monthly favorites

The last two and a half months have been a whirlwind of both Jeff and I starting new jobs, and the house being in shambles from a lengthy bathroom renovation. But as most things do, the dust is settling and we’re finding routines in our day to day so I’m excited to make space for this corner of the internet once again! First up on the list is a list of my current favorites.

Tripp Bootie (in cognac)

It’s safe to say that I’ve been on the hunt for a good pair of brown leather boots for ohhh 2 years now, but I’ve either been too cheap to drop $$$ on a good pair, or too impatient to break in a cheaper pair. It was only by mere chance that I found my new favorite pair of boots. I had just finished trying on yet another pair of $$$ boots that I didn’t want to pay for and decided I’d quickly run up and down the Nordstrom sale aisle. I ended up finding one pair of Tripp booties in my size and the color I wanted, for ONLY 45 DOLLARS. The best part? There has been zero break-in period, they have been comfortable from day one and they’re everything I want in a brown bootie. Worth the 2 year wait, I’d say. And now I’m really eyeing that Taupe color linked above.

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix

I started reading the 5th HP a few weeks ago and I’ve found myself loving every minute. I mean it’s no secret that I’m a big HP fan, seeing as how it’s my phone ringtone and all… but it’s been a while since I’ve opened up one of the books. Feels good to be back with my wizarding friends.

Juice Beauty

In an effort to put less toxins into my body, I’ve recently switched over all of my makeup to toxic-free, clean beauty products. I knew that I wanted to leap into the world of green beauty at some point, I just felt a little overwhelmed at the task of doing so. So, I turned to YouTube and found the app Think Dirty to help me in the process. Both of these places led me to the brand Juice Beauty by Gwenyth Paltrow. All of her products are cruelty-free (bless) and have an ingredient list that I’m happy to put on my face! Right now I’m currently using their liquid foundation, the concealer pot, and finishing powder. Love them all.

Urban Outfitters Shower Curtain

Our bathroom is just about ready to be revealed here on the blog, just waiting for those pesky baseboards to get installed (ahem, husband ;))…. but one of my favorite details of the room is our Urban Outfitters shower curtain. It’s a super light cotton with tied tassels at the bottom and sage green stripes. I love that it’s neutral with a small addition of color to brighten up the space.

Other favorites here and here.

*Dusts off cobwebs* How do I do this thing again?

Last month I announced that my career life is heading into a new direction, and much to my surprise it didn’t shock too many people. I suppose I’d been more obvious about things than I thought ;). And now I’m getting the expected question of, “So, are you still doing photography?”

Let me take you back to exactly one year ago, February of 2016. It was at this point that things weren’t looking or feeling right with my business, and I started doubting. So, I did what most people would do and I turned to books and podcasts hoping to find my answer. During this time I read the book Big Magic which became exceptionally transformative in my journey to date, and here’s why. In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the struggle that takes place when your passion becomes your career and only source of income. When those two things compete, it’s easy to lose sight of the joy that was once your passion because the need to survive outweighs the need to create. When I read this, a lightbulb turned on and I realized she was talking about me. This need to survive by means of my passion sucked the joy right out from under me and I found myself forgetting why I had ever started photography in the first place.

Somewhere along the way I had lost my spark and love for photography. But, now that I have a full time job at an interior design firm (that I absolutely LOVE), it has given me the time and space to appreciate taking photos once again. I’m back to the creator phase, excited about shoots and picking up my camera because it’s on my terms and not based on survival. Does that make sense?

You see, I’ve been a photographer for seven years. It’s who I am and it’s what I do, photography will always be part of my life because it’s something that I absolutely love. But I also love other things like interior design, blogging, YouTube..not just photography. So, to answer your question, yes! I will always be a photographer, but I’m pursuing other things, alongside my love for taking photos. Cool huh?

It’s hard to make the big life decisions, it’s hard to have the tough conversations with yourself, it’s hard to listen to your heart and follow what it tells you, I get it. But, friend? Let my story serve as an example to you, I promise it’s worth every hardship. I lost myself somewhere in the last two years, but today? Today I have never been happier. I’m pursuing all of the things that I love and I encourage you to do the same!

