9 Utterly Adorable iPhone Cases

For the last week I’ve been painstakingly trying to select a new iPhone case. My old one, a gold and teal polka dot case that I picked up at Paper Source, has started to chip and fall apart – not so adorable, huh? The problem is, there are just too many choices in iPhone case styles! Then, it occurred to me that I should ask the ladies whose fabulous opinions I most respect… you guys, obviously.

All of the below cases are ones that I found at Society6, which if you haven’t checked out, you need to. Artists curate their pieces onto items like laptop and tablet cases, tank tops, and even home decor like wall clocks and shower curtains. My very first iPhone case was this owl one by Teagan White, who also did the first two cases below. Also, special call out to Micklyn, who created the last four cases below.

iPhone Cases

  1. Fisher Fox
  2. The Queen of Pentacles
  3. California (this is the California state flag, for you non-American folks!)
  4. Feathers // Birds of Pray
  5. Sushi Love
  6. Butterflies and Hibiscus Flowers
  7. Cream Floral Moroccan Pattern on Deep Indigo Ink
  8. Heart Connections
  9. Patterned & Painted Floral Ogee in Vintage Tones

Okay, now I need your guys’ help – which case should I get?

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Stitch Fix August 2015

It’s one of my favorite days of the month – Stitch Fix day!! For those of you who don’t know what Stitch Fix is, it’s a subscription box clothing service where for $20 a box, you receive a personal stylist who will send you a selection of clothes picked out specifically for you. Then, you keep what you want and return the rest, while the $20 down payment can be used as a discount against any clothes that you keep.

You guys, I am SO in love with my stylist, Ariann! Since she began selecting my clothes back in June, I’ve had my best Stitch Fix selections yet. She managed to really fulfill some of my requests, as you’ll see below, plus select some items that I would not have picked for myself but now absolutely love. (You can actually request Ariann for yourself in the “comments” box for your next fix!)

Stitch Fix August 3

41Hawthorn Sloane Colorblock A-Line Ponte Shift Dress, $78 – Keep or Return?

One of the things I asked for from my stylist this month was a JCrew style, professional looking dress that I could wear to a conference I’m attending in Las Vegas next month. Wow, did she deliver. This is not a dress I would have picked out for myself, but I think it fits beautifully and the fabric is super high quality, not to mention it’s way more affordable than a real JCrew dress. All that being said, I’m not sure I’ll have too many occasions to wear it, unless I figure out how I can style it down. What do you guys think – keep or return?

Stitch Fix August 1

Market & Spruce Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee, $44 – Returned

This top is very soft and I like the color, but I really don’t love it for $44. It was also loose enough around the belly that I didn’t think it was very flattering, so back it went.

Just Black Rogers Distressed Boyfriend Jean, $78 – Returned

The second thing I asked for this month from my stylist was distressed jeans. Now that I’m working from home, all those “office inappropriate” items are now back on the table! I liked these jeans because they fit well and were very comfortable, but they weren’t as distressed as I was looking for. I’m going to hold out for a more distressed pair that I can pick out myself.

Stitch Fix August 4

Daniel Rainn Doyle Embroidered Top, $68 – Returned

I wish you guys could better see the detail in this black top, because the neckline is truly gorgeous… you can see a bit more in the earring picture down below. I really like this top and it was the boyfriend’s favorite, but it’s so similar to the top I kept from my Stitch Fix last month, I didn’t really feel like I needed another.

Stich Fix August 2

Bay to Baubles Edna Diamond Drop Earrings, $28 – Kept

It’s because of items like this that I love Stitch Fix. I so would not have picked these earrings out for myself, but as soon as I held them up, I absolutely adored how they looked. They’re both sophisticated while still being a bit boho, the soft golden color truly matches my hair, they’re very light to wear, and they elongate my neck beautifully (though not really in this overhead picture…). Love love love!

Which of my Stitch Fix items were your favorites or least favorites this month? Should I keep the colorblocked dress or return it?

