USEFULNESS – I used to post outfit post after outfit post on the blog a few years ago and, while there’s nothing wrong with that, it started to make me feel like I was simply a mannequin and that my blog lacked substance. Deep down, I want to be a resource and of service to my readers so I decided to branch out and cover different topics as time went on and it’s made my job even more enjoyable than it used to be! I’ve enjoyed sharing my travel tips, beauty must-have’s and personal perspectives with you all so, I always try and make sure that my blog posts, in particular, are always something that will serve my readers, in whatever capacity they love following me for. I do this by keeping a running list of blog post recommendations. Every time I receive a message or an email with one, I open up my blog post suggestion spreadsheet and add the suggestion to whatever topic column it pertains to. So, if it’s a travel post request, it goes under the Travel column… if it’s beauty related, it goes under the Beauty column, etc. This has made planning my blog posts a must easier task.
 LIGHTING: When taking Instagram and blog post photos, lighting is a huge factor to consider and will be different for every blogger. I personally would never take a photo in direct sunlight for my blog or instagram, but some bloggers love that aesthetic. Regardless of the aesthetic we all gravitate toward, I think lighting is an important factor to consider.
 STOCK: Obviously, as a style blogger, I want to consider whether something I’m sharing is in stock or not. My goal is for 95% of the items I share to be in stock. However, I do think it’s important to honor the fact that I do have a closet full of items that are great and to restyle those pieces from time to time, especially for those who may have purchased that item because of me and might need some additional inspiration in how to wear it. But, again, I do try and make sure that the items I’m loving and sharing are, in fact, available for purchase.
HEADS UP: This is MUCH harder for me to do when I am on the long trips I take abroad. I try my best to bring items from retailers who typically hold a large amount of inventory but, it’s impossible for me to gauge what will stay in stock for the entire three week period that I’m traveling. I do my best there and learned a lot in 2017 from my long travels in this regard so my hope for this year is do some things differently to improve the chances of items being in stock for you guys.
 READABILITY: I’m very open, candid and conversational in my blog posts and I do this because I want you to feel like, when you come here, it’s like talking to a friend. I never want anyone to feel like there’s a barrier or that because I share myself online, that I’m any less of a human being or something. It’s just how I am and has always been my approach to how I share myself here on Sequins & Things. My hope is to always make it as easy as possible to understand what I’m saying and sharing with you guys!
 TIME: Time of day is always something to consider when posting on the blog and on Instagram. It’s an unwritten rule that you should post your blogs early in the morning and I think that always my aim but it hasn’t been a target I’ve been close to hitting lately. I’ve learned to just embrace the way I am as an individual and the things that I have going on in my life that sometimes make that a difficult goal to reach. I want to give you guys well thought out and detailed posts, and sometimes, especially with Heart Talk’s and Travel Diaries, that will mean that there’s only so much I can get done ahead of time when I have had a lot of other posts go up the week prior. So, I’m doing my best to get this back on track but, to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming to make an impact with my posts and the only way I can do that is to honor the time that it takes to get them done and not try and rush it. In regard to Instagram, I think I am a little bit better about making sure I do post at times that give the post the greatest likelihood of being seen, although Instagram sometimes sabotages that plan. I’m learning that I can only do so much. Everyday is different, which means there are some days you’re going to succeed at some things and fail at others, and to just be happy with the things you WERE able to get done or be good at because, with this job, you can’t nail everything EVERY day, especially if you’re trying to invest time in the bigger picture and the long run of your blog.
 A COMFORTABLE BLANKET: I’ve only ever had terriers and dachshunds so I’m not sure if the obsession with blankets transcends to all breeds but Fish and Chips both LOVE blankets. Growing up, we always had Cairn Terriers and I don’t remember them HAVING to be on a blanket but Fish … whenever her can’t settle somewhere … he will just stare at me awkwardly and, when he does that, I have come to realize it’s because King Fish doesn’t have a soft blanket to wrap himself up in or lay on. Chips is like this, too. They both loooove them some blankets.
