Nadine Jolie Courtney Beauty, Travel, Royalty Mon, 15 Dec 2014 23:54:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BeautyMama’s Hair Rules for Moms Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:18 +0000 Contributor Michele Brown of BeautyMama writes:

I don’t want to be dramatic, but motherhood is a doozy on your body and your beauty. Not a permanent doozy, mind you. Generally, what goes up goes back down (your belly), what expands eventually retracts (hips, belly buttons), what surfaces (zits, rashes) usually resolves—and months of strange cravings and unwieldy emotions usually lead to that one indelible moment (holding your new baby) that (almost) cancels out all that un-fun stuff.

Also, by the end, you have a full, lustrous head of hair.

There are many theories why pregnant women grow wondrous manes. Hormones. Prenatal vitamins. No one really knows for sure. The important thing to realize is that full head of hair is fleeting. A few weeks after giving birth you start to shed. Like, hundreds upon hundreds of strands a day. Your shower drain will clog. Your brush will look like Cousin It. While it will be a little scary, it will stop. I promise. And over the course of the year, you will grow baby bangs (remember Katie Holmes’ wedding photos?) and have an undergrowth of short fuzzy hair around your entire head.

In time, it will all settle…around the exact same time your baby turns into a toddler you can’t take your eyes off of because she has started climbing the furniture and you caught her thisclose to actually hanging from the chandelier. Or maybe that’s just me. More likely, your little one has dropped his morning nap and you’re wearing a ponytail every day because you either:

A: don’t have time to shower and wash your hair


B: you just can’t.

Hair. It’s complicated. If you’re reading this and you have children under the age of three, I feel for you. There is no harder time as a mom to look good. But it can be done. With two kids under my belt and a lot of trial and error, I’ve put together some guidelines that I hope might empower you to break out of that bun.

Here are my Five Hair Rules for Moms

1: Buy Investment Pieces
Consider your money well spent on good shampoos. Luxe hair masks. Quality hot tools. A great colorist. A top-notch stylist. Keeping your hair well-maintained goes a long way to keeping your hair looking good every day.

2: You Don’t Need to Have Clean Hair
I’m a firm believer in washing hair as infrequently as possible. Your color will stay fresher. Your hair will be healthier. You’ll have more time everyday. Embrace dry shampoos. Buy a fabulous shower cap. I always get the most compliments on my hair when it’s “dirty.” Which leads us to my next rule.

3: The Thanksgiving Approach to Hair
You know how we start with turkey but might end up with turkey hash three days later? I am a firm believer in reinventing your hairstyle after an initial washing for as many days as possible. As hair gets more texture, change the style. Maybe on day two, you add a few waves with a wand. Or go half up. Then maybe on day three wear a top-knot with a skinny headband. You get the idea.

4: Adopt a Hair Schedule
To the best of your ability, schedule your hair the way you schedule your kids’ activities. I find this takes a lot of stress out of the week. I plan my sweaty workouts and hair-washing days in advance as best as I can. I know moms who wash and dry their hair at night after the kids go to bed. I know moms who get one great blowout each week and make it last. I know moms who sleep in foam rollers. Whatever the plan is, I think it’s useful to try to get a brush up on your hair schedule.

5: Don’t Experiment
Wait until your hair has shed and grown back in and your baby is on a more predictable schedule before you cut bangs for the first time since elementary school. Or dye your black hair blonde. It could be postpartum hormones toying with your sense of self. Maintaining a new hairstyle or color, even one you like, usually takes time and practice–two things you might not have in excess at the moment. Let’s not even discuss what happens if you’re not happy with your new look.

Do you have a postpartum hair story? Please share in the comments!

Read more from Michele at BeautyMama!

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Princess Charlene of Monaco gives birth to twins, and Will ‘n Kate take New York Thu, 11 Dec 2014 00:56:18 +0000  

Princess Charlene of Monaco has given birth and the gossip was correct: she had twins! What’s fun is that she had a girl and a boy (little Princess Gabriella Thérèse Marie and little Prince Jacques Honoré Rainier)…and the girl was born first. Hooray!

What’s not so fun is, because Monaco still has arcane laws favoring boys on the books, Jacques will be the heir, even though his sister was born two minutes prior. Jacques receives the title Marquis of Baux.

