Did you start singing Todd Rundgren’s Hello It’s Me when you read that post title? I hope you did. Isn’t it such a great song? Big thanks to the Sex and the City Reboot, And Just Like That for reminding me of how much I loved that song. Have you watched it yet? If not, I suggest you get on it. Better yet, I suggest you start with the original series, followed by both movies and then watch the reboot. That’s what we did and it was just magical watching it all again.
So anywho, hi friends. Been a minute, huh? It’s only been one year and four months since I’ve written a post. I know, pathetic, right? So what happened? Life. You know how it goes. It’s funny because about a year or so after my daughter was born, I realized that when people asked how we were, my answer was consistently “busy.” I realized busy was our new normal. And then I bought a building, opened a store, started an AirBnB, bought another building, working on a new store and well that took “busy” to a whole other level. So, what got put on the backburner? This blog. I’ve told myself for months that I need to dedicate one day a week to this little piece of the internets, but has that happened? Nope, not until today. And why did it probably happen today? Well, because about four weeks ago I broke my leg.
And since I seem to insist on going over the top in just about everything, my first broken bone was no exception. Two plates and 14 screws later, I’m in a boot for quite a while and non-weight bearing on that leg for at least a few more weeks. And how did this happen? I was going to feed cattle, the wind caught a gate I was going to close and instead of just walking to the gate (like a normal person), I decided to do some sort of little jog/shuffle/who in the hell knows, slid wrong and boom, leg broken. But as I told my aunt while we were sitting in the ER, what this really was was a “Jenna Needs to Slow Her Ass Down Accident.” I was going a hundred miles an hour that morning with a long list of things I was hell bent on checking off and the good Lord decided he was going to teach me a lesson about slowing my ass down. And he did. Lesson learned. And you know what happened? You find out that the lists will still be there to check off tomorrow and most importantly, just how many people are in your corner and will come to your rescue. My girls at Local Depot have taken care of anything and everything there. My aunt has deemed herself the AirBnB manager and both her and Grunt have taken care of countless other things having to do with Local Depot and the new store we were working on when all this happened. Not to mention, getting me anything I could ever need. And the Circus went into full nurse mode, taking care of whatever I needed and getting real pissed when her Dad doesn’t put my meds back beside the labels she made to organize them all. I hope everyone has a village like mine. Because they are truly the best and I can’t imagine what this past month would have been like without them.
So what’s happened during this year+ blogging hiatus? A lot. More than I can even begin to write about and some I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write about. Not without a whole lot of whiskey in me and a box of tissues anyway.
I have no idea where to start, so I’ll start with the easy stuff I guess. Local Depot is still going strong. At the beginning of 2021, I became full owner of the store. The vendors we have at LD are absolutely amazing. I am so lucky to have them there. From the beginning, my goal with LD has always been to bring something good home to the people of Dunlap and my vendors help me do that everyday.
This is a shot of the storefront from around Valentines Day. We asked all of the kindergarteners from the local elementary school to color a heart with their name on it for our windows. Isn’t it the most precious thing you ever saw? If you want to see more from Local Depot, you can follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.
The AirBnB above Local Depot is all finished and has been on AirBnB since around June of last year.
We call it the Loft at Local Depot. It’s all “studio style” complete with a king bed, two bunk beds, a living area, full kitchen and of course, bathroom.
We’ve been fortunate to host some great guests! And while it is definitely something you have to work at, I will say that it has been less stressful than I thought it would be. You can see more of the Loft here.
And then I bought another building last year!
This is totally a picture of a picture because I don’t have a single picture of the exterior of this building on my phone. So this building is home to the Bouffant Beauty Salon on the left, where the one and only Anna Faye Heard has been doing hair for 60 years. The building was originally two separate buildings. In older pictures you can even see the different rooflines. There is only one door between the two buildings on the inside. The Bouffant will be staying right where it is, but the back part of the other side is now home to Grow in Grace Dance Studio (so proud of my Zoe girl!) and the other part is where we’re putting in another store – Johnson’s 7.
