Me My Life The Blog

What’s Next for Us

Brandon has been out of work for nearly six weeks now. He doesn’t have any prospects lined up, but unemployment benefits have finally started coming through. They won’t replace his income, of course, but along with what I’m making, we’ll be able to cover our mortgage and bills. Insurance is my biggest concern because we’re now on COBRA, which is expensive.

I know I haven’t written anything about our situation since I mentioned it upon returning from Alt Summit. It’s been stressful, to be honest, and easier to not dwell on. Our roles, our daily routines, and our financial outlook all changed overnight, and we’re all (the kids, too) still adjusting.

I’ve had an assistant since October, Valerie, coming three days a week for six hours a day. She had been helping with some of the administrative blog work (setting up Facebook giveaways and responding to advertising inquiries), but she also helped me a lot with Eleanor and August. Now, with Brandon home, we need her less (and it was suddenly hard to pay someone for 18 hours a week). Valerie has been great, and happily flexible in regards to hours, so she’s staying on board but mostly working from home.

The kids have benefitted from more time with their daddy, but even though that’s a good thing, it has still been an adjustment. Brandon and I have different parenting styles in some ways. Eleanor and August do well with routines – a fairly predictable structure to their day – and things have shifted all of a sudden. They’re fine (we all are), but it’s something I think about. I’m also working more, and for longer stretches during the day, and my work/life balance feels out of whack.

I had an interview a couple of weeks ago for a copywriting position with a great Chicago-based company. I hadn’t sought it out, but if I were looking for a 9-5 job, it’s exactly the kind of place I’d want to be. Had Brandon still been working, I probably wouldn’t have even considered the opportunity, but with him home it was something that needed to be explored. Ultimately, after a lot of thought, I passed on the position. I’ve worked for years to create this job, this crazy job of being a “professional blogger” for myself that lets me work on the things I love. I started blogging before I had children, but now working from home and being able to spend time with them is something that I wouldn’t give up unless it were truly necessary. If I need to, I could start up my shop again or take on web design work to make more money. Had I taken the job offer, I would have had to cut back on the blog, and that’s not something I want to do. I am more committed than ever to Making it Lovely.

I’m not able to be the sole breadwinner in the family. Not yet, anyway… but things are going well. I have my writing jobs at Family Style on Babble and at My Colortopia. I accept advertising on Making it Lovely directly for small businesses (e.g. Etsy shops), and through Federated Media for larger companies. I also work with sponsors. In fact, I’ll be heading out to San Francisco on Thursday for business. I’ll be lining up new sponsored content for the blog, and also pitching some new ideas with my team at FM.

Sponsorships are a tricky subject for some, I know. It’s something that I’ve written about before, and I’ve done a lot of sponsored content since then. There was one campaign in particular that I don’t feel was executed well, but it’s something that I’ve learned from, and I feel good about how I’m applying those lessons as I move forward. I am proud of the standards I hold myself accountable to, and proud of the partnerships I’ve worked on.

Sometimes a brand’s sponsorship can be looked at as a commercial at the beginning or end of a post, similar to the way you may see a show “brought to you by XYZ.” In those cases, I’m not required to (or even asked to) write about the brand. The topic may be tangentially related, but the post is then completely up to me. The other type of sponsorships that I’m interested in facilitating are more closely tied to the brand involved, but they would allow for some fun projects. I’d love to do more home makeovers for readers (free of charge to the recipient), but for that to happen, we need a budget. I have other ideas in the works as well, and I’ll be doing my best to make them a reality.

We still have a lot of thinking to do. As I mentioned, Brandon is now on unemployment, and it is a lifeboat for us. Our way forward is unclear right now though. He may get another steady job, and life will return to what we knew as normal for all these years. There is a fantastic local store up for sale and we considered buying it, but unfortunately, the details didn’t fall into place for us.

We’ve talked about reopening Pink Loves Brown, with Brandon running it, or having him contribute more heavily to Making it Lovely. There are benefits to both, but clear drawbacks and concerns as well. If we pursue those options, we would lose the financial stability we used to have, and at the same time, we would need to secure independent health insurance. We would also no longer be able (in good conscience) to receive unemployment benefits, and that would be a further difficulty for us right now.

I do want to thank you all for the support you’ve shown us. Especially as we figure out our direction in the wake of Brandon’s job loss, but before that, too. I want you to know that it’s greatly appreciated. I’m lucky, even in the more difficult times, to have such an amazing community, and to have been able to craft this life with my family.

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  • belinda
    February 27, 2012 at 2:16 am

    I know people hate hearing stuff like “it’ll all work out”, but there are people in this world that I just know are in for big things. i believe you’re one of them – i have no doubt your blog will bring you this big thing, whatever it is. just a feeling! thoughts are with you and my fingers are crossed. it sucks in be in a holding pattern where you’re just not sure where things will lead. we are sort of there too, so i sympathise. on the upside – enjoy all extra family time you get to have while the kiddies are little!! xxx

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Belinda. We are at least able to spend more time with the little ones, yes! I’ll be thinking about you, too, hoping all works out.

  • shana
    February 27, 2012 at 2:16 am

    i’m more certain than ever that everything is going to be amazing in the end. maybe not exactly how you thought things would look but really great nonetheless. you guys are both so talented and dedicated to one another. you’re going to make it work, scary as it still may seem.

