Lately Around the Homestead…

In the kitchen lately..
Roasted Butternut Squash & Bacon Soup. So good guys. I no longer tilt my head in disapproval of squash.
I dug in and painted the kitchen cabinets. One coat of primer and two coats of paint on 30 kitchen doors and drawers + frames nearly did me in. But, the tedious work paid off and they turned out better than expected. We added some door hardware and are still looking for drawer pulls. We’d like to address the pantry yet, add a backsplash, some open shelving, and crown moulding to the upper cabinets. The biggest update has been the cabinets, so it’s a big old so-long yellow-orange oak in my book! I utilized a large wall in the kitchen for hanging some photography from our wedding and my trip to Italy. It felt good to step back and feel satisfied with that area of the kitchen. Plus, it’s interchangeable so I’ll never feel stuck in a rut with it. Cheers to that! And yes, the giant Oscar the Grouch trash can lives on!


The N banner is from a boutique in Gulf Shores, AL, the frames are a mixture of Ikea and Marshall’s finds, the dark wood frame is from 3 Weird Sisters, and the vintage wine crates are from our old house. They make a great home for my orchids.

In the dining and living room lately..

I’m still tweaking and decorating as we continue to figure out how we use each space. A month ago we hit up a warehouse in Cincinnati called Bargains & Buyouts for a couch and dining chairs. If you can make quick decisions on large pieces of furniture and are willing to bargain, go here. We bought a sectional and ten dining chairs in the first 15 minutes we were there. And then Danny shouted, “This is how it’s done, folks!” Touche. It was worth the adventure if that’s your thing.

Two years after the original dinner party in our last home, we’re looking forward to doing it again in April with the same gang + a couple more. Different house, different city, but the same sweet souls under one roof. Making memories together is what makes life the sweet adventure that it is.

The Mr. & Mrs. lately..
We’re happy, healthy and grateful. Life is full right now. On top of busy 8-5’s, Danny is a Buckeye getting his masters degree, and as time allows, I’m working on The Olivine. We had a chance to get away last weekend for a little trip down to Gulf Shores, Alabama to visit Danny’s parents. The warm weather and relaxation did us good.


In The Olivine Design Studio lately..
This has become something special. It seemed so far-fetched not too long ago, but I recently received my LLC paperwork from the State of Ohio. Family, friends and strangers have blown me away with encouragement, inquiries and most exciting of all.. business!


For my designer friends that love buying fabric, but are completely overwhelmed by the selection process, check out this incredible collection of options curated by Emily Henderson & Co.
A few other inspiring finds: Six Degrees CafeShedThe Gourmet Tea, Shell PavillionHandsome CyclesMidCenturyLabGateLV & KusamaMagazine 36Bon Appetit KitchenSun68
I found this short video on the perfect abandoned European home to be fascinating.
And lastly, help yourself out and move!
Have a great weekend everyone.


Choosing to Fight Sex Trafficking

“If you know where we are please bomb us… There is no life after this. I’m going to kill myself anyway – others have killed themselves this morning. I’ve been raped 30 times and it’s not even lunchtime. I can’t go to the toilet. Please bomb us,” he claimed the woman added. – Daily Mail Article

I read stories like this, and my stomach sinks. Sex trafficking is a very sick, real and incredibly hard issue to talk about, but it’s one that has been very heavy on my heart lately. Contrary to popular perception, it is happening everywhere, including in our own backyard of Columbus, Ohio. Across the globe, there are approximately 27 million modern day slaves, which is more than ever in the history of the world, source.

The following is a portion of an article titled, “There’s No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute.” “Across the United States, there are markets for sex with children that are not terribly dissimilar to ones in Cambodia, Thailand, and India. Girls are sold for sex in this country with the same disregard for human dignity as those other nations, and they are often tortured in the same ways when they try to escape. According to the FBI, there are currently an estimated 293,000 American children at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex. The majority of them are girls between the ages of 12 and 14. These are middle school girls who should be focused on history and math class and playing soccer with friends. Instead, they are abducted or lured by traffickers and, once in the commercial sex trade, they are routinely raped, beaten into submission, and sometimes even branded. Yes, they are literally branded like cattle, sometimes on their faces. If they build up the courage to try to run away, the traffickers torture or gang rape them. Often, they do both.”

