8 Things I Want to Do this Fall

Make your fall bucket list this year to optimize your fall festivities!

The mornings are cool and it’s officially sweatshirt weather in the evenings, too. It’s hot as all get out during the day, but I work in an air conditioned office, so I don’t really notice unless I have to step outside for some sunshine. Windowless Office = Depressing. I’m seriously excited about fall weather. It’s my favorite season for three reasons. 1) I’m not sweating everywhere. 2) My clothes are cuter in the fall. 3) Sweatshirts, coffee, bonfires, and books. OK all those can happen in the summer, but they’re better in the fall. And this fall, I’m particularly excited because as of tomorrow, we are officially down to the wire for wedding planning. It’s exactly three months away and when you’re an admissions counselor and travel for 1 month of that, plus you add in the Thanksgiving holiday, it feels like we’re practically getting married next week. Agh!

I’m such a forward thinker that it’s a daily (and sometimes momentary) practice to be present. I want to enjoy this season before we’re thrown into the cold of winter. (Which I’m totally fine with this time because I’ll have a live-in snuggle buddy whose back I can put my freezing cold toes on.)

My favorite way to practice presence is make a list of fun things to do.

My Fall Bucket List

1 – Make Smores

Smores are my favorite. Bonfires are my favorite. Add in an apple cider drink and we are golden.

2 – Day Trip to Asheville

Probably my favorite place in the entire world right now is Asheville. I literally do the same thing every time I go there: Go to bookstores, go to chocolate stores. Eat delicious food. Seriously, what more can this girl want? My favorite bookstore in Asheville is a used bookstore that has multiple levels of red carpet and black walls. They have couches and love seats and shelves and shelves of books. They serve coffee, espresso, beer, wine, and literary cocktails. It’s every book lover’s dream. I’ve always just gone there and perused the books. This year I want to just take an afternoon and sit down and read to my heart’s content. Then go eat chocolate and hit up those sweet potato fries at the Bier Garden. Seriously, if you’re ever in Asheville and want to know what to do – I’m your girl. Last year Pai and I saw Josh Garrels at the Orange Peel in Asheville, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to. Josh Garrels is also officially my favorite artist for the fall. Along with She & Him and Norah Jones and Ingrid Michaelson. Give me all the coffee shop tunes.

3 – Go Hiking!

If you saw my planner, you would see that every single weekend, spare two, is already booked from now until December 10. (Eep!) I need one of those Saturdays to somehow be a day where I’m out with lots of colorful leaves and the crisp air.

4 – Carve pumpkins

Pai and I went to the pumpkin patch with the intention of carving pumpkins this year, but instead they sat out on my porch and one freezing night I sat in front of the TV with a knife and an apple cider and froze my hand off and broke my knife cutting those bad boys up to make roasted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkins: 1. Nina: 0. But the pumpkin seeds were delish. (Esp if you mix them with brown sugar & a hint of cayenne. Freaking yum.)

5 – Host Friendsgiving

Last year I hosted Friendsgiving and it was stressful (there may have been tears over a frozen turkey) but so delightful in the end. This time Pai and I actually have space to host more than 2 people, so I m stoked about all the possibilities of my home being filled with lovely lovely people.

6 – Make an Apple Pie

My sister is the designated apple pie maker in the family, but I’m slowly turning into Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Chrissy Tiegen, etc. and it’s high time I try my hand again at making an apple pie. The last time I made one, like 10 years ago (not really) I got the sugar and salt mixed up. Woops. We scooped it out somehow and told no one and all was well. But still. It’s time for redemption.

7 – Take all the Fall Leaves Pics

Kidding. Kinda.

8 – Not Drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte
I’m sorry, but Starbucks PSLs are gross. You know what is not gross? Local coffee shops who roast their own coffee beans and make pumpkin white mochas. Yep. I offically sound like a hipster.

What are you excited to do this Fall?


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It Takes a Village

It takes a village of strong community to navigate both the big and little things in life.

Hello! After an unintentional (but much needed) hiatus, I think I’m back as full time as I can be when there are only 95 days left until I become a wife and I’m entering upon my busiest season at work. How did I decide to plan a wedding during my travel season? I don’t know. Hormones and the excitement to be married made me do it, I guess. We have had a crazy two and a half weeks, though.

After 11 months in an shoebox apartment with neighbors who were less than lovely, we packed up my tiny place, rented a uhaul, and moved my stuff into a quaint, charming 1940s house that Pai and I get to make our home in just a few months. There is so much space in this house after living in an apartment, that I don’t really know what to do. I used to be able to sit in my bedroom while Pai sat in the living room, and I could just peek through the door way, through the kitchen and say hello. When we were unpacking the house, I was in the guest bedroom and he was upstairs in what will be our bedroom in just a few long weeks and I missed him. Like I couldn’t just talk and he hear me. I had to wait for him to come downstairs. I had FOMO. What was he doing? Where was he? Did he miss me? I promise I’m not crazy.

