The Bride Wore Red (Shoes)

Yesterday marked seven years of wedded bliss to my husband, Wes. We don’t do anniversary gifts. We usually do “experiences.” It’s a good thing, too, because apparently year seven is wool; my skin does not love wool. Of course, this year’s experience was staying home, eating fettuccini alfredo, and rewatching the first season of Bridgerton (already!). When things get closer to normal, we’re planning on doing something special.

Preparing for our wedding seven years ago was quite hectic. We got engaged in December the year before—on Wes’s birthday, actually—and were considering a summer beach wedding in 2014. Then, in September of 2013, Wes got a job opportunity in Los Angeles and had to move out there in October. That meant that I had a little over two months to plan our wedding before joining him in January.

In the end, although it wasn’t the wedding we’d initially wanted, it turned out to be just what we needed. We thought we’d stay in L.A. forever (that lasted about a year and a half), and we wanted our wedding to be a going-away party in some ways as well. It ended up being a lovely, intimate affair with close friends and family, and it was a fabulous day.

Since Wes and I love retro fashion, and since I love all things vintage/retro in general, our wedding theme was vaguely 1940s/50s inspired. Getting married right after Christmas proved to be cost-effective as the church was still decorated for Christmas, as was the banquet hall we rented for the reception.

We had our “first look” and exchanged letters before the ceremony. Then, we took most of our posed pictures so we could get to the reception quicker once the ceremony was finished.

Wes made my red cape. Isn’t it stunning? A dear friend of mine makes fabric bouquets and taught (and helped) me to make them. I added one of my grandmother’s brooches to mine for my “something borrowed.” Since Wes is a costume/fashion designer, I added sewing-notion touches like the thimbles (which also symbolize a kiss in Peter Pan), buttons, and spools of thread. I wanted the details to double as keepsakes and to reflect our interests with a touch of whimsy.

We got married in the old church connected to the one I grew up going to. I’m not a big traditionalist—I know that’s odd since I love classic things—so Wes and I walked down the aisle together instead of being “given away.”

We had our guests sign postcards instead of a guestbook. If you look closely at the image in the photo on the left, I have a pretty remarkable story here about how I found that photo.

Instead of table numbers, I used paper doll pin-ups. For the centerpieces, we filled oversized mason jars with Christmas ornaments and fabric flower balls. They turned out really lovely. If I could have changed one thing, it would have been the colored lights in the smaller mason jars filled with fake snow. The colors didn’t translate well, so the teal ended up looking like Kryptonite under the flakes, and the pink looked fuchsia. I should’ve stuck with neutral tea-lights.

Does anybody actually eat at their own wedding? I only remember eating the cake after we cut it and not having time to eat or drink because we were too busy. We had signature drinks. If I remember correctly, one was a Shirley Temple with vodka, and the other one was Root Beer with some sort of vanilla-flavored alcohol. There was also a bar with other drink options. This was outside of the reception room, so I don’t even remember seeing it night-of.

Probably the biggest hit of the night was the photo booth. The booth popped out two prints per session, and we asked our guests to take one and leave one for us. We also danced, of course, but I didn’t want to add too many photos of people who might not want to be featured in a blog post. Wes and I danced our first dance to Mama Cass’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and we ended the evening with a silly, impromptu group dance to Michael Bublé’s version of “Save the Last Dance.”

This post would be far too long if I added all of the beautiful photos we have of that special day. If you like these photos, check out more from our oh-so-talented wedding photographer, Betty Elaine.

Dapper Day

It’s Dapper Day weekend, and, unfortunately, this will be the first time my husband, Wes, and I will be unable to attend since 2016. So in lieu of attendance, I thought I’d celebrate here with memories and photos of Dapper Days past.

Wondering what Dapper Day is? Allow me to explain. Dapper Day is a bi-annual weekend-long celebration of “stepping out in style” at the Disney theme parks. If I understand the original intent correctly, it pays homage to years past when people dressed up to go to theme parks. Dapper Day attendees often wear styles inspired by by-gone eras, but they don’t have to. The general idea is to just get dressed up and treat the outing as a special occasion.

