5 Lessons Learned After 5 Years of Living in the South

I’ve been a proud resident of rural Tennessee for the past five years, and I’ve gleaned a bit of unconventional wisdom that I wasn’t aware of before moving to the South.  Here are the 5 lessons I’ve learned after 5 years of living here. Continue reading “5 Lessons Learned After 5 Years of Living in the South”

Easy Empanadas for an Quick Meal

Would you look at this?  Kids are back in school and I have a little bit of time to update the blog!  I actually recorded this baking tutorial while all 8 of them were home, and they were shockingly quiet – or outside in the pool the whole time.

Empanadas were introduced to our family last year through our au pair Tatiane who was from Brazil and since their introduction, I have, of course, put my own healthy spin on this quick and easy meal.



Preheat oven to 425

2 cups of almond milk – bring to a simmer (NOT BOILING!), take off stove.

Add 1/1/2 cups of lard (or bacon grease) and 2 TB Butter.  Let melt and cool.

Add 5 tea of yeast.  Stir.  Add 5 cups of flour and 1-2 tea salt (depending on how salty you like your food).  Stir until incorporated.  Kneed this mixture for about 5 minutes and let rest and rise for at least an hour.

Make filling – Check Pinterest for recipes or the fridge for leftovers.

Roll out small pieces of dough into a disk shape.  Fill with whatever filling you’ve made. Fold over, crimp edges if you want to, put on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Just keep livin!

Introducing The New & Improved JESSPLUSTHEMESS!

This is a quick post – my kids are still home for summer break – to tell you all –


This has been months (maybe even close to a year!) in the making. I officially went live yesterday, and I am so incredibly proud of how it all turned out. Lisa Delaney has been the epitome of patience as she has sought to bring my vision of rustic jessplusthemess charm to life, and she succeeded beautifully.

There are lots of changes you’ll initially notice as the blog is no longer the focal part of the website as I seek to expand my jessplusthemess brand to include: merchandise, speaking, favorites, and recipes to name a few.

So, go ahead – poke around a bit. The Favorites and Store tabs are still a work in progress but the store will soon offer super hip and inspirational “just keep livin” apparel and the favorites will be all of my favorite things in life.

Oh, and as you’ll also see, if you subscribe to receive emails from me – which honestly, will just be blog updates for awhile until I find time to create a newsletter, you will also receive the introduction and first chapter of Sunlight Burning at Midnight FOR FREE!

Thank you as always to all of you who continue to support me on this wild ride I get to call my life.

Just keep livin!

Healthy Sweet Potato Dark Chocolate Muffins

New recipe for y’all as the school year ends – which is today – you can start those prayers now please.  These are my go to muffins to make for the kids in the morning before they head off to school.  Easy, tasty, low mess, healthy sweet potato muffins.  The best part, as always, is that you can make them in one bowl.  Don’t we all love that? Enjoy!

2 big sweet potatoes – baked at 400 for about an hour – until soft.  Cool, remove peels and mash in a large bowl.

Add –

1 cup coconut oil or applesauce

1 cup almond milk

1/1/2 cups maple syrup

1 tea salt

2 tea cinnamon

4 tea baking powder

4 tea baking soda

2 tea vanilla

4 cups flour

2 TB Chinese 5 spice

Mix all together well.

Add dark chocolate chips, wheat germ, flax seed or chia seeds if you want.

Grease muffin pans and fill about halfway.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.