My favorite Gwynnie Bee dress

Thanks to Gwynnie Bee, I’ve been enjoying dress deliveries all this month and part of December. The concept is simple: you create an account, put clothing they have for rent in your “closet” and wait for your shipment. They only ever send you items from your closet but do not send you a package unless you have at least six pieces or more to choose from in your closet. You have the option to buy what you cannot part with and return items you didn’t care too much for. After returning or buying, you simply await your next shipment.

I got five shipments this month. Except for one shipment that I sent back right away because I didn’t care much for either dress, I’ve spent a day wearing all the dresses sent to me. Oh yeah, and I only put dresses in my closet. We all know that’s because I can never have too many dresses in my life. But Gwynnie Bee also has pants, tops and skirts you can rent.

This deep teal dress was by far my favorite Gwynnie Bee dress of all. The instant I slipped it on, I felt comfortable. Furthermore the fabric is super unique. It looks fabulous with a little black belt and some black tights. My friend Hillary and I were going to meet up for dinner downtown. Hillary also takes photos. These are all her work. To see more of her work, go to www.hillarycutterphoto.com.

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

These next ones were captured in some cool lighting by the bathroom, of all places, at the 21C Hotel.

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee

Thanks Hillary for making me look fierce! Again, go check her out at www.hillarycutterphoto.com. Also the great thing about Gwynnie Bee is that with my code, you can enjoy your first month entirely free! Just click here to learn more.

Also today I’m linking up with:

Jersey Girl, Texan Heart Link Up

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My Christmas re-cap


Christmas is over. Each year in my adult life, Christmas just seems to sneak up on me. Before I know it, it’s Christmas eve. This year things especially seemed to happen that way. Luckily, however, I had my trusty camera with me at several holiday events. Here’s my re-cap.

The Christmas Who-vile party

I’m a notorious friend-stealer. By that, I mean that many of my friendships have been made through mutual friends. Kim is one of said “stolen” friends. She and my best friend Kayleigh met at Wittenberg University when they were members of the same sorority. Then their first year out of undergrad, she moved down to Cincinnati to work on her master’s and we all hung out from time to time. After that, she found a job in Columbus.

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The lovely Kim
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Kim and I in our costumes

Each year, her roommate Nichole has a fun and festive Christmas party. This year made party number nine. Nichole seems to be known for her Christmas party amongst her friends from high school, college, work and wherever else she knows her friends from. Kim invited me last year and I went. The theme was blue and they made these amazing candles.

This year the party took a Grinch theme and they made their own beer. These ladies really out-do themselves every year.

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Nichole with their home-brewed beer

Also, her hair and costume here are simply amazing. Kim decided to dress as a Christmas present. I love her shoes! I just decided to pin my braids to the side of my head like Cindy Lou-who. If you have a Grinch party to go to, it’s like the easiest thing to do. Here are a few more photos from the evening:

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Christmas

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Christmas day with the Boskens

Since I was born and probably even before that, my dad’s side of the family has been gathering together on Christmas day. This year, we all gathered at my aunt’s house. Highlights included a White Elephant gift exchange, a game of Settlers of Catan and Mostaccioli for dinner. I snapped a few photos of family members in dresses.

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Christmas

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Christmas

Christmas

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Christmas

The baby shower

The day after Christmas, I got together with my dad’s side of the family at a different aunt’s house. One of my cousins is going to have a baby in a few weeks, so we had a shower. It was too fun.

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Congrats to Margie! I’m so very excited to have a new member of the family!

Well, that’s a wrap! Now onto New Year’s!

PS. Have you checked out our Pinterest?

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My vintage Christmas dress

Vintage Christmas

This is my vintage Christmas dress. Today I had a lazy morning. It was the first morning in several weeks that I could sleep in. It felt great. So when I was finally ready to venture out for some last-minute shopping, I decided to wear something in holiday colors. I’ll admit that this year I’ve been less in the Christmas spirit than before. Without going into too much detail, my mother has been in the hospital since the beginning of August. She suffered a brain aneurysm and has been in the hospital or nursing homes ever since. I am thankful that she is alive. Her recovery has been slow with a few setbacks. This will be my first Christmas without her in the house. My first without her watching me open presents and all the other things. It has been hard.

