Happy New Year to the Crohnically Blonde fam!
After the amazing year that 2017 was it is going to be hard to top in 2018 but I like to believe that things just keep getting better. I am starting the year off by refocusing my energy on myself, my family, and my passion (this blog!). I've been reading a ton of great material that has helped to get me back in gear and motivated because honestly I have been in SUCH a funk for the last few weeks of 2017. I always get super deep and into my feelings reflecting and critizising every little thing I could have done better which I know, is not cool, I'm trying to stop. I just have this perfectionist attitude that I can't quit!
I've done a lot of reflecting and I've decided to spend January filling my life with relaxation and self love. I know this sounds absolutely nuts because most people spend January kicking their asses into shape at the gym and picking their bodies apart to motivate them to get back in the game. I am not doing that.
Yes, I have health and fitness goals that I am trying to reach, I always do in some way or another but I am including that as part of my self love. I'm not beating myself up to reach my goals, I'm teeing it up in my mind as "how can I love myself more?".
I am all about this.
So I don't know about you, but when I think of myself relaxing I get really stressed out. Weird. I know. I get stressed about all of the things that I could be doing that are productive and all of the successful people who are on the move 24/7 and here I am trying to just watch an hour of The Real Housewives without feeling guilty.
I literally have SUCH a problem with this so I have come up with some cool ways to relax while I am productive. Multitasking at its finest. Now, I know this isn't the best advice. Experts or whatever would probably say, you need to spend X amount of time relaxing per week or day or something but I am just doing what works for me so here we are.
I find the things that bring me joy and relaxation and I pair them with some type of productive activity so that I not only feel productive while relaxing but it also makes me like to do annoying productive tasks that I am trying to complete. (I promise I also do relax fully but that is usually in the form of a bubble bath where I am literally forced to not do anything else but sit in a bathtub).
Here are a few things I like:
These are just a few things that I like to do to relax while still handling the things I have to handle in life. My goal for January is to relax while cleaning my entire house and making a solid plan for the year. Obviously that includes a lot of those tasks above which I am not so thrilled about but I can look forward to it because of the fun/relaxing things I will pair with them.
Below I have included links to a few of my favorite things that relate to this post so definitely take a look and let me know what else you do to relax while being productive AF.
Happy New Year y'all! Let's make it happen.
What I'm Listening To...
On Audible: It's Not Okay
I'm trying to catch up before Andi Dorfman's new book release. This Bachelor Nation alum is spilling everything and as a reality TV lover this book is everything. So entertaining while still light enough to multitask while listening.
Via Podcast: And That's Why We Drink
Ghost stories mixed with true crime mixed with hilarious just about everything... sign me up. One of the hosts also has Crohn's Disease which automatically makes her one of the crew.
What I'm Watching ...
I'm obsessed. It might be a problem. It is full of drama but if you miss 10 minutes it is easy to pick back up. You can binge watch on demand or via Hulu. It will keep you busy while you clean out your whole house, basement, attic, and garage. Promise.
What I'm sitting on...
Accupressure Mat (in hot pink of course). Make sure to grab one of these from Amazon. They have the best selection for great prices.
The countdown is on! We are SO close to Christmas and I couldn't be more excited. This holiday season has been out of control busy in every aspect of my life. That being said, my time for holiday shopping has been minimal. And on my free days the last thing I want to do is spend time parking and braving the crowds at three different shopping centers in order to get gifts for the tons of people on my list. Just being honest... Overall I just am a really big holiday gift procrastinator and Amazon Prime has been my saving grace this time of year (and all of the other times of the year too).
If you are anything like I am, you probably have a few gifts that you still need to purchase and with only a week left time is running out. If you want to purchase these presents from the safety and comfort of your own home (no parking, no traffic, no psychos at the mall) then you are in LUCK my friends. I put together a gift guide (with links) consisting of all things that you can order with Amazon Prime and should be here in time for Christmas morning. Procrastinators rejoice.
I broke it down into "for her" and "for him" categories as well as price ranges so that you can easily find the perfect gift that not only will get here in time but will also keep you on budget.
Whether it's a coworker, your siblings, or you S.O., this guide covers all of the bases and Amazon Prime covers it getting here in time. I hope you enjoy my recommendations and please comment or message me with your favorite Amazon Prime gift picks!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to check out ROAM Fitness, the FIRST EVER past security airport gym. A few months ago I did a post (link here!) on the creation of ROAM and the backstory of how this revolutionary idea came to be but I am so excited to share my experience of actually visiting and having the chance to work out there.
