making “me” time

And just like that, it’s the first day of Spring!

Growing up I learned that Spring was all about rebirth; plants and animals coming out of hibernation as the frost melted away into sunshine and warmer weather.

blooms at Lake Elsinore

And while warmer weather might not be there for everyone (just come visit Southern California to get your dose!) there are hints of Springtime popping up everywhere:

ps loving the portrait feature on the iPhone 7!

…Like poppies! Popping up (can’t help myself!) throughout the parks in California. Known as a “super bloom”, the wildflowers are extra happy and vibrant this year because of all the rain we got during winter–see we really did have seasons this year!

..We also “sprung forward” so the days are feeling longer and the nighttime slump comes later.

…There are lots of “spring cleaning” ads. Having been in my new space for a little over a month, I’m taking the time to clear the clutter and get rid of excess stuff I haven’t touched in months.

…It’s March Madness! My Dad is in his, damn I can’t even remember how long he’s run it, but he’s the ring leader (call him the “commish”) of a big NCAA basketball tournament pool. His emails bring me joy everyday. It also helps that my alma mater, UNC, is still in the running and Villanova (last year’s champs who beat us) are already out. YES!

…Pastel colors are everywhere! Stores are gearing up for Easter (hello Reese’s and Cadbury chocolate eggs!) and flowers are blooming.

wildflower cluster

So back to flowers and “me time”. Over the weekend, I decided to drive out solo to Lake Elsinore and see the colorful blooms. Man, did I feel like I was in Oz (not just how colorful, but lotssss of other people had the same idea).

cactus meet flowers

Wanting some time with little human interaction to reflect, soak up the sun and take some pics, I took a slightly steeper path, made it to the top and spread out my things.

alllll by myself (and loving it!)

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. For everyone!!!! Making time for yourself-even if it’s just 15 minutes and at your kitchen table- it is so vital to staying grounded. For re-centering, rebirth (hey, hey, Spring connection) and refocusing on you. What brings you happiness and what you need to let go. I’ll write more on this later in the week and the steps I take, so look out.

sunny selfies

In the mean time, on the first day of Spring. I dare you to take some time for yourself. JUST FOR YOU. Because at the end of the day- even with girlfriends, boyfriends, moms, dads, spouses, family, coworkers, etc. If you aren’t making yourself whole and happy it’s going to make it damn challenging for the rest of your circle to bring you that fullness. Find it in yourself. I promise it’s there.

You can start small and:

…buy yourself flowers

…get whipped cream on your coffee

…read the comics AND the sports section from a real newspaper

…sit an extra 5 minutes in your car to listen to your favorite song (again)

…take a walk around your block during your lunch break, or when you’re home from work

…smile

…stay longer post workout to stretch a little deeper or dip into the sauna if that’s available.

Whatever you choose do it for you!

Wishing everyone a great start to their week. Let me know how you take your “me time” in the comments.

xo N

road tripping into the new year

How is January more than half way over???

As the brilliant Steve Miller Band put it, “time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future” (also what’s up Space Jam!! I need to revisit that movie soon)

I digress…

This year has been off to a wonderful start filled with lots of NEW: friends, places traveled, surprises, food consumed, agents, age. I absolutely loved ringing in the year in a new location. We drove from Santa Fe to our adorable A-Frame in Flagstaff, AZ. Albeit we were a weeee bit hungover, (thanks to too many tequila shots at high elevation) there was something very grounding and humbling about gazing out at the Wild West, appreciating every moment because, damn! So. Much. Natural. Beauty. Andddd we saw a DOUBLE rainbow on January 1st. If that’s not a beacon of good luck I don’t know what is!

On to the fun stuff, pictures! Mostly taken by Sophie who I met through the craziest of circumstances last year. You can read HERE if you don’t know the story. Without getting too “woo-woo” one of the major lessons I learned in 2016 is to always share your love/true thoughts with another–you never know what lovely gift(s) you’ll receive in return.

one must always take a silly photo amongst the serious…they usually turn out better

5 ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS

  1. Jamming playlist
  2. H20 (LaCroix encouraged)
  3. Polaroid camera
  4. Room for random stops (isn’t that what these are all about?!)
  5. Comfy clothes
  6. IN-N-OUT (fact 2/3 road trips we ALL wanted burgers but were never hungry enough to stop, leaving me on trip 3/3 solo eating an animal style double double and loving every minute)

ROAD TRIP #1: Santa Fe to Los Angeles

new mexico

STOPS: Tent Rocks, Aspen Vistas, 10,000 Waves, La Choza, El Farol

Dustin, Christine, Me and Sophie weaving through Tent Rocks
capturing C and S
making faces is always encouraged
views are worth the climb!
New Year’s Eve hike in the Aspens

Arizona

STOPS: Flagtaff (A-Frame House), White Dove, Coffee Grand Canyon

pulled over New Year’s Day to capture this moment
little Cabin in the woods-perfect for cards games, wine and grilled cheese
pit stop at white dove coffee (great breakfast burritos) before heading to the Grand Canyon
and MAN was it GRAND. none of us had seen the GC before, so it was pretty magical to have the “ahhhhh” moment together
a snow covered gorgeous view of the South Rim
Echo (Sophie and Dustin’s pup) was a KEY player along the trip, although clearly unamused by the photo session
Soph doing what she does best, check out her insta @sophkuller
these ladies, both new friends and not wanting to let go

NEVADA

STOPS: LAS VEGAS…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…but be sure to check out the Chandelier Room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel (there’s also a newly opened EggSlut and Momofuku Milk Bar so I was in HEAVEN!)