But I know my mom would want me to still enjoy the holidays. So I will. I decided that my vintage Christmas dress would be a good option. Several summers ago, I attended the Whispering Beard Folk Festival. It was an amazing weekend with music and all sorts of vendors. One of them was a vintage shop and this is where I found this dress. I love the pattern and fabric. Also the neck lace area is unique too. I love my vintage Christmas dress.

Vintage Christmas

I hardly ever wear bracelets, but these just seemed to go. These are three green bangles that I bought on Devon St. in Chicago about six years or so ago. Devon St. is an area of the city with lots of Indian restaurants and shops. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in Chicago.

Vintage Christmas

Vintage Christmas

My vintage Christmas dress this Dressember

Also happy day 24 of Dressember. For those who are unaware, I’ve been wearing a dress every day this month to raise awareness about the global issue of human trafficking. Proceeds raised go to International Justice Mission and A21. You can read more here.

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My first H54F (High Five for Friday)

I love the world of blogging. I love surfing around and discovering new blogs. I’m such a fan of empowering other women, so supporting other bloggers in my niche (which is mostly women) is such a great way to empower each other. About a week ago, I stumbled upon Bright on a Budget, a blog about Lexington-based mom, attorney and bargain-hunter Tif. She and three other bloggers (Caitlin from Coffee with Caitlin, Della from Della Devoted and Katie from Cup of Tea) host High Five for Friday, a weekly re-cap of their weeks where they write about five particular things that were awesome. I can get behind some weekly praise! So here are five things that rocked about this week.

1. One of my best friends from college drove up to Cincinnati from Lexington to see me perform improv comedy. Some of you may not know this, but I’m in an improv comedy group called Highly Improvable. Last Friday, we had a show with Gloria San Miguel, a local folk musician, to benefit Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Sara has always had interest in seeing one of my shows, but since they’re always up in the Cincinnati area, it’s hard to find the time for a roadtrip. On my lunch break she messaged me to tell me she was coming! It was oh so good to have her in the audience! In April, I will stand beside Sara as one of her bridesmaids (I wrote about that here). I’m so excited! After the show, we went out for a beer or two and caught up on life. It was so good!

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2. Sister Circle (pictured above)! I met these ladies about a month ago when I wrote about the Contemporary Dance Theater’s Performance and Time Arts Show. Their piece in the show was part spoken word and part song. Clad in purple shirts with yellow flowers in their hair, they exuded self-love and empowerment. I simply had to write about them. I love all things women’s empowerment. So I did exactly what I do to find most of the women I interview: walk up to them and say “Hi, I’m Nina and I blog about women! Could I write about you?” 99.99% of people I ask say yes. I mean, who doesn’t love having the spotlight on them?

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with LaMonica (pictured top second from the right in the checkered dress + red sweater), the woman who started Sister Circle. The women all live in Winton Terrace, a low-income housing community in Cincinnati. LaMonica is the Supervisor of the St. Vincent DePaul office located in Winton Terrace. Winton Terrace has a high percentage of single mothers, so LaMonica felt like a women’s support group was needed. So once a month these women of all ages get together around food to talk about life, laugh, sing and most importantly, support each other.

Wednesday evening, I got together with the ladies, each in their favorite dress. We had such a blast! Everyone loved having me take their photos. Right after I snapped this one above, they sporadically broke out into song. It was just so neat to see them in their element like that. This Sunday I’m featuring LaMonica on my weekly Q&A. Her story is so very powerful, so I’m excited to post it. I’m also going to write a post about Sister Circle early next week. My hope is that through both of these stories, people will look at single mothers and the issue of poverty just a little bit differently.

3. Amigas del trabajo. On Monday night, I got to know some of my co-workers outside of the office. I work at Su Casa Hispanic Center and one of my co-workers started a Groupme. For those of you who may not know, Groupme is an app that allows you to have group chats. We entitled our group chat “Amigas del trabajo” (ladies from work). Throughout the day if we think of something witty or important, we can message everyone from the comfort of our cubicle.

