The Best/Worst Christmas Ever

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The year was 1995 and my ego was through the roof. More so than usual. I had been cast as the LEAD in a Norfolk Community Theatre production and all of the fame had gone to my head. For the entirety of the show's running time (three weekends in December) I was a nightmare to be around, both at home and school. I'd carry my playbill with me everywhere and shout things like, "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" And "I CAN'T HELP WITH DISHES TONIGHT, MY VOICE NEEDS TO LIE DOWN."

How am I supposed to practice cursive when I have a performance to think about?!?! Your cursive can go to hell, Mrs. Johnson!!!

It was a holiday production; I'm sure you're familiar as it was a pretty popular show making the rounds that year, the critically acclaimed "Super Gift From Heaven." I was cast as Amanda, the LEAD doll. Did I already mention that?

The auditions were held in October and I'm quite sure I won the judges over with my rendition of "Consider Yourself," from the musical "Oliver Twist." I used all of my greatest dance moves; the box step, the two step, and some maxi-fords, all whilst singing in my best British accent. I tear up just thinking about it.

When I got the call that I'd been cast I was over-joyed, but also couldn't help but feel just a little bad given that my sister was going for the same role. But mostly I was excited. There was no denying the role was written for me.

The costume budget was low so it was up to my mom and I to pick out my dress. My mother, being the wonderful stage mom that she is, allowed me to pick out the fanciest, prettiest, most expensive dress JC Penny had to offer and I had never known such luxury. It had a beautiful flap of lace set over a bold holiday floral print that cinched at the waist.

Looking back, I think it might have been the dress that set the alarms off in my head. The alarms that said, YOU ARE A BIG DEAL. LISTEN TO NO ONE.

*Makeup budget was low as well.

Never mind that I was missing a front tooth, and had a bottom tooth that was dark and grey and actually called "dead tooth" by my dentist, when I looked in the mirror during this time in my life I saw nothing but a Goddess. You can see it in my cold dark eyes.

Don't believe me? The proof is in a diary entry from '95. When asked who I would change places with, it only felt right to be honest and say "Julia Roberts" or "Kathy Ireland." Naturally.

*PS : I have been in four plays and they weren't school plays. I've modeled 3 times at the mall.

School plays were so beneath me.

Where was I?

Oh yes, for three weekends straight I stole the show. Singing my solo "What Is A Gift?" out of tune and with lisp so heavy my teachers occasionally referred to it as a "speech impediment." It didn't matter. The critics called it "endearing."

The show wrapped five days before Christmas and it wasn't until my last performance, when I was posing in my doll box waiting for the clowns to finish their number while also trying to subtly scratch myself because I've always had an issue with itchy tights, when it hit me: tonight was my last night as Amanda.

I wasn't sure how to go on as NOT Amanda. I'm sure anyone who has ever had a life changing role can relate. It's simply hard to go back to being a ... common folk.

One day I was ringing a bell outside the Sunset Plaza dressed as Amanda (the Mayor asked me to do it, it's NOT a big deal.) And the next day I was ringing a bell outside of a bank dressed as just me because my mom made me do it. And I was not happy about it.

It's true what they say, the fall from the top is lonely. Most of my family wasn't speaking to me that Christmas due to my "attitude." Or was it because of jealousy? I guess we'll never do.

I spent the majority of that Christmas Eve alone in my room, watching the VHS tape of my performance. Over and over. And over. While wearing my Amanda dress, drinking a dirty martini, extra dirty, like the true Hollywood starlet I was.

I was certain I'd never get over the pain of that show ending, my future as an actress so unknown.

But the next day Santa brought me a black farm cat named Snickers and I was happy again.

And that was the Christmas of 1995.

Spending The Holidays In Nebraska

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nebraska Tourism for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

In less than two weeks I'll be driving back to Nebraska with my mom and sister for holiday vacation. How can it possibly be that Christmas is already here?

Feels like just yesterday I made the trip back toVisit Nebraska for a little fall getaway. It was a weekend my niece and nephew met me in Omaha and we did everything and more within just two short days.

We had brunch at Wheatfields in the Old Market. (Always delicious and way too much food!)

A trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo.

And of course a stop at the biggest and best pumpkin patch in the world, Valas.

I've never been one to pass up old timey photos. They're just too fun. Also, I'm pretty sure Vala's gets bigger and better every time I visit. If you've never been before, definitely put this place on your list. It's more like an amusement park than a pumpkin patch these days.

