Author Archives: Nina

Friday Confessions.

Yo, here are some Friday Confessions that I puked on to the computer screen. Please take them with a grain of salt. ūüėČ

Confession: The IRS strikes fear in me FOR NO REASON. Because I am the ultimate rule follower. And yet, I cannot think of anything scarier at this exact moment that I am typing. Except ya know, the political climate, health issues friends are dealing with, saying goodbye to a loved one, and actual things that make sense to be scared of.

Confession: I have been in the word daily again (I’ve been so bad at it for months and months and months) and It’s been so fruitful. Like, why do I think I can make it on own…ever? Just wondering. I annoy myself. Often.


Confession: it really annoys me when people drive while doing Instagram Stories or Snapchat. I’m not calling anyone out; but just generally, why are you driving and videoing? I get that some people are parked. But I can see the trees and other cars passing in the window! And I am sure some people live in more rural areas where there are country roads so it isn’t quite what I am imagining as someone who lives in Chicago. But it makes me so nervous, both for the person videotaping and also other people on the road. If it is illegal to text then it should be illegal to do this, even if your phone is attached the dash. But like, I just found out the GOP passed the tax bill in the House so this is all coming out way more intense than it should.

Confession: Getting back into blogging has been harder than expected. I don’t know how I used to post content five days a week. I truly don’t get it. I mean, a lot of my emotional labor is being used right now to not freak out about stuff constantly on the news and so I get it. It’s hard to realize that so much changed for so many of us last November and we are all just dealing. It isn’t even all politics. I can only handle so much when it comes to these men of power abusing women as someone who was abused. It can be too much sometimes.

Confession: I organized the apps on my phone by color while I was sick. It was at the point when you’re just well enough to be bored but still sick enough to be in bed. I like the way it looks and actually, I worried about finding stuff but it’s going okay.¬†

Confession: I decorated for Christmas and I don’t even care. I wrote about why here. It brings me joy. I said to a dear friend the other day, “Jesus and twinkle lights are getting me through.”

Confession: So I thought the worst part of wedding planning would be all the big decisions but it’s not. It’s all the little operational things. It’s finding out from the location how long the aisle is via email so then I can call the florist and tell her. Thankfully, I am so fortunate to have people in my life who either help me or let me vent.

Confession: Still have not registered for the wedding. I’m down to the wire because my mom needs to order shower invites.

Confession: I ate way too much ice cream while sick. Because of my throat, I only ate popsicles, soup, and ice cream. And that isn’t healthy for anyone. So I really need to get it together.

Confession: Acupuncture has been helping my Fibro. So naturally, my acupuncturist is leaving the city for Wisconsin.

I’m out.

Subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter!

* indicates required

The Christmas List.

This year, not unlike last year, I have found surprising comfort in Christmas traditions including making the Christmas List. Yeah, I get it. It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. But last year, after the election, my roomie and I could barely pick ourselves up (both literally and figuratively). We struggled hard. In the end, it wasn’t a person or thing that got us off our respective couches but rather Christmas lights, songs, baking, festive jammies, and decorating the apartment. We created the homiest and most cheerful of places to bundle ourselves in and we hoped that some Christmas magic could propel us forward while buffering us from what was going on outside our make-believe snowglobe. And it did in a way. Listening to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on repeat, we let both the melancholy and yearning in the song move us along like something floating in the ocean.

It wasn’t graceful or perfect. There was no moment where we were better (I’ll let you know when that happens). But honestly, I don’t know what would have happened without those Christmas touchstones we surrounded ourselves with. So I’m doing it again. And from what I see on social media or simply driving down the street, I’m not alone. It seems like a lot of people are immersing themselves as early as possible in the season. That includes gifting. I love giving gifts so much and in my family, we are really asked to provide what we’d like within certain budgets for different people.

I’m not ignoring what’s going on in the world. I can’t. And yes, I’m posting about my Christmas list (it does have affliate links by the way). If nothing else, making it was a brief escape for my mind so I could have enough reserves to engage in the ongoing work. I just want to be super clear that this is not the time to completely avoid hard topics. We all have to engage in whatever ways we can when we can.

 


1. Letterfolk Felt Boards: This list is in no particular order but I really want this one. Ideally, I’d like the bigger one but also, I like to give price options. So I’d also love the smaller one. I’m digging gray but there is also black and white. Either way, I have just the place to put it.