For Wes and I, it has become our version of cosplay. The event is an opportunity to get creative. We choose Disney characters—usually couples because we’re gross like that—and try to determine how their costumes would best translate to a fashion style or era. Let’s be honest, what actually happens is: I describe and draw something absolutely atrocious; Wes interprets it, adds his own touches, and sketches something brilliant; then, Wes makes it (and I help when I can) because he’s really the talent of this operation.

Let’s get to the looks, shall we?

*Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, the author may earn commission from qualifying purchases from*

ANNA & ELSA – Epcot – Fall, 2016

Inspired by their coronation-wear, chosen because we already had fabric that would work for the Anna ensemble.

CHIP & DALE RESCUE RANGERS – Magic Kingdom – Spring, 2017

Wes created the prints for my dress and his shirt using Spoonflower. Definitely one of my favorite looks. I felt like Lucille Ball.

STAR-LORD & ROCKET – Epcot/DHS – Spring, 2017

Day two, and the only time we managed to go both days of the event. These characters seemed the perfect fit for Epcot’s “futuristic” ‘80s vibe.

ROBIN HOOD & MAID MARIAN – Magic Kingdom – Fall, 2017

Another one of my favorites. I wanted a dress like Little Edie Beale’s (of Grey Gardens fame) when she was in Life Magazine. The faux wood purse was an Amazon find that we painted to create the tree carving like in the movie.

WINNIE THE POOH & PIGLET – Magic Kingdom – Spring, 2018

I still can’t get over how cute this turned out! I wanted it to look like we were a 1950’s high-school couple, complete with a “pin” as if we were going steady. Wes reworked a sweater from Amazon and added the “P” patch.

CINDERELLA DOLL – Magic Kingdom – Fall, 2018

This was based on the Cinderella fashion doll that year, and I felt like a real-life doll. I felt silly (and warm!) wearing a wig, but I am a disaster with hair and knew I’d never get the style right.

WOODY & BO PEEP – Epcot – Spring, 2019

We ordered the prints for Wes’s jacket and the jacket linings from Spoonflower. If you can’t tell, we use that website A LOT. Wes made the purse from scratch. Do you see it? Is it giving you sheep vibes? This was my favorite look, for sure.

ARIEL & ERIC – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Fall, 2019

The Little Mermaid has a very special place in my heart. Also, it was the perfect look to wear to Hollywood Studios. Notice the picture of us in front of The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show? Best show on Disney property. The pillbox hat, pearl purse, and Wes’s suit were all purchased on Amazon.

And that completes this dapper stroll down memory lane. Hopefully, we’ll be able to attend in 2021 with new and exciting designs! I highly recommend attending Dapper Day sometime if you haven’t yet. It’s so lovely to be part of such a creative community of people, and it’s fun to see what everyone steps out in.

It has also been great for Wes as an artist. A good deal of his work for our Dapper Day outfits inspired him and helped him reach a career goal: designing for the Disney Dress Shop. I’ll probably brag about him and his achievements with that in another post.

If you’d like to participate in Dapper Day this weekend but can’t make it to the parks, “Dapper Day at Home” will be featured on social media. So, put on your fancy clothes and share some pictures! Also, visit for info on upcoming events!

Veteran’s Day

Since it’s Veteran’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to honor my favorite veteran: my grandpa. He has always been an inspiration to me, and he’s lived such an incredible life. This is a picture of him on the ship returning home after WWII.

Cool story about this picture: During the war, his division chose Marjorie Main (the actress who portrayed Ma Kettle) as their pin-up girl instead of a typical sex-symbol like Betty Grable or Rita Hayworth. They chose Ms. Main because she embodied the spirit of their division.

When Wes and I got married, we had a vaguely 40’s/50’s theme, and I wanted to use Pin-up Girls as table markers instead of numbers. I thought it’d be cute to use Marjorie Main as the pin-up at my grandpa’s table, so I randomly Googled “Marjorie Main pin-up.” This led me to an L.A. Times article (which, sadly, I can’t seem to find anymore) featuring the above image. The article described the day Marjorie Main boarded the ship to meet the boys who’d chosen her as their pin-up.

