Matcha Tonic
posted in: DrinksRandomRecipes

I have given up something for Lent every year since I was in high school. It’s funny how things cycle because when I was younger, I picked things that were challenging for me at the time like “secular music.” Only Christian and country music for me. Yes, insert eye roll here. When I was in my twenties, occasionally I would pick something challenging like no unnecessary purchases, but most of the time I gave up stuff I was cool with giving up for 40 days. What’s the point right? This year I’m doing a double whammy of hard. I’m giving up two things that give me great comfort: alcohol and sweets. I love me my wine, and I love me my desserts (I’m sure if you looked at the recipe section this comes as no surprise).

It’s been about 2 weeks, and I have already learned quite a bit about my reliance on said items for comfort (and dropped the ball twice). If you’re a social media mama, post something about your rough day and likely one of your mama friends will insert the wine glass emoji. And it’s true! A nice glass of wine is very helpful for unwinding from a rough day, but what if you’re going to that glass of wine or that cookie instead of prayer. That was me. “I can handle this on my own,” I must have subconsciously thought.

Well, I really can’t, and this exercise has proven extremely humbling and stretching for me. Fortunately, I have a very thoughtful husband who started making me a delicious concoction as an afternoon pick-me-up after a particularly trying day. And it was a DELICIOUS Matcha Tonic.

If you aren’t familiar with matcha, it’s a green tea that is ground down to a powder that dissolves with liquid rather than steeping. I’ve been a big fan for years, but I’ve never tried it in a cold beverage other than smoothies. I am 110% hooked. Not only is matcha a source of caffeine that this sleepy mama needs, but it is also a known mood-lifter. So this drink is literally a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

To be honest I look forward to having my sweets and wine come Easter, but this simple refreshing tonic won’t be going anywhere.

Welcome to the NEW Jill Nicole
posted in: Random

If you’ve visited my website in the last few days, you may have noticed that things are looking quite a bit different around here. Ten points to you for your keen observation skills! This website has been a long time in the making, and I am so excited to finally get to share it with you! As you may know, I was in the 2 blog business for awhile and getting a little worn out trying to keep them both going.  That’s when Second Street Creative stepped in and helped me combine my photography site and food blog site into 1 brand new Jill Nicole!

On the Home page, you can scroll through some featured posts and recipes. You can also use the super slick grid at the bottom to quickly see my mosts recent posts and recipes, as well as, the most popular posts from the past.

On the “About” page, you can read more about my journey into blogging and photography. You can also find out some of my favorite things.

On the “Photography” page, you can flip through galleries of my work and find out about packages and pricing. I also answer a few of the more common photography questions I get, and you can read some nice words from past clients.

On the “Recipe” page, you can click through all of my recipes by category or use the very handy search function to find what your heart so desires.

On the “Blog” page, you can scroll through all the content for the website or pick a category that you find interesting.

Lastly, you can use the “Contact” page to get in touch.

I hope you love the new site as much as I do. This will be a fun place to grow as a photographer, foodie, and as a wife/mother/friend/etc! Thanks again to Ryan and his team in making this dream a reality.

Take a look around, and please do come back again!

Sincerely
Miracle Mondays
posted in: Random

Today is Monday….. but you’re smart so you already knew that.
Monday typical isn’t the favorite day of the week, but what I gave you reason to love Mondays?

A few months ago I met an energetic spark of guy named Joey.  Joey is a Duke grad who was living the life in NYC when after a significant lose in his life realized that there was a bigger calling for him.  He moved back to NC and started Miracle Mondays.

Miracle Mondays is a non-profit “who infuses children’s hospitals with color/music/art/poetry/games/fun.”

The action plan is simple. Donate $1. Every Monday.  This simple gesture will impact the lives of the patients and their families.  It will make you feel good.  It will make you love Mondays.

Take a minute to visit the Miracle Mondays website.  It explains further why color/music/art/poetry/games/fun are so important to these kids and how you can get involved. Please, feel free to spread the word about this great charity!

Happy Monday Everybody!

Sincerely,

Jill

Happy 4th!
posted in: RandomRecipes

Impromptu trip to the coast?

Sure! Why not?

Every hotel and camp ground full…

No problem. We’ll make it work.

We’re flying by the seat of our pants ladies and gents.

Have a Happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,
Jill

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas…
posted in: Random

Mothers… aren’t they wonderful?

I’m quite partial to my own.  She makes me feel loved.  She tells me I’m wise and pretty.

