December 31, 2012

In Memoriam

My most favorite picture of Nana & Pop, taken at our wedding: September 23, 2000
In loving memory of my beloved Nana & Pop,

Dorothy Mae Raithel
May 28, 1924 - December 5, 2012
W.J. "Bud" Raithel
December 2, 1920 - December 29, 2012

Who taught me to follow my heart, live life to the fullest, and that nothing replaces the family.

To carry you with me will forever be a blessing.

December 28, 2012


The month of December brought with it my new iPhone 5, and subsequently Instagram! I've been loving the opportunity of documenting my day to day experiences there, and hope you'll join me moving forward. 

Here are a few of this month's favorites:

Tilapia tacos made fresh by my cousin, Chef Sarah, while were together in Arizona for our Nana's funeral. The family who eats together, stays together ... especially when they eat my Aunt Ruth's & Chef Sarah's amazing cooking!

The most adorable retro kitchen at The Motor Lodge - a fully retro-renovated property that you must, must, must check out whenever life takes you to Prescott, AZ!

The view(s) from my parents' new ranch in Prescott Valley - 2013 will bring some incredible new adventures with them there!

Back home in Brooklyn - where a snowman blowup in front of a brownstone is actually charming!

 With my boy, Woody, after an emergency procedure. Doesn't he look like he's in a martini glass?

 My biggest girl reading "The Night Before Christmas" at our Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert

 Nail art supplies as chosen by my girl on our mani-pedi date

 The "before" and "after" of my cheilectomy surgery on December 21st! Ho ho ho!

 Christmas traditions: our girl seeing Santa ... except Santa happened to be female ... again. Oh, yes, this was the second year in a row! 
No Christmas would be complete without our beautiful tree, as photographed on Christmas Eve.

I'm signing off until the New Year, my lovelies. Make sure to take a moment (or several) and give thanks for this incredible year of 2012, and declare your intentions and rituals for 2013.

Blessings abound!

xo JN

December 22, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I have had my very own Christmas tree since I was a young girl. It started with a very small tabletop tree loaded with miniature ornaments, and as time went on, it evolved into a 6' tree ... just in my room!

When I went to college, the tree and my ornament collection came with me. Talk about a treasure! Then, when I got married, Jim & I started with a tree full of ornaments, all while adding our own to it year after year.

After our first move to New York back in 2002, we lost all of our Christmas trimmings (among other things), and had to start from scratch. Needless to say, we were devastated. I actually went for 3-years completely banning the mere idea of a tree the point where I didn't even look forward to the holidays. It wasn't until 2004, when Lyla was born, that I succumbed to the intervention orchestrated by Jim & my mom to start a new tree so we could establish new family memories.

In other words, it was time for me to get over it!

Through the years since, our family Christmas tree has become something I cannot wait to put up. In fact, having a child completely changed my holiday perspective. Trust me when I say, there are few people who have more holiday cheer than our Lyla. She is such a creature of traditions, and when I say the day after Thanksgiving is the day we deck the halls, let it go on record that at 9AM we are on our way to storage to get everything out!

This year, we had the bittersweet opportunity to add ornaments to Team Newman's tree after receiving ones from both my brother's collection and my Nana's. I cannot tell you how special our tree is for us this Christmas season. I must admit, I had no idea how meaningful it would be to have both of them represented in multiple ways on the tree. Just another visual reminder to keep their spirits in the forefront. And the stories they conjure in just a single glance.

For as hard as it is to go into Christmas this year without these two loved ones, I feel equally comforted. Rest assured it won't be easy, but on Christmas morning, I will celebrate them both when we turn on the lights and wait for Lyla to get up and see what Santa has brought her.

Memories are made in these moments! I'm curious to hear about the stories your tree tells ... it's your turn!

xx JN

Just a little snap of the tree - of course Jimmo has a Starbucks ornament collection!

My brother's first Christmas ornament - and the year I became a big sister!

There's really no place like home, is there?

Some of my Nana's ornaments - two of which engraved for her by students. She was an incredible teacher!

New ornament given to me by Mom this year. "The ones we love never truly leave us." Certainly poignant this year.

December 18, 2012

Homespun for the Holidays

If you're looking for some festive ways to deck the halls, check out some of these fabulous, and simple, DIY craft ideas. Make sure to click on the link below each photo for complete instructions.

Something for the tree:

 Button Tree Ornament via Modern Minerals

Something for the entry:

Holiday Ice Lantern via Oh My! Creative

Something for the table:
 Peppermint Holiday Carnations via Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Something for the mantle:

Vintage Style Putz House via Retro Renovation

Something for the front door:

Yarn Ball Door Wreath via Country Living

Tis the season!

xx JN

December 17, 2012

Donning My Smock

I received this card today from a friend, and he could not have chosen one more apropos! I almost wish it were my holiday card for the year, specifically because it sums up 2012 perfectly. 2012 felt like a blank canvas, and quickly became more colorful than I could have imagined.

As many of you know, I started out the year losing my only brother, Adam. That experience in and of itself is traumatic, let alone all of the trauma that surrounded his death and the 20+ years of pain his addiction caused. The mere change in dynamics within my immediate family was therapy-worthy, and that's exactly where I have spent the last 10-months. I have been learning to look at the world using a different set of filters, and giving myself the permission to not only be vulnerable, but to acknowledge it, feel it, live it, and embrace it. That, in and of itself, has been a blessing - although, certainly one that came at an awful cost.

And while dwelling on blessings, I had the great privilege to debut with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra  2-1/2-weeks ago. It was a fabulous weekend, and nothing could have reminded me more that my life's work is, yes, to use my voice in all of its capacities - through writing, through speaking ... and most importantly, through singing.

Prepared for the holidays and full of cheer, I found out on my layover while traveling home from Indiana that my Nana had taken an unexpected turn and was not expected to live through the end of 2012. A mere 48-hours later, she passed away at home in her bed. She was 88-years old, and one of the great loves of my life. We shared an incredibly special bond, and I am still not sure what it is going to be like to not write her Christmas card this year. Life without her is a mystery, yet I am deeply comforted by the truth that I have the privilege of carrying her with me.

I hope you understand why at various points throughout the year I have stepped away from Delightfully Dishy. I refuse to put on a front, yet in the midst of some of the incredibly painful moments, I wasn't ready to share the pain with you - so I chose to not say anything at all. However, that pain is a very real part of my personal truth. No outfit, item, tip, or recipe can make it disappear. It doesn't envelop or overshadow the blessings and joys that continue to fall in between, but it is a part nonetheless. Considering this blog is devoted to lifestyle, which as I've shared before starts with (in my opinion) living your personal truth, then I do feel I have done a disservice by not talking about how tough things have been this year.

As we draw closer to the Christmas holiday and to the New Year, I urge each of you to take into account what really matters. There aren't enough words to describe how that has been the theme of my year. Whether it's the personal issues I've faced, or the tragedies we as a country have faced together, it seems to keep coming back to this: family matters, personal truth is imperative, living out your dreams is necessary, and the power of unconditional love can change the world - even if it starts with having unconditional love for yourself.

Alright, lovelies, now go and get your smock on! I'll meet you back here shortly!

xx JN