Annie’s Bachelorette Party in San Francisco + Sonoma

    I flew out to San Francisco a couple weeks back to celebrate my friend Annie’s last month as a single lady. I had been looking forward to the trip for months and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. San Francisco is my favorite city in the entire world, and I don’t know if it was the abundance of wine or my pent up excitement, but it was more beautiful than ever.

    We experienced a city-wide black out Friday, but that didn’t slow us down. We grabbed some blankets and enjoyed a picnic on Annie’s roof, walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, and packed our things and drove to Sonoma. It was the perfect way to celebrate one of my best friends and this next step in her life, and I loved the chance to meet all of her closest friends. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.

    Scroll below to see some of my favorite pictures from the trip!


    My New Favorite Dress

    Hi! Happy Monday. Did you have a good weekend?

    I spent Thursday through Sunday in California, celebrating my friend Annie’s last month as a “single” (well, legally anyway) lady! I’d been looking forward to this past weekend since January, and it did not disappoint. The Bay Area is my favorite area in the entire world (so far!), and every time I go back, I just can’t get over how amazing it is. The restaurants, the views, the city life.

    We drove to Sonoma and spent the rest of the weekend there. It’s definitely a trip I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Everything was just perfect — between the sunshine, the wineries, the house we stayed in and the company. I’ll be sharing pictures on the blog this week, so stay tuned!
    Alright, let’s talk about this dress for a second. My sister’s friend posted a picture of it on her Instagram and I had to know where it was from (not creepy at all, I swear). I just love everything about it — the print, the low cut neckline, the POCKETS. It has pockets, guys. Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?

    I have a feeling you’ll be seeing a lot more of this dress once the temps rise.



    Natalie Was Here: Black Bean Deli in Orlando, FL

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I love discovering local spots whenever I travel. One spot in particular is Black Bean Deli (affectionately referred to as BBD), a Cuban restaurant located in Orlando, Florida. It’s the cutest little space that feels more like a coffee shop with its minimalist vibe. If you follow my blog, you might remember I was in Florida recently for work. If you don’t follow my blog and just so happened to stumble upon this post, guess what? I was in Florida recently for work. And it was great!

    My friend Sydney lives in Orlando, so we met up at different coffee shops while I was in town (hello to my other fave, New General). Sydney swears by BBD, and I take locals’ opinions very seriously. Like, very seriously.

    I can definitely see where she’s coming from, though. Black Bean Deli has been around for over 15 years. And when it comes to Cuban food, they get it right. I snacked on one of their homemade empanadas, and I easily could have devoured two (or three) more.
    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Also, if you’re a coffee addict like me, I’ll let you in on a little secret — the Cuban iced coffee is THE BOMB. So deliciously rich, but not overly sweet. When you’re in the hot Florida sun, an iced coffee is a must. Gotta stay hydrated caffeinated.
    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Sup, Syd! Remember her?

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Alright, BBD. It’s been real, and I hope to be back again soon. If you find yourself in Orlando, be sure to add this place to your list. Oh, and order the empanadas. You won’t be disappointed.




    Tips for Making Your New House Feel More Like Home

    A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit M/I Homes’ beautiful model home in the new Minerva Park community in Westerville. This house, guys. I could easily see why people would want to live in it. The interior was charming and inviting. I mean, as far as décor goes, Mary Cook and her team knocked this one out of the park. I made a few mental notes for the sake of this blog post.

    Because even though the house is brand spankin’ new, it felt like the kind of home that had been lived in for years. And I mean that in the very best way. There was character and personality, which is sometimes hard to visualize when you’re staring at four blank walls.

    It’s funny thinking back to the first night in our apartment. I remember staring at the ceiling, listening to all the strange new sounds. It definitely didn’t feel like “home.” And, how could it? It was this unfamiliar place I found on Craigslist. It wasn’t lived in just yet.

    If you’ve ever moved before, I’m sure you know the feeling. It can take awhile before a new space feels like home. Luckily, you can speed up the process with a few quick tips.

    Host a House Warming Party

    Invite friends and family over after you move in. Inviting those you love into a new space helps it feel more like you almost instantly. And, it gives you the excuse to create some fun memories in the process.

    Incorporate Personal Details

    You may not have time (or the funds) to tackle all of your projects right away, but incorporating personal details into your décor can help a space feel more like you. I absolutely loved how M/I Homes’ interior designer sprinkled personal touches throughout each room, especially the spare bedrooms. Each room had its own personality, while still maintaining a cohesive feel.

    Choose Your Paint Colors Wisely

    A neutral color is great for the family and dining rooms, while shades of blue are perfect for the bedroom. Color can affect your mood, so choose your paint colors wisely. This home incorporated shades of gray, blue and gold throughout for a look that was warm and welcoming.

    Meet Your Neighbors

    Take the time to introduce yourself to your neighbors. This helps to foster a sense of community, and as an added bonus, you could make some new friends. M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park will be home to 250 new houses, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get to know those around you.