  • Ashley
    February 27, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I sincerely wish your family the best, and hope everything works out.

  • my honest answer
    February 27, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Best of luck to Brandon in his job search. I hope the way forward becomes clear to you both soon.

  • VikaMoka
    February 27, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Such an earnest blog post … I wish you the best for you and your family and I am sure that your creative mind will help in some way or another :)

  • jennifer
    February 27, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I admire your candor. Sharing your thoughts with your readers is what sets you apart from the rest. And putting everything out there for the universe to take notice doesn’t hurt one bit. Wishing you clarity with a heart full of hope. xoxox

  • Kathleen
    February 27, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I’m rooting for you guys!

  • Starling
    February 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Would you consider providing a link to your paypal for subscriptions? I know not everyone who reads your blog would be able/willing to contribute in that way, but I would love to be able to contribute what I can to keep MiL coming! I’ve lurked around your site for several years – your work inspires me, and if you look on my pinterest, you’ll find a high percentage of monthly style posts and images from your redecorating projects. You do such wonderful work, and you write in such a relatable way. Thanks for sharing as your family moves through this time of transition. I, like probably all of your readers, are rooting for y’all :)

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you for offering, but we’ll be OK. You all contribute just by coming here and reading (thank you).

  • Faith @ Ordinary Mommy Design
    February 27, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Hang in there! My husband was laid off for 18 months, but God was good and we all made it through alive. It does throw things off in a big way, having daddy home. Isn’t that odd? It’ll get easier though. Keep pushing on!

  • Sharon
    February 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I follow your blog regularly. It’s part of my life and I feel so privileged to share your life especially so in your unsettled times. I feel the words from Rascal Flatts song are appropriate at this time.

    “My wish for you
    Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
    Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
    You never need to carry more than you can hold

    And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
    I hope you know somebody loves you and wants the same things too”

  • Kaylie
    February 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I am in complete awe of the way your family and yourself in particular, have responded to this kind of crisis. The way you kept to your responsibilities such as your blog and your children is admirable.

    I come from a family where things were quite tough growing up and now I’m through it, I’m kind of grateful that things were that way. I got to see what reality could deal at any given time, I feel prepared if something happens to me in my future, touch wood. I’m 100% certain that things will be fine, it’s a minor blip. I have every confidence that you and your family will pull through.

  • Dana
    February 27, 2012 at 7:27 am

    My husband lost his job days after we found out we were expecting our first child. He didn’t find work until literally a few days before she was born! 9 1/2 years later he’s still with the same company. It was totally a blessing in disguise, but really difficult while in the thick of things! My prayers are with your family.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      What timing! I’m glad it all worked out for you. I’m sure things will work out for us as well, thank you.

  • Cathy
    February 27, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for sharing so candidly. It is the difficult times such as these that make a couple stronger and a family more “nimble.” I think it is hard to keep all of that in perspective when you are in the moment, but you guys certainly seem to have that knack. Hang in there and continue to stay positive, one day you will look back and see the silver lining!


  • Allison
    February 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

    While I know the whole thing sucks (I was laid off my first day back from maternity leave!), I appreciate your honesty and openness. Its a super hard thing to talk about, just within the family, so I admire you for talking about it here. I think if we were all more willing to talk openly about financial things/decisions, maybe they wouldn’t seem so tough! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you guys.

  • Amanda
    February 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

    I just wanted to send ::hugs::!!

  • Kirsten
    February 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

    My husband was out of work for about 6 months and it was an unusual time to have daddy home, when we were use to him working around 60 hours a week. It was adjustment for everyone having him around so much more. The kids formed a stronger bond with him over that time, which when your working such an intense job it’s nice to have that shift in your life when the kids are still young. He is working now, although it’s just contract work. Thankfully I have a full time job so that takes care of our insurance needs. I would be interested to hear if you do decide to both work for yourselves, what you decide to do about insurance. I find this to be the trickiest element when thinking about starting a business. I wonder how many other people deal with this same issue.

    Good luck to you and your family. I enjoy reading your blog every morning!

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Insurance is a big deciding factor, for sure. It’s so expensive, but essential. If we do decide to go out on our own, I’ll be seeking advice from some of my blogging peers that have been in the same situation.

  • Giulia
    February 27, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Fingers crossed and all the best wishes to you and your family. You work so hard and are so dedicated that I’m sure you and your family will be in a good place very soon.

  • Shauna
    February 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Sounds to me like your family has been making some very courageous decisions, and I so admire your candour. Hang in there. You’ve got pretty much everything it takes to make good things happen, it’s just a question of time.

  • abeautifulparty
    February 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Sending you lots of well wishes! You guys will for sure come out on top!

  • Katie
    February 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Wishing you the best of luck, My Dad spent years unemployed, but we all loved having him around!

  • Fiona
    February 27, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I think it’s really impressive that you are so honest about what’s going on. I wish you guys the best of luck. You both seem really smart and talented, and something will happen. I was unemployed, and in retrospect, I think it really helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I hope you guys have that experience, too.