ROAM Fitness is located at BWI airport in Baltimore, Maryland (right near my house, lucky me!). It is conveniently located in the international terminal which is great because often times for international flights you arrive to the airport extra early and are trying to find something to occupy your time. Around the holidays it's exciting to get to travel and see family and friends but it also can be super stressful. The crowds, the delays, the disruption in your usual routine.... I'm stress sweating just thinking about it. ROAM is a retreat from the stress of holiday travel, or travel in general, and takes care of literally everything so that you can get your body moving and release some endorphins prior to reaching your destination (and potentially sitting on a super long flight being sedentary and feeling like you need to do some downward dogs in the aisle of the plane).
When I arrived at ROAM I was greeted by the manager who let me know all of the features that the facility had. The rest of the staff was super helpful as well and made sure that I had everything I needed during my visit. ROAM makes it so there is no excuse why you can't get a workout in while traveling. They provide top of the line workout gear that you can rent (provided by Lululemon so you know its good) and if you want to wear your own gear they can vacuum seal it at the end of your workout so you don't have to board the plane with smelly workout clothes in your carryon. There are lockers on site where you can store your belonging while working out and there are even charging ports in each locker so you can make sure your devices are ready to go for the flight.
Once I was changed and ready to work up a sweat I snapped a few selfies, of course, to share with you guys. I wore my own workout clothes to the airport but I couldn't resist trying out the rentals. I am so happy I did because I totally fell in love with the whole outfit and was super tempted to purchase everything to bring home with me.
ROAM isn't huge but they definitely designed the space in a strategic way that allows a variety of equipment and various areas to workout in. There are treadmills, a spin bike, an elliptical, and a rower as far as machines go. Additionally there are free weights, medicine balls, TRX equipment, and a separate area where you can stretch or do some yoga. I am never a huge fan of cardio because I get so bored but I actually love the elliptical they have. There are various environments that you can select on the screen and it mimics running through that scenery. There are also options to listen to music or watch Netflix which can make a workout infinitely more enjoyable. There were quite a few people working out while I was there and there was still plenty of room for everyone to do their thing without any issues.
When I finished my work out I headed to the showers to test out how those amenities were. Let me tell you guys..... these bathrooms were out of control and the showers were total #showergoals. When designing the bathrooms they legitimately thought of everything. They are complete with rainfall shower heads, heated toilet seats, and high quality shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and mouthwash all available for free use. I probably could have stayed in that shower for a good half hour but I was trying to be courteous of other visitors and not be extremely rude. I did come home and tell Matt we need to do a master bath renovation though.....
Once you are all clean you have free reign of the vanity area that is fully stocked with post shower essentials-- blowdryer, deodorant, hairspray, you name it and they've got it. I also like that they have a monitor with updated flight and gate information so that you can make sure you are on schedule. I told you, they thought of everything. If you are planning ahead and know you are going to be working out at Roam you can book a shower time to ensure you can have the most efficient experience.
On the way out of ROAM make sure to grab some healthy snacks for your flight. They have a variety of bars and protein powders as well as waters and kombucha. They even have my absolute favorite travel snack, RXBARs! I love that they have such a variety of options and I know when traveling I have a go to spot to pick up gluten free snacks.
I had such a great experience at ROAM and I can't wait to go back next time I am traveling. Not only did I get a great workout in but I also had a great experience from start to finish. I seriously recommend you guys budget some time into your holiday travel schedule to get a quick workout in at ROAM and see how great it is for yourself.
They also have a great deal going on right now for the rest of 2017. Anytime you purchase a day pass from ROAM (only $25!) you can get an additional day pass as a gift for 40% off. These are great stocking stuffers for the travel lovers and fitness gurus in your life!
I have to end this post by giving a HUGE thank you to ROAM for letting me check out their space and for giving me such a pleasant experience at the airport which can be so rare these days!
Any time there is a season change my skin FREAKS out. Oily, dry, break outs, peeling, you name it, my skin is doing it. This year I feel like I've finally got things under control with a serious routine but I needed to step up my game in the scalp department. I focus so much on styling products and products to protect my color that I majorly neglect taking care of my actual skin on my head. So weird, right? I run into the same issue every year where as soon as it starts to get cold my scalp gets flaky and dry and I just tough it out or steal some of Matt's Head & Shoulders that hangs out in our shower. This year I have finally found the solution though and I couldn't wait to share it with ya'll. This Tea Tree Shampoo from Maple Holistics is my new favorite find. Not only does is sooth my scalp, eliminate flakiness, and make my hair feel super smooth... it is under $10. If you have been following along with Crohnically Blonde you know that I am in the middle of planning a wedding so cutting costs anywhere I can is on the agenda for me so this is actually perfect. It smells amazing and makes me not hate the dreaded task of washing my hair so much. I mix this in with my normal haircare routine and use it 1-2x per week (I only wash my hair every other day anyway).
As I started to check out everything else by Maple Holistics, I realized that you can actually sign up to get FREE samples. We all love free and we all love trying out a great product before we actually buy so go request a sample and your scalp will thank you. Let me know what you end up trying and what you think!