When I lived in Kansas, we would go on long walks together and talk for hours.

She is an unbelievable hostess and cook… but she’s very unhelpful in teaching me cook because she just flings something together with no recipe.  That’s talent.

I’m told I look just like her which I take as a huge compliment.  She’s gorgeous.  She also dresses to the nines… I like to think my sister Kelly and I helped with this.

So what to do for a mother as wonderful as this?  Here are some ideas I have for my mom, and I think they should be great for many mothers out there.

Pottery

I just happened to run across whitney smith pottery shop a year ago on etsy, and I have been just waiting for a reason to buy one her gorgeous items.  Some of her items are pricey but would be worth the investment.  Pottery doesn’t really ever go out of style.

Tulip Ceramic Vase in Vintage Green

Pair of Bird Cupcake Stands in White with Yellow Birds

Five Nesting Ranunculus Rose Flower Ceramic Bowls

Address Stamps

Myrubberstamp is another etsy shop I’ve found.  There is something charming about address stamps.  Maybe it’s because I love getting mail, or that I haven’t had a residence I’ve lived in for more than year since college.  Here are some cute ideas.

Secret Diary Rubber Stamp

Your Monogram / Initial Rubber Stamp

TREE Rubber Stamp

Books – Baking, Art and Decorative

Books are always charming.  I love flipping through the pages of cookbooks and design books. It’s like I can feel the inspiration and creativity being soaked up into my fingertips.  Below is my favorite baking cookbook, gorgeous art book, and an inspirational decorating book.

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This book is full of genius classic and interesting recipes.  I know my mom loves the blueberry pie recipe from here.

The Four Holy Gospels Bible

Artist Makoto Fujimura was commissioned to illuminate The Gospels.  I saw this gorgeous book in person, and it would be an unbelievable treasured gift.  Yes, it’s pricier, but it is actual art.

Simply Scandinavian

I picked this book up from West Elm last fall.  It’s full of the most beautifully decorated houses. Very inspiring.

Hope this is helpful for you and your mommy.

Sincerely,

Jill

Future Project!
posted in: Random

I am so excited to tell you about a project I’ll be taking on here in the next couple months with the talented and beautiful Krysta from Purple Pond.
I have decided to revamp my chair for my kitchen/dining room table.

Here are my chairs….

Here are the paint colors that I’ve been looking at.  I obviously want something colorful.

I have tons of blues, reds and greens in my house. I actually don’t have any yellow… I just love it.  It’s happy… and who doesn’t need happy in their house?

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what I want for the fabric on the chair.  Here are some that I found that are pretty…

Ok all you wonderful readers… please, please… I’m begging you… especially you Mom, Kelly, Molly, and Krysta… Tell me what you like!!! Especially in regards to paint color.

I need some help; I’m an incredibly indecisive person.  I like so many things. I need a filter, and that filter is you!  Don’t you feel honored?!? I knew you would…

Sincerely,

Jill

P.S.  There has been a lot of destruction and sadness in our world lately.  Let’s support the people who are helping out all those in crisis.  You can give a one time donation to American Red Cross, click here.

Surprise Engagement Party!!!
posted in: Random


This Katie and Brian… and as you could probably guess they are engaged! This is very exciting to me, because Katie was the very first friend I made here in North Carolina.

Here is how the story went: The Divinity school was hosting a pre-school pizza party for all the first year students and their significant others.  I was awkward.  I guess I don’t consider myself the dainty, quiet preacher’s wife type so I was afraid that I would stick out like a sore thumb.  I tried to lay low to prevent myself from being found out.  Josh and I found our seats, and low and behold this super cute, friendly girl sits next to me.  Katie was immediately a breathe of fresh air, and I think something like this was exchanged between us: “Hi, I’m Jill…. I need girlfriends… now.” Katie responds, ” OH MY GOSH, me, too!”  Bingo Bango… we’re friends. It was awesome.  Thank the Good Lord for Katie.

But this blog post is not about Katie and our friendship… it’s about her and  her sweet relationship with Brian, and the fun party Brian and I planned to surprise Katie.

 About a month and a half ago, Brian contacted me to help him pick out an engagement ring.  I’m always down for looking at and trying on jewelry so of course I agreed to help.  Oh the ring! It’s gorgeous; I’m obviously biased since I helped pick it out. From there he began to tell me his plan and asked if I would be able to throw this party after the proposal.  Something for me to be super detail-oriented about, bake for and make my friend happy…. I’m in.

