Self-hosted domain -> www.naomiinwonderland.com

Just a quick message to let everyone know, who stills uses my wordpress URL that naomiinwonderland.wordpress.com won’t be updated anymore after this message! I moved all my content yesterday to a self-hosted domain, BlueHost. I however still work with wordpress (.org now) & www.naomiinwonderland.com is still in use so if you click that link you’ll be automatically transferred to the new domain! Easy right.

To my lovely subscribers, WP is currently moving all of your lovely subscriptions to the new website. If you’ve subscribed via e-mail you’ll continue to receive an e-mail with every new blog post. If you’ve subscribed through wordpress, you will continue to see my posts in your feed, however if you also want to receive an e-mail for each new post, you’ll have to re-subscribe! You can find the new subscription box in the sidebar, on the new website, on the right.

I’m very excited about the new host and about all the possibilities I have now. And so stoked for you to see the new design, on the new blog, so soon. I’m also pretty proud of myself that I was able to move all the old content, onto the new one.. including all of your lovely comments! Self-five.

See you on the other side. Tum dum.

 

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Blogging 101: tips & things to think about when starting a blog

I know I’m not a professional blogger, nor do I have years of experience but I’ve been blogging consistently for a (little) while now and I do think I have learned a lot already. I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over time by reading other blogs (and while improving my own) and what I think is important to know.

1. Blogging takes a lot of time
If you want to create a “professional” / good-looking blog you will need to invest a serious amount of time in blogging. I knew that before I started out but I didn’t realize how much time I would end up actually investing in blogging. You pretty much are a one-man company. You are a graphic designer, a writer, a photographer and more.

2. Decide on how many times a week you want to post a new blog
I, at first, was very optimistic and wanted to update my blog every single day. But then I realized how much time I was investing in creating those blogs and I decided I couldn’t do that anymore. Or I had to cut out sleeping of my day & we all know how much I love sleeping. Especially not while wanting to deliver great content and interact with all of you. I now blog about 5 times a week (usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday), which is still a lot I think, but this way people “know” when to expect a new blog. I personally feel it looks very inconsistent if you blog 6 times one week and then only once the other week.

3. Good photos
There is nothing more unattractive to see, while reading a great post, then looking at blurry, bad quality photos. You don’t have to run to the store to get the best camera but try to make sure your photos are the same size (length and/or width) and everything but blurry. I use a free editing program called PicMonkey and iPhoto. I sometimes edit photos on my phone, because I’m a huge fan of some photo apps, too.

4. Don’t make your posts too long
I try to limit my posts to a maximum of 1500 words. If I do want to blog more about a certain subject I will post several blogs about that subject and create a little series. This way the reader will most likely read everything you’ve just blogged about.

5. Use links in your posts
We’re all lazy humans. Or at least I can be a lazy human every now & then. When you’re reading a post and you are interested in finding out more about a certain subject/website/anything, you want to be able to just click on a link mentioned in a post and voila. Ain’t nobody got time to google that. I mean, that’s a lie, I just like clicking on links that are already provided. (Edit: Nadya mentioned that adding too many links can make a post look a bit spammy and it may hurt SEO!)

6. Be consistent and organized
With this I mean being consistent when it comes to how many times you blog and how your blogposts look but also how  your blog looks like in general. Maybe I’m a bit OCD, okay I definitely am, but I LOVE reading & visiting blogs that look clean and organized. I get super distracted if there are too many things going on, but again, maybe that’s just me. Welp.

7. Ask questions
When finishing up a blog post, ask your readers a few questions. I love interacting with other bloggers and when you’re reading a fun post it’s always nice to get involved & be interactive. That way you’ll create a relationship with your readers.

8. Create an “about” & “contact” page
I love getting to know the person behind the screen. I like reading about the lovely human who’s writing all these great & interesting posts down and sharing all those beautiful photos. A contact page is obviously also very useful for when someone wants to get in touch with you, of course. Again, we (I’m just talking about myself again) are lazy and it’s easier when it’s just there.

9. Don’t spam on other blogs
Leave comments on other people’s posts when you’ve actually read the blogpost. Leaving a one-word comment behind, then adding all your social media accounts, looks very copy-paste to me. I love receiving comments from people but I love it even more when someone has actually read the post or looked at the photos.

10. Credit others
I tend to only use my own photos (and I obviously write all my own content) but whenever I do use a photo from somewhere I immediately make sure I credit my source. It’s not cool to steal from others (content or photo-wise) and it’s actually kind of illegal. So just to stay out of trouble (and to be fair to whoever owns the original photo and/or content) credit them!

