Norma Holland

Win a Starbucks Verismo Coffee System!

It’s a March Madness Birthday Celebration over at Big Apple Mami and I’m joining 16 other bloggers to celebrate and give you an awesome prize!

There are actually several reasons Kristina at Big Apple Mami is celebrating this month including two birthdays, an 11th wedding anniversary and her sweet little 1-month-old, Mateo who was supposed to be born in March but arrived on Valentine’s Day instead! 🙂

So let’s party!!!

This Giveaway will run from March 18th – March 28th (Kristina’s actual birthday) and once all entries have been verified, the winner will be announced.

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win! Good luck and Happy Entering!

Win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!

Today is the first day of spring!! To celebrate, Newlywed Moments and friends are giving away a KitchenAid Mixer!! Why? Because it’s a newlywed must-have. I absolutely love my mixer. I can just leave it mixing while I finish up another part of dinner! It is so very helpful! One lucky reader will win this white-colored KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer! Rules & Information: — Giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. — The winner will be verified, so please enter honestly. — The winner will be notified by email on 3/27/13 and will have 24 hours to respond.

WE DO: everything

Hello!  This is the official landing page for the WE DO series.  In 2013, The Charming and other bloggers brought you We Do: Design, all about graphic design and design elements.  In 2014, The Charming and The Ranting Latina are making WE DO a monthly blog crawl series on different topics with even more bloggers all in the hopes of engaging and inspiring all of our readers.

If you would like to be a part of future series, please fill out this form.  Thank you!

 

We Do: Design

We Do: Travel

We Do: Wellness

We Do: Business & Branding

 

#WeDo : Business & Branding 101

There are some great posts lined up for this week, so I really hope that you read and love on each and every one of them.  For my post, however, I’m touching on three elements of your brand and checking off ways to improve them.  This way you can better work on answering the following question:

How is your brand going to engage and inspire?

Now, I’m far from being the best example of perfected branding, but in reality, it’s because sometimes it takes the time that I haven’t had between nursing school and starting my job.  But I’m learning a few things about how to perfect and market your brand with just a few minutes a day.  Once you have a few of these elements set up, it can be quite quick to continue to promote your brand.

There are so many great tools and even more great resources, including all the posts that will be scheduled this week during #WeDo.  You already know why branding is important, though.

Branding is the representation of you and your product/business.

Branding is what connects your readers to you, not necessarily the other way around.  Being an identifiable brand whether it’s your main page, your Twitter account, your blog, or your email communication, is all customer service and marketing.

With that being said, here is a little checklist of things to consider when it comes to you and your brand.

So let’s talk about your design.

I list that it needs to be clean, consistent, have a logo, include well-lit pictures, be attractive, be responsive, and have a few key easy-to-find information.  I’m going to use a blogger friend of mine as an example throughout this post.  Her name is Rekita and she is the blogger behind Her & Nicole and the business owner of Rekita Nicole Designs.  Let’s take a look:

Your voice is the most definable feature of your brand.

The voice is most characteristic of your writing style, language, and content.  At the same time, it can also be expressed through your design, layout, and the colors that you choose.  It’s letting your personality through and this is incredibly important because it is key that your audience, clients (and future!), and readers have a sense of who you are as both a brand and a person.  Some shops can get away without having a personality behind the shop because their products sell just as is, but the brands and shops that really excel also know how to market themselves and that means having a voice.

Most of you reading this establish a voice through their blog.

In the checklist, I list the following: making sure your voice is really you because readers can tell, continuing on with the consistency that will identify you and your brand, being clear in your communication and your message, building emotional connects whether it be via your blog post and the comments or social media, and continue to keep in mind why you are unique.

Lastly, social media presence is required in today’s world.

Looking back at Rekita (or any major brand or blogger), her social media is just an extension of her blog and business and therefore her branding continues to flow.  Whether it be Twitter, Pinterest, or email communication, she has an identity that branches and matches the focal point of her brand (her business and it’s the main web page).

