Posts in Mississippi
A Morning in the Blueberry Bushes

I am thankful that I get to go and pick blueberries every summer. My freezer gets restocked on blueberries and I use them throughout the year for baking or making smoothies. 

My favorite part isn't having the blueberries in my freezer, it's the tradition of going and picking! Every summer growing up, we'd go pick blueberries at my Mimi's house. It's a step out of the everyday routine and it just feels good! It feels good to be doing the epitome of eating local -- picking your own berries. 

This Saturday morning was unseasonably cooler than typical MS mornings. It had just rained so the bushes and blueberries were wet. Our arms were immediately soaked due to reaching in and picking the plumpest berries. The Blueberry Crew which is Luke, Becca, Ms Barb (Luke's mom), and me, spent about an hour picking and talking. It was just perfect. 

Luke and I walked out with a good haul. I measured them on my food scale when I got home and it was over 4 pounds of Blueberries! 

Whenever I bring fresh blueberries home, I like to immediately wash them, so I don't have to worry about washing them after they are frozen. I can immediately incorporate them into whatever I'm making. I empty my bucket into colanders. Give them a good rinse, and then lay them on an old (and clean!) towel on my counter so the berries can dry. Pro Tip -- use a blue or darker colored old towel because blueberries will stain. 

Once the berries are dry, I pack them into gallon size freezer bags, lay them flat in my freezer and stack the bags on top of each other. I don't freeze them all immediately though. I usually leave about 3 cups in my fridge so I can use them right away. 

In the past we've made blueberry muffins, blueberry lemonade, and blueberry bread. This year is different because we are following Keto. Instead of the sugary treats, I made a Gluten Free and Sugar-Free Blueberry Cheese Danish Coffee Cake using this recipe. 

I never know how my Keto baking will turn out, but this was YUMMY! It wasn't too sweet, sometimes sugar replacements are just too sweet (Swerve is my favorite) and it didn't taste too almond-y. If you've tried Gluten Free baking, you know what I mean.

I was very pleased with how this came out! Plus, baking in a cast iron skillet makes me feel like a pioneer and I like that - LOL.

One of my dreams one day is to live on a piece of land that's big enough to have a lot of blueberry bushes where my friends and family can come pick and stock their own freezers. Until then, you'll just have to settle for some of my blueberry treats. - JJ  

That Farmers Market Feeling

Our town hosts a local Farmer's Market every Tuesday night during the summer. We went this past week and it was just the best! The weather wasn't 1000% humidity like it normally is in the summer. It was actually a perfect night to slowly make our way through the downtown market. 

Everything was so fresh and perfect! We stopped at this first stand called Salad Bar Farm. How cute is that name!? Their concept is so cool. They bag up fresh kale and lettuce and have everything you need for a good salad. We picked up some sunflower micro-greens. I tossed them into my salad yesterday and they made my salad extra nutritious and flavorful. The vender also said that they taste great in scrambled eggs! Trying that out soon.  

One of the highlights of summer is getting a GIANT Lemonade from the stand with the Hydraulic Lemon Press. It's seriously the coolest (and most delicious!) way to make lemonade. Becca and I both got Strawberry Lemonade. One magical time last summer we got Peach Strawberry Lemonade. It was heaven on earth!! 

I love how vibrant and colorful all of the vegetables are. I purchased some freshly dug red potatoes and cooked them up as soon as I got home. You can definitely taste the difference in a freshly dug up potato and one that's sat in the grocery store for a few days. 

I think our favorite stand was Sweet & Sauer. We LOVE Kombucha. The homemade Strawberry Basil Kombucha was absolutely incredible. I'll go back next week just for that! We also tasted Kimchi and Sauerkraut for the first time. Definitely NOT what I expected flavor wise. I LOVED it. This week I'm doing a little recipe research to know what to pair with sauerkraut and plan to purchase some next week. 

Did you know that fermented foods like Kimchi, Sauerkraut, and Kombucha are incredibly good for your gut health? Fermented foods help your digestion and I'm not mad about it. These flavors are bold and incredible! I'm looking forward to adding them into our weekly eating. 