 MILK & PEANUT BUTTER: Fish has this weird obsession with milk. Every time he sees me drinking it, he comes up to me, sits in front of me and stares up at me with one of his front paws up. It’s the cutest thing. I don’t give it to him often, but when I do he drinks it up so fast. Chips loves peanut butter. So does Fish but that is the thing that Chips gets the most excited about. He knows what the lid sounds like when I’m uncapping a jar and, when he hears it .. he comes running in so fast!
 THEIR PUPPIA HARNESSES: Personally, I will never put a collar on a dog. Since I rescued Fish & Chips, they both have always been in a harness. And, to each their own … some people are fine with leashes. I just don’t like pulling their little necks. It’s such a fragile part of their body. Over the years, I’ve tried quite a few harness brands but none of them have compared to how gentle the Puppia harnesses are. I picked one up in London in 2016 when Fish & I were living there and we’ve been hooked ever since. I love that there is a large piece of fabric around their neck and shoulder, which is gentle on their bodies, and an adjustable piece to go around their chest that helps it fit them a little better. This might not be for you but, personally, I just love how gentle it is on their little bodies. You can buy them HERE.
 BEACH WALKS: Fish & Chips are clearly very different – you know that if you follow my IG stories – so it took me a second to think of something they both LOVE to do. Fish loves naps but Chips loves playtime. But, honestly, they both LOOOOVE beach walks. They have SO much fun out there. Fish gets to explore and sniff around, dig some holes, which he has always loved since he was a puppy. And, Chips loves to run run run as fast as he can. Fish does, too. It’s the cutest thing. It’s really hard for me to take them both together so I always try and get my girlfriends to meet me at the beach for a sunset beach walk or a Saturday morning pre-brunch walk. Those are always some of my life’s sweetest moments, when my heart fills up so fast … walking along the beach with a good friend, catching up and seeing my boys just enjoy themselves. 🙂
 CHEW BONES & EXERCISE GAME BALLS: So, if you follow my IG stories, you know how crazy Chips is. To curb his energy into something productive, instead of destructive, THESE exercise game balls have been REALLY helpful. I’ll put some treats throughout the whole thing, or freeze peanut butter in the middle of them, and he will GO TO TOWN on it. Fish will, too, but it’s been especially good for Chips because it will occupy him for an hour AND wear him out because he’s working so hard to get everything out of the treat ball. Fish has always been the biggest fan of Nyla bones and chew bones. He loves to just sit there and naw on these things. It must just feel good on his teeth or something … or maybe he’s just a little dreamer and likes to chew on them while zoning out. Who knows, but he goes to town on these! THIS one is he and Chips’ favorite.
 SHORTS – Be sure to come over next week to check out the 10 jean shorts that I recommend for this upcoming Spring season! I have literally ordered and tried on over 30 pairs of jean shorts from a variety of brands, in a variety of styles, and picked my ten favorite to review and share! Here are some of that I have tried because they caught my eye:
 BASIC TEE’S – The best basic tees sell out so fast! Don’t wait to buy the easiest throw on’s during the hottest season!
 SANDALS – Sandals are just like booties. If you wait until when you NEED the sandals, the cutest ones will be sold out so be sure to grab the ones you have your eye on before that happens! Here are some that have caught my eye!
QUESTION: Are y’all into the slides trend that I’m seeing right now? I have a really narrow foot so I feel like I can’t decide if it accentuates my foot or makes it look too long and skinny.
 SUNSCREEN PRODUCTS – The heat is coming and it’s so important that we protect our skin from the harmful effects that the sun causes. If you read my laser treatment post from last year, you know what effect I’m talking about! Poor protection from the sun can cause sun spots that no skin care product can remove. Here are my favorite sun protection products:
THIS is the tinted daily moisturizer that I use on my face everyday that include SPF.
PRO TIP: Always bring a straw hat out there with you in the sun for an added layer of protection on your face!