The most important thing with social media is it’s a quick way to communicate with others, so there is almost no excuse to not engage with your followers.  Especially, since there are services such as Buffer that can help you schedule Tweets and Facebook posts on days when you know you might be a little too busy.

You may or may not know this about me but I love the world inspire.  It is beautiful and I think as bloggers and brands we have the talking stick in our hands and we need to decide how we are going to use it.  With that, I like to think about inspiring others to want to make positive changes in their life.  As a brand or business, you’re inspiring to do just that… but with your products.  So how will you inspire them?  I recommend a mixture of self-promotion and others-promotion.  When a brand recognizes a great story, person, product and wants to share it with the world regardless of if it is theirs or not is wonderful.  And a must-follow brand if I do say so myself.

So now what?

I’ve quickly gone over key elements of your brand.  Setting up a good design, in the beginning, means your work is mostly finished.  Defining your voice and your brand is about quality over quantity whether it be your blogs posts, the images you post on Instagram, or simply ensuring you have great products.  But, then, the unique 21st-century factor is using your social media for good.  And using it to reach out to others by just saying hello, promoting your brand, posting something inspiring, or starting a conversation.

Remember, stay tuned to all the #WeDo posts this week and send some love to the talented ladies lending their knowledge.
Annie from The Ranting Latina – Building Traffic & What Will Sell
Alisha from The Alisha Nicole – Getting Started with Online Business/Shop
Amanda from Effervescence Media – Maximizing with Pinterest
Amberly from Life with Amberly and Joe – Building a Brand

Travel Packing Essentials: Your Carry-On

12May

 

Husband and I are firm believers in traveling light.  Not only does it cut down on costs (checking luggage can be expensive), but it cuts down on time (both before the flight and at baggage claim).  Also, it cuts down on just worrying and hassle.  I have everything I need in my one piece of carry-on luggage and my personal item (I go into detail on what’s in my personal item later this week).

In the graphic: Dress // Tank Tops // Cardigan // Skirt // Shorts // Pants // Flats // Heels // Bracelet // Clutch // Necklace // Cube System // Woolite // Jewelry Organizer 

In summary, you need:

  1. a dress that can transition from day to night
  2. basic/tank tops in fun colors
  3. neutral cardigan
  4. comfortable bottoms that can go with most tops
  5. keep to a bare minimum with shoes and accessories

For the most part, I go with the following rule: 1 pair should be a comfortable day shoe. 1 pair should be for the nights and special occasions. 1 pair should be specific to your trip. For instance, a water shoe, rain boots, sneakers, etc. This just depends on your activities and the climate of your location. Flip flops are also nice to just have for walking around hotels, airports, plane, etc and they take up very little room.

For accessories, just try your best to use the same accessories for a good amount of outfits. Realistically, during the day you won’t be wearing too much anyways. An envelope clutch is an easy to store item (since it lays flat!) that can be added in your luggage for night time.  For more extensive tips on packing stylishly and lightly, you can check out this post of mine.

For tools you need to pack lightly, I love Cube systems for packing in my carry on, which is a Ricardo hard case spinner.  I use a jewelry organizer with velvet or felt lining to help prevent chains getting tangled.  Also, Oxi Clean is by far the best on the go stain remover I’ve come across.  I typically use just soap and water to do a quick wash in the sink at the hotel, but you can also get dedicated laundry detergent to pack in your bag.

For liquids, remember it’s 3-1-1.  Most people don’t realize that last “1” stands for one bag per person.  Some airports don’t care, but some actually are strict on it and I learned the hard way because my hometown airport (Atlanta) never cared.  I think it may be smaller airports, but I have learned to just use one bag for myself anyway (it’s hard because mascara and makeup need to be included in that!).

