renee nicole says

hi! i'm renee.

blogger, wine enthusiast, amateur photographer, long distance runner, book reader, music appreciator.

chicago born and raised.

my husband and i welcomed our baby girl to the world in february.

here you'll find some things i like.
Recent Tweets @reneenicolesaid


Summer sides for days! I’ve been slowly working through these caprese alternatives as the produce appears at the farmer’s market or as burrata and peaches are on sale on the SAME DAY at Whole Foods. (Enablers!)

  • Cantaloupe + Scamorza + Mint
  • Grilled Eggplant + Ricotta Salata + Dill
  • Peach + Burrata + Tarragon
  • Roasted Red Pepper + Feta + Chive

seeing as i hate raw tomatoes, adding these to my next grocery list. 

you guys are awesome. thank you for all the kind words about our new bambino to be. we’re so excited! 

i’m due december 16th so we’ve got about five months to go. just enough time to get this house in working order - not to mention the nursery! it feels so nice to be settled into a place before the baby arrives. the nesting is in full force as you can well imagine! 

i also can’t believe that i live in the suburbs and will soon have two kids and wasn’t it just yesterday that jason and i were staying out til 3am on a wednesday dancing the night away while taking way too many shots of jameson? 

the our lil family had a fantastic 4th of July together, enjoying the lake, the sunshine and lots of BBQ’d meals…

…and we finally made it known that BABY #2 will be here in December! and Baby #2 is a BOY! 

Here I am yesterday at 17 weeks along. Feeling good, a lot less nauseous and a lot less tired - grateful for the 2nd trimester burst of energy. Moving while pregnant with a toddler has been quite the (exhausting) experience but we’re finally settling into our new life and routine. 

also, I love Annabelle’s face in this picture… she’s like, “I’m sorry, but no one consulted me about this.” don’t let her fool you, she’s very excited to be a big sister. :) 

cheers to big life changes… and additions! 

our house is still empty, save for these chairs and a mountain of boxes in the basement. BUT! the floors are done (don’t they look pretty?) and the walls are painted and the new trim is up and the place has been cleaned (twice) and I’m slowly acquiring all the rugs and curtains and random pieces of furniture that will turn this house into our home. 

the movers arrive sunday morning, so i’m spending today packing up the remaining closets and kitchen appliances. tomorrow my mom and i are going to get a head start on unpacking the kitchen, since it’s always the worst! 

i almost can’t believe it’s our last weekend in the city. i feel like we should commemorate it somehow, but we’re so exhausted we just collapse into bed each night. we’ll probably go all out and order take-out from our favorite place on saturday and have a picnic in our living room. 

ps. have you used Joss & Main? I’m mildly obsessed and the chairs pictured above were an absolute steal. I paid a fraction of the price of these identical chairs from Pottery Barn. So far I’ve ordered a rug, a headboard and 2 chairs all for less than $1,000 total including shipping. The quality is high and the customer service is outstanding - I can’t say enough good things! (referral link used - if you do decide to shop, I appreciate it if you use my link!)

annabelle dylan @ 16 months + 2 weeks

Such a big kid these days! it seems like overnight she went from wobbly toddler to running around like an actual little girl. For example she wants to stand on the back off this tricycle-stroller-combo-thing like a big kid instead of sitting in it like a baby should. 

About two weeks ago, I started to wonder when she was going to start talking for real. She said the standard mama, dada, hi, no-no, uhoh for what seems like forever… but other than that we’ve been at a word standstill for a while. THEN all of a sudden she just started saying random things all the time. I was trying to keep track on my phone but new words pop up every day! My favorite (for now) is that she goes around pointing at things saying “wassat?” then patiently waits for me to tell her what it is. Adorable. 

A less cute habit she’s developed is SCREAMING at the top of her lungs in this high-pitched horrible screeching voice any time she feels frustrated or annoyed or if it takes me more than 3 seconds to give her what she wants. This is making grocery shopping and Target runs an utter embarrassment. To discourage this awful behavior, I literally turn my head or walk away from her and completely ignore it. Usually she stops. Usually. 