It is finally Fall! One of my favorite times of year is that sweet spot when summer is just leaving the air but the harsh chill of colder months hasn't set in yet. I have the best Fall memories from growing up. Saturdays were spent doing different seasonal activities, whether it was visiting a pumpkin patch or raking leaves to jump in at my grandparents' house. Sundays were spent with the windows open, football on all day, and always were full of yummy game day food. In my college years I would love sitting out on campus, with a hot latte just checking out the beautiful trees that were changing color and getting excited for all of the new opportunity of the new school year.
Now I look at Fall as the ultimate time to get family and friends together. Everyone is back from their summer vacations and are winding down back into their routines. Everyone appreciates a get together a little more when it feels like something exciting to look forward to at the end of their week instead of an added event to jam into their summer schedule. Some of my favorite activities for Fall are football Sundays, outdoor wine tastings, and craft nights to make seasonal decorations. I love anything that lets me be outside and enjoy this perfect weather while I can.
One of my all time favorite things about Fall is shopping for it. I love layering cozy pieces and one of my favorite places to get them is Marleylilly. I recently just got a TON of stuff from the site and I feel pretty sure that I have something to wear for just about every Fall event. I may be just a little more obsessed this year because I have an excuse to put my soon to be new monogram on everything. I won't lie, the site can be an overwhelming endless abyss that can swallow you and spit you out a few hundred dollars later (in a good way of course), but I wanted to try and make this easy for you all. I have rounded up my favorite Fall pieces from Marleylilly along with where I would wear them and included the links below. One of my favorite things about Marleylilly is that they have such cute stuff that is actually affordable for those of us that are trying to stay on budget (aka plan a wedding hellllp). Enjoy my roundup, share with your friends, and happy shopping! (:
These things are all the rage with "basic" college girls everywhere. I'm not going to deny the fact that I am pretty basic but these boots really are so convenient for my lifestyle. They are perfect for taking the dogs out for walks even in damp weather, for frequenting the hiking trail near our house, and just to simply throw on with leggings while running errands at Target on the weekend. These boots come with two additional toppers that you can attach to the boots to change up your look or just wear them by themselves!
I love these as a staple to wear with everyday outfits. Whether you are pairing them with a blazer and dress or jeans and a puffer vest, they are sure to provide a classy, put together touch and really "make" the look. They also come in a variety of different colors so stock up.
The plaid detailing on this one totally stole my heart. I love this pullover for just about any Fall activity. I'm thinking a pumpkin patch, sipping some apple cider. Sign. Me. Up. This also pairs perfectly with either jeans or leggings so you can dress it up or down.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece so much. It is cozy, it is chic, and it has quickly become a staple in my closet. I love this for a wine tasting, a girls night, or for traveling. I actually really think this piece is perfect for traveling because it is so comfortable and blanket like. I am getting sleepy just thinking of curling up in this. Every time I've worn this I've gotten so many complements and people asking me where to get it. I swear this thing is like the Traveling Pants (please tell me you got that reference) but it looks good on everyone and makes you feel like a chic but comfortable monogram lover.
Loafers are one of my favorite things. They are kind of "grandma chic" in the best way. They are comfortable, they are stylish, and from Marleylilly... they are monogrammed. If you haven't caught on yet, everything that I am really into is both comfortable and chic. These monogrammed loafers are so classy and perfect for the Fall weather. I would tell you exactly where I would wear these but the answer is literally everywhere. I haven't purchased them yet because they are brand spankin' new, but you better believe I am taking advantage of the shoe sale and these will be at my house in less than a week.
Pretty gloves will always have a special place in my heart. My grandmother had a beautiful collection of them and I used to love trying them on when I was little. Now in my adult years I like to slip on a pair of classy gloves to instantly make me feel like a regal lady. I love the plaid print on these because they can add a fun and unexpected twist to a routine Fall outfit.
This shirt describes all of my favorite things this season. I love this for movie nights with your S.O. or for tailgates or football outings. This shirt is so comfy but still so cute, you really can't go wrong.
It is never too early to start thinking of adorable holiday gifts! As soon as I saw these cute jewelry trays I knew they were going to be at the top of my gifts to give this year. They are so cute, functional, and a great way to personalize a gift without being corny or over the top. I may have to pick one up for myself too....
Make sure to like, share, and spread the word about CrohnicallyBlonde.com! Also, please DM me on Instagram or comment on my most recent post to tell me what Marleylilly items you are loving right now and where you would wear them for Fall!