But I have to say I think the kids' favorite part of the trip was staying at one of Omaha's newer hotels downtown, the Even Hotel. The rooms are equipped with exercise accessories (like medicine balls and jump ropes) which blew Knox and Lola's mind. And we can't forget the indoor pool which is as good as it gets when you're a kid.

When I head back in a couple of weeks we'll do all of our December traditions which includes ice skating at the Conagra rink, lights in the Old Market, and the holiday display tour in my hometown of Norfolk. I absolutely love driving back at holiday time and passing through all of the quaint downtowns with their wonderful Christmas decor on the way.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

To view a full list of things to do in Nebraska check out Nebraska Events.

Visit Sponsors Site

Holiday Greetings from 1998

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dear Diary,

Mom made us take Christmas card photos last night.

We're really into brands right now so we thought it would be neat if we all wore our favorite over-sized grey t-shirts with the brand name smacked across the front. Cool, huh?

I'm wearing Limited Too, DUH. Jade's wearing Gap, and Jordan is in Tommy Hilfiger. Did I mention we're really into name brands? Also you can't see them, but I'm totally wearing Dr. Martens.

All of our shirts have red, white, and blue on them so mom said it counted as "matching tops." Last year mom sent a photo from our Carnival Cruise vacation, so I think she knows there's just no point in even trying to top that, you know?

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that's the only reason we went on a vacation last year- to get our Christmas card photo. I think she just needed to wash herself clean from the disaster that was the '96 Christmas Card. Also known as the year of pink eye.

And did you notice I'm wearing lipstick? Mom said I could. It draws attention to my beautiful teeth, I think. I might get braces next year, but I'm not sure I really need them.

These cards are really important to mom. She gets a little scary when it's time to take them and makes us pose all around the house like this is something we do normally. The stairs, the fireplace, the living room, we try everything. I'm really hoping there's at least one good pic in the bunch, but we won't know for another hour or so until she goes to pick them up at Wal Mart.

This year she settled on the pose in front of the "pencil tree." I'm not sure what a pencil tree is exactly, but mom just got it and is really excited about it.

Mom puts all of the Christmas cards she gets up on our giant chalkboard in the kitchen, out on display for everyone to see. I catch her staring at them a lot. She likes to say things like, "you remember the Pearsons, right? I went to college with Donna. Her daughter is your age, she was at your first birthday."

I never remember the Pearsons until I see their Christmas card photo every year. I've watched this stranger family get older year by year and have no idea who they are. But I know they have red hair and like to pose by haystacks.

Nobody wants to have the ugly photo on the board (not that the Pearsons do) but I guess that's why these are so important to mom, maybe?  She wants to make sure our family can compete with the family photo we're taped up next to. Luckily, I'm feeling really good about our coordinating grey t-shirts.

Well I g2g now because I'm going to put stars beads on my shoelaces like my older sister. Pretty rad, huh?

Tay #22

Holiday Home Tour 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

We made it.

We made it to Friday! Has this been an exhausting week for anyone else? December has only been here for two days and it already feels like a whirlwind.

December's like that trainwreck college friend who comes to stay with you for a weekend. You're excited but also nervous because you just know it's going to be a shit show. Sure, it will be fun. But you're also going to spend a lot of money, eat too much, go out more than normal, sleep less than normal, and when it's all said and done you're left a little bloated and hungover, wondering how it all went by so fast?

Oh, how I love December.

There's just a fun festive energy in the air everywhere you go. My favorite thing to do is hit up Chicago's best hole-in-the-wall holiday bars. Someday when I'm feeling more ambitious I'll write a post about the most festive bars in the city. Or I guess I could just link this post...

My plan today was to do a "holiday home tour" but I quickly got tired of taking photos/putting up holiday decor so I pretty much only have one room to write about. So instead I'll show you that one room from a bunch of different angles, sound cool? Cool.

I'm feeling very smug about my work space right now. I told Chris I was saving us money by keeping the heat off and only keeping the fire on. But then he reminded me I'm using the gas option for the fire so our gas bill will probably be a little steep...

The Peace Wreath is by far my new favorite decoration. Although, I'll say right now it's staying up all year round. And my "tree skirt" is the product of me wrapping a bunch of ratty old white "blogger rugs" around each other. I think I pulled it off! What about you?

The theme this year was: minimal. Or lazy. Whatever you prefer.

How to achieve this look: buy live greenery from Trader Joes and string lights from amazon, put them together and there you have it! Done and done!

And that's a wrap on today's post. Have a great weekend! Do all the holiday things. It will be January before you know it...

Never Stop The Hustle

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I fear I may lose blog time once again as Cyber Monday was a doozy. A doozy in the best kind of way possible, but a doozy never the less.
*will not say doozy for rest of post.

