The Power of Ten Things for Blogging.

10 The first time I learned about the Power of Ten Things I was driving back into the city with my friend, @TerribleTexter, and bemoaning that the weekend went by so quickly. “Ten things that were great about this weekend, go!” she demanded and then she made me list the ten things. Some were better than others: I was able to see my little sister. Some were as simple as: I did laundry so I had undies for the week. But you know what? By the time I listed those ten things, even if I had to search for nine and ten, I felt better about the whole weekend. I could attack Monday with gusto and did not fall victim to the Sunday Night Blues.

But let’s talk about about the Power of Ten Things for the blogger. Here is the thing, if you are producing content on a regular basis–in my case  five to six times a week–sometimes there is a moment when you feel as if the well has dried up. I’ve been doing this (writing) long enough to know that the well is never dry, it just needs some tending. Enter @TerribleTexter who shared Second City’s brainstorming activity of ten things. In the improv world, a group gathers and brainstorms ten ideas for a setting or a problem and solution that may occur during sketch. There can be no judgement while this goes on. IMG_9188

So as I sat across @TerribleTexter she shared this with me. And since I had already seen the Power of Ten Things in my personal life (I have been known to speak a list aloud to others or  no one to combat the Sunday Night Blues) we decided to use it for my blog. And you know what? We came up with some pretty good ideas. We actually went over ten but that’s okay. The hardest thing to do is not to judge your own ideas. One of the things @TerribleTexter suggested for a topic was “windows” which I laughed at. But that turned into “found objects” which you will probably see here sometime. 

So when you feel that well drying up, consider Ten Things. If it’s good enough for Second City (aka Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell and every great comedian), it’s good enough for us, right? 

How do you brainstorm? Where do you go for inspiration? I’m interested to hear your ideas.
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Stocking Stuffers + a $155 bucks to World Market!

Now I have to premise this post for the family reading this that most of these are things I would get other people. This is not my list. I have to make that disclaimer because some people stalk my blog to find out what to get me. But I think these are incredible stocking stuffers–from my favorite gift to give anyone, to something that will be raffled off next month, to a book set I would love to get my little sister. 

To this day, my favorite part of opening presents are my mom’s stockings. She always finds the cutest things that somehow she psychically knew would be perfect for me. She has a gift and it is gift giving, folks. Full disclosure, I did use affiliate links which means I get a small percentage from the retailers but it does not affect you at all, just the retailer. You can just hover over the image and click.  

Also this is a great stocking stuffer idea:gifts

I’m linking up at Cheer’s Y’all, A. Liz Adventures, A Southern Style, and Miss DixieMy_Favorite_Things_Linkup_2014

What are you hoping to see in your stockings? Do you have any traditions with stockings? And also, any guesses on next month’s giveaway? It’s shown above…

Meanwhile, another giveaway, one I am very jealous of, in fact. This time of year it’s easy to get distracted with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, meal prepping and community serving. It’s such a wonderful time of year to outwardly focus on others! Myself and 12 other lovely ladies wanted to give YOU a gift. Treat yo’self to a $155 World Market Gift Card! We will let you decide whether you use it on yourself or Christmas gifts for others.

Merry Christmas (early) from all of us to you!
 
 

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How to Make Your Own Cool Welcome Mat on the Cheap.

Here’s the problem. Well, there are three. The first problem is I have two white carpets in my apartment. The second problem is that people do not take off their shoes and as a friend and I discussed, we don’t want to one of those people who say: can you please take off you shoes? The third problem is that I was seeing these super whimsical, welcome mats with cute phrases like: Sup or Y’all or the Neighbors Have Better Stuff. I considered getting one and then saw the prices. mat4mp

Here is the thing with DIY projects. Sometimes it is totally worth to buy the product and not DIY yourself. Maybe you don’t have any of the supplies. Maybe you don’t enjoy it and the annoyance feels like currency. The price of a DIY project is different for everyone so no one should get down on themselves. For this one, I decided to DIY.

I bought the same type of mat I’d been seeing and a the thickest sharpie paint pen they make. The important thing to note it that this sharpie is OIL based paint because when people (or myself) wipe their (or my) winter boots on it, you don’t want the water to smudge or ruin your creation. Next pick your saying. I won’t lie: I like to be original. Plus, remember problems one and two up there? I settled on: Lose the Shoes. I hope it is a polite and funny way of saying, no really, please take off your shoes. 