  • Tricia
    February 27, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I feel like so many people now have their own unfortunate unemployment stories these days. My husband got laid off two day before our wedding a few years ago. We learned that BOTH of us staying positive at all times would get us through the tough times… and it really did. It was a rough five months but we learned how to always be positive, incredible patience, how to pick up our lives and move across the country, and (to be totally sappy)… how strong we really were as a couple. It definitely takes two. Stay positive for each other (even when it’s the last thing you want to do).

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, there are so many people facing similar problems these days (including a few members of my family). It’s a rough time.

  • RebeccaNYC
    February 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

    How sad that health insurance is a deciding factor for what Brandon will choose to do. What would he choose if health insurance was a given? The mind bogles. Sending you all the best…may this time of change bring a surge of creative juices! You are a remarkable family…thanks for sharing so openly with us!

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      If health insurance weren’t a concern, it would be much easier for him to come on board with me. COBRA is nearly $20,000/year, and I’m not sure yet how much independent insurance would be for our family.

  • The Glamorous Housewife
    February 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I just wanted to say that I think it would be cool if Brandon contributed to the blog! And in my opinion, you wouldn’t have to give up unemployment, because unemployment is something you and Brandon have payed for every time to receive a pay check. It isn’t as if you are taking money from someone else. There is absolutely nothing wrong with receiving unemployment if Brandon is moonlighting either on this blog or with your store.

    In regards to your advertising and sponsored blogs, I have always felt you do a great job! I have never read one thing that I felt didn’t work perfectly with your brand.

    As for an idea on how to make more money: I don’t know if you have the time, but I would think a 6-10 part seminar on blogging would be very popular. I saw you are doing this on a small scale, but maybe on a larger scale would be good? I know I would pay to join.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  • Heather
    February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Hi there. I’ve been reading for a long time, but only comment on occasion. I’m writing today because I find myself in a similar position, and understand some of the challenges you are facing. Right now, my husband and I are both small biz owners because we moved home to be closer to family and the job I was “supposed to get” fell through. The truth, of course, is that like you I didn’t want a regular full time job. But without stability in my husband’s work, it’s tough. My best advice is to be sure you are communicating. It’s easy to retreat to your separate corners, but that’s where resentment can brew. We’ve had to talk a lot of responsibility and risk and stability, but as long as we’re talking we’re okay.

    Also. Insurance. Being self-insured was definitely one of the scariest things for me, but we had no choice: COBRA doesn’t work across state/region lines. Being self-insured is definitely less cushy, but it’s not so bad. Find an insurance broker to help you navigate–you don’t pay their fee, so it’s free to you. If everyone is mostly healthy and you have some savings or safety net, look for a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and open a Health Savings Account (HSA) with pre-tax dollars. You’ll find the premiums aren’t so crazy. We pay under $500/month for a family of 4, with a family deductible of $12K. It makes you think very differently about health care spending, but that is it’s own lesson.

    Hope this is even a tiny bit helpful. Good luck!

  • Kathy
    February 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I believe in you Nicole, you amaze me with your ability to stay with your gut in the midst of anxiety. That is not easy, you inspire me :)

  • Jill Browning
    February 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    As always, you’re doing a great job. I hope things fall into place for you soon!!

  • Edith
    February 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I have always loved your blog and I hope everything works out for you and your family :)

  • Danielle
    February 27, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I wish you and your family all the best while you work thru this. I hope your husband is able to find the job he wants – and sooner the better. I know we’re still suffering thru the recesssion here in the midwest (we’re in Detroit) – fingers crossed that there’s light at the end of this tunnel!

  • Sucar
    February 27, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Do NOT stop blogging! You have a gift for finding and organizing items that I wouldn’t find otherwise. Your value as a marketer is very high. Plus, you brighten my days immeasurably with your humor. Adding you guys to my prayer list for amazing things to come your way. Expect great things.

  • Timmi
    February 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I also agree with Heather about the insurance, sometimes company insurance isn’t always the best. I have private insurance for myself and my kids while my husband stayed on through his company. Why? Well its a good $100 less a month that way. We get the same benefits (except maternity care, but we have decided not to have anymore) we went with our friend who deals with insurance and who we have all our insurance through so we get a bundle discount as well. Just do your research.

    Hang in there and be thankful for your family, its what has gotten us through crappy times of uncertainty, and has made us happier because of it. We are slowly making our way out of the uncertainty phase with many “what ifs” still unanswered. We look to ourselves and think outside the box to get things done. We have gone without for so long we don’t even miss them. Just hug your loved ones to reassure yourself that you are doing a great job.

  • Christina
    February 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I hate it when people offer unsolicited advice, but I’m going to be a hypocrite and do it anyways as I’ve been thinking about your situation for a few hours now and have two suggestions.

    First, I think it would be great if you reopened the shop. I’ve wanted to purchase some items from Pink Loves Brown since you went on maternity leave over a year ago. I’m sure there are more of us out there, particularly those who discovered your blog more recently, who are in the same boat.

    Second, at the risk of upsetting Valerie, have you considered turning your needs for her into an internship? Many universities allow their students to take unpaid internships during the school year and/or summer and turn them into credit, which would be mutually beneficial to the student as they get course credit and work experience and you as you would no longer have to pay someone. They could not, obviously, help you with Eleanor and August, but certainly work on growing readerships, managing advertisers, etc. would appeal to a student majoring in media and culture or public relations or advertising/marketing, for example. (I would love to do something like this but, alas, I am in Boston and you are in Chicago.) It would also help you cross mentor somebody off your lovely life list.