Grunt always tells me that I have to tell people my “Why” behind all my ideas. There’s a lot of “Whys” behind J7. Like LD, I want J7 to be something good for Dunlap and its people – the hardworking folks like my family who have been in that valley for generations. Johnson’s 7 will be centered around the small town, rural, farm crowd.
A big “Why” though for J7 is my Uncle Lynn. My Uncle Lynn always had so many ideas for Local Depot and what could be done with the Bouffant building. He would sit at the end of the counter at Local Depot, I would be pricing things or stamping bags and he would be spouting off idea after idea. He died this past December. There’s nothing in life that prepares you to be without the one person who always had the answers you needed, who was your safety net and so much more. I don’t think I could put into words how it really feels, but its like the world fell out from under me and I was on an island, completely lost. Earlier this year, it became clear what I should do with the Bouffant building – take all of Uncle Lynn’s ideas and then some and create a store for folks like us. We’ll have freezer beef from our farm available to purchase, as well as all the sauces and rubs to go with it, leather goods, a retro soda and candy section, t-shirts for the rural crowd, cigars (definitely an Uncle Lynn idea) and much more. The goal was to be open by October, but with the broken leg, it may take a little longer. You can follow Johnson’s 7 on Facebook here. And if you’re wondering how we came up with the name, Johnson’s 7, well, Johnson is my family’s last name, my maiden name. The “Johnson” you see in the logo is actually my Pap’s signature, just bolded and an “‘s” added to it. The “7” is what my family used to brand on our cattle. The notch in the 7 nods to how we tag our cattle now – a notch in their ear.
To be completely honest, the past eight months have been the hardest of my entire life. There have been many afternoons leaned up against a headstone waiting for all the answers to come to me that he would have had. There’s been a lot of screaming alone. There have been countless times where I’m plastering on a smile and sunglasses over red, teary eyes in the car rider pickup line. But there have also been times when we know he’s right there. Like when the exact cow you needed goes right into the lot by itself. And sometimes he’s still around causing mischief. Like on the day of his funeral when the cattle were running through the cemetery and when the horse took off galloping down the road and I was sure I’d get a call from the Sheriff saying the horse was crossing the main highway.
But, the show must go on, right? And so, we try to remember all the tricks the Boss taught us and do something that makes him proud.
We made it through another year of sweet corn. As Aunt Sherry and I have both said, I’m glad to see it in the ground and growing, but even more glad when it’s all picked and sold!
These Hereford mamas are still eating right out of our hands…
And Grunt has added a few new ones to the herd as well. Earlier in the spring, we had some friends over to the farm and all the kiddos got up close and personal with the cattle.
And also, in the past year or so….
We had a great 4th of July – my favorite day of the entire year.
Hee Haw returned to Dunlap this year!
The local Cancer Support Network in our town does an annual show of Hee Haw to raise money. Because of COVID, the show wasn’t able to happen for the last couple of years, but this year, we got to do it again! It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.
We took a trip to Savannah last summer and we all had a ball. The Circus discovered virgin Frozen Daiquiris and hasn’t stopped asking for them since.
We went to see Garth in Nashville last summer, but it got rained out….
But we did get to see Eric Church and George Strait in Atlanta last fall, which was amazing. It was also the Circus’ first encounter with Port-A-Potties and let me tell you, it was an experience.
We were visited by both Beetlejuice and Maleficient last Halloween. And y’all – I can’t wait to show you her Halloween costume for this year. Fingers crossed that she sticks with the same character she’s been saying she’ll be for the past few months.
And last Saturday, I successfully made it to the top of the hill to feed the cattle without breaking a bone. Of course, Grunt was the one feeding the cattle, not me. And we took it nice and slow. Like the good Lord intended.
I hope all of you out there are doing well! Please drop me a comment below and let me know what you’re up to!
Deirdre Cerasa says
So nice to see you again. You certainly have been busy spreading love around your town. So sorry about your leg and glad you are on the mend. Looking forward to more posts. Circus is so grown up and lovely.
Hi Deirdre! Thank you. She is growing up – way too fast!