Here are the steps:

First, if you need a stencil, create one. At the very least, ghost write your saying to make sure you have enough room.mat1

Then, write out your saying lightly because if there is a mistake you can fix it.matmp

Next, press the oil based paint pen down so it bleeds and thickens each letter until the letters are the thickness you would like.

And voilà.mat4wm

This ended up being much easier than expected. Have you ever gotten in too deep with a DIY? My hand is raised. And also, how do you psychically tell people to take their shoes off without being that person who tells guests they have to? Thanks!

(Three more days until Thanksgiving!)
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Let’s Get Real.

On this lovely Friday morning, I am going to confess five things.one

I went out on in public in gray, leopard thermal pajamas on Wednesday night and I don’t regret it. Now, normally, I am on the train that says, “Toot, toot! Don’t wear pajamas in public.” But when my one of my dearest friends texted me and asked if I wanted to snuggle with her baby while the fireplace roared, I was not about to arrive in my business casual, grown up clothing. I ran home to get my computer (work, friends, work) and also my camera (cutest baby boy, friends, cutest baby boy) and jumped into my jammies (packing my slippers) because it just made sense. Then I added uggs to the ensemble because it was snowing. So my confession is not only did I wear the pajamas, I don’t regret it. I ate up the baby snuggles since he was in his jammies too. Then I drank wine and helped my friend pick out her Christmas Cards and giggled like we were back in college. It was a banner Wednesday. Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 6.00.39 PMtwoMy second confession has to do with the first. I am not supposed to be eating sugar right now for medical reasons. This includes wine. I have been so good with no cheating, not even on my road trip this last weekend, which was really hard. But it was so cozy and delicious at my friend’s house while I was in my jammies as the fire warmed us and the baby slept that I drank a glass and a half. Did you know that is the exact amount to get me slightly tipsy but not sloppy in any way shape or form? It could also be one large glass. I’ve never been a drinker until I lived in SF and went to Napa and tasted really great wine. All this to say, with one glass, I smile a lot. It isn’t outwardly noticeable but internally I think: okay, wow, I am happy. Time to pour the rest of mine into my friend’s glass. IMG_9203threeI almost kept these earrings for myself. You may think I am joking but this is a real confession. KSIMG_9184

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I confess I am still surprised I am an adult who has to wear fancy clothes to work. Obviously I am in denial because sometimes, I still write things on my hand if it is really important. When I do my hair in the morning, I look in the mirror and think: when the heck did you become a grown up? Also please note, I still call my parents when I need advice and would be lost without my family. My nonna is always making me food and giving it to me. This, however, is because she is an Italian grandmother and not because I can still be a child who writes things on her hand to remember to do them. I mean, they get done? five You may know that I was challenged to vlog recently. I always said I would never do one. But then I was challenged and the readers (YOU CRAZY PEOPLE…Sorry for calling you crazy) actually liked it. What is life? #thestruggleisreal I don’t talk about make up here but I am actually really good at, as in I have done two of my friends’ make up for their weddings. There was a request for contouring. I don’t know if I will actually do it, but the fact that I am even considering it is something I really need to get off my chest. I think I am having an identity crisis.

I’m linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, Karli, Amy, and the lovely Leslie.

five on fridayScreen Shot 2014-04-25 at 8.05.10 AMPhew. Glad I got that off my chest. Signature                         Visit the Peony Sponsor:   

Too Much.

IMG_9206Tonight as I write this, I am cuddled up in front of the fire at my friend’s apartment. It’s snowing outside and she invited me over for a slumber party and a glass of wine (with the added bonus of a fire) so I put on my uggs and took her up to it. Now she’s in the other room putting the babe down to sleep, rocking him in the glider, I imagine. All is quiet. All is nigh. 

I had to take this class as part of my first year of working with my company and it was all about communication. After the introduction and some laughter, the trainer asked us why we were there or what we were worried about and I told her: sometimes I worry about being aggressive instead of assertive. She looked me straight in the eyes and told me, “I can already tell you don’t have a mean bone in your body.” I felt as if cold air hit me in the face. This is a woman who is an expert on reading people and communication and yet my whole life I’ve been told…

Nina, you are too much.

You are  too loud.

You are too brash.

When people said these things, I heard: Nina, you are not nice. Because everyone knows there are two types of girls out there–the kind that sit on their hands and say please and thank you and never make a fuss. These are the girls who are chosen to organize Bible Studies. These are the girls who are married. And there are girls like me. We say please and thank you but if we believe in something we will make a fuss. 

IMG_9213You are too much.

