Where to go for Kid’s Crafts, Blogging Info, and to Meet New Bloggers: Kim Bettasso.

I’m not a mom but I do have a nearly five year old sister so I am constantly on the look out for fun activities and crafts for us to do. Recently, I discovered a plethora of them at Kim Bettasso’s blog, aptly titled Kim Bettasso. From Summer Journals for Kids (I am obsessed as a writer…I think it’s so important for kids to be able tohave that outlet too and love Kim’s passion for that…Plus, they’re multimedia so younger kids can draw and add stickers and other fun things)to Solar System Chalk Art (when I nannied, I learned kids love chalk!) and How to make a Salt Dough Map.Kim Collage

I mean, how fun right?

You also cannot miss her blogger interviews like this one with Kari or posts like To Blog or Not to Blog?

Plus there are adult crafts and you know I like those. Check out How to Create Your Own Hand-Bound Leather Book Made From Scrap Materials and Making a Garden from Wine Bottles.Kim Collage

Don’t miss Kim’s blog. There is such an array of great resources.



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Confessions of Harry Potter, Kate Spade, and Creativity.

It’s Friday and tomorrow is the Fourth which means you can find me floating in a pool (no sharks in a pool!) until I am a prune. You may catch me when I get out to reapply sunscreen (can’t forget the SPF!) but other than that, it will be the pool.

wavesunglasses1. I confess had a fabulous vacation. In many ways it was a working vacation but I am so glad because I feel creatively rejuvenated and back to my old blogging self where every day there is some content I’ve worked hard on and am confident over. Seriously, some really awesome stuff is coming up. It’s always good to spend time with friends too.

12grimmauldplace2. I confess that Harry Potter Land was on my bucket list, maybe even the top five things. And it was amazing. I’ll definitely be sharing more about Harry Potter Land (my nickname for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) which will be posted soon. It won’t be a simple recap though. No. Harry Potter deserves a post full of blood, sweat, and tears. #AmICrazy?

3. I confess my food as medicine journey has been going so well. I was able to keep it up amazingly while on vacation since my friends graciously decided to join me and we collaborated on meals. And the thing is? The best part? I feel like I have turned a corner. I have a long way to go but I am celebrating this new place of a slight decrease of pain and increase of energy. God is good because for awhile I didn’t know if I would be able to make the vacation but it was great. This just encourages me to continue and enforces the fact that this is necessary for me personally.

katespadecoral14. I confess that this is the best giveaway I’ve ever co-hosted. Honestly. It’s open until noon on the fifth of July.katespadecoral2
a Rafflecopter giveaway

5. Finally, if you’re looking for a place to sponsor, please feel free to use the code: brave for 20% off any spot. Like I said, I have some really cool things coming!

I’m linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, KarliAmy, and also Leslie for Confessional Friday.five on fridayScreen Shot 2014-04-25 at 8.05.10 AMxo,



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4th of July Healthy Dessert + Cocktails | Firecracker Melon Pops.

I’ve been talking a lot here about steps I have taken to improve my health situation–mainly the idea of food as medicine, and eating like this as a way of life in order to reduce my pain. In the past, I would see a holiday or a vacation as an excuse to indulge but I am just not in a position to do that and yet I was fortunate to be visiting Bex for eight days.

4th of July Health Dessert + Cocktails | Firecracker Melon PopsNot only is she a supportive friends but she and the Mr. have been wanting to eat healthier too. “You’ll be our kickstarter,” she told me. For this post’s purpose, I wish she would have said or even sung, “Baby, you’re a firework.” Despite her lack of the perfect Fourth of July Katy Perry song, she made me feel supported and loved.

The eight days I spent with them, we all worked together to create healthy yet delicious food and I still kept eating #foodasmedicine. We even had a faux fourth!

Bex made a healthy cocktail that in some circles is considered paleo and others not. Even if you are avoiding alcohol, like I am currently, check out her recipe for the Sparkling Watermelon Spritzer because it’s great as a mocktail.