But that’s not the coolest part! As I looked at the young men in the picture, one of them immediately stood out to me. He’s the one with the glasses in the upper left-hand corner reaching out to someone on the level below. I was sure that looked like pictures I’d seen of my grandpa when he was younger. He’d never said anything about being that close to Marjorie Main, though. I sent the image to my grandparents, and, sure enough, it was him! He had a similar picture from a different angle in a memory book, but he wasn’t in that one. This was a picture he was seeing for the first time almost seventy years later!

In looking for a silly nod to my grandpa at his table on my wedding day, I’d stumbled upon a picture of him returning home from World War II.

Be It Ever So Humble Playlist

Have you ever noticed that certain songs can take you back to a particular place or time in your life the instant they begin to play? For me, it goes even further than that. Certain songs become stories in my head—to the point that every time I hear those particular songs, I remember the stories they inspired.

So I thought it would be fun to create a playlist of songs to pair with the chapters of Be It Ever So Humble. Some of these songs convey the exact feelings the characters are having during a given scene, and some convey a general emotional theme. I’ve broken down which songs fit which chapters below, and at the bottom, you can listen to the playlist yourself!


  1. MAKE OVER by Christina Aguliera [Explicit]
  2. FAMILY IS FAMILY by Kacey Musgraves
  3. HOME SWEET HOME by Mötley Crüe
  4. HIGH HORSE by Kacey Musgraves
  5. BYE BYE BYE by *N Sync
  6. WORKIN’ FOR A LIVIN’ by Garth Brooks and Huey Lewis & The News *
  7. YOU BELONG WITH ME by Taylor Swift
  8. WRECKING BALL by Miley Cyrus
  9. UPSIDE DOWN by Jack Johnson
  10. GOLDEN GIRLS THEME SONG (THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND) by Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots
  11. RUNAWAY BABY by Bruno Mars
  12. BETTER TOGETHER by Luke Combs
  13. DYING IN LA by Panic! At the Disco
  14. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW IT FEELS by Tom Petty
  15. CRY PRETTY by Carrie Underwood
  16. TORN by Natalie Imbruglia
  17. STRONG ENOUGH by Sheryl Crow
  18. TAKE IT EASY by Eagles
  19. DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME by The Mamas & The Papas
  20. I’M YOURS by Jason Mraz
  21. STRAWBERRY WINE by Deana Carter
  22. ZERO TO SIXTY by Rachel Potter / THERE’S NO HOME FOR YOU HERE by The White Stripes
  23. JUST FRIENDS by Caylee Hammack
  24. BREATHE by by Greenwheel
  26. BECAUSE OF YOU by Kelly Clarkson
  27. JADED by Aerosmith
  28. WOMAN by Kesha (feat. The Dap-Kings Horns) [Explicit] / STARTING OVER by Chris Stapleton

*I prefer the duet version with Garth Brooks for this, but it isn’t available on Spotify. You can find it on Amazon Music Unlimited, though, if you want to create your own playlist there.

Check out the playlist on Spotify!

If you’ve read Be It Ever So Humble, how’d I do? Any songs you think should be added to the playlist?

Meet Luna!

Now that you’ve met Moondoggie, it’s time for Luna’s introduction!

This is Luna:

We got her from a rescue, too, when she was two months old. We’ve had her since she was just a rolly -polly. I could carry her in one hand. We were told she’s a Boxer/Aussie mix, but we’re not sure about that. She’s not even thirty pounds full grown. She might have some of both breeds in her, but I think her parents must have been mixes as well. We could get a DNA test, but we’re not THAT concerned. She’s just our sweet little whatever-she-is, and that’s fine by us.

Luna has the prettiest eyes. One is brown, and one is blue. On the brown eye, she has black eyelashes and a permanent winged eyeliner look. On the blue eye, she has white eyelashes and more of a tight-lined eyeliner look. She has an unusual amount of squish for a dog. You can literally pull her skin away from her body. It’s like she never grew into it. She has tons of freckles, and her hair swirls into itself to look like a hurricane in the center of her chest.