Nina, you are aggressive.

When I first left home for college, I thought everyone handled conflict like the Italians did. We may yell but we always hug and make up about five seconds later. I love my family and I love my culture but it took my several years to not only realize there was a better way but to practice that better way. But then someone will bring up something I said or did from those years when I was learning and growing. It’s clear they still think I am that person. 

I have a friend, a good one, who always talks about conflicts we had six years ago. Oh, we’ve got to be careful to not go back there. Girl, that was five years ago. I have five years of experience and growth and sanctification. Please, please stop judging me on the girl I was senior year of college. 

This hurts me.

So when this expert looked me in the eyes and said, “You do not have a mean bone in your body” it healed something inside of me. So maybe it isn’t all true. Maybe I am not too much. Maybe I am not too aggressive. Or maybe I am. But inside, I am not mean.

When I was little, I thought I was rotten inside.If someone hears how bad they are enough times, they will believe it. It’s what I believed about myself and though I’ve mostly grown out of believing certain lies about myself, they creep up now and again.  So does shame. We know that shame is never from God and yet some days we swallow it down with our breakfast.

So as I sit by this fire, about to have a glass of wine with an old friend, I remind myself it is okay to see the good in myself. Even writing that feels strange, like I’ve tasted something funny. But it is right to see the good work that God has done in me and continues to do in me, the good work he will finish one day.

Does anyone struggle with being too something? Or any other lies you have to battle? What helps you? Pretend we are curled up around the fire together.

Love,
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A Gift for Your Girlfriends | $8 at the most!


giftsI am fortunate that I have a lot of ladies in my life who mean the world to me. They pray for me, cry with me, and most importantly, laugh with me. I wish I could give them all the most luxurious gifts in the world, but I don’t think these friends would appreciate if I took out loans just for their Christmas presents. What I’ve realized is that it is the little things–a handwritten note and something clever and this is exactly that: something clever. 

gifts2 This past weekend, in a whirlwind, I met three blogging friends who are now real life friends. We each brought three “of our favorite things” with a $5 minimum. I immediately thought of Essie polish which is $8 but you could honestly use any polish. I found some glittery string and gift tags and wrote “For your mistletoes” on those gift tags to add a personal touch. And voilà! They were a huge hit. gifts3

Here is the truth. It is the simple things. Treating a friend to Starbucks and toasting with your red cups. Listening while she tells you something important. Laughing over inside jokes. Sending a funny text message in the middle of the day. Writing letters across the country. The way I see it, God has put some incredible women in my life. They have mentored me and made me laugh in the middle of the tears of sorrow. They are my sisters. They get me. This is a rare thing–a rare thing in this crazy world. Losing my papa makes me realize that our stories are so intertwined with others, that I want to love well in this life now. People are what matters. It is so simple and yet it so true. At the end of the day, that’s it. So feel free to steal my ideas and bless the gals in your life. Clever, cute, and sassy–just like my friends–what more do you want in a gift?

Here are the girls I met up with this weekend in KY. How did I get to KY you ask? I still have no idea. It was completely insane and I spent the majority of the weekend in the car but it was worth it. It was so very worth it.IMG_9161

Faith | Bex | Me | Sarah
What gifts do you give your friends? Anything clever? Cute? Let’s share the wisdom, ladies.
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Room Reveal: Family Room & Thankfulness.

When I was younger, I thought a studio apartment meant you slept next to your bathtub and cooked on a hot plate. Now I know better…And in this studio, as opposed to my studio in SF, I have been able to divide the space into my bed area, a family room type of area (which I am showing you today), an office space (which you saw a bit of yesterday and will see more of in the coming weeks), and then there is a separate kitchen and separate bathroom. This is place is a palace compared to where I lived in SF. 

