Books Upon Books: Chamblin’s Bookmine

Kindles, iPads and tablets oh my! It seems like these devices have taken over the task of reading physical books. It is almost rare to find good bookstores besides the typical chains like Barnes & Noble until I discovered Chamblins’ Bookmine. Located in Downtown Jacksonville, FL Chamblin’s is filled to the roof with books-literally! You can spend hours browsing through titles. You can even sell your old books to them-many of the books they sell are used.  Chamblin’s Uptown has a cafe attached so you can pick out a book and read all while indulging in one of their croissant sandwiches. (My favorite is the Turkey, Spinach and Brie croissant.)

I’ve recently spent a lot of time there lately grazing through their poetry section. I tend to favor the old hardback covered books, ones where the pages hold memories of time past. We even decided to incorporate these books into our centerpieces for the wedding. Reading has always been near and dear to me. Ever since I was a kid, I was a reader. My grandmother would take us on trips to the bookstore to pick out a book each. I would stay up way past my bedtime in order to read through each book I picked out. One of the many books she bought for me still sits on my bookshelf  today-“When We Were Very Young” by A.A. Milne.

Chamblin’s has an array of titles and unique selection of rarities. As seen below, their shelves are packed full of titles. It’s a truly unique bookstore!





Attending a Wedding as a Bride-To-Be

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a wedding of one of my college friends. It was the first wedding I’ve attended as a Bride-to-be and it really put things into perspective. You never really know how much goes into planning until you are knee-deep in wedding mags and annoying your Pinterest follower’s with all of your wedding pins. To see a fellow friend/bride have a beautiful wedding is reassuring to those of us who are in the “planning” phases.

Attending a wedding as a Bride-to-be is nothing like those shows on t.v. where four brides compete against each other all while bashing each other’s ideas. I found myself in awe of everything my friend did to make her day special. Every little detail and every single moment of the wedding was perfect. It was refreshing to know that “Yes, I can pull all of this off!” Wedding planning can be trying at times especially the closer the date gets. It is nice to step back and attend other weddings and know that it will all work out. Our wedding day will be perfect-or at least close to it!



From Planning to Bonding

There is something very special about a bride’s relationship with her mother. I have always looked up to my mom and how she has kept a successful marriage of almost 30 years thriving. As I approach my wedding day, I find myself turning to her for guidance and advice. (After all, mothers do know best!) My mom has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to helping me plan. She helped me find my dream wedding dress and has been my therapy when I feel stressed or anxious about planning. I hear horror stories of some mothers controlling their daughter’s wedding plans attempting to live vicariously through them. But my mom is my rock. She keeps me calm and level-headed about planning.

My mother was always very close with her mom up until her passing in 1998. I used to admire the closeness they shared and hoped that one day I could have that with my mom. This wedding planning process has drawn us much closer. We bounce ideas off each other and conceptualize with the overall vision of the “big day.” She did plan her own wedding without the help of a planner but enlisted her mother’s love and support to get her through the process. I find myself emotional at times during planning where I always turn to my mom for the right thing to say. When I put my dress and veil on for the first fitting, I saw myself in the mirror and couldn’t hold back tears. I turned to her with teary eyes and she just smiled. It was comforting in a moment that felt so real and honest in my heart. I don’t know what I would do without her.

One of the hardest parts about planning this wedding for me has been missing my grandmother-my mom’s mother. When I was little and would get injured playing outside she used to comfort me by saying “That scar will be gone by the time you get married and I promise you I will be there to make sure of it!” It’s hard thinking she won’t be there physically to see me marry my best friend but I know she is there in spirit. My mom has done a great job keeping me from letting her absence affect my emotions in the present day and on the wedding day.

I feel very lucky to have a supportive and understanding mom throughout this planning process. I would probably become a “Bridezilla” of some sorts if it weren’t for her bringing me back down to earth! I don’t care what anyone tells you-you will get stressed planning a wedding. There is a lot that goes into planning an event like this alone or with your significant other. Enlisting support from family and friends can ease the stress and make planning seem like a piece of cake. I felt the need to really lean on my mom to provide me with the kind of love and support only mothers can give. I am thankful for the memories my mom and I have made during this planning process and look forward to seeing our relationship flourish over the years.


