My Mandela Washington Fellowship Experience: Foodscapades 1

Omg. Not a single blog post since MAY!!!!!

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Hiii!

It has been ages, guys. Haha. I have been having so much fun just doing life and getting off social media as much as I can. I have started so many posts but for some reason have not been able to finish them. Terribly UN-inspired. It has been really great to be back home, save for the first two weeks of insane jetlag!

I tell you, I fell asleep everywhere, even on okada. In retrospect, that was too hilarious. An elderly woman screamed in Yoruba, “se o fe para’re ni?”. But, I could not help it. I had so much to get done in so little time and I was not sleeping at all. My plate was getting fuller and fuller with NYSC obligations, Fellowship duties and endlesssssss wedding to-dos (I know, I know, I still owe you that post, eh? Hehe).

 

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A few hours after arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ

 

Anyway, I had such a great time in the United States and if you know me well, you know your girl definitely explorrrrrrred the various cuisines America had to offer. So, let’s dive into the timeline and any cute story that accompanied the various meals (lol, I am trying to type fast before I run out of inspiration):

 

 

A few hours after touchdown at EWR, yo’ girl was hungry! I had lost all sense of time at this point. All I knew was, it was about 2pm and I had not eaten a thing since I got to ATL a little later than 5 am and had to catch a connecting flight to New Jersey. I was GRATEFUL to finally link up with Trisha Alexy, our University contact. I was even better when she handed the 3 of us who had arrived some cash to go find some food.

So, us three, Masego from Botswana, Nnamdi from Nigeria and I went in search of food. We saw this cute Italian spot and ordered some pasta and a strawberry drink from Wendy’s to go. Masego was having none of that. She had a salad bowl in front of her. I thought, “ebi o pa eleyi oo” (she’s not hungry o), as per the Nigerian that I am. Hmm, ma a ma j’ewe p’elu ebi yi? Ogun orun ko! (I will be eating salad with this kind of hunger, the host of heaven forbid!) We eventually left the airport about 5pm. I can just imagine if I had not had a good meal, hmm.

 

 

Hahaha, it took your girl 24 hours to crave some Naija food. A visit to the African market fixed that. I stocked up for 6 weeks, no jokes! I made a big pot of jollof spaghetti, crayfish and panla certified! 

 

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Oh Jesus! The Cup!! This place satisfied all my sweet cravings, which revolved around just one flavour of ice cream. I am that type of human. I find what works for me and STICK to it. Thank you, Veronica Moore, my peer collaborator turned big sister for life. I miss and love you. We had such good times over cups or mini bowls of maple walnut ice cream. She recommended it and I was completely sold. Nothing hurts more than remembering Veronica and I for some reason do not have a single picture together! Oh well, it just means we have to figure out another visit.

 

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Okay, this place right here. Sigh. Too many memories. From the free coffee if you made it before 8:30 am (the stairs, people, the stairs from the dorms to get here, chai, e get as e be!) to the many ceasar salad bowls with strawberry milkshakes (haha, the lady who served me soon told everyone else about me, so that once I showed up in the mornings, after I got tired of coffee in a week, they served up my order without asking), to the sandwiches and Tuesdays Grilllll! Lord, the meat was so good, I am almost in tears right now as I recall its goodness! O ne’gba gaan! Lol.

 

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Hmm! If you could see my face right now!! This was the first of manyyy meals we would have together as a class. This was served at the restaurant at the University Centre which had insane stairs, as expected. *rolls eyes*

 

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This was the welcome reception for Mandela Washington Fellows at the University President Simon’s house. Haha, I remember feeling so lost. I kept refilling my glass with lemonade and ice. I ended getting filled up from all that liquid and not the actual food! LOL.

 

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If you know, you know! Ah, I had had such a long day! My thighs hurt so bad from all that stairs climbing! All I could think about was gaari. And yes, that is a bag of washed panla. right at the edge of the picture. The way I slept after, ehn!

 

The amazing people I sat with at the welcome dinner for the Global Village 2017!

 

 

This was indeed a feast. After we had been divided into project teams and signed necessary documents such as a non-disclosure agreement, ah, o le t’obe o, the teams  went to lunch. I was feeling a bit adventurous and did not order my usual choice of spaghetti bolognese (I am boring, I know. Shoo!). Instead, I ordered something something pasta with something something tomato something:

 

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The tomato overload is all I remember. Meh, it was not all that, jare.

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I could not finish it and had it packed, sha. Later that evening, I simply tossed some baby spinach in it, sprinkled Maggi and the ever faithful yaji pepper! And chai, that sweet tomato taste was gone. I literally gobbled it down. Lol!

