FAQ Me My Life The Blog


I’m the sole provider for our family now. Officially.

I posted a single political link out of a dozen cute and fluffy links in last Friday’s Honor Roll, and it got people all riled up. One person was so incensed that she tried to insult me personally, calling me out for enjoying my “fancy shopping trips” while Brandon was collecting unemployment. That’s not true, but I hadn’t realized the misconception I may have been fostering by not providing an update sooner. It’s hard stuff to write about and I’d been putting it off, but no longer. Here’s what’s going on with us.

Brandon and I met in 1999, when we each worked full-time at Barbara’s Bookstore in Oak Park (making just over $6/hour in the beginning — go us!). We began dating in 2001, moved in together a while after that, and were married in May of 2004. Just before we were married, Brandon left the bookstore for a job in printing that paid more. He was there until he lost his job in January.

I left the bookstore in late 2004. I had already been working a second job which was to continue for a little longer, and I took a seasonal retail job at the first west elm store. When that was over, I decided to pursue my dream of owning a stationery business and I started Pink Loves Brown. I also took on freelance web design projects as Smart & Lovely while the stationery business took off. I started this blog in 2007, and I realized that the blog would eclipse the stationery shop a couple of years into it. The money I made from advertising was a nice bonus at first, and eventually it became enough to call the blog “a job” with a straight face.

Brandon liked the work that he was doing (managing prepress), but the environment was a bad one. We’d always hoped that he could quit eventually, but it helped support our family and provided health insurance. When he unexpectedly lost his job earlier this year, he was on unemployment for a few months while he looked for work. As I took on more projects though, it became clear that we could make it work if he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. In July, he stopped collecting unemployment. We got rid of COBRA and bought our own health insurance (which was difficult and expensive). It’s scary to be the sole supporter since I have such a non-traditional job, but it’s working right now. If we need to reevaluate in the future, we will.

I make money in advertising and sponsored posts here on Making it Lovely, and I also write for Babble, Better Homes and Gardens, and Glidden. I’m saying yes to a lot more work than I would have before and I’m working a lot, but we’re doing well. Last year was the first year in which I earned more than my husband. This year I’ve been doing even better, and I hope to eventually be able to replace his lost income.

It wasn’t under ideal circumstances, but it seems I’ve managed to cross another item off of my Lovely Life List. A big one.

Life List Item: Make Enough Money to Support My Family

Thank you, everybody, for all of your support over the years. Especially recently. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you, and I’m humbled by you and grateful.

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  • Reply
    October 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Way to go, mama!! I really enjoy your work, so thanks!

  • Reply
    Daryn Murphy
    October 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I think you are amazing…have for years. Keep doing what you are doing…no press is bad press even from haters!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I love your blog and appreciate all the hard work you have put into it. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply
    Jessie {My Mod Style}
    October 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

    GO YOU! You are just living your life. People need to get over themselves.

  • Reply
    Sara Rose
    October 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I am very sad that you feel the need to justify yourself. There will always be trolls, darlin’. People who never ‘get’ that we live and write how we do because it makes us happy and is ours means to an end that is soul satisfying. I’m proud of you. We’re so close in age and working hard through our DREAMS to support our families whereas a lot of people would take completely unsatisfying jobs to do that. Good for you.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Why others would feel entitled to judge your family’s finances and choices through the window that is your blog I don’t know. It is only a window: where closets are always perfectly organized, children dressed like perfect models of behavior and every project ends in a perfect after photo. As readers we thrive on this limited perspective. Like a perfect book that tells only part of a story and inspires us, we know its not the whole story or even completely real, but we enjoy it nonetheless.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    All I can say is “good for you” you should feel incredibly proud of all you have done. I’m sure it’s not always easy so celebrate the good days and keep doing what you do.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Ay, ay, ay… half the country is NUTS. :) Don’t let them get you down. Congratulations on your success!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2012 at 6:24 am

    you know, I’m not one to comment on blogs. But THIS post…I couldn’t resist. When my friend’s fb status update saying “I have cancer” was eclipsed in comments by her status update saying, “I’m watching the VP debate with my parents and why does Joe Biden have to laugh like that?”, I was just so….SAD. And this is sad, too. And it reminds me of that last sad, and I had to comment. I don’t know when politics became so bitter, so divisive and so overwhelming. It’s okay, world. It’s okay if you don’t agree with someone. It’s okay if they don’t agree with you. That doesn’t make it okay for YOU to insult them/their mothers/ad nauseum. Remember, for ages people didn’t talk about politics or religion at the dinner table FOR A REASON. And that reason still holds true. There ARE other things that are more important: personal relationships, the sources of things you enjoy (whether that be a blog or something else). Take a deep breath and BE POLITE or just can it. Your opinion need not ALWAYS be aired.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @DreamingofJune
    October 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    This post brought a tear to my eye! It is women like you that serve as an inspiration for relative newbie bloggers like myself! So thank you! And congratulations on all your accomplishments.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Hi Nicole, I’ve been following your blog for a few years now but I never commented before. I just want to give you a word of support, my country is going through a major economic crisis so I really know how it is to live with the stress of financial instability.
    After all this years I still can’t believe people are so nasty online.
    I wish you and your family the best and keep up the good work. :)

