Nadine Jolie Courtney Beauty, Travel, Royalty Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:49:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The First Promo for Newlyweds is Live on Bravo! Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:00:40 +0000 Lots of fun news today: the first promo for Newlyweds: The First Year went live today on Entertainment Tonight online, and then this evening it debuted on Bravo during Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! (And in totally unrelated but equally-happy news, I sold my first travel article to Robb Report, which was a goal 2 years in the making.)

I can’t say much more until each of the episodes air, but you’d better believe I’ll be live-tweeting (at @nadinecourtney) and blogging each week!

And–as I joked earlier today–if I come off as too dramatic on the show, I’ll be sure to tone it down for my proposed spin-off “Keep It Calm and Watch Paint Dry.”

Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!




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Claire Danes’s SAG Hair: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:30:21 +0000 In my 20s, I was wildly adventurous with my hair. I got foot long extensions. I dyed it black. I chopped off twelve inches. NO STYLE WAS SAFE.

But now, alas, I’m in my 30s. I’m tired. I’m lazy. And I really like bangs. It’s safe to say I’ll be sticking with my current style for a long time (much to the chagrin of my stylist/colorist Paul Jean, I’m sure).

While watching last night’s SAG Awards red carpet, I actually gasped when Claire Danes appeared on screen. Her Marc Jacobs dress was equally fun and sophisticated, and her hairstyle was perfection. The ‘deep part with soft waves’ is a look we’ve seen on her before, but I’m all about learning what works for you and then rocking it ’til the cows come home. (So you might groan when Jennifer Aniston shows up with a glossy, buttery blowout for the millionth time, but I’m slow clapping. If it ain’t broke…)

I wasn’t planning on doing any red carpet breakdowns. There are a million other beauty sites where you can easily find a cut and paste press release with an SEO optimized title, and I vowed to stop doing those a few months back. But I was genuinely curious about Claire Danes’s hair, mostly because it’s a style I want to replicate on my own down the line. (I contemplated doing it today and then posting a photo for you, but then I saw how much effort actually went into it: I tapped out around tip 3. Sadly I don’t have enough time for curling irons right now. Mama is way behind on the book. But, hey, I washed my hair four days ago–small victories!)

Claire’s hair was done by Peter Butler for Vidal Sassoon, but obviously, any comparable products will do. And, by the way, notice how mousse is the first product name-checked? It’s probably THE single most versatile hair styling product you’re not using. Get some and be wowed. It makes a difference.

Claire Danes SAG awards 2015 Marc Jacobs green dress


How to get Claire Danes’s SAG awards hair

1. Starting with her natural, low side-part, Peter blow-dried damp hair using Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Boost & Lift Foaming Air Mousse, applying throughout the hair for lift and hold.

2. Using a round brush, take 3-inch sections of the hair and proceed to blow-dry each section. Then, spray a bit of Vidal Sassoon ColorFinity Dry Shampoo at the roots and backcomb hair for a bit more volume.

3. Using a 3-inch barrel curling iron, wrap 3-inch sections of hair around the curling iron for a polished look. Be careful not to let the hair set, and comb out the curls right away.

4. Next, take a 1 ½ -inch curling iron around small sections of the hair around the face and away from the face.

5. On the heavy side of the part, start to form one wave going down the side of the face by taking small sections of hair away from the hairline and face.

6. Brush out the wave around the face with a Mason Pearson brush and then blow dry the curls to soften them. Spray hair with Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Flexible Hold Hairspray to keep the look in place.

7. To finish, spritz hair with Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Heat Protect & Shine Spray for a light shine.


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Buy This: Redken Color Extend Magnetics Color Captivating Treatment Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:47:55 +0000 I have, one might say, an intensive conditioner problem. (I prefer to think of it as an intensive conditioner solution.)

My thick, frizzy hair is in better shape than it used to be thanks to Paul Jean, my hair salvation. He’s led me away from the bottle and shown me the light in the form of painted-on balayage. Not only is it less damaging, it grows out so much more easily. That’s a huge bonus for somebody as lazy as moi.