Lastly, just a quick picture of my carry-on luggage and my husband’s carry-on luggage.  We are currently doing Las Vegas, Yosemite, and Napa Valley for a cousin’s wedding and we fit husband’s suit, four dresses (one casual and three nice), lots of shoes (for the different wedding events, I did have to break my rule but I had the room to), all kinds of clothes, technology (tablets, chargers, etc) and all my photography gear (including a tripod) in our carry-on and personal items.  I’m always happy when I can get it all together and thought I would show you the results:

When you travel around in California and you might experience an issue within your battery or tire in the middle of driving, well, you can call Bakersfield towing the most affordable and quickest roadside assistance services in the area.

TAKING ANOTHER BREAK

Hello, friends!

I’m going to be taking the month of December off.  We are putting a lot of energy into Skill Space because we are excited and have a lot of plans to grow a community for creatives, entrepreneurs, and the likes over there.

We also have a lot going on personally and with my family that I’m looking forward to taking care of it all in December.

Continue following along on Instagram and Twitter in the meantime.

I hope for a magical holiday season for you all!  Filled with many new memories and safe travels.  Surround yourselves with love and happiness as much as possible.

 

Soapopotamus

 

Meet the lovely and talented Regina!

Now, meet her talent!

These are SOAPs!  Real, creamy, moisturizing, yummy soap!

Did I say yummy?  I meant delicious.

Novelty and luxury soap featuring unique, handmade bath

and beauty products perfect for gift giving or personal indulgence.

Everything from realistic faux food soaps and lip balms to

sophisticated bath products and perfumes mean that there’s

something for everyone at Soapopotamus.

SIMPLE SNACKS TO ACCELERATE YOUR WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS

The biggest problem with losing weight is not the calorie counting headache, or whether you are “burning it right” with back-breaking workouts.

The real problem is – sugar snacking!

We modern humans eat a lot more sugar than we were meant to be, which is also the source of our obesity problems.

So in this article, I’ll show you some awesome snacking solutions that will supercharge your weight loss journey, while helping you reduce your sugar cravings and dependency.

First of all, the simplest tip: let yourself snack on things like nuts or dried fruit in moderation to help you resist candy or ice cream.

according to the site ecellulitis, sugar cravings can also be combated using natural alternative sweeteners, i.e. fresh fruits and nuts. While this might seem to be an entirely counterintuitive approach to avoiding sugar consumption, it does present many advantages.

Provided that you do not have a sensitivity to nuts or nut-based products, this might be an option worth considering.

A sugar-free existence does not mean you cannot consume sugar at all. In fact, most fruits are rich in sugar (hence their sweet taste), but they are completely devoid of processed sugar as well as other artificial sweeteners. These are the real evils you need to steer clear of, especially if you have a family history of diabetes or you are trying to achieve (and maintain your target weight).

Fresh Fruits – The Greatest Weight Loss Snack

Anyone of these fruits would make an excellent substitute for candy and ice cream.

When you feel the urge to snack on a chocolate bar filled with tempting caramel, these fruits will certainly help curb your craving;

Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Cherries, Boysenberries, Blackcurrants, Redcurrants, Cranberries.

Grapes– These come in many different varieties, but the sweetest is the

Cardinal Grapes (sometimes referred to as Sweet Surrender), which is primarily red and have thick skins. These are favored by those who are on a fruit-only diet because they are not only sweet but also remarkably filling.

Tayberry – This is a cross between raspberry and blackberry. It is a very fragrant berry and is often used for making jams and preserves because of its tart but sweet flavor.

Elderberries – These are small, dark berries that grow in clusters that range from black to blue. They are commonly used as fruit ingredients for cakes, jams, syrups, and muffins. These are not overly sweet like sugar, but it entertains the palate sufficiently to take your mind off the forbidden treat.

Note: Berries (especially the wild varieties) are loaded with antioxidants that help prevent premature aging and avoid degenerative diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C; so, while you are successfully avoiding sugar, you are also effectively strengthening your immune system and gums.

Apples – The Jonagold and Red Delicious are among the sweetest and crunchiest red apples available. If you are up for a bit of sour to go with the sweet, you can also go for Granny Smith apples, which are green in color and have a tart flavor.

