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What I'm Reading Wednesday {Grace Not Perfection}

Hey y'all,

I try to reserve writing about books until I have finished them and can write a complete review but since I just started Emily Ley's new book, Grace Not Perfection on Saturday and I am already halfway through I thought I could make an exception.
 About the book:

I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. 
As a busy wife, new mother, business owner, and designer, Emily Ley came to a point when she suddenly realized she couldn’t do it all. She needed to simplify her life, organize her days, and prioritize the priorities. She decided to hold herself to a standard of grace rather than perfection. This mantra led to the creation of her bestselling Simplified Planner®, a favorite among busy women everywhere—from mamas to executives and everywhere in between.
Grace, Not Perfection takes this message from a daily planner to an inspirational book that encourages women to simplify and prioritize. Designed with Emily Ley’s signature aesthetic, this book gives women tangible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. With a focus on faith, Emily reminds readers that God abundantly pours out grace on us—and that surely we can extend grace to ourselves.
Have you been told you can have it all, only to end up exhausted and occasionally out of sorts with the people you love? Are you ready for a new way of seeing your time? Learn to live a little more simply. Hold yourself and those you love to a more life-giving standard in Grace Not Perfection,and allow that grace to seep into your days, your family, and your heart.
Ideas include:
List Making 101—tips to create effective to-do lists and get through them one step at a time
Simplify your life by simplifying the three major areas: your space, your time, and your mind
Strategies to center your day around an intentionally slower rhythm of life

The book is sectioned off into three parts, grace for yourself, grace for others, grace for your calling. I am in the secton section but one thing that struck me was this diagram about all the things we need to fill our heart and mind and body. "We can't draw water from an empty well. And when we are empty, we're good for no one."

Tonight, Emily was actually in town from Florida and I went to her book signing. This was actually my first book signing (I know that can sound shocking since this English major loves a great book). It was a great time to just hear about Emily's heart and here her answers to questions about some of her motivation.
Emily was so sweet to talk to and Gina Zeidler was kind enough to take photos for everyone. I have a few different products from Emily Ley, including my simplified planner so meeting such a sweet down to earth woman who has a heart for sharing her story was powerful. I really reccomend you to read it especially if you are like me and are a recovering perfectionist in a world where we define our perfection/lives by comparing ourselves to the social media snapshot of others.
What are you reading right now?
Are you a fan of Emily Ley's products?

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Sunday Sayings {October 16}

Hey y'all,

I think as women we often struggle with people's perceptions of us. We are in a culture where perfection is sought after but this week it really hit me that I will never be perfect, I am a sinner and Christ is the only perfect person to have walked on this earth. I think our culture wants us to put on perfect airs but in reality, I am not perfect. I admit, I spend way to much time on Facebook and other social media outlets and say I am to busy for things like my blog or even putting my social media above my quiet time with my Bible.

I am human and I struggle daily with a lot of things but that is life. This weekend is busy between helping watch the furry children of my friends, helping out at church and celebrating a good friends birthday. I hope you all carve out some time to rest and reflect this weekend. Sometimes speaking out loud our mistakes are the scary part but I can tell you we have all made them.

What's on your heart this weekend?


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Five on Friday {October 14}

Hey y'all,

This fall looks like it keeps getting busier and busier. Yesterday, my roommate and I finally saw each other for the first time in a week and we also planned to hang out, next Friday. Yep, our schedules are that packed. This week I also celebrated my blog's 100th post and Sunday marks 1 year of blogging on Just Jess. I might have to bake something to celebrate.

As always, since it is Friday, it's time to share 5 things about my week.

one.NC State Fair. The state fair opened yesterday and I am excited that Tuesday night I am headed to the Raleigh Fairgrounds to explore with some of my sweet bible study friends. I never ride the rides or really play the games. I go to the fair for the food and looking at all the exhibits. My favorite thing to get is always the fried Oreos. This years' weird food list includes: a deep-fried Klondike bar, Caramel apple crisp ice cream, grilled cheese wrapped in bacon called the Man sandwich, and a blueberry-infused funnel cake. It's a Fall tradition to always go to the fair.

two. Hearing. This week one of my ears began to feel muffled on Monday night. Well, after a trip to the doctor I am all better. I merely had a compacted wall of wax by my eardrum. It does make you appreciate having all of your senses.

three. my Crockpot. I have not cooked one night this week after making soup and spaghetti squash in the crockpot this past weekend. It has been a lifesaver with my schedule being crazy. I have a few new recipes I plan on trying over the next week or so and I will share any favorites and maybe fails if they happen.

four. Fall Weather. After hurricane Matthew, the fall weather decided to show up. I broke out my riding boots on Monday to pair with my go-to swing dress and then wore a blanket scarf (similar) on Wednesday. I now need all the fall clothes. I currently want this blanket scarf for Carolina games.

five. Smoothie Bowls. I have recently been making smoothie bowls a lot for dinner when I don't want to cook and not feeling my leftovers. They are really simple and really filling. My go to has been kale, pineapple, mango, peaches, banana, and mixed with water and oj. I top with some mini chocolate chips and granola. I also love banana, strawberry, spinach, acai, with almond milk and chocolate protein powder topped with fresh banana and strawberries. So many options!
What is your favorite Fair Food?
Favorite meal you made this week?
What are you up to this weekend?
Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.
Also linking up with Brighton.