As I hit my record sale day on Monday I laughed, I cried, I panicked. I experienced all the feelings. Even with some help, I'm struggling to fill orders and feel as if I'll never get caught up. But what a fun problem to have! THANK YOU to everyone who ordered. You don't know this, but you sent me over the edge for a very lofty goal I set last year on December 26th.

At the end of 2015 I lost a pretty solid social media client. It was a big account which gave me a consistent paycheck every week. Basically, it was my safety net. It was nice to know that when tshirt sales go up and down, I always had this account to fall back on. But they let me know last December that due to budget restraints they were going to have to cut social media and do it in house.

Once again I was about to lose a big, steady, chunk of my income. Such is the life of freelance. It was a let-down yes, but not entirely surprising.

And so last year in the basement of Chris's parents house I made a plan (more like a dream sheet.) And told Chris, "I'm going to blow up T-Shirt Town this year. It's my only option."

"What do you mean? How?" He asked, because Chris is logical and always needs a what/how.

"Not sure, but I'm going to do it." Where as I'm more of a write down crazy dreams/buy crystals and hope for the best kind of person.

I wrote down some numbers that were more than double from what I did the year before. I came up with new designs and plans to market them. I remember feeling excited and nervous with the thought of could I actually do this in the back of my head?

What I didn't realize about those lofty goals is the amount of work it would take to hit them. It was all fun and games to write them down, but actually hitting them? Holy shit.

Last year the day before I left for my best friend's wedding in Palm Springs I was up until 3:30 a.m. packing shirts before catching a 5:30 a.m. car to the airport. I remember thinking, what the hell did I get myself into? And this late night t-shirt binge happened over and over and over.

Luckily it was my own wedding that forced me to hire help. I had no choice. Five months later, I still have help and I would be lost with out it.

On Monday at 1:15 p.m. I surpassed my goals. I stared at the screen and really forced myself to live in the moment and take it in. I DID IT! I achieved something! Albeit it was just a silly t-shirt sale, but still. I've had far too many goals I've written down in life that I just let slip by the wayside because I get lazy or scared. Mostly lazy.

The cherry on top was when the Timehop app reminded me of this post written at this exact time four years ago.

Four years ago this week I was let go from my full time job due to "restructuring." I remember crawling under a blanket on my couch and texting my parents, "got let go today, please don't call for a few hours. Not ready to talk about it yet."

And then I cried and felt sorry for myself for the rest of the day. But really it was more like the rest of the year. And several months into the next year...

I gave everyone homemade Christmas gifts in 2012 and did odd jobs for family members to make money. Jobs I would have done when I was ten.... I was kind of humiliated by it, but also motivated.

I told myself I'd never be in the position to be "let go" by someone ever again. Ever ever ever ever. *not counting free lance social media clients, that's different, ok? K.

Moral of the story: everyone should sell tshirts!!!!!

Just kidding. NO ONE SHOULD BUT ME.

I don't know what the real moral is because we all have different situations. For me, I had to get past the darkness that was the winter of 2013 by reading every self help book I could find, studying what other entrepreneurs with my background/very empty bank account were doing, and finding my niche. I tried a lot of things that failed. I still do. But I guess at the end of the day I can feel okay about the fact I never stop trying. Never stop hustling.

The "Most Hustle" trophies I received every year for basketball mean more to me now than they ever have. I never got MVP because I couldn't make a basket to save my life, but damn it I was the fastest to run lines, was scrappier than I should have been, and tried so so hard.

*This post is dedicated to Tony Robbins. And The Secret. Also Elizabeth Gilbert, more specifically her book/podcast Big Magic. Also, The Alchemist. And my psychic even though she occasionally steals from me. And I can't forget the sweet girl on Ashland who sells me crystals.

Thank you and good day!

My Cyber Monday Deals In T-Shirt Town

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hello, it's me! I'm back. Are you back? Good.

It's rainy and cold in Chicago and if I don't keep myself on task today I end up just staring out my window for hours at a time.

A huge part of my wants to just ramble on about vacation last week. On the five hour plane ride back I was caught in the middle of an extended family of 35+ people on their way home from 6 days together in one house. Boy, was that a treat.

I will say this, in Paul's defense (the man I was sitting next to, God Bless him) he really hasn't been treated well by the brothers since the four wheeler accident of '93. It was an ACCIDENT. Typical Tom not to get that.

And last thing I'll say about Melissa, is that she really should have told the family they were going to have to help pay for water before the trip. It's fine they all had to chip in, but they would have liked to have known before the fact, you know? But of course Melissa doesn't know anything about budgeting, she has a house in Cabo for God's sake.

