What I wore – Keeping it Simple

I went out to Carroll Creek Park in downtown Frederick yesterday and ummm it’s a whole entire vibe. The sun was shining, people were smiling, a harpist was playing, and the mood was awesome.

Carroll Creek Park is speckled with eateries, shops, places to get adult beverages, sweets, pastries, and ice cream. And smack down the middle of the park is, you guessed it, a creek. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, it was the perfect place to be! Check out my IG reel to see just how lovely it is!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the area, and I wasn’t sure what our itinerary would involve, so I opted for a casual jeans (American Eagle by way of Plato’s Closet – a local resale store) and Hug Life Culture tee (my brand). I paired them with my denim and navy J. Crew x New Balance sneakers (by way of #poshmark) which are the most perfect throw-on kick for any wardrobe.

I’m not sure if I liked wearing the sneakers more because they are so cute and comfortable, or wearing a tshirt from my brand which i got several compliments on. That is such a total boost!

I polished off the outfit with my own beaded bracelet stack which I crafted, a Swarovski tennis bracelet, a gold-toned heart necklace from Walmart, and my new favorite tassel earrings which I got on clearance from Walmart. Oh, and of course, my Ray Bans.

I’m such a strong proponent for keeping things simple. You cannot go wrong with something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Flattering fit jeans, cute sneakers, and a tee that you can accessories however you see fit…that’s a perfect outfit for a day out and about.

What I wore:

Shirt – Hug Life Culture
Jeans – American Eagle by way of Plato’s Closet
Shoes – New Balance x JCrew by way of Poshmark
Shades – Ray Ban (with prescription)

Necklace and earrings – Walmart
Bracelets – Crafter by me

What’s your favorite go-to outfit? Are you a sneaker girl or is another shoe your jam for being out and about?

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Life Around the Airbnb (Fredlandia)

I feel like I should be doing better at keeping you updated on the haps with my Airbnb life, so I’m going to just start posting more frequently about the normal day to day things that happen around here.  Sometimes I feel like if nothing significant happens, then it’s not worth writing about, and quite honestly, I am realizing that’s not quite how blogging works.  I find I’m really intrigued by the journal entry type of blog posts just as much as the posts about a specific topic. 

So with that said, I’ll craft my first “Life Around the Airbnb” post and let you know what’s going on in my Airbnb life.

So here goes…

Today we are about two weeks away from checking out of this home, and here’s what we’ve been up to this week.

We are currently renting a nice two-story townhouse style condominium in a modern development in Frederick.  We positively love the home, and we love the area so much, but we absolutely do not love the neighbors.  More on that later. 

We initially rented the home for a month, but we decided to extend another month because we really felt like there was more to do and see here in Frederick. Due to the pandemic combined with the cold March weather, we were limited with how much exploring we could do, and there is so much in this area to explore.  In addition, I had a few appointments in the Maryland area that required me to stay fairly local for a couple weeks.  So, despite the neighbors that we don’t care for, we decided to stay put for another month because we love the home and the area.

A majority of this week was devoted to looking forward.

One thing about starting each rental at an Airbnb when you’re of no fixed address—it isn’t long before you have to start thinking about where you will go the following month.  So we like to get going with that search pretty soon after we move into a home.  While being able to hop around is quite freeing, the research involved in selecting your next home can be quite daunting.  And here are a few reasons why:

Price considerations – As you can expect, we have a monthly budget for our rentals.  We wanted to keep the price at or below what we’d spend on a rental or monthly mortgage payment if we stayed in one fixed location.  What we’ve discovered is, while there are a lot of great rentals that would be wonderful for a weekend trip or a family vacation, they aren’t feasible for monthly stays when you multiply out the daily rate by 30 days and then add fees.  We just are not paying $6,000 a month for an Airbnb.  Just not doing it.  So that whittles down our prospective homes quite a bit, and makes us negotiate wants versus needs.  Though there are monthly discounts (more on that later), once you add in fees and such, the prices can still rise quite high.

Monthly inventory – There are a lot of homes that are available for a weekend or for a week or two, but the inventory of monthly rentals is definitely significantly smaller than the inventory of homes that you may find when you’re researching places for that weekend girls retreat or the family beach trip. Sometimes we have looked in certain cities and the inventory for a monthly rental for our dates is less than 5 homes.

