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    The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for those Who Like to Shop Small

    MERRY (almost) CHRISTMAS, FRIENDS! I’ll be heading home to Cincinnati to celebrate with my family, and I am literally bursting with excitement. I love this time of year. Everything about it is magical. From the quality time with family to the comfort of a cup of hot chocolate and Christmas movies. But my favorite ritual of all is giving gifts. I love seeing someone’s face light up when they open something special.

    If you’re doing some last-minute shopping this week, then you’re in luck. I’ve listed some amazing businesses that I love, owned by amazing girl bosses in Ohio and beyond. I hope you pay them a visit, whether in-person or online. You’re guaranteed to find something for every special person on your list.

    Let’s get into it, shall we?!


    Vernacular (Columbus, Ohio + online): This womenswear and lifestyle boutique is my spirit animal. Prices are affordable, and style options are approachable and on point. This top is under $50 and would be perfect for everyday, and I’m loving this dramatic sleeves on this little number.

    Bequest Gifting Studio (Columbus, Ohio + online): The holidays are hectic. And, if you need a gift in a flash, count on Bequest Gifting Studio to do what they do best — gifting. Beautiful boxes are filled with anything from candles and notebooks to raw honey, face masks and yes, even pancake mix. Browse their selection of boxes here.

    Idlewild Woman (Cincinnati, Ohio + online): If Idlewild Woman were a person, she’d be the coolest girl at the party. This dress would be perfect for a special person in your life. Or if you’re thinking of something smaller, yet still thoughtful, a Signature Pink candle from Overose will do the trick.


    ONE SIX FIVE (Columbus, Ohio + online): All of the jewelry at ONE SIX FIVE is hand-made, and if you’re a fan of unique pieces like I am, you will love the selection and quality of their designs. Take a look at some of their most popular gifts here.

    Emma Jane Designs (online): It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite piece from this designer, because they’re all so good. They also recently launched a 3, 6 and 12-month subscription service — perfect for any jewelry lover!

    Lane and Kate (Cincinnati, Ohio + online): This custom jewelry shop in Cincinnati creates beautiful and unique pieces, perfect for your mom, sister, aunt or friend. This ring is stunning. And can we please talk about this bracelet? If you know someone who loves dainty jewelry, look no further than Lane and Kate. You won’t be disappointed!

    Finola (Cincinnati, Ohio + online): I’ve written about Finola before and I could go on and on about this brand again. The majority of Finola designs are made with hypoallergenic 14k-gold-filled materials. Take a look at all of Veronica’s stunning designs here.


    Vernacular Home (Columbus, Ohio): It’s no surprise that Vernacular Home is an amazing place to shop. Prices are relatively affordable for home goods, and you can expect to find unique pieces that are sure to stand out.

    Rookwood Pottery (Cincinnati, Ohio + online)Rookwood Pottery has called Cincinnati home for more than 100 years. Their Heritage Mug and ornament holiday set would make the perfect gift.

    ROOT 23 (Columbus, Ohio + online)This Columbus, Ohio-based company makes a line of all-natural flavor infused simple syrups, perfect for the aspiring mixologist.


    Cypress Beauty Co. (Cincinnati, Ohio + online):  The exfoliating duo would make the perfect stocking stuffer gift for any skincare loving person in your life, and at just $10, it’s a complete steal, too!

    The Tart Peach (Columbus, Ohio + online): Lipsticks from The Tart Peach are made from all-natural ingredients and are cruelty free, so you can feel good about gifting and wearing them. The color options are pretty rad, too.

    Under Aurora (Columbus, Ohio + online)All of Under Aurora’s botanical fragrances and skin care products are made using 100% pure, high grade essential oils and other quality plant-based ingredients. So that means no parabens or any of the bad stuff. The Facial Care Collection would make a great gift, and you can’t go wrong with the Coconut Oil Spray (a personal fave).



    Eve Floral Co. (Cincinnati, Ohio): I met Evelyn at a styled shoot in Cincinnati this past year. She is just as sweet as she is talented. And she just so happens to be selling her gorgeous, custom-made wreaths at Manitou Candle Co. Stop in and grab one for yourself!

    Gia & the Blooms (Cincinnati, Ohio): Yulia, the owner of Cincinnati-based floral shop, Gia and the Blooms, has a background in design, and her floral arrangements are a true testament to that. Think rustic yet contemporary, clean yet wild. And wrapped in burlap, of course. She is now taking orders for custom holiday centerpieces. Burlap wrapped bouquets start at $35 with free delivery to the Cincinnati metro area. Ready…set….GO.

