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My First Couple Days In Baltimore, Maryland

My First Couple Days In Baltimore, Maryland

Oh hey….she finally leaves Buffalo. But not for good…yet.

If you need me for the next few days…..don’t. (I say that with love) No shade, but I am finally relaxing a bit and spending some time outside of my city walls. Baltimore, Maryland, its so good to see you. I used to call this city home about seven years ago, and I’m so happy to finally get a chance to come back. This is the first time I even left Buffalo in a long time (9 months), so my travel bug was on level 10.

I probably would still be living in Maryland if I hadn’t joined the Peace Corps. I made the decision to leave my life behind in the states, and start a new chapter in another country. I remember when I was making this decision, there were a few people who did not support me. Some were friends, some were family….and that made it a little harder to leave. But I always say, if people aren’t there for you before, during, and after you make a major change or transformation in your life, then they aren’t meant to be in it at all. So, being back here is a little sentimental, but I’m absolutely loving it so far.

I travelled to MD with Tai of frecklesfashionandflaws. If you don’t already know her, then where have you been? She’s my right hand woman and my partner in crime for #fotoshootfridays. Tai has family down in Baltimore, so we decided to take a trip down together. I love having a flying buddy. Today, me and my gem will get together and do some blogger exploring – which means – another photoshoot. But you knew that right?

We flew in Saturday morning and we were absolutely exhausted. Today I was much more well rested, and I decided to explore Fells Point, which is a historic waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore. It’s filled with antique stores, cafes, small shops, live music, and tons of pubs and small bars. I’m literally obsessed with this place.

Drinks n Chill

I found new favorite spot to grab a drink, and I’m actually planning on going back there before I leave – Fells Point Tavern. I snagged a cute little table in the corner and had a vodka tonic with a splash of pineapple. Hellllooooo goodness. I had a really nice waitress, and had a great view of the patio – which is key for people watching. We didn’t order food but everything looked amazing (cuz I was staring at other people’s plates) but before I leave I will try one of their dishes.

Outfit

According to my handy, dandy weather app, it was supposed to rain all day. So I wore my everyday jeans and my new fave bodysuit from TJmaxx. I love TJ’s because you can find the most hidden gems if you have the time and patience to look. Usually I don’t! Also, I should add, I’m not a huge mall person and I kinda hate hopping from store to store looking for one thing that I need. I am a sucker for small boutiques though. They are less overwhelming for me and I always walk out with something nice. Anyways, back to my usually day to day outfit – had to rock the chucks….because….life? Still obsessed with Chuck Taylor’s. It’s such an easy fit to rock, and I wear them with almost every style.

I’m excited to be here and do more exploring and feeling all the feels of this place. I’m even more excited to be here for a few more days. So far, the weather has been holding up but there is going to be sprouts of rain, but that’s ok. The sunshine came out more than expected.Â

Next week, I’ll be sharing more moments from Baltimore. I can’t wait to hit up a few more neighborhoods and do more exploring. Thanks for reading loves. See you next week! Nkay xx

 

 

 

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Know Why You Want To Become A Blogger, & How To Create And Develop Your Brand

Know Why You Want To Become A Blogger, & How To Create And Develop Your Brand

There is one question that every blogger should ask themselves. I asked myself this question several times, and my answer was complete confirmation that I am meant to be a blogger. Let me explain….

I’ve been blogging for about eight years now, and I’ve learned a LOT about the in’s and out’s of being a writer and having a digital journal online. My first blog was on the Blogger platform, and then I moved on to WordPress. Blogger is best for beginners, and WordPress is for more experienced bloggers who want complete control over your website. With WordPress, you can customize also your layout and design to your preference.

In this post I want to share with you what I think is the most important tip for every blogger – whether you blog about fashion, lifestyle, food, travel or any other topic in between.

Ask yourself WHY you started a blog and why you’re a blogger.

If you are blogging because –

– you want to be Insta-famous

-you want thousands of followers

-you can get ‘free stuff’

meh….then you probably shouldn’t consider starting a blog. Yes, you can have all these things, but they shouldn’t be the reason you want to start, and most importantly, they don’t happen overnight.