 TRAVELING AGAIN – I have been really intentional about staying put for awhile after returning home from my New Years’ trip abroad where spent New Years’ Eve in London then headed off the Budapest to start a road trip through Central Europe. The reason for that is, while I absolutely adore traveling, it certainly throws a wrench in certain aspects of the blog and my home life. Most people spend their weekends catching up with friends and getting together with family, but when they’re not doing that, they’re tidying up around the house. I’m no different and running a business, especially a business that is contingent on trying out new clothing and beauty products, definitely means that there is rarely a weekend, let alone day, where I’m NOT trying to tidy things up and get my home feeling a little more homey, if that makes sense. I was traveling for over 100 days last year and, although it wasn’t consecutively, it definitely pushed pause on my tidiness efforts, especially after moving into a new townhouse. It also made it more difficult to keep certain aspects of the blog organized. I started losing track of payments from partners. I didn’t have things in place on the backend to keep track of reader requests. I was getting back to emails either late or inconsistently. I barely got any sleep because I was trying to maintain the editorial calendar that had been previously set. The thing is … when I travel, I don’t go there to have a pretty background for my blog post photos, although that is a nice perk. I go there to actually explore and see the place I’m in, talk with the people who live there and better understand and embrace their culture. So, I decided to take the first quarter of this year and brainstorm new processes to put into place and develop new spreadsheets that will allow me to quickly and easily stay organized whether I’m in Atlantic Beach or Morocco. I felt like it was necessary for the betterment of the blog, and my sanity, in the long run. The big project that I have told y’all about is almost ready for its big reveal and that’s also what I spent a good majority of these last two months focusing on and it could NOT have been done as well as it has been if I had been distracted by travels. I’m so happy I took a break but I am excited to get back out in the world at the end of April. So far, I have three trips planned … two are abroad [one destination is a place I HAVE been to before but I’ll be exploring it even MORE this time – any guesses?] and one is a little closer to home but is not a part of the United States. 🙂
 THE LAUNCH OF MY BIG PROJECT – Eeeeee!! I cannot WAIT for this!!! It has been almost a year in the making. It’s going to be a huge treat for you guys and there is a big that will go along with what the launch actually IS. Haha, I don’t know if that even makes sense but … I believe we’re almost ready so in the next week, two at the most, you will know EXACTLY what I’m talking about and WHY I’ve spent so much dedicated time on the computer working on it 🙂 Any guesses?
 FINISH ORGANIZING – With a little over a month left before I start traveling again, and with the big project almost completely done, I still have a few things left that I need to organize. I still need to upload the rest of last years’ travel photos to my Google Drive. I need to organize my office bathroom and office closet. I need to sort through A BUNCH of mail – literally, my least favorite thing in the world, ha! I did just pull a BUNCH of stuff that will eventually be sold on Shop Alyson Haley so be sure to follow that account to shop my gently used closet items! When you’re a blogger, there’s just no way we can keep everything and, since it’s all gently used, I’d rather sell them to give them to a home that it’ll get more use in than return them. Believe me, I do keep a lot of what I share on Instagram but it’s impossible to keep it all 🙂 That was a huge weight off my shoulders when I was able to make more room in my closet a couple weeks ago and I can’t wait to check off more of my organizational goals! I mean it is [almost] Spring after all … we all should be Spring cleaning 😉
 THE GREATEST SHOWMAN TO BE AVAILABLE ON DEMAND – Is this weird? If it is, I do not care. I listen to the soundtrack ALL. THE. TIME. and I’m ready to watch it again! Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman, two of my favorite Hollywood men, in one movie … and a MUSICAL at that? Um, yes, please! I don’t think Hugh Jackman is the BEST singer, and I don’t LOVE him as a musical performer, but I just think he’s too cute and seems like such a good guy, not to mention super handsome! 🙂 Anyone know when it comes out on Xfinity On Demand?
 BEACH WEATHER – I am someone who enjoys all the seasons, although Spring is my favorite, and every Spring, I look forward to the return of beach weather. It’s probably the season I look forward to the least because I, personally, have had my fair share of heat and humidity, being from Florida. However, I am really craving some lazy days in the sand with my girlfriends and a cocktail. Anyone else?