    I do love Making it Lovely and look forward to reading each post so I hope you won’t be too offended by my (unsolicited) suggestions. Just thought I’d throw them out there. Good luck through this difficult time.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 1:34 am

      I’ve considered internships before, and it’s not something I’d rule out, but I like the stability of having one person on board to help. And yes, I’m sure there are people waiting for the reopening of Pink Loves Brown. I get emails all the time asking when it will be up and running again.

  • JayEssJay
    February 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I’m with you. I’ve been out of work for almost a year… although we always find a way to make ends meet at the end of the month, it’s really starting to take it’s toll on me. I’m ready for routine. I’m ready for the challenges and learning opportunities that employment provides. I’m ready for cheaper health insurance. I’m ready to be able to spend at Target without thinking about it. I’m ready to treat myself to a nice dinner out. I tell myself it will happen when it’s supposed to happen, but that sure is difficult when I want it to happen so badly.

  • Val
    February 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Hang in there. I think you are fabulous and things will work out..somehow, some way.

  • amanda
    February 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I’m confused regarding your shop pink loves brown…is it closed due to extended maternity leave, or is it closed for good because the blog is your main job now?

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 1:35 am

      I closed it for maternity leave, thinking it would be a quick break, but then things have been crazy around here for one reason or another. The blog is a better source of income for me, so that’s where I’ve been focusing my efforts.

  • Truly Smitten
    February 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Hoping everything will work out for the best!! Hang in there! And I’m glad you aren’t going to cut back on your blog bc I (and many readers) would be devastated!

  • Jennifer
    February 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Unemployment is hard! Many of us have been there for a period of time in the last few years. Here’s hoping that it will lead to something new and exciting you would not have otherwise explored. Hang in there!

  • Adventures in Dressmaking
    February 27, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Best wishes to all of you right now. I’m sure it will all work out in the end, better than you could have hoped, right?? It’s hard to believe that now, at least in my experience–my husband is out of work and has been for a while, so I work full-time and blog on the side, and I really can’t wait until he finds a real job! But in the meantime, sounds like you’re doing the best you can and keeping a good attitude. I’m glad you’re committed to blogging because I’ve loved your blog for years! Best of luck, =)

  • Patricia
    February 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I’ve always admired your work ethic and consistency—you are truly gifted. I’m sure that you’ll pull through this with flying colors. I’m certainly rooting for your family and for the continued success of everything you do. Hang in there!

  • Melissa
    February 27, 2012 at 9:54 am


    I’ve been meaning to email you to see how things have been. I can definitely tell there’s been a difference around here. Your blog has always been awesome, but I can tell you’ve been working harder on it. I hope you figure out what your next steps are.

    Chris and I are in the same boat, too. He lost his job about 2 weeks ago (not a huge surprise). It’s been a huge adjustment. He’s such a great daddy, but we definitely have different parenting styles. I’m WAAY more scheduled (and strict) than he is.

    It’s been a blessing that he lost is job in some ways. He can now work full-time on developing my calligraphy site, which I’ve been meaning to launch for the last year. With him unemployed we’re able to make it much more sophisticated than we had originally envisioned. It’s great. However, we don’t know if we should continue in the freelance vein or if Chris should seek out a new job. He’s got an interview today, so I guess we’ll see how that goes and decide from there.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment and say you’re awesome and (at the risk of sounding awkwardly religious) I’m praying for you. God loves you and I know he’ll help your sweet family come out of this on top.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 1:46 am

      It’s really nice to hear from you. I’ve been thinking about you and your sweet family too, and hoping everything is all right with you.

      If Brandon hadn’t lost his job, my redesign would have taken longer since I wouldn’t have been able to devote as much time to working on it. So in the same way that you’re able to get your calligraphy site going, sometimes good things come out of bad situations. There’s so much to think about though — and we’re in such similar situations. I’ll be hoping for the best for both of us!

  • Sarah
    February 27, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Nicole, I too admire your candor…I have been in that situation myself as I was out of work for close to a year about 2 years ago. The unemployment is a big help, but it is the feeling of helplessness and lack of direction that I really dislike about not working. Keep the ‘doors open’ and opportunities will present themselves, especially in the internet world. Just remember that things never stay the same, so your circumstances will change.

  • Elena
    February 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Nicole, this blog has been such an inspiration to me. I’ve had dreams about your library! Honestly. I’m finally in the position to create my own this spring and I’ll be using yours as a guide. You are so talented and there are great things on the horizon for you and your family. It’s cliche but it’s always darkest before the dawn. So in other words…you are ’bout to blow up! Stay focused and remember who you are and you can’t go wrong. :o)

  • bethany
    February 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

    You handle things with such grace and professionalism, Nicole. For someone that is younger and struggling with the same issues of employment for my husband, I really admire your attitude. You have so many plates spinning – parenthood, marriage, and all the little plates that make up your career – and despite how hard it may feel, please know that you’re handling it better than most. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you keep looking for the next thing.

  • Janet
    February 27, 2012 at 10:02 am


    I enjoy your blog and wanted to tell you that you and Brandon will be okay!!

