Dear month of May,

You were a weird month. You were equal parts paralyzingly difficult and overwhelmingly awesome. I turned a year older, I moved in with my boyfriend, I reached out for help, I started a new medicine, I took a break, I worked too hard. As T.Swift put it so eloquently, I was happy, free, confused, and lonely scared at the same time. I realized how amazing my support system is and how powerful writing, especially a blog, can really be.

While most months seem to end just as soon as they're getting started, I'm having no problem waving goodbye and leaving you behind.

xo nic

so long, may

dress: Francesca's Collections (similar 1similar 2) // belt: Gap Outlet // shoes: Steve Madden
 It's my favorite season; Blues on the Green season! Every summer, Austin radio station KGSR arranges free concerts in Zilker Park and everybody comes out for a good time. Blues on the Green and I are actually the same age and I've gone to at least one concert every year, so the series is really special to me as a native Austinite. Seeing live music is something I've always done with my parents, so I love that they still come out for the free shows over the summer and hang out with my friends.

Last night, we all gathered on picnic blankets, ate watermelon and frozen bananas, and boogied to the sounds of Wild Child and Alpha Rev. Wild Child played such a fun opening set and Alpha did an awesome cover of Just Like Heaven/I Shot the Sheriff.

Because I went straight from work to the park, I planned an outfit that would be appropriate for both. Except that the dress ended up being a little shorter when sitting on the ground, which wasn't so comfortable. I love this outfit a lot, but will probably opt for shorts or a maxi dress next time around. 

Blues on the Green, like all outdoor concerts in Austin, is such an eclectic mix of personal style. The hippie children come out in their hemp pants, bikini tops, and hula hoops. The sorority girls sit on blankets stamped with their house letters and wear shiny black rompers with perfectly sculpted hair. There are t-shirts and tank tops, bare feet and Converse, ball caps and flower crowns.

I'm headed out to Houston this weekend for Free Press Summer Fest and I've been really stuck on what to wear. I hoped to find a comfy cotton romper in a fun print, but missed my opportunity on the one that will ever fit right back in April. Right now, I've got two outfits planned: an old favorite dress from Urban Outfitters and overalls with my favorite orange Keds. Hopefully I'll get some photos of what I actually wear to share next week.

Do y'all have any fun plans for the weekend? What do you wear to outdoor concerts?

live music capital of the world

i'll keep this short since i still have all the unpacking to do and i'm still readjusting to life.

+ arrested development was definitely worth the wait (especially episode 5!)
+ dago and i have exactly the right amount of furniture for our new apartment
+ we also named our wifi network "is this wifi organic?"
+ best coast live was like the best thing ever. they played all of my faves!
+ i can't wait to go to free press summer fest next weekend
+ and for dago's birthday the following week!

more photos of my new place to come. and some outfit photos outside of it!

how was your weekend? and your memorial day (that i totally forgot about until it was happening...)!

things from the long weekend

dress: swapped (Forever 21) // sandals: Steve Madden
The lovely ladies at my workplace have really cute clothes, y'all. Since we're open 24/7, a lot of us don't get to hang out if we work opposite shifts. To solve this, we throw clothing swaps! I snagged this dress at the swap a couple of weekends ago and I couldn't be happier with it.

I don't think I would have picked this dress up in the store, but I'm definitely going to start looking for similar silhouettes. I love the length! You can't really tell in these photos, but the top is sort of "wrap" style with a belted waistline. I love that the skirt is a little fuller around my hips, but the bottom tapers a bit at the hem. I wore this outfit out to dinner and to a soccer game, so I was able to eat til I was full without feeling uncomfortable and I didn't have to worry about my dress flying up every time we scored a goal! 

What do you think? What are you looking for in sundresses this summer?

my new favorite dress

dress: Old Navy (last spring) // chambray: Forever 21 // belt: Gap Outlet
Sometimes your outfit just calls for a romp in the wildflowers.

Have a lovely weekend!


From the Keds x Taylor Swift line to the latest Sara Bareilles song to the theme for a networking event I attended several weeks ago, the idea of bravery keeps showing up around me. What makes a brave person? A brave woman? A brave blogger?