2. Diorshow Mascara: Yeah, I like an expensive mascara and I swear by it. I typically like to ask for it for Christmas so my family has something to get me that I really use very regularly (I’d say every day but as a writer, I’m not putting on makeup every day…not going to lie to you).

3. Kate Spade Leopard iPhone 7 Case: I had this case for my old phone (it didn’t fit this newer one) and I loved the way my gold phone looked in it. It was just very me (or one facet of me). Love leopard? I put together some of my favorite leopard items here.

4. Sunday Riley Good Genes: I have fallen in love with this skincare brand. I actually tried this lactic acid treatment in this kit which was amazing because I also love the Luna Night Oil. But the investment for the full size is so worth it. I will definitely use this every day. They also now have another kit option with this and their vitamin c treatment that I love, love, love for skin brightening (The kit is called Pretty Bright Thing so…). That combo is bomb. But I’ve gone through Good Genes the quickest.

5. Savor It All Keepsake Box: So they have these for weddings, births and babies, and school years for the kids. I am just obsessed. I am so nostalgic so if without guidance I am sure I will hoard everything from the wedding. I love the idea of having all the important things organized in one place. I found this on the Home Edit’s Instagram. If you don’t follow them, they are amazing. Seriously. #Goals

6. Lorac Mega Pro Palette 4: When I was in college I had a Lorac Palette that my mom gifted me for Christmas. It seriously had the perfect colors for me and I kept it way longer than one should until my favorite colors were dust. Since then, I am always on the lookout for that perfect combo of colors in a palette. I didn’t find them until this (and it is on sale). This would literally replace every eyeshadow palette I have. Lorac shadows are also just great. I’m so excited about this and the makeup purge that would happen if I do get it. (For family members reading, I am 99% positive someone bought this for me already so…)

7. Sunday Riley UFO Set: Like I said, I love Sunday Riley. My skin has greatly improved. But I’d love to try this set specifically for acne prone skin (when will the threat of acne leave me?). These kits give you so much product for the money and allow you try someone. I am dying to try a Sunday Riley mask so this one seems ideal for me.

8. Lush Sleep Lotion: This has a cult following. People swear that you put this on and fall asleep 15 minutes later. So I am really hoping Santa puts this in my stocking. (And I also may gift it!).

9. Anthropologie Capri Blue Silver Candle: I don’t think there’s any question that I love this candle. It’s probably the one consistent thing I have talked about since this blog’s inception. Gah. But I love this scent so much. I have been keeping and collecting the jars of these for years (the $28.00 size) and last year when my roomie saw how many I had, she was ready to get the garbage bag. I was like, “No!” When she wanted to know why, I told her I would use them in my wedding. I hadn’t even met C yet and I wasn’t the type to have any picture of what my wedding would even be then! Ha. So now, I just need a few more once I collect from relatives (since getting engaged I have gifted this candle to people and been like, so there’s one catch. Can you give it back to me once you’re done with the candle? How ridic.) I’m so close to having enough for one at each table as a part of the centerpiece look. Plus, again, this is only my favorite scent in the world so I’d love to burn it for the sheer pleasure of that in the house.

Tell me what is on your list because I always have family members demanding I get a list together (which is so sweet) and it’s sometimes hard to come up with things. That’s why as many gift guides that there are this time of year, and yeah, I do get burned out on them, I still find them useful a lot of the time. So yeah, what are you asking Santa for?

xo

Subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter!

* indicates required

Leopard Love.

I decided to lighten things up after my last post.

Jenna Lyons, formerly of J. Crew, famously said, “Leopard is a neutral.” Well, I happen to agree. I’ve always loved a touch of leopard. Too much is too much, but one piece? I constantly find myself drifting towards it. So much so that one of my bridesmaid’s asked me if she could wear leopard shoes in my honor. I told her, “Of course!” Because I’ve got some leopard love.

Once I had someone assume, aloud, that it was because I am Italian. I don’t see the correlation except maybe that Jersey Shore was on at the time and when leopard is done wrong, it is so very wrong? Or maybe because the Real Housewives of New Jersey (most of whom are Italian) wear a lot of animal prints? I didn’t take offense to the comment because first of all, she meant nothing by it. Second of all, it’s now a joke between us. And thirdly, I probably have done leopard wrong in my life.

But I won’t steer you wrong here. (And yeah, I did use affiliate¬†links. They cost you nothing. But I’m hoping they pay for another year of hosting this blog).

