March 26, 2013

'Til We Reach That Day

My Aunties
My Aunt Jeannine came out to me while we were sunbathing together at a hotel pool while on a family reunion trip in Chicago. It was the first time I heard from her mouth how she survived her breakup from the woman I had known my entire life thus far as "Aunt Cathy," stories about her few years being single again, and about her new girlfriend, Rosalia.

That was 19-years ago, and my Aunties (as they are affectionately called) have been together ever since. I couldn't have been prouder to stand witness to their commitment ceremony in the mid-90's - it was a gorgeous October day in Phoenix, and these two remarkable women were united in front of an unbelievably supportive group of friends & family.

But what was not in attendance was a marriage license. And to this day, there is still no marriage license. How is it even possible? These women have been together longer than most heterosexual couples.

My Aunties stood up for Mr. Newman & I when we exchanged vows in 2000. They were in the delivery room when our daughter was born. With us when we bought our first house. And built our second one. They are Godmothers to our girl.

Lyla's First Christmas, 2004
Today and tomorrow, same-sex marriage will be brought before the Supreme Court in two cases: a constitutional challenge to California's Prop 8, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My prayer, along with millions of others, is that the Court will deem that as a nation, moving forward, all are to be treated as equally as we are created

I look at the courage my Aunties have had over the course of their adult lives being openly gay. Their bravery paved the way for my generation. My friends were able to have the courage to come out earlier than the majority of the generation who preceded them.

I think about the tireless efforts of my friends at Marriage Equality New York, for example, who fought every minute of every day to get marriage equality passed here in New York, and once that extraordinary day happened in 2011, they moved on to other states throughout our nation and have seen further victory since. I am honored to have worked with them.

Performing the National Anthem, MENY Marriage March, 2010
Their efforts paved the way so that my best friend Amy could marry her now wife, Lauren - even though at that time in 2011, they had to cross the border from our great state of New York to Connecticut to become legally joined together.

Lyla's First Wedding, Marriage of Amy & Lauren, 2011
But then, in 2012, the third member of our trio, Andrew, could marry his now husband, Mark, right here in New York.

Marriage of Andrew & Mark, 2012
As I said on Twitter this morning, "Praying that all are heard, seen and respected as equals, marriage is for all, and equality is ruled as the truth of our land."

And until that day comes, I continue to stand as an advocate for equality. I count it as a privilege and an honor to fight for those who do not have the same rights as Mr. Newman & I do: our friends. Our family. Our brothers & sisters. Our country.

We will reach that day! 
xx JN

March 25, 2013

Spring Forward

Call it Daylight Savings Time, or the fact that open toed shoes are just around the corner, but if ever there was a time I find myself deep in thought over change and renewal, it's at the beginning of Spring.

As of late, I have come to realize that often times the people around us don't like it when the word (or the act of) change enters the equation. Quite possibly because for many, people equate change with a negative idea: abandonment, ridicule, moving on, leaving, isolation, frustration, etc.

When Spring is blooming in the air, though, change is seemingly viewed in a positive light: evolution, growth, blossoming, newness, freshness, wonderment ...

So how is it we are ready to run through the streets with joy when the buds appear on the trees, but when the people in our lives are changing, we want to assume the worst? And furthermore, even mock, ridicule, or even step away from them?

This has happened to me recently, albeit in subtle ways, with some people in my life. I am now at a point where I can step away from it and acknowledge that it isn't personal, but it can still be tricky to navigate. It's easy to fall back in to old tape with people who have known us the longest. And it's equally easy to respond by pointing the finger out of frustration.

What if - when those moments happen - when those we love are trying to keep us in the same place - we actually respond differently?

For me, it has been a huge impetus for changes in dynamics over the course of the last year. I remember rattling on about how frustrated I was over a certain situation with a recurring pattern of behavior - and how "no matter what I do, it just always comes down to the same reaction."

That was when the question was posed back to me, "Well, how would they respond if you didn't respond the way you always have? What would that look like?"

Giving a situation or a relationship a new response comes from a place of love and respect - not only for the other side, but for ourselves. If you're feeling like you're stuck in a pattern and not sure what to do next, stop for a moment and think about how you can react or respond in a new, fresh way. In as much as we are sometimes able to "predict" what someone else is going to do or say, the same goes in reverse. I will admit it may not always be easy - and yes, the unknown of what the new reaction or response may feel scary - but it's worth it.

We have to allow those around us to rise to the occasion and exceed our expectations. When we do not, we are literally stopping the hopes of any evolution within the relationship - quite possibly because at the root of it, we are equally afraid of losing control of the reaction (remember, most people find change as a negative). Expecting perfection is one thing - I'm talking about an expectation that when we enter a situation with the best of intentions - and respond accordingly - the dynamics can change.