    My husband and I were in the same predicament a year ago, we both lost our jobs at the same time back in 2008, just months after having our baby. It was definitely an adjustment for us financially, but luckily, just like you, I was able to find a decent 9-5 job that afforded me to be closer to home and to bring home enough income and benefits for our family. Because I found a job sooner, I told my husband to take his time in finding a new job this time around and to enjoy our time with our baby.

    It was a huge sacrifice to be the one to go to work, but for the first time in my husband’s career, he was able to stay and take care of things that I would have normally had to handle on my own, AND appreciate all the time it took to take care of it!

    Financially, we made adjustments that we thought we couldn’t make considering all the things we loved to buy. The “downtime” really taught us how to scale back and only purchase and buy things we absolutely needed, with a splurge here and there, but quite honestly the experience taught us both to not be wasteful and much more mindful of what we needed to spend on.

    Count this as a blessing that the kids get to hang out with their dad more. My husband finally found a job after 2 years of freelancing, and he tells me everyday how much he valued the time he spent with our daughter.

    If I could be some help in finding a job prospect for Brandon, I’m known to find leads for friends of mine pretty quickly!

    Best of luck to you and the family!

  • Megan
    February 27, 2012 at 10:04 am

    That is rough. Hang in there! You guys will get through it.

  • Helen Jane
    February 27, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Although it can feel crushing – oh, man, I know crushing financial worries – I think wonderful opportunities are going to come up for you. Much love through this patch of constraints.

  • laura parke
    February 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

    hi nicole, thank you for the update. i’ve been thinking about you and your family since the news last month. it’s not an easy decision to make on where to go from here, but i hope you find peace with whatever decision is made. i love your blog and admire your strength during this time.

  • christy
    February 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I wish you bith all of the best & personally know what this struggle is like. My husband was laid off at the end of 2009 and while he has been able to find work here & there it unfortunatley was not stable. I am very happy to say that since late 2011 things have definitely turned around & while the salary isn’t what he was making before we are comfortable. If anything this experience has definitely taught us to be more resourceful than ever. Best wishes to you all.

  • Caitlin
    February 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

    You’re honesty and perseverance is so inspiring! You are infinitely talented :)

  • Klyn
    February 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Praying for your sweet family.

  • kris
    February 27, 2012 at 10:46 am


    Do you profit from having ads on your site and/or also with “click-throughs”?

    I visit your site daily and if clicking an ad each day would benifit you guys I’d be glad to do that.

    • kris
      February 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

      benefit. ugh…it’s monday.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Not directly, but thanks. (You should check them out though if you see something that catches your eye — I’m appreciative of my advertisers.)

  • Dottie
    February 27, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Lady! As I mentioned before, I totally understand all of the feelings/issues you are facing right now as my sweetie has been unemployed for a bit. It’s tough! But hey–since you are coming to SF, I hope to see you Thursday night (wink wink) and hopefully we can chat about it in person.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Yes, I’ll see you on Thursday!

  • Marlena
    February 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Thank you for your honesty in all aspects. I wish you the best!

  • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
    February 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for sharing such personal details. Sometimes folks gloss over the hard stuff and then it makes me feel like I’m the only one with an imperfect life. I wish the best for you and your family and, with talent like yours, I know you’ll figure out some amazing situation.

    • casacaudill
      February 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      I definitely concur with Tanya’s thoughts. It can sometimes be hard for readers of lifestyle blogs when everything that is posted is all unicorns and rainbows. While I am very sorry to hear what your family is struggling with, I feel that by honestly and openly talking about it, you’re giving your readers a better sense of the real you and that’s something we all appreciate in the blogs that keep us coming back.

      • Jessica
        February 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm

        I completely agree! I appreciate your honest, open post. I’ve been a longtime reader of making it lovely and love so much of what you do. Seeing this post takes it to a new level though. I actually feel more of a connection to your words and situation. I totally understand that it’s incredibly hard to share when you’re dealing with it, but thank you for sharing it Nicole!

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      It’s hard, for me, to talk about difficult situations while I’m living through them. It helps to have a little distance to reflect and process things, and that’s why I hadn’t updated everyone on our situation until now.

  • Danielle
    February 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Life can stink some times. I am glad to see you have your head above water and are tredding along fine. The most important thing to see right now, which you do, is there is food on the table, roof over your head, and the love of your family. Nicole, your blog is one of my favorites because of the stories you tell and ideas you share. Keep up the good work!

  • Linnea
    February 27, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I sure enjoy reading the blog you’ve taken so much time to craft! Be encouraged: you and your hubby will get through this time. DH & I were each unemployed in the past three years – me for a year, and he for six months. We know how hard this is! You can do it. I’m happy to pray for you, if that would be encouraging to you! Let me know.

  • jbhat
    February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I’m glad to hear that you are adjusting and figuring it all out. For stability’s sake, I want the “normal” to come back for you, but in a new and better way. Brandon is sure to get a good gig before too long.


  • Nuit
    February 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

    good luck with everything sweetie :)

  • stephanie
    February 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    wow. i was really moved by how open and honest you are with your readers about your current situation. it made me love your blog even more than i already do! I am in agreement with many of the other commenters that you will make it through this uncertain time based on how creative, clever, and candid you are. best of luck:)

  • Emily @ Peck Life
    February 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I truly think all things happen for a reason…something wonderful and great will come of this!! PS – I wanted to take your March 13 analytics class on the AltSummit page but it doesn’t seem to be there anymore?

