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totes ma goats

August 27, 2014

Totes Ma Goats West Elm Tote 1

I have a thing for totes. Like, ‘join a support group for tote addicts’ kinda thing. They seem so practical and useful. Until you’ve got so many that you couldn’t possibly use them all. And then I stumbled upon the tote that puts all other totes to shame. You can (and should!) get it at West Elm St. Louis. Because who doesn’t love goats. On a tote. Paired with a ridiculous phrase like ‘totes ma goats.’

West Elm Tote

Totes Ma Goats West Elm Tote 2

Are you a tote hoarder, or a one-bag kinda person? Do tell!

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

See the rest of the style column here.

Jess Signature

coffee, peace and justice for all.

August 1, 2014

Rise Coffee House

I sat down with Jessie Mueller to chat about her cozy spot on Manchester Ave.

Having opened a mere 10 months ago, Rise Coffee House has quickly become a community hub for The Grove neighborhood. Offering a place to work, meet, play, and relax, Rise’s inviting atmosphere is just that – inviting. A large chalkboard wall explains the pour over process for the coffee novice while, in a whimsical fashion, literary pages exposed in old books hang from the ceiling upstairs. You can get your caffeine fix in a variety of ways – espresso, chemex, cappuccino, etc. –  from roasters Blueprint Coffee and Goshen Coffee. For the snacking type, your drink can be paired with baked goods served at the counter from Whisk Bakeshop on Cherokee Street. Owner Jessie Mueller set out to create a community anchor in The Grove as part of her love for The Grove renaissance, and Rise Coffee House was the product.

Jessie at Rise Coffee House

Rise Coffee House

Tell me how Rise Coffee House came to be.

I was doing social work in the neighborhood and my boss at the time, who is actually responsible for a lot of the development of The Grove just kept talking about how the community needed an anchor and coffee houses tend to be that. Once a coffee house is embedded in a community, the community really grows. When people look to move into a neighborhood, they wonder what their local coffee shop will be. I came to the conclusion that I needed to go big or go home. I needed to get involved somehow or i’m just kind of going to piddle around in this and not really embed myself within a community.

I was falling in love with The Grove renassaince, not just everybody moving in, but the people that were here already. My husband and I started looking at properties and came up with a concept. We went to portland and learned coffee culture out there a little bit. I had no coffee background whatsoever. I didn’t even know how to make a pour over at the time – for real. It’s been a really insane, eye-opening, sort of awakening.

What has been the biggest hurdle in opening Rise?

There have been so many. Honestly, learning coffee. And learning how to make connections with other people in the coffee world so that we’re a respectable coffee house. Also, trusting your gut – trusting that your ideas will work. That is the hurdle. You’re so vulnerable to judgement, you just have to push through that and trust what you see and what you envision.

What is the best part of owning Rise?

Every day is an adventure. Every single day is something new. Either a new challenge or something that somebody says to me that I wasn’t expecting that encourages me to keep just working at it and chipping away at the dream of it.

Just recently we were featured on NPR for our partnership with Honey Masters, a group of teenagers in North City that started a honeybee farm. They just opened their storefront on the north side. They were huddled around a table one day when we first opened – I was just being friendly and chatting with them. They asked if I would have their honey at Rise and I said “yeah!” I was buying honey from Whole Foods and now Rise is the Honey Masters top wholesale account. That’s so exciting to me because it’s a group of teenagers from North City that are totally empowered. They are marketing their business, they have a bee farm, they are opening their own store, and have a model they hope to transfer to other cities.

The spur of the moment experiences in which I get to help people while promoting my business and my dream are the best part.

Where did the name Rise come from?

We got the name Rise from a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that talks about letting go of your individuality and embracing the common good.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tell me about Coffee for the People.

Essentially you buy a coffee to pay it forward. We give you a coffee sleeve to fill out, you decide who you want the coffee to be for and what it is, then tack it onto the Coffee for the People board. (A drip coffee for a City in a Jar reader!*). It’s a way to bridge a gap, so people can come in the door and know that there is coffee available to them, even if they can’t afford it that day. I just want everyone to feel they can use the space – that it is open and available. The idea is to foster community and diversity – everybody should pull coffee off the board.

What is your favorite thing about The Grove?

At first it started out as my freedom spot. I was a new mom and I would come out The Grove for a night of fun. Then I got an internship here and I had a purpose to come to The Grove for fun. Now it’s like home. I don’t live here, but I live here. I feel alive here. I come alive the minute I drive under The Grove sign. It’s still a freedom spot for me.

What is your favorite coffee style?

Gibraltar – also known as a cortado. Equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It does the trick.

What is your motto?

Coffee, peace and justice for all.


Rise Coffee House


Rise Coffee House

Rise Coffee House

Coffee for the People

*While I was at Rise, I put a couple sleeves on the Coffee for the People board. Need a caffeine fix? Stop by Rise and enjoy a drink on City in a Jar. 