My best friend and I were talking the other day about Sisterhood and how it's something that a lot of women have to actively remind themselves to live by, or aren't even aware of in the first place. She said that by committing myself to a life lead by Sisterhood and educating my sisters about doing the same, I'm part of a revolution. I'm a revolutionary. I am brave.

At the Austin Leading Ladies networking event a few weeks back, we talked about why we lead. A woman asked if answering the call to leadership was selfish? Another responded that it's our universal right to thrive. A third chimed in and said that taking ownership for your life IS leadership. All of the women in the coffee shop shared their reasons for leading and it felt amazing to hear my voice speak among theirs. I raised my hand and said that I lead to empower other women to find and use their voices. As an advocate, as a mentor, as a stylist and branding consultant, as a blogger, and as a friend, I encourage women every single day to be heard. They are brave. I am brave.

So many bloggers have been coming forth about their lives beyond their closets lately and it's so positively refreshing. Sometimes the tone begins a little shaky, a little vulnerable, but they are being so incredibly brave for putting out there -- to the entire Internet -- the battles they've fought and continue to fight. Being a part of this community and posting about what I'm really experiencing from day-to-day has made me feel invincible. Blogging is an entirely brave act. Whether it be sharing a tutorial or describing a stressful day at work, bloggers allow themselves to be seen and judged by strangers all over the world. And we do it anyway! That's amazing to me! I am brave. 

If you've ever blogged, you are brave. If you answer the call to lead, you are brave. If you commit yourself to something that benefits the world around you, you are a part of a revolution and you are brave. There are so many other ways that people show their bravery, from standing up against a bully, speaking in front of a crowd of strangers, asking for something they deserve, or getting out of bed in the morning.

What makes you feel brave?


chambray + shorts: American Eagle // sandals: Steve Madden (similar)

 Summer 2013 is basically here already in Austin. With all the expenses of the move, I've decided to hold off on buying any summer clothes for a while. Luckily, last summer's trends are still hot (get it!?), so I can get away with rocking what I've already got in my closet.

I wore this outfit at least once a week last summer. I had just bought this chambray and wanted to wear it all the time, but couldn't with my regular blue denim shorts. In comes perfectly neon green shorts! I love the length of them and they're really soft too. Plus, they match the bright lemon shade on the soles of my sandals! I'll probably be throwing this on quite a bit for summer again, especially because it makes a great swimsuit cover up.

I've decided it might be fun to try a self-tanning lotion or wipes for my nearly-translucent legs this summer. For some reason, no matter how much I lay out, their color never changes. Anybody got a great self-tanning product? I've never even touched one before, so not something very dark or difficult to use please!

PS. I'm guest posting over on my lovely Kristina's blog while she's on her romantic honeymoon getaway! See my picks for a new swim suit for summer 2013!

so last summer

I'm turning 23 tomorrow, y'all! I've been waiting for 22 to be over for like, a year now (haha, get it?). Dago and so many of my friends and colleagues are in their later twenties, so I've been itching to get out of that barely 20 stage. 23 feels like a step in the right direction, no?

I've loved seeing other bloggers' X before X lists as their birthdays roll around, so I thought I'd do my own. Y'all know I love to set goals for myself. Why not set 24? Here are the 24 things I want to accomplish in the next year!
Do you think I can do it? What do you think I should try to do before 24?

24 b4 24

I've sort of hinted to this (and actually given it away in the comments section of a few of your blogs), but I'm moving! No, not domains; apartments! I've lived in little ole D204 for the last three years and I'm finally ready to move out.

Living alone has been one of the single most incredible experiences of my life. I was able to explore myself emotionally and psychologically during times when I most needed to be in tune with what I was feeling. Having the space to be 100% myself and never feel guilty about what was literally my lifestyle has been such a blessing and I know I've been fortunate. I learned to let go of my first love, adopted Contessa, came home from first dates, had raging birthday parties, danced with no pants, made french toast for the first time all in this little studio apartment. I've had strep and food poisoning and had to take care of myself. I've fallen and literally not been able to get back up. I've had lonely conversations with my cat. But I've also built a desk and organized my bookshelf by color. I've taken outfit photos and played dress up for hours. I've watched movies with best friends and with Dago and laughed and cried and been so happy.