But, if you want to be a blogger because –

-you want to share your authentic self and story to others

-you want to have a positive influence on your audience

-you feel like you have a gift that you want to share

-you have a passion for writing and digital story-telling

If this is you, then all of the YES. This is the right path for you. The followers, the invites, and the free goodies eventually come along with the job. Asking yourself why helps you put your goals into perspective. The key word is passion. If you aren’t passionate about your blog, then it will definitely show. You won’t grow an audience, and you won’t come across as being authentic. Make sure that you are committed. Having a blog is almost like being in a relationship. You have to work hard at it, and keep you and your partner (audience) happy.

There are some bloggers who just want to write. They just want to share their thoughts with others, and that’s totally OK. If you are one of them, all of the yes to you! Do not think that you have to go beyond your comfort zones when it comes to your blog. If you want to setup your blog on Blogger, buy a domain, and just have your own online space, then go ahead and do that. Blogger will be your best option if you are just starting out.

If you’re a blogger like me, then you want more than just a space to write, and have long-term goals for your blog – brand collabs, sponsorships, and to increase blog growth and my audience.

Every blogger has different goals – you have got to find out yours.

Be you no matter what, and let things happen organically. Building a blog, and a brand, takes TIME. Don’t buy followers, don’t copy what others are doing, and work on finding your own voice. You want others to see who you are, and that doesn’t always mean you have to share your entire life. But, give your followers and readers bits of pieces of who you are, let your guard down once in awhile, and really listen to your audience. Give back whatever they give. Respond to their comments and engage in their blogs too. Tag the brands that you are wearing, and self-promote your blog as much as you can. Be shameless! This will make you a more successful blogger, and give you more confidence in your brand.

If you are on the right path to becoming a blogger, then there’s a few tips I would recommend you follow as you begin to develop yourself:

In all honesty though, branding is much more than your logo or website. It’s your entire brand identity. You want to create a connection between you and your audience. Everything from your brand colors, the fonts that you use, and the content that you create, is all part of your brand.

Here are the components that you need to think about when brand building:

Brand style – color palette, illustrations, patterns, logo, typefaces, photography, icons

Visual  – Your website layout – WordPress, Social Media Platforms

Social Media concepts and strategies – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope

Email list building and Email Marketing – creating automation and Subscription service, creating monthly newsletters

Photography – Having professional images or stock photos

Video for your business – YouTube, Facebook LIVE, creating video about your content

Take a notebook and write down the ideas you have for each one of these concepts. Next to each category, write down what you see for brand. For example, under brand style, write down the colors you want to use. Sketch or write down your logo, think about the fonts you want on your website. These may seem like little things but they are SO important to your branding. You want to always have a clean, professional and consistent look. Your branding will take off once you develop your strategy and focus on your creative energy.

Ask yourself, “When someone comes to my blog, what’s the first thing I want them to see?” “What call to action do I want them to do first?” “What colors should pop out when someone lands on my Instagram page?” 

Also, one of the MOST important things you can do for your branding is to add video content. This one is a MUST! You want to create a form of visual imagery so that your audience can connect a face to your brand. But what’s even more important to think about, is that, some of our social platforms may not be around forever. Always utilize different platforms in order to reach a wider audience. For example, not everyone uses Instagram. There are some people who prefer Facebook or YouTube. Create content that is widespread. Its better to reach your followers across the boards than only focus on one platform. Be as active as you can (daily) on all your accounts, especially if you have a blog or business.

Keep in mind too – its OK if you tweak your brand over time. I definitely have. You might change your colors, or switch up your website design. All of that is totally ok as you build and grow. Just focus on what makes you happy and stick to it!

If you need help coming up with a POA (Plan of Action) for your branding, e-mail me and we can discuss the right steps to get there. Together we can come up with a strategy that works for you and your brand. There are some bloggers who have the creativity and not the strategy, and it can be very hard to have both. Your creativity alone can’t build your brand, you must have a strategy behind it.

Remember, get involved in blogging for the right reasons. If you ask yourself why, then everything will happen the way it should.

Thanks for reading luv, and I’ll see ya in the next one.

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How To Practice Positive Thinking And Self-Care

How To Practice Positive Thinking And Self-Care

It is a known fact that your mind has complete power over your body. If you change the way you think, you change the way you feel.