Lame, Monaco. Very lame.

Prince Albert Princess Charlene Princess Grace

Meanwhile, in other royal news, you couldn’t have missed the fact that William and Kate visited New York this week. I went to bed crazy early last night, and so missed the opportunity to live stalk their St. Andrews gala appearance at the Met, but I woke this morning to some great photos:

St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner - Arrivals

Kate’s pretty blue gown was by Jenny Packham. I didn’t realize until perusing that it’s her third time wearing it. Sheesh. What a crap royal watcher I am!

St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner - Inside

Here’s a peek at the back of Kate’s dress, plus her elegant chignon. Personally, I always prefer her hair down: it’s a better look on her, methinks. Still, it’s nice to see her mixing it up. (And we have a Princess Eugenie sighting, too!)

Prince William and Kate Middleton meet Beyonce and Jay Z

Two nights ago, William and Kate took in a Brooklyn Nets game, where they met Beyonce and Jay-Z. I’m not the world’s biggest Beyonce fan (I don’t dislike her, I just don’t get the adulation and fawning), so all the “ZOMG American royalty meets British royalty!” headlines left me a little grumpy.

William and Kate meet Lebron

What did make me laugh were all the other headlines freaking out when LeBron James met Kate and put his arm around her. Was it a breach of royal protocol? Technically, sure. But I think the monarchy will survive. (Now putting your arm around The Queen…ooohboy! That’s another story. I’m looking at you, Michelle Obama!)

Kate pink coat New York City

William and Kate’s visit was too short, but quite excellent. Here’s hoping they visit again in another couple of years, next time with Prince George and the new baby in tow!

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Big Day, Big Deal! (Or, How It Took Me Nearly 6 Years to Get Another Book Contract) Mon, 08 Dec 2014 21:25:07 +0000 I signed my book contract today: I’m officially a member of the HarperCollins family again!

It’s funny how dreams rarely manifest the way you initially envisioned them. After publishing my second book Confessions of a Beauty Addict in 2009, I spent YEARS working on a few different manuscripts. My first stab was a book called The Glossy Posse (which later evolved into a work called Clementine and Olivia), about two half-sisters (one in Palm Beach, one in London) who meet for the first time after their wealthy English father dies. Since I was fresh off the polo circuit, naturally it featured lots of horses, Hooray Harrys for days, a fair share of entitled billionaires, stately homes that make the one on Downton Abbey look small, and alcoholics aplenty. (I was going through a big Jilly Cooper phase.)

I submitted that book to my then agent, who first seemed to love it, and then quite unexpectedly dropped me. Sayonara! No mas. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass.

My mother had only died a few months prior, and the one-two punch was devastating. Getting fired by my agent crushed me; I completely lost confidence in my writing. I was about to turn 30, and acted out in all sorts of cliched ways.

Those were dark days.

Kate Middleton in NYC

I don’t remember why I stopped working on C&O, but though I was still in a British state of mind, after nearly three years of writing and rewriting, editing and re-editing, the project lost steam for me. My energies turned away from polo and toward the royals instead. Next up: a book called The Future Queen, getting inside the mind of a fictionalized version of Kate Middleton. (Think The Paris Wife or American Wife.) I worked on that book for a good three years–but like C&O, I was never happy with it. It was good, but it wasn’t great.

When my Jolie in NYC debacle happened back in 2005, agents were beating down my door. I basically tripped and landed on a two-book-deal with HarperCollins at the absurd age of 25. Dripping with the arrogance of youth, I had a very entitled, manifest destiny attitude: “Oh, sorry, you’re saying getting a book deal is hard?” I was way too young to appreciate it.

So began Operation Find a New Literary Agent. I submitted to this agent: pass. I submitted to that agent: radio silence. I had a dry-erase board in my bedroom solely devoted to getting a new agent: names, dates, updates, crossed-out failures, hopeful possibilities. I’d go on walks, read my monthly horoscope, toss and turn at night, write in my journal. Every wish was the same: please let me find an agent who gets me!

Simultaneously, I signed up for an online Mediabistro course with a super respected, well-known agent, and at the end of the sessions, I took the liberty of emailing her my latest draft. She replied that she saw potential, and voila: I had representation again. It wasn’t monumental; there were no bells and whistles; it happened quickly and quietly. I had to remind myself after the fact: You achieved your goal! This is what it looks like!