    Have you moved recently? What are some of your tips for feeling more at home in a new space?

    Pricing for homes in the new Minerva Park community range from $212,900 – $249,900. To learn more about the community, click here. And to learn more about your home style, take this fun quiz!

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    Fashion, Travel

    Weekdays at New General

    Nothing beats working from a coffee shop. It’s not something I get to do often, but this week was a different story. I was in Orlando Sunday through Thursday afternoon for my job, and while I was there, I looked for every opportunity in the world to work outside (the weather was amazing). Coffee shops all day, every day.

    One of my newly discovered favorites is New General in Winter Park. It’s the cutest, Insta-worthy spot. And if you’ve heard of Kinfolk Magazine, this place is basically Kinfolk IRL. Not only do they serve up the most beautiful toast you’ve ever seen (see below), but they also have a wide selection of minimalist-approved home goods, clothing, greeting cards and cute gifts. It’s a dream.

    My friend Sydney (New General regular, talented photographer and all around cool person) met me there and we both used the time to knock out items on our to-do lists, snap a few pics and sip on some coffee.

    Until next time, FL. <3


    I hope you’re having a great week! Thanks for stopping by :)

    While you’re here, you might also like…

    How to build your brand on Instagram with Sydney Norberg | Weekend Mornings at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters


    Photography by Sydney Marie Photography


    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram with Sydney Norberg

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    If you’re trying to build your brand on Instagram, you know it’s not an easy feat. Success doesn’t happen overnight for the vast majority of us, unless you’re some kind of celebrity (in that case, congrats). Behind every perfectly staged photo is a person (or people!) with a plan. And if you ask those people, they’ll tell you strategy is key for growth.

    I met Sydney Norberg, an Orlando-based photographer and owner of Sydney Marie Photography, through Instagram nearly three years ago. Not only is she one of the most creative and kindest people I know, but she’s also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the mysterious world of Instagram (she’s even launching her own mentorship program, #captionandcreate, April 1!).

    She taught me to look at my profile in a more strategic way. By implementing some of her tips, I was able to grow my Instagram account exponentially in the past year. I reached out to her to see if she’d be willing to share some of her wisdom with you, and she happily accepted (because she’s awesome, duh).

    Read our interview below!

    Hi, Sydney! Tell us a little about yourself.

    I love taking photos and making people feel beautiful in photographs! I love adventuring around new cities and eating tacos (with a side of diet coke, please). At the age of 18, I started my photography business and jumped into wedding photography in 2016! Because of Instagram, I have been able to establish my brand in the city of Orlando and have had the opportunity to create content for awesome brands like Fossil, UberEATS and American Eagle!

    How long have you been on Instagram?

    Oh man, I think I’ve been on Instagram since I was 17. But, I started cultivating a specific look at the end of 2015.

    What encouraged you to use Instagram as a professional tool?

    As I was looking for inspiration and other successful photographers around the US early on in my photog journey, I noticed how each account was used as a portfolio for them. Just by scrolling through my feed, I knew who each photographer was because of the specific style they portrayed in their photos. That’s when I made the decision to focus on branding myself on Instagram as well.

    Why do you think it’s so important to build a personal brand on Instagram?

    Social media is such a major part of our generation. It’s a way to present yourself to people you’ve never even met (a.k.a. potential clients!). As a photographer, I want my clients, my friends, my community to know what I’m about, even if they haven’t met me in person. So, I use each photo, each edit and caption to portray my personality and passions. I feel my goal has been accomplished when I meet people that following on Instagram and they say, “You’re just like I thought you’d be!”

    Cause a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

    How to Build Your Brand on Instagram | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Creating a cohesive feed is crucial to attracting new followers. How do you plan your content? What types of locations/images do you look for?

    So when planning my feed, I put some things into account (and it hasn’t always been this way!). I’ve noticed a recent pattern of the people who follow me – teen girls, Orlandians, creatives, photographers, bloggers, and some of my clients) – so I post for them. I know the teens and Orlandians like seeing new places and shops to check out when they’re in town. I know the creatives and photographers want to see my work and photography style. And, I know my clients want to get to know me personally before hiring me as their wedding photographer.

    I also created a private Instagram account to plan my grid a bit more. This way you have a chance to see what is pleasing to the eye, what stands out and what should possibly be deleted. I highly suggest doing that — it’s a life changer!

    How has Instagram helped you land opportunities with companies/brands?

    Instagram is a huge market for brands these days. It’s an easy way for them to get their product out to potential buyers within seconds even. With that in mind, I always make sure that I am professionally presenting myself through my Instagram. And I believe from that, brands easily know who I am, know what I do and understand the content I will provide – ultimately, deciding if it matches up with their style/brand.

    What are your go-to photo editing apps?

    VSCO – 100%!

    Networking online is just as important as it is IRL. What tips do you have for someone who is looking to network through Instagram and build lasting relationships?