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

summer uniform

July 30, 2014

Summer Uniform

I don’t know when exactly my wardrobe became mostly black clothing, but at some point in the last couple years, it did. While summer whites are fun once in a while, I stick to black pretty consistently year round. A light, flowy dress does the trick for summer. Especially those humid days when wearing pants is unfathomable. Also, my number one summer accessory is obviously iced coffee.

Summer Uniform


Summer Uniform

Summer Uniform

What outfit do you live in during the summer?

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

See the rest of the style column here.

Jess Signature

turning a resolution into good habits.

July 28, 2014

Athlete Eats STL

I’m sort of monumentally bad at sticking to resolutions. By day three of that time I resolved to stop drinking coffee, I was daydreaming of iced lattes, which led straight to the consumption of an iced latte. I was going to drink more water everyday, but by day 7 I was annoyed by how many times I had to get up and pee. When ALIVE Magazine launched the health and fitness issue in July, along with Be Well STL, and the #31DaysOfMovement challenge, I thought i’d give those pesky resolutions another shot. If only because I work at ALIVE and you know, team spirit and stuff.

Method of attack: trick my brain into thinking of it as a more active lifestyle, paired with better food (bye taco bell drive thru) and less like a resolution to exercise. I added Southtown Yoga into my list of things to do at least once a week, i’ve been riding my bike to work every day, and get up early to go on occasional runs. The hardest thing is making time for all the activity. Having a support system in place was pretty clutch. Lisa and Elise are training for the Chicago Marathon (you go, ladies!), and early morning runs are easier when done with Elise.

As for the healthier eating…i’ve been all about places like Athlete Eats. Local, tasty, and healthy. It’s a trifecta for good food (and drinks!). It’s hard to pick a favorite smoothie or juice, but the Berry Blast has been leading the charge lately. Stop by Cherokee street and sip on one yourself.

Athlete Eats STL

Athlete Eats STL

Athlete Eats STL

This #31DaysOfMovement thing has been working out for me. And though the 31 days are coming to a fast end, the change in habits is not. Every time I finish a run or walk out of a yoga session, I feel amazing! I think Elle Woods said it best…”Endorphins make you happy! Happy people don’t kill their husbands.”

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

I teamed up with ALIVE Magazine to bring you this post. Thank you for supporting the people that make City in a Jar possible! 

Jess Signature


white on white

July 22, 2014

City in a Jar White Out 3

I am was afraid of the all white outfit. It’s like tempting the powers that be and asking for a coffee spill. Or, my favorite, “how did red lipstick get on my sleeve?!” stain. My fear has kept me from the whole white-on-white thing, until now.

Hello to the monocromatic summer outfit (assembled after a text to Lo asking if cream and white together is faux pas, because not all white clothing is the same kind of white and it’s hard to match that shit).

City in a Jar White Out 1

And because I like to keep things weird…


City in a Jar White Out 5


[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

See the rest of the style column here.

Jess Signature

i scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

July 17, 2014


Pretend, just for a second, that you don’t celebrate National Ice Cream Month all twelve months of the year. In which case, July should be an extra special month to consume as much ice cream as you’d like without guilt because, according to President Reagan, it’s your duty as an American.

Occasionally i’ll exercise the excuse that as an adult, I can have ice cream for dinner. Sometimes, if i’m feeling extra rebellious, i’ll have it for breakfast.

There is no right or wrong flavor, topping, or vessel when it comes to ice cream. Want gummy worms on top of that mint chocolate chip cone? Craving plain vanilla with more sprinkles than ice cream? You do you. But if I had to pick one ice cream to eat for the rest of forever, it would be Americone Dream.

And, just for fun – an ode to the waffle cone.

While july may be National Ice Cream Month, this sunday is National Ice Cream Day. So, tell me, how will you celebrate?

City in a Jar Ice Cream Month 4

City in a Jar Ice Cream Month 6

City in a Jar Ice Cream Month 8


Photos were taken at Jilly’s Ice Cream Bar.

[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

Jess Signature

i’m baaaaack.

June 17, 2014

SKIF Dress

For a while now i’ve been using the phrase “i’m a bad blogger” because I haven’t been posting frequently on City in a Jar. The thing is, I don’t actually think i’m a bad blogger. I’m just busy with non-blog things right now, leaving very little time to share thing with you.

Like cutting 10 inches off my hair.

And hanging out at coney island.

Or teaching myself to weave.

Oh. Also, work. (Which turns out is the biggest time suck of them all. Damn, 9-5’s. Am I right?)

I won’t promise consistent posts that will blow your mind. But I will promise to make an effort to share things with you again, because that’s fun for me (and I hope for you too).

Let’s start off with a bang, shall we? SKIF International has taken over my closet, and i’m giddy about it. I can’t stop buying her cozy knits and gorgeous silks. I’ve worn this blue and grey silk piece as a shirt and a dress – i’m a sucker for versatility.

SKIF Dress

SKIF Dress


SKIF Dress

What is your biggest time suck and what do you wish you could spend more time doing?

[All photos by Christopher Dugas.]

See the rest of the style column here.

Jess Signature




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