I’ve had a similar experience with this book deal. After taking my agent’s advice earlier this year and partnering with a media rights agent, I pivoted and started fresh. What if we took a look at the commoner-dating-a-Prince fairy tale…but from Pippa’s point of view?

William and Kate in NYC

Even though I was obsessed with The Future Queen and lived and breathed that story for years, Wisteria (as we dubbed it, although it will likely be published under a different name) flowed from my fingertips. I initially worried that I would mourn the loss of TFQ, but I couldn’t hold Wisteria back: it was too damn fun to write. The story evolved naturally as I dreamed up characters and scenarios, took liberties aplenty (it’s not the Kate and Pippa story, but a fantasy “what if?” version very loosely inspired by them) and generally put every ounce of energy I had into writing the proposal and sample chapters.

This summer, we pitched at all the big publishing houses, and twenty editors requested to read it. (Um, that’s huge.) But a month later, everybody had passed. The feedback was universal: love the story, love the writing, love Nadine…but it’s not “young adult” enough. Good luck! We’re sure you’ll find success elsewhere!

Once again, I was crushed.

However! A couple of editors expressed interest in re-reading it if I could, indeed, make some tweaks to fit it solely in the “young adult” category. One editor in particular “got it”, and she became our target. I rewrote the entire submission from scratch (literally did a page one rewrite with a blank word document) just on the off chance that she might like the new, slightly younger direction and voice.

It took me two months to rewrite and then we resubmitted. The editor replied within two days saying she loved it, was getting approval from higher-ups, and was rushing before the acquisitions board…and four days later, I had an offer.

Six years of writing, rewriting, false starts, trashed ideas, tears, hand-wringing, and bargaining with the universe…and suddenly with a short email nestled in my inbox on a Friday morning, I had another book deal.

I’ve experienced this time and again: life can change on a dime. Whether it’s good or bad, it rarely goes down the way you imagined it.

I’ve picked up the phone and: horrible news that somebody I love has died. I’ve glanced casually at my email and: there’s a partnership offer, a press trip invite, a financial blessing, a random message on OKCupid from a cute blond dude with the screenname FunNerd who–whatdya know?–is my soulmate. There’s a voicemail from a social media client: they’re out of money and, sorry, I’m now fired. Or, as was the case for me last August, I was barefoot in the kitchen rolling meatballs when my wedding planner phoned, making an introduction that would change my life forever.

Kate Middleton Chirlane McCray NYC

This is all very long-winded and roundabout. I unexpectedly had extra time this morning and thought, “I must commemorate this on the blog,” so I’ve been dashing off this post as quickly as possible–no time for painstaking editing and clever thought organization! (I’d planned on stealing five minutes today to write about William and Kate in New York City–but this took precedence.)

Kate Middleton Harlem NYC

Prince William and Barack Obama DC

Point is: you never know what life will throw at you. But when the good happens: for the love of God, celebrate it!

(By the way, I recently picked up Clementine and Olivia to give it a spin, and it’s actually pretty damn good. Someday, I’ll finish it and will try to publish it again. It’s 10% literary, 90% soapy beach read–just the way I like it…and I think you will, too.)

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Ramble: It’s December already?! Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:00:02 +0000 Courtney tree

It’s Christmas already in the Courtney household! Normally, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (THE favorite holiday?), but this year everything was too hectic and busy for me to cook. We ordered a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner from Whole Foods, which I highly recommend. Erik and I popped everything in the oven and it was ready to go 30 minutes later!

I haven’t been getting much–if any–sleep recently, for a variety of reasons. One of them is my stress over having literally zero time to keep up the blog. My best friend D. came down from Portland to visit and help out last week, and she asked me, “Do you think your readers will understand when you can finally explain to them what’s been going on?” That’s one of my big fears: I’ve always been so honest here, and I am literally contractually forbidden from talking about certain personal details for the next few weeks (next few months? Not having a timeline is driving me crazy!)