Our criteria – Anyone renting or buying anything has a set list of criteria, which includes your non-negotiables as well as the things you’re willing to be a little more flexible on.  Sometimes our options significantly decrease just by filtering out ones with no kitchen. For a space to be our home for a month, there are definitely things that are important to us.  We have learned that we operate best when a home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms at the very least (no adorably chic tiny homes for us!).  For one reason, we both work full time from home, and we both have meetings and make calls. Many times our meetings and calls are at the same time, so another bedroom or a designated office with a door is crucial.  And the bathroom…well…lol…I’m sure no explanation is needed for this one.  We rented a home with one bathroom, and it worked fine, but our preference is two if possible.

Seasonal aspects – Some areas are more popular based on the season, so working around the price hikes for certain areas can be tricky.  Yes it sounds awesome to be at the beach for a month, but guess what…you will definitely pay a premium price for a monthly stay at a beach during beach season.  And who really wants to be there in off-season?  Well…some may, but…the point usually is to enjoy the weather and the water, and to do that, you will pay higher prices.  And same is true for mountains during ski season.  So navigating those nuances can add to the trickiness of selecting a home.  You may want to be somewhere in off-season, but if it’s 10 below and you only do outdoor dining, or if the area is shut down because it’s non-peak, is it really a place you want to be?

Working the Airbnb system – The great thing about monthly rentals on Airbnb is that there is typically a discount for longer stays.  We have found that in some circumstances, extending our stay by a few days can decrease the price by a few hundred dollars.  So even if we don’t need the extra days, we may reserve them just to get the cheaper price.  But figuring out which homes that applies to, and what the right length of time needed for the best price, this can be time consuming and somewhat frustrating.

Because picking our next spot can be sort of challenging, we typically start working on that within a week of moving into a new space.  This week we searched, whittled down, selected, and reserved our next home. Can’t wait to tell you about that! 

So now that that’s done, we feel like we can breathe a bit and enjoy the remainder of our time in our current space.

And that’s what’s been happening around the Airbnb this week.

Have any questions about airbnb life or what we’ve been up to while in Frederick, Maryland, comment below or send me a message at justamarylandgirl@gmail.com! Also follow me on IG at justa_mdgirl!

Kindness Matters. Always.

I woke up this morning with a buzz in my ear…and here it is.

Kindness. Matters.

Once more.

Kindness. Matters.

You may have seen on my social media, on my etsy shop and on my blog that I call myself a kindness advocate.  Let me explain a little.  Judging comes very easy to me.  Always has.  Expectations and opinions flow through my veins.  It is only through some serious growth, and a few hard lessons, that I realized that I’m not always right and kindness truly matters. 

Giving the benefit of the doubt matters. 

Understanding that everyone is different matters. 

Realizing that everyone’s circumstances are different, their backgrounds are different, their response mechanisms are different, their support systems are different…and that all of that matters.

It took me well into my 30s before I realized that how I think, how I react, and what I do is not always right.  That was a hard pill to swallow.  Lol.  I realized I’m not always the smartest person in the room and that I’m definitely not always right.  I don’t always have the answers, and there are other ways of doing and thinking that are better than the way I do it.

I realized that you really have to hear where a person comes from and how they got to where they are in life before you can really understand their position, their mentality, and their actions. 

Maybe you would have done things differently if faced with the same set of circumstances, but maybe not.  I had to really examine how many times I’ve made a bad decision, one that others in my exact situation wouldn’t have made, and how I had to learn from the mistake to truly appreciate just how bad of a decision it was.  Most of the time, the decisions were things I could recover from.  But some did change my life in more permanent ways. But should I be judged or should someone be mean to me because I chose a wrong path or because I made a decision they wouldn’t have made? I don’t think so.

