Family Jewels

Mya Birrell Engagement Ring

NO, not those kinds of family jewels. I’m talking about a lady’s kind of family jewels; the real “heirloom” type of stuff. I’m talking about my beautiful engagement ring. Yes, yes. Read this in a southern accent for emphasis: SHE DONE GOOOOODD! The picture above was taken in our car about 15 minutes after Holly popped the question. While I hope to share the story (and photos!) of the proposal some day this post is all about the bling. My ring is a 3.6 carat asscher cut green-tea sapphire in a white gold pave diamond band. It’s unique, it’s timeless, it’s more than I could have ever imagined! Although I love the sparkle of a traditional diamond engagement ring, I knew that it wasn’t for me. There’s plenty of time for diamonds later on in life right? *wink* Getting back to my original point – this ring is the first piece of fine jewelry that I’ve ever received. Before Holly got down on her knee and gave this to me I would daydream about wearing it. Now that I wear it daily I daydream about my future daughter or daughter-in-law wearing it and adoring it as much as I do. Although, in true negative-nancy fashion, the thought occurred to me that maybe my style of jewelry won’t be so popular with the future generations. What if nobody likes it? What if none of the Birrell-Jackson women care to wear it? Will they throw it in the casket while my coffin descends? What kind of wet blanket has these types of thoughts just because she prefers a non-traditional engagement ring? *points to self* I wonder if any other woman has had silly thoughts like these before? No? Okay. I’ll put my paranoia to bed for tonight. Besides, I’ve got at least another 70 some-odd years to marvel at this beautiful & meaningful jewel on my finger. I love you, Holly. Thank you.


Quick stop at Graceland






Believe it or not, I didn’t grow up listening to Elvis. In our house it was a mix of reggae, motown, grunge rock and r&b; depending on what my Ma felt like listening to while vacuuming. So when we were planning our trip to Memphis, Graceland was a bit of an afterthought. I know, sacrilege. While driving back from lunch we saw signs pointing to Graceland and thought to stop by. The grounds were closed but we milled around the entrance for a few minutes to peek at the lawn and read the messages on the wall. It’s a beautiful estate in a not-so-beautiful part of town. Still glad we got to see it.

*I had to post this shot of H in front of our rental car. An All-American summer roadtrip requires an All-American ride like a Ford Mustang. Vroom vroom, the only way to go!

Memphis Day 2


On our second day in Memphis, we began at this great little coffee shop near our hotel called Tamp & Tap. Creative, delicious coffee drinks and tasty breakfast items. The style and offerings of the place made it feel like we were back in Oakland. On that day, we felt that there was no other thing we’d rather do then go on a Riverboat Tour. This is a bucket list item for me, believe it or not. There was no casino on the boat but that suited me just fine!

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This was the brand new welcome center and gift shop. The grounds surrounding this place were pretty cool as well. I believe that this place had just opened shortly before we arrived to Memphis. The lovely outdoor cafe attached wasn’t even open yet.

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My first time on the Mississippi River, you guys! What a leisurely, educational and fascinating activity this was. There was a breeze, neon-colored drinks and lots of southern charm and hospitality. Would highly recommend this to anyone who visits Memphis.


The result of laying my DSLR on a lumpy messenger bag to shoot a cute pic of the both of us. It partially worked.

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The Memphis skyline.

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Gorgeous homes on the Mississippi riverbank.


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These bad girls LOVED you, Memphis.


Our 1st day in Memphis


When we arrived in Memphis, the sun was setting. We checked into the Peabody aka “The South’s Grand Hotel.” When booking this room I had done my research, as always, and grew excited about staying in luxury during our short stint in Memphis. Truth be told, the location can’t be beat! We were able to walk everywhere. The rooms were comfortable and stylish enough. I’m sad to say it but this is place in all its former opulence felt like a destination for the 65+ set. The most riveting thing that happens is what they call the “duck march” where there are ducks that literally walk from a fountain in the center of the lobby to the elevator. People line up for it!  Overall, The Peabody wasn’t really our vibe but it was a nice place to stay just once in your life.





Once we checked in, we quickly freshened up and walked over to Pearl’s Oyster House. We ordered up some fried fish (all bottom-feeders much to Holly’s chagrin), red beans & rice and oysters among other things. We did it right and it was the perfect introduction to southern cuisine. Welcome to the South where you will again discover your joy for fried food!




After dinner we hit Beale Street. We were overjoyed and amazed by it. This was the good-time crowd that we had hoped for. Diverse, relaxed, everyone’s got a drink in their hand, the families are loving it….but there is one, central draw to Beale Street that’s hard to convey with words: the sound. The street is lined with Blues and Jazz clubs. As you wander down the street, taking it all in, you hear a raspy, soulful wail. The Mahalia Jackson kind. It GETS you, you feel it in here *points to chest*. You say “ooohh, I wanna go in there!” but you hear it again from another corner of the street, this time a man’s voice. Same soulful quality backed up by an amazing jazz band. I can’t say enough about being in an environment like that when you’re not used to it. It was intoxicating and it was plentiful.

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More from you tomorrow, Memphis.


The Reason


I’ve thought for a long time about starting this blog. What do I want to say? What do I have to offer? How much of my life would I expose? Will I obsess endlessly about my grammar and word usage? (answer: YES) To be quite honest, I don’t yet know how my voice will come through. What I do know for sure is that I live a wonderful life. In some ways, my life parallels what I usually see represented: I’m engaged and planning a wedding, I’m in my thirties, I love fashion, I love to cook, entertain and photograph. In other ways though, I feel like I live a life apart from those blogs. My perspective has some spicy extras, so to speak. To conclude this introduction bluntly, this is MY space. To say and feel what I want. To express my joy and my frustrations. To showcase our love and growth together. Thanks for reading. Here we go!