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm

      I asked about that today, and was told the class would be up again sometime tomorrow. I hope to see you there!

  • Lora
    February 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I’m sure you’ll get a hundred suggestions about things you’ve mentioned here but one that I’d like to put forth is to check online for health insurance. You can try esurance or just google “health insurance plans”. My husband was out of work for 6 months a while ago and that’s how we handled our medical insurance. COBRA is great – if you can afford it. And not many people can long term. We were able to get a bare-bones policy (we were concerned about my husband having a heart attack from the stress of unemployment) for a family of 3 for $400/month. Far less than the $2600 for COBRA at the time. Of course the coverage wasn’t as good but it was what we needed to cover a catastrophic event should it have happened. Best wishes!

    • Kati
      February 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      I second this idea! For some reason, I had always assumed that having private health insurance would be more expensive than COBRA, but boy was I wrong! We were able to save $250/month by getting insurance privately and the coverage was comparable to what we had before. We talked to a family friend who reps for different insurance companies in our state and he was able to make recommendations on the plan that would be best for us.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Thanks. I did look into it briefly, and you’re right. A separate health insurance plan may be less expensive than COBRA. I have concerns though because there is a preexisting condition for one of us. I know we can’t be denied because of it with the new health care reform laws, but it will still be more expensive, and we need fairly comprehensive coverage.

  • Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet
    February 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I completely feel for you and your family. My husband was laid off 2 years ago, and we were forced to move in with my parents. Best of luck to all of you. I’m sure that the rest of your readers would agree with me in saying that we can’t wait to hear some good news for you and Brandon.

  • Katie Anderson
    February 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I hope that your SF trip is successful and profitable. You’re very talented and I hope more and more brands want to collaborate with you. I am really enjoying all these authentic and transparent posts from fellow bloggers recently. I think oftentimes readers think we have it all together, but really we’re just as terrified as everyone else. Best of luck!

  • Cat (from FM!)
    February 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    I hope everything works out for you and Brandon. Your blog is beautiful, and we love pitching your site to clients over here at FM. Rooting for you!


    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Thanks, Cat! Maybe I’ll see you on Thursday?

  • Deidre
    February 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm


    You’ve contributed so much to my life with your talents. Your creativity and your integrity is simply from the divine. Take heart and be encouraged.

    Please feel free to email me and let’s talk about what connections I have on the East Coast for you and Brandon. I believe there’s a purpose for everything even when we don’t see it.

    Mwah! Love, Deedums

  • Leah
    February 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Nicole! Just want to thank you for your honesty and wish your family the best! So many of us can relate to your concerns right now. Your blog was one of the 1st I started following years ago and I’ve continued to enjoy it! Change is always a bit (or a lot!) scarey, but I know things will work out bc we all support you!

  • Emily
    February 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I hope things work out for you and Brandon. I have been unemployed for almost 7 months and reading your blog is one of the things that keeps me going.

  • Mandy@Cre8iveMotives
    February 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I just came across your blog on (Apartment Therapy’s best home design blogs nominations). I am soooo glad I found you. I will be voting for you:) Love your blog

    On another note, I hope things work out for you and your family. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your personal life with us. We all have our problems. Best of luck!


  • Katie
    February 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing that! Since losing my job after having my son, I know how hard it can be to talk about things like this, especially so publicly. I really appreciate your honest well-thought-out post on such a tough and life changing event. Good luck! It’s weird to say since I don’t know you but I feel like you guys will come out way on top of this.

  • Reesa
    February 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing on such a personal topic. I really enjoy the content you provide on this blog and other fora. I hope things quickly turn around for the better for you and your family!

  • Amy
    February 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    My husband retired early from Microsoft, and we thought our biggest monthly expenditure would be health insurance, but we found it to be quite affordable. WAY less than the cobra we were going to do until it ran out. Find an insurance broker and get some quotes for personal insurance, it can’t hurt!

    And good luck!

  • Chris Olson
    February 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    Reading your heartfelt post brought tears to my eyes. You are such a strong and upbeat person. Thanks for sharing your lovely blog with us each day. I’m crossing my fingers (and toes) and hoping this tough situation ends up making something even more amazing and prosperous develop for all of you. Thanks again, for all you do. And hugs to you and your family.
    Sending positive vibes your way!
    Chris O.

  • Molly the Waffler
    February 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for such an honest and generous post. I find the work/life balance incredibly hard (and I’m sure my part-time job and blogging don’t add up to as many hours you put in) and ditto for the different parenting styles. I’m all about structure (I’m a teacher after all) and my husband is all about fun and spontaneity. On the other hand, I do think it’s good for kids to get used to different styles and different ways of seeing the world. Good luck with your new plans — I’m sure they will come out beautifully.

  • Carrie Hogan
    February 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    CHANGE IS ALWAYS GOOD! IT IS HOW YOU GROW! I think you should start in kids fashion. What a fabulous Jacket on E! Can you tell me where you got it? I want in and looked for the dress from Gwen and Targets in LAs VEgas did not have it. I was bumbed! You certainly have style! Thank you.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      E’s jacket was a clearance find from Boden, last year. I bought it and held onto it for a year until it fit her.