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Hey y'all,

This post marks 100 posts on this here blog and Sunday marks one year of Just Jess.It's crazy to think this is my third blog and I am finally feeling like this space is me. I wrote my first blog, Jane Austen Prepster while in college after having a Tumblr by the same name and it essentially became an online scrapbook. My second attempt is still out there, Preppin' Postgrad, but now that we are more than 4 years since I graduated I wanted a space that could grow with me. In the last year I have been encouraged by real life friends who blog and the blogging community to keep going. Some of the lessons I have learned in the last 100 posts include:

To keep sharing the things I love as evidenced in my top posts are all Five on Fridays.
To connect with others always. I have some of the best blog readers and I love starting conversations over email that spark from a comment. 

To stop apologizing. I think this is my hardest lesson but I think as women we often go to apologizing over things first. I blog when I feel like writing. I do not post when I feel like I have nothing to say/no inspiration. I have over 20 blog posts in the draft stages but I refuse to hit publish unless I feel like it is really my voice. If this blog is supposed to be Just Jess, than I need to make sure that my content is 100% me. 

To share the mundane. I love reading other people's lifestyle posts and hearing about weddings, kids, and the little things so I need to remember that my audience might just love those things as well. 

Rest is valuable. My word of the year is simple and rest. This blog has been a great way to reflect and remind myself of simple joys and pleasures. I think the blog world has become a place that often we can go into a pit of comparison but I hope my blog shows you simple is to be celebrated. 

If you blog, what lessons have you learned recently? 
What kinds of posts do you love to read? Recipes? Lifestyle? Fashion? Faith?


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Happy Birthday, UNC!

Hey y'all,

I know, two posts in one day, WHAT? I thought I had to acknowledge that today is the 223rd anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of Old East here at UNC. If y'all are new to the blog, I graduated from the University of North Carolina and I actually work here now. It's crazy to think that over eight years ago I decided to attend UNC and little did I know that this place would have such an impact on my life.
Outside of South Building on the Quad
UNC not only gave me an education in the classroom (yay BA in English) but I learned so much more outside of Greenlaw Hall's doors. I found a passion for Art History, met the best friends, joined a sisterhood, began a career, and found a love for the Triangle area.

Any Carolina student and graduate knows the magic of Chapel Hill and being a Tar Heel. It's not just about having an amazing athletic program but all of the opportunities Carolina brings to expand your knowledge, push your beliefs and mold you into critical thinkers. Our liberal arts curriculum when first explained seemed like general education requirements would take forever, but instead they uncovered passions and reminded me that I do not have to excel in every subject but I have to strive for understanding all views.
At the Old Well with my roommates on the first day of classes Senior Year.
This little town in North Carolina would be a whole lot different if 223 years ago a University focused on educating North Carolinians was not founded but that's the charm of Chapel Hill. A town where the drug store dinner still serves hamburgers, the frozen yogurt shop is a go-to, and bluegrass on the Inn lawn is a staple all summer.

Thank you for all of the founders who were instrumental in creating a place of light and liberty, a place where I struggled but was celebrated, and who made me fall in love with North Carolina and a certain shade of blue.

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What I'm Reading Wednesday {An Ember in the Ashes}

Hey y'all,

I'm back with another What I'm Reading Wednesdays. I have gotten back on the reading train lately which is so refreshing and has been helping me to try to get back to a normal bedtime (10:30pm is the goal). This past month my book club read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It is a young adult novel and the first in a series, the sequel A Torch Against the Night, was released this fall.

The premise:
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My review:
I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. The masked characters were always hard to imagine and half the time I would forget that some of the characters were even wearing masks that would hardly show emotions.  Once you were further into the novel and various actions were taking place I wasn't emotionally attached to the main charachters. I wanted to hear more about Helene and her side of Blackcliff. I might still pick up the sequel since I enjoyed the book overall but it wasn't one that I had to rush out and grab right away.
3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

What are you currently reading?
Do you enjoy young adult books? What is your favorite genre?
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Five on Friday {September 30}

Hey y'all,

We have made it to Friday!! I do not have major plans this weekend which is nice since I need some rest after a busy week. My plans include cooking, laundry, cleaning my apartment, cheering on the Tar Heels and hanging out with a friends dog. As always, here is a list of my five favorite things this week.

one. Get Clean Tea. I have been feeling off this week after one to many indulgences this weekend so I have been sipping this tea everyday. It just helps me feel betterand with the warmer temperatures I have been making tea like crazy at work (10 am and 2pm tea time!)

two. the Library. This past Tuesday I swung by the library after bible study and it was great to just wander and grab books. Recently I have just been requesting books and making 5 minute or less stops at the library to grab the hold off the shelf and run out. It was nice to just be there. As a kid of a librarian libraries will always feel like a safe space.

three. Old Navy. Y'all, Old Navy has some of the cutest pieces right now and I am banning myself from going in store since I know I will want to buy all the things. This dress and tote are at the top of my list.
This top is currently under $25!

four. Running Shoes. It is time to replace my Brooks GTS 14 (I bought a pair on major clearance last Fall) and I would love to know y'alls favorite running shoes. I will go get measured again at Fleet Feet this weekend but I over-pronate and have narrow feet so my selection tends to be slim but it's fun to look at everyone's favorites.

five. Tone it Up 31 day challenge. I love TIU and this October they are having a 31 day fitness challenge. I'm excited to work hard and continue with some healthy habits I reformed.

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.

Any big plans for your weekend?

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