It's a lovely, wonderful surprise to see any relationship evolve past the status quo. In fact, dare I say, it is powerful beyond measure. Yes, it is quite possible for someone else to "get it" before we do! If that weren't the case, what's the point of learning from each other? Aren't we all striving to learn the same fundamental life lessons? But as I tell my 8-1/2 year old every day when she's frustrated at her division problems, we all learn things on a different time table.

When you look back over the course of your life thus far, what has spoken to you more: people who have supported you through the process of change, or people who have judged you?

Which person are you going to be?

xx JN

March 20, 2013

Go for the Gold

Although I may have a silver streak running through my hair, I am a huge fan of all things gold. I am completely smitten with these gorgeous pieces from Julie Vos, and can promise you for as much as these pieces make a statement, they are as versatile as they come!

As we officially start a new season today, I am feeling now more than ever: go gold, or go home!

Make sure to follow all things Julie Vos on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

xx JN

Images 3-5: Capri Bracelet / Antoinette Earrings
c/o Julie Vos 

P.S. Remember some of my other Julie Vos faves?

March 18, 2013

Scent Memory

Nana's signature fragrance: Aviance

My Nana had a signature fragrance. When she passed away in December, there was a moment where my two cousins and I huddled in her bedroom smelling her perfume bottle. The scent was so specific that I will be able to identify it as Nana's fragrance for the rest of my life.

Lyla has the same feeling about my Mom, who has worn Estee Lauder's Knowing since I was in high school. If Lyla smells it she'll immediately say, "That smells just like Grandma!"

As for me, I have changed fragrances over the years, to the point where I can recount my teens forward based on fragrance chapters. In high school it was Estee Lauder's Beautiful, then Givenchy's Ysastis. Throughout college, I embraced Estee Lauder's Pleasures. On my wedding day, I started wearing philosophy's amazing grace, and did so for years.

But then my thirties came, and I was introduced to Jo Malone. I quickly became obsessed with her (now retired) fragrance, Vintage Gardenia. However, my early thirties were fraught with significant challenges and subsequent triumphs, to the point where over the course of the last year I have been searching for a new fragrance. I decided it was time to punctuate the second-half of my thirties (well, more like last quarter) with something new. Should it be another Jo Malone fragrance? Chanel? Bond No. 9? Tom Ford? Dior? I've sampled them all - but none of them felt quite right.

Stylist Amy & I were shopping together the other night, and both stopped dead in our tracks at an in-store display of Atelier Cologne. I almost fell to my knees after one mere spray of their Rose Anonyme and Vétiver Fatal. After my experience with Jo Malone, I became a firm believer in the idea of layering fragrances - so much so that I couldn't decide between the two, so home they both came!

What will Rose Anonyme say about the end of my thirties? Atelier says,
"Rose Anonyme, a breathtaking seductress caught in a stolen affair between light and dark, Turkish Rose Absolute sparkles and intrigues beneath notes of spicy Ginger, enwrapped in sultry veil of Velvet Oud, Indonesian Patchouli, mystic Papyrus and Somalian Incense."
Umm ... yes, please!

Make sure to share your favorite #scentmemory with me on Twitter & Instagram!

xx JN

P.S. Mr. Newman has already stolen and claimed the Vétiver Fatal.

March 13, 2013


I must have been all of 18-years old, a sophomore at Arizona State, and was told by one of my girlfriends that Neiman Marcus was the destination for beauty products. I remember that first experience so vividly: the legendary customer service, the products, the samples!

Because I really am that "try before you buy" gal when it comes to anything beauty, I appreciate a good sample. Yes, samples have converted me on multiple occasions to purchase its full-size product. So this week, I decided to take the plunge and become a Birchbox member.

For a flat $10 a month, a box of 4-6, hand-picked, generous sized samples from high-end beauty, grooming and lifestyle brands will come right to my door. Once I have tried the product and wish to purchase, Birchbox makes it as simple as pie for me to order online! Not only that, but there are several ways to earn Birchbox points, redeemable for all sorts of other goodies. Yes, please!

It all starts by requesting your very own invitation. Simply visit Birchbox now, and think about how much fun it will be to compare notes on what we receive!

And don't worry gents, there's a Birchbox just for you as well.

xx JN

March 11, 2013

The Curl Revelation

For 14-years, I had short hair, and quite possibly wore every iteration of the trend. Not kidding. Short hair did exactly what I wanted it to do. There was absolutely no guesswork to it. But after 14-years, I was tired of it. I figured it was time to make a change and go through the process every woman out there cannot stand: The Grow Out.