I’ve always been a dessert girl and my love for greek yogurt is well documented so I made Healthy Firecracker Melon Pops with Greek Yogurt Frosting and Berries.Healthy Firecracker Melon PopsThe frosting is simple. I just used two packets of Stevia to sweeten a small container of greek yogurt and stirred it up. For the watermelon, I won’t lie. I am not great with knives but I tried my best to cut the watermelon in sheets and used a star cookie cutter Bex had on hand. Then I frosted the stars as if they were cookies.healthyfirecrackermelonpops1The final touch is adding some berries. This may sound crazy but since it’s summer I like to get the frozen mixed berry bag. A few hours before I am going to use them, I move them from the freezer to the fridge because the juices melt together and create a nice sauce to pour on top.healthyfirecrackermelonpops2You could easily stick a popsicle stick in these for kids. Also by using the cookie cutter, there should be no rind. Except for the the first test I did which you can see in the picture of above and the perfectionist in me is cringing but you know what, Perfectionist Nina? Keeping eating food as medicine because it’s working.

And baby? You’re a firework.

Try out one of our healthy recipes! Plus, what are you doing for the Fourth?




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How You Get Through the Wave.

I hate sharks. Most people aren’t huge fans either. But I refuse to go into their home (that being the ocean) beyond halfway up my calf. Sharks come a lot closer to shore than people realize; I do my research.

But during my second day at the beach, feeling scored, like the heat entered my body and was burning me from the inside out, I slowly made my way out to Bex, up to my chest, beyond where the waves breaks to where they just lull. If you know me, you understand that this is a picture of my personal insanity: me, floating on my back with barely any effort, relying on that salt water, my body rising and falling with the gentle motion of the waves.

Sometime last week, I took a screenshot of a post from Humans of New York.  She was asked what was one piece advice she would give and she said, “When a wave comes, go deep.” The interviewer replied, “I think I need more explanation on that one.” And then the woman said something profound and lovely:How You Get Through the WaveI think this is brilliant. I’ve done all three things she describes here as the waves of life hit. I have countless examples but I’ve chosen one for each reaction to the waves in my life. We’re all about authenticity here.

How You Get Through the Wave

I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease in 2009 caused by a seizure the year before. In between that time, I faced rapidly declining help and few answers. Looking back it was a major wave of  my life but I had no choice but to ride it out. My body was treasonous and the doctors (thinks three to four a week for several months) had few answers. Even after a diagnosis, finding the right path was a challenge. I worked hard (with doctors, with the help of my family, and on my own) to become as healthy as possible with this illness and live as “normal” a life as possible.

In the past year, my health has deteriorated again but I ignored every warning sign. I ran from from it, lying to myself without realizing it over the severity of my decline. But the wave swept me up and I crashed ot the shore of reality anyway: I had to take just as drastic steps as when I was first diagnosed and all that running only put off the inevitable.

How You Get Through the Wave

My family is incredibly important to me. Before the age of 17, the previous sentence would have red: my family unit, intact, and whole, with my parents married to each other, is everything to me. This unit was my anchor for all things. So when my (truly lovely) parents began the process of divorce, I fought it and I fought it hard, as if I had a say. I made crazy ultimatums. Any gauntlet I could throw, I did. I launched it desperately.

This was a huge, life defining wave, and one (like all waves), I could not control no matter how hard I stood my ground, feet dug deep in the sand, my pride, my ego locked together with my idea of family.

This will probably (not) shock you. They divorced. (I love you, Mom and Dad.) And you know, it was worse, that angry standing my ground. Because I could have been using that time to deal and instead all I was left with was this anger and feelings of failure, on top of the normal ones of grief and loss.

I was clobbered.

How You Get Through the Wave 3

Today I live with the reality of my physical and emotional health. Like I said, I was in denial for a long time and if I would have taken care of things sooner, they wouldn’t be so bad. So here is another wave but this time I am allowing myself to go deep.

It’s transforming me in every way.

I’m learning about my body and food as medicine, that this will be a way of life for a lifetime, not a moment in time. God has challenged me to let down the walls I have in my heart and what I am learning about vulnerability is slaying me.

The wave hasn’t passed yet. That’s okay. In fact, maybe that’s better. I want to go deeper and then come out through it.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. (Isaiah 43:2 a, b)

I would love to know your thoughts.