I believe every life has extraordinary value. I refuse to turn my head and retreat to the comforts of my own warm, safe home while personal dignity continually is being stripped of women, men, and children both near and far.

There is hope. I’m very excited about a new partnership between The Olivine Design Studio and the incredible organization behind PUNJAMMIES™. The International Princess Project’s goal is to create pathways to freedom for women in India escaping sexual slavery through sustainable work. Sustainable work enables them to learn a new skill, and in turn keeps them from re-entering the vicious cycle of sex-trafficking. PUNJAMMIES™ are vibrant loungewear made by these women.

Partnership piece

With this new partnership, a portion of each purchase at The Olivine Design Studio will go directly to these women, their continued work, their children’s education, and their overall healing. Plain and simple, these women are makers, and so am I. Though we are worlds apart on a map, we both share God-created life and a passion for making. And what they make, is stunning. I’m inspired to help them continue to make, and be healed after such a traumatic experience. Shop the PUNJAMMIES™ collection and The Olivine, all while helping fight sex trafficking.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. I encourage you to get educated, raise awareness, take action, and pray for the rescue and recovery of these victims. Follow this link to check out more ways to get involved!

*Photography courtesy of The International Princess Project.

Lately around the Homestead.

Happy New Year, friends! I hope the holiday season left you feeling fulfilled and rejuvenated for another year ahead.

As an attempt to make homestead posts more steady, and not so heavily-worded, I’ll be changing up my writing style every once in a while. I am a to-do-list-maker at heart, but that method also works for less formal blogging. Content isn’t as drawn out as a renovation ‘how-to’ post can be, and more diverse content is always good. Here’s to seeing how that goes!

– We ventured to Wisconsin for Danny’s family Christmas and a Packer game. We stopped for a night at The Brewhouse Inn & Suites in Milwaukee. SUPER cool place guys. Home of the old Pabst Brewery, they’ve transformed it into a luxury hotel and authentic restaurant. Incredible architectural details and copper tops had me at hello. Ps. Their classic Wisconsin cheese curds are second to none.

– I don’t personally know these gals at All Together Now, but a piece of my heart will always be in Columbus, and they’re doing some pretty beautiful things.

– For my designer friends, here are eight free fonts inspired by the California coast.

– You won’t expect this coming from me, ‘a designer,’ but I decided that decorating a house to get it looking cohesive can be really stinking HARD sometimes. Ever feel totally stuck with the stuff you have, and wish you could just donate it all and start with a clean slate? I get it. But that’s expensive. I’m used to working on commercial spaces, and our last house was a piece of art without hanging a single piece of art on the wall. With so many big blank walls, this homestead is definitely more of a challenge for me. I’m learning that it’s an evolving process that takes time and energy to select the perfect piece. I also decided that Pinterest is ruining everyone with lofty ideals that work for magazines, but not real homes.

– We recently painted lots of walls, which is always a really refreshing feeling. The living room and kitchen has a fresh coat of light Wool Skein by Sherwin Williams. We went bold in the dining room with Black Fox. I am over the moon for this color.

– Santa delivered a very special dining room table. It is delightful and hearty, and so very meaningful to us. And something like 200 pounds. We’re on the search for eight dining chairs and possibly two upholstered chairs for the ends. For now it’s a random mix of ‘his, hers and ours’ chairs, which works in a charming sort of way for the time being. More to come on the dining room goodies in a future post.

– I’m happy to say there’s no more blue on our house, at least on the exterior. We painted 9 exterior doors, 4 light fixtures and a set of house numbers, all classic black. We also replaced the blue aluminum shutters with black raised panel shutters and it has made such a difference. We removed the hokey curtains from our front door windows and added this window film to diffuse light and keep the peepers away.