Donna Benton says
Love your HeeHaw coveralls! My son had some just like it and they were his favorite. I’ve missed your posts and I’m glad to hear from you. Take care of that leg
Thanks, Donna! It took a long time of stalking Ebay to find a pair at a reasonable price and a pair that would fit – I love those overalls though and they were well worth it!
Sooooooo great to see you back (sort of!!) I was literally thinking of y’all the other day – ask and ye shall receive! Thanks for all the updates and good news. Definitely a year of blessings, bumps and heart aches. Can’t wait to hear more!
Thank you, Sue!! Fingers crossed I can get on a better schedule around here!
Oh Wow! I cannot tell you how happy my heart was to see you back!
What a year+ you truly had. #1 sorry for your loss and hurt.
It looks like a fabulous place to be. What a nice life!
You are a super busy lady, looks like you have great support.
I appreciate you making time to blog again and look foreward to when you do.
Love- Peace- Health- and Happiness to you always
As much as we might miss your posts, never apologize for working hard to create a beautiful life for you, your family and your community. Hope you recover well and learn the art of slowing down. 🥰
You’re so sweet, Lisa. Thank you. ❤️ Yes, I am definitely working on that slowing down part!
Shirley Dunn says
Oh Jenna it’s so good to hear from you! So sorry to hear about your Uncle and your broken leg. You have been so busy. Hope the Pandemic didn’t impact on your business too much. Here in England we had 3 long lockdowns when only grocery shops were allowed to open. ( Not even clothes shops or hairdressers- everyone bought hairdressing scissors on Amazon). It seemed to take a long time once the shops opened back up to get stock back in. And they limited how many could go in at a time. You had to queue up. Crazy times.
I’m looking forward to seeing Springsteen next year in this country. Prices weren’t bad here not like they seem to have been in the US.
Hope you don’t leave it as long to post again. Can’t get over how Landry is so grown up. X
Hey Shirley!! Yes, most definitely crazy times with the pandemic and lockdowns. You’re going to see Springsteen?! That is so exciting. I would love to see him in concert one day – he’s a classic!
I was just thinking about you a couple weeks ago. I wondered what had happened to you but I felt you were probably busy with the depot business and LIFE. I did not know you were busy breaking bones among other things. So glad to hear from you and sincerely hope your boot comes off soon and you can resume the crazy busy life you lead. Are your kitchen cabinets still black? You were way ahead of that trend and I feel certain you have either changed colors or have at least thought about it. My sister is planning on painting her kitchen cabinets in a few months and I provided her pictures of the white over blue cabinets in your house before your present one. It definitely won’t get done as fast as yours did but hoping it looks as good as yours. Don’t be a stranger!!!
Hey Deb! I will do my best not to be a stranger! Actually, my cabinets have changed some. I still have black cabinet bases, but stained wood doors – it’s on my list of posts to write!
Ellen Shook says
I have certainly missed you and your wit and wisdom! You are one enterprising young woman, and I do greatly admire you.
Hope your leg heals soon, and I am so sorry about your uncle. That is a very hard thing to bear.
Thank you, Ellen. ❤️ Your sweet words mean a lot.
Diane Pianfetti says
So glad to have you back!! So sorry to hear the loss of your uncle. Looking forward to more of your posts!
Thank you, Diane. ❤️
Missed you. So glad you’re back!
Thank you Chris!
I thought of you yesterday and wondered if you we’re doing alright. Sorry about the broken bone. Mine wasn’t as severe but I sure understand the temporary inconvenience. Prayers for you after the loss of a dear family member. Glad to have you back. Reece
Thank you, Reece. ❤️ Yep, this broken leg thing isn’t fun, but definitely a life lesson.
Pat Roberts says
WOW! How great to hear from you, I thought you were gone forever. Sounds like you have had an action packed year, so sorry about your broken leg, sometimes it takes something drastic to make us sit down for a while. Glad you are on the mend and hope you are up and running soon. I loved your blog before and all your wonderful decorating ideas so I’m really looking forward to keeping up with you again. Pat Roberts
Hey Pat! Very true – it has definitely been a lesson and I’m listening!