I’m kind of in love with this little place, though. I’m in the honeymoon phase where I actually wash the dishes after I use them so the kitchen is clean.

The Saturday that we moved in we had his parents, his lifelong friends and my friend from work help us pack and unload. We got everything moved and unloaded in under 3 hours. Plus his mom made us spaghetti so we wouldn’t have to go out and buy us pizzas. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in our lives who gave up their mid-day to help us get settled into our first home. The word “community” kept ringing through my mind. If we were not intentional in creating a strong community around us, I don’t know how we could have done it all by ourselves.

Community goes beyond helping people move, though. They’re the people you call up to ask for prayer. They’re the people you get to share and experience life with. It calls for vulnerability, and vulnerability is tough. But when you’re rewarded with community, it’s so worth it.

New House!


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5 Strategies for When You’re Overwhelmed

5 Strategies for When You're Overwhelmed

Happy Wednesday, Latte drinkers! Today I branched out to treat myself to a cappuccino instead of my regular latte because my friend suggested I branch out and try something new. Fortunately for my taste buds, we’re at a staff retreat close to my favorite coffee shop. Unfortunately for my wallet, we’re at a staff retreat close to my favorite coffee shop. I’m sure I’ll update the world on how I feel about the cappuccino on my insta, so stay tuned, because I know you care.

We like to play this game at work called, “What did you lie about in your interview?” because we all probably creatively stretch the truth in an interview. It’s like saying “Microsoft Word? I excel at that!” when we don’t know the first thing about mail merge. Props to Pai for the hilarious Microsoft joke. I love that guy. Anyway, I’ve probably told this story before. If I have, excuse me. When the interviewer asked me “How do you handle stress?” I told him “I handle it well,” or something like that. (OK I’m sure I’ve told this before. I’m positive this is my opener for any blog post I ever write related to stress.)

In reality, I just break out in beautiful cystic acne on my cheeks and cry and drink more caffeine. The truth is, I perform well under pressure. Maybe it’s the creative side in me, maybe it’s the years of procrastinating in high school and college paying off.

Last night I walked in the door from work and spent a solid 20 minutes lying on the floor asking myself the basic questions every 20something woman asks herself often.

Why can’t I afford to pay someone to clean my apartment for me? 

How do I adult?

Why are lattes so expensive?

In today’s society where we just go go go, it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and end up crumpled in the floor questioning the way the world works. I have found a few things to help me get back on track, and I want to share the joy with you.

1 – Candles.

Candles candles candles. I love those things. Even if you don’t have a Pinterest clean house, lighting a refreshing candle is enough to make you think your house is cleaner than it is or it will inspire you to do a 10 second tidy.

2 – Take a Shower.

Why does this work? I don’t know, but sometimes you just need to stand under hot water and think for a long time. When you come out, your hair smells nice and coconutty and you have a fresh perspective on life.

3 – Introspect.

Sit out on the porch in the pouring rain and set your alarm on your phone for 5 minutes. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and just write (with an actual pen and paper) whatever comes to mind. Stream of consciousness! Yay!

4 – Lists are your best friend.

Yesterday I had an epiphany that I’m sure some organizational guru has written in some blog that makes 100,000 times more money than this one makes. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Put little boxes in front of said things. THEN – this is the most exciting part – number the things you need to do based on priority/ease/or which you want to do first. I like to start with the small things and work up to the bigger things.

5 – Hang said list on your fridge.

Smile at yourself every time you accomplish a task. Treat yourself with a bubble bath. Or going to bed at a decent time. Or 15 solid minutes of Pinteresting wedding bouquets.

PS why are flower options so stressful???

What are things you like to do to help yo’self out when you feel overwhelmed?

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Dating in Community

(To be fair, I stole the title from the Moral Revolution group’s series on “The Naked Truth about Sexuality.” It’s a great read/listen so I encourage you to check it out!)

Dating in Community

Last night Pai and I had grand introverted plans. We picked up a small pizza, our Dr. Enufs (my favorite splurge soda) and picked out the booksfor a book date. Pai called me out of the blue a few weeks ago to say that we should have “Book Dates” where we just sit next to each other, don’t talk, and read when we get married. I thought, why wait? So last night was Book Date Night.

*Note: Bibliophiles everywhere: Have you ever just wanted to sit next to a cute boy and read? I always felt bad about not wanting to go somewhere because I just want to read my book. One time, I legitimately asked Pai to come over later than he planned so that I could finish my book. My point is, if you love books, marry someone who also loves books and who likes book dates.