And Paul didn't even use the pool!

More to come on that, I spent five hours with the fam, how could I not retell the tales here? Family dynamics are fun.

But the other part of me, the blogger part, the business owner, knows I have to at least mention a few Cyber Monday deals. Just a few.

Below are some of my favs. I haven't done any shopping until today. But today I am going to town. *and by town I mean not leaving my couch. 

First are foremost, a shoutout to my own store. For the very first time I'm doing a sale and it makes me so excited and nervous. I imagine all small business owners feel this way. Our margins are low so we can't do what the big guys do, but darn it we try.

Start here with the code ONETIMEONLY

Or head to nebrowse with code talkherbietome_holiday

Might I also suggest... Slippers for 40% off from Nordstrom and J Crew.

And Hunter Boots...


30% off ALL at Tory Burch.

Get a FREE pair of studs with every order from Hey June- her earrings are my favs and are SO affordable ($8-$10) they make great stocking stuffers!

Up to 50% from West Elm.

20% off ALL from Alice&Wonder (wearing the new holiday line in top photo.)

20% off EVERYTHING from Minted. Holiday cards, prints, wall decor, you name it! We just hung our new prints last night and then I took this pic on my iphone 30 seconds ago... so ignore the poor quality.

The "gallery wall" is a work in progress obviously (aren't they always?)...  But I LOVE the typewriter and skyline print so much, this terrible pic doesn't even begin to do them justice.

Gifts under $50 from Nordstrom.

30% off EVERYTHING from Asos.

20% off All from Anthropology.

50% off Everything from Old Navy. Like this vest and sweater!

And of course, my go-to for everything, AMAZON! 

You get the point, people are giving away the farm today.

When you're done shopping come back for more Paul and Melissa gossip. You'll never guess who switched seats at the end of the flight. DRAMAAAA.

Sharing Our Wedding Photo Book

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Big news! We just got our wedding photo book back and once again; I am reliving the entire weekend one photo at a time.

When our photographer sent our photos last month, I'll admit I was slightly overwhelmed. I mean, there were hundreds, maybe thousands even, to sort through. The thought of creating a photo book seemed just a bit daunting, but I also had this feeling that if I didn't do it soon, it might never get done.

And so last Sunday evening I sat down with a glass of wine, a good movie, and the mission to create my book on Shutterfly. Now Shutterfly can be a dangerous site for me if I'm not careful. Iat always starts with just one item (like a photo book) but the next thing I know I'm ordering mugs, pillows, t-shirts, coasters, magnets, I suddenly think I need everything with my photos on them because Shutterfly's products are just that fun.

In short, I'm pretty sure I've ordered almost every item Shutterfly offers over the years, but hands down our wedding book is my new favorite. I can't even begin to express how wonderful the quality is- but I'll try. I'll also show photos (of photos) but they just don't do it justice.

I love this photo of Chris and his friends in the pool while all of the girls were spending hours in hair and makeup. Also the blueness of the water and overall beauty of the day captured in this image has me craving a hot summer day very bad right now as snow is falling outside.

For starters, let me give you the details on the book we ordered because Shutterfly offers a wide variety of choices. We chose the 12 x 12 book (perfect size for a coffee table) with a premium leather cover, double thick pages to prevent tearing, and true spread pages to allow photos to spread across the binding of the book.

I knew that I will only make a wedding book once in my life, so I wanted to do it right.

I've mentioned before I'm not the best at design stuff, I just don't have "the eye" for knowing what looks the best so I opted to use Shuttefly's Make My Book service. This allows Shutterfly designers to assist in curating your photos to ensure you make the best book possible, which made the entire process so much easier than I thought it would be. I don't know why I even stressed for a second about making a book because it was no trouble at all and less than a week later I already have it in my hands.

If I sound like I'm gushing now, I totally am. The quality of the photos completely surpassed my expectations and looking at them right now takes me back to Steamboat all over again.

I had some fun with the party photos as you can see... I really wanted to capture the essence of the evening. I think I did a pretty good.

Best part of all? The photo books on Shutterfly are very affordable, a great alternative to purchasing a book straight from a wedding photographer- and you get to be a part of the process!

If you're still sitting on all of your wedding photos and aren't sure what to do with them, think no more and start creating your wedding photo book on Shutterfly today! You'd have it in time for the holidays!

And that's a wrap! Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!

This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. Memorable moments, lovely details. Celebrate them all in a wedding photo book personalized in your style, your way.