I would describe her personality as sweet, timid, and loving. Luna loves cuddles and to be pet on the chest (but she doesn’t love to be pet where she’s extra squishy). If you’re near her and not petting her, she’ll paw at you until you do. If you stop, she’ll paw at you again. One of her funniest qualities is that she talks. She talks to us in the morning when we wake up, she talks to us when she wants something, and she talks to us when she is displeased in any way. I wish I could give an accurate description of the sound. It’s something between a bark and a growl, and it is absolutely adorable. She enjoys watching TV. So far, her favorites have been Penny DreadfulHamilton, and the “live-action” version of The Lion King. She loves the idea of car rides but doesn’t like having to sit in the back seat away from her humans.

Her tricks include:

  • Sit
  • Fives
  • Boops/Kisses

She’s scared of pooping (seriously, I’ve never seen a dog so afraid of her own poop), people in hats, distant motorcycles, playing hide and seek… She’s afraid of everything, really. When she does something bad, she lets us know/apologizes by sitting on the couch, looking extra pathetic and guilty. And it works every time.

Her favorite game is catch. She’s really good at catching a ball in the air, and I think she gets a thrill out of it because it’s something she’s good at and Moondoggie struggles with. Maybe I’m projecting a bit too much humanity onto my dogs here, but that’s how it seems! She also loves to play while I’m exercising. It never fails. The moment I get out my mat, she gets out a toy. It’s been especially cute lately because she has a (now half-eaten) dumbbell toy that she always gets out when I’ve got my dumbbells out.

She is also known as:

  • Luna Mae (her full name)
  • Roona Roo (like Scooby Doo)
  • Baby Girl

So, there you have it. This was part two of my too-in-depth discussion about my dogs, but I’m hoping you stuck with it because you love the strange idiosyncrasies of pets as much as I do!

Meet Moondoggie!

Since my dogs are my babies, I’ll probably feature them on my blog often. Figured I’d give them a proper introduction.

This is Moondoggie:

We got him from a rescue when he was about five months old. They told us he’s a Chihuahua/Terrier mix, and I’m inclined to believe that since he has physical and personality traits of both breeds.

His ears were too big for his body when we first adopted him, but he has grown into them. One of them typically flops over while the other stands at attention. It’s funny to me because I was in a production of the musical Urinetown (a great show, check it out if you can), and my prop bunny had the same ears! Moondoggie has tiny Dr. Seuss feet that smell like corn chips, and a white spot on his chest that’s always cold. He has the cutest mop of bleach-blonde hair on top of his head, and we like to let that grow out so we can style it. His hair grows extremely fast. A friend once told me she loved how he always looks a little homeless. We have been trying to groom him ourselves this year, and it’s getting better with each attempt. He has dog allergies. I didn’t know that was a thing. Unfortunately, because they can get pretty bad and irritate his bronchial tubes, he is more susceptible to illness than some dogs. Because of this, we’re supposed to keep his exposure to other places/dogs to a minimum when possible.

I would describe his personality as a cranky old man. He’s very smart, and he gets impatient when he wants something and feels ignored (don’t we all?).  He’s also very aware of everything going on at all times. His likes include making loud noises (his bark is exceptionally ear-piercing), chilling in his self-made pillow/shark forts (we’re not sure how he does it), getting massages and ear rubs, and doing tricks for treats or for attention.

His tricks include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Lay down
  • Roll over
  • Fives
  • Boops/Kisses (he also gives these as a “treat” when his humans do his bidding)

His dislikes include car rides, watching his humans pack for a trip, and attention. He’s very particular about what kind of attention he gets, and he only wants it on his terms. He’s afraid of loud noises (ironic since he loves to make them), the oven when it’s on, and the vacuum cleaner (on or off).

His favorite game is Hide & Seek. We tell him to stay, and then we hide somewhere and call for him. He would play this all day if we could. Tied for second place in the games category would be keep away and chasing the Swiffer.