Keeping The Dreams Alive

When I was little, I would pretend I was a professional ballerina. I would play Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker  and make up routines that I would perform in front of my stuffed animals. Deep down, I knew I would never become a professional ballerina-thanks to my weak ankles-but it never stopped me from dreaming. I have found that as I have gotten older, the dreams I used to have now become suppressed. A reality of bills, full-time job and responsibilities cloud what these childhood dreams once were.

My question is, why suppress our dreams because of age? Why not keep these dreams alive? You may be older but you can still dream the way you did when you were a kid. Have something that you love to do but don’t have the time to do-devote time to do it! Have something that makes you feel happy-practice it more! Who says your dreams have to be given up!

Lately, I have found myself creating more: whether it be photographing more, painting or just crafting things for my wedding. Creativity has been an outlet of expression for me my entire life. I dream to create more and more no matter how busy or stressful life gets. It’s a part of who I am.




Yesterday was my 25th birthday. I was my parent’s  first-born child and they had no clue what to do with me. (Heck isn’t first-time parenting a crap shoot?) A quarter of a century later and I am convinced they still have no clue what to do with me! There is something to be said about being the first-born. We are the guinea pigs for everything in parenting: potty training, starting school and learning how to drive. I give my parents a lot of credit for everything they have done and gone through with me for the last 25 years.

I woke up yesterday not only feeling proud of myself but my parents for the fact they have put up with me for 25 long years! Life is hard but being able to wake up and say that I’ve made it to 25 is a blessing.  Every day up to this point has been. I thought I would be slightly depressed about getting older but honestly it’s the best birthday I have had in a while. I have accomplished a lot in the last 25 years.

My grandmother once told me that when she turned 30 she realized she was at her peak in life and that things were just going to keep getting better and better each year. I want to inherit this philosophy. Things keep getting better with each birthday and each milestone. Turning 25 may only mean I can rent a car but personally it’s also the age I will be getting married at. My life will change for the better. And though I will be gaining a husband-a handsome one at that-I am still Shannon. Still the petite, nerdy, talkative and fun-loving girl I’ve always been just a year older!

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My first Halloween with my mom. I was a bunny. :)

Farewell 2013, Hello 2014!

Happy New Year!! It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass us by. 2013 was a big year for me personally. I started a new job in my field, got engaged to my best friend, spent more time with my family and reconnected with old friends. It was year with many ups and a few downs but never the less a great year at that. I am proud of the things I have accomplished and the goals I continue to work towards. 2013 was a year of growth. Like every year, I strived to become more financially stable, something not many young adults can admit. I also tapped into my inner chef and began experimenting in the kitchen launching my blog segment “Cooking My Way Through Pinterest.” It helped me branch out from the normal chicken and rice or pasta we had been cycling for the past 3 years! Overall, 2013 was a great year filled with moments and memories that will last a lifetime!

2014 is looking to be a big year! I turn 25 in just twenty days and with that I will be considering what my quarter life crisis should be. Don’t worry, it won’t be a sports car or an extreme hair color change-I’ve grown out of that phase! More than likely it will be a change in attitude and outlook on life. A positive outlook on life and the obstacles that come along the way. This year will be filled with moments I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. I will be marrying my best friend in the fall surrounded by family and close friends. Marriage is a journey that Judd and I are ready to begin. It is also a joining of our two families as one.

In terms of resolutions, I want to work on being a better person. A better daughter, sister, girlfriend/wife, friend and coworker. Every year is a chance to make things better and what better way then to start on January 1. Happy New Year friends and followers! Your support means so much to me!

Shannon Judd Esess-156


Photo by the talented Steph Owens Photography.

Did Someone Say Pie?!

It’s the middle of October and nothing beats making your house smell like the fall season by baking a Fall favorite: Apple Pie. I have never made a pie so I decided to start off with an easy approach to apple pie thanks to the “Taste of Home” website: Caramelized Apple Hand Pies.

I searched high and low for a recipe a beginning baker would start off with and this one caught my attention. The nice thing about this recipe is it only takes 20 minutes to prep and 20-25 minutes to cook. Baking was a great way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon!


I made the filling with caramelized red delicious apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and a hint of lemon juice.


The caramelizing process-part of what made my house smell amazing!


The finished product! Not exactly aesthetically pleasing but I know they will taste delicious!