NJC Christmas tree

I’m getting a bit bolder about dropping hints and talking about the NOT being able to talk about it. If you read between the lines and put together the clues I’ve been dropping the past year, give or take, you might be able to piece it together. Needless to say, life has recently changed beyond measure. I’ve been documenting it (both on video and in my journal) behind the scenes, so once I have the okay (and time becomes more of my friend!), I’m going to catch you all up in a big way. We have a lot of ground to cover!

Today is Erik’s birthday, then this month also sees the birthdays of my dad and brother, as well as (of course) Christmas and New Year’s Eve! I love that Erik is as much of a Christmas/holidays dork as I am. He was up late last night decorating the tree, and putting up Christmas decorations everywhere. I’m nervous about finding the time to start writing Wisteria again (we sold it on a partial manuscript, which is rare for a fiction book – normally, you finish the manuscript, then sell it!), but on a phone call with my manager last week, she gave me a pep talk and permission to, basically, take the month of December off. Her advice was to spend time with the family until January, and then, when life has hopefully normalized a bit, hit the ground running with blog, with book, and everything else.

Christmas at the Courtneys

Courtney stockings

Nadine Jolie Courtney and Erik Courtney

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

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Bio Oil for Stretch Marks and Dry Winter Skin Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:00:13 +0000 Suffering stretch marks? You might try Bio-Oil, an oil I’ve been using the past several months and am absolutely in love with.

Now, first off, I must confess: I’ve never had stretch marks. And if we’re being totally honest here, stretch marks are one of those things that are mostly hereditary–so if you’re destined to get them, there’s not very much you can do to totally keep away the beast.

However! I’m a big fan of the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” route, and while you might not be able to prevent stretch marks entirely, it does seem like you can treat them and help keep them at bay a bit. And that’s where Bio-Oil comes in.

Bio Oil for stretch marks during pregnancy

Designed for stretch marks, scars, and uneven skin tone, Bio-Oil is a drugstore product that is designed to be applied twice daily. It contains “Pur-Cellin Oil” which is essentially oil extracted from ducks. (While researching online I’ve seen reports that duck oil is quite expensive and so the concentration of this is realistically likely to be low, however.)

Bio-Oil also contains vitamin-A in the form of Retinyl Palmitate, which is likely the main ingredient that helps fade the marks over time. (And if you’re pregnant and truly going the “better safe than sorry” route, be aware that some doctors avoid vitamin-A usage at all during pregnancy; although many others say it’s just fine–caveat, caveat, caveat–and in these doses, I agree with them.) To see results, it seems that about 4 months is the magic number. If you’re simply using it as a hydrating oil, however, you’ll of course see results instantly.

What I loved about Bio-Oil is how light yet hydrating it is. It seeps into skin quickly (although, fair warning, you are applying oil to your skin, so don’t expect it to disappear in .5 seconds; more like 2 minutes) and leaves skin hydrated and moisturized for several hours. Plus, it has a great smell: it’s hard to describe it, but it’s sweet and light and faintly candy-ish. I always enjoy slathering it on after my morning showers and feel like I’m emanating warmth from my skin after.

Have you tried Bio-Oil and seen improvement on your stretch marks? Inquiring minds want to know!


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Eau Thermale Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:12 +0000 Eau Thermale Avene

My skin has never been very dry (scratch that: at times, it’s been so oily as to resemble a BP spill) but the older I get, the more finicky it becomes. The past couple of years–and especially this year as I’m approaching the big 3-5–I’ve had to upend my trusty favorites and seek out new products that provide extra moisture…but which don’t break me out, of course. Finding this combo is not easy. However! Eau Thermale Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum is a promising new contender.

It’s a new light-as-air serum (they call it a “fluid aqua-gel serum”) that uses two active delivery systems to seal in microspheres of Avene Thermal Spring Water (which is supposed to be anti-inflammatory) deep in the skin. The result: extra hydration both on the surface of the skin and within for up to 24 hours.

Eau Thermale Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum

Now the marketing spiel: It’s oil-free, paraben-free, designed to be used both day and night, and safe for even super gentle and acne-prone skin. Personally, I’ve been testing it out off and on again for months and haven’t seen any breakouts. As for wrinkles, however, it doesn’t seem to do very much. Methinks it’s time to return to the dermatologist for a low-dose Retinol prescription. I will not go gentle into that good (aging) night!