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5 Easy Braids for Summer | A How To.

5 Easy Braids for Summer | A How ToI love braids–especially in the summer because they are easy and yet pull an outfit together more so than when I take my crazy curly hair and snap a rubber band into a bun (nothing against this look, especially because I rock it quite often). Last week, when I was with Bex (a staycation for her, a vacation for me) she needed some outfit pictures for her fashion blog and I needed photographs to grow my portfolio. Thus, a friendship birthed a collaboration all about those braids (now, I would like to sing all about that bass).

Let me tell you: it is hot in Florida. Creating different, distinct looks with the heat was no joke so I brought up the idea of braids. It was new to her but I feel confident she will be rocking them from now on. You can check out her blog on tips for how to do just that. Here, I’ll be giving you the tips and the tricks of how to actually braid. Because the truth is, I am not talented when it comes to hair but these are so easy, anyone can swing them, even me (right now, my hair stylist friends are laughing).

How to Fishtail Braid

Ah, the Fishtail Braid! Don’t be scared of it. This is the easiest braid ever, easier than just a normal braid. I promise! I am actually going to share Lauren Conrad’s Tutorial with you because once I saw it, all I could think was: “Nu uh. I’ve been intimidated by this!?”

In fact, I wore a Fishtail Braid on the plane down to Florida. Maybe that’s why it was on my mind. For Bex, we made it more messy (okay, the wind helped a bit too). But we didn’t want it to perfect for a more preppy looking outfit. This is actually the braid that started us on this odyssey where I (me? I know hairstylist friends, you’re still in shock) was in charge of the hair.

dorothybraidsDorothy Braids aren’t not necessarily my go to (or Bex’s) but they are the precursor for the Milkmaid Braid (coming up next) and we kind of fell a bit in love with the whimsy. These are so simple. I can’t french braid well and these are not french braids, obviously. Just part your hair (in the summer, don’t worry about a perfect, severe part, all the way down the back of your head) and divide into two sections. From those two sections, pretend your hair is a friendship bracelet (the easy kind) and with the three sections just place one over the other. Tie off with those thin black or clear rubber bands.

How to Milkmaid Braid

This is my go to when I want to beat the heat but look like I put some effort into taming my frizz. For Milkmaid Braids start the same way you would with the Dorothy Braids. Take one Braid and use bobby pins to keep it in place wherever it naturally looks good on your face. You’ll need a couple. Then take the second braid and do the same thing. Your braid will overlap and this allows you to hide the ends of your hair which are not braided.

How to Milkmaid Braid 1Depending on the thickness of your hair, you may want to take the rubber bands out once you have plenty of bobby pins. I did this for Bex. When I do this to my own hair, I leave them in and manage to cover them.


The Chignon Braid is a French way of saying, I made this up as I went along. Like the Milkmaid Braid, begin with two Dorothy Braids. Bring them around back this time instead of on the crown of your head. Stick pins at random and wrap them that is pleasing to you.

I will say that Bex hair’s weight and the fact that it was freshly washed and slippery did not make for ideal conditions. Any of these braids look best with hair a bit dirty but with this one, it is especially important. And for girls like me, with coarse or curly hair, it’s not hard to do at all.Headband Braid

In my mind, the Headband Braid will always remind me of Lauren Conrad  when she was on the Hills(total coincidence she’s mentioned twice here). This is ideal for someone with side bangs (if you want them off your face) but is a bit easier without those short pieces to include. Just take a side portion of your hair and separate it from the rest for ease. Start at the top with those shorter pieces in the case of bangs (like I did for Bex) or at the part (as I would for myself).

I cannot French Braid well but I do know how to in theory only. Don’t be intimidated that this involves pseudo French Braiding. Braid as normal but pick up parts of the hair that naturally flow and continue the braid past the ear. Bobby pin it or use one of those thin elastics again. For me, it adds an extra flair to a normally straight style and keeps my hair off of my face. At the beach, I like to do this and then tie my hair back (kind of like a natural sweat band. Ha!)

Which is your fave?Have you tried any of these braids? Will you? With the heat, what’s your go-to style to take your hair to the next level? Be sure to check out how Bex would style them.




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