Thursday, January 19, 2017

Whale Watching With Harbor Breeze Cruises

Gray Whale Tail

I recently had the amazing opportunity to go whale watching with Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises. A small group from the media set out and had the best morning on the ocean. The weather was beautiful and the sea life came out to play!

When whale watching, it's pretty normal to see dolphins since they love playing in boats' wakes. On this particular morning there were a bunch of common dolphins swimming along with the boat. No matter how many times I see dolphins, it never ceases to amazing me just how smart and playful they are!

Common Dolphins Playing
Common Dolphin

And then it happened - we saw a gray whale migrating with it's calf. November through May, they start in Alaska and make their way down to the warmer waters of Mexico to court and have babies. This mom hadn't quite made it all the way south before giving birth and the Aquarium specialists thought the calf was about a week old. What a treat! It was pretty awe-inspiring to see such majestic creatures and have experts from Aquarium of the Pacific on hand to explain what we were seeing and to answer our questions.

Along with the whales were a group of friendly dolphins joining them on part of their journey. Again, dolphins are the best!

Migrating Gray Whales
Gray Whale Water Spout
Gray Whale in Long Beach, CA
Gray Whale Swimming With Dolphins

I was really impressed with Harbor Breeze Cruises. Their luxury catamarans were designed with whale watching in mind and have stadium seating that allows more people to sit outside compared to most whale watching boats. Plus, the set up provides optimal views.

Also, their experienced captains and expert naturalists are trained by Aquarium of the Pacific so they know what to look for and how to behave around sea life. I really appreciate that they follow the law of keeping a distance between the boat and whales. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a boat can not interrupt whales. That means they must stay at least 100 yards away, not get in their path or change their direction, etc. That's really important and traveling with Harbor Breeze Cruises, you can rest assured that you are experiencing wildlife without disturbing it.

Harbor Breeze Cruises
Harbor Breeze Cruises

Right now is the perfect time to go whale watching. The waters are so active at this time of year that you have a good chance of spotting whales. And if you don't, you can count on the friendly dolphins! It is a little chilly out on the water but if you bundle up you'll be just fine. Head over to their site to book a tour. Or better yet - book a whale watching tour that includes admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The two are right next to each other and a combo ticket is only $49.95 for adults, $33.95 for children, and $45.95 for seniors.

I've been to the Aquarium twice in the last few months and love it there. So many cool creatures and you can get your hands dirty - literally - touching sharks, sting rays, starfish, and more. Make a day out of it and get to Long Beach for a day at the aquarium and on a whale watching tour!

Gray Whale Tail

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

butter LONDON Plush Rush Lip Products

butter LONDON Plush Rush

I am in love with butter LONDON Plush Rush. Hands down, they are my new favorite lip products. So much so, I haven't worn any other brand since discovering these two magical must-haves last month. This is not a drill. You need butter LONDON in your life!

My relationship with lipstick and gloss is definitely love-hate. Some look great but taste horrible, others stain so badly that if you make a mistake you better hope you have makeup remover handy, etc. It's pretty difficult to find something that has no flaws. But Plush Rush is the real deal. Not only are these products long wearing but they also don't clump. That's hard to find in a gloss, especially.

butter LONDON Plush Rush Lucky
butter LONDON Plush Fireworks

I have the lipstick in Lucky and the gloss in Fireworks. As you can see from the swatches below, the lipstick is a coral hue and the lip gloss is a faint shimmery pink. Together they create the last color on the swatch to make a really pretty soft pink with a lot of shine.

Here are some other Plush Rush features:

-Plumping complex increases lip fullness while improving lip texture and creating a cushiony feel.
-Phyto-Endorphin Complex for mood boosting.
-Products in 12 shades, each.
-Moisturizing lipstick that prevents feathering (my mom tried and confirmed).
-High-shine lip gloss.

If you watch Project Runway Kids you've seen them use butter LONDON products. So if it's fit for the runway, you know it's going to make you feel like a model when you apply it!

butter LONDON Plush Rush lip products

Plush Rush lipstick retails for $22 and the lip gloss for $20. Both can be purchased at at Ulta, Nordstrom, or directly from the butter LONDON site. Go get them stat and your lip game will be changed forever!

In exchange for a review, I was provided with butter LONDON products. All thoughts are truthful and my own.

Linking up for Good HUES-DayTrendy WednesdayStyle Me Wednesday

Sunday, January 15, 2017

3 Keys to Instagram Success

How do I get more Instagram likes?

I've cracked the code to successful photo exposure on Instagram and I want to share my findings with you!

We all want to get likes on pictures that we're putting time and love into. It can be frustrating when you post a photo you adore but it only generates a handful of likes, then you see someone else post a so-so picture and get hundreds of likes. I mean, as much as we don't want to compare ourselves to others, we are human. And as superficial as it is, it feels good to have some social media validation in the form of likes and/or comments! That's the whole point right? To interact with others and make online friends. To put yourself out there, you don't have to have a humongous amount of followers, you just have to do it right!