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Fresh Blonde (and it’s my wedding anniversary!) Sun, 23 Nov 2014 12:00:45 +0000 Nadine Jolie Courtney hair Paul Jean

Fresh blonde: is there anything better?

These past few years, my hair has steadily been going gray at the roots. I’m starting to make peace with the fact that I’m no spring chicken, but it is still rather alarming to see deeper lines, little red spots that don’t go away even with the best serums, and, yes, all the gray. So. Much. Gray.

My savior has been Paul Jean at Paul Jean Salon in Beverly Hills. I’ve seen him for years for cuts, but he’s only been my trusty, I-won’t-see-anybody-else colorist for the past two years. Paul Jean’s color genius is in his balayage: his artful painting of highlights and lowlights designed to look more natural than old school foils. (When I see old photos of myself with my formerly white blonde hair, I’m shocked by how brassy it was.) The color grows out so well that I only return to the hair salon every few months: a big deal for a blonde who used to live from color appointment to color appointment.

Despite having next to no free time recently (putting up new Instagram posts was taxing!), today is my one year wedding anniversary with Erik, and I wanted to look fresh and feel my best for the occasion–so heading to see Paul Jean was a no brainer.

Tonight, Erik and I are going to dinner, toasting to the past year and having made it past the newlyweds phase, and marveling at how much our lives have changed. Here’s to year two!


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Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Collection Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:00:57 +0000  

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Collection

I’m always on the lookout for amazing drugstore intensive conditioners. When you color, straighten, curl and blow-dry your dry hair into oblivion, you need to help rehabilitate it back to life! Problem is, so many of the best intensive conditioners are treatments are just so damn expensive, and I hate only recommending products that break the bank.

Enter Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Collection.

I remember using this stuff when I was younger and loving it. Aussie has recently re-released the line as a new collection with expanded offerings: there’s 3 Minute Miracle Moist, 3 Minute Miracle Shine, 3 Minute Miracle Color, 3 Minute Miracle Strong, and 3 Minute Miracle Smooth.

As always, the products smell great, work quickly (3 minutes, duh), and provide excellent results. They’re well-worth considering if you’re looking for a little oomph–for cheap–in your hair routine.

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Pevonia Enzymo-Spherides Peeling Cream Mask Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:00:02 +0000 Pevonia Enzymo Spherides Peeling Cream

Ask any dermatologist or aesthetician what you should be doing for your skin (but probably aren’t) and they’ll likely give you the same response: exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.

Not only does proper exfoliation help keep your skin clear and acne-free, but it also renews cells and stimulates collagen production, revealing the pretty, smooth, baby-soft skin underneath.

I’m a big fan of chemical exfoliants, since I find that manual exfoliators are often too aggressive for my sensitive, rosacea-adjacent skin.

My go-to exfoliant? Pevonia Enzymo-Spherides Peeling Cream. It’s a creamy, delicious-smelling mask featuring pineapple and papaya enzymes, and works in as few as 5 minutes (although I like leaving it on for about 15 or 20). In an ideal world, I’d slather it on once a week, but in reality, I only find the time about once a month.

Regardless, whenever I use it, the results are instant: soft, smooth skin with zero irritation. I’m addicted, and if you try it out, I have a feeling you will be, too.

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Kiehl’s Original Musk Blend No. 1 Bath & Shower Gel Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:00:11 +0000 Kiehls Original Musk No 1 Bath and Shower Gel

If you like musky, sexy scents, it’s hard to imagine a better find than Kiehl’s Original Musk Blend No. 1 Bath & Shower Gel Liquid Body Cleanser. It’s oriental, woodsy, and warm, striking the perfect balance between exotic and comforting. (I picture Talitha Getty in 1970s Marrakesh bathing in it before throwing on a jeweled caftan and setting off for a Moroccan souk rich with spices every color of the rainbow.)

It’s the kind of bath and shower gel that clings to your skin hours after you put it on–and, even better, it’s unisex. I’m constantly grabbing E. by the shirt collar and inhaling whiff after delicious whiff.

I’m telling you: liquid gold.

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Review: Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:00:22 +0000 If you read enough sunscreen articles, you’ll come across the same advice over and over: reapply SPF every two hours for maximum benefits.

Seriously? Who does this? It’s completely impractical!