I love it that our little town does stuff like this. I'm all for shopping local and eating local. Next time I go I'll bring my reusable grocery bags and cash. I'm very thankful to all of the family farms, butchers, dairy farmers, and other organic vendors that come out to town each week. Let's keep showing our support! 

My Summer Bucket List!

You know when you were in high school, and college and Summer were this magical dreamland? It was hot, sure, but summer meant staying up late, sleeping in, hanging by a pool, going on trips (youth camp, mission trips, summer camp, family vacations, etc.reverts back) and being a camp counselor. 

Well, post-college/real world Summers are a little different. It's like normal times, but you sweat more. I'm talking about sweating when you walk from your car to your place of employment --- looking at you Mississippi. Even though I've been out of college for years now, a little bit of that summer magic still lingers. I catch myself in April and early May dreaming up summer plans and goals. Part of me reverts to 16-year-old JJ where all she cared about was driving to a friends house or the mall on her own.

My priorities as a 28-year-old are a little different from just-got-her-license-JJ, but the magic is still the same. On that note, I have some Summer projects/plans that I'm excited to work on over the next few months. There are some things on this list that I've already done, but I'm including them anyway! 

  • Go to the beach -- obviously. We've already got a trip planned and are looking to add another one)
  • Stay at an Airbnb  -- we've never done an Airbnb before! We've got a place booked for Nashville this weekend and I'm super excited!
  • Go Blueberry Picking -- check! I've already been twice! I've got a freezer full of delicious, plump, blueberries. 
  • Clean Out and Organize our "stuff" room -- We've tried to get this stuff room under control since we moved into our house. We clean it out, get rid of things, and then a few weeks later, it's somehow WORSE. I don't know how it happens *insert laughing emoji and the crying emoji*
  • Finish my 2016 Scrapbook -- Yep. I'm a scrapbooker! I subscribe to the A Beautiful Mess Messy Box and I get the CUTEST scrapbook stuff. 
  • Start my 2017 Scrapbook
  • Experiment with new cake flavors, icings, and decorating techniques -- I'm a hobby baker and really enjoy trying out new creations! I really want to master colored ganache and piped flowers. 
  • Update Bedroom Decor -- I haven't really focused on styling out our bedroom. Since moving into our house my priorities were the dining room and the living room. Now it's time to work on our bedroom. 
  • Host a Flamingo Party -- When I say "Flamingo Party" I just mean that I'm going heavy on the Flamingo decor.  Essentially I just want to host a summer party! 
  • Make no churn ice cream -- I keep seeing all of these recipes for no-churn ice cream and sorbets. Maybe I'll try it out at my Flamingo Party! 
  • Read 3 Books -- I'm not a big reader, but I'd like to be. 3 might seem like a small goal, but it's two more books than I read last summer... 
  • Go Kayaking 
  • Have Unplugged Days - A few times a month I want to go unplugged. No technology. No phone, no TV, no computer.
  • Eat a Snow Cone -- One of my biggest regrets from last summer was not getting a snow cone! Not happening this year. 
  • Get a big lemonade -- last year at my local farmers market, they had a vendor who sold really delicious lemonade. Not only was the lemonade delicious, but he sold it in  HUGE cups. I'm not sure why, but my sister, Becca, and I really loved it! 
  • Go to a Farmers Market and make an entire meal out of fresh produce -- I will obviously buy the meat and produce and cook it at home! 
  • Make a ridiculous milkshake
  • Play Tennis -- Last summer Becca and I instituted Tennis Tuesdays. We played for a few weeks and then I pulled a muscle. But I'm ready to bring it back! Now I just need to find my tennis racquet...
  • Go to a Midnight Movie Premier -- sometimes it's fun to stay up extra late! 
  • Stay for the Fireworks at MS Braves Game -- The MS Braves stadium is about 20 minutes from our house. We try to go to at least one game a year, but we never stay for the whole game. This year, we're doing it!

That's a pretty full list! Honestly, I'm surprised and thankful that they aren't all food based! Does anything on this list sound appealing to you? Anything you want to add to your own Summer Bucket List? What are you looking forward to doing this summer?