If you guys haven't noticed I've really embraced Instagram Stories after a long while of shying away from anything following the Snapchat model. I never jumped on board to Snap bandwagon just because to me it honestly just seemed like a whole lot of work and set up for little to no ROI. Let me explain.... you have to make a conscious effort to make sure you are promoting yet another user name on another platform for your brand, you have to make sure you are keeping up adding brands you are going to promote on both Instagram and Snapchat, and it just was another app that I had to deal with. Sounds high maintenance but I also just couldn't get into the whole sharing every little thing in my life until I realized there was actually value I could add by doing so. I still don't share everything but I do get to share quick tips on products, funny things about my dogs, and give people a look at what my non curated life looks like. Not only does this leave my Instagram feed freed up but it also has helped me to connect with readers/followers of CB in a whole new way. I just love it now. I like that Instagram is already something that I utilize on the regular so adding a new feature is easily integrated into my social media habits. I love that I can just tag brands that I already love without having to go find and follow on another site and I love being able to see updates from not only my friends but businesses and bloggers I follow along with. Instagram you did it right. There are a whole lot of other things that I do not like about you right now but I will save that for a different post..... (in case you haven't heard, Google "Instagram algorithm" be prepared for lots of shade).
Basically the point of this whole rant is that I've been utilizing stories to share real time updates and finds so I think I have slacked a little on sharing them on here. I DO want to get back to doing that though because I think it really is important to have posts to go back to that round up the top content you are sharing day to day. So, takeaway #1- follow me on Instagram to see real time updates, #2- enjoy this new, updated post of all of my favorite new and now finds that I can't get enough of.
I absolutely LOVE decorating for Fall. That being said, though, I don't like veering from my neutral color scheme and the usual fall colors don't go with my whole "look" I have going on at home. In the past I have been all about the white pumpkin decorating craze that dominates Pinterest but this year I switched things up to green pumpkins! They aren't AS basic as the white pumpkins but still fit my color scheme requirements. I picked up some cute decor for Fall (including green pumpkins, at Hobby Lobby and Target).
FARMACY LIP BLOOM
I got a sample of this product at Sephora the other day and have been so obsessed ever since. It is super moisturizing, tastes amazing, and adds a perfect finish to your lips if you are going for a natural look (which I pretty much always am). I can't get enough of this stuff and have been recommending it right and left to pretty much every person I meet. You can get it for yourself HERE. You won't regret it.
LE PEN PENS
I am so OCD about office/school supplies and the pens/pencils that I write with so when I found these I was skeptical at first but soon made a believer. I ordered these bad boys off of Amazon (I have the multi color pack) for writing and color coding my planner and for organizing my notes at work. The thin tips make it so easy to write neatly and the color selection is amazing. You can get them on Amazon and have them at your house in two days. Score.
BRUSH ME ORGANIC WHITENING TOOTHPASTE
I did a whole Instagram post on this stuff but to give you a quick rundown.... this stuff is a miracle for whitening teeth painlessly. It is made of clay, it is organic, it is pain free, and you can get 30% off of your first order with my code "M30". Click here, you are welcome.
This stuff has become my go to. So far I have tried their Pinot Noir and the Rose and both have been heaven for my tastebuds. The wines aren't too sweet and definitely gets you a little buzzed with your first class (or is that just me?). Did I mention that they come in cans? Yup, cans. So they are great for bonfires and other outdoor Fall events. Especially for us gluten free folk who can't drink beer, these are a cool alternative so you don't have to look like the asshole drinking out of a wine class while everyone else has Miller Lite cans.
I always see Moon Juice products featured by The Skinny Confidential but haven't been totally sold. The other day I gave in and tried this Brain Powder one morning at work. I was pretty surprised that about 20 minutes after drinking the powder (I mixed it with caffeine free mint tea) I was more alert, awake, and focused. Usually it takes me a couple cups of coffee to get to that point but if this powder can get me amped up that quickly without the negative gastro effects from coffee then I guess it is worth it! Get yours here.
I am always on the hunt for products that will hydrate my skin without making me break out or have a reaction from it. ThirstyMud is heaven for skin transitioning seasons. I put it on for about 20 minutes while I am taking a bubble bath and when I take it off my skin feels plump, moisturized, and so smooth. A little of this stuff goes a long way so you can make the jar last.
KONG DOG TOYS
Charleston is obsessed with toys that we can stuff treats into and those things will keep him busy for hours. Kong toys are a lifesaver when we are trying to get things done around the house and need Charleston to be occupied. Rhaegar is a little easier to entertain. We put him in front of the window and he can stare for hours. I like to browse the different Kong toys at my local pet store to decide what is best for my boys. There are different ones for different ages and strength of chewers.
BLACK BEAN PASTA
It all started with Red Lentil pasta from Trader Joe's and then when I saw this stuff I had to give it a try. This has quickly become a dinner staple in my household especially when I need to whip something up quickly. While I usually opt for zoodles or spaghetti squash for a gluten free pasta alternative, this pasta is a great way to get your carb fix while still packing in protein and keeping gluten free. I usually just make this quickly with a bit of olive oil, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese. Perfect come home late from work week night dinner.