But it's time I move on. And move in. With Dago! I'm so ridiculously excited to move in with Dago. I've inadvertently lived with a boyfriend before and it was a really toxic experience, but this is going to be such a positive thing for us. For almost the entirety of our relationship, we've only gotten to spend quality time together on the weekends, during which one of us has always worked. Moving in together means we can still do our own thing (him: soccer, me: socializing) and see each other at night and before starting the next day. We're both incredibly independent and living together isn't going to change that.

So right now my poor apartment is covered in boxes to be filled with my things. Obviously leaving D204 is bittersweet, but I'm so excited about moving forward.

Do you have any tips for packing? Or for unpacking? For those of you who live with your significant other, what advice to you have for us?

movin' out

I feel like May, being my birthday month (the 21st!), was the time to go wishlist crazy. Instead, I went with 5 pieces I've been consistently lusting after all year. The perfect polka dot dress (to replace mine that has gotten too short and has a wonky zipper), the perfect cross body bag, the perfect pair of "heels," the perfect hair accessory, and the perfect running shoe.

may wishlist

skirt: thrifted (vintage Liz Claiborne) // tank: Old Navy // shoes: American Eagle // belt: thrifted from Mama
 After working from my bed home all Monday morning, I had a sudden wind of energy to put on a skirt and feel pretty. I put on a full face of make up and a new pretty skirt I've been dying to take out for a spin. Sometimes, boyfriend jeans and the same t-shirt feel good, but other times, a pretty skirt is just what you need to feel better.

After taking these photos, I realized that I definitely want to cut this skirt to just under my knees. Holy unflattering, Batman! Even so, I love the print and feeling feminine really put me in a good mood.

I now want to draw your attention to my ponytail. Alyssa over at Sincerely, Truly Scrumptious wore it the other day and I just about fell over. Then she did a tutorial that brought me back to life and I've worn my hair like this almost every day since. 

Lastly, this hair clip is the first item I ever won in a blog giveaway. Unfortunately, I'm a terrible, horrible blogger and can't remember who I won it from (like a year ago) or what Etsy shop made it. My b. 

Do y'all have any tips for cutting this skirt? I am an awful cutter (cutting in straight lines has never been my forté) and I really don't want to mess this skirt up. 

antique roses

photo by Nikki Henson
It's been a full year since I graduated from college, y'all, and I'm not looking back. I can confidently say that this has been the best year of my whole life. My friendships are stronger, my skills are more developed, and my sights are set much higher than they were when I was in school. School came with grades and tardiness and classroom politics. I'm not saying that these things go away entirely, but they don't oppress me in the real world the way they did in college. Finishing assignments had me working towards a single goal: passing the class. Now, each assignment is an opportunity to learn, connect, engage, and move myself forward in a much bigger way (the way it should be!). The short-term goal of graduating isn't looming over my head and giving me a reason to be successful; life is giving me a reason to be successful. And you know, for a year out of college, I think I have been pretty successful.

I'm not working for (or even working towards) Glamour Magazine, nor am I knee-deep in GRE flash cards or grad school apps. I've found a path that feels right, but I'm not afraid to hike off the trail a little if it means I'm learning something about myself or trying something new.

So, here's where I stand, career-wise, one year out of college: 
+ I work two part-time jobs //  one as an advocate for a dating abuse helpline, and one as a social media manager for a wedding photographer. 
+ I also have two (and a half?) business ventures // branding and social media consulting for wedding vendors under the name Here Comes the Brand Consulting, wardrobe consulting and personal shopping, and I s'pose this little blog counts as a sort of business venture too.
+ I've got another big career goal up my sleeve for the next five years // not to give too much away, but I've always wanted to start a non profit program for girls, and let's just say I hit the jackpot with this idea.

So, what have I learned in the past year that might be useful to you?

Say no. Say no when it doesn't feel right. I can't stress this enough. Only you know what you can or will really do, and if this isn't it, don't get involved. Another opportunity will come along. Just because Samantha took on a fourth freelancing opportunity in addition to her full time publishing job and her part-time hostessing gig doesn't mean that you have to or that you should. Samantha has different goals, a different support system, and different neurosis than you do.  