11. Be you
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. I know it’s a little intimidating (hell I still think pretty much every blog is intimidating) when you see other bloggers who create great content & have a beautiful designed blog, but those people have probably been blogging for quite a while. If you write from the heart or share your passion, people will genuinely love hearing what you have to say.

12. Create great blog titles
Google picks this up a lot quicker and it’s kind of the same as reading a newspaper. When you read an exciting or intriguing headline you will immediately be interested!

13. Carry around a notebook
I have a pretty good memory but I always have a notebook with me. Just in case. I sometimes get inspiration while watching TV, while eating, while blogging, while reading other blogs, anyway you get the point. My little notebook is filled with ideas I will and want to blog about in the future, for whenever I don’t have inspiration.

14. Interaction
I know I sort of already mentioned it in #7 & #9 but interacting with other bloggers and readers is a great idea. Not because you have to, but because it’s so nice knowing what your readers think and hey, they’re taking time out of their day to read what you just wrote so I think responding to (most) of your comments and messages is very important. I love reading comments from people who often visit my blog, it must mean I’m doing something right. Or at least that’s what I like the believe.

15. Quality over quantity
Take your time when you blog. People will overall much rather read 3 good posts a week instead of 7 poorly written ones. Easy as that.

In the end you don’t have to do any of the things I’ve mentioned above, it’s your blog and you have to write because you love to do it (Expect for the crediting, that’s a must). Blog because you want to share your story or talk about your passion. There are only a few select bloggers who have found a full time job in blogging. Do it because this is what you like to do and you have something you want to share with the world. Everything else that might come along with blogging is a plus.

What is the best advice you would give to someone who just started blogging?

February updates!

As if January didn’t pass by quickly enough, February definitely did. Although, in February’s defense, it’s missing some days. I always feel a little bad for those who’s birthday is on the 29th. When do you celebrate then? I always celebrate my birthday for a good month, you know, I just keep on using the “it’s almost my birthday” or “it was my birthday the other day” excuse. Either way, February was a pretty, pretty GREAT month.

(Took this on the boardwalk in Ostend, the sunsets are finally returning)

I did a lot of things, including visiting Sevilla (I’m sure you’ve been able to read all about that gorgeous place on my blog) & visiting the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen to cheer on my favorites (Real Madrid CF) while they were playing their first round of 18 game versus Schalke 04 (spoiler alert: we won and there may or may not be a video on the world wide web of the second goal with an embarrassing Naomi screaming in the background) (I get pretty intense when it comes to sports or anything I love, really).

I’m still on the search for a job, being a graduate is pretty rough at times. So if you want to hire me… Kidding. But only sort of.

I’ve received so many comments over the past couple of weeks, thank you endlessly for visiting, reading & commenting on my posts. I appreciate it more than I can say. You are all wonderful humans and I heart you all. I am still trying my hardest to reply to every single comment & visit your blog as well of course. So feel free to leave your URLS behind. 

The new look is also on it’s way, you may have noticed a different header for now, and I’m excited to (most likely) launch it in March, if not next month then April! 

Some of this months favorite’s blogposts were:

How to pack for vacation
To my heart I must be true: “Chanel N°5 Eau Première” perfume review
Reales Alcázares, the prettiest place on earth
Been there, done that tag
Create your own good vibes jar
Cosmopolitan x Levi’s Denim Night in Amsterdam

Go check ’em out if you haven’t read these already!

And lastly but not least, I finally am updating consistently on the Facebook page I created for Naomi in Wonderland, so pretty please with a cherry on top, go check it out & give it a like!

Cosmopolitan X Levi’s Denim Night in Amsterdam!

I love reading Cosmopolitan, it’s easily one of my favorite magazines around. In their March issue they talked about their new #cosmocommits campaign and their collaboration with Levi’s. Levi’s created a white tee with the catch phrase “This Is What Confidence Looks Like“, matched with of course the perfect pair of jeans. A limited amount of Cosmo readers were invited to be a part of the Special Levi’s Denim Night and I was selected as one of them. (YAY) My best friend Marlies tagged along and we drove to Amsterdam.

The Cosmopolitan X Levi’s Denim night took place at a new Levi’s store (Leidsestraat 8). Right before the evening started I got a huge stain on my black jeans so I awkwardly had to hide that with my long black scarf. Great. You really can’t leave the house with me. Anyway. We were welcomed with snacks & lovely drinks (organic & delicious). The store looks beautiful & very clean. Upon walking in I immediately saw tons of things I loved. A little after 7 we were welcomed by Anne Marije, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan NL. She explained why we were there and they prepared a little presentation for us about strong women. Some beautiful, independent woman were asked to share their opinions on what confidence is to them. Vreneli Stadelmaier recently wrote a new book called “Fuck die onzekerheid” (which pretty much translates into “Fuck insecurity”). She shared some facts (women apologize way too often) with us and introduced her book. Sarah Reinhoudt (from Levi’s) and Sasha Burger (Fashion Director Cosmo)  then talked about finding the perfect fit and Levi’s new 501CT jeans.