BUTTER LONDON WINK EYE PENCIL
I was going through my makeup to organize it the other day and found an unopened Butter London eye pencil that I got for free a while ago and never had the chance to use. What! So I started using this in Earl Grey and have become kind of addicted to it. I like that it is a softer color than the black I usually use. It blends easily and is long lasting so I don't have to worry about it smudging throughout the day, even when my eyes are watery from allergies. I've used other Butter London products, all of which have been great, so I wasn't surprise when this stuff exceeded my expectations. You can get yours from Ulta.com.
MARLEYLILLY MONOGRAMMED BALLET FLATS
I am a Tory Burch flats girl through and through. Call me basic, but I love how comfortable and durable they are. I have worn some variation of a Tory Burch flat almost everyday to work for the past year or so. My black flats are on their last leg so I wanted to replace them but try something new. I have been loving monograms lately, especially with my new monogram (I am so corny, I know). When I saw that I could get monogrammed flats from Marleylilly I had to place an order ASAP. I am so picky about my shoes but these definitely are up to my standards. They are cute, comfortable, and unique to you.
I can't wait to hear what you guys end up trying or have tried from this list! Also, please feel free to message me any recommendations on new things to try! I am always game for a new product.
In light of the recent, devastating hurricane I have teamed up to help promote Knack's efforts to Uplift Houston and give back to the community. There are endless families and individuals that are displaced, waiting in shelters to rebuild their lives, and mourning the loss of what they once called their home. Knack is doing what they can to give back and ease the pain of those suffering. By purchasing one of their three Uplift Houston gift boxes, they will donate an identical box to a hurricane survivor in need or provide a monetary donation of equal value to a shelter.
I think this is such a cool way to donate and honestly it is such an easy way to make an impact. The boxes range from $81- $136 and not only are you donating but you are also getting a box for yourself. I know that we shouldn't need personal incentives to help our fellow humans who are struggling but this is a great way to take advantage of a special gift and give it to someone special who is close to you. In times like this where people have lost their loved ones and are struggling through serious hardships, it is so important that we take an extra moment to appreciate those close to us.
Knack in and of itself is an amazing brand that focuses on lifting up others and conveying how much you care in the perfect way. I love what they are doing for our friends down in Houston so I am urging you to get involved!
The link to the boxes is HERE!
Let me know which box you choose to send!
Crohnically Blonde is sending lots of love and light to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and those who are in the path of Hurricane Irma.
I've been a little M.I.A. this past week. Mostly because my health hasn't been awesome. I've been super exhausted leading up to my Remicade this past Friday and I've been trying to relax as much as possible. As much as I hate being a hermit and feeling under the weather, it is a good opportunity for me to test out new self care products (skincare, bath products, etc.). Now that I am bouncing back a bit I am excited to share some of the new things I've tried.
My number one new product right now is amazing, hydrating, and only $12 (and can be at your house almost instantly thanks to Amazon Prime). Drugstore brands are revolutionizing their products more and more to compete with the prestige lines of skincare and makeup. Long gone are the days of looking down on skincare products because of their lower price tag. Every time I read a beauty blog or watch a tutorial, there is a heavier mix of prestige and drugstore brand products that when mixed together can create the perfect cocktail of products that are not only amazingly effective but also affordable. I used to blow more money than I care to admit on high end beauty and skincare products but the more new drugstore brand products that I try the more I am swayed to sometimes swing by my local CVS instead of Sephora.
This e.l.f. Bubble Mask has been hyped up all over the internet for a while now but I just recently decided to give it a try. To be honest, I was not expecting much and thought it was some crazy thing that middle school girls use for fun. Well, it is kind of amusing but it also does a damn good job of hydrating your skin. I left it on all over my face and neck for about 20 minutes while I was taking a bath. It comes out of the bottle as a clear gel substance but as soon as you rub it on your face it is game time. Tiny bubbles take over and as they pop it creates a soothing, tingling feeling on your skin. When about 20 minutes were up I rinsed the product off of my face and was genuinely surprised at how smooth my skin felt. I looked more youthful, fresh, and rejuvenated. I thought that maybe I was just having a good skin day but the experiment proved to be legit when after a long day at work I brought life back to my sad looking skin. I think this stuff is the real deal.
Something I worry about when I shop drugstore brands is that the ingredients may irritate my skin or cause me to break out. This actually is a little bit crazy because often times when you compare products at different price points they have the same or very similar ingredients. It is all about doing your research and also some trial and error. The Bubble Mask didn't cause any irritation to my skin or cause any breakouts which was a huge win. The only negative I can come up with is that it feels kind of weird to leave on for an extended period of time. With some hydrating masks that are more creamy I will actually leave them on my face and neck all night. I know this isn't recommended but, yes, I do it. This mask is more of a 'do while you catch up on your DVRed shows' or 'while you take a bubble bath' kind of thing.