  • Cathy
    February 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. We are in a similar position. I lost my job 2 years ago and committed to running my jewelry shop full time. Then about 4 months ago my hubby was not offered his full time position at a school district. He’s currently under-employed and receiving unemployment benefits.

    I wish my income could support us both or I could figure out how to have him work on with me… but I’m not sure what part he would fill.

    Good luck to you and your family. You are not alone!

  • Lachelle
    February 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Ah, Nicole. I feel for you. My employment status has also had its ups and downs over the past few years and I know what it’s like to go without health insurance for extended periods of time. Graphic design is not the stable job it used to be. I have no doubt that you will land on your feet and things will work out. You are amazingly talented and I’m doubly humbled that you accomplish so much while also fulfilling the role of wife and mother. You really are an inspiration to so many people. I think I probably speak for a lot of people when I say our best wishes are with you and your family.

  • Cathy
    February 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I forgot to mention… regarding health insurance… we compared rates through e-surance and found rates much better than COBRA.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Yes, it’s something I’m looking into.

  • Deborah Wall
    February 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Sometimes the bumps in the road are the events that create magic that we couldn’t forsee. Last year we needed to close our business of 9 years and sell our house (in a most unfavourable housing market) to pay for a commerical construction job that didn’t go as planned, my daughter suffered from depression and I had a core-biopsy on my breast.

    Honestly I was terrified and at times couldn’t see how we were going to make it through but we did in ways I could never of imagined. I’m know working three days a week for an upholstery business where I am doing a course and I don’t have to do bookkeeping anymore (a big Yay because I felt like it was sucking the life out of me!), my husband has a lucrative contract on the go, my daughter got to talk to a counseller about feelings she’d buried for years and we are renting a house with a view of the sea… better we learnt how resourceful we can be when we pull together and trust.

    You’re talented and resourceful you I know you will come out the other side of this stronger and more aware of what you are capable of.

  • susie
    February 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Wishing you the best of luck with whatever comes next. You are obviously immensely talented and i have no doubt that you and your family will find whats best for you.

  • Cecilia
    February 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    kudos to you for sticking with your passion and not feeling like you have to move into a desperation plan (like a 9-5 job). you will make it work. a whole bunch of us are rooting for you. i know it’s not easy being the bread winnner or being in that place of uncertainty. best of luck as you forge your way through it :)

  • Jill
    February 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    $2600 / month for insurance, or per year? I am Canadian and don’t know about US costs. I hope everything works out for your family Nicole.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 27, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      I think the person that mentioned $2600 was referring to a monthly cost. Ours isn’t that high, but it’s not far behind either.

  • Malayka
    February 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    What an honest post! It’s definitely not easy out there at the moment. As well as running my vintage store I am also on the job hunt daily in order to live more comfortably. We complain about a lot of things here in New Zealand but we can count ourselves extremely lucky that we don’t have the same health system is in the USA. Therefore we don’t have the same insurance worries, which seems to be a massive hardship for so many people over there.
    Good luck with everything, I’m sure it’s all going to fall into place. I look forward to seeing what you decide to do. x

  • Heidi
    February 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing such candid comments about your family situation.
    Having been a reader of your blog for so long, I feel connected in a weird way to you and am a huge champion of Making It Lovely’s success.

    I wish you much courage during this difficult time!
    My husband lost his job 6 years ago, a mere two months after we had taken the leap and purchased a new house. It was a scary time.

    6 years later our lives have definitely changed. He went back to school and has started a new career, but of course at a much lesser salary. The funny thing though, is that I wouldn’t trade the last 6 years or where we are at right now for anything. We’ve had to reevaluate a lot in our lives and despite the stresses we are happier people and as a couple, closer than ever.

    I hope that you will continue to do what you love and find a way to keep that work/life balance in check! Your blog is always so inspiring to read and I know that you and Brandon will figure it all out!

  • Sara @ zaharadessert
    February 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Nicole, thanks for sharing your very private with us. But it is truly inspirational to read your story.
    I know this sounds corny, but everything happens for a reason. So I am looking forward to hearing about your new adventures over the coming months.
    Good luck

  • kim
    February 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I don’t usually comment, but this post touched me with its openness and honesty. Thank you for sharing your story. I love your blog and read it every day.

  • kate
    February 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    It is such a scary time. My husband lost his job almost a year ago and I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Cobra is terribly expensive but after reading some of the above comments I think it’s a good idea to check on other insurance options. We bought a bank owned property to fix up- did all the work ourselves, including my getting a realtor’s license to buy and to sell it, and made out really well financially. Now we’re looking for another house to flip and quite happy in our “new life.”

    You’re a fantastic children’s photographer as well as a great designer. I wish you the best!