While eating delicious snacks I was determined to find the perfect jeans. I always end up picking jeans that (sort of) fit while trying ’em on, but then end up being way too big after wearing them a few times. Or I would buy jeans that would fit, but are too long. For some reason I just can’t seem to find a good pair of jeans. One of the lovely Levi’s employees took one look at me and knew what size I was. I was a bit skeptical because how would it be possible that he needs 5 seconds to figure it out, meanwhile it takes me years. I tried on the High Rise Skinny Ankle and guys, miracles exist. I was wearing the perfect jeans. He just knew straight away what size I was. Needles to say, I was very impressed.

Every Cosmo reader got a 20% discount on everything in the brand new Levi’s store so I was stoked to pick up my new pair of jeans for only 79,96 euros! I love me some discounts. I mean, who doesn’t.

At the end of the evening I left with a stunning pair of new jeans, my “This Is What Confidence Looks Like” Levi’s shirt, a John Frieda conditioner (not too happy about this one because it’s specifically for blondes.. and I’m a brunette..) and the March issue of Cosmopolitan.

Confidence to me means taking risks even when there is a possibility to fail.

“What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

What is confidence to you? I am working on a blogpost about confidence and I would absolutely love to feature some of your quotes and what confidence means to you! So please share as many quotes & ideas as possible.

Food and drinks in Sevilla

Tapas: “snacks, canapés or finger food” originated in Spain. I personally think tapas should be the only food you eat, ever. They’re small, usually very cheap yet delicious, meals and you can get a couple different things without having to pick just one. That’s probably my favorite part about Spanish food. I never know what to pick when reading a menu, so being able to pick more than one dish sounds like heaven to me.

When in Sevilla, eating was probably my favorite moment of the day. I stumbled upon so many wonderful places so I wanted to share my 3 favorite restaurants with all of you.

// Mercado Lonja del Barranco // Calle Arjona | S/N

This place is BY FAR my favorite market I’ve ever discovered. Located right next to the river it has a beautiful location. You can either eat inside or outside, both are equally as lovely. You can eat some of the most delicious meat, seafood, cheese, desserts & vegetables dishes. There were so many different stands I must have walked around this place at least 5 or 6 times. Do I get to mini burgers, or do I get a shrimp salad? Do I go for a cheese plate with a glass of wine or do I eat the traditional patatas bravos with a glass of sangria? DO YOU SEE MY PROBLEM?

food4

The tapas dishes are a little bit more expensive but the food you get is hands down some of the best food I feel like you can find in Sevilla. I know, I’m a little too enthusiastic but God, I love this market.

We ended up going there on two different days so I got 3 dishes in total. Prices of the dishes: €3-€4. I got a glass of sangria every time and that was only €2,5!

Definitely go visit their official website and read all about the story of this place. Oh and make sure you have some cash because some stands don’t accept cards if the total amount is less than €6!

// Bar Estrella // Calle de la Estrella, 3

One of my other favorite little restaurants in Sevilla is called Bar Estrella. We almost literally stumbled upon this place when walking towards Aire de Sevilla (incredible arabic baths). Their menu looked great so we had a late dinner here after visiting the Arabic baths. I ordered two dishes (pimiento piquillo relleno de bacalao/cod-stuffed piquillo peppers and pincho de pollo a la plancha/grilled chicken brochette). I paid €6,20 for both dishes… It’s almost a joke. And the portions were HUGE. The service wasn’t perfect, a little friendlier would have been great, but the food was so incredible I didn’t really care about that minor detail.

// Yamazaki // Plaza de la Encarnación

I’m a sushi lover, a massive sushi lover. I could eat it all day, every day and I’d totally be fine with that. The exterior and the terrace of Yamazaki looked so great we just had to have dinner here. The lady serving us was a gem, really nice and helped us out as much as possible in Spanish. I ordered 3 different things, because I was starving. Every sushi roll I had was so good. Very reasonable priced for the quality of the food you get, the amount of food & the service. I definitely recommend going here if you’re hungry & are craving sushi. You can combine grabbing lunch here and visiting the Metropol Parasol, also known as the Giant Mushrooms, the biggest wooden structure in the world.