Overall, I think this stuff will be a lasting part of my routine going into the winter. For $12, you can't beat the price, and it definitely helped out my tired skin. I suggest you head over to Amazon and order one of these ASAP to add to your self care routine. I'm serious. With colder weather creeping up it is best to be proactive with hydrating and prep your skin in advance instead of waiting for disaster in ensue. I literally do this every year and wake up one day at the end of November wondering why I look like a psycho who hasn't put on moisturizer in 10 years. Don't do that. I also like to think that since I am dehydrated (thanks Crohn's!) pretty much 24/7, quenching my skin's thirst with some yummy products are even more necessary.
I can't wait to hear what you guys think once you try this or if you have already tried this! I also would love to hear any recommendations that you have for hydrating products/any must haves going into the chilly months!
Be back with some more later this week.
I want to first give a shout out to Brandon Cobian Photography who took these amazing photos (and many more to come on the blog). He is currently shooting in the Baltimore area so make sure to get in touch a book something. He has some serious skills and even got Matt to smile during our shoot! Ha!
Having a pretty and cohesive Instagram feed has always been something that has been important to me since the day I realized Instagram was a public facing social media platform that could build your brand. It was a freaking epiphany when I realized it was not just for editing weird pictures of my shitty makeup job or some blurry photo of my college friends and I “just being basic LOL”.
Instagram has evolved from being a glorified, old school Facebook album with filters to being a serious place where you can build your brand, your career, and actually make a lot of money from it.
Now, I am not saying I am an expert by any means, my account, my brand, and my blog are most definitely a work in progress but what I can tell you is, part of building something is the discovery along the way. And part of MY brand is sharing with you the tips and tricks that I uncover. This is actually part of the reason why I didn’t created a new Instagram account for my brand, I just changed my personal one over to @crohnicallyblonde. Why the EFF would I want all of my new followers at 26 years old to see the photos that I thought 19 year old me thought were worthy of Instagram? Well friends, it was a different time back then. Instagram has evolved, and so have I. But I have always had hustle. If you scroll back (not encouraging this but if you want to, be my guest) my Instagram was full of random photos of things that I bought at Nordstrom Rack (or wanted to buy because I was too poor) and where to get them and often their price.
My feed had a ton of makeup posts that shared reviews on the makeup in a super candid real way. Example: I post a hot selfie of myself and talk about Naked Skin foundation by Urban Decay that just came out. Yeah I wanted to post me looking good on a Friday night but I actually was providing people with value. This was actually so on brand for what I was doing back then because I was in makeup sales for almost 5 years, before the days of heavy social media marketing. I had a beauty blog called Beautybombbb (throwback) where I talked about makeup and clothes in a very real and relatable way but never marketed it. I had a decent following of people but I didn’t commit enough to succeed in such and over saturated market. The whole point is, I left this stuff up on my Instagram and I want my followers who stalk the shit out of my account to see that I didn’t just one day wake up and decide to start a blog and an Instagram and BOOM everything is pretty and beautiful. No, there was work and years of practice and honing in and trying out every new app until you find the ones that you like for editing and planning. Plus I kind of like where I came from because it makes me appreciate how far I have come creatively. I like to look back and see how my aesthetic has evolved and matured into what Crohnically Blonde is today. And guess what, it will continue changing an evolving so stay tuned.
What I DO want to share with you guys today are some of the tricks that I have picked up along my blogging/Instagram journey.
1. YOU HAVE TO TAKE BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS THAT MATCH YOUR BRAND
I know this seems so basic that it is insulting that this is one of my tips but it is SO true. Beautiful photos are key because those are the ones more likely to get liked, commented on, and reposted. That is just the truth in it. Lucky for you, you don’t need to have a professional grade camera to take heart eye emoji worthy shots. So many people (myself included) who are starting out building their Instagram feed shot their content with their iPhone. My dad who is a photographer said that more and more professional photographers even are posting iPhone images in their professional feeds because of the high quality that you can achieve. This doesn’t mean that you can just snap a photo on your iPhone and call it great content. You have to think about the composition of the photo, the lighting, and the focus of the photo. It requires practice to get it right. To address the matching your brand piece, this means that you are shooting and editing to match the style of your brand as far as color, tone, products, layout, and everything else that plays into it.
2. Have tried and true editing apps and saved setting/filters for a cohesive look
Does anyone use the filters on the actual Instagram app anymore? This one is huge since there are so many apps out now that are competing to catch your eye. Once you narrow down a few, you figure out your editing process and you can save your settings to make sure your photos are all pretty cohesively edited.
A few of my favorites of the moment are:
Facetune- Not to make you look like a Bratz doll… no no no. I use this app for whitening my whites in photos and lightening up a picture. You use the whiten tool that you would actually use for teeth whitening and use it on your background/feature product. I love this trick for flat lays. This trick has been a total game changer for my feed as far as making photos flow and look like they are part of the same series even if I am shooting in different environments.
