Blogging & Design Update

Feb 29, 2016

Ahhhh!!!! Do you see how this space looks!? I literally want to blog everyday because I am so motivated to by this new design! I'm going through some stuff in my personal life and I'm really trying to keep it from distracting my blogging routine. Yesterday I got the itch to change everything again and I don't regret it one bit! How my blogged looked before was almost perfect, but I wasn't so satisfied with the home page. Now I feel 3425435% at peace with the aesthetic of my blog and actually can't stop staring at it! My About page also got a make-over and I'm obsessed! Simple and minimal, my thing!
A change has been made just in time to welcome the upcoming season, Spring. I have always loved what Spring symbolizes. Renewal, refresh, restart. I love how nature speaks this into our lives in such a way we can't run away. I am embracing new beginnings and continuing what has been working positively for me. Blogging, minimalism, eating better, parenting. It feels good to sit in a space (before my MacBook or iMac) and blog away, putting my thoughts and creations out into the never-ending world wide web. It makes me feel less lonely and as a part of something.

To give you a quick tour of the new design, On the Home page I still have the slider with my most recent post as I did before, except this time its bigger and better. A new element I'm excited about is current mood. That's like a thing now. People post a random photo and caption it "mood". Lol. I thought it'd be awesome to alternate 3 photos signaling how I am feeling or what I am doing. You can see my caption if you hover over the photo! The photos for these slots may be mine or be pulled from Pinterest or Tumblr from time to time. You will notice my categories are now laid out in a collage form. I liked this feature because its less common upon templates and adds some texture to the home page. Following categories, you'll notice a featured post area. This will just be what ever post I feel like promoting and is subject to change on a weekly basis. After that, you can finally see my latest posts lined up under currently on the blog, newest from left to right. I added a preview of my Instagram on the footer since I have a little theme going on there and I thought it compliments the blog. As always, my social profiles and a subscription opportunity are listed below. I encourage you to submit your e-mail if you don't follow me on social media, but still keep up with my blog. Its a way to get first dibs when a post is published! Once you're viewing or reading my post, the layout is pretty direct and user-friendly.

Blogging is a part of me now. I literally feel uneasy when something isn't absolutely right with it. This isn't even something I generate primary income from, but still, I wake up at 5 am throughout the week to work on content while my husband is sleeping with our son and I can get a moment of silence to myself. Its now even more of an escape from overwhelming times, but a place of reflection and documentation of my likes, interests, doings, and being. I am able to express myself creatively and freely and that is something I could never take for granted. I learn so much through self-expression and watching the work of other creatives. It makes me feel pretty established! I love the journey- from beginning to ongoing. I am more than grateful to have someone like you taking the time to read this at this moment.

Condensed Wardrobe

Feb 26, 2016

and everything in between...
Not going to lie... for the past few weeks (maybe months) my uniform has been somewhere between leggings, Nike trainers, t-shirt/sweater, Nike cap. It looks like I'm in and out of the gym all the time, but I'm not *sigh*.
During my first year of motherhood I reflected a lot on fashion, personal style and where I stood in the mix. How worthy is it really to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes and shoes to (in my case) just have it sit in the closet for a while or end up disliking it a few weeks in. Motherhood along with my journey to minimalism has helped me make some super healthy choices. There's a certain peace that accompanies simply having enough. 

A few months ago I got so tired of seeing clothes and shoes all over our place. The majority of the stuff I came across either didn't fit or suit my style anymore anyway. I decided to get some large bags out and begin the process of donating and giving away to friends and family. When it comes to my wardrobe, I've come to terms with the fact that it can be all basic with a few exceptional pieces for special circumstances. I really do not need 60+ pairs of shoes, 30 jeans, dozens upon dozens of tops, 20 black bags, and an overwhelming amount of jewelry. In fact, I don't even need that much color. I find myself the happiest when I'm wearing black, white, grey, or something light and neutral. 
It has been such a relief to come to this realization and simply let go. I remember stressing outfits so much! "Not having anything to wear" despite having 2 full walk-in closets filled to the T. Always sinking in a floordrobe (aka when everything just ends up on the floor and you ask yourself how). Simply poor management and handling if you ask me. Anyway, when it comes to style, you will find me in timeless, trusty pieces that go a long way. I hope I don't bore you, but it will mostly consist of basics because quite frankly its all I need. I'm not a fashion blogger (justification) nor do I go out much and 98.7% of the time I'm chasing a one year old. #teampractical - God! This feels so good to let out! 