Peaches and Apricots – These are very low in sugar content and are mostly available year-round. Peaches are particularly ubiquitous as they also come in a canned variety. These fruits are abundant in fiber as well; so, they make for excellent breakfast items as well (for better digestion). Organic peaches are always best, but those you can get in the regular produce section in the supermarket is just fine.

Figs – These are among the most underrated fruits there is, but they make for excellent snack foods. They can be eaten fresh or even grilled or mixed with other year-round fruits.

(Go) Nuts and Dried Fruits For Their Fat Melting Power!

What if you do not particularly like “wet” fruit? Perhaps the hassle of having to cut or peel it doesn’t resonate with you, or you are constantly on the go and do not always have time to shop for fresh produce. You still have a wide range of sugar-free treats that you can munch on, even on the road.

Dried cranberries – These come in snack sizes, which are excellent for when you are stuck in traffic and would want to keep yourself from stopping at the nearest fill-up joint for a candy bar or ice cream. Dried cranberries have a much more intense flavor than their fresh counterparts, and they are strangely more filling. These usually go well with nuts so if you are a snack-mix type of person; this is a good way to indulge without having to resort to sugar.

Dried mangoes – Some of the best-dried mangoes are imported from the Philippines. This South East Asian country is where you can find the sweetest organic mangoes, and the dried ones are just as impressive and delicious as the fresh ones. The export-quality mangoes come unadulterated, which means they are not laced with processed sugar, corn syrup, or any other additive.

Note: Philippine dried mangoes are sold in major airport lounges around the world as well as Asian specialty stores in the US, UK, Australia, and many countries in South East Asia.

Pili Nuts – This is another Philippine delicacy, which grows mainly in the Bicol Region. It is mostly sold as a sweet treat (pili nuts covered in caramel), but unsweetened Pili nuts are also available. They can be requested online, or you can purchase them in certain Filipino stores that sell delicacies.

Almonds – Roasted almonds are under-appreciated mostly because they are commonly found in the chocolate covered variety. These nuts are among the healthiest snacks that would curb not only your appetite for sugar but also your appetite for any junk food. They are best eaten with tart or sweet fruits, but can also be consumed on their own.

Pistachios – These are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and have quite a pleasing flavor that is unique unto itself. While these tend to be on the pricey side, they make for excellent snacks for people who want to avoid sugar as well as saturated fat since pistachios are often roasted.

Cashews – This completes the healthy nut trio, joining pistachios and almonds. These are very cheap so you can stock your pantry full of small cashew packets. These are not as greasy as peanuts and are quite filling as well, making it a great movie snack to replace that caramel popcorn you love so much.

Other nuts and dried fruits that are perfect for curbing your addiction to sugar include hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts. These may have a bit of fat in them, but they do not contain processed sugars.

Concluding – Think About Simple Snacks For Fat Loss

One of the causes, why many people fall off the wagon after avoiding sugar for some time, is that they do not know clever ways on how to make fruits and nuts more interesting to eat. This is the number one reason for most people’s weight loss failure. Fresh fruits can always be pureed or blended down into shakes or smoothies or can be served chilled.

Also, some fruits (such as berries and anything that has a tart flavor) would shine even more when topped with Greek yogurt (unsweetened and all natural). It is a lot easier to avoid sugar altogether when you find newer and healthier ways to indulge.

This way, not only will you deprive yourself of some much-needed energy boosters, but will also fill your body with the most essential nutrients, all the while knowing that your fat loss journey is right on its track!

Visit Bonny’s blog at https://skinnybonny.com/what-is-clean-eating/ to read many more such simple practical diet tips to lose weight and gain back your fitness.

 

Renee from This Won’t Hurt A Bit

Meet Renee from This Won’t Hurt a Bit.  I’ve been following her blog for at least a year now and she is one of the sweetest bloggers that I know — and quite a busy one!!  She decided to take up travel nursing in 2012, so I followed her journey from Mississippi to California!  How exciting for her!  She was also my first blate when she visited Atlanta Labor Day weekend last year!  If you’re interested in her adventures on the west coast, what it’s like being a nurse for your day (or night, in her case) job, or looking for a little southern hospitality in a fun blog, head on over to love on Renee!  (Though stick around here for a while to read more about Renee and then enter to win $50 to one of her favorite stores, Sephora!)