    OakOats (Online): This etsy shop is the ultimate go-to space for any plant lover. From adorable enamel pins to succulent vases and stickers, there really is something for everyone (yes, even those who aren’t naturally born with green thumbs).


    And Here We Are (Columbus, Ohio + online): And Here We Are’s mission is “to make cards & prints & things that are beautiful but not precious, irreverent but not campy.” And they nail it. Take a look at some of their fun prints here.


    Wild Honey Salon (Cincinnati, Ohio)Wild Honey is a true gem. If you’re in the Cincinnati area, I’d highly recommend paying this salon a visit. Also, Melissa stocks her salon with R+Co products, so if that wasn’t enough to convince you…

    Ambushed Salon (Columbus, Ohio): Ambushed Salon is Ohio’s first exclusively curly hair salon. As stated on their website, “Every appointment begins with a personalized assessment based upon the 4 Pillars: our foundation to giving you the curls you’ve always wanted. The philosophy behind the 4 Pillars to Beautiful Curls was created and perfected through a collection of personal experiences and education by Amy Bush and passed down to our Curl Specialists though our Curl Immersion Program.” No more bad hair days! Book an appointment for that special someone today.


    4 Delicious Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season

    Tis’ the season for a lot of things — like mistletoe, holiday music, festive parties and of course, boozy cocktails. I do not — like, whatsoever –claim to be a mixologist, but I do love the occasional fancy schmancy cocktail as much as the next girl. Especially during this time of the year. Luckily for me (and you!), there’s ROOT 23, a Columbus, Ohio-based company that features a line of all-natural flavor infused simple syrups.

    The owners, Barb and Leah, state on their website,

    We are a couple of busy moms from Columbus, Ohio who value whole ingredients, real food and quality time with our family & friends. We developed a line of all-natural flavor infused simple syrups, with the emphasis on simple, so we can balance those things we value most. Our inventive flavor combinations lend themselves to crafting delicious drinks with just a couple additional ingredients.

    They were so sweet to send me their winter mix gift pack to try, and I can honestly tell you, each flavor is more delicious than the next. There’s Grapefruit Basil and Cherry Almond and Maple Cinnamon and Vanilla Ginger. It really is hard to pick a favorite, and the drink possibilities are endless. So whether you prefer Gin or Vodka, Bourbon or Whiskey, there’s a syrup that’s guaranteed to take your spirit of choice to the next level.

    Scroll below for cocktails to make this holiday season and prepare to wow all of your friends and family at your next party.

    If you like sparkling wine…

    Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle BlogSPARKLING GRAPEFRUIT BASIL


    I love drinks that are quick and easy, but still taste delicious. Sometimes you just want something that’s low maintenance, so you can get back to what really matters.

    Top 1 oz of Grapefruit Basil Syrup with Prosecco. Garnish with basil and enjoy! 

    If you like bourbon…

    Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog


    Combine the bourbon, vermouth, bitters and simple syrup in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir well until chilled. Strain into a glass and garnish with an orange peel and/or Luxardo Cherry. 

    If you like vodka…

    Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog


    Muddle berries & syrup in shaker. Add juice & spirit in shaker with ice, shake. Strain into Collins glass over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with blackberries & a lemon rosette.

    If you like rum…

    Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog


    Top 1 oz of Maple Cinnamon syrup with rum. Top with cider and enjoy! 

    Don’t drink alcohol? They’re great in mocktails!

    Many of the ROOT 23 flavors can also be mixed with:

    • Sparkling Water
    • Lemonade
    • Iced Tea
    • Coffee
    • Milk Shakes

    Cocktails to Make this Holiday Season | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    What are some of your favorite cocktails to enjoy during the holidays?


    The Insanely Affordable Solution for Wall Art

    If you know me, you know I have two black thumbs. I love plants, but they would rather die than love me back. That’s okay, though. I still have my art prints.

    When we moved into our place last May, I went into full on decorating mode. And if you’ve ever been in this mode, you know if can get expensive pretty quickly. I wanted to purchase some art, but everything I found cost an arm and a leg and then some. Given my budget, I knew I needed to find a solution that wouldn’t break the bank. And then I remembered engineer prints.