He is also known as:

  • Moondoggie Jax (his full name)
  • Moonie
  • Moondog
  • Mr. Sweet Face (any Jane the Virgin fans?)
  • Mr. Mooney Head (derived from a long story about something I misheard in the song Lady Marmalade)

Clearly, I love my dogs. This is my longest post yet, and I haven’t even gotten to Luna! I’ll feature her in the next post. In the meantime, let’s talk pets! Do you have any pets? What kind of wacky things do they get up to?

It’s the day of the book, y’all!

My debut novel officially launches today, and I am equal parts excited and scared (any Into the Woods fans out there?)! I’ve learned so much in this endeavor about writing, publishing, and marketing, but I’d be lying if I said I really know anything about any of it yet.

One unfortunate setback is that I will not have hardcovers for this novel—at least not right away. I had initially planned on using Barnes & Noble for hardcovers (and as a second option for paperbacks), but I haven’t had great luck with their platform. As publishing day approached, I received glitchy error messages from the website, and I didn’t want to take a chance on having print issues. So, unfortunately, my book will only be in paperback and eBook for the time being.

 Although it wasn’t my ideal publishing scenario, I’m not terribly disappointed by it. This simply allows me to learn more about Amazon’s print platform before moving on to the next.

Being an indie author means wearing a lot of hats. It can be overwhelming, especially for a recovering perfectionist. I know I’m not perfect, obviously, but I put far too much pressure on myself to try to be. This process has taught me I’m going to have to let go of that. I can do my best and learn from my worst.

And that’s what every book should be for its author—a learning experience and a chance to grow in the craft. I’m learning more about writing so that I’ll improve every time I write. I’m learning about marketing plans that I can implement for my next book. I’ve learned how to create a website. Boy, that was difficult for me.

I’ve recently started watching YouTuber Sarra Cannon of Heart Breathings, and she had some comforting words to say on the subject of writing and publishing. To paraphrase, she said she had no following and very little knowledge about marketing or publishing when she put her first novel out there, but she kept going. She learned along the way and improved, and now this is her career.

Everyone’s journey is different, and I am proud of what I have accomplished. I wrote a novel (with a second one in the works), put it out there, and put myself out there (the hardest part of all).

So, to summarize: My novel is available for purchase today. I have mixed emotions about it. But I did it, and that’s pretty cool!

It’s International Literacy Day!

What better way to celebrate than to talk about books?

The adorable dog model is Luna. And yes, that’s a Disneyland throw covering our couch (and a Disney World throw covering the other cushion). We have a *slight* Disney obsession in our house.

My last read was Home Work by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. This is a sequel to her first memoir, Home.  Both are definite must-reads for Julie fans. Home Work is specifically dedicated to her Hollywood years, and it seems to be the preferred book amongst fans. I, personally, love both equally. It’s so nice to know that the singer/actress I grew up admiring is also a very admirable human being! I own both of these books in audio format as well. I love listening to Julie Andrews read them. It’s like story time with Nana Julie! As threatened in my introduction post, one of these days I’ll devote a whole blog post to Julie Andrews. It’ll probably be a review of her books and of her speaking engagement I got to attend last year. It was an absolute dream come true!

My current read is Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight series is such a guilty pleasure of mine, and I’m so glad this was finally published. Wes has been reading this to me (I know, we’re disgusting) since self-publishing a book means that by the end of the day I am done looking at words. We only get through about a chapter a night, and we’re finally almost to the meadow scene! So far I’m enjoying getting more insight into the mind and actions of Edward and getting more insight into the Cullen clan as a whole. I’m tempted to reread all of the Twilight novels after, but…

My next read will probably be Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It’s Wes’s all-time favorite book/movie/fandom/toys/everything, and it only seems fair that we reread it after I’ve forced him to endure the melodramatic thoughts of a teenage vampire. I love Jurassic Park, too, so it’s not like it’s a sacrifice on my part. We recently read The Evolution of Claire—a Jurassic World prequel novel about Claire in her intern years. Loved that one, too!