Here are five pieces of leopard out this season that I love (a few of which I have my eye seriously on):

1. Claire V. Calf Hair Foldover Clutch

I’ve had my eye on this bad boy for years. I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. But, how chic, right? It could dress up jeans or pair with an LBD.

2. Kate Spade Leopard iPhone 7 Case

I had this and I loved it but then I upgraded my phone and it didn’t fit anymore. I’ll probably ask for this as a stocking stuffer. But if you have a good iPhone? How can you resist?

3. Leopard Pattern Apple Watch Strap

Do I have an apple watch? No. Does this make me want one? Kind of. If you have one, upgrade your strap. Super affordable!

4. BP Mixed Leopard Scarf

Again, affordable in the BP section of Nordstrom’s. It also looks bigger than the normal scarf. I’m not saying it’s a blanket scarf but…it’s amazing enough that I want to do some research. Love this look with jeans and a black shirt so much! Add a camel color riding boot and bam.

5. Kate Spade Blush Fawn Leopard Calfskin Milano Too Heel

Confession: I am seriously considering getting these for engagement photos. There the right height to still be comfortable. It’s a pump heel so that’s also comfortable and they are gorgeous. Is it a splurge? Yes. But as someone¬†who studies leopard,¬† I am very picky. It’s been years and years since I found a leopard shoe that I could truly get behind. (That time it was Target so you win some, you lost some).

Do you dig leopard or not? Man, it’s weird to ask a question like that and write a post like this one. But I’m trying it on, to see how it fits.

Subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter!

* indicates required

Something like Heart Surgery.

Everything feels hard and fragile at the same time. And it feels that way because it¬†is the way things are right now. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t been actively blogging for a while now.¬†I was in the middle of a move so I let things slide and then I tackled true and real vulnerability which took all of the emotional effort I had at the time.

And then, November 2016 happened. The Cubs brought me great joy. America brought me great pain. I don’t even want to single out the president because yes, that’s painful too (growing increasingly worse) but what he revealed about this country, about us, about people I love, about institutions (like the Church) that are important to me was gut-wrenching. It still is most days. That night, when the results came in, I was torn to pieces in a way I did not expect and was useless for a week. You’d think I’d have put the pieces back together by now but I haven’t. I’m functional (because that is something I know how to do: function in a crisis) but I can’t go back to before. The scales have fallen from my eyes. The fact is, I am still processing (every single day since that dang day there is something new to process so I don’t even have time to ever really truly process…I’m sure some people can relate) and so to write things down, concrete things that will be here on the internet, well it just seems difficult and maybe even unwise. (I mean, I do it for a living but it gets more personal and less formal here).

But here I am.

My convictions are not weaker. In fact, they are stronger. But when I write something here, like this, I have to dig deeper than I do on Twitter or Facebook. And even though my convictions have grown deep and true roots, there are still things I am processing. Like my faith. I never stopped loving Jesus but I did stop loving people professing to be Christians (or at least loving them as easily as I did before). That’s a hard truth right there to write.

It isn’t what Jesus has asked of me (love God and love others). But, man, I wish I had the words to explain how hard I have prayed for help to love people who loudly profess ideas and ways of thinking that are hurtful to me, hurtful to other people I love, and so hurtful and destructive to whole groups of people. I mean, I have repeated Jesus’s command through gritted teeth to myself too many times to count. I have wrestled with God over all these people¬†using¬†his name for ugly at best and evil at worst. And yes, I know he’s got it. I know that what they mean for evil, he will use for good. But watching it…watching it hurts.

Loving people through gritted teeth has meant unfollowing some people on social media (not that big of a deal but it took me awhile to realize that was¬†the loving thing to do instead of seething with anger and hurt over their ignorance). It’s meant not discussing politics with others and not because conversations aren’t important (I believe they are more important than ever…and I had/have them) but because nothing but a heart change was going to be effective. It’s meant praying for people I do not like very much. It’s meant grieving over the beliefs of people I love.

It’s meant examining my own privileges. It’s also meant admitting, “I don’t know” to questions and problems. Maybe if more people were willing to admit what they don’t know, the world would feel different. It’s meant clinging tightly to people who get it, who are in the struggle, looking for answers, coming back with nothing, and then going out and looking again. It’s meant new friends and saying goodbye to old ones. It’s been a time of grave disappointment in people I thought I knew but maybe I didn’t.