Thank you for reading the first edition of my foodscapades. Haha, I promise, I have even better editions coming up. As of this time, I had not started exploring the cuisine around me. I was mostly eating meals provided for breakfast or lunch and cooking my dinner. So, be sure to come back for the remaining editions!

Until then,

xoxo,

Folu

 

 

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The 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship

Eek! 

101 Nigerian 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows

Late 2016

After staring for ages at my application,  I was honestly very frustrated.  It was the last day to apply and I had one question left. Just one! I rubbed my eyes wearily and closed it.  Two hours later,  determined,  I went back to it, finished and clicked ‘Submit’. As it is with almost anything I apply for,  I simply moved on and didn’t think about it.  

January 2017

I started the year with just one goal,  ‘personal development,  so I could help empower more people’. I also thought to myself that it will be a quiet year for me in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, because service year.  Everything was going well, according to plan until the 15th. It began to change with a mail. “…Congratulations…interview at the US Embassy, Lagos…” I froze. Cue impostors’ syndrome. “Ooooh, they are about to find out I’m not impressive at all. Blah blah.” I attended the interview. It got super personal during the interview. I cried. Yes,  I cried at my interview and swore never to tell a soul, after all I ruined my chances with the tears. #shrugs.

March 2017

Phone rang. “Congratulations….. ”  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Omg, omg, omg!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Opened email. “Ehn! Abi e ya mo ni?! Alternate ke?!! But… but…” A few hours later, the error was corrected. Omgggg, I’m A Fellow!!!!!!

April/May 2017

Checked email every 4 hours per day.  Hit the refresh button so much, it’s like

Ewooo! *in Memkoh’s voice*

Attended the Pre-Departure Orientation. Attended Reception hosted by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington in honour of 2017 Fellows. Met a ton of amaaaayzing Nigerians doing incredible things, heard their amazing stories and I was truly humbled to be part of such a group.

Aunty Folu and Ambassador Stuart Symington

Caught a nasty cold on the last day of PDO. Still have the cold but getting better. Came home. Got engaged. Witnessed my older sister getting married in a gown that took me 3 long months to produce. (These two incidences casually mentioned deserve their own blog post, right?)

Anyway, I’m really excited to share with you that I am a Mandela Washington Fellow for this year. And you know what makes this so special? I’m not even ‘qualified’ to apply. Application age 25-35. I’m 23! I’m the youngest Nigerian Fellow for this year. Not sure about the entire program. 

Interested in knowing more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship?  Click here. Thinking of applying? Yep, read all about it in the link and try it out this year. 

I leave for the United States in June and I am very very excited about the fellowship  and everything it represents for me, my business but most importantly, those that will benefit from my experience! 

I leave you with a couple more pictures!

Till next time, 

xoxo,

Folu. 

Life Update/Sharing My Endo Story

Hiii!

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It has been such long time. I know, I know. I honestly just needed a break from social media. Life was getting very overwhelming and I have got this habit of completely shutting down when I can not take it anymore. In order to prevent that, I figured it was best to take a break from my online activities and focus on the real world and all the things battling for attention.

But I am back now! I will try my best not to disappear again in May. I am already staring at my calendar like, Jesus take the wheel! Haha. Anyway, today, I will be giving a bit of life update and sharing my weight gain story. 

I am a bridal designer and I absolutely love what I do. Anyone who knows me, know that I will go any length to ensure that the final product is the stiff the bride’s dreams are made of. So, go on, if you are a bride-to-be or you know someone who is, go on, click that link. Recommend us!! 😀

While I was away, I was slaving away (l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y) on my May bride, who happens to be my older sister!! Yep, she is getting married in May and you know it’s about to be a serious lit-u-ation (lit + situation) with that gown! I am excited and I can not wait to share all the fun pictures. I just had to take a break when my daily routine became wake up-eat-bead for five hours-nap-wake up and bead again-eat dinner- bead-sleep. I became ill a few times but I am super grateful for the chance to create a beautiful, regal piece for my sister.

Moving on, this may not come as a surprise but for almost a year, I have posted only selfies and not so many full length pictures of myself. I have also been very unforgiving of people who make tactless comments about my weight gain. Without consciously realising it, I had gotten into this mindset where I hated my body and resented the fact that despite all my efforts, the weight only seemed to increase.

So, let’s get into it before I lose my nerve. In June 2016, I had intense cramps. I mean, I have very intense cramps every month but this month, I knew something was up. The pain was intense-r, lol. This picture below is the perfect decription.