There you are, in middle of the day, living your life with a face full of makeup. Come 11 am (and 1 pm, and 3 pm, and 5 pm…) are you supposed to schlep off to the bathroom with a giant bag of makeup, face cleanser, SPF, and moisturizer to wash, moisturize, reapply sunscreen and then do your makeup all over again? Please.

My lazy beauty solution: Jane Iredale Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen. It gives broad-spectrum UVA and UVB SPF 30 protection but is designed to be buffed on as a powder. It’s totally Translucent and you can use it for either face and body.

Side note: for those people who are worried about sunscreen toxicity, all of Jane Iredale’s offerings are apparently free of toxic particles and undergo extensive toxicology testing, plus the Powder-Me SPF itself doesn’t use nanoparticles, so you won’t be inhaling the sunscreen as you buff it on.

I don’t use it everyday, especially not on days when I’m in the liquid foundation/tinted moisturizer + beautyblender mood. (You totally could. I just don’t.) However, on my bareMinerals days–or even better, when I am feeling COMPLETELY useless and can’t even be bothered to apply regular sunscreen–it’s a great solution. If you find the Translucent version entirely too Caspar the Friendly Ghost, by the way, Powder-Me SPF Dry Sunscreen also comes in two tinted versions: Golden and Tanned.

Lazy beauty hacks, for the win.

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Confession: I am a Prince Harry stalker! (No, not really…) Mon, 03 Nov 2014 11:00:52 +0000 From the 2011 archives, in case you missed it…

File this under: totally embarrassing.

When I was in London back in April, I spent my first few nights staying with my friend Jerramy Fine, author of Someday My Prince Will Come and the upcoming book Bright Young Royals. I was there writing articles about Kate Middleton’s imminent wedding and Jerramy was prepping to launch her Princess Prep camp, so like any good royal obsessives, we spent several hours deep-diving on all things Windsor.

Jerramy had been invited to take part in a Grazia magazine article on “Harry Hunters”: American women who come to England to stalk Prince Harry in the hopes of becoming the next Kate Middleton. She was fairly horrified by the idea, but me being, well, me, I thought it was hilarious and wanted to take part. Grazia is sort of the UK equivalent of People magazine but with more fashion and beauty–a nice mention for a budding royalty writer. After my press debacle several years ago, I’ve developed a thicker skin: any press is good press, as long as they spell your name correctly, right? (Oh! Silly Jolie! Have you learned nothing?)

Hey, at least I got the cover! (See the top headline: Out on the town with the (Prince) Harry Hunters)

For an article I was writing for Daily Front Row called “Kate Middleton’s Great Britain”, I was supposed to hit up Kate’s hot spots, including Boujis and Mahiki, so when I found out that the Harry Hunters would be going to both, plus Whisky Mist, plus free drinks all night, plus a fun photoshoot–well! No brainer! I thought it was a genius idea: I’d get a chunk of my club research done, would be guaranteed entrance to Boujis (which is still pretty tough to get into) and would be able to write a hopefully hilarious blog post after the fact telling you guys all about the Harry Hunters and what a silly night it was.

Cut to me arriving at the hotel for the photo shoot, where I discover that it’s myself, another (very, very young) American girl, and the Grazia reporter. So…suddenly I am 50% of this so-called Harry Hunters phenomenon, and the crackerjack reporter is there to sniff out my Harry mania…which doesn’t exist. Crap. (Now were this a “Kate Middleton Hunters,” it’d be a totally different situations, obvs.)

I will summarize the highlights of the night for you:

Clearly, the moral of the story is: I have a weird sense of humor.

We arrive at Mahiki. I’m a little jetlagged, as I arrived in England only the previous day, but this is surely going to be worth any sleepiness tomorrow. Velvet ropes unclick! Doors open! A horrifyingly expensive–and amazingly delicious–Treasure Chest is placed before us. Hurrah!

Grazia writer: So, we’re going to be here at Mahiki for just a few minutes, then hit up Whisky Mist, then go to Boujis. As you know, Prince Harry isn’t even in town: he’s in the Arctic on a trek right now. But our readers don’t have to know that. We’ll just pretend we’re looking for him!

We the “Harry Hunters”: That’s nice. More drinks, please!

