the big two-one


It happened -- I'm FINALLY 21. I'm pretty sure my dad's the most excited since I can attend beer fests with him now. Tuesday, my friends surprised me with the kindest gifts, complete with an appropriate beer "cake" including an assortment of my favorite beer + liquor. What did I do on my actual birthday? Jules, Moll, + I went horseback riding. Who does that on their 21st? Me. I did grab my first official legal beer afterwards at Rock Bottom Brewery, but I'm glad I spent the day at the stable with my friends. Dinner was spent with friends + family at home. Nothing better than large pizzas + my favorite ice cream of all time: Private Selection's dark chocolate raspberry. I'm fully content with a low key birthday celebration, especially since the celebrating continued this past weekend in Nashville. Post to come...

Let's grab drinks.

see the world


I'm getting back into my creative zone.
I'm living in a constant state of inspiration + loving every minute of it.

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul."

flower crown


Some people aren't a fan of flower crowns. I find them charming, so today I made one.
Want to make your own? You'll need:
fake flowers
wire, sized to your head
a spool of jute
wire cutters, pliers, scissors
hot glue gun
optional: leaves/vines
1. Take your wire and wrap it around your head. Triple up + securely fasten the ends.
2. Take your jute and wrap it around the wire + knot.
3. Take your flowers and arrange them how you want them on your crown.
4. Hot glue your flowers + add leaves/vines to liking.

That's it! This project took about an hour and only cost me $4.99 since I had everything else on hand.



Left to right: Ronan, Rhys, Peter, Rhonnagh, Christine, Rory, Rachel, Baby Jack, Rhiannon, Rebecca, Ryan, + Rascal.

See this family? Meet the Gibson's. In 2007, we hosted an 11 year old girl named Rebecca through a program called Irish Children's Fund.
"The Irish Children's Fund (ICF), which began in 1982, has served over 3,500 Protestant and Catholic boys and girls from Belfast, who experienced the violence of Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant divide. Children stay with American families [during the summer months] every year... The ICF has an ongoing program in Belfast which brings the Protestant and Catholic children together weekly."
Through ICF, Rebecca was able to return and stay another summer with us in 2010. That was the last time I saw her. With the generous help of my Aunt Robin and her co-worker Jennifer, I was able to fly standby on British Airways and make it to Belfast to see Rebecca and meet her family for the first time.

June 19: Drove to O'Hare and patiently waited to see if I could make the 6:10pm flight to London. I was told I got the last seat. My dad ran into Scottie Pippen after dropping me off.

June 20: Landed in London at 7:50am. After jumping through all of Heathrow's hoops, I stopped at the bar and enjoyed a Guinness while I waited to see if I could make the 11:25am flight to Belfast -- I did. My phone wasn't working even after purchasing an international package (thanks AT&T) so both my parents and Rebecca's family had no idea if I had made my flight or not. I managed to pull out my laptop before taking off and let them know I was on my way. I landed in Belfast at 12:40pm and once again relied on using my laptop to let everyone know of my whereabouts. Rebecca and her dad picked me up at the airport and I didn't even recognize her at first -- she's grown up so much in the last 4 years. Being reunited was one of the single greatest feelings. After getting settled in, we visited Rachel at her apartment and I got to meet baby Jack. Later I was reunited with Eoin - another one I met through ICF. He drove Rebecca and I to the shop to get my money exchanged. The rest of this day was spent relaxing and hanging out with the family + later went to Ryan's friend Gary's where he showed me his growing collection of gorgeous drag dresses.

June 21: I slept in a bit due to jetlag. Rebecca and I spent most of the time with Rhiannon, Rhonnagh, and Rory before going to Nando's for dinner with her friends. We then headed over to Rebecca's cousin Caitlin's for her birthday -- male stripper included. We ended the night at a bar called The Shamrock and went back to Rebecca's friend JP's before calling a cab at 7am.