But every interaction may not afford you the opportunity for a deep dive into people’s lives so that you can understand exactly how they got to that street corner, or wound up in a financial bind, or whatever.  It may only be seconds of time out of your life that your path crosses with someone.  And that’s when you have to decide.  Would I rather spend these seconds judging, being mean, ignoring, or getting riled up?  Or would I rather realize this is a human being that got here by means of which I do not know, and that this person could use a couple of dollars, a sweater, a drink, a meal, a smile, or at the very least, for someone to not add to the weight on their shoulders by being mean to them?

My choice is compassion.  Or rather, the choice I hope I make each time is compassion.  Kindness.  Generosity.  I’m working each day to train myself to make that choice, and to advocate for people to consider compassion as their choice.  It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t come naturally all the time.  But that’s what I am working towards each day.  Kindness always.  Even when it’s really, really, really hard.

Through my apparel, I try to emphasize positivity and good vibes.  I try to always smile, and I try to see the good in every person I interact with either in person or on social media.  I’m not always successful, trust me.  But it is something I actively strive for each day.

These days we are all coping with unprecedented stress. We are in a situation we may not see again in our lifetime. We are all figuring it out and we are all trying our best. And we all deserve a little kindness.

Do you have a personal attribute that you are working on? What made you realize it was time to work on that particular quality? What do you do to motivate yourself to work on it? Do you have any tips?

DIY Mockups – Tips and Pointers

I’m really surprised that I’m enjoying making my own mockups for my business. Initially, it felt like something I was forcing myself to do, but after three sessions, I am noticing improvements each time. And surprisingly, I am starting to really enjoy it. Maybe I just had to shake off the nerves and tackle the logistics to push through to the fun part, but now I am starting to find it less daunting and more pleasurable.

How did I decide to try making my own mockups?

When I started my business, I realized I could pay for flatlay mockups. And they were great. But then I noticed that other brands had actual people for their listing pics. I really wasn’t sure where to find these kinds of mockups, but I eventually landed on, of course, Etsy, and found some mockup pics that contained people. And I loved it. I bought a few and used them in my listings. I thought they were great. There are a lot of wonderful choices, but finding a combination of someone wearing the item that I was actually selling, and for that person to be someone that I felt represented my brand…that narrowed the options significantly. I definitely wanted to include people of color, both men and women, and the choices were slim pickins.

For example, some of the ones that would have the item I was selling, it would have a female model that fit my brand, but the picture would be themed, like…football or baseball theme, something that really doesn’t fit my vibe. Or it would fit all of my criteria but the picture would be heavily filtered and faded, or have something about it that just didn’t work for me. And don’t get me started on finding mockups with men of color. There just really are not a lot of pics out there at all.

One day I looked at the pics I was purchasing, and it hit me that this was something I could possibly do. And so I tried. I bought a better tripod/ring light than the one I had, picked a nice sunny day, and headed out. Suffice it to say, I did not love the results from the first shoot. But I’ve now had three sessions, and each photo session has been a lesson. Each time I realize what I want to do better next time. And each session has been better than the one before it.

So that’s a success, right?

I think it is!

If you are the owner of a t-shirt company, and you are struggling with finding the mockups that work best for your business, consider trying it yourself. This in no way is to throw shade to any of the offerings on Etsy or elsewhere, because I’ve found some really great ones which I love and routinely use. They’re affordable and they look great!

But after using the same pics over and over, I got bored. Or the model mockups would have some qualities I didn’t care for, and I feel like why am I paying for this when I can create something that I like that looks just as good?

So as I keep practicing creating my own mockups, I’m getting to the point where I’m really liking the results. And I love even better that I’m not paying for them.

So let me tell about some of my successes and failures, and give a few tips for those that may be considering trying to take their own mockup photos.

Your Look:

  1. Do your research. Find pictures and mockups that are similar to what you’d like to do. Save the pictures and take them with you when you go on your shoot. Having a starting point for your photo sessions will help get the ball rolling.
  2. Style your outfit. Create an overall look that will appeal to your customer. Yes, you are selling a tshirt, but if the customer sees the style potential of your tshirt, that entices them to want it in their closet.
  3. Accessorize but do not go overboard. The focus should remain on the item you’re selling. Your customer should see how it hangs, how it fits, how things line up on an actual human. Compliment the look with bracelets or earrings, but don’t cover or outdo the item being purchased.
  4. Create different looks. Show versatility. Everyone wears tshirts, but not everyone wears them the same way. Expand your customer base by showing the item in a range of scenarios. Dressed up, dressed down, under a blazer, under a jean jacket…with sneakers, with heels. The more options you’re able to provide, the better chance you have of snagging customers.
  5. Be conscious of your hair length. For a tshirt to be used as a mockup, the front of the shirt should have space for your logo/artwork to be placed. If your hair is covering that space, the pic could be hard to work with, or it may look odd if you place the logo over top of your hair.
  6. Wear lipgloss. I swear, even just a nude one makes any pic look better.
  7. Consider wearing heels even if they aren’t visible. I’m short and curvy, and heels naturally elongate my body, and help the shirt fall properly. Most pics that I’ve taken do not even show my feet. But trust me, the heels helped.

Your Poses:

  1. Be aware of weird gestures. Know what your arms, hands, fingers, eyes, and mouth are doing. I had to rule out some really nice pics because I noticed my middle finger was sticking out. LOL…so…that’s not gonna work.
  2. Take multiple pics in the same spot. Sometimes you have to keep working one angle to get the perfect shot. If the sun is in the right place, and your item is draped just right, but your eyes were crossed, don’t move. Open your eyes, stay in the same position, and take more pics!
  3. Try different stances. One leg in front of the other, hips poked out, legs spread apart, leaning forward, leaning backwards. Look to the side, look up, look down (beware of double chin though).
  4. Try shots without your face. You are selling a shirt, so show the shirt. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your face has to be in the picture. Take some shots of just the neck and torso area. Your whole body does not have to be in every pic. It’s ok to only include parts of your body.
  5. Do different things with your hands. Hold something, tuck your thumbs in your front pocket, put your hands in your back pocket, hold them behind your head, put a hand on your hip. You want to look natural, so do the natural things that you’d do if you were someone standing around wearing a tshirt.
  6. Make different expressions. Smile, don’t smile, act like someone told you a hilarious joke, pretend like a long lost friend walked into the room. Consider what you sell and what the vibe is of your items. If the tone of your shirts is serious, then smiling may not be appropriate. But if you sell a mix, make your mockups versatile by changing your facial expressions for your pics. Use your eyes and use your smile.
  7. Take some time to reset. As you maneuver, and go back and forth to your tripod, your clothing may shift. Brush down your hair back down, readjust your clothing, make sure everything is back in place. Reset yourself after every few takes.

Your Scene:

  1. Use props. I’m not talking about fake mustaches on a stick. But take some pics holding a handbag, an ice cream cone, a bouquet of flowers, a glass of wine, a beach hat, or even your cell phone. Set up a scene that’s relatable and attractive to your potential buyer.
  2. Beware of background items. Plugs, cords, and passersby happen. To the extent possible, clean the space so that it’s free of junk, remove any cords, stand in front of any outlets, or let passersby cross before you press click. The extra work will make the pic sooooo much better. But keep in mind, if there are things that just can’t be avoided, and the shot is just too bomb to pass up, use photo editing software to blur the background. If the wall is white and the wall outlet is white, consider brightening the picture to obscure the outlets.
  3. Consider your scenery. Fancy backdrops are great, but they are not necessary. The purpose of these pics is to show off your tshirt. Not to show fancy places that you’ve visited. Scenes on location are nice, but a simple white wall is just as awesome.

Your Photography:

  1. Use different features on your phone. Take pics using both the front and the rear cameras (if you are using your phone). In most cases, the main camera on your phone will have the better resolution. But camera phones are so good these days, that even the inferior cams produce decent pictures using the front or back cameras. Sometimes seeing yourself in selfie mode will yield better pictures than if you are shooting blind. Play around and see what works best.
  2. Get a tripod and bluetooth shutter. Save yourself the headache of setting a timer and running back and forth. Once you get into a groove or find the perfect position, the bluetooth shutter helps you remain in place for more great shots.
  3. Pay attention to shadows. In the grand scheme of things, your shirt is not likely to be purchased or not purchased due to shadows. And in a lot of cases, the shadows can be edited out of your pictures. But there could times when a shadow is difficult to work with, especially if you’re a less than skilled photographer like I am. If the shadow falls on your shirt, and editing isn’t your forte’, it could be difficult to place your logo or artwork without looking strange.