To get a lot of likes on your Instagram photos it comes down to three key factors: time of day, number of hashtags, and popularity of hashtags.

Achieving Instagram Success
Last week I posted the photo above. While it didn't get a HUGE amount of likes compared to accounts with tons of followers (I had about 1,700 followers at the time), it was a lot for me and had a 54% engagement rate. As of today, six days since posting the photo, it has 195 likes. Not only did it have a lot of likes, it was highlighted in the top posts section for seven of the tags I used.

In addition to having visually appealing photos, here's what helped me gain top hashtag placement:

1. Time of day. I've found that posting in the middle of the night gets me the most hits. Between 11pm and 3am is my sweet spot. So when I posted this picture at 11:30pm, it was already 3:30am on the east coast, 7:30am in London, and so on (I'm PST). That benefits me because while I'm sleeping, other parts of the world are waking up and checking their feed and I show up toward the top. Then when my local followers wake up I have a chance of showing up for them first as well. The middle of the day seems to be least successful for me.

2. Number of hashtags. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags. Use all 30. I have a set that I use for every photo that I highly recommend. Keep your regulars in your notes app so you can copy and paste easily. These are my go-to lifestyle tags if you want to test them out yourself:
#ThatsDarling  #DarlingMovement  #LiveAuthentic  #FindItLiveIt  #LiveTheLittleThings  #NothingIsOrdinary #FlashesOfDelight  #PhotosInBetween  #TheHappyNow  #HowYouGlow  #LiveColorfully  #PersuePretty #TheBlogIssue  #BloggerVibes  #PostItForTheAestetic  #ThePursuitOfJoyProject  #VerilyMoments 

If you're looking for tags specific to your photo, search for terms related to the topic and see what related hashtags pop up.

3. Don't target the most popular tags. This has been one of my biggest tricks. If you're using #happy you're competing with nearly 342 million other photos and yours will get lost. But when you're up against 12,000 pictures you have the ability to shine. That's not to say I don't ever use popular tags, but when I do, I try to make sure they're popular in the blogging or travel world, not the entire Instagram world.

For this particular Instagram photo, the hashtags that I had success with were: 
#PostItForTheAestetic  #Wandeleurspark  #ThePursuitOfJoyProject  #ThatColorProject  #VerilyMoments #RSRoadtrip  #McWayFalls (the last was the subject/location of the photo)

Below you can see my photos showed up in the top posts section for each of those hashtags (I left off #McWayFalls since it's not relevant to you). And take a look at the bottom left. That indicates the number of recent posts using that same tag. Most are in the low tens of thousands, not millions.
How to show up in Instagram's top posts section

To get to the top posts section for a given hashtag, you have to get a lot of likes in a short amount of time. That signals popularity to Instagram - that you have quality content that others may want to see as well. Once you're photo is featured that means even more likes.

For the top posts above, my photo was sandwiched between pictures with hundreds of thousands of likes. And the users had incredible followings - 10K, 75K, I even saw one account with 448K followers! While that user has 103K followers and their last photo got nearly 3K likes, to be among those big accounts says you're just as relevant. You've achieved success by putting your work out in front of like-minded Instagrammers and found your photo niche(s)!

So remember, the three keys to Instagram success are time of day, number of hashtags, and hashtag popularity. Make sure you have bright, beautiful, eye-catching photos and that you are liking pictures within the same tags as well as reciprocating the love for those who like your photos.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with friends, pin, and tweet it. Thanks for the support!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rainy Day Outfit Inspiration

It has been raining all week here in Southern California which is pretty much a miracle! It never rains in LA so my excitement has inspired me to create my idea of a perfect rainy day look. Notice the Hunter boots. I want a pair so badly but since rain is so rare here, it would be pointless for me to purchase. But a girl can dream! Would you wear this outfit or do you have a specific rainy day look you stick to?
Rainy Day Outfiit

  top  |  coat  |  jeans  |  umbrella  |  boots  |  gloves

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Casual, Everyday Look

I rarely blog outfit posts because for the most part I have a pretty casual style, and let's be honest, a lot of you posting what you wear look awesome and chic all the dang time. But whatever, here I am in all of my relaxed glory! I live in jeans, cardigans, and comfy shoes. And I'm all about a statement necklace or scarf. I don't ever go without one or the other.

Check out my lipstick and gloss in the last photo. It's butter LONDON and I am OBSESSED. Next week I'll have a review up. But in the meantime, I'll say they are my new favorite lip products.

casual outfit for everyday
Marc Jacobs Shelter Island Satchel
Southern California winter style
Black suede booties
butter LONDON lipstuck
Outfit Details:

Nine West Booties (similar)
Marc Jacobs Purse is a few seasons old (Shelter Island Satchel)