Monday night, though, we decided to have some face-to-face interaction a Low Spark, a new bar in Over-the-Rhine. We bonded and shared stories. Then my co-worker Lindsey invited us to her adorable apartment, which is right around the corner. I had intended to just have a drink or two and leave in time for weekly improv practice at 7:30 p.m. Instead, I skipped improv and hung out with them until 10:30 p.m. You know you’re having a good time when you start playing hookey from your weekly commitments.

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4. Dress rental. Much like the library, there are places where you can check out clothing. Gwynniebee is one of them! I stumbled upon Gwynniebee through an online advertisement. Your first month of the subscription is free, so there’s really nothing to loose. It was only after I had made a commitment did I realize that their focus is on plus-sized women. Dresses start at size 10. I’m normally a 6-8 in clothing, so there’s not a ton of options for me. Depending on the brand, though, they do have some mediums, which I wear. However I’m not upset. I’m sure plus-sized women feel this way all the time when they stumble upon brands that don’t carry their size. Their stuff is so cute, though. I’ve heard plus-sized women complain before that when brands make plus-sized stuff, it’s often not as cute as things made in smaller sizes. That can be frustrating when you walk in a store and a dress only carried in smaller sizes catches your eye. Basically, I think it’s neat that their focus is on sizes 10-32.

The process is easy. You browse their clothing and put items you like in your online “closet.” Once you have at least six, they look at what you’ve selected and send you a package. You have three options: one, two or three items at a time. I picked two. So based on I selected and what they had available, they sent me two dresses. This black one with flowers pictured above was one of the two. While I got many compliments on it, I decided to send it back. It was just about a size or two too big.

So now I’ve sent both dresses back and I await my next package! I’ll be sure to blog these next two dresses when they arrive.

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5. My photoshoot with Meghan! Meghan (Q&A with Meghan) is a new co-worker and old acquaintance. I’ve actually known her for the past four years. She used to work at a non-profit I volunteered with from time to time. However we were never really friends; just casual acquaintances who would run into each other at things because of our like-mindedness.

This past fall, we both found ourselves working at the same non-profit. Su Casa is a part of Catholic Charities. Meghan also works for Catholic Charities, just with our Refugee Resettlement program. I interviewed her on the blog last Sunday, which you can read here. I needed photos for said post, so I ventured over to her apartment Saturday. Her dog Sunny (pictured above) was there too. She’s such a cutiepie! Here are several favorites of Meghan from the shoot.

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So yeah! Those were five things that rocked this week! What rocked about your week?

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8 downsides to disorganization I’m ready to kiss goodbye

Several days ago, I decided that enough was enough. I’m tired of envisioning organization when my reality is pure chaos. I’m tired of looking at a car full of old takeout cups as I try to think through my forever long to-do list. I’m tired of not making the most of the things I have. This nagging in the back of my head has been there for at least four-five years. I’ve decided that it is now or never. I’ve decided that while I’m not naturally organized, it can be done.

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking of all the benefits to organization. As we live in a society of opposites, this also has me thinking of the negatives. Many of these are realities that I’m very ready to kiss goodbye. So this is my farewell letter, if you will.

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Dear disorganization,

It’s been real. While I appreciate how you make me look “quirky” or “free-spirited,” I desire more. As I grow into my late 20’s that are quickly approaching on 30 (yikes!), it’s just not working anymore. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just ready to be able to breathe. I’m ready to be able to focus on other things.