Say yes. I know, now it looks like I just lied to you in the whole paragraph above, so why even keep reading? But keep reading. Say yes to all the things you always wanted to do. Sick of applying for jobs that don't actually fit your qualifications? Or, worse, ones that you don't actually want to work? Make your own job. I know I sound like a crazy person, but I'm not the whole one who's done it. Every company, no matter how big or small, started because someone saw a need and decided to fill it. That could be you! I'm not saying you should quit your stable job or stop browsing job boards altogether (though I did). Unfortunately, it takes a little bit of cash to make a little bit of cash, so plan ahead and save up what you can. If there's something you really want to do, commit to making it happen. Say yes. I believe in you.

Invest in your relationships. Networking is always portrayed as a quantity-over-quality game. You have to meet people to know people, right? Sort of. Seeing the same event planner at three different events, but not ever seeing her outside of networking events, does not a relationship make. Networking can be so superficial and it's hard to make those connections develop if you're only ever seeing each other once a month. Instead of introducing yourself to everyone in the room, spend time getting to know someone you're interested in working with. Also, networking can be paralyzingly terrifying. If you're skipping out on an event because of the pressure or the anxiety is just too much, use that time to build another relationship. Send an email to someone else you've met or, even better, offer to grab drinks with them in a less intimidating setting. Twice now I've missed networking opportunities to have dinner with women I'm genuinely interested in knowing better. Find these people in your industry or community and reach out to them on a one-to-one basis. 

The most important people you can do this with are those you whom you want to be your mentors. They are out there and they want to help you. Reach out to them, be cognizant and courteous of their time, and listen. Like with any potential employer (not that a mentor will eventually hire you), do your research before meeting them, whether that's a simple Google search or reading through their website. Don't worry too much about asking dumb questions because they've all been there and, if they're a good mentor, they'll be honest with you about their experience. Just remember to ask something so that your time together is productive!

So congrats, recent grad! You made it! It's okay to be scared, but be really, super excited too. I am not an expert on post-grad life by any stretch of the imagination and can only speak from my personal experience, but if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me!

twelve months

> i wore variations on the same two outfits (neither blog worthy) over and over again
> i talked to my parents a lot
> i started a new medication that makes me sleep like a baby (so far)
> i missed dago during the weekdays
> i thought my computer was kaput (it's not!)
> i broke out like a teenager
> i tried a new therapist (and like her!)
> i texted elissa
> i had no desire to take any photos of myself
> i played with the cutest puppies in the whole world
> i used a considerable amount of dry shampoo
> i ate a whole package of hawaiian rolls alone
> i gave my cat the silent treatment
> i snapchatted a lot
> i felt more unstable than i have in a long time
> i appreciated my support system more than i have in a long time

i cannot thank all of you enough for your support. the sweet comments and tweets made me feel like my break was taken out of strength, rather than weakness. i'm no where near 100% coming back, but i took a lot of big steps last week to get me where i need to be. this blog has always been an outlet for me to express myself and a source of wellness and self care, so hopefully i'll be able to continue to use it that way.

how i spent my break

photo by Dago

in light of last week's post, i'm going to take a few days off from blogging. 
i'll be back soon with my may grown up goal and some birthday wishlist fun!

thanks for understanding.
xo nicole

radio silence

Come buy all my clothes that I've never worn! I've been meaning to set up a Shop My Closet for months, and I finally got all the photos taken and the site set up. I have a history of buying things that I really want, even if they don't quite fit right. I've mostly bitten this habit, but I've collected a lot of really beautiful pieces over time that I want you to have! So head on over to my new online shop and have a look around!