I hope these tips help. Have you thought about doing something similar for your tshirt business? Have you tried doing your own mockup photos? What are your thoughts? Have any tips to add? Lemme know!

DIY Mockups for My Business

From the “spring gone get whatever body I give it” files…

Happy Wednesday!

What’s the weather where you are? Yesterday in Maryland was hot and today is going to be even hotter! So ummm…about all that chocolate I’ve been eating lately…

I experimented a little more with taking pics for my tshirt mockups yesterday. And though I wasn’t spring-ready, I still knotted that shirt up and struck a pose…because who gone check me??

Do you use mockups for your tshirt brand? I do love the convenience of the etsy mockups, however I’ve noticed that there are very few that have people of color as models. And I feel as though my brand is too diverse for one model type. And hello…I’m black and I want black representation for my products.

So…what’s a girl to do? I pulled out my tripod and got to work! Because sometimes you just gotta do it yourself, amiright?? I think I got a few good shots. Can’t wait to share them!

Here’s a little sneak peek of my mock-ups in action.

I still have some work to do to perfect the pics and poses. I need to work on being conscious of light, shadows, and backgrounds. And I definitely need to work on facial expressions lol. But it’s been fun doing this and I feel like every time I try it, I get a little better. And even though this is the free method of acquiring mockups, and that’s hella dope, the best takeaway is that I have pics that I feel represent me and my brand without spending hours on etsy. And I just love that!

#diymockups #pocmodels #diversitymatters #repesentationmatters #minoritybusinessowner #etsyowner #etsygrammer #dropshipper #diyphotoshoot #smallbusiness #entrepreneurlife #blackblogger #blackentrepreneurs #marylandgirl #blacketsyshop #loveyourbody #tshirtbrand #shopifyseller

My Bestie Made Chocolate Zucchini Bread For Me

I know a lot of people will brag about their bestie. And maybe they have a legit reason to. But mine is effing awesome. Like forrealsies.

I spent a couple days with her this week and, as usual, she fed me and fed me and fed me! One of the things she made was this chocolate zucchini bread, and it is so damn good. We are both cake and chocolate lovers but I tell you, I wasn’t sure I wanted any parts of zucchini mixed with chocolate.

This is probably a good time to note, I long ago vowed I would NEVER put zucchini into my mouth EVERRRR! I love a lot of veggies, but zucchini AINT one of them! Quite honestly, I steer clear of the entire squash family. I know…that’s quite controversial, but…I likes what I likes, and I hates what I hates. And this girl HATES zucchini! lol.

OK, so back to my bestie trying to force feed me a veggie I hate… She covered it in chocolate and baked it, and told me “no really, you HAVE to try this!!” I felt like an animal being tricked…like…I know you’re just trying to make me do something I don’t want to do, but you covered it in something that I love and now I’m completely confused. GAAAAHHH!!

OK yall, long story short…I fell for it. I took the bait. The chocolate was just too enticing and I gave in. It. Was. DELICIOUS!!!! I don’t know what happened to the zucchini, and I started wondering if I completely misunderstood what she said about zucchini being in it, but she confirmed, YES it has zucchini in it! It tasted like chocolate cake with chocolate chips on it. lol. Like…you would not know there was any veggie involved in the recipe at all.

So I thought my mother, who loves chocolate but is extremely health conscious, would also love to try this magic veggie cake, so bestie made some for her. And she allowed me to film her doing it so here we go!

She actually told me that she uses a recipe that she found online on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog. She loves their site and owes all of the credit to their recipe. (I won’t rehash their recipe. Definitely go to their site for the ingredients and steps!). I even asked if she altered it in any way, and she said nope! So that’s where she found this decadent trick veggie chocolate cake recipe.

So here’s a little recap here of her baking one.

{ whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt }

{ combine the the eggs, melted butter, oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar }

{ this is the mountain of shredded zucchini }

{ combine the wet, dry, chocolate chips and zucchini }

Literally the ONLY thing I would MAYBE change is use milk chocolate chips instead of semi sweet. Or maybe use a mix of the two. But that’s literally the only thing. This recipe is a banger!