How about you? What have you read recently? What are you reading? What are you planning to read?

An Introduction

Thought I should introduce myself properly.

How heavy is a polar bear? Heavy enough to break the ice. Hi, I’m Jen. 

If you ever need an ice breaker, that one works every time. And by “works every time,” I mean people find it mildly amusing and awkward—words that also sum up my sense of humor.

I love coffee and chocolate, classic (especially Jane Austen) and YA novels.

I dislike automatic toilets, white chocolate (it’s not even chocolate!), and crowds.

I’ve lived in a handful of places including Missouri, Indiana, and Florida. One of my favorites was California, specifically Los Angeles. Although I was only there for about a year and a half, I have many fond memories of living there. The history of filmmaking intrigues me, and I love watching old movies. My favorite person is Julie Andrews. I’ll probably dedicate a whole blog post to her. 

My real favorite person is my husband, Wes. He’s an amazingly talented artist, designer, and tailor. We often attend Dapper Day at Walt Disney World and enjoy coming up with Disney character inspired retro fashion. It’s our version of cosplay. I’ll probably dedicate multiple blog posts to our Dapper Day projects.

This picture is from back when we did things. I’m a germaphobe and hypochondriac, so you can imagine how 2020 is going for us. By the way, isn’t he handsome?

Pictured below are our wacky dogs, Moondoggie and Luna. They have very different personalities. Do you remember Pinky and the Brain? Luna is Pinky; Moondoggie is the Brain. Don’t remember Pinky and the Brain? Moondoggie is smart. Too smart. Luna is a lovebug. She’s not as smart. They were both rescues, so we don’t know for sure what breeds they are. We were told Moondoggie is probably a Chihuahua/Terrier mix. Luna is probably a Boxer/Aussie mix. She’s not even thirty pounds, though, so who knows, really.

I’m sure I’ll post pictures of them often. Although, I probably won’t be in those pictures since they don’t like to pose. They’re more into candid photos. Here’s picture proof that they like each other sometimes.

I could go on, but I don’t want to turn this post into a novel. 

How about you? What are some of your likes and dislikes? Introduce yourself in the comments. Let’s chat!

Be It Ever So Humble

I’ve been working on my first YA novel since 2016. I know… I know… Four years is a long time to work on one single novel, but I didn’t really start focusing on it until 2018. You see, this novel began as a class assignment for a YA Writing class I was taking back when I was going for my MFA in Writing. Spoiler alert: I didn’t finish because my husband and I moved, and the program wasn’t going to be free anymore. We’ve got enough student loan debt at this point, and I didn’t want to tack more onto it. I’m sure many of you can relate!

The story idea for Be It Ever So Humble came to me even earlier than 2016. In fact, it came to me when I was a teenager (I won’t say how long ago that was) vacationing at a family cabin at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was a long drive to and from our cabin without many sights along the way, so I often made up little stories in my head to pass the time. I remember seeing a house once on the drive and coming up with what would be the basic storyline of Be It Ever So Humble—a celebrity teenager forced to live on a farm, forgoing the luxurious lifestyle she was accustomed to.

At first, it seemed like a fun project for my class; then, I enjoyed writing in the main character’s voice so much that I just kept going. Of course, I stopped and started quite a few times along the way, and I edited and revised obsessively.

If there’s one good thing (for me) to come out of 2020’s new normal/stay-at-home lifestyle, it’s that I have had more time to focus on this. So after four years of stop and go, I finally have something that I’m proud of, and I’m ready to share it with whoever would like to read it.

I’ll get into more specifics soon about some of my challenges (and successes!) in formatting and prepping to launch a book with absolutely no experience and only YouTube videos and internet articles as my guide. But that’s all for future posts. In the meantime, I’m so proud of the amazing cover my husband, Wes, designed for the book and wanted to share that with you.

I mean… He’s the best. I’m so pleased with it!

Have you self-published or thought about self-publishing a novel? Have you written a novel? What are some things you wish others knew about the process, or what are some things you wish YOU knew about the process? Let’s chat in the comments!