    If you’re not familiar with engineer prints (if you’re not an engineer or artist, you’re probably not), prepare to be amazed. Because not only are they super cheap (like, $1 cheap), but they’re also a great and easy way to supersize some of your favorite photos or prints. $5 Wall Art: Let's Talk about Engineer Prints | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Isn’t this one cute? I purchased the downloadable file for $5 from this Etsy shop and then printed an 18×24 size engineer print at my local Staples store for a whopping $1.79. All in all, the project cost me around $7 (okay, $17 if you include the frame). I know, right. CRAZY. On regular paper, the print alone would be around $20 or more.

    So, next time you’re looking for affordable art, remember engineer prints are the way to go. I love this little print, but because it wasn’t a huge investment, I know I won’t be sad if/when I change my mind down the road (because that will happen). $5 Wall Art: Let's Talk about Engineer Prints | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Thanks for reading! I hope you’re having a great week!


    Tips for Making Your New House Feel More Like Home

    A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit M/I Homes’ beautiful model home in the new Minerva Park community in Westerville. This house, guys. I could easily see why people would want to live in it. The interior was charming and inviting. I mean, as far as décor goes, Mary Cook and her team knocked this one out of the park. I made a few mental notes for the sake of this blog post.

    Because even though the house is brand spankin’ new, it felt like the kind of home that had been lived in for years. And I mean that in the very best way. There was character and personality, which is sometimes hard to visualize when you’re staring at four blank walls.

    It’s funny thinking back to the first night in our apartment. I remember staring at the ceiling, listening to all the strange new sounds. It definitely didn’t feel like “home.” And, how could it? It was this unfamiliar place I found on Craigslist. It wasn’t lived in just yet.

    If you’ve ever moved before, I’m sure you know the feeling. It can take awhile before a new space feels like home. Luckily, you can speed up the process with a few quick tips.

    Host a House Warming Party

    Invite friends and family over after you move in. Inviting those you love into a new space helps it feel more like you almost instantly. And, it gives you the excuse to create some fun memories in the process.

    Incorporate Personal Details

    You may not have time (or the funds) to tackle all of your projects right away, but incorporating personal details into your décor can help a space feel more like you. I absolutely loved how M/I Homes’ interior designer sprinkled personal touches throughout each room, especially the spare bedrooms. Each room had its own personality, while still maintaining a cohesive feel.

    Choose Your Paint Colors Wisely

    A neutral color is great for the family and dining rooms, while shades of blue are perfect for the bedroom. Color can affect your mood, so choose your paint colors wisely. This home incorporated shades of gray, blue and gold throughout for a look that was warm and welcoming.

    Meet Your Neighbors

    Take the time to introduce yourself to your neighbors. This helps to foster a sense of community, and as an added bonus, you could make some new friends. M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park will be home to 250 new houses, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get to know those around you.

    Have you moved recently? What are some of your tips for feeling more at home in a new space?

    Pricing for homes in the new Minerva Park community range from $212,900 – $249,900. To learn more about the community, click here. And to learn more about your home style, take this fun quiz!

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    Advice, Living, Real Life

    Helpful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

    Tips for first-time home buyers | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I currently rent my apartment, mainly because I love the flexibility of being able to pick up and move, and it’s reassuring to know someone will come fix the dishwasher, sink, or other scary appliance when it breaks (which has happened…more than once). But, even though renting is a great option for Fritz and I now, we realize we’re not making a real investment. You’ll hear people say renting is the equivalent of “throwing money away” each month, and it’s true. When I think about how much I spend each year on rent, it’s enough to make me cringe…

    Many of my friends are starting to buy houses, which has encouraged me to think seriously about making the investment in the next few years. If you own your home or are currently in the hunting process, you know that buying a house is a different story – a completely different story. The journey can be long, painful and frustrating, especially if it’s your first time buying real estate.

    Before I make any big decision or purchase, I like to do my research and ask around. I turned to the best, most experienced realtor I know (a.k.a., my lovely mom, Nancy), for her advice to those starting the home buying process. Read below for some of her top do’s and don’ts for a first-time home buyer (I’ll be referencing these tips soon enough).

    Tips for a first-time home buyer | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    The Do List

    Take the time to review your credit report

    A strong credit score and financial track record can help you more easily obtain a loan and at lower interest rates.

    Get pre-approved for a mortgage

    It’s important to understand the various options available and become comfortable with an estimated monthly payment for budgeting purposes.