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After speaking with my doctor friend, I followed up on his advice and found a diagnostic centre to get myself checked. Let’s just say I was very grateful that my mom came with me. By the time the doctor asked me his first question, I knew something was up. “Signs of Endometriosis/ Polycystic Ovary Syndrome”, he said. He explained all these in detail. I have to say I was weirdly  relieved when he mentioned PCOS as a direct cause of weight gain.

Fast forward, a year later, I am starting to accept the changes in my body. I was quite depressed for a while. I’d stare at clothing I wore just months ago and be so frustrated when I realised I could barely fit into it anymore. I refused to create new pieces for fear that meant I was mentally agreeing with the weight gain.

Today, I am still doing a lot of research and trying to learn the best and healthy ways to handle my health and my body. However, the most important part of this whole journey is learning to love myself and the skin I am in. That probably sounds very cliche but I assure you, it means a huge deal to me. I am accepting that that is the way my body is right now and I need to  also accept that it is up to me to work hard and consistently to get the body I desire.

Finally before I leave, April is actually Endometriosis Awareness month. It is what encouraged me to share my story. I strongly recommend that you simply do not dismiss your painful menstrual periods as just that. Get checked and rule out endometriosis. It is better to be sure than sorry! Here is a short overview about Endometriosis, just in case you didn’t know:

“Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of cells (endometrial cells) similar to those that form the inside of the uterus, but in a location outside of the uterus. Endometriosis is most commonly found on other organs of the pelvis. Some of the symptoms may include: pelvic pain during menstruation or ovulation, painful sexual intercourse, painful bowel movement or urination, infertility.

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For more information, check out this website from one of the bravest women and Endo Warrior I know: Millen Magese Foundation/Endometriosis. Also, you can donate towards her work in Endometriosis Awareness and finding a cure.

Thank you and have a wonderful week!

xoxo,

Folu.

 

 

My First Maid of Honour Experience Ever

Hiii!

It’s another Monday, so, helllloooo. How are you?

The past few days (starting  Friday) have been super intense for me and I find myself seeking solace more than ever in my art. I’m grateful to have a creative outlet for all these feelings and stress.

I left work (Law Reports office) on Friday and travelled down to Ibadan and straight down to my main job, (Dabira Bridals). Saturday morning (6:30am) saw me on my way to Lagos island to buy about 80 yards of various fabrics for a huge family occasion coming up soon. 15 hours later, very irritable and tired, lol,  I’m back home thinking to myself,  “It’s straight to bed, babe. Straaaaaight!” Little did I know….

I finally went to sleep around 2am. Sunday morning was a bit lazy thankfully. Got up around 10am, did chores and I was off my friend’s house, as per Maid of Honour duties. Errands and meeting lots of new people (yay! Things that make me happy these days. I enjoy meeting people on my terms,  lol, rant post for another day), we finally slept at about 12:30am. I snoooooooozed my 4:30am Monday alarm, finally dragged myself up when the alarm wouldn’t go off at 5:30am. Crazy rush of getting iyawo (bride) ready for engagement slated for 8:00am. We made it, barely. While bride was escorted to the venue,  I stayed behind to help sew a friend into her top that refused to zip. That took one hour. I rush to the venue to realise engagement was over. 

*grabs bride’s hand after pictures and rushes into the Pastorium*

Once there, MUA and Hair stylists start working their magic while I straighten out the wedding gown and realise, “OMGGGG, WHO UNPACKED THE PETTICOAT?!!!!!!!!!”. Struggling to stay sane and calm, I get one of the girls to go back home and get the petticoat,  FAST. Lol, drama, drama. I turn around and the hairstylist is letting her creative juices flow against the bride’s wishes. I manage to salvage the situation. 10 minutes to go time, petticoat  arrives. Event coordinator is screaming my name outside, “Folu, what’s going on, you have no time left!”

*helps bride into petticoat, shoves bouquet into her hands, inserts veil, looks at her from head to toes, checking off mental checklist aaaand we’re out the door*

We make it to church 10am on the dot!  Cue processional hymn and the next 3.5 hours are a blur. Omg, I was relieved when church was over cos there was no reception, yep, you read right. But hey, drama just had to find me. The house keys (bride’s parents house) were missing. Eish! Round and round the church we go for 35 minutes till I’m yanked and deposited,  L I T E R A L L Y, in the SUV with the bride and given strict instructions not to leave her under any circumstances.

2 hours later.  I’m fast asleep in her parents’ house. My dad picks me up at 5:00pm. I cook  him some food and  hitch a ride to la-la-land. And now, 4 hours behind schedule,  I finally make my blog post.  (Yay for me😆😝)

*adjusts mental crown*

We’re back to work tomorrow and staring  the huge family occasion in the eye like “I’m almost ready for you!

xoxo,

Folu.