June 22: Rebecca and I hung out most of the day. We had Sunday dinner with the family before heading out to meet up with another former ICF kid, Sam, at Witherspoons. In true Irish spirit, Sam and his two friends had drinks waiting for Rebecca and I by the time we got there. We spent a couple of hours catching up, which was much needed after seven years. We ended up walking to a night club called Boombox to meet up with Ryan and Gary. We had an amazing time there -- how could you not with free shots at the door and €2.50 drinks? After dancing the night away, Rebecca and I went to her friend Niall's until we called a cab at 7am, again.

June 23: We spent the majority of the day spending time with the family. Two days of staying out all night called for an extremely lazy day. Eoin stopped by with his friends and we all just hung out a bit before having dinner with Rebecca's family. After dinner, me, Rebecca, Peter, Christine, Rhiannon, Rhonnagh, Rory, + Rebecca's friend Nicole went on a tour to show me Belfast. I saw the Belfast City Hall, where ironically the Queen visited the day after I left (bummer). We drove to the warehouse where the majority of Game of Thrones is filmed. We visited the dry dock where the Titanic was built (largest in the world) + saw original steel and cranes used to make it. Fun fact: No Catholics worked on the Titanic, only Protestants. The serial number on the Titanic was "39090N" which backwards spells "NO POPE." Peter drove us all over Belfast so he could further explain the troubles between Catholics and Protestants. I saw a slew of murals - many of them alarming and disturbing. They're all based on historical events in Belfast, including a wall featuring hundreds of Catholics who were innocently murdered by loyalists. I got to see the dividing wall between Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods as well as the MASSIVE wooden pallet tower built by Protestants. The thing is huge and is burned every 12th of July, along with the Irish flag and sometimes even a dummy of the Pope. They're called "the bonfires" and there's more than one. Peter told me many disturbing stories of his experiences and the facts behind the murals I saw. The problems in Belfast are two sided and they continue to struggle for a united Northern Ireland.

That night Eoin and his friends Poddy + Nathan picked up Rebecca and I and we got Sam. We drove to Cavehill and walked about 20 minutes up the trail to overlook Belfast. It was the perfect and most bittersweet way to say goodbye to my friends.

June 24: Rebecca and I didn't get home until about 2am. We left at 4am for the airport so I never got a chance to sleep before my journey home. I was trying to make a 6:35am flight, and didn't get a seat until about 6:15am. Rebecca sat with me the entire time I waited and our goodbye was short and emotional. After running through security and to my gate, I heard "LAST CALL FOR JILLIAN NACHEL" announced in the terminal. I was the very last seat in the corner of the plane. I didn't sleep before arriving in London and thought I was going to have time to relax at my gate. I was so, so wrong. I landed in London at 7:55am and was trying to make an 11:50am flight. I followed the flight connections all the way to British Airways where they turned me away because they were too busy and told me to go check in where BA Staff checks in - at the other end of the airport. Everyone I talked to was giving me different directions and I was wandering aimlessly around Heathrow for a gross amount of time before finding a BA employee who gave me proper instructions and even wrote it down for me. Thankful. Finally got myself checked in and sat in a little room with BA staff where we all stared at screens to see if we were approved for our flights. I was eventually approved, got my boarding card, took the tram to my gate and had about 15 minutes to spare -- which I spent treating myself to Starbucks. The second I got in my seat my eyes were DONE. I fell asleep for about 3-4 hours... after being awake for about 30 hours. Yea, never doing that again. Customs at O'Hare was a nightmare, especially for a particularly cranky Jill. Our flight was delayed and my parents waited patiently for me in the airport. But they ran into Steve Harvey, so that's a plus. Seeing them on the other end was such a relief because I felt the stress from the day lifted from my shoulders.

It was an amazing trip, but it was terribly short. The Gibson's are a lovely family and I'm so grateful I finally got to meet them. Rebecca and I mail each other every day trying to plan the next time we can see each other. I miss my second family already. I'll be back, Ireland

Proudly designed by | mlekoshiPlayground |