When our friend Paula turned us on to Jessie’s blog, Rurally Screwed, we were psyched, and couldn’t believe that we didn’t know about her. We think you need to know her too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I used to be a women’s magazine editor in New York before marrying a bullrider and moving to a chicken farm in rural Virginia. The experience inspired two books: Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with a Cowboy (Penguin, April 2012) and Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Preserving Recipes for the Modern Kitchen (Rodale, March 2011). Right now, I’m raising our one-year old daughter June alone while my husband, a captain in the Army Reserves, serves a year deployment to Afghanistan.
So what’s a typical weeknight? I find cooking with a 1-year old underfoot pretty much impossible but I force myself to make stuff from scratch anyway so the baby starts off on the right foot. These days I try to prepare a big pan or pot of something after she’s gone to bed – something obnoxiously healthy like chard lasagna, zucchini soup, chard tart (I have a lot of fresh veggies to work with) – that we munch on throughout the week so I don’t have to cook every night.
Do you have a go-to meal that appears weekly? We have an army of chickens, so we end up eating A LOT of eggs, all interpretations, all guises – scrambled, poached, fried, mashed, whipped, frittered, omelets, egg soup, soufflés, vegetables quiches, custards. They’re delightfully versatile.
How do you feel about screen time? We’ve never had cable, so I guess you could say I’m conservative, but I find I rely on Baby Bach and Sesame Street DVDs more than I would if my husband was around. Videos preoccupy her while I quickly perform outdoor chores.
Tell us about how you celebrate birthdays in your house. And do you like or resent the goody bag phenomenon? Family, close friends, birthday cake ice cream, gifts, typical. We’ve only had one child birthday so far (my daughter just turned one), but birthdays WILL be low-key affairs. My brain isn’t wired for extensive party planning for children. I won’t do goody bags.
What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life?
A Cup of Jo (inspires me to figure out how to run a successful blog that makes money)
Orangette, (the writing),
Goddamit I’m Mad (acid humor, great writing)
D Listed (consistently insane and hilarious)
Modern Country Style, a décor blog in which the writer performs compelling case studies of paint (how walls painted with Farrow & Ball looks in the morning, afternoon and evening, that sort of thing).
Tell us about a typical weekend: Rise at 7, breakfast by 8, nap by 9:30. While June sleeps I either do a workout DVD or race around the house trying to get chores/blogging done. When she wakes up, we have lunch then I make sure to schedule some kind of “fun” activity with friends that takes us out of the house until dinner — go for a hike, go to a friend’s house, have a play date, go shopping, JUST LEAVE THE HOUSE. I find I get a little blue when it’s just me and June around the house, no husband, no plans, so I always try to go somewhere with her on the weekends, even if it’s to Target. Then when we come home, we eat more chard lasagna or zucchini soup, play, bathe, read books, and she’s back to bed by 8. I spend the rest of the evening missing my husband and watching bad TV rented from Netlix like Cougar Town. (My husband would never watch such a show with me!)
Any family rituals you carry on, or that you have created? My husband sent June a DVD of him reading her a bedtime story in Afghanistan. After the story ends, he talks to her about life and love and family. It’s very sweet. I play it for her from time to time so she can stay connected to her daddy.
Favorite indoor activities? Do a workout DVD while the baby plays next to me….or on top of me.
What music are you into? I teach a Pilates/Kundalini/dance-hybrid fitness class in my spare time so I always try to stay on top of new music, though I’m nowhere as attuned as I used to be! Recent purchases include: Lykke Li, Kings of Leon, Si Se, Little Dragon, Nortec Collective.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you? We’ve been married four years and I still haven’t put together a wedding album. Probably never will because I hated the way I looked at my own wedding. In all the pictures I looked exhausted, worn out. The dress was homemade and looked it.
Top 3 favorite books—for your daughter, for yourself? Last book you read?
June: Any Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Cowboy Small
Me: I don’t really have favorites but 3 that resonated for whatever reason: The Alienist by Caleb Carr, Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart, The Big Short by Michael Lewis. Last book was Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine? I always wear Benetint cheek blusher, Maybelline mascara and some kind of lip stain. I wash my face every night with Cetaphil cleanser and moisturize with 100 percent organic, all natural Soothing Herbals face cream. That is the extent of my beauty regimen as I think beauty claims from big cosmetic manufacturers are a bunch of malarkey.
Your favorite family trip ever? To Utah with my husband for our honeymoon. That isn’t a typo.
You feel your best when…? When I work out most days of the week. Health and fitness is an important part of my life, the key to longevity and energy and I’m aware I sound like Richard Simmons when I say that.
Favorite clothing item and why? These days, slouchy shirts, shorter shorts, sandals or lace up boots—trendy but mostly comfy, body conscious looks without being obvious. And I’m a big fan of Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill! All of my recent faves have come from those second hand stores.
Proudest moment in parenting? I seem to be handling the single parenting thing okay.
What do you feel you could be better at? Giving my daughter a proper bedroom. She’s been sleeping in our home office in a Pack-N-Play since she was born. I feel very guilty over this. Every little girl deserves to wake up to My Pretty Pony, right? RIGHT?
What makes you feel guilty? See above. Pretty much everything. I feel guilty when I’m with June (I’m not working! I’m not earning money! We’re going to lose the house!); I feel guilty leaving her with the babysitter where she’s probably tucked in a drawer once I pull out of the driveway. I’m paranoid she’s not hitting her benchmarks. I feel guilty for not being a better daughter, wife, friend, daughter-in-law, mother, coauthor. The guilt never ends so I try to live with it.