But even with my hair in better condition, I’m still addicted to goopy, creamy, hydrating intensive conditioners. If regular ol’ conditioners are McDonalds hamburgers, then the best intensive conditioners are Mastro’s filets of Wagyu beef, served with a glass of Opus One.

Redken Color Extend Magnetics Intensive Conditioner for Color Treated Hair


As you can see from this terribly high-end beauty product photoshoot in my bathroom, I do, indeed, have a lot of intensive conditioners. This is just one shelf. There’s another (and two drawers with jars yet to be opened), trust. And of all the intensive conditioners in intensive conditioner land, the one that I’ve found myself reaching for over and over again recently is Redken Color Extend Magnetics Deep Attraction Color Captivating Treatment for Color-Treated Hair.

Whew! Try saying that five times fast.

It smells fine: it’s not like THE GREATEST SCENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE or anything, but I don’t need style over substance. What I want is an intensive conditioner that will make my hair feel like butter. One that detangles snags like a dream. Something to leave my hair soft and silky after a blow-dry. If it’s sulfate-free and full of fortifying protein and color-safe and amino ion-charged, so much the better.

Check, check, check, check.

Recently, one of my friends dyed her hair for the first time (in her 30s! I know!). She separately asked me and my good friend Jamie Stone of Honestly, Jamie for recommendations on the best conditioner for color-treated hair. Of course, I said the Redken. A few minutes later, my friend texted back: “Jamie recommended the same one!”

Well, obviously. Because it’s amazing.

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Set Your DVR: Erik and I are starring on the Bravo show Newlyweds: The First Year! Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:49:58 +0000 Long-time readers have noticed that I’ve been scaling back on the personal posts this year. It’s literally been the best year of my entire life, but I haven’t posted about it very much–no wedding photos!–which is SO not me.

Now, after months of being coy and hinting at exciting news to come, I can finally reveal the reason for the aloofness:

Erik and I have been filming a reality TV show for Bravo!

Bravo Newlyweds Erik and Nadine

It’s called Newlyweds: The First Year, and it follows us for 12 whole months as we navigate the first year of marriage. We’re one of 4 couples on the show, which is now in its second season. The first episode will air Tuesday March 10th at 10pm.

Obviously, I hope you’ll set your DVRs, tune in, and tell all your friends, “Hey! I know that girl!”



If you head over to the Bravo website, you’ll see a microsite devoted to the show. Here’s a sneak peek:

Season two of Newlyweds: The First Year, follows four new couples — Samantha Abby and Laura Leigh Abby, Erik Courtney and Nadine Jolie Courtney, Kirk and Laura Knight, and Rouvaun and Toi Walker — in this groundbreaking series that documents newlyweds for the entire first year of marriage. From challenging in-laws to fertility struggles and merging complicated lives together, the show will feature all of the trials and tribulations that can arise as a newlywed.

Nadine Jolie Courtney Newlyweds

And the bio for Erik and me:

When Nadine first met Erik on an online dating site, she was a glamour-loving beauty/travel blogger, and he was a Comic-Con loving tech nerd. Nadine came from a traditional Circassian-Middle Eastern family and Erik had a tumultuous upbringing with his Episcopalian-nun mother. Though they are cut from a different cloth, Nadine has peeled back the layers and discovered that Erik truly is her “Prince Charming”. After a whirlwind courtship of only four months, Erik proposed to Nadine in Paris. Now, as they shift out of their honeymoon phase into real life, Erik and Nadine continue to get to know each other and work on finding a common ground. Erik, a people pleaser, always aims to make Nadine happy but faces some challenges pleasing her conservative father. Meanwhile, Nadine who is already a two-time published author, puts strain on herself to complete her third book. Will Erik and Nadine find bliss in their first year of marriage, or will these two strangers realize that they are way in over their heads?


It was a huge decision to open up our lives so intimately…not to mention in our very first year of marriage…not to mention to Bravo. We know we’re potentially setting ourselves up for criticism, misunderstanding, and judgment from millions of people, so we have our fingers crossed that whatever you see on screen doesn’t make us look totally terrible. But even if it does…well, thank goodness for therapy and a supportive husband/wife, I guess!

