandramariaphotography.pass.us/jill-and-bryan-wedding

We didn’t do anything special today, except spend good quality time together, enjoying a rainy, dreary day watching our favorite shows.  He made me breakfast, and I’m about to make him some chocolate chip cookies.  Nothing special, and everything perfect.


I’m already packing for our move and shifting into temporary mode.  I’m scared, but scared excited, for new things.  Since we’ve been working on finding someone to take over our lease, it has been nice to pack and clean so the place looks tops.  I’ve packed pictures and frames, collections, books, summer clothing, supplies, games, movies – and while I love those things enough to have them in the first place, it’s been nice living a more stark existence.  I’m constantly fighting my two sides – eclectic cozy and modern utilitarian simplicity – the blend is perfect, actually, because purely one or the other would be too much for me.

Bryan and I celebrate our 1 year anniversary of being married this weekend and it’s our last weekend at home before China, so I’m getting revved up for a big weekend of cleaning, organizing, packing, snuggling, fun dinner, and definitely going to a matinee of Interstellar.

Things on the photo front have been lacking, but this picture from 2007 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, perfectly depicts my excitement for the next few months.  Big excitement!



I am not usually openly proud about not fitting an acceptable body image, because I know it would scare the world if they really knew just how much self esteem I have.

But this video shook me to my core.  Kim Selling says everything I’ve ever wanted to hear.  Because there’s not enough pain or misfortune or ill favor to wish upon those enemies that put you down.  Because you feel so bad for those people, even those who know you well, who you love, who pity you for your weight, yet live desperately in their own way.

We are all despicable, wanting, in need of improvement, missing something, losing something, ruining something.  Some of us are just strong enough and brave enough to wear our flaws for the world to see.


I haven’t been scared since I moved to college.  That’s not to say I didn’t feel apprehension, anxiety, or worry.  But real scared, where I didn’t know what to expect or what would happen, and I have no control over the situation?  It’s been a long time.

I’m unraveling.  I hate to quantify or qualify relationships, but it’s the easiest way to put it – the last of my best friends have left this place.  Haley moved to Los Angeles, and I feel such a hole in my heart.  I knew this time would come but what I didn’t expect was feeling so utterly lackadaisical.  Though I’m not the type to spend every free moment with my girlfriends, I am suddenly very aware that I’m alone, the last one.

This is all very dramatic for something as inane as moving from your college town out into the world.  And being the last one isn’t even true, as there are fistfuls of people still here who I love and adore and will miss when I’m gone.  But it’s these last months of waiting, not knowing where we will live, where we will work, or who will take over our current lease, that are simultaneously killing my spirit and revving me up for the next big thing.

All of this is garbage, nothing talk.  To put it out there feels good and I never forget that I have a best friend for a husband.  But learning where to re-direct your energy, planning for the uncertain, that’s scary.  Scary, exciting and just what I need.

By the way, I use handkerchiefs.  My husband thinks it’s gross.  This is a picture of one of my favorite hankies.


I grew up in a neighborhood everyone called Sunset Park, after the giant park nearby.  Sunset Drive, the hub, was the quintessential middle-America-divinity: cul-de-sacs, candy canes on every mailbox at Christmas time, and the best candy at Halloween meaning every one from town came to our area to trick-or-treat.

My brother and I walked the neighborhood endlessly as kids, with our dog in tow and without a leash usually.  We swam in neighbor’s pools, babysat their kids, shared forts and tree houses.  But my favorite part was the old ladies.

For the record, I’m reclaiming the term old lady.  I feel like it sounds bad but I mean it with so much dignity, respect, and reverence that it truly is an honorable title.  The cult of beauty created by companies selling us stuff have really taken away the respect from aging.  Anyways, the old ladies in my neighborhood were the best.  My main gal was Ruth.

Ruth was the kind of woman that made me not afraid to be old.  Her hands were like knotted tree stumps, her skin was wrinkled to infinity, and she walked with a shuffle.  But she never complained, was always laughing and telling me jokes, doing puzzles, baking and gardening.  Her den always had a card table with a puzzle going and sometimes I would sit and work on it while she went about her day.  She always asked me questions and was genuinely interested in me even though I was five, six, seven years old.

From my visits with Ruth came a love for something strange and wonderful and whimsical that has only grown with age: my love of miniatures.  Her kitchen and dining room walls were lined with small shelves and cabinets, full of miniatures.  Glass animals, bronze trees, scenery, a marble, a miniature washing board.  I loved to stare at the tiny details.  Now, you’ll find small things all around my house, some with functions, some without.

My best friend knows this about me and has told me for years about her dollhouse in Tennessee.  I’ve heard about this masterpiece for years, but it wasn’t until Christmas when she moved back there that I started getting pictures.  Without her permission, I wanted to share them today as an introduction to my love of the tiny, as I will be sharing more tiny things I keep around the house.



That tiny sun deck!  I would live all up in that house.



I always wanted an intricate dollhouse but had to settle for copious amounts of Polly Pocket.



So much wicker!  But the kitty on the bed is seriously too cute.



Those floors!  And a dollhouse in a dollhouse!  My eyes are watering!



Busy wallpaper and the tiniest rake and cat food bag ever!



Boys being boys being boys.

When I’m in Tennessee, we are going to play with this dollhouse so tough.

Something to look forward to

I always need something to look forward to.  I don’t care if it’s a year away, I can follow that small speckle of light in the distance for a long time.  Because of this, I’m always planning trips years in advance.  My current itinerary:  Beijing in November to visit Connie, road trip to Tennessee with Bryan to visit Ashley, Destry and Dorothy next May, and then Los Angeles to visit Haley, Becca, and Kristin in the Fall of 2015.  Whew.  I’m out of (internet) breath now.

I mention my beautiful future plans because I’ve had what can only be described as a bad attitude this week.  Everything I do at work feels menial and pointless, the days feel longer, and I am getting way too excited about the move and the trip to sit at a desk for eight hours a day.  Luckily my mood changes with the wind, so next week will be better.



(Our new gimpy art print from Stay Home Club – he’s smiling!)


(Cleaning out the random nails and screws floating around my desk drawers – randomness is perfect.)

IMG_3944(The thick and curly haired struggle is very real, my friends.)

We are headed north this weekend, I get to meet the last bit of Bryan’s family from Alaska, scout out rental houses, and of course, Target.  I’ve assured Bryan I’ll get over my zest for Target once we live so close to it.  One time, my brother asked my mom and I what was the big deal with Target?  I laughed because he asks the questions I’m sure all men are wondering.