So here are some pictures from the party.  I will have a post later this week about the decorations I used, how I made it or where I got it from.

Entrance to the party… the party was floral themed per Brian’s brilliant request.  He asked everyone to bring flowers since Katie loves flowers and the outdoors so much.

The dessert table…

There were Carrot Cake cupcakes and Lemon Strawberry cupcakes (recipes tomorrow).

Such a cute couple.

Side note: they were on their way out.  They don’t typically carry  around cupcakes and wine all the time.

Love you Katie Bird. I’m so happy for you and Brian.

Sincerely,

Jill

It’s share time…
posted in: Random

You know what’s kind of funny?  The fact that I’m writing this blog post to an audience, one that may or may not be there.  Such an interesting feeling this is… (sometimes my husband calls me out for talking like Yoda. Sad thing is that I don’t mean to; the sentence is actually formed like that in my head)
I would really love to tell you a little about my story.  Sometimes I forget that my life is a story.  Maybe it’s like when you’re growing your hair out, and you don’t really notice.  Then you see someone you haven’t seen for a really long time and they’re like “whoa! you’re hair is getting so long.” I think these two points go together in some Jill-yoda way of thinking.

Here we go on the story as of lately.  I am living in a new place. I feel like I’m not in Kansas any more……  But I was! Ha, I kind of gotcha there didn’t I? You thought it was some standard Wizard of Oz quote that everybody uses, BUT it actually applies to my life.  I grew up in Kansas, went to school in Kansas, married my hubby in Kansas, watched every single episode of Gilmore Girls in Kansas.  It’s kind of a cool place to me.  Side note: when I was away at summer camp back in the day, girls in my cabin used to ask me if we have electricity and if we rode in covered wagons to get around.  You know, there isn’t a ton in Kansas, but come on people!  The camp was in the Ozarks!  We had it better than there, just watch Winter’s Bone.

Now I’m in good ol’ North Carolina (insert southern drawl here).  This may be naiveté, but I did not realize North Carolina was considered part of the South.  What a shock I was in for.  The South is a whole other world.  It’s not a bad world, as much as I may poke fun at it sometimes.  There are many charming attributes about the city I’m in now…. like AWESOME food… EVERYWHERE… except for good smoothies and donuts I have discovered.

You know what this lovely city doesn’t have though?  JOBS… yeah… that is NOT a lovely attribute.  My story now includes having been unemployed for 6+ months.  This also was quite the shock to me. I had an awesome job, surrounded by awesome people, being challenged daily.  It was a gift; one that I can see in its fullness now. Sometimes when you’re in the muck of life it is so hard to see what good could possibly come of your situation, and to be honest I’m not quite out of the muck.  I’m searching for the good though, and I’m hoping that this blog will help me see more of that good everyday.

A very big thing about me is my personality. I am not so sure if it’ll come across in my posts; I’m not so much of a writer so I may not portray that very well. Here is my deep sharing moment of this letter to you: being unemployed is horrible.  It can bring you to your knees in pain and uncertainty, not only about your future but also about who you are.  Confession: I have issues in life involving insecurities, but since adulthood I have never doubted who I was as a person.  I always found confidence in my personality and found pride in being exactly who I am.  That was very much shaken in the last half of a year, but I cling to it.  HENCE…. the name of the blog.  That was a long winded way of explaining my blog, huh?  Here I will be Jill.  Here I will be confident in who I am even in the embarrassing stuff, because who doesn’t feel like an idiot sometimes, right?  Here I will be sincere, always.

If you read this whole thing, I’m impressed and thankful! I’m thinking the rest of the posts will be more lighthearted, but a super cool rock star photographer (Jackie Cooper) said this explanation would be a good introduction to who I am.  So stick around!  I’ve got some yummy recipes up my sleeve for the next post!

Sincerely,

Jill

My blog can eat your blog…
posted in: Random

This was my husband’s idea of a good blog name…. ultimately, I decided that wasn’t really the vibe I was going for.
Welcome to Sincerely, Jill (more appropriate title in my humble opinion)! In this place I will share with you my life and what I love in life.  Food, photography, friends, fashion, family, flowers….  fancy, frilly fans…. well, maybe not fancy, frilly fans…..  I digress.  This will be my haven.  My safe place where I can be Jill.  So welcome to my journey of life, I hope you enjoy it.  More importantly, I hope I enjoy it.

 

Sincerely,

Jill