So while all that is happening, I have also been experiencing incredible happiness. I fell in love and we decided to marry one another. We’ve been growing together and we are getting marriedwe are getting married. I’m not one to gush but I truly do not know what this last year would have been without the discovery of two things. First, that I could love and be loved, deeply and truly and completely. Secondly, in the midst of such difficulty, I could know such happiness. I’m a different and better woman having met this man and working towards marrying this man. That is a blessing that could make me weep and those tears would not have anything to do with romance or mushy-gushy stuff but God’s mercy to me in bringing me and C together. Just like I can’t get past the incredibly tough stuff, I can’t get past God’s benevolence to me.

But the question I have struggled with is: how do I write from this place? How do I write from a place of such pain while some of my long-held dreams for my life are quietly coming true simultaneously? Some days I feel split in half so writing about it seems absurd. Literally every time I have thought, “I’ll write a blog post about the wedding, like how I used to. I’ll talk about colors and flowers” something¬†horrible¬†happens in the world and I am back to processing things.

I haven’t added my voice to the fray because there is such a clamor right now. That isn’t to say I don’t speak or use my voice, I just didn’t and don’t know how to do it here, in this space. So, I end up with this rambling thing that may not make sense but I’m going to push through because I’ve got to decide if I am going to maintain this space. And I can’t make that decision when I don’t show up. So I am going to try and show up and see how it feels.

One thing has not changed and that is my trust and belief in God. I will be the first one to say that I don’t get it. I don’t get how a sovereign God is at work right now but I believe he is. I have been beyond disappointed in the Christian machine this past year (specifically white evangelicals). I didn’t realize how insidious and disgusting this cancerous way(s) of thinking had spread (which shows you and me my privilege) in the community I used to call home. Maybe that’s why this is happening? Maybe our racism, our sexism, our xenophobia, all of our ugliness that we have internalized needs to be exposed.

When my mom was in her twenties, she found out she had a large hole in her heart that had been there her whole life. It was now compromising her life but this hole‚Äďthe circumference of an egg‚Äďwent unchecked for over twenty years. Until a strange exhaustion set in. Until her entire color changed. Until all these symptoms revealed the very real problem that required open heart surgery.

Maybe what’s happening all around us is surgery. The thing about surgery though is that it hurts a lot. Its goal is to heal but man, does it hurt and it is incredibly violent when you consider it. You have to cut and bleed before you can stitch and heal. Then, there is a long recovery. So my hope cannot even be in the process because that sounds horrible. My hope is in the Surgeon. But this is so hard.

I think of my mom, the scar she still bears so many years later.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7,8 ESV

Subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter!

* indicates required

A Perfect, But Easy Margarita.



Confession: I’ve never had a margarita. I didn’t think Tequila was my thing. New Confession: I just needed to try¬†good¬†Tequila. Enter: Agavero Orange and Gran Centenario.IMG_1563

My girlfriends and I were meeting to watch Luann’s one-on-one special on Bravo and this seemed like the perfect time to try my first margarita, especially since I’d have my girls to guide me. Because let’s be honest, as much as we wanted to watch this half hour special, I knew we’d spent hours just talking, laughing, and being ridiculous in the best way.¬†IMG_1565

So, I have my girls to thank for helping me make (and drink) my first margarita.

Here’s the recipe we followed, keeping it simple. Honestly, it was so easy I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before.

1 part Agavero Orange Tequila

1.5 parts Gran Centenario

1 part Triple Sec

1/3 part Lime Juice

1/3 part simple syrup

Sugar rimmed glasses with lime for funphoto

I learned to make simple syrup from watching my friend which turns out is actually super simple. Just boil water and add sugar and stir. Once combined then let it cool so it doesn’t warm your icy and refreshing margarita.¬†IMG_1584

As for those fun and yummy sugared rims? Cut a lime for the edge of the glass and just slide it on and turn to coat the entire rim in juice. Then remove the lime to put the glass in sugar and put the lime back on.

IMG_1564My girls were on point and now I know that I can make a margarita on my own the next time they come over. The Agavero Orange and the Gran Centenario¬†was so smooth. Honestly, we loved it on the rocks and next time we get together after we a book signing we’re going to together, I’d like to try them frozen. We all agreed that the orange flavor was subtle and perfect since so many recipes add orange juice anyway!

I had such a good time with the girls and I needed that time. The margaritas were just an excellent (quite excellent and highly recommended) bonus!

xo

Subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter!

* indicates required