The Classic Brunette: April 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weekend Adventures

I hope you all had a great weekend! It's back to school today, although my Mondays will be a lot better from now on because my roommates and I now have a dog! More on that later, here's what I did this weekend.

Friday

I have my one class on Friday, but ended up coming home to all my roommates being there. It's somewhat rare that we're all home during the day, even on Friday, so we all spent about a half hour deciding on something fun to do. We decided on going to a very late lunch at 3:30 and then a spontaneous shopping trip to the mall close to our house. It was only a few hours, but it was so nice to have some roommate time.

Saturday

My best friend Steph is graduating early and headed into a masters program a few weeks after she graduates (!!!) so we went to Disneyland and took her senior pictures. Our other roommate Nicole was the photographer while I was in charge of wardrobe. The park wasn't extremely crowded, although people always seem to find a way to get into photos! The pictures turned out really great, and I don't want to ruin the surprise of her showing her pictures, but here's one that Nicole already posted.


Sunday

We spent the whole day at the Orange County Pet Expo on Sunday. The main goal of the day was to find a dog that Nicole wanted to adopt, but there was a lot more to the Expo than adoptable pets. There were so many dog exhibits that showed the different breeds, and each exhibit had multiple dogs!! We spent about an hour with the Great Pyrenees because Steph has one at home and really misses him. 

There were a lot of giant breeds there which was super interesting as I had never seen any in real life! I knew Great Danes were huge, but they were almost as tall as me! So we spent the day walking through all the dogs and cats, petting the animals and chatting up the owners. There were also a lot of booths set up for companies and I actually ran into Arm the Animals! I worked with them on an outfit post earlier this year and we had a great discussion about working together in the future. It was great getting connected to these companies and animal owners, and it was such a fun day. 



At the end of the day we were walking through the adoptable dogs and Nicole decided on this little cutie pie! We named him Mowgli and he is just about the sweetest pup ever. He absolutely loves kisses, sometimes a little too much, and just wants to play or cuddle all the time. He's better than I could have hoped and I can't wait for the little guy to get 100% settled in our house. 




Hope you all had a great weekend, and a great start of the week. Sorry this post is up so late! New dog and nearing finals isn't the easiest combination of events to write blog posts under. 

Also, most of you have probably already guessed with the pictures of burgers and starbucks on my Instagram that I'm not doing Whole 30 anymore. On day 8 I got pretty sick and officially quit by day 12 because my body was just 100% craving real hearty food. I tried my best, but the sickness just took over. I'm still attempting to eat healthier than before, but my cold still hasn't fully left me yet! It's ridiculous how intense this cold was. In the future I will definitely try again to complete Whole 30, but it just wasn't in the cards for me to do it right now!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Romping Around Newport Beach







Romper: Marshalls, Similar | Sunglasses: Target | Shoes: Topshop, Similar
Monogram Necklace: Similar | Purse: Kate Spade, Similar | Bracelets: Francescas, Similar, Similar

On tuesday my roommate Steph and I went on a spontaneous shopping trip to Fashion Island in Newport Beach. It has been incredibly hot this past week, and as much as I am over the cold weather, I'm not quite ready for 95 degree days! 

The great thing about this weather though is that I can finally bring out my rompers and sundresses! I bought this romper from Marshalls about a month and a half ago, and I thought shopping was the perfect place to wear it. Although I have to say, I don't really recommend shopping in a romper. If you're trying on tops or bottoms it will be difficult to see how they really look unless you grab a whole outfit to try on. Also just maneuvering in and out of a romper multiple times isn't exactly easy! 

I was actually really in the mood to go to Newport since I've been re-watching The O.C. on hulu. If you've never seen it, it's set in Orange County (duh!), specifically Newport. Although it's dramatically different from actually living in Orange County, it's still so fun to watch all the drama. Well, I don't actually live in Newport, so maybe all the drama is real and I'm just not experiencing it! Plus, if you don't fall madly in love with Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) I don't know if we can be friends. All four seasons are on Hulu plus, so let me know if you watch it, I would love to talk about my obsession with you. Haha!