Erik Courtney Newlyweds

As the show airs, I’ll finally be able to blog about all the exciting personal and professional developments in our lives. I find blogging and sharing honestly with you cathartic and rewarding, so I’m SO excited to have the floodgates open again, even if it’s a bit scary.

Newlyweds the First Year

Big hugs to you all, and thanks especially to long-time readers who have been so patient. Here’s to the next chapter!

xoxo, Nadine

PS: Please like our Erik & Nadine page on Facebook!

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2015. Let’s Do This. Wed, 07 Jan 2015 01:02:04 +0000 Good news: I’ve been rocking the Wisteria writing recently. My completed draft is due in a few months and I’m making serious progress. So many pages left means that pretty much all of my “free time” (I use that so loosely) is devoted to cranking out the pages.

Bad news: I haven’t had much time to write here. I’m waving the white flag and carving out 10 minutes to do a post about the lack of posting. Meta, no?

So, here are the highlights…


Erik and Nadine Courtney Christmas


Erik and I had an amazing Christmas: we were basically lazy slugs, staying home and drinking copious amounts of champagne. We repeated this trend on New Year’s Eve. (Side note – several weeks ago, my best friend visited and we offered her something to drink from our reserves. Her incredulous response upon inspecting our offerings: “All you have to drink is either champagne or whiskey. Is that how you roll?” Yes. That is how we roll.)


Nadine Jolie Courtney New Years Eve


We are INSANE Christmas dorks and it’s basically the highlight of our year. Our tree is still up–and will be until this weekend–and we’re in mega post-Christmas denial.


Storm Trooper nutcracker
Year of the Horse christmas ornament

Japan Christmas ornament

Christmas ornaments

It’s not weird if we keep our tree up until February, right?

Courtneys Christmas

While I haven’t had a ton of time to read, I’m slowly crawling through David Nicholls‘ awesome book Us. Next up, Amy Poehler‘s Yes, Please.

Amy Poehler Yes Please

I’ve been testing out new beauty products, including doing a mascara comparison. Two mascaras I’m currently loving…Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes in Glossy Black and Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. I’ve done side-by-side comparisons, applying both simultaneously, and they’re each phenomenal. Neither is really better than the other, so if you’re looking for a new mascara, you’re in great hands with either.

Also testing out: the new Kerastase Discipline hair range designed to combat frizz. You know I love me some Kerastase haircare. Below is my hair after using the shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in, then air-drying. Not bad.

Nadine Jolie Courtney hair

Finally, you know that thing I keep teasing? I found out today that we finally have an official end in sight: March 12th is when all will be revealed! I should be able to talk more about it even sooner…as soon as next week, perhaps. Soon, soon, soon. SO EXCITED.

In the meantime, when I take writing breaks, I’m either on Twitter or Instagram. If you want to keep in touch, follow me there!

Nadine Jolie Courtney Christmas

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Missing Our Honeymoon in Hong Kong… Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:53:51 +0000 Erik and I looked at the calendar a few days ago and realized that it’s been an entire year since we went to Hong Kong for our honeymoon – how time flies! We also traveled to Australia and New Zealand, two places that are near and dear to my heart, but our time in Hong Kong was particularly magical. After all, it’s a magical city!

Erik and Nadine Honeymoon Hong Kong

Fresh off the plane and just landed in Hong Kong from our epic Cathay Pacific business class upgrade

The week between Christmas and New Year’s in Hong Kong is known as WinterFest, with over-the-top light spectacles on seemingly every building and around every corner. Christmas is a big deal here–seriously, there are decorations, trees, and lights everywhere–but it’s really all leading up to New Year’s Eve. New York and Sydney get all the NYE love, but if you can make it to Hong Kong once in your life for a New Year’s celebration there, I urge you! Here, a few of our favorite moments from last year:

Hong Kong Victoria Harbour New Years Eve

Exactly one year ago today! Time flies…

Erik and Nadine Hong Kong honeymoon

At Auberge Discovery Bay Hotel, feeling very much like newlyweds

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
The center for three religions–Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism–Wong Tai Sin features a Good Wish Garden and is where locals and tourists alike pray for good fortune. Reportedly, every wish made here comes true…the perfect place to hone your New Year’s resolutions. We made a few wishes, and they actually came true!