She’s become a bit more cuddly than she’s ever been before. She gives out kisses liberally, which melts my heart, and she’ll sit on my lap and let me read books to her - which she never would let me do before. She’s usually hands off, Miss Independent, so I’m hoping this isn’t just a phase! 

I’m so curious about how the impending move will affect her. She sleeps so well, 12 hours a night - but only in her room, in her bed. Vacations and sleepovers are always a disaster. It’s going to be a big change, not just sleeping-wise. Hopefully she’ll take it in stride! 

Parenting at this age is becoming more challenging (is toddler discipline a thing?) but it’s also more fun. She’s my little sidekick and I’m enjoying thinking of new adventures for us each week. Our next adventure will be stalking all the parks in our new neighborhood in an attempt to make some friends - for both of us! :) 

Living in the city for the past 8 years, I’ve accepted the fact that even if you share a common hallway or elevator, people just aren’t inclined to be that friendly. Our neighbors in our condo building barely spoke two words to us in the 4 years we lived 3 ft from their front door, and when they did it was only to lodge a complaint. It bummed me out but we accepted it, and hey at least we had privacy?

Less than a week of joining our new block, we’ve already met 5 different families - one who brought us a beautiful flower pot for our front porch and another who delivered champagne! The champagne was accompanied by a “block roster” with names and contact info for everyone on our street. I love it!

The 2nd day we were there, Annabelle was invited to play across the street on the neighbor’s swing set and outrageous treehouse complete with electricity. While she couldn’t fully appreciate how awesome it was, I was wholly impressed.

Is this normal or have we hit the neighborhood jackpot? I just can’t get over how nice everyone is!

Blurry photo of home ownership happiness!

We are officially suburbanites. We closed Tuesday and have spent the entire week basically ripping up everything about the house that had to go. I spent the week (with the help of my entire family to whom I will be forever indebted) removing carpet, baseboards, cleaning windows and screens, taking off disgusting old vents and even dealing with a surprise leak in the basement when I tried to use the hose outside. Fun! Oh the joys of buying an older home.

But the good news: the rooms are almost completely painted (one more to go) since Jason has been burning the midnight oil every night this week. He painted ceilings, trim, walls and closets that have not been cleaned or painted in years. The difference is shocking! He wins for Dad of the Year for spending Father’s Day painting until 2am.

The wood floors are being installed/refinished starting tomorrow - then we will be ready to move in!

Now I just have to start packing…

annabelle is down to one nap per day, usually from 12:30-3:30 every afternoon. that means our mornings are wide open, just waiting for FUN to be had! 

in actuality, sometimes i wake up and feel seriously at a loss for what to do. annabelle gets restless and cranky by 8:30am if we’re not out the door and moving. so today, i texted my sister (that’s auntie leah, featured above) and said, beach day? i assumed the sunshine emoji response meant yes, so we were on our way. 

we close on our house on tuesday. tuesday! 

it has been a loooong road to get here. the mortgage process is so different from when we bought 5 years ago… the endless paperwork and requirements were ridiculous, i’m surprised they didn’t ask for vials of blood and our firstborn child as collateral. in any event, i’m so glad it’s almost done, and i would rather chew glass than go through that process again any time soon! 

i have to admit, i’m still waiting for the sadness to hit over leaving the city. the truth is i can’t wait to move! i’ll miss the proximity to our friends and family, but we’re not moving that far. it’ll require a bit more planning, but it’s worth it to have the space and conveniences the suburbs offer. (like parking, lack of traffic, storage, backyard, need i go on). for the record, i never thought these words would ever come out of my mouth. ever.

but seriously, how does one go about decorating a house from scratch? we need all new furniture, with the exception of our bedroom. oh and outdoor furniture, why for the love of god does it have to be so expensive? i love the decorating process, but starting from scratch is so daunting! any tips? 

i’ve been reading like crazy lately - 7 books in the last month or so! i think i’m finally back in the game and wanted to share some good reads with all of you. and here you go, the laziest book review ever:

LOVED : we are water, the valley of amazement, the husband’s secret, tiny beautiful things (which i pick up and read intermittently)

LIKED : the invention of wings, orphan train, the one and only

MEH : the goldfinch (long, pointless, can’t believe i finished it)

jury is still out on Me Before You as I just started it last night, but so far so good. 