I'll be adding more things in the near future, so keep an eye on it!

shoppin' my closet

It occurred to me the other day that I might have a little obsession with the color pink. It's not that I'm wearing pink velour tracksuits with pink shoes and a pink backpack, but I definitely gravitate towards pink as my pop of color. I emptied the contents of my bag to find all of these pink items at once, so I thought I'd do a little walk through of what's (pink) in my bag.

oo1. My brand new magic wallet! Remember when I went to the outlet malls and bought all the things from the Gap Factory store? Well, I couldn't afford to buy all the things in the J.Crew Factory store too, but I did walk away with the coolest wallet that has ever existed. I love pink and gold together, so this piece fit perfectly into my purse and my life. And for $10? There was no way I was leaving without it. (For more on my magic wallet.)

oo2. Did you know that strawberry Tic Tacs were a thing? They are the perfect I-need-cash-back-at-CVS treat and the tastiest pop of color in my purse.

oo3. My cat knuckle key chain might be my favorite possession in my purse. Whether I'm bringing in groceries, checking the mail, or out on the town, I feel confident that I can protect myself with my super cat power(s). This key chain always reminds me of those spy laser/recorder/guns that look like tubes of lipstick--stylish and sneaky. Also, in case you were wondering, those cat ears are sharper than you'd think.

oo4. My silicone pink phone case isn't especially exciting, but it was in my purse and is pink. I actually bought this back when I first got the iPhone because the case I had was too much work to undo every time I wanted to take outfit photos. Since this case is entirely unspecial and I can't find it online, here are a couple of other pink cases I wish I had instead: one two three four

oo5. The beloved Word Up journal from J.Crew. It made it on two wishlists before it finally went on sale and I snatched it up. I collected Alice in Wonderland journals in high school and wrote in composition notebooks in college, but I haven't been able to find a journal that really fits where I am in my life right now. Until J.Crew. Oh, J.Crew, may I just live inside of you for all eternity? I am going to feel so cool whipping this baby out at client meetings and taking notes in the park. Word.

oo6. Since I'm a (business) card carrying adult now, I needed a special place to keep them in my purse. I wanted something that fit my personal brand, that looked cool when I took it out of my purse to exchange cards, and that didn't cost me much. This pink satin jewelry pouch from my vintage collection perfectly holds a couple handfuls of cards and couldn't be more my style. Plus, it was free! I really do love slipping it out of my bag to  give someone a card, which I think is the most important thing. Here are some lovely similar pouches I found on Etsy.

oo7. One of my New Year's Resolutions that I haven't yet made good on is to send more mail. I found these cute Hey You! cards in the dollar section at Target the other day and couldn't pass them up. Again with the pink and gold! I also bought a Thank You pack in purple. 

Do you catch yourself buying things in a particular color, or is that just me and my weird obsession with pops of pink?

pops of pink

photo by Dago
Back in March, I wrote a post about stopping my anxiety and depression medicine, with the support of my doctor, family, Dago, and friends. This was a really big moment for me because I'd been consistently on medicines that weren't quite working for almost three years. I expected that I would feel more lucid and more confident without the medicine bogging me down and making me feel dependent. For the first couple of weeks, this was the case.

And then the withdrawals kicked in about 28 days after my last pill. The withdrawals have been awful in ways that I didn't expect. My body and my mind have been battling it out, but neither of them are even bringing their A game to the fight because the withdrawals have shaken them both. I've been experiencing pretty extreme heart palpitations, bouts of vertigo, and uncomfortable bloating. I've been more emotionally sensitive than I've been since before I began anti-depressants back in 2010 and I can't seem to control my moods. I was at a networking event a couple of weeks ago about leadership and I was so weepy the whole time. Poor Dago can say pretty much anything and I'm offended or sad or irritated--for no reason at all. I've been really anxious driving. I haven't visited my parents because I convinced myself they were mad at me. I've been feeling especially bad about my body and about my capabilities as a woman and a blogger and a business owner and a person.

In the meantime, I've been surrounded by powerful inspiration and great friends. I want to put my everything into embracing them. I have the most supportive boyfriend anyone could ask for and we're moving in together in a month. I want to be well for him.

So, this is where I am right now. I want to get back on medicine--definitely something different--and I know I need to make time to talk to someone licensed to help. Money and time are the greatest obstacles in doing this right now, but my wellness has to be the top priority because I can't thrive at work or in my relationships if I'm not feeling stable and strong.

Sorry this is kind of dark. If I'm going to write about the ups of my mental health journey, I think it's just as important to share my downs.

a quiet check in

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