So as an ode to our farewell, here are 8 things I will not miss about you in the slightest:

  1. A heavier purse. I used to let my purse(s) exist full of mainly random flyers, receipts and gum wadded into said receipts for months at a time. At times, I needed those papers. Yet as the paper count in my purse(s) grew, I became more careless with how I shoved my wallet and planner in there. That had the potential to damage things already in there. Sorry disorganization, but I plan to have at least weekly clean-out sessions.
  2. Buying things I already have. This one is a classic. There have been countless times when I knew I had another bottle of conditioner or laundry detergent, but for the life of me could not find it. It was just easier to buy another on my next shopping trip. Of course, I’d always find the one I had after I bought the new one. Disorganization, you cost me money. No thank you.
  3. Wrinkled or hairy clothing. Disorganization, at times I used to just keep my clean laundry in the bin for days. Other times, I’d temporarily set it on the floor. It would pile up. I know how you tempted me with Youtube videos you deemed more entertaining than hanging stuff up. I know now that while it’s not sexy, it’s necessary.
  4. Jewelry that hangs together stays together. But seriously. Up until a few days ago, I kept all of my jewelry in a shoebox. I have a lovely jewelry hanger. Yes I do. However it was in a bag in my room that I kept putting off unpacking. While jewelry in a box sounds great, it’s simply not. Things got tangled. Things got un-hooked. Things lost beads and pieces. It was not a solid, long-term plan. Disorganization, you never are.
  5. My room as an obstacle course. One half of my mess was blocking the pathway around to the other side of the bed. While I perhaps didn’t need that space to be clear, it’s just nice. That is exactly what you want us to think, disorganization. You find your ways to seep in, telling us that it’s just not important if it’s not in your direct path.
  6. Having mystery bags. I’ve had several big moves recently. I have several bags from the move that have yet to be unpacked. They will not grate at me and I’m excited.
  7. Having clutter on dresser tops and table tops. I’m so very excited for clear-off table tops. I can set things on them! I even have a desk calendar on one!
  8. Scratched up CDs in my car. I’m so excited that they simply won’t get ruined. Disorganization, you’re a CD ruiner!

Disorganization it’s been real and it’s been fun.

Sincerely,

Nina, a girl who wants more.

 

So that’s it. I’m tired of being tired. I’m ready for more. I hope you’ll join me as I continue to blog about this in the coming weeks.

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Getting organized part one

I am not an organized person by nature. I never have been. I can remember growing up having a messy room and a messy locker. This continued into college. While I had my ways of keeping my head above water, so to speak, it was never perfect. However I’ve had a nagging in the back of my head over these past four years as I settle into adulthood and my late 20’s. I know I need to be organized and yet I have not consistently found my system.

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I’ve concluded that some people are just born to be organized. I have no idea what makes some people organized and others not. Perhaps they had parents who nagged them to clean their room all the time. Perhaps they were not allowed certain privileges and freedoms until their room was spotless. While my parents were generally concerned that my room was clean, they were never sticklers for spotlessness. Perhaps some people are so bugged when things are out of order that literally nothing else matters. For me, I’ve never been like that. I can let a few things sit in my car for days. I can let things pile up on my bedroom floor until I have to dig to get things out of it. It can be bad.

However organization is important to me. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t feel this nagging. I want to live as the best me I can possibly be. I know that that means organization. My dresses will love it. My earrings will love it. My shoes will love it. And, most of all, my mornings will love it as I won’t be rushing around digging through piles of things to find those perfect earrings to go with that cute red dress I’m wearing.

So last night I began part one on my journey towards organization. Organization is like jumping off a cliff: you just have to do it. It’s also like playing any sort of a sport: you can’t wimp out or be a pansy. Honestly, I found myself either wanting to yell at myself last night or give myself pep talks.

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Oh God it was a mess

The first part is normally pretty easy. You’re excited. You have all these visions in your head of your nice, organized life. I know I’m very much an imaginative kind of person. I can often jump to conclusions. It’s in this stage that you need to remind yourself that it’s only through hard work that good, solid organization happens.

I’m going through my things. I’m making piles of things to recycle, things to throw away, things to donate and things to keep. I’m hanging up clean clothing and putting dirty clothing in my hamper. Everything feels great. I’m making progress.

Then step two happens. Step two is a trap and you should avoid it at all costs. Step two is the Internet. I found myself on my phone and laptop with the excuse “Oh, I need to check Twitter! Maybe I need to make a tweet. I haven’t tweeted in a few hours.” IT’S A TRAP! Do whatever you can in this moment to get yourself back to cleaning. Perhaps leaving all Internet communication outside of the room you’re cleaning would be best (as I say this in hindsight).