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6 Subscription Services That Are Totally Worth It

Blog land is full of people raving about subscription beauty and fashion services like Birchbox and Stitch Fix, and I’m certainly among them. But there are a number of other digital subscription services, particularly ones for books, music, and movies, that can help you get access to a wide variety of media for a reasonable cost. These other subscriptions are also only about $10 a month and barely even put a dent in my wallet… and some even have an optional, free service.

Subscription Services

1. Dropbox – $9.99 / month (Optional Free Service)

Once you start blogging regularly, you’ll quickly begin to find that your computer runs out of space easily once it’s filled with photos. I try to be good about deleting the unusable ones, but Dropbox is a really great solution where you can store documents, photos, music, and even video on the cloud. You can access it anywhere, free up space on your computer, and know that all your important files are backed up should anything happen to your hard drive.

2. Spotify – $9.99 / month (Optional Free Service)

Spotify is a free music streaming service that allows you to listen to many, many musicians without paying a dime. But while their free service works just fine, if you’re a regular listener, I really think the $9.99 a month is worth it to upgrade to premium. Not only do you get an ad-free listening experience, you can actually download albums and playlists onto your phone so you can listen on the go without wasting valuable data.

3. Next Issue – $9.99 / month

I love reading magazines, but hate how they pile up around the house or cost $5 in the store if I don’t want to subscribe. I recently heard about this great service Next Issue, where for $10 a month you can get hundreds of magazines on your phone or tablet. It allows me to read all of my favorites like Real Simple, Food & Wine, and Domino when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store or curled up in bed. The only downside (and it’s a big one for me) is you can’t get it on Kindle Fire, but I make it work on my iPhone.

4. Audible – $14.95 or $22.95 / month

Back in January I shared 12 of my favorite audiobooks for listening newbies and discussed how I love the service Audible since I listen to so many. Audible has a selection of hundreds of thousands of audiobooks to choose from with some truly talented narrators and voice actors. While you can buy single books without subscribing, if you find yourself listening to at least one a month, the subscription will definitely save you money. You can spend $14.95 and download one audiobook a month or $22.95 and download two like I do.

5. Kindle Unlimited – $9.99 /month

There are a few subscription e-book services out there, but this is the one I use. For a few dollars a month, I get access to hundreds of books for free on my Kindle. Their selection is surprisingly thorough, and I don’t feel limited at all when I select what I read – often I’m just browsing for books on Amazon, select one, and come to find that it’s complimentary with Kindle Unlimited. If you’re a voracious reader like I am, this can potentially save you $50 or so bucks a month since you don’t have to purchase $6-$12 books every few days.

6. Amazon Prime – $99 / year ($49 / year for students)

I’m going to assume that most of you already have Netflix and just leave it off this list. My second favorite streaming service is Amazon Instant Watch, because it’s got a decent selection, but also because it’s packaged up with my Amazon Prime account. So for $79 a month I get access to tons of TV shows and movies, plus I get free 2 day shipping with Amazon… because there’s seriously nothing more annoying than waiting a week for a package. Love it!

What are some of your favorite subscription services?

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Here’s Way Too Many Grand Canyon Photos

Grand Canyon 1 Grand Canyon 3Grand Canyon 8Grand Canyon 9Grand Canyon 10Grand Canyon 11 Grand Canyon 4 Grand Canyon 5 Grand Canyon 6 Grand Canyon 7 Grand Canyon 13 Grand Canyon 14 Grand Canyon 15 Grand Canyon 16 Grand Canyon 17 Grand Canyon 18 Grand Canyon 19 Grand Canyon 20 Grand Canyon 21 Grand Canyon 22 Grand Canyon 23 Grand Canyon 24 Grand Canyon 25

You guys might remember that last month I took a week long rafting trip down the Grand Canyon with my dad, stepmom, and two younger brothers. I really haven’t shared any photos yet, other than the occasional Instagram, partly because my camera wan’t waterproof and I relied far more on my parents’ waterproof one for photoshoot opportunities. Now we’ve finally gone through all the pictures, and I’m sharing my favorite ones here!