Sik Sik Yuen Temple Hong Kong

Making wishes at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Erik and Nadine Hong Kong

Erik and Nadine Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin honeymoon

A little behind-the-scenes photo action at the temple

Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin to Lantau Island
A glass-bottomed cable car with a bird-eye view of Hong Kong, the Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin gives you stunning views as you’re ferried to Lantau Island. The ride lasts about 25 minutes and the glass-bottom is so cool. (Buy tickets ahead of time for a better experience–lines are long–and make sure to spring for the Crystal Cabin, which has much shorter lines and superior views.) Once you’re on Lantau Island, walk through the village–decked out with lights and decorations–and climb to the top of the multi-story Big Buddha, a 112-foot tall, 250-ton bronze statue with 268 steps. Beware the cows.

Ngong Ping glass bottom cable car Big Buddha

Taking the glass-bottomed cable car to Lantau Island and the Big Buddha

Big Buddha Hong Kong Christmas

Christmas decorations with the Big Buddha in the background: spirituality and commerce colliding!

Erik and Nadine honeymoon Hong Kong Big Buddha cows

The Peak
The highest point on Hong Kong Island, The Peak is one of those “you haven’t really been to Hong Kong until you’ve been here” experiences. You start at a rickety old tram in the middle of the city, crawl up vertiginous Mt. Victoria with skyscrapers on both sides, and then overlook everything for miles at the Sky Terrace. It’s a pretty egregious tourist trap at the top’s The Peak Galleria, but we bought some fun prints for the walls and Christmas decorations for our tree before heading back down. (There’s also a nature trail and Madame Tussaud’s, but we skipped both.)

Nadine Jolie Courtney Hong Kong honeymoon The Peak

Heading up, up, up through the skyscrapers to The Peak

Hong Kong Peak views

I dream of this city. Can you beat those views?

Disneyland Hong Kong
Sadly for two Disney dorks, we did NOT make it to Disneyland Hong Kong, and we’re still regretting it. Apparently, there are exclusive HK attractions like Toy Story Land, the wild-west themed Grizzly Gulch, and a spooky dark ride called Mystic Point. Their Christmas decorations run until January 4th. I approve.

Christmas decorations in Hong Kong

Why have one Christmas tree when you can have ten?

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Everything during WinterFest leads up to the massive pyromusical display in the skies above Victoria Harbour. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade on Kowloon is one of the best fireworks viewing spots. Make sure to get a photo with the giant 2015 emblazoned across the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in the background. It’s also a short walk away from some of Hong Kong’s most iconic locations, like the Peninsula Hotel, HK’s oldest (have a drink at the Felix bar!), and the Avenue of the Stars, the city’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Victoria Harbour Hong Kong Erik Courtney

Taking a junk boat on Victoria Harbour with the lights of Wan Chai in the background

A Symphony of Lights
Every night at 8pm, the city’s buildings comes alive in the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. Laser beams, search lights, and colored lights are reflected on the towering skyscrapers around Victoria Harbour while triumphant music plays. If you’ve been dreaming of Hong Kong and skyscrapers galore, this is your jam. Prime viewing locations include Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and Wan Chai.

New Year's Eve Hong Kong Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour just before New Year’s Eve last year

Ozone Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Ozone Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

My reflection, taking a photo of the insane 118th floor view from Ozone Bar

Erik and Nadine honeymoon Hong Kong Ozone bar

Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong
It’s all about superlatives at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong: the highest, the tallest, the best. Still the highest hotel in the world, the Ritz is arguably the city’s most spectacular hotel. (And this is a city that defines spectacular.) Ozone Bar—a gold, glass, and marble nightclub lit in wintery shades of blue and purple—serves sushi and bespoke cocktails on the 118th floor, holding it down as the highest bar in Asia. It’s the perfect place to toast the New Year with champagne overlooking Victoria Harbour.

Erik and Nadine Courtney honeymoon Hong Kong

Exhausted but happy over cocktails at hidden speakeasy 001. We miss you, Hong Kong, and can’t wait to return

Cheers, and until we meet again, Hong Kong!

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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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