Grazia writer: (telling us about her boy drama and distaste for “toffs”)

Me: (talking about how I’m not really a Harry Hunter)

The other “Harry Hunter”: (talking about she thought it would be fun to be in a magazine while doing her study abroad–Harry’s fine, but she actually prefers William)

The photographer snaps picture after picture, then whisks us to the next venue, Whisky Mist. It’s not yet open. We wait outside for half an hour. The clipboard girl sniffs at us repeatedly. Once inside, it’s empty and all the staff is surly. It ends up being the worst club I’ve ever been to in my entire life.

Me (jetlagged, becoming annoyed, headache growing): So, how long are we going to be here?

Grazia writer: Long enough to take a photo or five. Soooo, when did you first become obsessed with Prince Harry?

Me: Um. As I already said…I’m not actually obsessed with Prince Harry. I thought it would be fun to do this for a laugh. (I reach into my purse, pull out Flat Kate, begin to regret my choices in life.)

The photographer takes another seemingly endless round of photos before we’re finally free to leave. They herd us into a cab to Boujis, where we’re ushered inside like VIPs–success!–and given a private table.

Grazia writer, to me: This is great! So posh! Soooo, how often do you go to clubs looking for Prince Harry?

Me (wanting to stab myself in the eye): Liiiiike I said, I’m not really a Harry Hunter.

I take a Crackbaby shot, give the reporter and the other American hugs, and hop in a $7000 cab back to Jerramy’s house.

It’s my 2nd night in England, and I’m in bed by midnight.

How fun! How silly!

How did it all go so wrong?!

The article came out a few days later, and it made me look like such a lame asshole (see video below) that, obviously, I never blogged about it, let alone told many people.

But now! I am revealing my sordid past to you. Consider this my coming out press conference and judge not, kind friends. Who among us hasn’t been profiled in an English magazine pretending to be in love with a member of the royal family? It could happen to anyone, really.


The shame.

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Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Capri: Why Must You Be Limited-Edition? Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:00:43 +0000  

The fragrance industry is notorious for churning out limited-edition juices based on their bestselling perfumes as a safe way to turn product. (I railed on the trend years ago in a post called Fragrance Makers of the World, Stop Being So Damn Lazy.)

Most of the time, the offshoots are forgettable and fleeting: in stores for about three months, splashed on the page of every magazine for a hot minute, and then consigned to the dusty annals of beauty history. But every once in a while a perfume squeaks through that really gets my attention, tantalizes my nose, and makes me fall in love.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Capri is one of those exceptions.

It was released in 2012 as an offshoot of the insanely popular Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess (which is both a perfume and a line of makeup and bronzing products), and as far as I know, it was mostly ignored. I fell in love immediately, however, placing it at the front of my perfume cabinet, and reaching for it on the regular every summer thereafter, or even later in the year when I wanted a romantic, sexy, come-a-little-closer pick-me-up.

The fact that I’m still reaching for a fragrance that is more than two years old goes to show how much I love this damn stuff. It sparkles: top notes of lemon, black currant and mandarin, an amber wood, vanilla, musk and patchouli base.

For once, now that I’m reaching the very last drops, I’m bemoaning the fact that an offshoot fragrance is only limited-edition. It was fun while it lasted! Are there any limited-edition fragrances that you’ve been hoarding, waiting for the sad day when they’re gone forever?

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New Beginnings Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:00:20 +0000  

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about new beginnings. So much has happened in my life in the past 12 months–hell, the past 12 days!–that I haven’t been able to publicly talk about. For many people, this might not be the worst thing in the world, but for a chronic over-sharer like me, it’s torture. Being unable to share–not just trumpet the good, but also work through the bad–feels like being gagged. There’s a flip side, however: it forces me to dig deep, evaluate things privately, talk Erik’s ear off, and work through things offline–you know, in the real world, not just the digital one.

Luckily, there is ONE thing I can finally share with you guys: I sold my 3rd book! Here’s the Publishers Marketplace announcement from Friday:

Nadine Jolie Courtney book deal

This book has been a long time coming–false starts and rewrites, sweat and tears, little victories and crushing defeats–and I’m so proud and excited to share it with you. It’s also one of the major reasons I’ve fallen a bit off the blogging map: I made the tough decision to pour my time into Wisteria (which will probably get renamed–you know how it goes). Friday’s announcement felt like a wonderful validation of that scary decision.