ColorStory- I love this app mainly for the tools that you can use to edit curves, exposure, tone, and much more in a photo. You can also save your preferred settings and use them again as a default filter for future pictures. They also have some cool filters that I like as well if I lessen the intensity to about 50% or so.
Looksee- They have some cool filters, specifically for nature and food that I like to take into ColorStory to edit the lighting afterwards.I also like that they have celebrities/influencers create filters that you can purchase for a couple of dollars.
Word Swag- I just recently discovered this app for quotes and I LOVE it. You can use their pre made backgrounds or use your own photo and put quotes of top of them. The quotes can be in a variety of different fonts, layouts, spacing, and styles most of which are pretty well designed. I love this app for making content for Instagram stories and making quote blocks to post that aren’t pulled from Pinterest like everyone else’s.
3. what value are you adding with this post?
My rule is that I try to make 50% of the photos I post on Instagram add value in one way or another. Pretty pictures are great but if they aren’t backed by content they can only take you so far. To me a “value driven post” is a post that is either sharing information about a place/product that your audience will be interested in, sharing a tip, trick, or recipe, or promoting your other forms of content (ie. blog, podcast).The reason why I go for around 50% is because my brand isn’t just about products and blog posts, it is about getting to know me in my natural habitat, knowing my boyfriend, my dogs, my life. If you are all business then it hurts your likeability, authenticity, and people’s ability to relate to you. I do make sure to try and pose a question in my captions to get followers engaged, especially on photos where there isn’t necessarily a direct value add.
4. Make sure your aesthetic carries over to your blog as well
This one is kind of a no brainer but I have to mention it. Make sure the aesthetic of your Instagram matches that of your blog so that users know what they are getting into. If you have a dark and moody Instagram aesthetic and then your blog is light and pink and girly this causes a disconnect in your brand an confuses readers.
5. PRODUCT ENDORSEMENTS- MAKE SURE YOU ACTUALLY LIKE THE PRODUCT/ IT IS BRAND COHESIVE
I like doing product endorsements and reviews. I actually love it. I love being able to influence buying behavior through social media and I love having the opportunity to try new products. That being said, I only do endorsements or ads for products that align with my vision, mission, and brand. Sometimes brands don’t think before they reach out or they don’t do their research. For example, I’ve been asked to partner with brands to promote products that clearly contain gluten. How in the world am I supposed to try and genuinely endorse a product that I can’t even try?! As cool as the paycheck or free stuff can be, if you start filling your feed with BS products that don’t fit with your brand, you lose buy in from your followers. In addition, make sure that if you do agree to endorse a product you can put your own spin on the post both aesthetically and you can use your own words to describe your authentic experience. I just did a post for Roam Fitness and I loved how they handled it. They gave me creative freedom to pretty much do whatever I wanted and it turned into a really informative and authentic post that people responded to.
6. Plan your feed to be aesthetically pleasing and read like a story
I never used to plan my Instagram posts out but the more OCD I get about how it looks the more serious I get. Make sure you are thinking about how the sequence of your photos looks and how the story will flow to your followers. Make sure it is cohesive but also has a healthy mix of content. I use an app Postvu to upload potential posts and arrange them to see how they will look in my feed.
7. Utilize insta story to build your brand
This is something that is newly important due to the increasing popularity of story mode. Utilize your Insta Story to share behind the scenes content and show the more authentic and less curated version of yourself so that your followers can get to know the real you. This is something that I am working on because I am so bad about remembering to do stories. Putting this on my goals list! I love when bloggers and Instagramers that I like put up tidbits of behind the scenes, easily digestible content.
8. Don't make everything so curated that it seems fake
As much as I love a good Instagram feed that is aesthetically pleasing, you have to have a sense of human in your posts. Everything in your life isn’t perfect. If it is then good for you, you are literally the first person ever who can say that. Showcase the realness of your life and the little imperfections. You can do this with photos, with the stories you tell in your captions, or you Insta Story.
As I said before, my brand is still a work in progress but I wanted to share my tricks with you that I have discovered so far. I am so obsessed with the art of social media and human consumption of content. I read so many books about it, listen to podcasts, read articles, it just excites me. I hope this post adds value to you guys and if you have any questions about the apps I mentioned or any of the advice I shared please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Recently I had the chance to learn about an insanely cool new addition to BWI that I am pretty obsessed with on all levels. Roam Fitness is the first in airport gym that is actually past the security line. Yup. You heard that right.
My favorite thing about Roam is that it is really about creating a whole experience. When the founders of Roam were building the foundation of the gym they took into account everything that a customer would encounter during their journey of working out in an airport. They identified the pain points of travelers wishing to work out and created an all encompassing solution which leaves you really no excuse why you wouldn't want to workout at Roam! Their goal is to make the travel experience better overall.