 

My Favorite Mississippi Products + Makers

Not only is Mississippi home to the friendliest people, but some of the most talented makers! I love the "do-it-yourself" attitude of the creative community in my favorite state. Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite products that I've purchased (and LOVE) or want to purchase from local businesses. 

1. The Day Dreamer by Thimblepress (Jackson, MS). I love basically everything that comes out of Thimblepress. Kristen Ley is a true visionary and one of the kindest ladies I've ever met. I have a TON of Thimblepress products that I love and use (daily!), but the Day Dreamer is my favorite. It's like a mega to-do list that totally fits my scattered brain. And it's the perfect size -- HUGE! 

2. Mississippi Magnolia State Flower Print by Thimblepress (Jackson, MS). I would LOVE to see this beauty every day. Putting this on my wishlist! 

3. Harlem Hollywood Jackson Mississippi print by Edward Moak Designs (Clinton, MS). I smile every time I see this print. We forever thankful to Bruno Mars for giving us a shoutout in Uptown Funk!

4. Aztec Mississippi T-shirt by Edward Moak Designs (Clinton, MS). I definitely own this shirt in both colors. Edward is super fun and creative! 

5. Borderland Candles (Brandon, MS). We met the couple behind the company at one of the local vendor markets. They're so kind! We've owned a few different scents and they are all amazing. They last a long time and the scents are perfect!

6. Capri Blue Volcano Candle (Starkville, MS). These are the best smelling candles in the whole world. No debate. 

7. Scotsman Cap by Laurel Mercantile (Laurel, MS). Luke wears this hat everyday. He swears it's the best hat he's ever worn. (BTW, I still can't believe that there's an HGTV show about my actual, real life home town, Laurel, MS. I'm working on a post highlighting all of my favorite Laurel spots!)

8. Floral Paintings by Kate Freeman (Jackson, MS). Kate Freeman is my favorite local artist. Her paintings are full of color and are perfection on a canvas. I own one of her paintings and I stare at it for at least 5 minutes every day (It's the cover photo of this post!). 

9. Succulent planter by the Prickly Hippie (Ridgeland, MS). I LOVE plants, but have a hard time taking care of them and planting them. Thankfully, I can look to my friend, Jenni, to help me out! I got my first Prickly Hippie arrangement at a local market a couple years ago! 

There are SO many creative and talented people in our great state! I love supporting local vendors and makers. Hopefully, you do too! I plan to continue exploring Mississippi Makers and hopefully this post is volume 1 of many! 

What are your favorite Mississippi-based products? I'd love to know! 

February - March Favorites

I started something new last month where I jotted down some current favorites of the month. I want to do a better job at recording the little things like our favorite foods and activities! 

Something Memorable

Family Photoshoot with our beautiful friend, Brooke of Blackhorn Productions.

Valentines Day date night! 

We led worship with at a couple of Disciple Now Weekends. One in Florence, MS and the other in Natchez, MS. We had a blast exploring historic Natchez! 

We took a weekend trip to Orange Beach and visited our friends' brand new coffee shop in Mobile, Al! 

We took another weekend trip up to Birmingham, AL to see our great friends, Daniel and Laura! It was so fun getting to explore Birmingham. 

 

Every Day

I started noticing how quickly the days were going by. Time is going by so fast! Even though Luke and I work together, we don't spend all day holding hands in the same room. Most days we barely see each other focusing on our own areas. I want to publicly brag on my husband. He cares about every single detail with incredible passion and precision. He works hard behind the scenes to make sure that things are excellent and done with care. Luke, you're an incredible leader and visionary. You challenge me every day to dream a little bigger.

Food

We went to our favorite restaurant in Orange Beach, Fishers, and tried Black Eyed Pea Hummus for the first time. I don't try to recreate restaurant food too often, but I immediately looked up a recipe for Black Eyed Pea hummus when I got home! 

I also became obsessed with tamales! My favorite place to order tamales around here is at Sombra. SO GOOD!

Our favorite restaurant at this point is a Greek and Lebanese place called Athenos. I order the gyro plate every time!