What have y'all been up to this past week? I know I skipped posting these past two Mondays, I've been a little swamped with school work!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

How To Use Instagram Like A Pro

It feels like I've always been Instagram's biggest fan.  Since the moment I got the app, I've been snapping away at everything and anything remotely interesting in my life. When I started it was all about the grainy, super filtered pictures that no one cared about. I even posted a photo of a boiling pot of tea (seriously, scroll back to the beginning of my feed and check out how bad those photos are!), who was interested in that?!

Instagram has evolved so much over the years, and so has how people are using it. It's one of the leading social media platforms, and it's a great way to get yourself noticed if you have a good looking feed and an original look. If you did head back to the start of my feed, you'll notice that a lot has changed since those days of mirror selfies under the Lo-Fi filter. My pictures are a lot clearer, have a more defined purpose, and my captions aren't full of inside jokes with friends. I have a theme going, and everything flows nicely with one another. Go on, check out my profile for a minute to see what I'm saying, I'll wait. @samimast

I started doing some experimenting with Instagram tips and tricks, and learned which ones work, and which ones don't, so you don't have to! Over the week of Spring Break I went from 558 followers to 683! That's over 100 followers in one week! I don't know about you, but I was so excited when I saw that my efforts were really producing results. Since I'm back in school I haven't been doing all that I can to push my Instagram, but I'm still gaining at least a few new followers a day. Here are some tips that when used right, will help you be on your way to using Instagram like a pro. 


Perfect Your Theme

I know, I know. I hate the term too, and I think it's kind of irritating that there has to be a theme that goes with every single picture, but hey, it works. I'm not saying that you have to make every single picture the same, but they should all be edited similarly so that they flow and look nice next to one another. Take a look at my feed below for example. Most of my pictures have a white or light background with some pops of color. Occasionally I'll add in something different, like my central park picture in the top left, but I'll edit it the same as the other ones so it flows. 


Use Relevant Hashtags

Hashtags are such a bother, but they are really really really important. You're allowed 30 hashtags per comment, but I would highly advise putting them as the first comment on your picture and only putting a few in your actual caption! My process for finding relevant hashtags was pretty lengthy, but that's the right way to do it! I searched through other fashion and lifestyle blogger's feeds to see what they were using, and then followed a trail of popular hashtags on Instagram's search. I also read a lot of other blogger's posts on relevant hashtags to see if any were right for me. Here are a few of my favorites that I use #thesparklediaries, #itsawonderfulweekend, #collegebloggers #dailydoseofcolor, #flashesofdelight, #pursuepretty, #livecolorfully

Engage With Others

It's called Social Media for a reason! Be social on Instagram, simple as that. If someone comments on your photo, send them a reply, even if it's just a short "thanks!" Start commenting and liking other user's photos, but of course don't be spammy. I accidentally over did it one day over spring break when I didn't have anything better to do than try out these Instagram tips and they blocked me from posting for 24 hours...whoops! So don't make my mistake and get a little too comment/like friendly. Take 10-15 minutes every day to comment and like some pictures, you'll be surprised how much more engagement you'll get on your own profile!

Tag Relevant Users In Your Images

I constantly have different brand's items in my photos. Have a lipstick that you love? Take a photo of it, share it on Instagram, and tag the brand. Sometimes they might just love your picture enough to repost it! Any time you post anything that has something from a brand, make sure that brand is tagged just for that small chance. You never know what will happen.

Use Good Quality Images

Instagram is a visual platform, if people don't like what they see, they most likely aren't going to take an interest in your profile. Make sure your pictures are always crisp, clear, and not blurry or pixilated!

Post Consistently

It would be my dream to be able to post every day on Instagram. Well, that's a little over dramatic, but either way I would love to post every single day. For me that's not an option, so I try to post at least 5 times a week. If you're serious about growing your account, you can't post once every two weeks and hope something changes. I would recommend daily if you can, but at the bare minimum try to post 3x a week.

Post When Your Audience Is Active

My audience is most active at specific times of the day, normally around lunch time, so that's when I post my images. If it seems like I'm always posting at 1pm, it's because I am! I've tested out a few different hours for posting, but that's where I've had the most engagement, so I've stuck with it. Test out a few times during the day to see when your photos get the most likes, because every audience is different! I'm not sure if this is still relative because of the whole Instagram algorithm changes, but it's still working for me.