– We gave away two white rickety closet doors. One was on the pantry in our kitchen and the other was by the laundry room. They didn’t match and there was no door trim. We haven’t addressed those areas, but we’ll get there. We’re tossing around the idea of creating a mini bar in the pantry. Sounds like fun to me! Speaking of trim, we added it to the two main doorways in the dining room and living room. Those naked door jambs needed a swift kick in the pants anyways. Photos to come.. when this house is complete. HAHA there is no such thing.

– Lighting! Four new can lights in the living room, a new chandelier in the dining room, new general lighting for halls and entry areas, and a new light above the kitchen table.

– We’ve been eating a lot of this soup lately. Super easy and delicious during these cold temps. Thanks for the recipe, Mom.

– The Buckeyes are playing tomorrow night for the National Championship and we are more excited for a Monday than we have ever been! Get hyped! I’ve been inspired by botanical prints lately, so I designed a new cover image for the Olivine in honor of the game. I’ll leave you with some love from Buckeye great, Cie Grant.


Alright, that post wasn’t exactly short.. good try Jess, good try! Thanks for following and have a great week. Gooooo Buckeyes!

The Grocery Checklist

The holidays are almost here, and for most, that means stocking up on pantry staples, as well as snagging a few odd items like pumpkin pie spice and a bag of fresh cranberries. In an attempt to always make the most of my time, I’ve streamlined my grocery list-making process by downloading a helpful list by simplemom at The Art of Simple. I’m not a mom, but it seems I’m constantly grocery shopping for the ‘growing boy’ in the house.

photo 3

Whether the grocery store is in your back yard or 20 minutes away, I hope you find downloading this list helpful. Perhaps you have your own system of recording what goods you’re out of. With this list by simplemom, you could print and mark on a new printed sheet every time, but I’m on a kick to use up all of my random notebooks before I hit print. I slid mine in a sheet protector and keep it hanging on the side of the fridge. When it’s time for a big grocery trip, I pull out all of my future recipes and use this list as a cross referencing tool to compile my big list in a notebook.

For those of you shaking your head and saying ‘Jess, there’s an app for that!!’… I have tried that route and wasn’t a fan for two reasons. 1 – I hate to be that person ‘grocery shopping’ but really staring at her phone and causing bottle necks midway down the aisle. My cart and I will zoom past you and make you look up so fast. I inherited my Mother’s grocery shopping sprinting skills. And 2 – Physically crossing something off my list with a pen is totally gratifying. I did convert my whole life/work calendar to my ical a few years ago and am thrilled with that. But, please just love me and my grocery list – enjoy!

Ps. We have been working so hard on our house lately, and we’re loving it more than ever. The dining room, living room and kitchen have recently been painted (what a job!) and some new lights were added. We’re slowly piecing this place together to make it our own abode. Updates coming soon. Hey, there’s Aaron Rodgers Danny in our attic installing lights! What a trooper.

photo 4

“Flames fly due to big bodacious tissue-stuffed curtains.”


I know that headline exists in a newspaper somewhere. Guys, you can SEE the tissue wads up there in that before photo. I’m chuckling so hard right now because I’m not sure if that tissue-wadded thing looks more like my ruffled socks in first grade, or my big bangs in second grade. You know.. curl up, then down, brush ’em out, then spray them so a small bird could nestle in there and no one would know? These curtains fit the era they were installed in, but it’s time to GO. Homestead 1 had the nuttiest window treatments (much more custom and expensive, albeit none were pretty or compelling enough to just leave up as a conversation piece).


Natural light should pour through windows, not be hidden by heavy darkening things, so let’s talk about how we made that happen in the sweet guest bedroom. As I mentioned in the post about about the guest bathroom, guest rooms should feel like a retreat for folks when they’re staying. Consider light colors, minimal furniture, and comfy bedding. As a guest, nothing is more frustrating than not having space to drop your stuff and spread out a little. If something isn’t doing its job in the space, donate it or move it to a place where it will be used. Getting rid of excessive things can be a real game changer.