So here is my “family room” which I am very proud of because this couch cost $200 with tax. And is super comfortable. $200! Did you hear me? It’s perfect. I am so thankful for it (more on that later). (You can see the apartment before here.)IMG_9102There is a story with these poofs too. It is crazy but they are perfect for when I have a friend over and when we are watching Gilmore Girls or before they took it away, Dawson’s Creek.IMG_9116I am actually taking this photo from my bed. (That’s a screensaver from AppleTV rolling across the screen.) Also I love Apple TV. Also, I am extremely thankful for my aunt giving me a TV she wasn’t using because I did not have a TV while in SF so having one is crazy and I am thankful for it! IMG_9110Storage. So necessary when living in a studio and it is hard to hide anything. When people come over, they can see my bed. There isn’t anyway to close my bedroom door so storage is key. I need to do a blog post on small spaces, don’t I? Maybe even putting together Ikea furniture like a boss (aka my mom is a boss and I am just okay). IMG_9201I’m not decorating much for Thanksgiving because I feel as if I only just got settled but I have so much gratitude for this space after so much movie. IMG_9095So here is my little family room space (you can find the tutorial for the shelves here). One of the things I am so thankful for this year is this apartment. I would say that is materialistic but it’s not. It’s a place I can call my own. It’s home. It makes me smile whenever I come in the door. Soon, I’ll be decorating for Christmas and it will be my first Christmas on my own in Chicago. I am thankful for this city and the thrill that runs through me when I walk through it while I snuggle my face into my scarf away from the brisk air. I am thankful that I am close to family and that I am now a grown up in my family unit. It’s nice. This is a nice season–sometimes weird, sometimes hard, but also nice. And so I’m thankful. It’s cold outside but it’s warm in here and I am reminded that life is hard but we have a living hope. And how wonderful is that?122Linking up with LisaKatie, Annie, and Cait.

How do you like to decorate? What makes your house a home? And what are you thankful for? Talk to me.

 
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A Tour: This is where I Whistle Where I Work.

Hello! I love learning about others processes, especially with writing, and also with blogging. Last week, Susan asked me to be a part of Tour through Blogland so I want to show you my space and tell you a bit about my process. I think it may be interest? I hope. And maybe even helpful. Maybe?IMG_9078What am I working on? 

I am working on being a writer and a blogger on the same time, bringing original content here and also growing this space. I want to make this a place that people desire to come and also be true to who I am as a woman and a writer. I am constantly coming up with new ideas. The more ideas I have, the more I can throw out and get to the really good, meaty stuff. Right now, I am trying to figure out how to tell more of this story since it is a story that I not only needed to write but that touched a lot of people and other women needed to read. I’m so sick of simple platitudes but I am overwhelmed by the true love and kindness I have received. 

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My hope is that my work does differ, simply because of my creative writing background and also my constant writing of novels I have yet to show the world. When you come here, I want you to be able see, taste, smell, feel whatever it is that I am writing. I love taking photographs but my goal is to always create a picture with my words. I also hope this is a place where I am willing to say hard things because that is real life. I don’t want to ghost over everything and pretend like life is dandy when we are grieving my grandfather or that one in six women will be abused (and it’s an under reported crime). If you want a peppy cheerleader every single day, that is not what you will find her. I am positive. It’s not all dreary. But it’s real. Not every day is an photo shoot, okay? And yet, there are silver linings every day. God is good. 

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Why do I write/create what I do?

One of the most certain things in my life is that God created me to be a writer (besides creating me for His glory like he created all of us). It’s the clearest directive he has ever given me. And while I don’t know what that means long term, I am happily obedient today. Writing makes my soul happy. It’s so simple. When I am writing, it as if all the gears in my life are working and moving together in the right way in those moments when I write. I also enjoy anything creative which is where the photography comes from. 

How does my writing/creative process work? 

I do work off an editorial calendar but if you read that post you will see that the reason I use that is because sometimes things are fluid because I am a writer and we are a crazy breed. A lot of times a sentence will come to me and I just have to write it down and before I know it, there is a story or a post. I can’t tell you how many truly important posts just flowed out of me. Other times, there are things I want to ride about and I just try and do them justice. I am constantly trying to stay inspired and the way that works is that the more I write, the more I can write and the better I write. I love having a beautiful workspace (not an expensive one, mind you!) and I am actually doing a little reveal tomorrow of more of my apartment.

I’m passing the torch on to:

mk
Martha Kate. Wife to my best friend. ED advocate. Lover of grace and all things sparkly. Diet coke, reading, and decorating are a few of my favorite things. For twelve years my life was dictated by a standard of perfection and by the eating disorder that had claimed and controlled my life. Three years ago I started recovery for my eating disorder and I cannot begin to describe how much more abundant and filled with joy my life has become. I used to struggle everyday fighting this battle with Ed (my eating disorder) but I have and am learning how to live a life not dictated by my disorder. In short, I am now living a life of freedom. I was saved by grace and now I am learning to live a life of grace, which also means having grace on myself.lizHi! I’m Liz and I blog over at Baby Got B.A.! I’m a twenty something student/Disney person who is trying (and often times failing) to master this whole life thing. I have a fur baby named Binx who is a constant source of love and neuroses. I enjoy writing, crafting, and drinking as much coffee as humanly possible. A lot of my time is take up with school and work, but when I’m not there chances are you can find me trying to keep all my teeth from falling out. Or trying keep my apartment from taking on water. Or trying to make sure our mail is being delivered. Or trying to make sure our apartment fixtures don’t kill us… I maybe need to move… I love Disney and try to visit the parks when I can, especially during Christmas. That being said, when left to my own devices, I am prone to slipping into Hobo-dom.