Do you have any tips for growing your Instagram? Be sure to follow me @samimast if you aren't already! Also, don't forget to check out my follow up post about gaining more engaged followers on Instagram!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Whole 30: What Is It And Why Am I Doing It?


If you follow me on any form of social media, you know I haven't stopped talking about Whole 30. Sorry in advance, because April will probably be a non-stop Whole 30 talk month!

So if you have seen me talking about it, you may be wondering what exactly is Whole 30, and why I keep complaining all the time about wanting a cookie. (Seriously though, a big chocolate chip cookie sounds like a dream right now.) 

You can find more detailed information here, but basically Whole 30 is a nutritional program for 30 days where you eat very very clean. You cut out sugar, wheat, dairy, soy, legumes, and alcohol. Any extra ingredients that aren't really found naturally are to be cut out in order to reset your diet and from what I gather it leads people to eat healthier. By cutting out all these foods and then reintroducing them into your diet after your 30 days, you can see how your body will react to each one.

Some people suffer from stomach aches or little irritating pains daily, and apparently some of these can be caused by what you're putting in your body! In one of the many stories I read about different people's journeys through the program a mom had her whole family go through the diet and found out that her son's nose bleeds were always happening after he ate some form of dairy. It's actually pretty interesting to read! Although I don't think I'm going to have any major break throughs on my daily pains, I wanted to start this so I could start eating better. 

I figured what better way to eat healthier than to cut out almost everything but fruit and vegetables. Sounds intimidating, right? Well it's actually not so bad. I love the way the Whole 30 website is written when explaining things, because they put it into perspective for you. They tell you that going through cancer and giving birth is hard, but eating better is nothing near either of those two things. Eating better shouldn't be a challenge, it should be something you do for your body because that's how it stays happy. 

Why am I doing Whole 30?

I made a promise to myself at the beginning of this year that I would eat healthier. Although I was definitely doing that, I knew I was regressing from where I was in the first few weeks of the year. One of my favorite bloggers did Whole 30 (read her experience herehere, and here) and I thought "this is a great thing that will kick start me into eating better. 

I don't see myself eating 100% like this after the 30 days are up (I'll let you know if I feel differently in my second update!), but I already know that I want to look at labels more carefully and incorporate more fruits and veggies into my regular meals and snacks. 

Although losing weight is something that happens while on Whole 30, that isn't my main goal. My goal is to be healthier and stay on track with better eating habits. 

I went over the idea of Whole 30 with my roommate Steph and she loved the idea, so we're doing it together! I think doing this with a partner of some sort is a lot easier than doing it by yourself.

What exactly can I eat?

Any type of meat, fruit or vegetable is 100% allowed. Most spices are allowed, although you still have to check for added sugars or wheat because sometimes it can be hidden in there! Like I said earlier you eliminate sugar, wheat, dairy, legumes, soy, and alcohol. A big part of Whole 30 is checking the label of everything you buy from the store and making sure there aren't any added sugars or anything that you don't know about. Finding compliant ingredients really isn't that hard, you just have to do a little searching. The most annoying thing is that you're going to have to go to more of a specialty store (think Whole Foods) if you want to make specific recipes. Steph and I had to go there to buy almond flour, coconut flour, and coconut aminos (basically the coconut version of soy sauce). 

You also aren't allowed to make any compliant recipes that resemble anything unhealthy. For example you could find multiple ingredients to make a Whole 30 compliant brownie, but that isn't allowed! This makes it really hard when all you want is dessert!

There's an average timeline of the program here, but this is how I've been feeling these past few days. 

Day 1: I can totally do this

I was cooking like no tomorrow. Me and Steph had just bought tons of great ingredients, we even bought from Whole Foods for the first time. (I. Know.) These next 29 days are going to be a breeze.

Day 2: Ow, why do I have a headache?

I was fine during the morning and afternoon this day. I ate my breakfast and lunch, and was drinking my water without issues. 2pm hit and I had a small headache. No problem, I took an advil and hoped for the best. I had dinner and then went to the Greek Life Skit show on campus. During the show my headache only got worse and by 9pm it was pounding. Days 2-3 in the timeline say you'll get hangover symptoms, and for me it came in the form of a headache. Steph was feeling kind of nauseous on and off all day.

Day 3-4: IM SO HUNGRY.