A quick recap of the trip (I’m not much of a travel blogger, haha). We started out spending two nights in Las Vegas, chilling by the pool, wandering the strip, and catching a Penn and Teller magic show. Then we flew an hour south in a tiny little plane to the middle of the Grand Canyon. We spent the night on the rim, then the next morning hiked 10 miles down into the canyon… about a 5,000 foot decent. Despite being a frequent hiker, the steel decline really messed with my knee, but it was beautiful to go through all the layers of the earth’s crust.

We met up with our rafts at midday, threw our bags into waterproof packs, and started heading down the river. Every day we spent between five and seven hours on the water with little day hikes up into slot canyons between river time. In the evenings we would camp on little beaches that formed on the side of the Colorado River, which only stretched a few hundred feet wide most of the time. Remarkably, the food our guides made was truly gourmet and amazing, and aside from a few downpours and one extremely hot day, our weather was amazing. Each night we would set up our tents, bathe in the river, and yes, even poop in a bucket (aren’t the outdoors great?).

The desert has never been my favorite environment, but I really love swimming and hiking and camping, and the untouched beauty of the slot canyons and enormous cliffs is unlike any place I’ve ever seen. Strict regulations keep the Canyon from being overrun or destroyed by people, and despite the fact 50,000 or so people go down the river every year, it often felt you were seeing places barely trespassed by humans. I got lots of awesome quality time with the fam too, which was one of the greatest treats since they live in Canada now and I’m lucky to see them once a year any more.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon or gone rafting down a river?

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4 Tricks to Stop Being a Slob and Get Your Home Clean

Lately I have been on a cleaning binge unlike any I have ever done in my entire life. Remember the cluttered, far from photogenic home I shared with you back in February? Well, my home definitely has quite a few piles still in the corners (that will change when my roommate moves out next month), but for the first time in memory, the floors are spotless, the bedroom feels spacious, and my kitchen is free from those highly-suspicious splatters on the walls. It feels utterly amazing.

Sure, it took hours and hours of work and not a small amount of money for me to get to this place. But now that my house is a solid grade A in the clean and tidy department, I’m hoping it won’t be nearly as difficult or expensive to maintain it moving forward. I have the motivation and I have the tools. Now all I have to do is make sure I don’t devolve into my old slob habits.

Get Your Home Clean

Do you want to get your home clean too? Here’s the four things I did that really, truly helped:

1. Start listening to the “Ask a Clean Person” Podcast

For me, inspiration is a huge part of getting stuff done. I’ll read a foodie book, and for the next week, all I’ll want to go is cook. A month ago I started listening to Jolie’s amazing clean-spiration podcast, Ask a Clean Person, where she responds to reader questions and offers advice about how to control cat hair, what clean tasks you should do daily, and a whole host of other useful tips. Not only have I learned some great new tricks, she also just inspires me to put more effort into making my own home clean – bonus points for listening to the podcast while you clean your fridge or purge the closet.

2. Use the mobile app “Tody”

There’s nothing more satisfying than checking something off your to-do list, right? Tody is a great iPhone mobile app that helps you keep track of your cleaning schedule and make sure things aren’t going too far over due. Often I’ll tell myself “I have to scrub my bathtub every month” or “vacuum the bedroom every week,” but how often do I actually remember to do those things when the time comes? With Tody, you can put your regularly cleaning tasks on a schedule like every three days, every week, or even every six months. The user interface is simple and clean, and now I’m regularly wiping down the kitchen counters and tidying up the bedside table.

3. Always have the right tools on hand

There’s nothing more frustrating than deciding to clean the bathroom and realizing you don’t have a toilet brush. Making sure you always have the right tools on hand empowers you to go on that Friday 10pm wine-fueled cleaning binge when you want to, but really quality tools also make cleaning more effective easier, which means you’ll be more likely to do so. Last week I bought a Roomba 780 during the Amazon Prime Sale, and holy cow, it is a gamechanger!! All I have to do is tidy up the floor and let the little guy loose. He vacuums in the hard-to-reach places like under my bed, and requires virtually no effort on my part. But even if a robot servant isn’t in your budget right now, tools like a high-quality (yet affordable) vacuum, a Swiffer mop, and a extendable duster will help you quickly remove pet hair, dust, and grime with much less elbow grease.

