Define and grow your Instagram brand

My friends and coworkers kind of know me as the Instagram queen.

My boss jokingly refers to me as “white background,” and I’m part of an Instagram-focused chat on Facebook.

And, of course, I’m routinely complimented on my content and approached for tips when it comes to one of my favorite social networking sites. So, I figured I would take some time to jot down some of the things I’ve learned about building and growing your personal brand on Instagram.

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Parmesan orzo with bay scallops and asparagus

I have a somewhat funny story about the first time I ever tried scallops.

I was out to dinner with a friend at a tapas restaurant, and one of the menu items was some form of bacon-wrapped scallops. We had previously discussed which small plates to get and were in the middle of ordering when my friend just tossed our server a request for the scallops — half without the bacon for me.

It wasn’t until maybe 20 minutes after ordering that the friend said “Oh, wait. You eat/like scallops, right?”

Well, now that you’re asking.

I had actually never had scallops before, but I didn’t want to be rude since this friend had made a pretty big effort to get together with me. So, I just nodded and figured that, hey. Worst case scenario? I’d choke them down and smile about it.

But, I actually ended up really liking the scallops! Since then, I’ve started experimenting with these little bivalves on my own. I put together this 30-minute dinner recipe a short while ago (modified a bit from this recipe), and it was actually pretty successful!

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The search for the best daily planner 2016-2017

I’m an incredibly Type A person.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

I thrive on structure, and the word “spontaneity” is not in my vocabulary. If you pull me away from my routine, I will likely die.

OK, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But, I’m a very organized person and I cannot function without some kind of list, somewhere, detailing my appointments and tasks.

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Sweet potato breakfast bowl

Happy Sunday! Even though I work a Sunday shift as part of my job, I still love this day. I’m lucky enough that I get to work from home on weekends, so it’s actually pretty relaxing. I don’t have to worry about doing my hair and commuting, and instead of stressing out about packing a lunch, I can actually make myself something fresh and healthy to eat mid-shift.

Yesterday, I threw together this quick and easy sweet potato breakfast bowl. I was actually surprised at how good it was! It’s a pretty simple three-ish ingredient creation, so it’s great if you’re trying to eat clean. And the best part? It only takes about 30 minutes with prep and cooking time included! Plus, it’s made for one and there’s minimal clean-up required. It’s actually the perfect breakfast to make prior to my work-from-home Sunday shift!

I always feel my best when I’m living on a healthy diet, and I’m pretty sure this easy-to-make dish definitely qualifies as healthy. The creamy avocado works wonderfully with the crispy roasted sweet potatoes. And — everything covered in dripping egg yolk? Fantastic.

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Healthy office cubicle snacks

If you hadn’t heard the B-I-G news of the month… I finally got a cubicle at work!

I’m still working on decorating it (I literally joked with my boss about how I’m going to be bringing in an overhead crystal chandelier), but that’s totally fine. Decorations aren’t really my priority anyway.

My actual priority is food.

Kidding, kind of.

But, really. Now that I have my own desk and I’m not borrowing/ sharing (like I had been for the past year-plus), I have a ton of room for yummy and healthy snacks, which is awesome, because it means now I’m much less likely to hit up the vending machine — saving me money and calories.
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Life lately

Oh hi!

This is your bi-monthly “hey there’s a real person running this blog” post, just so you can see what kind of shenanigans I’ve been getting myself into. It’s finally summer, and an increase in temperature means an increase in cold drinks followed by somewhat questionable behavior. So, hooray for life updates!

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Easy summer beach waves

Thank God it’s Friday!

I know, you guys say that basically every week, but usually, Thursdays are my Fridays. And my Fridays are my Saturdays. Which makes Saturdays Sundays and Sundays Mondays and that means no Saturday night drinks and no Sunday morning brunch.

Bleh.

But, thanks to a few last-minute schedule changes, it’s your Friday, and it’s also my Friday! Which means I can do normal people weekend things like drinks and brunch and beach days on a normal people schedule! This Saturday’s weather is supposed to be sunny and 80s (knock on wood), so I’m really excited to get some much-needed Lake Michigan time in.

And, speaking of beaches, I’m also really excited to show off a new hairstyle I learned: easy summer beach waves!

(Plus, scroll down for a discount code on products!)

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A weekend trip to Detroit

It feels kind of weird to consider a trip to Detroit a “vacation,” or to consider it “traveling.” I grew up in the Ann Arbor area, about an hour away from Detroit, so I’ve been to the city plenty of times.

I even flirted with the idea of moving to Detroit after college. I applied for a few jobs downtown after undergrad — and again after grad school — but life had other plans for me, and I ended up taking a job over here in Chicago.

No qualms, though. Love this city and love my job.

I gave up my car when I moved here, which makes getting out of the city a little tricky sometimes. I realized it had been about a year and a half since my last trip to Detroit, so I pitched the idea to Mando. He was down, so we looked at the MLB calendar and picked a weekend that the Chicago White Sox played my Detroit Tigers for a visit.

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Summer haircare tips with b. A Salon on Armitage

I cannot believe summer is finally here.

It seems like just last week I was complaining that spring hadn’t made its appearance yet.

Oh, that actually was last week? Well. Never mind.

But regardless, it’s Memorial Day, which means it’s officially summer. Temps have topped 80, Chicago’s beaches are open and I’ve been eating froyo like it’s my job.

I’ve also given myself a sandal-ready pedicure, doused myself in self-tanner and started up a summer haircare routine.

I’m always the first to admit that I suck at all things hair-related. I usually wear my hair down and straight or up in a ponytail. I use shampoo, conditioner, heat protectant and dry shampoo in any given week and that’s about it. I have a love-hate relationship with my hair straightener.

So, when b. A Salon on Armitage reached out and asked if I’d like to collaborate and learn some more about haircare and styling, I was totally on board.

(Plus, there’s a discount code for products at the end of this post!)

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