    I’ve met some of my closest friends through Instagram! Actually, found Natalie herself through a hashtag! (It’s true guys, she did!)

    If I had any tips to give, I’d say just be yourself & truly care about what your “insta-friends” are doing! Comment, like, share their stuff, email them, go to the link in their bio! Support & show how much you just love what they are doing & the work their putting out!

    You’ve had many of your images shared by brands with large followings. What tips would you give someone who is looking for opportunities for exposure?

    If you are looking to be “re-posted” or noticed by a specific brand or audience, the only advice I would give is – create the content they want to see. If your content/vibe alines with theirs, there is a great chance you will be noticed by them!

    What advice would you give someone who is interested in building their following on Instagram? What methods helped you grow?

    This has honestly been a tricky one for me. Followers do not make sense to me, unfortunately! I have some friends that have been reposted a few times & have gotten over 5-6k followers in a year. I have other friends that put out constant, beautiful work but have only grown around 1-2k in a year. I’ve realized though, that engagement is key! Personally, I focus on making my engagement stronger, know my specific audience (even if it isn’t 20k).
    P.S. if you want to know your engagement percentage, type in your handle on

    You’re launching a mentoring project called #captionandcreate. Why do you think people should sign up for this? What are you hoping to teach them?

    I am SO excited about #captionandcreate! This project has been a developing idea of mine for about a year now, so I’m thrilled to finally be opening registration April 1st!

    #captionandcreate is a one on one mentorship. It’s a way for you to sit down & really evaluate how you want to portray your brand on Instagram. And ask yourself: Who is your perfect or potential client? What is your mission? And how is it unique among other brands?

    I’ve also included a fun E-book (the #captionandcreate Tips & Tricks Guide) with current statistics & recommendations on how to further your brand & truly stand out from the rest!

    Thank you for sharing your insight with everyone, Sydney! And thank you for reading along! 

    Advice, Living, Real Life

    Helpful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

    Tips for first-time home buyers | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I currently rent my apartment, mainly because I love the flexibility of being able to pick up and move, and it’s reassuring to know someone will come fix the dishwasher, sink, or other scary appliance when it breaks (which has happened…more than once). But, even though renting is a great option for Fritz and I now, we realize we’re not making a real investment. You’ll hear people say renting is the equivalent of “throwing money away” each month, and it’s true. When I think about how much I spend each year on rent, it’s enough to make me cringe…

    Many of my friends are starting to buy houses, which has encouraged me to think seriously about making the investment in the next few years. If you own your home or are currently in the hunting process, you know that buying a house is a different story – a completely different story. The journey can be long, painful and frustrating, especially if it’s your first time buying real estate.

    Before I make any big decision or purchase, I like to do my research and ask around. I turned to the best, most experienced realtor I know (a.k.a., my lovely mom, Nancy), for her advice to those starting the home buying process. Read below for some of her top do’s and don’ts for a first-time home buyer (I’ll be referencing these tips soon enough).

    Tips for a first-time home buyer | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    The Do List

    Take the time to review your credit report

    A strong credit score and financial track record can help you more easily obtain a loan and at lower interest rates.

    Get pre-approved for a mortgage

    It’s important to understand the various options available and become comfortable with an estimated monthly payment for budgeting purposes.

    Think about your lifestyle today and in the near future

    Will your home offer enough space as your family grows? Remember, your first home will more than likely not be your last.

    Make a list of the features you would like in your new home and separate into “must haves” and “would love to have”

    Consider number of bedrooms, baths, garage spaces, private office, etc. This will help you make choices if you have to compromise to fit your budget.

    The Don’t List

    Don’t rush into a decision

    Take the time to review the homes that fit your criteria, but remember to keep an open mind. The best fit might not be your initial choice.

    Don’t be tempted to go over your budget

    Make sure to factor in the down payment you will need, closing costs, property taxes, and monthly expenses so you can make an informed decision. Also, you will want to set aside a budget for cosmetic changes in addition to saving for entertainment and vacations.

    Consult the professionals

    A mortgage loan officer can provide you with detailed information in order for you to understand various financing options to make an informed decision. An experienced real estate agent with years of market and negotiating experience can provide invaluable neighborhood expertise and provide you with one point of contact to view all properties of interest and negotiate the best deal possible.

    Be patient and do your homework

    If you plan and follow these helpful tips, you will know when you see the perfect home. And hopefully, you will enjoy the home buying process along the way.

    Have you recently bought a home or are currently going through the process? What are some tips you’ve learned along the way?

    Thank you to M/I Homes for sponsoring this post. And thank YOU for supporting the brands that make Natalie Was Here a happenin’ place to be!

    I recently visited a model home in M/I Homes’ new community in Minerva Park (Westerville area) and was so impressed with the layout and decor. The community will be home to 250 houses, and pricing ranges from $212,900 – $249,900 — perfect for first-time home buyers. To learn more about the new community, click here.

    Keep up with M/I Homes on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.