{ after the cake has been baked and cooled and put on a cute cake plate }

It seems like it would be a million calories and just an entire plate full of sin, but it’s legit zucchini, so you can eat it and not feel guilty. At least that’s what I did…lol.

{ oh so chocolate }

Have you made chocolate zucchini bread? How did it come out? Do you have something that seems like it should not taste good but actually tastes amazing?? Lemme know!!

What I Wore – Cozy Vibes

As an introvert, I have always expressed myself through my clothes.

Most days I will have on something that immediately lets you know where I stand, how I feel, or what I care about. I think that’s the beauty of apparel and that’s what makes me love designing tshirts and hoodies.

When I first met @nylaeliseclothing at a vendor fair in Raleigh a few years ago, I made sure to buy a few of his tshirts, and get his contact info. So when this sweatshirt popped up on his page, I had to get it. He even customized it off the shoulder for me!

And right now, the way this Maryland spring is acting, this fleece lined sweatshirt is so perfect for teleworking from the couch today!

If you are in north carolina, you will know Ricky by his #carolinaculture gear. Check him out! @nylaeliseclothing on IG.

#readbooksnotlabels #expressyourself #bedope #introvert #cozyvibes #spring #telework #dopeapparel #findyourpurpose  #supportsmallbusiness #whatiwore #aprilphotochallenge #marylandgirl #marylandblogger #marylandgrammer #dmvblogger #lifestyleblogger #casualstyle #microinfluencer #microblogger #dropshipper #etsyshop #etsygrammer #blackbusiness #casualapparel #discoverunder1k #discoverunder5k #wordpressblogger

My So Called Airbnb Life

The North Carolina Modern Farmhouse Bungalow

I feel like I should have made this post a couple months ago, but…better late than never, right?  You may have seen me mention Airbnb life in a few of my IG and blog posts, so here’s why.

“Let’s find some beautiful places and get lost together”

Towards the end of last year, as my apartment lease was coming to an end, I had a decision to make. I had to decide whether to renew my lease or find somewhere else to live.  I really didn’t care for the complex I was living in, and finding a new place to rent was proving to be harder than I imagined.  Because of COVID and its restrictions on landlords, rental home inventory in my area was pretty locked up.  I didn’t want to move into another apartment, (I was moving from a bad experience with a neighbor and just did not want to be connected to another person). I wasn’t quite prepared to buy another property (I already have a condo that I rent out and am not looking to buy anything else right now), and my rental options were extremely limited for the Southern Maryland region.  As time was winding down on my lease, the whole search was absolutely stressing me out.

In addition, we were around month 9 of this crazy pandemic, we were knee deep in an unreal election cycle, civil unrest was on an uptick, and I felt like I just needed an escape of some sort.  Travel was essentially restricted so a vacation wasn’t really an option, nor was it a long-term solution.

One day, almost as a joke, I said “I should just pack up my stuff and Airbnb it until I’m over it.”

It seemed like a ridiculous idea…until it wasn’t.  What does that even mean?? Airbnb it? What are you even talking about?? Airbnb isn’t even a verb!

After a few conversations with my boyfriend, and a lot of hypothetical what-ifs, we decided what the hell!  We were both teleworking for the indefinite future, all we needed was an internet connection, and that connection did not HAVE to be in Southern Maryland. 

I swear I did not think my stuff would fit!

We came up with a list of criteria for a rental home, we entered said set of criteria, and we searched until we were numb. We whittled down our list and tuned in on one home that piqued our interest. We had probably looked at that Airbnb listing a million times before we made our decision. We decided to go for it, and eventually we made our first monthly reservation. We didn’t really know what to expect.  Could we live in a rental home for an entire month?? What if we hated it on day 1 and were stuck?? We have no place else to go!

The pictures looked adorable but, in this day of filters and angles, anything can be made to look amazing. 

Once the reservation was made, it was time to execute our plan. For the last couple months of 2020, we debated logistics, we purged, stored, and packed all our possessions.  We finished out our lease, and by January 1st, we were in our first Airbnb—an adorable modern bungalow right outside of Raleigh, NC.