I didn't really have any other symptoms on these days besides being super hungry! I think my body started realizing it wasn't going to be getting of the stuff it was used to and wanted to fight back. I actually was pretty full for each of my meals, but I just wasn't satisfied with anything I was eating. I wanted cookies, I wanted chipotle, I wanted a diet coke. I wanted everything I couldn't have.

Day 5: I'm mad at everything and I also want dessert.

The Whole 30 timeline tells you to warn your friends and family that you may be a little irritated for the next few days. I was mad at myself for starting this thing, because I was desperately seeking cookie dough ice cream (I caught a whiff of some and started drooling). I was mad at my roommates for not putting the knives in the right places. I was mad because the chicken was taking too long in the oven. Seriously I couldn't have been any more irritated.

Day 6: Totally fine.

It's the end of day 6 and I've been totally normal! I had a good 3 meals today with some snacks in between and am feeling like I have everything handled. 

Insights so far:

I really miss dessert. I've never really been a dessert person, but the things I've been craving have all been dessert related. It may not have helped that there were cupcakes sitting on my coffee table the first few days tempting me, but seriously all I've wanted are sweets. The occasional thought of pizza comes into my head, but for the most part I crave sugar. 

I have a few favorite meals so far, but I'll share those in the next update when I have more to add!

Hopefully this was helpful to anyone who's curious in any way about Whole 30 or wants to start the program. It looks so difficult if you're just looking at the facts, but honestly the hardest part is forcing yourself to stay on track. It's more of a mental challenge than a physical one. If you can get through the first 10 days, you're most likely going to finish the program! If you want to start and need a buddy, come talk to me!

If you have any questions you'd like answered you can put them in the comments or email me at theclassicbrunette@gmail.com and I'll either answer them there or put them in the next update.


Monday, April 4, 2016

April Goals


Happy April everyone! I know it's already a few days in, but I wanted to share my goals for this month. I've seen a few other bloggers with posts explaining their monthly goals and really liked seeing other blogger's perspectives on what they want to achieve. This may or may not become a monthly thing, but I wanted to give it a go and see what happens. Maybe you can relate to some of these goals, blogging or personal. I'd love to know some of your goals in the comments!

Blogging Goals

1. Reach 30k views this month

That's right I'm putting my numbers out here for you all to see! I know I don't get the most views and I know I'm far above some, but I seriously appreciate every single view I get. I've been hovering between 22-25k views these past few months and want to bump it up to 30k. If I implement some new techniques and focus a little more on post advertising/promotion I really think I can do it. 

2. Post on Instagram at least 5 times a week

As much as I want to say post everyday, sometimes I'm just can't. I try to take as many pictures for Instagram as I can, but many times when I don't post it's either because a picture that I have is too similar to one I just posted or I didn't have enough time to take the pictures I wanted. I hope to be a little more prepared when it comes to Instagram this month.

3. Reach out to other bloggers more

I love the blogging community, and I have a few friends here and there, but I want to make more of an effort to get connected to people. Every other blogger I've met is so sweet and supportive, and I want to be that for others too! By the way if you're a blogger in the Bay Area or Orange County and want to hang out some time, let me know I would love to get to know you!

Personal Goals

1. Commit to Whole 30

I'm doing a nutrition plan called Whole 30 during the month of April! More about this in Thursday's post, but I want to commit myself as best I can to the rules of the program. 

2. Clean my room once a week

My room tends to get...explosive every once in a while. I came back from Spring Break and there were clothes on the floor, clothes on my desk, clothes on my chair, etc. Basically it was a pigsty and it shouldn't happen again. I'm making this one of my goals so that it won't get out of hand again. Hopefully if I do a tidying up at least once a week things will always be in order.

3. Be more social

I don't know if you guys know this, but I'm a complete homebody. I like to stay at home under my favorite blanket and would be happy never leaving my couch. Yes, it's ridiculous, but home is my happy place and getting too much social interaction always drains me. I don't need to go out partying or anything, but I want to make an effort to see my friends more. I see my roommates constantly, and while I love them, there are other friends that I don't get to see often enough. If I put in a little extra effort to be social (and make schedules work, Maci, why are you always so busy!?) then I can be sure to see everyone who I want to hang out with.

What are your goals for April?
 
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