Some time in 2015 I came across a blog called 'Unfancy' written by a lovely lady named Caroline. At some point in time, she blogged about her experience with a 37 piece capsule wardrobe, which she mixed up seasonally. Ding! Ding! Ding! I knew since then this was something I had to try.  She also references other sources of inspiration that motivated her experiment. So this is what's suggested:
  1. Clear out wardrobe (check!)
  2. Set unwanted pieces aside (check!)
  3. Give to friends and/or charity (check!)
  4. Take a look at your lifestyle (CHECK!)
  5. Take a look at what's practical (check!)
Genius. Just genius. She also has a free workbook that helps you figure and accommodate exactly how you'd like to have your 37 items- if thats the number you opt for. I have yet to decide the special number for me, but the idea is everything in your wardrobe- tops, pants, shoes, accessories, dresses, etc., doesn't exceed that amount. 
Fridays is for Style on the blog. Maybe I will update you guys every now and then on pieces I switch out per season or what an entire season looks like for me. This is beneficial in so many ways: peace of mind, less mindless spending, intentional wearing, and simply enjoying and appreciating what I have. It is never too late to start and if you find yourself uninspired, cluttered or overwhelmed, I definitely think its something worth looking into! 

Social Media Rut

Feb 22, 2016

I knew I would have to write about this at some point because its draining me and affecting my blogging process. Social Media's weird because I never thought I would get tired of it, but I guess I burnt myself out. Since the minute I awoke, it was time to have coffee and check my phone or get on my laptop. Primarily Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (my love), YouTube, Snapchat...
It has been more than a year since I actually update my Twitter with my whereabouts, thoughts, and feelings, as I use to in like high school and my early stages of college. #throwbackmoment LOL I even remember how drama would play out through there. "Shots fired",  subliminal messages, and a bunch of other stuff only people with a lot of time on their hands could type. At some point I had fallen off the Facebook wagon, but had hopped back again because I seemed to came across awesome articles my intelligent friends shared- or incredibly funny memes and videos. I never thought I would get tired of Instagram, but to see so many people buy into likes, followers, "fame", its honestly all so stupid to me and an insult to one self.

about instagram - I have always been sooo selective about who I follow on Instagram. It was never to keep the count of who followed me higher than the count of those I followed. I have just always been strict with myself in following accounts that inspire my being or creativeness in some way or another. It literally became such a fun part of my day because they're really true creatives on there. Bloggers, Stylists, Writers, Photographers, a lot of 'self made' folks and frankly, its a pleasure to contribute to their growth and success. I follow a handful of people I know... often times just to be nice. But if their content overwhelms or annoys me there's literally no hesitation in unfollowing. I should really make a post about this matter on its own because I believe you are feeding yourself what ever you follow. This can be good or bad... depending on how much thought you give it.
Onto the people/bloggers/entrepreneurs  that I know personally and how they're being dominated in trying to attain a fake following. Its just something I don't understand. I don't see why a blogger wouldn't want to grow organically and document their growth. Faking your way through will just create confusion and longterm damage. There's no real relationship there between you and an audience and good luck if that's ever exposed. You'll surely lose trust from your 'real' followers and thats incredibly difficult to get back.
about Facebook - this is the platform where I'm most lenient about "befriending" people, because if their posts bother me, Facebook gives the option of 'unfollowing' without necessarily removing the person as a friend. On Valentine's Day I shared a post on my astonishment of how involved people were with updating EVERY step of their day. A day that's supposedly geared towards how "special" it is and how "dedicated" one is to being with that special someone or few. This year it seemed it was a day of just showing off every gift, activity, spot, next move... when really its no one's business what you're up to.
about twitter - Twitter has changed a lot for me in the last 2 or so years. I think being careful with who and what you follow on Twitter is very important as well. Those 140 character posts can have such a great impact on your day and attitude. It is another platform where I'm very selective about what I choose to see and keep up with. It can easily get under my skin, so its important to monitor my feed and make sure it only adds light to my life. Lately Twitter hasn't been such an issue for me because my feed is more of a bloggersphere (yeah, I just made that word up... I think). Point being I follow more bloggers and blog-promoting accounts to be more involved in the community.
about Pinterest - Pinterest is awesome. I don't think it'll ever bore me. I'm constantly inspired via Pinterest and is one of the platforms that allow me to express and even understand my personal style when it comes to wears, decor, parenting. I have discovered a lot of my aesthetic through my association with Pinterest and for that I am truly grateful.
about YouTube - YouTube is another great one. Mainly because its like TV. What ever you're watching its because you choose to in every aspect. I love vloggers! Its probably the most entertaining for me. I do dishes, cook, and clean while hearing the a simple vlogger or an educated speaker in the background.