One of my favorite things to do is work on the go from local coffee shops. There’s something quite refreshing about getting out of the office and into a more creative space that tends to yield a more creative thought process for me. Until I found Wild and Free Supply, I had been using a little zip up laptop pouch to transport my laptop to and from my workspaces. Well, a few months ago my friend introduced me to Wild and Free Supply and my laptop transportation was upgraded!

Once I saw how beautiful their products were, I decided to do some research about this company before reaching out. What I discovered was that the heart and mission behind their brand is what drew me in most. “We believe in the power of ethical commerce and business practices to transform lives. By providing jobs in scarcely resourced areas, we are providing hope and freedom for families. We believe in knowing the person behind the product, helping the underprivileged, and cultivating responsible buying practices that will change the future and the world. One family at a time.”

Not only is the quality of their products incredible, but the people behind Wild and Free know their craftsmen by name and visit them periodically in Honduras. That’s a brand I can get behind and share with all of you!

Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag |

The Details

I’m a sucker for good compartments within bags so one of the things I love most about the laptop bag in particular are the many compartments inside! I don’t even need to bring my purse when I carry this bag around because there is a space for everything. I can fit my day planner, a notebook, my laptop, and all of the regular purse items in this bag alone. I love the convenience of this.

All of the Wild and Free products are made with genuine leather so the quality of this bag really stands out from the rest. “All our wallets are made with full-grain belt leather hand picked from the thickest toughest hides.” Even when it’s filled to the brim, this laptop bag lays nicely at my side.

Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag |

Key Features

Plenty of storage compartments.
High quality leather and stitching.
Wide shoulder strap for good support.
Stylish! :)

Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag | Wild and Free Supply laptop bag |

If you’re looking to invest in a bag that not only looks great but has incredible quality then you should look into what Wild and Free Supply has to offer. Be sure to use code NICOLEDIANNE10 for 10% off anything within the Kit!

Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Wild and Free Supply and was sent this bag at no cost in exchange for review/promotion of the products I was sent. The opinions stated are my own.

Here is a blog post I started writing in October of 2016. These things were written before I got my answer and my “what’s next..” but I have that now, so I want to share my heart with you and what this journey has looked like from the start.

October 14, 2016: I want to start by telling you something that I learned the other night during a quiet time that I forced myself to have. You are enough and you need to give yourself more grace. You are not your business. You are not your content. You are not your failures. You are a person and you are enough.

I have gone back and forth on whether or not to publicly write about this journey, and I can think about a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t but I think there is power in authenticity and freedom in being honest so here goes. I think I’m finally ready.

You see, over the last year… myself and my business have been going through some changes. These weren’t changes that I welcomed with arms wide open. These have been changes that I’ve fought at every single corner. I’ve pouted, I’ve questioned, I’ve sought counsel from friends and family, I’ve spent days paralyzed on the couch just trying to understand and I’ve yelled just about every profanity at God that I have to yell.

The honest truth? In 2016 running my photography business no longer brought me joy, and not in a way that comes with normal business aches and pains, but in way that needed to be addressed head-on. My dreams started changing and I didn’t know what that looked like.

And client-friends, before you read on… it’s not you, it’s me.

I wouldn’t assume any of you reading this thought I had anything figured out, but just in case you need a reminder, here it is. I struggled with a lot of self doubt, “where do I go from here’s?” and “am I enough’s?” in 2016 and it was a journey I really didn’t enjoy. One night as I was journaling some thoughts on everything that has transpired in my heart over the last year, I asked God for some answers. I didn’t really ask nicely, but I needed answers and I needed to hash that out in an honest place. As you would expect, I felt Him nudging me to open my Bible, I heard His small but mighty voice remind me the answers were there if I would just open the pages and look.

As luck would have it, I opened up my Bible and found my way to John 1:16 which says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Grace upon grace, guys. Are you trying to do everything and be all the things to all the people? Are you running a business, caring for a family, keeping your house cleaned, volunteering in programs, working out and eating right, being a good friend, desperately trying to live up to some wild and unrealistic expectation you set for yourself? Me too.

