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Life Lately and What I’ve Been Into

My posting has been pretty sporadic over the past few years. When I first started this blog, I posted pretty regularly about whatever I was doing – making jewelry, hiking with the dogs in the prairie, trying out new recipes. Somewhere along the way, I started to feel that blogger pressure that what I was posting wasn’t pretty or perfect enough. And, the feeling only intensified after I graduated and starting teaching and working as an interior designer. I felt overwhelmed every time I wanted to sit down and write a post because I didn’t have perfectly styled photographs showing amazing design.

Life Lately

I’m trying to get over that. The truth is that I really miss writing and sharing, and I’m disappointed in myself for getting caught up in this fantasy of perfectionism. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my favorite blogs aren’t the pretty ones…they’re the ones where the authors are real. So, I’m going to ease up on myself a little bit and try to relax and enjoy the process a little bit more.

To get back into the swing of things I thought I would share what I’ve been into lately.

Essential Oils

I know it seems like every blogger, instagrammer and pinner out there are into essential oils these days. I was aware of them but never researched them or used them myself until I was on a plane to High Point Market back in October and had a major stomachache. My boss offered me some peppermint oil, which I skeptically applied. Several minutes later, the pain was gone, and I was instantly interested.

I started to actually read blog posts about the oils (instead of skimming or skipping them) and how they are used and looked into the different companies. I ultimately went with Young Living because it was the brand that both my boss and our office manager use and like.

I ordered the starter pack and have since added a few more oils to my collection. I plan to write additional posts on my favorite oils and how I use them soon.


I go through fits and starts with podcasts. I have an hour commute two days per week, and I try to listen to longer podcasts or two half-hour podcasts during those drives. Before the holidays, I lost interest in my usual favorites and listened to four audio books in a row. But, now I’m back into podcasts – both my old favorites and some new ones as well.

The Lively Show – Jess has been killing it lately. I’ve been enjoying both her honest, personal shows as well as her interviews, specifically Brené Brown (Episode #124) and Alex Ikonn (Episode #120), which I listened to twice.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin – Confession: I have not read any of Gretchen Rubin’s very popular books (they’re on my list for 2016), but I love her podcast, which she hosts with her sister Elizabeth Craft. I really like their voices, the topics they cover, and their sisterly dynamic. Plus, they usually give me something interesting to think about for the rest of the day.

The Chaise Lounge – Hosted by Nick May, the Chaise Lounge is the best interior design podcast out there. Every week, Nick features an information packed interview with a successful interior design and asks in-depth questions about how they got started in design and how they manage their business. I’m constantly telling my students that they should be listening to every episode.

The Sessions with Sean Croxton – Sean used to host Underground Wellness, which was a health and wellness focused podcast, and The Sessions is his brand new show, which is more interview based and covers a variety of topics. I was super excited to see this because my favorite Underground Wellness episodes were more focused on personal development than health. I loved the interview with Lisa Nichols and read her book after listening.

seanwes podcast – This is a new-to-me podcast with 248 episodes as of this post date. I discovered it after going down a rabbit hole of research earlier this week, which I’ll explain more later in this post. The show is entrepreneurial focused with a creative business slant, which is right up my alley. I like the longer format – they average well over an hour long – because they keep me occupied for my entire commute.


I have another post planned to wrap up on my 2015 reading and catch up on reviewing the books I’ve read so far in 2016. I discovered another wonderful podcast What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy, and have been adding books to my wish list at a furious rate. This year, I’m trying to maintain a healthy balance of fiction and non-fiction and am rereading several favorites from the past couple years. Right now, I’m about halfway through my second reading of Daring Greatly, with The Gifts of Imperfection on deck, in preparation for reading Brené Brown’s newest book Rising Strong.

I also had a great book moment in Minneapolis last week. I was on a field trip with our sophomore class and met up with an old friend for dinner. Right as we were getting ready to leave, he revealed that he regularly listens to audio books after I asked if he’d read Outliers by Malcom Gladwell during a conversation about kids and sports. That lead to a fabulous conversation about our recent favorite books (All the Light You Cannot See) and books we plan to read next. I recommended The Storied Life of AJ Fikery and he recommended 11.22.63, which has been on my audible wish list for over a year.

Bullet Journaling + Handwriting

So, the last thing I need right now is a hobby, but when Modern Mrs. Darcy referenced bullet journaling in a recent post, I was intrigued. That post and four hours on a bus with 30 college students and a wifi connection sent me down that rabbit hole of research on bullet journaling, which led to research on handwriting, which eventually led me to Sean McCabe and the seanwes podcast.

I plan to write more posts about my experience with bullet journaling after I actually get into it (my notebook arrives tomorrow). In the meantime, I also purchased my first fountain pen and have been working on my everyday handwriting, which I’ve found oddly meditative and soothing, especially in the evening.


Downton Abbey – Obsessed and so sad that it’s ending

Girls – Fascinated, similarly to a train wreck or natural disaster

Togetherness – So, so poignant and awkward and utterly relatable as a 30 something

Red Oaks – An Amazon original about a college kid in the 80s


We signed up for tennis lessons at our gym on a whim back in January, and even though I have played only sporadically since high school, I have really been enjoying the classes. I’m hoping that once the weather changes and my SAD goes away, I’ll start playing regularly.

I’ve followed a version of the Paleo diet on and off for the past five years. Lately, I’ve been more off and than on, but back in September I started following the Alt-Shift Diet by Jason Seib and experienced some dramatic (for me) results. Alt-Shift is a natural progression for people on a Paleo diet. It’s a health and fat-loss focused diet protocol, and aside from some small issues, I didn’t have many problems following it. After a trip next week to Atlanta for the Design Bloggers Conference, I plan to start up again to get ready for summer and to just feel healthier overall.


I’m working part time for another designer here in Des Moines, teaching two days a week, and still taking my own clients. I have several projects in the works including two kitchens and a bathroom and hopefully a few more coming up. I plan to share the plans and progress for the two kitchens soon, since they were very different in terms of size and budget, and really transformed the space for the clients. We visited the International Market Square on our field trip to Minneapolis, and I was so inspired by the kitchen showrooms there. Kitchens will always be my first and favorite love when it comes to interior design.


We went to Mexico for a few days in February and stayed in Playa Del Carmen, which was a first for us. We stayed at a really small cute hotel and ate at a good variety of restaurants. It was so nice to experience warmth and sunshine if only for a short time.

I have so many ideas for future posts, and they may not be pretty or perfect but I hope that they are interesting and authentic. Stay tuned…

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Monday 14th of March 2016

Jillian, Thanks for blogging again! I love getting your insights in person, but since we can't get together too often, this is the next best thing! I, too, am getting into essential oils a lot more and podcasts are my favorite way to brighten up my commute. Just wanted to leave a note to know your unperfect posts are appreciated!


Monday 14th of March 2016

Ah, thank you! That's so sweet!

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