 

 

What drew you into a nursing career?

The first thing that drew me into a nursing career was the fact that I could go to school for two years after my pre-requisites and then have a legit career with many different options as to what to do. Teaching nursing, working in a hospital or a clinic, advancing my degree and getting my Nurse Practitioner degree. There are just so many options.

 

 

Why travel nursing?

The allure of being able to travel and see different sights is what made me want to do travel nursing in the first place. Along with the fact that you make more money usually. That always helps. Also, being able to travel and work at the same time makes a difference as well.

 

 

What have you learned from being a nurse? (Or from travel nursing.)

I’ve learned many things from nursing. Now if only my night-shift fried brain can think of them. I’ve learned that you need to have conversations with family and loved ones about end of life wishes before that time comes and the time passes. You should cherish time on earth generously because you never know when it will end. Burnout in the ICU setting can happen to anyone and it can make you lose compassion.

 

 

What are some of your goals/plans for 2013?

Goals for 2013… Renew my passport. Eat better, more fruits and veggies. Attempt juicing. Take more time to comment on blog posts I love. Small things but accomplishable things.

 

 

What did you learn from 2012?

I learned that people may walk out of your life for a reason but you have to let that go and let them go in order to move on. No matter how hard it may be. I also learned to take chances and leap with both feet in because the results may be wonderful despite the fear that can come with chances and leaps. 🙂

 

 

What was it like driving from Mississippi to California all by yourself?  Were there any highlights from your trip / did you stop and see anything noteworthy?

Umm, it was empowering and slightly scary but so rewarding to know that I am independent enough to not have to rely on anyone else. On the way out to Cali while I was driving by myself I didn’t make any fun stops. Recently when I came back home for a few weeks over the holidays my aunt flew out and then we took our time and had a twelve-day road trip back. We saw Napa Valley, San Francisco, Yosemite, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon.

Why have you decided to continue travel nursing?

I decided to continue travel nursing after being somewhat homesick and up in the air about it after two assignments. And to be completely honest, I think I just needed to find friends to connect with to feel like this place was a home away from home. No matter where you are you need friends. And so now I have a roommate and I’m not living in a hotel like I did for 6 months so that makes it better too!

 

Meet Nicole from Treasure Tromp + #Giveaway

Hi, there The Charming readers! I’m Nicole, the lady behind the blog Treasure Tromp (and that handsome man is my new fiancé – see below)

I started my blog as a way to document my attempts at finding life’s hidden, little treasures … and as a way to distract myself from my Ph.D. studies in psychology – just don’t tell my professors. When I’m not studying, teaching, or working on program evaluations, I like to go hiking/camping, and make a huge mess in the kitchen.

A few important things to know before you visit my blog:
♥ I’m a California girl, born and raised. I’ve been living in the Los Angeles / Orange County area for the last 8 years, but I was growing up in Sonoma, the heart of the wine country (here are some of my favorite wineries)
♥ I have a slight obsession with hedgehogs. Aren’t they just the cutest? Some of my other favorite things that I blog about – bows, riding my bike, and sushi. All wonderful things, yes?

♥ My boyfriend fiancé and I just got engaged! While we were hiking/camping in our favorite spot. It was perfect. Although I have absolutely no idea where to start when it comes to planning a wedding
♥ Lately, I’ve been traveling quite a bit. This year: KauaiSwedenDenmark, the Grand Canyon, and Prescott. Next stop? Moving to South Africa for 6 months!

I hope that you join me on my new adventures in South Africa, and as I attempt to plan a wedding while living in another country! Come stop by my blog to say hello, or follow along on my twitterfacebook, or Instagram – can’t wait to meet you! love love!

a Rafflecopter giveaway