 REVIEW: FIVE DESIGNER CROSS BODY HANDBAG HITS & MISSES – While I realize designer handbags aren’t everyones’ taste, I do get a lot of questions from girls who have been saving and are looking to take the plunge into purchasing their first one. One of the most important recommendations I have for these women is to make sure you do your research ahead of time and think long and hard before pulling the trigger. I’ve shared two handbag posts in the past and they ALWAYS end up being a HUGE hit with y’all. Since it’s been over a year since my last handbag post, I thought it was due time to share another one. I’ve been gravitating toward neutral cross body handbags lately so I will be rounding up the five that I’ve been wearing most frequently over the last six to seven months, reviewing them and sharing my opinions on whether or not they were worth the splurge or not!
If you have any other handbag post requests, please let me know in the comments or via email!
I’ll also be doing a Spring & Summer Handbag Roundup Under $200 post because I don’t ONLY buy designer handbags and I know y’all don’t, either, so if this designer handbag review post isn’t for you … just know I have more handbag posts coming up, as well!
 WHAT FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING HAS TAUGHT ME – At the end of January, I celebrated my five year blogging anniversary. I didn’t make a big deal about it at the time because I had that big project that I really needed to focus on and was also doing a huge organizational overhaul on the backend of Sequins & Things. But, I don’t want to ignore it completely because I’ve always looked forward to someday sharing what this journey has taught me.
 MEET MY ASSISTANT, JUSTINE – Justine has been my right hand girl for two years now and a lot of you made mention in my annual reader survey [that I encourage y’all to fill out every January] that you wanted me to share more about her with you guys. I don’t share a lot of photos of her or us together but I make mention of her from time to time on Instastories about how I don’t know how I’d run S&T without her, and it’s absolutely true. I think you’ll understand a little bit more about why I don’t showcase her more on IG stories like I have with past assistants after you read this post. It truly takes a special and very specific type of person to be an assistant to a blogger and I feel so blessed to have found her because she is truly the BEST fit for me, so I’m excited to introduce y’all to Justine.
Let me know [via email or in the comments below] if there are any questions in particular that you want her to answer in that post! It can be about her specifically, what it’s like working with me, what she does for me, or about the blogger assistant role, in general!
 REVIEW: MY 10 SPRING SHORTS PICKS – Shorts are probably my least favorite thing to shop for. Jeans used to hold this title but, it’s gotten much easier over the last few years as I’ve become more and more familiar with brands’ sizing and fit. However, I feel like shorts never fit the way jeans do. I will buy a pair of jeans from a brand that I know are perfect for my body type and exactly what size to get, and I’ll get a pair of that brands’ shorts in the same size and they’ll be MASSIVE. Does anyone else experience this? Well … regardless, I thought it might be helpful to showcase and review some shorts that I’ve recently purchased and LOVED. And, believe it or not, I purchased and tried over 30 pairs to get to the 10 that I’m recommending and, while I might not KEEP all 10 because I have no need to own THREE pairs of white shorts, I do hope that the list will help you in your search for the perfect pair that you’re needing in your wardrobe!
 MY EVERYDAY MAKEUP ROUTINE – I feel like this post is long overdue. After receiving so many thoughtful and kind messages about how much you love my eye makeup or really want to know what mascara or foundation I’m using, I felt like it was time for me to curate a post detailing ALL of the products I use more often than not. Of course, part of my job is reviewing new products from beauty brands, but I do have an everyday makeup routine that I typically follow more often than not. It might be a little more makeup than most would prefer but this post will serve as a means of answering the questions that I so often receive from you guys. Then, maybe in the summer, I’ll share a more minimalistic look that I go for on days where I’m in a hurry! Let me know if that sounds good to you! 🙂
Okay …. whew! I hope this was a fun Friday Five for you guys! I’d love it if you would answer any of the questions posed in the post and / or leave me any future Friday Five category suggestions. I sometimes have to choose them blindly and just hope that y’all will find them interesting because y’all tend to be super quiet about suggesting categories. I’m happy to pick them … I just want to make sure I’m putting together posts that y’all WANT to see and answering questions within categories that y’all want to know from me 🙂 Hope that makes sense! Thanks so much for stopping by today, ladies! Sorry it’s up a bit late! This week has been full of lengthy posts and sometimes I just can’t get them up until later in the day!
Hoping to get the Salzburg Travel Diary to y’all sometime this weekend! I’ll let you know on IG stories when it’s up! xo.