  • Reply
    October 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    You go girl. Y’all are lucky to have each other and those beautiful babies! I hope the little people with insulting comments don’t get to you for long. I know I would be arguing with them repeatedly in front of the bathroom mirror, wasting time, and raising my stress level for no reason. I hope that’s not you. You are so fantastic.

  • Reply
    Natalie In Oklahoma
    November 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I just found your blog on the link of YHL, which I follow daily.
    While sitting here having my coffee this a.m, I just skimmed through page after page..and found this post…
    I just wanted to drop you a note of admiration and a sisterly-hi-5!!!

    My husband lost his job in August 2009. We weren’t really prepared to be “one income” at that time, but I am an RN with plenty of opportunity to work overtime to make extra money and make ends meet.
    He suffered a few months of depression, and he too, had to go on unemployment for a short time while he searched (unsuccessfully) for another job. He held a bachelor’s degree in business at that time, but literally couldn’t even find a job at our local Wal-mart.
    What we found was that this was actually a door that opened for him to find what he truly wanted to do, which was become a school teacher. With my encouragement, he went back to school and got his Master’s degree in education. Three long years later, he just started his first teaching job, and couldn’t be happier.
    It was a tough three years, but I wouldn’t change it for anything… because it made us stronger as a couple, gave him the chance to follow his dreams, and now we have a really great sense of who we are, and how we can work together through anything.
    I am proud of anyone who can adapt to the changes and challenges that being “unemployed” brings, and my hope is that anyone that falls on harder times will lean on each other and try to make it as positive an experience as possible. My husband “loosing his job” turned out to be a gift and a blessing.
    Best of Luck to you and your husband,
    With joy,
    Natalie In Oklahoma

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Thanks, Natalie. We’re finding that it has worked out for us too. I’ve found that this story is happening and has happened to a lot of us out there.

  • Reply
    A Look Back at 2012 | Making it Lovely
    December 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    […] full-force, brought about amazing things, but it was scary too. I was the sole breadwinner — realizing a dream of mine to support the family — but I had plenty of fears and doubts. I questioned my past academic failures and […]

  • Reply
    Now We Are Six | Making it Lovely
    January 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    […] 2012 – Brandon officially became a stay-at-home-dad, and I became the sole breadwinner. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m so thankful to have been able to make it […]

  • Reply
    Ofelia, from México City
    January 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I love your blog, its an inspiration! The economy forces us to find new ways to put food on the table. The way you got it and works for you and your familly is the right way for you and your beloved ones right now. Go ahead girl and don’t look behind!

  • Reply
    How My Blog Went From a Hobby to a Job | Making it Lovely
    January 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    […] find my footing with the blog and its potential to support us, and in September 2012, I wrote about our decision for Brandon to stay home and watch the kids while I worked full-time on the […]

  • Reply
    Jessica @ The Budget Savvy Bride
    January 17, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I am just catching up on some of these older posts, but I have to tell you that your story is so inspiring. I so appreciate the fact that you are willing to share these details of your life and finances with your readers. I hope to someday be able to start a family and can’t fathom not working on my blog or design projects… but my hubby wants to start a family sooner than later. He jokes about wanting to be a ‘stay at home dad’ and it has always terrified me- the thought of being the sole provider for the family. Your drive and passion has really encouraged me today. Thank you!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

    This sits really poorly now that you’ve bought a $700,000 mansion that you’re filling with brand new furniture. :/

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      November 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I’ve addressed concerns like yours here. I’ve worked incredibly hard, replacing Brandon’s lost income and then some, and we are now doing well financially. I wrote that post before the Q4 hit, and that period was a huge turning point for the business of the blog. I know that you left your comment anonymously, so I’m not sure that you will be back to read further, but if you see this, please know that I have always been honest and transparent when discussing personal matters.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for your inspiring post!!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    It’s great to see that you’ve been able to provide for your family. Some people might see is as unconventional and it saddens me that your received bad comments. I’ve loved seeing your blog and family grow throughout the years and I’ve come to look forward your post about your beautiful house and adorable family. It’s a normal thing in life to go through difficulties and its great to see someone get through it with such a positive attitude.

    Best of luck to you and your family!


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