A Birthday, A Next Chapter, & A Doughnut

As I sit here on my birthday, leaving my 20s and graduating into my third decade on this planet, I realize that I’ve been writing Nearly Native for almost 4 years. This blog is the longest committed relationship I’ve ever been in. It’s been a commitment to myself, with highs and lows, lack of motivation and explosions of ideas, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I hope that many of you can relate when I say that this blog has been a love affair of creative expression. When you find something that makes you happy, making time for it is the most important thing you can do.

It’s also the best, most flattering bonus when your peers show appreciation for your creation. But I don’t do this for freebies or shoutouts, I do it for me and for the people that connect with my writing. During a time of year when everyone is making resolutions, starting fresh for the new year, I had a hard time deciding what to do with Nearly Native moving forward. For a brief second I actually thought about shuttering it altogether – did it make sense for me to have the blog still? I’d lost motivation. But then I remembered how much I love writing and I simply can’t give that up.

Life happenings (all good!) have relocated me away from Nashville to Knoxville, TN, and while this blog was mostly dedicated to Nashville (which will always be first in my heart!), I need to evolve as the things that inspire my writing have changed. I’ll still be visiting Nashville often and I’ll be writing about restaurants, workouts, travel, and the like, but I’ll also be taking a turn into the trials and tribulations of adulthood – real things that we all deal with daily. I’m also planning on redesigning the site to mirror this next chapter in my life.

I hope that this change will allow me to continue my love affair with writing and will also connect with you. After all, we can’t continue to grow if we don’t challenge ourselves with what’s in front of us, right? My hope is that 2018 will continue to bring learning, creativity, travel, and a whole lot of Tennessee (Nashville, Knoxville, and beyond) blog features! I’d also love to hear from you if you have any suggestions or topics that I should cover! Thank you for sticking with me these 4 years and making writing extra fun for me. Bear with me while I refresh the blog and in the meantime, here’s a picture of my massive and delicious birthday doughnut from Status Doughnuts & Coffee in Knoxville, TN – y’all have GOT to check this place out!


Nearly Native’s Guide to Getting Gifts for Under $50

It’s that time of year again – time for holiday jingles on repeat, fancy parties with flashy clothes, peppermint-flavored everything, and eating your weight in cookies, pie, and cake. The holiday season is great for gathering with friends and family to reflect on everything you’re grateful for, but it also brings the high expectations and excitement of gift-giving. While some are willing to spend a pretty penny for those special people in their lives, those of us who are ballin’ in a budget at the “white elephant” party or when giving gifts to friends might feel that spending over $50 is pretty silly. You don’t have to make like Oprah and give everyone a car this year! Show your friends you care without emptying your wallet with our list of gift ideas under $50:

  1. Portable wine chiller for the wine-o that loves convenience (and a way to conceal their wine in public)
  2. Coffee Mug to keep your favorite person caffeinated with all kinds of colorful options (since we all don’t already have a million of them)
  3. Tech Gloves for everyone because of the perpetual battle of touchscreen vs. winter gloves
  4. Extra long USB cord for the person who doesn’t know what they’re missing because you’re not tethered to your plug with a walking distance of one foot anymore
  5. Playing cards for the gambler that loves customization
  6. Popcorn popper for the snack lover because microwave popcorn is so 2016
  7. Water Bottle for that annoyingly healthy athlete type that needs water to stay cold or warm or whatever
  8. Spill-proof wine glass for the friend that gets tipsy and tends to spill
  9. Desk Calendar for the decorative 9 to 5 types
  10. Portable Hammock for the champion napper who can literally sleep anywhere

Live Like a Native: Burning the Roast

Is it just me or does moving in with your significant other make you feel crazy? Motivations and desires I never thought I had have surfaced from some remote place inside me. Among these invasive new thoughts was the sudden need to “provide” for my SO. This overwhelming need to make like June Cleaver and become the homemaker that my mother was growing up suddenly interrupted the way I’d done my adult life since forever.  I wanted, needed, to follow the example my mom set of a modern career woman who balanced children, husband, home, and career all at once. She made it look so easy! So, as my first step into this “Super June” provider role, I made it my duty (without my SO actually saying anything about it) to plan and cook dinner regularly. Actually executing this self-inflicted responsibility, however, was a pipe dream. Conveniently forgetting the times my mom burnt the bread or opted for fast food, my master plan to create healthy and delicious meals quickly became more than I bargained for.

When cooking for one, researching and executing recipes was a selfish act – I could eat all of the kale, brussels sprouts, (ice cream) and sweet potatoes I wanted! But when it came time to add the tastes of my SO into the exercise of meal planning, it got complicated. He’s meat and pasta and I’m fish and quinoa, so the thought of making meals that satisfied us both completely freaked me out. While I tried at first to cater mainly to his needs, I struggled to find meals that both of us enjoyed. I quickly broke down under the pressure I’d created in my head for the type of live-in girlfriend I thought my SO expected. Somehow, even in an age when women have overcome so many stereotypes, I simply couldn’t quite get past the June Cleaver mentality.

It got worse with the dreaded roast incident. Slow cooking meals always looked so easy! Pop all of your ingredients in to the pot and put it on low for hours until everything is cooked to perfection. Simple, right? I’d used a slow cooker before (often with my mom nearby), so when my SO suggested preparing a roast I quickly said yes with little thought, thankful we found a meal we both liked. Little did I know that there was actually a strategy to slow cooking. I just cut everything up and dumped it in. What I didn’t realize is that vegetables typically go on the bottom with the meat layered on top. Not until my SO taste-tested hours later, biting into a basically raw potato, did I realized that I’d royally messed up.

Needless to say the roast tasted like at tire and the vegetables were hopeless. Internally I was freaking out, letting my June Cleaver perfectionism eat away at my thoughts even while my SO sweetly ate the disaster of a meal saying, “it’s really not that bad”. It was that bad. I could no longer stand the pressure I’d been putting on myself and broke down in front of him, frustrated I couldn’t be the dinner provider I’d envisioned. But what came out of this dangerous food-driven path I’d taken myself down was a lesson I’m forever grateful for.

When I broke down, explaining what I *thought* I was supposed to be for my SO he quickly put those thoughts to rest. He didn’t expect me to be any version of June Cleaver – he loved to cook and we could make meals together without having some elaborate plan. We could even run up to the grocery store right before we cooked dinner instead of constantly meal planning – what a concept!

I realize I got lucky here, not every person loves to cook. But the point is that I’d created this world of expectation without even thinking about discussing it with my SO. Instead of living in this self-inflicted pain of perfectionism, I simply needed to talk it out with him. Coming to this understanding has since made cooking dinner less of a chore and more of a fun activity. I’ve even managed to help along his tolerance for brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. While burning the roast was a minor mistake in the long run, it forced me to actually communicate with my SO instead of just internalizing all my crazy thoughts and burying myself in my own expectations. So if you’re like me and moving in with your SO made you a bit crazy, maybe talking it out is the perfect way to get out of your own way and kick June back to the decade she belongs in.

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