Right before we settled down to our books, Pai said, “Oh yeah! We were invited for chili at our friends house at 6!” I look at the clock, it’s almost 6. I have this fear when I’m invited to something where I think, What if they invited a bunch of other people and no one showed up and there is this pot full of chili and heart full of sadness because none of their friends pulled through?! So we got in the car and went. Thankfully, another couple friend of ours was already there, and they had all eaten chili because by the time we got ourselves together, it was 7 when we got there. #AfricanTime

We looked at old prom pictures and laughed at how young and silly we all looked. We talked about having babies (they all have children, we do not) and names for our children. I sat looking around the table of people whom Pai has called best friends since high school and prayed that none of us would ever move away.

Dating in community = accountability

When Pai and I first started dating, he introduced the concept of “dating in community” to me. At first it sounded like we all shared dating partners, so I found it questionable. He explained it as our relationship is not our own, and it isn’t just for us. When we date in community, we invite people who are also pursuing God alongside us into our relationship. It is accountability both physically and spiritually, and it is a source of vulnerability and encouragement whenever we are going through something. As an oversharing extrovert, I’m all about it. For the past 2 years, we have had couples older and wiser than us mentor us through some of our rough patches. We both separately confide with other accountability partners, and have people as sounding boards to make sure we aren’t crazy/are loving each other the best we can.

Dating in community prevents isolation

If Pai and I did not have a solid community around us, we would be a very different couple. I could be as dramatic and erratic as my emotions made me feel, we could decide after a fight that we were just done with each other. We wouldn’t have people supporting us to stay pure in our relationship. We could essentially do whatever we wanted to without worrying about the consequences because there is no one surrounding us.

Dating in community encourages us to love each other better

Because I have a solid group of ladies – mostly married, a few unmarried – to lean on, I have wonderful women to remind me of how to love my man. Do I really need to nit pick about the dishes? (Yes.) How have I encouraged him this week? Do I need to give up this one thing I’ve been harping on? (Probably. Yes.) And because I also have two younger sisters and three brothers on my side, I am encouraged to love Pai and pursue God and stay committed to our relationship because I want my siblings to grow up to also have healthy, loving relationships one day.

Plus, dating in community is just a great excuse to have lots of friends. Because we all need friends.


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the Purge (& Merge)

the Purge & Merge

Holy Guacamole. Hello, August. Where did July go?! Do I say this every month? Yes. Because it is astonishing at how fast time flies. (Unless, of course, you are engaged. Then the days feel like a tortoise crawl, unless you look at your to-do list and realize you have to throw a party for 350 people.) There’s a Leslie Knope/ OCD part of me that is pleased when the new month starts on a Sunday or  a Monday. All is right with the world because we are starting a new month on the new day of the week.

I wish I was one of those people who kept the new goals they made for themselves each month. I have such good intentions but it always falls through. This month I have to get my head on straight. I haven’t lived in the same space for more than a year since I graduated high school, but that should all be coming to an end by August 26th. No, we did not buy a house. But yes, we have found a charming 1940s house to rent for the next year until we get settled into the whole “married” life.

Stay tuned for udpates.

I like to call this month “Purge and Merge.” For such a little person, I take up a lot of space. You would think since I have moved so often since I was 17, I would be smart enough to not keep a lot. But I’m not. I am a sentimental clutter bug, so if any of you have suggestions, send help.

Seriously. I take up a whole 2-person wardrobe right now with just my clothes. Every space is filled. Then there are clothes in boxes, a dresser, and a trunk. It’s a little overkill. Rather than try to move all that stuff to my new house and then get rid of the clothes when Pai moves into the new house in December, I figured it would be simpler to get rid of a lot of my stuff that I don’t need right now.

I’m intrigued and frightened by the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Is it possible for me? I hope. But what if I need this orange and white checkered shirt that I’ve had for 10 years but haven’t worn in the past 5 for a Halloween party? You never know. And the t-shirts. OH the t-shirts. I’ve had them safe and sound in a box because for the last two years I WILL make a t-shirt quilt during those cold winter days when only Grey’s Anatomy reruns are on the agenda. And yet they are still in the box. Uncut. Un-quilted.

And what is this so-called “Minimalism?” How does it work? Why is everything so white? Do I have to have a succulent plant to follow this trend? Please say yes, I want a succulent.

My fellow bloggers, if you have de-cluttering suggestions and are skilled in interior design, please send help. ASAP. I also would like to hire someone for free to just come over and say “Nina, you don’t need your participation ribbon for the 2nd grade poetry contest. You didn’t win. Give it up, you Millennial. Oh look, I threw it in the trash for you.”



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