I mostly write about ridiculous things that happen to me, or ridiculous things that happen BECAUSE of me. Like the time I lost a contact at work and had to fashion an eye patch out of business cards. Or the time I almost burst into tears in the freezer section of my local grocery store. Or basically anything that has happened on our Disney Family vacations. Or this horror. Basically I try to document and celebrate the absurdity of life and I’d love for you to stop on by and say hello!heather
Originally Port City Prescription, my blog started as a way to get to know a new city as a newly married couple. Over the last year it has transformed into Style Prescription, where I talk about incorporating style into every aspect of life. I like to think it’s a safe space to embrace all sorts of styles, be it in fashion, home, or life in general. I’m a bargain-hunter by nature and SP serves as a platform for me to share ways to achieve great looks on a budget. We are also welcoming a new life into our family next year and I’ve had fun discovering how my personal style is evolving to accommodate an ever-growing bump and making room in our home. The blogging community has become a precious part of why I continue to blog, so I’d love for you to stop over and let me know what you think!

x,
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Kate Spade Cozy Giveaway | Don’t miss it!

KSIt’s snowing in the midwest. And maybe Texas too! As we brace for the Bomb Cyclone (this year’s Polar Vortex), some of my blogging buddies came together to cozy you up with a Kate Spade Cozy Giveaway. It includes the cutest KS earrings that you’ve seen on all the bloggers’ wish lists (maybe even your own), some Kate Spade socks with some fab polka dots, and a $10 Starbucks gift card to warm you up as you cuddle up wherever you are. I honestly wanted to keep the earrings for myself but obviously I didn’t. I swear I didn’t even try them on!

And the socks. I just want to put them on, curl up in my bed or on my couch with the warmest throw, and sip a pumpkin spice latte. Because yum. Also I like it a tiny bit cold in my apartment and I refuse to turn on the heat. I just hate the feeling of having the heat on but I am pretty sure I am going to need to break soon.

I am also just twidling my thumbs waiting for my winter coat to ship from China. I got a really good deal and hopefully it fits because…I mean, I live in Chicago. I know I don’t have to spell it out for you but I will. In the winter, you get windburn in Chicago. It literally feels like the liquid in your eyeballs will freeze and that you won’t ever be able to close them again. Already people are like: oh my gosh, it’s so cold. And I just shake my head because right now, in November it has to be mental. I have to think that this is not bad at all because it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Anyway! I am so excited to give these things away with some lovely ladies! 

(Remember, you don’t have to be a blogger to enter! :) )
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All of these ladies are wonderful. Don’t miss them!
novemeber
Anne | Betsy | Bex
Liz | Trish | Linda
Faith | Nina | Emelia

 

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May the odds be ever in your favor,

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Friday…And Break.

I’m tired, people. I am not going to lie about it. I can’t promise to be coherent. I can’t even promise to count all the way to five. But what I can promise is…Honestly I lost my train of thought. oneI was walking home from work today in the dark and the cold and I got that feeling I used to get in San Francisco, that thrill in my belly. As in: is this my real life? Is this where I live? Is this my city? You have to understand, this feeling of thankfulness and thrill has nothing to do with circumstances. It’s not like I had this absolutely fabulous day (maybe even the opposite) but walking down the streets in my heeled boots? I just can’t believe this is my life right now. I can ignore the cold (at least right now). Dear Chicago, I love you.chicagotwoSo I vlogged yesterday. It was way out of my comfort zone and you were all so gracious! Thank you!threenonnasbiscottiDid you read about my nonna’s biscotti? She is amazing and so is her biscotti. Read about her and pin her recipe herefourSomething amazing is going down this weekend. I can’t share more than that but I am pretty excited. Now I only have to conquer Friday. TGIF. And then this weekend, I plan on doing a lot of this:DSC_0062fiveLooking for blogging tips? Or a place to sponsor? There is a promo code involved. 

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I am linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, Karli, and Amy.five on friday

Thanks for putting up with me. 

 
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