I’ve written at length the past few months about my blogging discontent, the decisions I’ve made to change it, and my excitement over finally relaunching this site (Today! Welcome!). Because of said happenings and the need to finish Wisteria (now I’m up against another deadline!), I haven’t been able to post daily–and it’s a trend that will continue into 2015 until I deliver the book. At first, this panicked me, but then I realized it would likely be a good thing. Rather than spinning my wheels, posting about this beauty launch and that pretty celeb (things you can discuss more economically on Twitter), all because…well, that’s what a beauty blogger is supposed to write about…

I can write about what I WANT to write about.

Things like happiness, and relationships, and the lies we tell ourselves, and the truths we need to hear, and covetable beauty products, and tantalizing travel destinations, and the magical shininess of Kate Middleton’s hair. The important things.

Changing the look of the site was a scary decision. These past years, I’ve gone through four?, five?, six?, seven? (seriously, I’ve lost track) cosmetic updates. Each time, I hoped for the site of my dreams but came away–hitting publish on the day of unveiling–feeling underwhelmed, like the blog didn’t really represent me.

No mas.

I wanted something clean and classic, with fonts and visuals and a color palette that excited me. When I came across my epic designer Ali Nagy (email her here!), it only took one conversation for her to “get it” and me to feel like she truly got ME. Mad, major props go to her (and my super hardworking, awesome web guy Marshall Bishop!) for helping me create a site I’m finally happy with. It might not be for everybody (one friend was like, “Um, it’s kind of…political? All the red, white, and blue?”) but I’m thrilled. It’s a place I want to call home.

Next big decision: the name. I legally changed my name in March to Nadine Jolie Courtney, but most people–even friends–still stubbornly insist on calling me Nadine Jolie.

I was born as Nadine Haobsh. That’s the name my first two books were published under, and that’s the name everybody knew me as until I was about 25. When the whole Jolie in NYC thing happened nearly 10 years ago (can you believe how long it’s been?), people began to identify me as “Jolie.” Within a couple of years, I thought of myself as Jolie–and eventually, I dropped the Haobsh altogether and rebranded myself as Nadine Jolie not just online but in life.

As a woman, there’s something tremendously empowering about choosing your own name. Not the name your father gave you. Not the name your husband offers you. The name you take for yourself. Choosing to make my way as Nadine Jolie was like planting a flag in foreign soil and claiming it as my own. (There was just one hitch–I never got around to doing it legally!)

So when I married Erik, deciding to take his last name (and legally making Jolie my middle name) was a fraught decision. But once I committed to it, it felt right. It fits me like a second skin. It feels like the name I was born to have. Making the decision to change my URL to Nadine Jolie Courtney was a scary one–scarier, in many ways, than actually changing my name.

It’s the fourth time I’ve rebranded (first there was Jolie in NYC, followed by Jolie Nadine, and then Nadine Jolie) and doing so always means losing valuable SEO juice–a risky step in bloggerland. This will be the last time I need to rebrand, the last name change I need to make, the last URL switch ever. I’m here to stay, in this new bit of land I’m carving out. I’m willing to take the temporary SEO hit so that I can have a place I want to call my own, forever. Obviously, the look will continue to evolve!

The permanent URL change will happen next week, and there are still some site bugs and things to be tweaked later this week. It’s not ideal: I wanted to put everything live today. Have it all be perfect. Check something big off my list, satisfied, done. But that’s life! You can be a maximizer or you can be a satisficer–and honestly, sometimes done is better than perfect. (That’s been a hard lesson for me to learn over the years!)

I hope you’re having fun poking around the site, and if you want a refresher on some of my favorite posts, you can check them out here:

Relationships and Personal Stories
(AKA, My Path To Erik, My Soulmate)

Finding My Voice

My Mother’s Death

Epic Travels

(Yeah, I’m obsessed)

Honest Beauty

As I say on my About page: “Every time I make a proclamation on How My Blog Is Going To Be, I grow and change and the blog changes with me. So, I’ve learned to stop making grand declarations.”

This isn’t a Grand Declaration post for what you can expect from me going forward. Rather, it’s an official “Here we go!” for the next step of the journey–wherever it takes us.

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Beauty Favorites | September 2014 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:58 +0000 Hey, better late than never, right?

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