North Carolina Rest Stop on the way to our first Airbnb

When move day arrived, we pulled into the driveway well after dark.  We were exhausted from cleaning out the apartment, packing up the car, visiting relatives dropping off random this and thats, doing our last-minute Maryland items, and then driving the four hours to North Carolina.  We fumbled through the self-check-in, we unpacked the car, (dropping a bottle of red wine all over the driveway…sigh…), showered and went to bed.  We barely found our pj’s and toothbrushes before we called it a night.  But the next morning when we woke up, explored our new (temporary) home, and realized how much we loved the idea of what we’d done.

The home was exactly as the pictures portrayed.  YAY!  The décor was adorable, the modern furnishings were so chic, and the personal touches from the host were perfect.  It was peaceful. The scenery was so calming. We felt relaxed and it was wonderful.

Anyone who has taken a staycation can probably relate.  It doesn’t matter if you go down the street or to another country, there is just something therapeutic about being out of your home, your day-to-day routine, your normal space, and in a new environment.  And after nine months of quarantine, and a year of an unpleasant neighbor, new scenery was so refreshing.  Even if all we did was sit inside this home and work, cook, eat, and do normal every day things, we felt like a new peaceful space, and slightly warmer weather, would be just what the doctor ordered.

While it feels super weird to have no fixed address, and to not know where I will be living two months from now, somehow my nerves are less frazzled than they were living next to a neighbor that drove me insane, while constantly watching news that regurgitated the COVID/election/racial injustice cycle.

I’m not entirely sure how long I’ll be an Airbnb vagabond, but I’d love to take you all on this little journey with me.  I can’t promise it will be super exciting, but I will share some homes, experiences, and lessons that I learn along the way. I’m three months and three homes into this experience, and it’s been a pretty interesting lifestyle thus far. 

Have you ever thought of doing anything like this? If so, what would be your approach? What would you want to do? Where would you want to go?

Have questions, hit me up!

7 Steps to Overcome Roadblocks

I recently found myself at a crossroad. 

I knew I wanted to accomplish a certain goal, and the way to accomplish this goal was to use this specific application.  The issue for me was 1) I didn’t understand what this application was; 2) I didn’t understand how this application fit into the overall process of what I already knew; and 3) I didn’t know how to use or implement this application. 

To add to the obstacle, in order to play around with and learn this application, it would cost money.  No free trials here. So I would have to pay money just to figure out what the application was was and how to use it, before I actually even implemented it.  So in addition to my lack of knowledge, I would also have to spend money.  In my budget-DIY world of learning and business, it just wasn’t checking the right boxes for me.

Overall, these items ultimately became my stopping point.  Instead of figuring it all out, I just shut down and did nothing. 

For about a year. 

Lazy + Cheap = Absolutely no movement towards my goal. For a year.

That. Is. Ridiculous.

In the meantime, I tried other variants of actions.  Low scale, small results type actions that helped me learn a little and earn just as little.  But ultimately did NOT get me to where I had been striving to get.

SO now here I am again, a year later, realizing that, in order to advance to the goal that I set, I have to learn this application and implement what I learn.  I finally said to myself…LEARN THE D*MN APPLICATION!!!! 

Like…am I going to risk just not accomplishing my goals because of this ONE thing I don’t understand???  Chick…are you actually serious???  NO!  I did not come this far to let something so small be the reason I don’t accomplish my goals.

So I got out of my own way.  I googled some articles, read some manuals, and got to work!  And in literally one evening, I made more progress than I made in a year. Now I’m well on my way to being able to implement the knowledge and hopefully also well on my way to accomplishing the goal I set for myself. And ultimately on my way to MAKING MORE MONEY!! KA-CHING!

Please tell me I am not alone.  Do you ever find yourself immobile because you just cannot find the energy, strength, or money to figure out how to progress forward?  I’m going to assume I’m not alone with this.  (Please tell me I’m not alone!)

If you are like me, and find yourself stuck, I want to help.  Because being stuck sucks.  Especially when you’re stuck because of your own self.  So here are seven steps that helped me get going. You can use these when you find yourself at a mental roadblock and are unsure how to move forward.