Jenna, funny this email should appear because recently I was thinking about you/family and wondered what was going on in your life…..and here you are! Love it! I smile at your regarding this leg break as God having you slow down because I would say there’s likely truth there. ha I’m in my fourth year of gardening for pay and when I plan to work, and it rains, I’m more accepting of it because I view it as God telling me you need a break….and that is true too. How old is Circus now? Looking cute as ever! Love the Halloween pic too. Take care, enjoy what’s left of the summer, and one day at a time girlfriend! ox
Oh definitely – I needed swift kick in the rear about slowing down and the broken leg was just that! Yep, sometimes we all need a break – sounds like the rain is your sign for that! She’s 10 now – crazy, right?!
Jenny Aretakis-German says
I am so happy , so happy ( to say it once is not enough ) to see ya’all back again!! I had just about given you up. Can’t wait to see what you have done to Circus’s bedroom now, to reflect her being half grown, the last time we saw it, you had just finished a “young lady’s “room. Good Lords she is a beaut ! You sound like you have been working your tail off, maybe this leg thing is someone’s way of telling you slow down and smell the roses. So very happy to see you and yours, and to be able again to share in your story. Also anxious to see the farmhouse totally finished. You have made me a very happy old lady. Love, Jenny
Hey Jenny!! It was good to write a post! Now, I just have to keep it up, right? To be honest, we haven’t done much else to the Circus’ room at all. She’s constantly doing some sort of rearranging in there though. haha! And the farmhouse, well I still have big dreams for it, but it’s a waiting game with that right now – and I’m not good at being patient!
Jenny Aretakis- German says
Jenny Aretakis- German says
yes, I agree
Oh my word! I’m so happy to read your post. But sadden by the loss of your uncle and that darn broken leg! I’ve miss you and your posts. Flying My Freak Flag has been held up, too. My leader was missing,❤️
Your ideas, painting ideas specifically, are the absolute best! I have saved every one (or almost) posts from your blog.
Jenna, life goes on. Circus is beautiful. You and Grunt did good. I look forward to reading more about your life. How are the young adults that you and Grunt welcomed into your home many years ago?
Just fill us in every once in a while. God has certainly blessed you and your family.
I look forward to hearing from you.
You’re the sweetest, Paula! I’ve missed ya’ll too – have to get on a better schedule of making time for this blog! Thank you for your kind words – they really do mean so much. ❤️
Jenna! Hey there! I’ve so missed your posts and so truly sorry to hear about your leg and your uncle. But girl, take care of yourself. We are still here for ya! These past 2 1/2 years have sure been crazy, but we persevere! Heal quickly and hopefully you’ll be writing to us again soon.
Thank you Regina!
So happy to see you back! I’ve wondered what happened. So very sorry about losing your uncle…that’s really difficult to handle. Just remember that he’s now your guardian angel and so proud of your accomplishments! The broken leg will heal soon, even though it’s inconvenient. God does have His ways of slowing us down.
Glad you’ve had some fun family experiences! Creating treasured memories is so special!
God certainly does have ways of slowing us down, Pat! You’re totally right there!
Karen Zedney Jerread says
MWB (mama wanna be) here and I have missed you so! So sorry for the loss and injury but you are such a strong woman! Glad you realize you might need to slow down just a bit. Conquering the world is worthless if you can’t smell the roses along the way. Besides, those gates can be tricky buggers! So glad to see you back and wish you love and health.
Hey MWB! Missed you too! I think I need to frame that quote of yours there – “Conquering the world is worthless if you can’t smell the roses along the way.” So true!
Jamie Lynn says
I still think about you every time I listen to Conway Twitty. Glad you’re doing well – all things considered. Really glad to see you, Grunt and the Circus back on these here interwebs.
Oh Conway!! He will always have a special place in my heart! Glad someone else likes him too!
I have thought about you often and was wondering how you and your family were doing. When we go through Chattanooga on our way to Florida I always think of you. It sounds like your businesses are very successful. Good for you! The circus has really grown. I am sorry to hear about your accident but it takes a lot to keep a good woman down. Right? You are certainly blessed to have a family who supports you in the good times and the bad times as well. Maybe one of these days we can stop and visit your store. My husband is always in such a hurry when we are traveling. You know how men can be. Take care and blessings to you and your family.