So here is my breakdown on why Roam is so freaking cool.
The location. Roam is past security. This little detail makes a huge difference. Think about how early you arrive to the airport just to go through security (especially for international travel) and then once you are through you are bored out of your mind. But, if you wait to go through security, your luck will probably leave you with a two hour line and a missed flight. By Roam being located past security you don't have to worry about having to stand in line post workout and you can maximize your workout time.
The equipment. The founders of Roam made sure to do ample research about what people really wanted in an airport gym. Since space is limited they had to make sure that what was being put in really was going to be utilized and the best of the best. They have state of the art cardio equipment ranging from treadmills, a rower, and spin bikes. They also have free weights, TRX equipment, and an area for yoga and stretching. There is something for everyone which I think is great. If I am up early catching a flight I might want to get in my usual cardio workout or if I have a delayed flight and am stressed out of my mind some yoga could be the answer.
The amenities. Roam left no rock unturned when they were thinking about the customer experience. Every excuse that you could come up with to not workout, they have an answer for. The number one thing I thought of when I heard about the concept of an airport gym was, well what if I didn't pack workout stuff in my carry on? Roam thought of that too. That is why they actually have clothing and shoes that you can rent. They have a selection of Lululemon workout gear (yaaaaasssss!) and Brooks shoes that you can borrow and return, as well as a retail space where you can purchase your own to take home if you love them so much. If you do bring your own clothes and shoes, they have you covered there as well. They actually vacuum seal your workout gear before you take off so that your sweat isn't stinking up your carry on. This concept is absolute genius. Obviously you are going to want to take a shower before boarding your flight so they have shower facilities that you can reserve ahead of time for 15 minute increments. There is no college dorm waiting for the shower kind of thing going on and you can proactively plan this into your travel schedule. All shampoo, conditioner, and soap is provided and there is a styling bar with every complimentary product you could think of from hairspray to tampons. They really did think of everything. While you are working out you can lock your luggage away in state of the art lockers that even have charging ports for your electronics. To add to the convenience there are monitors located around the facility with flight updates and announcements so that you can track your departure time conveniently.
The people. Roam made it a point to hire team members coming from hospitality backgrounds so that they can play a part in enhancing the customer experience. The airport experience can so often be unpersonalized, stressful, and sometimes people are just downright rude. When you go to Roam you are promised to be greeted by a friendly, helpful face that can assist you through your whole experience at Roam. I don't know about ya'll but for me just having a friendly person to connect with during a stressful experience can make a world of difference. I also like that having such trained and skilled team members really elevates the experience and makes the whole process feel pretty darn luxurious.
The brand. You know I am ALL about a cohesive brand that really thinks of everything. Well if it isn't clear already, Roam has that going for them. They want to create that "me time" feel of traveling and really encourage people to utilize Roam as an escape from the stresses of travel and pamper themselves. From getting your body moving and feeling good, to pampering yourself with a relaxing shower (with great products!), to continuing the feel good vibes through your day by picking up some of the delicious healthy offerings that Roam sells to eat and drink.
The other really cool thing about Roam is that you get to have a luxurious experience with a reasonable price tag. A day pass is $25, a month pass is $100, and a year pass is $350. With each pass you have access to the entire facility, all of the amenities, and the expertise of the on site staff. I pay $25 at the airport for a handful of magazines and some iTunes episodes of The Bachelor to keep me busy. That money could be a lot more well spent.....clearly......
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to get some behind the scenes insight into Roam Fitness and the journey of its creation. I love hearing stories of entrepreneurs who hustle hard and create things that benefit the greater good. Something that really stuck out to me that the CEO, Cynthia Sandall, mentioned was how much research went into creating Roam. The years of testing out facilities, deciding on equipment, making sure that customer pain points were addressed, and implementing little touches that make the brand so cohesive really set Roam apart as a company.
I know so many Crohnically Blonde readers are local to the Baltimore area and travel out of BWI regularly so there is no excuse now why you shouldn't carve out some time in your travels to treat yourself to a luxurious workout experience. I know for me, health is a huge thing that I worry about while traveling. I have to keep up with my activity and nutrition so that my Crohn's doesn't wreak havoc on my vacation or work trip. I am honestly relieved that I know there is a place so close to home that really values making your health a priority physically and mentally even while traveling. I can't wait to frequent Roam every time I fly out of BWI and I am looking forward to seeing some of you there!
Make sure to check out their website for more details on what Roam Fitness has to offer and give them a follow on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest and greatest happenings (@roam_fitness).
**I will also be doing a giveaway on Instagram for a one day free pass for Roam Fitness @ BWI so make sure to follow me (@crohnicallyblonde) for a chance to win! **
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.