  1. Envision what you want.  Be clear.  What does success on the other side of this blockage look like?  What specifically will you be/have/do once you clear this hurdle?  Is it a financial accomplishment?  Health?  Education?  Envision yourself in your new home, finishing that marathon, wearing that bikini, or writing that new accomplishment on your resume.  Visualize clearly.  Let that be your motivation.
  2. Identify the specific action or thing that is preventing you from moving forward.  The action may be something big or it may be small.  Do you have to pass a test?  Are you unable to find time?  Do you not quite understand one thing, and that one thing holds the key to bigger things?  Write down the one, or the few things, that are keeping you from accomplishing the goal ahead. 
  3. Note the specific reason that this action is difficult to tackle.  Dig even deeper and get to the root. Are you unable to study because you don’t feel like it?  Is there one thing in the material that requires explanation?  Do you not have time because you have to work, take care of children, and find time to rest?  Are you not sure which method of moving forward is the best option for you and now have analysis paralysis?
  4. Write down a list of ways that you could clear that obstacle.  Is there someone you could ask for help?  Is there a website online that may have an answer?  Do you need someone to babysit?  Are you hesitant to spend money?  Can you research the best option online?  Do you need to speak to someone about their experience?  What specifically will help you overcome this obstacle? Write down one way, or a couple of options for clearing this obstacle.
  5. Designate a specific start time.  Look at your calendar, figure out your upcoming schedule.  Pick a time that you will start devoting to your action.  If your action is researching options, pick a time that you will sit down and begin your research.  You may not hammer it all out in one sitting, but if you don’t make a plan and set aside time, that time will pass and you will be no further along. 
  6. Be intentional.  Even if you only have 20 minutes of solid time this week to devote, make that time as productive as you possibly can make it.  Turn off distractions, put your phone down, have your note-taking devices prepared. Make that time count.
  7. Designate a specific time for your foreseeable sessions.  If you know that you have an hour before the kids get off the bus, let that be your specific time going forward.  If you’re working on losing weight, have your sneakers, sports bra, headphones and gear set out and ready.  When that hour approaches, you can jump to action as soon as it hits. No excuses. No fetching. Get to it.

What I’ve noticed is that each small action snowballs into the next action.  Getting started helped me to gather the momentum to keep going. 

Once you hit the brakes on a plan, you just have to figure out how to get going again. Get unstuck and keep moving!  Don’t dismiss how important this goal is to you and your future. Your goal is important and you are worth the effort!

Do you have any tips to add? Anything work for you that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know your thoughts on roadblocks!

12 Easy DIY Vase Upgrades In Time For Spring

Vases and planters seem to be at the center of home decor these days. Plants are great for creating a warm environment and for improving home air quality. Flowers are known mood-boosters. People are are inviting in more nature into their homes these days for overall mental and physical health reasons (especially during quarantine), and that means they need more pots and vases to put them in.

Yall know I love a good DIY. I love it even more if it’s free, cheap, or cost-friendly. There are SO MANY cute ideas around the innanets, so with plant and flower lovers in mind, I rounded up a few of my favorites! The best part of most of these projects is that you probably have a lot of the materials on hand. And if not, you can scoop them up with a quick trip to the thrift store or dollar store! West Elm and Anthropologie…whatever! Try these easy and less expensive DIY’s and create your own vibe for a fraction of the cost.

Plus…how fun is it to tell guests, “oh that vase? I made that.” (and then turn like it’s no big deal while they gawk in amazement at your super fab, oh-so-chic creation?? I can’t be the only one that loves that feeling.

So here we go!

1) Textured Clay Vase

2) Colorblock Vase

3) DIY Marble Vase

4) Nail Polish Marble Flower Pots

5) Textured pail vase

6) Pottery Barn Inspired Urn

by Hometalk

7) Repurposed Thrift Store Vase

8) Gold Wrapped Vase

9) DIY Terracotta Vases

10) Twine Flower Vase

11) Faux Wood Vase DIY

12) DIY Hobnail Milk Glass Vase

With spring around the corner, it’s a great time to prep your vases for your lovely tablescapes and spring florals. Let me know if you give any of these a try!