I did return to cleaning. I ended up cleaning my room so that I can actually walk around it. Are these still bags I need to go through? Yes. But have I made progress? Also yes!

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This here is the after of this side of my room. I can walk! While things in the entirety of my room are not perfect, I feel good. I have a healthy start that I can sleep well on.

Over these next few weeks, we’ll organize it all! My dresses, my dresser, my closet, my bathroom and my car. I welcome any and all tips or tricks you may have for organization. Lord knows I need it.

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Post-reunion musings

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My best friend, some nametags and a Snapchat filter at my high school reunion

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling a bit odd. The night before had been my high school reunion. Leading up to the event, I had imagined what it would be like, everything ranging from the best to worst. After all was said and done, the evening was probably maybe a 60-70%. The food was great, the beer tasty and the location amazing. The organizers really out-did themselves in that regard. However the so-so feeling is more in regards to the social nature of a reunion and how you see that played out 10 years later. In some ways, it’s different and some it’s totally the same.

In high school, I was not the person I am today. I bet we all feel that way when we look back 10 years or more. I know I’m not alone. In high school, I was quiet and kept to a small group of say four or five girls. I dated no one. I got passable grades and was involved in a few extracurricular activities. For me, high school was just about passing the time in a way that would allow me to go to a decent college. Looking back, I have no regrets. Some of those friendships are still close friendships today. I had great teachers and learned a lot. And I went to a great college.

Today, though, I am not that girl. I scored 89% extrovert on the Myers-Briggs test years ago. Furthermore, the reaction I often get when I tell most people that I’m an extrovert is “I know,” because I could probably start a conversation with a brick wall. I’m incredibly social and have no issues approaching strangers. In fact, my extroversion is what drives this blog, a project based primarily on interviewing women each week. Heck, I also voluntarily perform improv comedy and actually enjoy it. I can spend an entire day going from one social activity to the next feeling completely energized because that is simply how an extrovert is wired. We get our energy from social interaction. In high school, I was not comfortable in my skin. Now, I am. This also is a very common story of moving from high school to adulthood. Again, I know I’m not alone.

So I went to the reunion thinking that perhaps those silly cliques we clung to in high school just would not matter. That me in my raging extroversion would sift through the crowd and truly mingle with everyone. That we would have conversations going beyond “What’s up?” and “How are you?” While I did chat with many people outside of my direct clique, that entirely did not happen. There are a good number of people who I didn’t even speak a word to. As I reflect back, though, I’m the one to blame just as much as anyone else. After all, I spent much of the evening next to the people I came with.

For me, high school was the only time where that clique dynamic existed. Everywhere else in my life, I talk to everyone. Many of the people I didn’t speak with at the reunion I felt like if we met as adults working the same job or through mutual friends, we would have a much different dynamic to our interactions. While we may not always be best friends, we’d certainly be way friendlier. In the adult world, while you may not be best friends with everyone, you’re nice and friendly with everyone. I know at least I am.

In the moment at the reunion, it was intimidating to walk up to an entire group of people you barely knew in high school and go “what’s up?” That sort of behavior was so taboo in high school. At least for me it was. I never did that. Furthermore, you wondered if they even wanted you to do that, much like you did in high school. You ended up having all these same fears as you did in high school. It was weird. But you had alcohol and your friends you came with, which was safe. So you hung there.

As I reflected back on the evening, maybe we were all just in that safety bubble that is hard to break considering that it was a part of our daily lives for four years. I found myself operating off of impressions formed about people over 10-14 years ago. All of those impressions are false in one way or another. We are all different people. We’ve all grown up and changed. Some of us have been through tough things that have shaped our characters. Reflecting back on that evening, I should have told myself that more.

So if you’re a person I didn’t talk with at the reunion, I apologize. I truly wish I had spoken with you. I’m sure I missed out on learning all the fascinating things you’ve been up to for the past 10 years. Like me, I’m sure you’ve grown and changed, in some painful ways and in some not. So I’m sorry we didn’t have a real chat. If we run into each other over these next years, maybe we can have that chat.



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