Tissue curtains aside, the most impactful update was a fresh coat of paint and new carpet. It was our first experience purchasing new carpet since the last house was full of hardwood (sniff, I miss those floors). The carpet doesn’t look too bad in the before photo, but it was definitely stained and something about used carpet turns me off. I’ll save my real feelings about carpet for another post, but we’re happy with what was installed. Since the room gets tons of morning sunlight, we installed white blinds and light linen curtains.

To the left of the bed, my old desk and refurbished antique chair (details on that here) is a place for guests to have a seat and drop their keys. When I lived in my old studio apartment, all of the windows were replaced and I dumpster-dove to snag an original one, which you see here. I would have taken all of them, but they are SO heavy. I added some chalkboard paint to the glass panes for writing some fun messages to guests. I don’t typically follow uber-trendy trends like painting things to look like a chalkboard, but here it seemed appropriate and fun to leave notes for guests.





Grandma’s old sewing desk serves as a night stand. One of their wedding photos hangs out on top, along with my orchid. The N was on our gift table at our wedding, and the lamp was a $7 find at the local Habitat shop. The L bracket it hangs from was uncovered in our old home’s backyard jungle. I went the anti-headboard route and hung this large canvas, painted with a favorite verse by yours truly.


To the right of the windows, I hung a full-length mirror and a hook for purses, bags, or a vintage umbrella.



As we go from room to room, we’re making a conscious effort to add ceiling fans (with lights) to all of the bedrooms as there were only small lights. I’m really loving this modern take on a ceiling fan by Harbor Breeze (link below). The plan is to add this same model to our master bedroom when we get there. I’m keeping all fans within the same style throughout the house, close to the ceiling fan Danny installed in my studio.


Last but not least, a detailed shot of our new carpet (link below). I chose a slightly textured, low-pile carpet. You’ll notice a faint paisley pattern. It’s ever so subtle, but so far it seems to detract from the normal ‘flattening’ that comes along with foot traffic.


White Comforter: Ralph Lauren | Lavender Topper: Vera Wang by Kohl’s | Green Pillows: Crate & Barrel | White Pillows: Nicole Miller for TJMaxx | White Pintuck Bedskirt: Mainstays for Walmart | 2″ Faux Wood White Blinds: | Tan Linen Curtains: TJMaxx | Mosaic Curtain Valence: Better Homes & Gardens for Walmart | Ceiling Fan: Harbor Breeze for Lowe’s | Paint: “Rice Grain” by Sherwin Williams | Carpet: Millenia Stainmaster for Lowe’s

That’s all for the guest bedroom! Can I tell you what I’m even more excited about? Two fixtures came down and it was reason for not one, but two cartwheels. You have no idea how good it feels to say goodbye to this amount of faux-brass. Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween everybody!


It’s tricky, tr-tr-tricky, tricky (tricky).

Ladies and gentleman.. One Trick Turtle drops tonight at midnight!
Danny and two friends have been working on the design and creation of this new app for a few months. It was submitted by the guys (aka Grinder Monkey Games), and was recently approved by Apple. Tonight it makes its big bad debut in the App Store, available for FREE at midnight tonight for Apple users.

I couldn’t say it better than the Grinder Monkey team, so here’s the app DL.
“One Trick Turtle is an elegant endless runner style game. Take control of a turtle and jump the gap between life and death for as long as you can. Unlock stunning new worlds as you jump your way to a new high score. Watch your stats rise while you and your friends compete for bragging rights. Will you ascend to the top or crash into the abyss? … Oh and watch out for those hidden portals!”

I’m so proud of these guys, and I can’t wait to see what happens tonight at the midnight hour! Download it tonight and whoever comments on this blog post with their highest One Trick Turtle score by Thursday, October 16th at 12PM gets their 2014 Christmas Season greeting cards custom designed for FREE by yours truly (The Olivine Design Studio)! *Printing and paper goods to be paid for by the winner. All design fees waived.*

Ready, set, GO!

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730 days and a wedding video later…

I sit here at the same table as I did about two years ago when we opened wedding gifts, and life is very, very different. A different homestead, a different town, and different jobs for both Danny and I have made the past 24 months a bit of a whirlwind. I couldn’t be more grateful for how far we’ve come.