Tune in Monday for road trips 2 and 3!

 


windy city highlights

There are many reasons why I love Chicago, not only is it my hometown, but while walking around the city I feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Maybe it’s because the Cubs just won the World Series, probably helped there were loads of holiday decorations–but what I really think it is– is the people. They’re a kinder, hardworking breed who I observed walk with their heads up, equally observing what the city has to offer.

Theres also:

  1. J-walking-can’t do this in LA and forgot how much I LOVE it
  2. Seasons-ok so the lack of sun isn’t ideal, but hello sweaters/scarves/coats/fireplaces
  3. Architecture– I could aimlessly walk around the city for hours and stumble upon new buildings and history
  4. The L– visibly connects the city together, granted waiting outside can get chilly, but it makes Chicago, Chicago

I mentioned here some Chicago food favorites, but here’s an update to the list! So whether you’re visiting Chicago or hosting guests, here are a few things not to miss:

girl and the goat

After being open for six years, I finally made it to one of Chicago’s most highly acclaimed restaurants. And HOLY SHIT did it live up to the hype. I went with my family and we finished every small plate dropped at the table, could have licked a few…plus a few cocktails and bottles of wine. No pictures were taken because I wanted to enjoy family time, but highlights were: green beans, broccoli, wood-fired shrimp, bucatini, goat loin and goat belly! The flavors were outstanding!

tip: go with a friend/ your cool aunt/uncle/cousin and sit at the bar, no reservation needed! aim to get there before 7 so you don’t have to wait for a seat. 

3 greens Market

If I lived in Chicago, this River North spot would be in heavy weekly rotation. It’s part coffee shop, part food market, part work space. I mean can we get one of these in LA? It’s the perfect spot to pop in for a quick lunch and impress out-of-towners–not only can you get Small Cheval burgers, but there’s a healthy salad bar, and hot food bar. Plus drinks to warm the soul, or take the edge off of holiday bustle.

tip: there’s free wifi and ample outlets, so if you need a place to recharge with or without family this place will take care of you.

Christkindlmarket

Open daily in the Daley Plaza, this outdoor Christmas Market is such a fun excursion. I even went while it was pouring down rain with my brother and we had a great time. The hot spiced wine helped I’m sure. There are plenty of food vendors, hello German specialties like brats, pretzels, cheese, strudel. And you’re allowed to walk around with alcohol while in the market. My kind of shopping. The other booths are various holiday craftsmen and decorations offering precious ornaments and nutcrackers. Open 11-8/9PM.

tip: aim to go during the week when it’s a lot less crowded. and as far as parking goes, use the app SPOT HERO to secure parking beforehand. click the link for $5 off your first time!

pickwick coffee roasters

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So maybe you need a little pick-me-up post Christkindlmarket or maybe you just want a quick cuppa to take into the park. Either way, stop into this cute and somewhat hidden alley way coffee house. If you’re not smiling afterwards I’d say you’re a Scrooge.

tip: grab a cup to keep you warm as you walk around the loop! 

skydeck Chicago at the *Sears towers*

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admiring the sunset
the ultimate #fromwhereistand
the ultimate #fromwhereistand

I can’t bring myself to call the Sears Tower its’ new name, The Willis Tower. How can you change the name of such an iconic building?!?!? Names aside, going up some 1,300ft and seeing Chicago is breathtaking. I happened to have a free afternoon and took the trip up 103 stories solo. I happily played tourist and gawked at Chicago from the tallest point.

tip: make sure you go on a clear day AND for the best view, aim to head up 30 minutes before sunset. seeing the city go from day to night is damn magical. also, lines are shorter for the “ledge” where they have a professional camera set up, but they will happily take a pic or 2 or 5 on your phone/camera as well.

mindy’s Hot Chocolate

there's life before this mac and cheese and after...never looking back
there’s life before this mac and cheese and after…never looking back

I know I’ve written about this restaurant before, but it will always be a stop when I’m home. The atmosphere is cozy without feeling cramped, and the food. Don’t even get me started. I am never ever disappointed. Their mac and cheese is last meal status along with all of sweet confections.

tip: if you want to work off the mac and cheese//your brunch, grab your hot chocolate to go and take a walk on the 606 trail which is just steps away.

What are your favorite spots in Chicago?? Always wanting to try new places!

