Updated: Apr 8, 2021
I wanted to start this super weird experiment in vulnerability by introducing myself. I am Jess, and as long as I can remember I have had a passion for food and entertaining. I mean, how amazing is it that this thing we need to do to survive can also provide such pleasure, community and nourishment?! While going through my moms old recipe box a while back I came upon a recipe that I had written down while watching Graham Kerr on PBS as a kindergartner. The words were all spelled phonetically and I hadn't written any measurements of the ingredients, (which I still struggle with). I asked my mom if she remembered anything about it, and she said that I had presented her with the scratch paper and said that she should make this because it sounded delicious. My parents were definitely influential in my love of food and creating beauty in the home. My dad was a contractor/builder and had an architects attention to detail. My mom was a stay at home mom/homemaker and loved to cut and arrange fresh roses and hydrangeas. They were both great cooks and I learned to love all kinds of food at a young age. I grew up in Seattle, in a large family where we often gathered for birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations. I watched as my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all worked together to cook delicious food and set a beautiful table for, sometimes close to 30 people with, what looked like ease. I started going over to my grandma's house early on Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was about 8 or 9, to help polish silver, and set the table. I learned so much from those experiences and will cherish that time with her forever. These gatherings are some of my fondest childhood memories.
In my college years I started working in restaurants which opened my mind to new food and furthered my love of all things yummy. When I started living on my own I tried to recreate the delicious recipes I had eaten in restaurants, and I discovered the Food Network. This was back in the day when it was actually cooking shows all day rather than game shows, or whatever is on now. That is where I really learned how to cook. I learned so many helpful tips, and it gave me confidence to try things that felt scary before. Ina, Giada, Lidia, Ming, Alton, these were my new mentors! I threw tiny dinner parties with mismatched dishes, and fantasized that one day I would have a beautiful home to entertain in. In the meantime, I started entertaining in other people's beautiful homes as an event and catering manager for a catering company in San Diego. This is where my love of themed parties really grew!!
After my husband and I welcomed our daughter I was looking to switch to a more flexible career. My new mom friend Kelly (now best friend and business partner) was a massage therapist and had a wonderfully flexible schedule and loved her job. I thought the spa industry sounded pretty dreamy after all those years of restaurants and parties, but thought esthetics was a bit more my speed. I attended esthetics school and became a licensed esthetician. Kelly left the spa she had been working in, and started one of her own, so I began my career as an esthetician at Thérapie Day Spa. I was in heaven! I loved the serene environment, the intimate connection with my clients, and working with the amazing women who are now my closest friends.
After 5 years working together at Thérapie, Kelly and I decided to open a second location as partners and opened Thérapie La Mesa in June of 2016. At the spa I had an opportunity to "host" in a new way. Our goal was to create a homey environment where people felt seen, heard, and appreciated in addition to getting top notch spa services. Thérapie La Mesa Village is in an adorable yellow bungalow with a picket fence and climbing roses, so homey-ness was built in in some capacity, but we had so much fun creating an interior to match. It felt like a privilege to get to create and hold a space for those who needed care and restoration. One of the perks of being in the spa industry is that our clients are usually really happy to be there. Our clients became our friends, and our staff became like family.
As our Thérapie family grew, so did our spark for new and different ways to create experiences and connection with our incredible clientele. We began working on a natural skincare line and are now in the final steps of developing that line so stay tuned for that. And, Last February we hosted our first retreat in the lovely Lake Tahoe area! We had such a blast designing a vegan menu and creating a perfect balance of relaxation, connection, and fun. We were so thrilled that we had such an amazing group for our first experience, and were planning to host a retreat seasonally. I arrived home from the retreat on February 28th, 2020. 2 weeks later we closed our spa indefinitely for coronavirus.
"The Great Pause". Unscheduled time was not something I had an abundance of in my life. I had been spinning my wheels for a while on how to focus more on growth, putting my energy into the things that excited me and less time managing the day to day of running a business. Until COVID-19 I was not successful. While I was, of course, experiencing all of the uncertainty and fear that came with being closed and having no idea when we may reopen, I must admit that the forced hiatus and the quality time with my daughter/husband/puzzles and books, was wonderful. I started making my bed every morning because I wasn't rushing out of the door with my coffee and my Kind bar to catch a meeting. I took loooooong walks through empty neighborhood streets. I lit candles daily, filling my home with sweet subtle smells. I baked banana bread and cookies. I bought cut flowers at the grocery store and arranged them into wild bouquets. These simple, domestic tasks not only kept me from spiraling into fear and uncertainty, they grounded me and enhanced my experience of being home.
As the world heads back into some kind of new normal, I am trying to stay rooted in biggest lesson the pandemic taught me. Slow down. Be here now. It reminded me that I love long walks, and that I can bake, and I love puzzles (like, I really love them). It will be a practice to prevent the over scheduling and overwhelm that I used to feel often. I feel that this blog will be a wonderful way to remind me to slow down and reroot into those values. When I was about 19 or 20, my mom asked me what I would do for a living if I could get paid to do whatever I want. I said "I would throw dinner parties". There is a special kind of connection that happens when people gather around a table, and it seems like we are going to be able to do this again very soon. It is a great joy of mine to set the stage for that connection. From the music playing, the menu, the table scape or decor, carefully curating a pleasurable shared experience delights me. This blog will share tips, tricks, recipes, playlists, and favorite tools to cook and entertain with ease and joy. I hope you enjoy it.