Today marks our two year wedding anniversary and my heart still swells to think about that day. I recently cut out some time to edit the two and a half hours of the footage down to a four minute clip. I’m no pro at this and it’s certainly not one of those pro wedding videos that cost thousands of dollars to compile, but it captures some of the day’s highlights and most memorable pieces that stick out to us. What follows is a combination of photography by the talented Bobbie Debrito and videography by Steve Imwalle.

Happy one year, Nielsenhomestead 2!
Happy two years, Danny! I love you.
Follow this link and enter the password: Nielsen

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Imbue | Creative Tool

I went to college with Steve and Igor, and they’ve designed and created something pretty slick. While these guys were in the basement of good old Kinney Hall, we all knew they were made for a bright future full of big ideas and new products. Today, I’d like to show off their product called Imbue. Fellow designers, look alive.

Fumbling a giant T-square and drawing board + a bag full of other pointy awkward tools across campus was an arduous task (as if freshmen aren’t nervous enough to be walking across campus). Step aside, cumbersome drawing tools. Imbue is a new design staple that has replaced a multitude of classic tools, but in the form of one versatile tool to keep inside a Moleskin sketchbook, so it never gets misplaced. The phrase ‘where have you been all my life?’ couldn’t be more appropriate.







Steve and Igor were fully funded and supported after featuring Imbue on Kickstarter (watch their video here too), where they rounded up 1,240 backers and $48,671. They’re in the process of finishing up Imbue orders now, and will be releasing a 2.0 version in the near future. I’m super excited for you guys, and couldn’t be more proud of my fellow CCAD grads! Cheers to you guys, and I can’t wait to see where the 2.0 version takes you!



*All product photography, info-graphics and other designs were done by Stephen Hughett & Igor Zemskov. NielsenHomestead was not compensated for this blog post promoting Imbue. All opinions are solely my own and have been written strictly to support and promote a new product line. 

The Olivine Design Studio

the olivine_logo

I’d like to introduce something that’s been brewing for a few months (in my head and on paper), but it just recently became official and made it’s debut on the big bad internet as The Olivine Design Studio.

Many of you know that my passion lies in working with people to bring ideas to life in the form of dynamic design on multiple platforms – impactful environments and facades, hearty paper goods and creating an attractive online presence.

The Olivine Design Studio is the umbrella that holds all of those things that I do, aside from my regular (very busy!) 9-5 job. My experience in the professional design industry integrates branding, way-finding, graphics, packaging, and interior design through space planning and rendering. However, being creative isn’t just my 9-5 job. Being creative is a lens through which I see everything on a constant basis.

So, whether it’s for something as intimate as your wedding invitations, or as broad as your retail space, I’d love to help you bring your ideas to life in the form of a custom design. The new website is where you can check out some of my recent work and get in contact with me. Let’s collaborate and make something awesome. As Emily Henderson says, “Perfection is boring. Let’s get weird.”

I’ve been hesitant to hit the green light on this new adventure for many, many reasons.. but the mystery of where something could lead is one of the best parts of about going down a new path. T.Swift also told us this week that haters gonna hate, so shake it off.

In the way of the NielsenHomestead, although we’ve had a very busy summer, we’ve been able to cross quite a few items off our DIY list over the past month or two. Most notably, there’s no more blue on the exterior of the house. More to come on that very soon! Three four more things…

1. For all of you faithful observant blog followers, thank you for dealing with the blog’s style change every other post. After so many renditions, I think I’m finally happy with it – simple & clean + a focus on good photography. Woo! Danny is so proud to be on the main photo. He says HE is the reason people visit NielsenHomestead.
2. In off-beat news, I just finished up the last of the honey from the honeybee infestation we had at the first homestead. That was absolutely insane, but the honey was divine.
3. We are six sweet people away from 500 followers! If the spirit moves ya, pass this along and help us reach the big 5-0-0!
4. We’d like to send a special shout out to our newlywed friends Nicole & Josh! Congrats, you two!