Hi Betty! Thank you for your kind words. And yes, I am very lucky to have such a supportive family!
Debra Bartels says
Made my day to see your post. Think of you and your sweet family often. How blessed you are to have had your dear uncle. I remember you use to write about your grandparents too. It’s refreshing to know there are still young folks who realize what is important in life…..family. I have been blessed too with a loving family and two wonderful sons. Wishing you a speedy recovery and much love and happiness to you, Grunt ad Circus.
Thank you so much for your sweet words, Debra. ❤️
Hello from Brisbane Australia. So lovely to hear from you again. Sorry to about the leg but what a wonderful life you are living. Looking forward to more posts.
Hello Alison! Wow, Australia! Thank you for stopping by!
You ought to check out The Carrie
Dairies on Amazon Prime. It’s about Carrie from Sex and the City teea3ge years. I have missed you at LD. I left you a Farm Bureau magazine with a article about Dunlap and your store with one of your girls.
I’m going to add that to my watch list – I’ve had lots more time to watch TV recently! The Farm Bureau magazine was waiting for me when I stopped in the store a couple weeks ago. Thank you so much for bringing that to me; it was so thoughtful of you. I am also so very sorry to hear about your husband.
Aww-I’m so sorry about your dear Uncle:( And your broken leg! I’m happy that your businesses are doing so well, and the new store sounds like a blast.
Thank you Susanne. ❤️
Mom in Chicago says
Hello from Chicago! Welcome back…I was so happy to see your email pop up…hope you’re on the mend and wishing you a speedy recovery. Happy to hear LD is busy and looking great. AirBnB looks amazing. Being a city girl I love the pictures of farm life, especially seeing the gorgeous cows. My grandma always had pigs, chickens and a turkey that was a bully to us all and my Grandma’s pride and joy. Excited to hear what you and The Circus have in store for Halloween costumes. Thanks!
Thank you! Well, she changed her costume on me this weekend! I shouldn’t have ever written about it and maybe she’d of still stuck with it. haha!
Susan the Farm Quilter says
I had wondered where you were spending your time. It had been so long since I got an email from you that it ended up in my spam box! I am so sorry to hear about Uncle Lynn…rather like having your whole world tilt and nothing is ever the same. I’m still waiting for my world to un-tilt. Don’t you love it when God tells you to slow down? You sound like me and need a two-by-four upside the head to listen…hope you heal perfectly and get used to others helping you carry the load. I missed the glimpses into your life and thought of you often during your hiatus. Circus is growing up to be a lovely young lady and I’m sure she has been a great nurse for you.
Yes Susan, it’s exactly like that – the world tilted and isn’t the same. ❤️ And yep, I have gotten the message to slow down!! Still working on actually implementing that though. haha!
It is good to hear from you! Goodness, y’all have been busy. I am so sorry to hear about your uncle and your leg, Those special aunts and uncles are a tremendous loss. I still grieve for my dad’s sister and it has been several years…I can’t even remember with all the world has been through the last two years. Hubby has started watching a YouTube channel with a farm family in NC and the mama is much like you. Guess that is why I have missed your special blog! Your daughter is darling and I love how the two of you interact. She has certainly grown. I look forward to your stories and pray for a complete recovery from your broken leg.
Thank you so much for your sweet sweet words, Charlotte! I appreciate them. Hoping I can get better about posting regularly!
Christina Westbrooks says
So glad to see this email and hear about all the exciting things happening, but just wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear about your uncle. I am now Following J7 on Facebook and hope to visit Local Depot the next time I’m in TN.
Thank you, Christina. I hope you’ll be able to visit as well!
Rebecca Campbell says
So glad to see you back. Was praying the Covid bug hadn’t moved in. So sorry about your Uncle, my husband of 32 yrs passed this past March so I completely understand the lack of desire to do b anything, just pushing on because the world/life doesn’t stop just cause yours has. Happy the store and B&B are going well. Good luck in your new adventure.