There were a couple of things that made having short hair appealing: 1.) I have a ton of hair, and 2.) that ton of hair has bookoos of volume + body.

In 2009, Operation Grow Out commenced. I decided to reinvent myself every time I had a haircut so that I could at least tolerate the process.

In the beginning, it meant blunt bangs and a modified bob (all while I embraced a flatiron).
Then as it grew, I realized that I had these random looking waves to it - but the ends were super thin looking and the wave was really just this frizzy looking texture.
If I diffused it, ratted it, and used copious amounts of hairspray, it would give the illusion of big hair (I was raised in the South after all). But by the time it was long enough to actually do something with it, I hated it. It looked frizzy all of the time which I didn't understand because it had never done that before.
I would have it blown out, still frizzy. I would diffuse it, still frizzy. I actually thought I needed to cut it off again so that it looked groomed & shiny. What was wrong with me? Did I have horrid hair? Had I cut it short for so long that it was permanently punishing me? How could hair that worked so well short look so hideous long?

My best friend said to me one day, "You have curly hair. You realize that, right?"

Nope. Didn't even think about it. Curly hair was supposed to be gorgeous ringlet curls like she had, that appeared since birth, and clearly that wasn't happening on my head! If "curly" meant this "frizzy, wavy, borderline stringy looking hot mess" then I was not going to embrace this "look."

Well, at least not quite yet.

My girlfriends who had long hair always had shiny, flowing tresses achieved by taking a curling iron to it (typically the night before), sleeping on it, and voilà - gorgeous hair.

Thinking it might be the Missing Link to my hair mystery, I tried it. The result? Frizzy hair with curling iron curls over the top - perhaps the ugliest thing I had ever seen.

About ready to chop of my hair myself, I went back to my best friend's comment and finally looked up this infamous product she had used for years: Deva Curl. I started doing research. Little did I know that when you Google "deva curl," you get linked to all sorts of YouTube tutorials. And I will say that this one YouTube tutorial was the game changer:

There were different types of curly hair?!

Curly hair should not get wet without being conditioned?!

Frothy shampoo was drying out my hair?? So the fact I was washing it every single day and never conditioning it was contributing to the Hot Mess?

Keeping my hair wrapped up in a towel for the entire time I got ready each morning was actually the same difference as taking a brillo pad to a cashmere sweater? What?!

In other words ... I was doing everything wrong.

I started by simply getting the products, a microfiber towel and an open mind. Within 2-weeks of using the product, adjusting my routine, and being patient, THIS happened:

And I haven't turned back since! That was 3-years ago, my loves.

To this day, I actually love my hair, and embrace my curls. No more washing every day (but conditioning, yes), curling irons, flatirons, perms (yep, had them until I cut my hair off in 1995), or rat combs ... just an expert haircut (yes, dry cutting curls is everything), amazing product, and a diffuser. That's it!
Naturally mine! And my question for you is, what is naturally yours?

xx JN

The current DevaCurl cocktail for my curls:

March 5, 2013

Beauty Boutique

I had that moment today: that moment where I realized I'm a beauty junkie. (As evident above, I've also determined I'm a beauty bag lady!) I love absolutely everything from the packaging to product. In my opinion, there's nothing better than a coffee and a stroll (i.e. several lovely hours) through the cosmetics department weaving from brand to brand, trying on everything from fragrances to lipsticks. 

In what began as a simple project to consolidate my products into new containers, I got completely sucked in, went down the rabbit hole, and found myself in an absolutely glorious, Virgo-esque makeupalooza! 

Here are some of my favorite must-haves from my personal beauty boutique:

Face: L-R Foundation Primer by Laura Mercier, Face & Body Liquid Make Up by Make Up For Ever, fake up concealer by Benefit, HD Finishing Powder, and Full Cover Waterproof Cream by Make Up For Ever

Eyes: L-R: Naked Palette by Urban Decay, Shadow Insurance primer by Too Faced, Eyes to Kill palette, Eyes to Kill Length & Volume Mascara and Smooth Silk Eye Pencil all by Giorgio Armani, Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner by Bobbi Brown, and Photo Op Eye Shadow Trio by smashbox

Brushes: Could not live without my MAC brushes!

Cheeks: Sun Beam and Cha Cha Tint by Benefit, HD Creme Blush by Make Up For Ever, Cremeblend Blush by MAC

Lip Pencils: variety of colors by MAC, NARS & Make Up For Ever

Lips: everything from nudes and neutrals to my signature bold, red lips, I use MAC Lipstick & Pro Longwear, Rimmel London & Tom Ford Beauty

Make sure to share what's in your #beautyboutique on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

Color me happy, my lovelies! 

xx JN