 

bites of life: august

August was nothing short of incredible, between being in Scotland for nearly two weeks and coming back to gigs in LA, it was the best mix of “work hard//play hard”. And while I’m already wanting to head back to Scotland, I’ve just hit the 3 year mark with LA- safe to say I love it here too! Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend all!!

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fresh vanilla and nutella gelato

SWEET: janetta’s gelateria, st. andrews

If you are ever in St. Andrews, do yourself a favor- even if it’s cold and the line is long- and get yourself a double scoop of Janetta’s gelato. Normally I’m not a vanilla person, but it had been made 30 minutes earlier, so I couldn’t resist the combination with nutella and a flake bar. Napkins necessary.

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oysters with a view
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the full menu

savory: the oyster shed, isle of skye

Tucked away above the Talisker Distillery (prime real-estate, am I right?) lives the holy grail of oysters. Only open from 12-5 Monday through Friday, we were able to stop in to the “shed” for a couple of oysters. They were some of the freshest and clean babies I’d ever tasted. Better yet, Paul, the oyster farmer, shucks them fresh.

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there’s nothing like a whisky and chocolate pairing
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a cheeky half pint

drink: *TIE* Dalwhinnie whisky tasting and the jigger inn ale

Driving from St. Andrews to the Inverness area, we stopped at the Dalwhinnie Distillery, where they are known for their whisky and chocolate tastings. My favorite was the 25 year, and snagged a bottle to bring back stateside. Also, The Jigger Inn Ale (the pub located across from the famed St. Andrews golf course) was a necessary order. Definitely try it if you find yourself there- it has a lot of flavor despite being a lighter beer!

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cacio e pepe
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my pretty date, Maddie
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one gin, one tequila cocktail

Restaurant: kettle black, silver lake

Before heading off to Scotland, I stopped by the newly opened Silver Lake spot. It was popping! And pretty-“hello interior goals”. Pizza was on point, same with the pasta and cocktails. Happy hour (5-7) is daily too …always a huge plus!

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our majestic ride

how charming is our guide?!
how charming is our guide?! and how about that smoking gun??
hit the first two rounds!
hit the first two rounds!

entertainment: clay pigeon shooting, loch lomond

Move over Annie Oakley, you’ve got yourself a new sharp shooter in town! I loved riflery at camp, so when clay pigeon shooting was on the docket I was thrilled. It was a rainy day, hence the yellow jackets, and it was all too fitting with the woodsy range. *No actual birds were harmed* just little hard clay disks. Looking for a similar range in the LA area…if anyone knows of one, let me know in the comments!

why scotland?

Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye

It is currently 5:45am in LA and I’ve been up for about an hour. Hello jet-lag! If you follow me on Instagram, I recently wrapped up a 10 day trip all around Scotland.

What exactly was this trip about? I’m glad you asked!

Let’s set the scene: It was around 9am July 5th when I received an email that made me “blink twice”. Not going to lie, my eyes were a liiittle fuzzy (thank you one too many celebrating America’s birthday) but Istoria clothing designer, Rachael Forester, had written asking me to model her freshman collection in Scotland.

  1. I am not a model by today’s standards, but sweeeet
  2. A TRIP TO SCOTLAND- sign me up!
  3. Wait a second…is this too good to be true? There must be some catch…
  4. *checks out Rachael’s social media/blog* no catch, this seem very legit
  5. *check out photographer’s Instagram* ohhh I recognize this page
  6. *Calls Rachael to confirm I am not being cat-fished* she is the real deal
  7. HOLY SHIT I’M GOING TO GO TO SCOTLAND FOR WORKKKK

But how did they find me?? As fate would have it, around June 20th, I left this comment on Sophie Kuller, the photographer’s, post (her last name is pronounced “cooler” btw)IMG_0030

That comment “so special #docklife” made Sophie look at my profile which spiraled into her showing Rachael my profile when their initial model backed out. Crazy coincidence and lucky- but I also realized that had I not been blogging, making silly wine videos, or just being me I wouldn’t have gotten the offer. They saw an authentic person behind the glass of their iPhone screens.

And that my friends is how I booked the job!

Oh right, back to what the actual job was, modeling. Now I’ll expand more on that later when I can release all of the pictures, but in short, I had little experience. Sure, I have had my headshot taken but I hadn’t modeled clothes since my short-lived career as a Carson-Pirie-Scott-Sunday-Coupon regular. The images below are gems, I know.

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you know you owned pants like those at one point 😉
Circa 2001
Second from the left, circa 2001

Despite being green, I didn’t think twice. Here was a fantastic opportunity and I couldn’t say turn it down. So I started flipping through fashion magazines, Pinterest and Instagram to see how the model’s were posing these days. And a little over a month later, I hopped on a plane for Scotland.

a little light help from the bounce board
a little light help from the bounce board
princess vibes in this caped jumpsuit
princess vibes in this caped jumpsuit

Can’t wait to share more images. Have a glass of wine or whisky tonight, after all it’s Wednesday! Cheers!! #scottishfrecklegirl