There are certain habits that I practice everyday that make me feel good, and help me feel more positive. In this week’s post I’m talking all about my daily rituals.

All of these rituals fall under self-care. It is so important to take yourself, especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If you get into the habit of practicing these things that make you feel good about yourself, you will start to change the way you feel. Once you change the way you feel, you begin to change your entire mindset.

  1. Meditation – Oh the power of this!! I never used to meditate. I mean, I had no idea what it really was. When I thought about meditating I always pictured a monk sitting on top of a mountain with his eyes closed making that “uhmmmm” noise. Well let me tell you, it is far from that. My life used to be a mess, and I was so broken in so many ways. I was negative most of the time, had no self-confidence, hung around t the wrong crowd, and lacked the power of faith. Times have definitely changed. I’m a completely different person inside and out. Now, I meditate every. single. morning. I light a candle, say my affirmations, and speak everything I want into existence. Along with meditation, I write down 3-5 things that I’m grateful for. I do my gratitude list every week. Once you realize the things you already have, you start to feel more confident about the things you truly want. Even if you’re going through a difficult time right now, try and be grateful for something….anything. When you start to feel stressed, your body reacts to that stress. You must change the way you feel.
  2. Reading – I’ve gotten in the habit of reading more books, and I’m so glad I did. I’m currently reading, “Awaken The Giant Within,” by Tony Robbins. It is SO good. Like soooooo good. I literally can’t put the thing down. I’ve been following Tony for awhile and I think he’s absolutely amazing. It’s so important that we never stop learning. Something told me to go inside Barnes & Nobles and buy this book, and I’m so glad I did. When I finish it, I’ll have to let you know what I think! Disclaimer – I already think its an absolute must-have.
  3. Body & Skin Care Routine – My number one obsession – Coconut oil. Girl! People ask me all the time what do I put on my skin, and I always tell them the same thing. Depending on the brand, sometimes the oil can smell a bit too ‘rough’ for the skin, so I might add a tiny drop of scented lotion. When it comes to my face and daily skin care, I use Rodan + Fields. I share my entire skin regimen in this post. And lucky for me, I snagged up a free face mask from Sephora, so I’m definitely going to give that a try as well. I LOVE face masks. Don’t they just make your skin feel so good afterwards?

 

 

 

When it comes to my daily breakfast, I make a smoothie every morning. I must say, that I love experimenting with new flavors and recipes. My favorite is my go-to green smoothie

  • organic spinach
  • blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • almond milk
  • 1 scoop of peanut butter

And that’s it. It taste so good, and I can easily drink it on the go. Some mornings are so busy, so I’m literally rushing out the door with this in hand. Smoothies are so good for you, especially if you’re not a ‘big eater’ in the mornings. Some days its easier to have a drink than have a ‘whole meal’ I’ve been working on my abs and overall body strength, and its been good so far. If you want to know more about my summer workout routine, check it out in this post.

Do you have any special routines or daily rituals that you do? Share in the comments – I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see ya in the next one xo

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Flatlays, Photography, and Instagram Aesthetics

Flatlays, Photography, and Instagram Aesthetics

Confession – I am OBSESSED with flatlays. As a blogger, learning how to design and photograph flatlays is a must in my opinion. As much as I love to share photos of myself in my Instagram feed, I’m sure my audience doesn’t want to look at me all the time. I mean…maybe? But this past Friday during our weekly #fotoshootfriday sesh, me and my girls took on the #flatlaychallenge. I honestly can’t wait to do another shoot like this again. I LOVE designing and creating an image that represents me and my personality.

I have always been an advocate for authenticity. I didn’t grow up buying fancy clothes or shopping at the high-end retail stores. I was always a bargain shopper, and learned how to use what I had in order to create the look that I wanted. Although I now shop at a range of shops with various price ranges, I still go for the clothes that make me look and feel good – regardless of the price tag. In this flatlay, I’m showing my favorite summer go-to outfit along with some of my favorite essentials. Sidenote – I never leave the house without my sunglasses and my ‘Tease’ perfume from Victoria’s Secret.

 

When it comes to inspiration, I look at local photographers right here in Buffalo. There is so much talent in this city its unreal. One of my favorite photographers in Buffalo, NY is Sam DeMartin. We never even met! But I would love to connect with her soon, cuz her vibe is mad real. Her photos are always so bright, colorful and playful. I love her feed and the way she edits her photos. Peep her Instagram…..you’ll thank me later.