  • Flavia
    February 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog since Sherry and John from Young House Love mentioned you a while back on their blog. Every once in a while I stop by to see what you’re up to, to “steal” some great ideas (like your business card and where you had it print p.s: I live in Chicago too) or just to feel inspired (your blog is very nice to look at). I have to confess and say that I usually don’t read the content, but today, something drew my eyes to your text and as I began reading it, I was hooked. First of all, I’d like to say how much I admire you for leaving your pride behind and sharing a bit of your life struggles with us. It’s very true when people say you learn form others mistake/struggles. So, thank you for your humbleness and generosity. Secondly, you’ve probably heard this several times, but you’re worth repeating this for: you are such a talented girl! I think you (as well as your husband) should do what your heart is telling you to do, no matter what. I understand you have to think of security and your children, but I’m sure many will agree with me, you can do it!!! Whatever it is that you guys want to do, give it a shot! Take a chance! I believe it’s always worth trying something if your heart is invested in. Lastly, I wish you all the luck in this new journey (regardless of what happens from now on). Just now you’ve created something pretty amazing with Making it Lovely and I know you have a brilliant future ahead of yourself.
    xoxo, Flavia.

  • Nikki
    February 27, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    We’re in a similar position, Nicole. My husband (our family’s primary breadwinner) recently left his job. His reasons were different – he’s a musician and decided to leave a rather unhappy position in the insurance business, and sort of try out this “leap and the net will appear” thing. I have my own small etsy shop, and now I’m suddenly looking at this as not just a hobby, but a way to start seriously supplementing my family’s income. As I get busier and have some money to invest back in the business, I would LOVE to advertise on your site! In the meantime, you’re not alone… and I also know it’s a big adjustment to suddenly have so much togetherness and “help” with co-parenting. Big love to you and your family.

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Thanks, Nikki. Best of luck to you both!

  • Zaida
    February 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I just stumbled upon your blog recently. It’s a wonder! I’m putting you on my prayer list for great solutions and new opportunities to bubble up to the surface soon for you and your family.

  • claire@gibsonking
    February 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I know it must be so tough for you both right now. There was a period of time when my husband and I were both un employed. Unemployment saved us and now we are both employed and don’t regret a minute of that time of our lives. We learned a lot about what we really needed financially and we also learned a lot about each other. I would have never imagined that by 29 I would have lost 2 jobs, get married, be un employed for about 2 years, change careers completely, buy a home, do a kitchen renovation and now be back on my feet again. Best of luck to you both, it will work, it always does!

  • Megan Jean
    February 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Nicole
    I’m big fan of your blog and I lived in Chicago for a while in my twenties when I looked cuter in puffy coats. If Brandon is at all interested in a job in advertising (I have no idea what his profession is), my previous agency is hiring a lot of talent right now. Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you some contact info.
    Best of luck,

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

      I love describing oneself as “when I looked cuter in puffy coats.”

      Brandon was in printing, managing prepress (getting files ready to go).

      • Megan Jean
        February 28, 2012 at 3:54 pm

        I looked cuter in puffy coats back then and boots. Now putting on socks just seems like trouble.

        As for Brandon, if he has a resume you’d like to pass along, I would certainly love to send it to Leo Burnett. They do have a studio print department that does a lot of what it sounds like Brandon does. My email is if you’d like to send it my way.


  • Paisley
    February 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Please shop around for the health insurance! The COBRA premium is based on the age and experience rating of Brandon’s old company. You can probably get it much cheaper on your own. Also, family coverage (at least through employer sponsored plans) tends to cost more than if you dropped one adult and bought a separate individual policy.

  • claire@gibsonking
    February 27, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Ohhhh, and check out It was much cheaper than COBRA for me.

  • Carol
    February 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Good for you for sticking it out! Time with your kids is precious. I’m desperately trying to get a decent part time job so I can spend more time home with mine. Hang in there we’re all rooting for you!

  • Zoe
    February 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    How difficult for you both. I really admire you for sharing this – I would struggle, too, to put to words challenges like these in real time. I know we talked about this briefly at Alt and it didn’t seem like it was high on your list of “want-to-dos” but what about adding some web design and/or development back into your mix? I bet you could do pretty limited amounts and be quite picky about the projects you accepted and it would help the bottom line. Just a thought!

    • Making it Lovely
      February 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

      It’s definitely an option. I put a lot of time into my web design projects though, so even just taking one a month would be a big commitment.

  • Josephine
    February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Believe it or not, I was just wondering about you and your family this morning as I drove to work (in Australia). I just wanted to say that I love what you do here, and I hope your family isn’t in limbo for too much longer! I hope the universe sorts it’s s**t out for you soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep sending the good vibes.

  • Donnie
    February 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Hey Nicole! I’ve been reading your blog for about three years now and I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this story. Your site has always been a source of inspiration but it is even more an inspiration now that I see your spirit and your commitment to your passion. It seems like you now have a mandate to continue to push & reach for your dreams and from the looks of things – it is well within your reach. Blessings to you and your family during this difficult time and remember, “trouble don’t last always!” ;)

  • Sophia
    February 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    You are amazing for sharing all what you are thinking of or going through in your life! And I’m sure that all the good things will come to people as smart and creative as you are. Keep Being lovely, and keep us believing in making things in our life lovely.

  • Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Boo hoo. Wah Wah. We don’t care about your “sad” story. You seriously did a whole blog post about this?? Keep the posts about your home. No one feels sorry for you.

  • kristin
    February 28, 2012 at 2:08 am

    take care, nicole. just wanted to send you a virtual hug. i’m a longtime reader but an infrequent commenter, who loves your blog! i have no wise words, just that i hope it all works out soon and thank you for sharing. best of luck to brandon in his job hunt!

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