we had a fantastic weekend, with zero plans on our agenda! quite the change of pace as we’re always running from this suburb to that one and here and there and whatnot. we just spent time together as a family and it was refreshing. 

yesterday we braved the crowds at lincoln park zoo, and it was worth it to see Annabelle so excited every time she spotted an animal. she’s so aware of her surroundings these days, and very supportive as she enthusiastically clapped for them as if they were putting on a show just for her!

today it’s back to the grind, and the city looks as hazy as i feel. i should feel recharged, but insomnia the past few nights has been brutal. it’s 10:30am and i’ve been up since 3:15am… it’s going to be a long day. 

I spent a low-key Mother’s Day stealing kisses from this sweet face. We spent the day eating and relaxing outside in the gorgeous weather. Annabelle played for hours on my in-laws deck with all her new summer toys, and even without a nap she was the sweetest girl all day. Must have known it was a special day for her mama! I feel so lucky to have the best job in the world. 

we got back from our annual family vacay to Sanibel Island this past Saturday. it was another relaxing, sunshine-filled week, and Annabelle truly had a blast. 

until we got there, I don’t think I fully realized how much this winter affected her. she was cooped up for days on end, with no real sensory stimulation unless we went to an indoor playspace or museum. in Florida she could run around freely, swimming, playing on the beach, walking everywhere on her own and just exploring the world around her. the sound of birds chirping or an airplane overhead would cause her to look suddenly in that direction, as if to say, what was that?! 

she grew up so much - learned new words, became steadier on her feet, started to run, and swam by herself on the steps of the pool for hours on end. i feel like we left with a baby and came back with a little girl!

since we returned, she will go into her room to get her shoes (flip flops), bring them to us to put them on, then go stand at the front door. she realized the world is outside waiting and she’s ready to GO! (new word). i better step up my game and plan some activities, because i get the feeling she is not willing to be cooped up for one more day!  

aside from the kiddo, our vacation was much needed. we ate too much, got too much sun, and took lots of naps. perfection.

hello, new decade! 

i’ve said goodbye to my twenties today with a perfect day: opening presents in bed, doughnuts and coffee for breakfast (delivered to me by my sister), shopping and lunching, then a manicure and a quick nap (for both me and the kiddo).

edit: i almost forgot to mention the most exciting thing that happened on my birthday outing… Duke Rancic said HI to Annabelle at Bloomingdales! A little stroller banter. She was unfazed, I was freaking out. 

tonight jason is taking me to MK, where surprisingly we’ve never been! it’s been on our list forever. i am going to devour the tasting menu. 

people keep asking me if i’m sad to not be in my twenties anymore. should i be? thirty seems like it will be just as much fun, if not more so. i feel like i’m exactly where i’m supposed to be. 

it’s been almost a month since i popped in over here. just busy livin’ life! so let’s see, where to begin… 

the kiddo. (because let’s be honest, she runs sh*t around here) at 14.5 months, she will hold entirely incoherent conversations with you, just babbling away and looking you straight in the eye like how can you NOT understand what she’s trying to say. it’s adorable. she does say a few intelligible words (dad, cookie, ick, down, hi) and it’s fun to watch her learn to communicate. 

the house hunt. it’s happening, the inevitable move out to the burbs. since we sold our condo last june, we’ve been undecided on our next step - going back and forth between continuing to rent in the city and just taking the plunge and buying a house in the burbs, and it seems we have finally decided to take that plunge! we found a lil’ fixer in a neighborhood we love and if all goes according to plan, we will close in early june. we’re over-the-moon excited but also sad to be leaving the city - and most of all our friends! bittersweet, it is. 

the holidays. jason and i hosted our first passover seder dinner last monday evening and it was a rousing success! 10 friends, 7 bottles of wine, 1 brisket and not a piece of leavened bread in sight. it was truly a great night, with great friends. yesterday we had a quiet evening at my mom’s, and of course the easter bunny couldn’t leave our little chickie out of all the fun - Annabelle went nuts for the Anna babydoll (Frozen is a big hit in our house) she found in her easter basket.

are you dying over her shoes? i can’t hardly handle the cuteness.