Are you someone who will try out new things when traveling or do you play it safe and order things you already know?

Create your own good vibes jar!

So I recently bought two jars, you know, the hipster type of jars people end up drinking hot chocolate out of. I use one of them to drink gin tonic in. See, super useful. But then I still had one extra jar and I thought it’d a cool idea to put good things that happened to me in a jar. I think I must have seen this idea somewhere before and I loved it.

So I started writing down some great memories I’ve created over the past month and a half on a little paper. I will continue to do this whenever I experience something great in 2015. I think I will open the jar at the end of the year, or when I’m feeling a little down and need some positive energy.

All you need is (love):

  • a jar
  • paper
  • scissors
  • a pen

Have you ever created a similar jar? Let’s spread some positive energy into the world and our own lives!

Artist to Discover: Louisa Wendorff

Music has been and will always be one of the most important parts of my life. I am always searching for “new” talents & new music. I want to start sharing some of my favorite, (fairly new), artists or bands with you.

Today I am starting with one of the most intriguing voices I’ve heard in a really, really long time. Her name’s Louisa Wendorff.

© facebook Louisa Wendorff

I “discovered” Louisa when everyone kept on posting her video of her mash-up of two Taylor Swift songs. I’d put into words how incredible that cover is, but I quite frankly can’t find the right words. She writes her own songs, released an EP in june called Arrow and uploads the most wonderful covers. My favorite is the mash-up she made of Pretty Hurts / Try / Who You Are by Beyoncé, Colbie Caillat & Jessie J.

Buy her EP on iTunes & follow her on her social media accounts to stay up to date with this incredibly talented lady! Have you heard about Louisa before? Who are you listening to right now?

My “volunteering with wild cats” adventure

After receiving quite a few questions about my trip to South Africa, I decided to write another blog about my volunteering work I did for two weeks in Bloemfontein.

I’ve been wanting to “work” with wild cats for the longest time. Lions are the most magnificent animals and being able to be up close to them, other than staring at them while they’re living their miserable lives in a zoo, has been a dream for as long as I can remember. So in September of 2013 I did some research on whether this was possible and where. I eventually came across a video on YouTube from a girl who volunteered at this place called “Cheetah Experience“. I googled their website & Facebook page and I was convinced. So I ended up e-mailing them for more details on their volunteer program. I was very excited because of their answers & fast responses so I ended up booking the trip, a couple months later, in December of the same year.

I booked my flight about four months in advance (I went to Africa in March of 2014) with KLM Airlines. There was a direct, international flight available from Amsterdam to Johannesburg. The flight was around €500 if I’m correct, which isn’t too bad at all considering it was an 11-hour flight. Johannesburg wasn’t my last stop. I eventually had to get to Bloemfontein, which is about an hour flight away from the major city, 3 hours if you drive their. But considering it was my first time in South Africa I had no interest in sitting on a bus in a relatively “un-safe” country for a couple hours. I booked my flight with South African Airways.

When arrived in Bloemfontein someone from Cheetah Experience picked me and my cousin up (she decided to tag alone). The airport was +- 30 minutes away from the sanctuary.

We stayed at the volunteer house (included in the price you’d pay to go there) which was a 2/3 minute ride from the sanctuary. Breakfast & lunch was served daily and you’d be taken to the supermarket twice a week to buy dinner & other things you’d like. The cost price for two weeks there was around €500. However I don’t know the exact prices for 2015.

Arriving at Bloemfontein and being surrounded by cheetahs, lions, leopards, wolves and more animals was the most incredible feeling. My cousin (Shana) and I were welcomed by the staff members & other volunteers from all around the world. (Most) of them were very welcoming and they immediately explained to us what we’d be doing over the course of two weeks while we were there. All the chores were divided into two groups: the lion-side & the cheetah-side. You’d work on one side one week & the other side the next. The lion-side meant you’d work with/for the leopards, lions, wolves, caracals & servals. Working on the cheetah side meant, well, working with & for the cheetahs.

Duties included, but not limited to, cleaning poop (wolf poop SMELLS SO BAD and they poop.. A LOT, like A LOT), checking the fences, feeding the animals, checking whether all the animals appear to be healthy, guide tours, work at the curio shop and more.

On a regular day you’d have from 12 to 2 off, unless you’d have to guide a tour during lunch time. When there are a lot of volunteers (full capacity at the volunteer house) you’d have more free time compared to when there aren’t that many. Free time means you can interact with the animals (wolves, the tame cheetahs and the smaller animals), read a book, relax, do whatever you feel like doing. Interacting is only allowed when you feel comfortable AND when the animals feel comfortable around you. Most of the animals were brought up in captivity (please don’t confuse this with a zoo, because it is very different) so they are pretty tame, but they maintain wild animals.

