Catching Up with Gen Padalecki

On holidays, family and building community through books and towwn

Article by Jennifer Birn

Photography by Jenna McElroy

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle

The run up to the holidays is packed with parties and festive events, gift buying, travel prepping and wrapping up all the loose ends of the year. Add to that running a business and a book club, acting, being a wife (to actor and entrepreneur Jared Padalecki) and mama of three (two boys and a girl), and things are busy for Genevieve Padalecki. We caught up with Gen, and talked about things from family and their new farm to two of her passions, books and towwn. Short for Take Only What You Need, towwn is a site she started with longtime friend Kelly Mickle to help people sustainably win the battle against burnout, both for themselves and the planet, with tips from eco-friendly kitchen swaps and sustainable sandals to self-care.

You’ve lived in Austin for more than 12 years, what advice would you give someone new to Austin? Embrace the weird, always say ‘hi’ to your neighbor, don’t judge opinions and views that might differ from yours, rather try to understand where others are coming from.  


What do you love about living in Austin? I love the eclectic collaborative community. I've always felt like I could be completely myself here.

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Family time.  

How are you and your family celebrating the holidays this year? We are doing things differently this year and giving our family an adventure.


What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I love all the decorating, crafting, and meal making. I find it therapeutic and I love when my kids propose the activity.

Do you have a recipe you love to make around the holidays? We love cooking during the holidays and all the kiddos love to contribute. It can range from a great lasagna to a medium rare steak (cooked by our 10-year-old), to my husband's favorite, tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons.  The holidays are so fun and gathering with friends and family for a meal is the best part.

How long have you had your book club? I started my book club when we went into lockdown.  I wanted a way to connect with people and have an outlet.  I reached out asking for a “this or that” book pick for the month and Southern Book Clubs’ Guide to Slaying Vampires was a fan favorite.  Next thing I know Grady Hendrix and I are zooming and chatting about his book.  It’s been a wild couple of years and I am so inspired and feel so incredibly grateful for all the insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, stunning and beautiful writers I have been able to meet, converse and collaborate with because of it.

What are some you’d recommend for gifting this year?  Pony, Red, White and Royal Blue, The Overstory, Tribe, Letters to a Young Athlete, Why We Sleep and Into Thin Air.

How do you consume books? Do you prefer real books, audiobooks, kindle? I prefer old-fashioned books I can hold in my hand. There’s something so wonderful about the sensory experience, the weight, the pages in between my fingers, turning a page, the smell of the binding. It just adds to the experience and for me is a delectable rush.  I also love a good audiobook, especially with all the driving I do, but it all depends on the narrator.

What’s new with towwn? towwn is growing so quickly and we’re incredibly proud of our community. We just launched our TikTok channel to help spread our anti-perfectionism message about the planet and ourselves to reach new audiences. We’re also building an informative and fun newsletter.


What do you hope to see in the evolution of TOWWN in 2023? Our main focus is reaching people who want to find solutions to burnout for themselves and the planet, regardless of background and politics. We’re looking at hosting more events where we can bring people together for these kinds of conversations, curating products to help people solve these challenges. You can learn more on our Instagram @towwn.

You and Jared recently bought a farm…Yes, we love nature and I’m obsessed with soil health and regenerative farming. I’m hoping we slowly let the land speak to us and thoughtfully nurture biodiversity and tend to the soil as best we can. I’d like to have rotational cover crops as well as grazing animals to contribute to this beautiful symbiotic relationship. It’s also nice having a refuge for our family to get messy and breathe in and get lost in the woods so to speak.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in 2022? I'm most proud of my family.  They are what I am so grateful for.

You went back to ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ this season in flashbacks, any desire or plans on the horizon to return to more acting? Definitely, if it works for our family schedule.  

You and Jared have been married 12 years, any advice on having a marriage with longevity? Marriage is the best and most amazing adventure in the world. And like farming, there are some good seasons and not so great ones. Marriage takes a lot of love and nurturing. Throughout our lives we change and evolve into many different people. So, in a partnership, you’re both constantly growing and it’s impossible to always grow together, whether in parallel lines or intertwined at the same time. The best advice that’s been helpful for me is to take time and try and understand where your partner is coming from, and before reacting to anything that maybe feels a bit incendiary or frustrating, give it 24 hours.

What’s something one of your kids did lately that surprised you or made you laugh?  Well, I'm currently watching my 8-year-old try and tell me U2 is the best band of all time I had no idea he knew U2!  My oldest sang a song in mandarin at a school talent show and my youngest gave her best ‘Hocus Pocus’ rendition dancing on our kitchen table - all in the last 24 hours! I don't know why I'm surprised by their theater bug, but clearly it's shining through.

Quick Fire Questions

Favorite book of 2022 Four Treasures of the Sky by Austin’s own Jenny Tinghui Zhang was outstanding - and it was her debut novel

Last show you binged: House of Dragons & The Bear with Jeremy Allen White

Favorite method of self-care:  Taking a time out for myself and remembering to be kind to myself and set that example.

Favorite restaurant to eat out Emmer & Rye, Soto, WuChow

Favorite place to order in Torchys

Go-to cocktail Extra dirty martini or a good old fashioned beer is really my fav.

If you could have one superpower To go back in time

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