4. Make sure everything has a proper place

Ever notice how some things just sit on dining room table for weeks on end because you don’t know where to put them? Thoughtful and plentiful storage helps guarantee that it’s easy to put things back where you found them in an orderly fashion and don’t get lost or clutter up the living room. I swear by The Container Store, which has really creative options like under-bed trunks, as well as cheap cupboards from Ikea that have helped me get my piles of art supplies and photography equipment tastefully tucked away. In order to start putting things away, you may need to do a purge first in order to free up precious closet space – part of being a clean person is making sure you don’t have unnecessary junk getting in the way.

Are you a clean and tidy person already, or is your house a bit of an explosion? What are your favorite tricks for keeping things looking good?

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How to Get More Blog Page Views without Spending Money

More Blog Page Views Without Money

Spending money is without question one of the most effective ways to get more visitors to your blog. Advertising on larger blogs is a fantastic way to get exposure, and I’ve seen the results myself (you can see some of my tips and favorite blogs to advertise on here). Giveaways are also a way to generate some traffic and followers, and I’ve done my fair share. I think that if you do it thoughtfully, it’s not as shady like “buying followers.” Collaborating with similar bloggers will help get their loyal fans over to your own site and likely keep them there to stay.

These days, though, I just don’t have a few hundred dollars to spend on promoting Oddly Lovely. For many of us 20-something year olds, that’s never really an option! But the good news is, you really can increase your page views and build up your readership without dropping tons of dough. While it’s a bit more time-consuming than advertising or giveaways, it does get the job done.

1. Write really strong content

Marketing your blog is a huge part of growing your readership, but no matter how many people you get to click over to your site, they are just not going to stay unless the content is compelling. Think critically about the sort of posts you love to read, and put in the effort to create and share those on your own blog. Sometimes that means spending a few hours to develop a recipe or photograph an outfit or write out tips – no one ever said blogging was fast or easy! Also, test out different types of posts to find out what gets the most shares on social media. I find that blogging tips are some of my hottest content ever, and I have gotten hundreds of visits from Bloglovin’ alone just because all the ‘hearts’ skyrocketed my post into the ‘Popular Posts’ section.

2. Comment on other blogs

Commenting on other blogs is the #1 thing you can do to get your name out there and get some free ‘advertising.’ And I don’t necessarily mean commenting on giant sites like Cupcakes and Cashmere or A Beautiful Mess (although sometimes you’ll get clickthroughs there from other readers). I suggest commenting on blogs that are similar to yours in size and content so the other bloggers and their readers may notice that you have shared a thoughtful response and click over to your site. When I see a new commenter on my own blog, if I have time I’ll click over to their site to see if it’s a blog I’d like to keep up with.

3. Get active on social media

Social media is the glue that holds the entire blogging community together. If our blogs are “our own little corner of the internet,” then social media is the place where all of us ladies get together to gab. Now, you don’t want to talk non-stop about yourself there, but mixing in a healthy amount of self-promotion will help your new makeup tutorial or favorite mobile apps post get seen and occasionally re-shared by other users. Beyond promoting your own content, it’s also a good place to scratch other users’ backs since often they’ll scratch yours, which leads me to….

4. Support fellow bloggers

What goes around comes around! You can’t expect other people to promote your blog if you don’t promote theirs some as well. The blogging community is just that… a community! It’s all about supporting one another. So every day, start picking out two or three of your favorite blog posts and share them on Twitter. Pin your favorite recipes or DIYs or motivational quotes from other little bloggers you love. Supporting other bloggers is free – and it’s always a positive thing to do, even if they forget to return the favor sometimes.

How do you generate traffic to your site?

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