    Think about your lifestyle today and in the near future

    Will your home offer enough space as your family grows? Remember, your first home will more than likely not be your last.

    Make a list of the features you would like in your new home and separate into “must haves” and “would love to have”

    Consider number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, private office, etc. This will help you make choices if you have to compromise to fit your budget.

    The Don’t List

    Don’t rush into a decision

    Take the time to review the homes that fit your criteria, but remember to keep an open mind. The best fit might not be your initial choice.

    Don’t be tempted to go over your budget

    Make sure to factor in the down payment you will need, closing costs, property taxes, and monthly expenses so you can make an informed decision. Also, you will want to set aside a budget for cosmetic changes in addition to saving for entertainment and vacations.

    Consult the professionals

    A mortgage loan officer can provide you with detailed information in order for you to understand various financing options to make an informed decision. An experienced real estate agent with years of market and negotiating experience can provide invaluable neighborhood expertise and provide you with one point of contact to view all properties of interest and negotiate the best deal possible.

    Be patient and do your homework

    If you plan and follow these helpful tips, you will know when you see the perfect home. And hopefully, you will enjoy the home buying process along the way.

    Have you recently bought a home or are currently going through the process? What are some tips you’ve learned along the way?

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    I recently visited a model home in M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park (Westerville area) and was so impressed with the layout and decor. The community will be home to 250 houses, and pricing ranges from $212,900 – $249,900 — perfect for first-time home buyers. To learn more about the new community, click here.

    Keep up with M/I Homes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


    Here to Disrupt LLC: The Group That’s Disrupting the Culinary Scene (In The Best Way)

    This past Sunday, I had the opportunity, along with eight other bloggers and social media influencers, to attend the most insane rooftop brunch of all time, co-hosted by Here to Disrupt and Kaufman Development. We gathered around a Pinterest-worthy table and enjoyed boozy drinks, sweet treats and savory dishes. It was an experience I will remember for a very long time. Seriously, I didn’t feel cool enough. I still don’t. But, I do have the photos to prove I was there, so maybe that will up my blog cred by a few points.

    If you haven’t heard of Here to Disrupt, I can guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot from them in the near future. They are a group of passionate, creative individuals who are changing the culinary scene in Columbus, one pop-up event at a time. The events are held at restaurants and nontraditional locations and venues, with the goal to showcase sous chefs from across Ohio. And let me tell you, these people are talented.

    Here to Disrupt 4This particular event celebrated the pastry, and as a girl who loves her sweets, I was fully on board. Dishes were prepared by pastry chefs, Aaron Clouse (pastry chef for LBRANDS/owner of Cakes by Aaron), Andrew Worth (owner of WORTH) and Amanda Erckert (owner of Tablspoon). The sweet treats ranged from a German berlinger filled with lingonberry jam, to sweet corn fritters and Greek loukoumades with toasted walnuts and honey. The savory menu option was a quiche stuffed with shitake mushrooms and emmental cheese, with a side of asparagus.

    And to top everything off, we had the opportunity to try a more savory dessert, Bloody Mary sorbet with orange sponge cake, vodka soda and grilled shrimp. The flavors were so unexpected, but worked so well together. The way I think about dessert forever changed the moment I took a bite of that salty and savory sorbet. It was UNREAL.

    HTDHere to Disrupt 2Derek Reno of The Reno Reserve kept the drinks coming. Because everyone knows a good brunch usually involves alcohol. Extra props to the bartender when your glasses look like this.

    DSC_1315Here to Disrupt 3 Here to Disrupt 6 Here to Disrupt 7

    Here to Disrupt 8

    I was so honored to be a part of this event. The food was sweet, and the company was sweeter. I can’t wait to see what these guys do next.

    Living, Real Life

    Apartment Tour (Before): One Month Down

    Fritz and I recently moved into our first apartment together and despite the slight learning curve for both of us (I’m messy, he’s not), it’s been an amazing month. We now have a legit adult apartment to call home. I mean, seriously. The place has a dishwasher, garbage disposal, air conditioning and a washer and dryer.

    My last one bedroom apartment was 100% mine, and while I loved that place and all of the life lessons living alone taught me, I didn’t always love scrubbing melted cheese off of plates by hand, or shoving my arm down the sink to fish out random pieces of food. Or calling the fire department at midnight because the wiring was so old the place literally almost burst into flames. And don’t even get me started on the creepy basement I had to do laundry in. I’m convinced it was at one time a crime scene.

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