Now I don't want to sound hypocritical here. I'm a lifestyle blogger. I share about my thoughts and life often. But lately it has been such a dread for me to even promote my blog posts via social media. Social media is crucial to my blogs growth because its the way I drive traffic so this affects me when I'm not keeping up, but at the same time I need to stay true to my feelings and sometimes just turn off for a while. Instagram is becoming more of an extension of my blog as opposed to before, it had a lot of my life constantly posted. I don't know... I never want to be annoyed when I am logged onto these platforms (IG & FB), but lately everyone has just been so "me me me" instead of reading or watching about something or someone offering something valuable to the world or their circle. I hope this post doesn't sound too contradicting. I have updated all profiles recently- what I am trying to signal at is that its not the way it use to be for me and a lot of people who have followed me for years would note this.
Besides this, I think the rise of social media is truly incredible and I am beyond thankful to be living during these times. Every day I wake up and its so clear that I'm living in the future... if that makes any sense. And the way the digital world is rolling plays a huge, HUGE part in our daily lives and the futures success.
This post wasn't planned, but it was on my chest and I'm so grateful I could just open up my blog and compose as I wish. I hope I get out of this little block I'm experiencing and come out the other side ok and excited to share, curate, and create.

Chanel Les Beiges

Feb 17, 2016

Lately I have been so caught up in making changes to our apartment. I've got a lot of new interior details I'm excited to share at some point on the blog. #cornersofmyhome? Maybe? I've been switching out furniture and adding in accent pieces to make our living space a reflection of our style. Hint until then: airy and minimal. I am very pleased as everything unfolds!

Onto today's review and my latest obsession... the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. The title actually defines the product perfectly. This compact gives me the perfect balance after long hours of make-up wear and I seek to retouch without completely mattify-ing (is that a word? It should be!) my face. It gives the complexion a radiant result upon application which I could appreciate now that Spring is ever so near. This isn't full coverage at all, but I would definitely say it is more medium than it is light. It is the silkiest powder in my collection and thats my favorite thing about it! It has a rather pleasant fragrance which is great when you're touching up to freshen up. I call it the unique Chanel scent. Nothing bothersome and always fades nicely. I usually always ignore all the mini brush applicators that accompany blushes and powder, but this one is very-well made and actually distributes the product beautifully.

I have the shade N30 which matches my skin tone perfectly. If you want a more translucent effect, then the N20 is great to kill greasy spots but still maintain a luminous, healthy glow at bay. The cream and black packaging is so clean and chic. This is definitely a staple in my makeup bag! It is Chanel... so you can expect a heavy price point. This compact sales for $58 which is a bit outrageous, but you really can't beat the quality. I don't purchase luxurious makeup frequently, but I definitely don't regret this purchase.

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in N30, $58 sold at or In Stores


Everyday Accessories

Feb 12, 2016

Seeing how minimal I am when it comes to my daily accessories makes me realize how different I am than a couple years back. I use to be sooo into jelwery. I was always after my great-grandmother who had the most beautiful pearls, rings, and chains. I would even go to sleep with all of my jelwery on.  It wasn't until I was around 20 years old that all of that changed. These days I barely keep my wedding rings on for bed. However I do have some pieces I can't go without!

  • wedding ring - something about looking at it and being reminded of all there was, is, and is yet to be.
  • 14 K Gold Mujuri Evil Eye Chain Ring - I actually keep this little dainty thing on more than I keep my wedding ring! It literally never comes off. I love how it looks and goes with everything. I always get compliments on it and questions about where its from.
  • the chunky watch - I've been wearing Nixon watches for the past 3 or so years. The have amazing quality and price points! It really is all the arm candy I need. I like my watches with a thicker band and larger face. This one is just perfect! I'm looking to get it in silver as well!
  • the diamond earrings - minimal and classic. My style! More often than not I'm wearing simple diamond (medium or small) studs. They look so pretty when I cross my hair behind my ear or if I pick it up in a bun or pony tail. It adds the glare I need to polish  and amp any look.
  • the gold chain - This is my favorite chain I've ever had. It was a gift from my mom and it has the evil eye mixed with the Hamsa. This is believed to wear off negative energy. I love how it compliments the Mujuri ring- which is always on my finger!

Along with these pieces I have two MUST do's every day... 
1. Hydrated hands 
2. Polished nails

To me, the essence of our personal style lies within the simplest details.