Instead of allowing myself grace upon grace and understanding that I don’t need to have all of the answers, I spent the last year trying to figure things out in a very self-deprecating way. But on that particular night, God gently reminded me that I am enough just as I am. I hate for anything I write to sound cliche, but sometimes gentle cliche reminders are good for the soul, so here I go; My business isn’t perfect, my body isn’t perfect, my marriage isn’t perfect, my faith isn’t perfect, but I am still enough and so are you.

The answers to our tough questions aren’t found in doing more and being more, the answers to our tough questions are found in letting go and letting God. I’m an exceptionally fearful person, as in I’ll outline all of the reasons not to do something before I’ll look at it and see the good. It’s just how I’m wired. I’m cautious and I don’t take risks. This fear though? It’s held me back from chasing some of my wildest dreams over the last few years. Chasing dreams that I’ve seen other people do and I’ve sat back and watched. I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when He gave us Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Coming to terms with the fact that something I built very publicly over the last six years and poured my entire heart into doesn’t make me happy anymore freaks me out. It has made me feel like a failure, a fraud and a fake over the last 10 months. But I’m slowly dragging myself out of it, speaking my new dreams into the world and I’m excited about it. I don’t know all of the answers right now, these are still real, raw emotions I’ve been working through for 10 months now. But I do know this; dreams change and that’s okay.

The more open I have been about my changing dreams, the more I hear an overwhelming amount of, “me too’s,” and “I’ve been there’s.” It’s hard though, isn’t it? Our identities are often wrapped up in what we do and this persona we project into the world. So what do we do when the very thing that identifies us no longer brings us joy? We listen to what our heart has been telling us all along. We act on it and we allow ourselves grace in the process.

I want to be candid with you during this journey, so come back sometime maybe. See where I am and what God is doing. Watch me stumble and get back up. I know it won’t be a perfect journey but it will be my journey.

Friends, I want to give you a gentle nudge, I want to remind you that you are enough. Your dreams can change and life will go on. You’ll be happier if you pursue your heart’s truest desire. You are right where you are supposed to be. Jesus sees you and He is with you. He hasn’t forgot about you and His arms are wide open offering you grace upon grace during this season of your life.

January 17th, 2017: Last week I got my answer. Everything I had been hoping and praying for, for an entire year finally revealed itself. I’m following my heart, pursuing my actual dream and I couldn’t be more excited to announce that I officially accepted a job with an interior design firm!!! More on this in the coming weeks :)

You guys, He hears you, He sees you, and He knows your hearts greatest desires… listen to what your heart is telling you because it won’t steer you wrong.

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The Christmas Home Tour is here!! This remains one of my absolute favorite posts to publish each year. It’s so fun to look back through the years and see how our style has transformed year to year. You can find past Christmas home tours here, here, here, and here.

For 2016 I wanted to focus mostly on adding greenery through out the house using garlands, wreaths and Christmas trees. I didn’t put up as many of my old decorations, but I did add a few new items to our Christmas arsenal like our first Christmas tree topper, this Merry Christmas garland, and a lot of thrifted, brass candle sticks! I went with a minimal yet festive theme and I’ve been quite pleased with how it turned out.

The living room

Obviously our most festive room in the house, was sprinkled with garlands from Trader Joe’s and decked out with as many twinkle lights as I had batteries to accommodate.

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The office

Since I spend so much time in my office during this busy time of year, I couldn’t neglect to add a little bit of Christmas cheer in there as well! I added a simple Christmas tree garland from the dollar spot at Target (my favorite spot) and sprinkled my shelving with wire twinkle lights, and a marble Christmas Tree.

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the bedroom

I usually don’t do much to our bedroom from season to season, but this year I decided that we needed to add some festive, flannel sheets and a cozy throw blanket to warm things up! Also not pictured, twinkle lights strung around the ceiling!

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One of our absolute favorite evening routines is to build a fire in the fireplace, turn on a movie, play some cribbage and enjoy our cozy living room! So here are a few images of how our living room transforms at night.

Until next year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends! :)