Illustration of Jennifer Amani of www.jenniferamani.co.uk  by Folu Ajayi Illustrations

#AWM4: One Step At A Time pt. 3

Hiii!

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How have you all been?

This is the final part of “One Step at a Time” in my #AWM series. I will be sharing the a couple more hacks that will help increase your productivity as a young adult. Let’s jump right in:

  1. Stop being late: Generally, for all your commitments, big or small, being late is a complete No-No. It has become the fad to find majority of our generation showing up late to everything: late to work, late to class, late to meetings, late to dates, late in meeting deadlines. I will be honest, I have been very guilty of all the above. I did an evaluation of my productivity in many areas and realized one of the major factor affecting me is the habit of tardiness.

I have too many examples of briefs I have lost as a creative due to my lateness. Since I started working at the Law Reports office where I work, I have discovered on days I am late, I find myself scrambling for the rest of the day. Instead of approaching most of my tasks with a clear mind and a level head, I am running against time to try to catch up with all the things I have to do that day.

  1. Eating a proper breakfast: I have heard young adults say this over and over in different variations. “I simply do not have time for breakfast” or “It makes me slow” or “I still feel bloated from dinner” or “I cannot function with breakfast”. While I do not question the validity of these statements, I have responses to each and every one of them. It has been proven that a proper, healthy breakfast is the perfect way to jump start your day.

Creating a morning routine can help your time management and leave room for the breakfast you never thought you would have. (I want you to calculate in a week, a month, finally a year how much you have spent on having breakfast later in the morning outside your home. You would be shocked to realise the amount of money you could have easily saved all because you didn’t plan your time properly.)

If your complaint is you cannot function or it makes you slow, then you need to watch your breakfast choices. When you eat sugary foods, your body experiences a sugar spike which does not last very long and leaves you very tired once it wears out. I am not an expert but proper research will yield great options of great, healthy breakfast choices that help you feel and stay energized all through your morning.

Finally, as for the bloating, you probably need to watch what you eat every night and the time you eat dinner. Also consider the option of including teas and/or smoothies into your diet to aid easy digestion and quicken your metabolism. I can testify to infused lemon water at 5:30am in the morning and how it cleanses your system. The best part is you can feel it working wonders!

These hacks, if gradually learned, are life changing and help you build a responsible and healthy lifestyle as a young adult. Have a wonderful week, beautiful people.

xoxo,

Folu.

Illustration by Folu Ajayi Illustrations

#AWM3: One Step At a Time pt. 2

Last week, in retrospect, was hilarious.

I lost my sketchbook. 2 years’ worth of designs. I am still trying to reconcile my brain with the implications.

Tuesday morning, I accepted a ride to work. I got hit on. I respectfully refused the Professor’s offer. I got thrown out of his car. I ended up walking to work. 

That evening, an elderly man said to me “Sweet baby, can I meet you”. Tired and hungry, I keep on walking, for the journey home was 25 minutes long. He proceeded to follow me. I crossed the road back and forth to be sure and he promptly did so too. Freaked out in the darkness, I ran for cover under a shop and watched him look around and give up. I resumed my journey home, vowing never to stay out past 5 pm.

Mid-morning Friday, I enjoyed a movie alone in Ibadan and called my godmother. Her office was not too far away, so I went to visit.  Car stopped beside me.  “Hi. I was just telling my friend here that I do not normally do this but I saw your backside from the highway and I knew I had to see the face to which the backside belonged”. After such a frustratingly sad week, I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. I promise my life isn’t always this dramatic but

last week, in retrospect, was hilarious.

Hiii!

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Hello March. This year isn’t waiting for anyone at all! In case you missed last week’s post, I have been sharing about productivity as a key aspect or responsible adulting. Let’s go straight to the things I am trying out to help me increase my productivity and stay focused on my goals. I realize that I need to gradually add new habits and see them through till they stick. As a result, I will be updating as I add on new activities.

  1. A Morning Routine: I may have to do a whole post on the importance and need for a morning routine right now. It has been proven over and over that the morning is the best period for being very active. Why waste all that brain power in one sorry excuse: “I am not a morning person”. Majority of us aren’t. However, if you are serious about achieving the best in life, then it is important to start WAKING UP EARLY.

Yeah. I said it.

How early is early? Well, the trick I used in February was to take my usual waking time and set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than it. For example, if I used to wake up at  7 am, I set my alarm for 6:30 am. I use this for a couple of days and then set the alarm  and then another 30 minutes earlier. I repeated this and now, I wake up 2 minutes before my 5:30am alarm.