Best Matte Red Lip

Feb 10, 2016

When I say best, I don't use that lightly. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I would share with you my favorite red lip! The Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red 01 is the ultimate velvety matte, non-drying formula that is also kiss, drink, and food-proof! Seriously, thank me later. This lip stain is nothing like I've ever tried before!

let us talk color - this red is the most classic, true red for me. If there was a Selena red, it would be this one. The pigmentation is so firm and I truly feel it adjusts to day or night.
let us talk formulation - In all honesty, this beats out several liquid lipstick I've tried in terms of longevity and application of product. I can tell you it lasts more than the Kat Von D liquid lipsticks ($19) and it goes on super duper smooth with no patches. It will literally last through drinks and food without needing to be retouched for several hours. It never gets messy and stays right where you've applied it! This stuff seriously doesn't budge. It like sits there, permanently on your lips until you attack it with make-up remover.

A lip product that can survive meals is a win for me because there's nothing more annoying than worrying about uneven lipstick every time you take a bite off your fork or sip from your glass; especially on a date (what a nightmare)! It takes hours and I mean hourrrsss for it to start to fade, and when it does it fades beautifully.
Always Red, $14 at Sephora

This product is only $14, sold at Sephora, which is a great price compared to other liquid lipsticks on the market at this time. You will see this is totally worth the money and you will probably go for it whenever you need that intriguing red lip on a special occasion.

Introducing: Toddler

Feb 7, 2016

Hi, guys! Sooo... I'm pretty obsessed with being a mom. I find my son so intriguing and he has truly inspired something in me I never felt before. I'm pretty passionate about my parenting approach and have been wanting to incorporate it in my blog since my relaunch. I wanted to make this an introductory post to a new series that'll buzz around here called Toddler. I still can't believe I have a little one year old roaming around! This is when the stuff gets fun, challenging, and where the patience is truly required - or maybe not; that's always been required, lol.
The 'Toddler' series will be composed of my personal findings, experiences, and teachings as I mother my son, Noah. It'll be a collection of posts with my voice of experience and reason when it comes to teaching him about himself, the world, manners, morals, communication, consequences... etc. Toddler will recount what I learn along the way and tips I may leave to those interested.
Even at the tender ages of 1-3, I believe it is imperative to instill the best that we can as they develop their independence and sense of self. These years are actually crucial to their general development- not starting at age 5 when they're going into Kindergarten, and I could only hope to put my best foot forward. Since finding out I was expecting, I went crazy buying and reading as many books as possible to enhance my skills as a parent. Learning different approaches and techniques, I was totally in awe of the privilege it is to have and raise a human being and it isn't something I take lightly.
Parenting has many, many controversial topics, but I think if we united we can all agree that at the very core of our being we would want a lovely child, who has confidence, peace, kindness and self-love and shares it in abundance with others, right? If ever I happen to post against something you believe in and I happen to offend you- forgive me. In no way shape or form am I attacking another parents approach or lifestyle. This is simply a personal documentation on a public blog with tips from one mother/parent to another who's open-minded. I invite you to read through my perspective and share yours- even if it differs! I'm a pretty open person and I believe goodness comes with change and evolvement... isn't that how we learn anyway?

"It takes a village to raise a child..." - African Proverb
Your support makes me smile, honestly. I've never had to deal with derogatory comments, so please don't bother with those; its just not worth it. I respect all mothers/parents/guardians who do what they can in raising their (or any) child to their best knowledge, ability, and effort. If you're familiar with my posting schedule, then you know Sunday's, 11:00 AM are dedicated to the lifestyle, parenting categories. So, expect to find a Toddler Edition post once or twice a month. Thank you in advance for your company! I hope that you enjoy the account of raising my little toddler!

Winter Staples 2016

Feb 5, 2016

I honestly love the winter season. I'd say somewhere between late fall and early winter is my favorite weather. I love the cool, refreshing air and the fact that I can bundle up and not look crazy! Since I live in Orlando, FL, I don't get to experience snow or extreme temperatures, but last month was pretty cold here! We experiences the 30's which is like freezing for a Floridian. I'd like to think I'm capable of handling it since I was raised in New Jersey and brought up on ice, haha, but there were times where I wished for tropical sunny days in the 80s again! I think I've just gotten use to the warmth of Florida. I still prefer coolness, though! I just rather be cold and able to bundle up than be hot and just like sit there and be hot because I can't get naked, right!? Anyway, here are a few staples I've had this season. I've cherished the cool days because the heat is now right around our corner!