My weekly meet ups have also helped me practice and work on my photography skills. All of the YES to this. Photography was always a passion of mine, but it wasn’t something I really got into until I started taking my blogging seriously. I remember the day I bought my first camera – #TeamCanon for life! I did a lot of research on cameras and I just decided to go with the Canon Rebel t6. I love it. For beginners it’s an absolute gem, and even if you’re a professional, Canon is still a good choice. I like the color tones that I can play with, and it works perfect for a small-timer like me. (In this photo, I’m actually holding Tai’s camera because she was taking the photo with mine 😉

Which brings me into my next topic, switching up my Instagram aesthetic – a.k.a. changing my theme and color palette.

So for a long time I incorporated a touch of pink into my feed, but felt like I wanted to switch it up. I recently purchased a set of filters from The Preview App and it was SO worth it. I love this app. I wanted my Instagram feed to have more of a minimal black and white feel to it, so the filters I use -> D1-D5 are perfect. I’ve always wanted a minimal looking feed so I thought I would give it a try. So far, here is what I got….slowly I’m re-creating my feed. Also side note: I’ve been going through my followers on IG and deleting those ‘ghost’ followers and fake accounts. Numbers don’t mean anything to me if the accounts following me are fake or don’t engage with my posts! Clearing them out as best as I can. I’d rather have real engagement on my posts so that I can continue to organically build my Instagram.

I’m looking forward to conquering my Instagram game and working on my blogging photography. This year has been a milestone in my blogging career, and I love the direction I’m going.

Thanks so much for reading ,

See ya next week! Nkay xx

 

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My Summer Workout Routine

My Summer Workout Routine


Oh hey Buffalo, summer looks GOOD on you. Y’all know this is my favorite season and I absolutely love this time of year. Everyone is friendly, the sun in shinning and the mood is just right. One of my favorite things about summer though, is exercising outside. I love the gym, but I equally love being outdoors. I live near the University of Buffalo, so a lot of times I run on campus or down Hertel Ave. If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you know that I switched things up last year and became a vegetarian, and really started focusing on my health. I’ve always been a fan of working out, but I kicked it up a notch and I’ve never felt better.

I thought it would be cool if I shared my workout routine with you. (I don’t know why I used the word cool…couldn’t find a substitute there) I like my body but there are days where I like….don’t LOL. I’d say my biggest problem area is my stomach. I just be tryna keep it flat….the struggle can be mad real.

 

 Here is my typical summer workout day:

  1. wake up around 6:30 and meditate – I started practicing meditation a few months ago and its really helped me focus on my future and my goals. I have less anxiety and less panic attacks because of it. The Law of Attraction is real my friends! Manifest what you want, work hard, and see what the Universe will give you.
  2. make a smoothie – I love me some smoothies. My favorite is strawberry, blueberries, spinach, and almond milk with a dash of peanut butter. If I’m making a smoothie bowl I top it with granola. Everything is organic, and I shop at TraderJoes. (They have the best almond butter)
  3. morning run – I don’t run outside everyday because my doctor said its bad for your knees, but I LOVE a morning run. The air is crisp (well kinda humid) and its the coolest part of the day. I start my route on Main St., run across UB campus, back down Main St., and down Hertel Ave. where I usually stop and take a break with an iced coffee. *Note – I’m always on Hertel. So I mix up my running workouts between the gym and outside.

My typical routine:

  1. 100 squats
  2. 20 crunches
  3. 15 minutes on the stair machine
  4. 30 minute run
  5. 5 sets of 10 lunges with weights

Workout Outfit:

sports bra Victoria’s Sport

leggings Victoria’s Sport

sneakers: Nike

My current workout app:

Nike App

Also, try and get a workout buddy so you have someone to hold you accountable for your daily exercises – and its more fun to workout with someone. My friend Ciara is a great workout partner. We live in the same neighborhood so sometimes we run together. I’ll be doing some YouTube videos for you guys (highly requested) of my workouts and other daily health routines.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post! Always so grateful for each and every one of you. Thanks for reading….Nkay xx

 

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