Now that I just mentioned it I’d like to explain the differences between a regular zoo and a sanctuary, or Cheetah Experience in this case. The animals live in a much, much bigger area. Most, or a lot, of them are rescued. At a zoo the animal gets food and that’s pretty much it. At Cheetah Experience the volunteers & staff members try to make sure the animals don’t get bored, still try to let them use all their senses, enrich the animals (almost on a daily basis) and more.

Back to the volunteering. (I’m so sorry this story is so long) Day in day out you’d wake up when the sun comes up, which is pretty epic, and the first thing you hear are the lions roaring. I can guarantee you, there’s no better way to wake up. We’d start our day, work long hours and we’d get the chance to get to know the animals a little bit more. I especially enjoyed spending time with the wolves. Wolves are obviously a lot like dogs, but I consider them to be even more loyal, more trustworthy. You know how a dog knows when something’s wrong? A wolf does too. It takes quite a while before a wolf gets used to you and ‘accepts’ you. At Cheetah Experience you have to get accepted by Shakira, the alpha wolf, before you can spend time with them. How can you get accepted? She must lick your face. That way you know she feels comfortable around you. She can sense when you’re afraid, she can sense when you disrespect her. I loved spending my lunch break with them. They have a little ‘house’ they can climb on and I would go on there, bring a book and the two wolves would often join me.

Two weeks was too short now that I look back at it, but those two weeks were some of my favorite weeks in my entire life.

Have you ever volunteered (with animals) before? Would you want to do something like this one day?

Please feel free to ask me any more questions in case you have ’em! Wanna read more about this incredible experience? Check out the Bloemfontein/South Africa category! And for more photos click on the Africa tab.

A love letter to Sevilla

lovelettertosevilla

I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. The city that inspired me from the second I set foot in Spain. The wonderful people who seem to be living with no stress, even when life isn’t always easy. The siestas and the sangrias. The sun. Sevilla made me smile. Made me realize that no matter what happens in my life, the world is absolutely beautiful and magnificent. The world is inspiring, the world is incredible. Spain is incredible. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla. I remember eating tapas for just a couple euros. I remember waking up and the Cathedral being the first thing I see when walking outside. The people I’ve met along the way. I’m writing a love letter to Sevilla because Sevilla allowed me to be inspired again. Sevilla showed me I would be okay even when everything isn’t okay. And most importantly. Sevilla told me it would always be there.

If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late and other new music releases!

If you know me well, you know I have the most diverse taste in music, like.. ever? I can be listening to Jeff Buckley one moment and switch to Taylor Swift just a little later. Today I wanted to talk about some new releases from this past month, including Drake’s new album “If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late“.

I don’t listen to rap that often, unless it’s Drake, really. AND THIS GENIUS decided to pull a Beyoncé and release an incredible new album. Without any announcements he told everyone they’re too late. The album contains 17 (!) new tracks. They’re very Drake sounding so I personally don’t think he stepped too far away from his comfort zone. However you don’t have to change great things. My favorites on this album are “Legend” & “Know Yourself”. Definitely worth checking out if you are into rap and r&b.

Next up is Rihanna‘s (and ugh, Kanye West, I really dislike this man) new song featuring living legend, Sir Paul McCartney. It’s called “FourFiveSeconds” and it kind of sounds like it was recorded on a drunken Friday night and it should have never seen the light of day and that’s exactly the reason why it works so well. I must have listened to it about a hundred times already (I told you about the issue I have when I really like a song).

And last but not least, the soundtrack of the most anticipated movie of early 2015, the soundtrack of Fifty Shades Of Grey. I have to admit, I totally read all 3 books of the series and even though I wasn’t blown away by the writing style, I was definitely curious and I wanted to see the movie. I started reading reviews and I wasn’t so convinced anymore. BUT let’s talk about the soundtrack of this movie. I’m a huge The Weeknd fan and as soon as I figured he wrote a song for the soundtrack I knew I’d love it. The Weeknd’s “Earned It” is a classic Abel song and he killed it. He also has another song featured on this album, equally as great. Ellie Goulding‘s “Love Me Like You Do” is a super catchy song as well and I think it matches pretty good with Ana’s character. You can also find other artists like Sia, The Rolling Stones & Frank Sinatra on the record. So who knows, I have a feeling the soundtrack might be way better than the actual movie.

What are your favorite new releases of February so far? Are you planning to watch Fifty Shades or are you not interested at all? Oh and except for Rihanna’s new release you can listen to both albums on Spotify for free as well!