  1. the trench coat - Zara, H&M, Forever 21 released awesome trench coats this year and last and I caught a few of them on sale. I kept my eyes on light and airy ones because you can wear them in transition to Spring as well and feel comfortable. They make any outfit instantly chic!
  2. thick scarf - Zara hands down has some of my favorite scarfs! They're huge and you can even throw it over as a poncho! Warming up my neck warms the rest of my body so easily. Scarfs are also a great accessory. 
  3. over the knee - I've worn over the knee faux leather boots more often than not this season! I prefer these without a heel, especially if I'm going out for errands with my little one.
  4. oversized knit - knit sweater are something I actually wear all year round! When its 90 degrees outside, I keep it in the high 60s or low 70s in my apartment. They're so cozy and comfortable. I love just lounging around in them! 
  5. spacious bag - My current favorite tote is from Aldo. It fits everything I need and pumps up any outfit; whether dressed down or casual. 
  6. hand cream - I'm in love with Aesop Resurrection Aromatique hand balm! Its in my bag, on my vanity, where ever I am. It seems like every blogger has this and I can see why! It photographs beautifully, has lovely packaging, and keeps my hands perfectly hydrated. I will be reviewing it further soon! 

The BeautyBlender

Feb 3, 2016

the beautyblender - an edgeless, non-disposable, high-definition cosmetic sponge applicator. $20 sold at Sephora

I know- $20 for a sponge may sound a bit ridiculous. Believe me. I waited 2 years before giving in! Months turned into years after hearing the rave of the beautyblender, I waited to have the extra $20 to splurge and go for it.
To apply my foundation, I have always opted for either a stippling brush or a buffing brush, but I must say the BB gives my favorite finish. For a truly flawless result, it has become my go-to!
  1. Run beauty blender under water
  2. Squeeze excess water out
  3. Bounce complexion product of choice (foundation, concealer) across face
When the beautyblender is damp (as it should always be when in use) it does an incredible job at blending out product and it honestly makes the process more fun for me. It becomes bigger after being exposed to the water and literally has the softest bouncing motions when you're distributing the product on the skin. It is rumored that it may suck in your product, but I argue against this because the hydrophilic sponge material is suppose to soak up and keep in the water (this is why it is best used damp) making it less likely that is will absorb (or waste) the product. I wish the price point was more affordable, but as soon as I need to replace it (they go a long way), I will def make the investment again. It is a very well made tool and it has become an essential part of my make-up routine!                                                                        

Blogging Tools 2016

Feb 1, 2016

Planning and creating content would be a challenge without these essentials! Some I've had since starting my blog, and others I've gotten along the way.

  • the planner(s) - I have both a monthly and a weekly/monthly agenda for the blog. In the monthly, I focus on planning out posts and use colored sticky tabs to move around according to posting categories. I love this because it allows me to customize and move around content as I please without writing and erasing over and over again. In my weekly/monthly I keep a permanent record of my postings, social media activity, running to-do's, e-mails, and a "to buy" list for any product I may want or need for review. It's so helpful and give me a huge sense of direction.
  • dry-erase calendar - I try having an overview of my content per month and a dry erase board is the perfect item to magnify my vision. It basically allows me to see the bigger picture and its right next to my iMac so I don't miss a thing!
  • the moleskine(s) - Moleskines are my favorite notebooks! They are so incredibly comfortable, classic. I always opt for the soft cover. I have a medium in beige and a large black one. The large black one is for content preparation- believe it or not, I handwrite every post before typing! The medium beige one is for content ideas/scribbles, permanent notes, e-mails and administrative work.
  • the MAC(s) - Apple offers my favorite devices. I have worked hard and saved all my little dimes for all my toys in that department. I use my iMac (27") mostly for YouTube (which I need to get back on), editing, or when I feel like working in my office space. I use my MacBook Pro more than anything. As much as I love my creative space (office), I find myself typing away on my couch more often than not. I would be very sad without my laptop! I also use my iPad to create boards or curate ideas for future content. Its compact and super travel friendly. 
  • Camera + lens - One of my favorite things about my blogging journey has been amping my photography game. Learning new shooting techniques and editing skills has given my blog a whole new vibe! I went with the Canon T5i for the flip out screen (perfect for when I'm filming videos), autofocus and touch-screen features. I shoot photos with a 50 mm lens- which is an incredible lens with an amazing price point. The more I learn, the more I'll invest, but as I teach myself these 2 in conjunction work just fine! 
Blogging has been such a pleasure and now more than ever since it challenges me in some ways. Everything started with a notebook, a pen, and a laptop- oh and my iPhone for photos. In the beginning I had no direction, no planner dedicated to content or anything. You don't even need that- it all depends on the path you want to take your work on. By no means do you need any of the expensive devices listed above. Personally for me it was more of a treat. I bought my laptop in college and my iMac when I decided I wanted to create a pinterest-like workspace, lol! Perhaps I should blog about my workspace some time! Happy blogging! x

© Gentle Maven.