My morning routine is very simple:

5:30 am – Wake up / 5:31 am – Drink water / 5:35 am – Exercise / 6:00 am – Shower / 6:30 am – Study the Word/Prayers / 7:00 am – Breakfast / 7:10 am – Read a book / 7:25 am – Write my top three to-do’s / 7:30 am – Out the door.

With this routine, I can ensure that I am out the door and off to work at a certain time, instead of my regular scatterbrained efforts at being early but I end up being late and then realizing I forgot key things I need for the day.

  1. Focus on ONE task at a time: I am very guilty of this. In the name of multi-tasking, I attempt to do various things all at once, and then I end up not finishing anything. I have decided that for one hour every day, I will dedicate myself to uninterrupted focused work with my phone/tablet off or on silent, ears plugged. I will simply go at each task set apart for the day and until I am done, I do not come up for air.

There are a few more I will like to share but only if you come back next week! 😉 Meanwhile, what are the things you do to stay productive? Share with me, I want to hear from you.

xoxo,

Folu.

Illustration and Edit: Folu Ajayi Illustrations

#AWM 2: One step at a time pt. 1

Hiii!

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Welcome to the second post in the #AdultWithMe Series. Honestly, today was not a great way to start of the week for me but hey, we keep pushing, right?

Today, I am talking about this same life situation and how it can get overwhelming really fast.My constant attempts at figuring life out has led to me reading a lot of self-help books and investing in almost anything that promises clarity, even if it’s just a teeny-weeny bit. Unfortunately, too many times, I am almost as disillusioned at the end of the book as when I started reading it. With so many years of struggling to stay afloat and swim through life’s many big waves, I decided I was going to take a year off from my regular life schedule. Instead, I will spend that year on personal development, taking critical looks at different areas of my life and being completely honest with myself in order to make suitable changes.

Long lasting changes.

Now, I realise not everyone has the luxury of simply taking a year of their day-to-day lives. I mean, I am still working in a University and running a business, it is just not at the usual pace I am familiar with. It can simply be you taking a breather and rearranging your life in a way that yields better results for you as an individual. I have decided to share simple life hacks that can begin to transform your life from the inside out. Many of us spend a lot of time being very busy and doing a lot of tasks. But when we look back to evaluate ourselves, we discover we were not as “productive” as we thought. Doing a lot of things or crossing off daily to-dos do not necessarily translate into being productive. Evaluating yourself is a habit I have picked up very fast. I am my own best and worst critic. I simply have to learn to differentiate between when it is positive and when it is toxic.The year I have chosen for my long-term evaluation and personal development is 2017. Towards the end of 2016, I took a long hard look at my habits and lifestyle and realized that I was a very busy person.

Very busy.

But in the those years of being really busy, I had not achieved as much as I had expected or hit the milestones or goals I had set for myself. If you know my story, you might be tempted to shake your head and say “ingrate aye”, and I will absolutely understand that. You see, I do not take for granted or try to water down my privileges.

No, not at all.

I am very grateful for all the chances and opportunities God has sent my way. But you see, it is dangerously easy to get caught up in a “local champion” lifestyle and begin to live on past glory such that you no longer push yourself as much as you did when no one knew your name. That very issue is what caused me to evaluate myself and my many life endeavours. I came up with a long list of habits and lifestyle choices that if not dealt with quickly, might be root causes of bigger problems in the near future. So, I have decided this is the year to deal with that, to cultivate new habits, to establish healthier aspirations and life goals, to decide to live better, no for myself at all, but for others around me.

In what areas do you feel like life just keeps kicking your butt? Drop a comment, let’s share our experiences. I look forward to reading them.

To be continued next week. Do have a beautiful week ahead.

xoxo

Folu.

P.S: Classic example of still trying to get a hold of responsible adulting: I’ve got deadlines but I am off to make myself tea, grab some cookies and watch a movie till I sleep off. 😀

#AWM 1: I’m no phony!

Hiii!

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Welcome to my first edition of #AdultWithMe series! I will be posting every Monday, (with the exception of today’s post) so this series can serve as the perfect motivation booster for the week. I am pretty excited to explore topics in these series to the fullest. Do not forget that I really would love to hear from you. So, do not hesitate to send in your feedback or comment topic ideas you would love for me to tackle in these series or in other areas of my blog.

Without much ado, let’s begin.

You know that phase. That phase you feel stuck in, where you long for things to go back to the way they used to be, where your responsibilities keep staring you down, where you just wanna lay down and wish till kingdom come you stayed a child. Yeah, that one. That phase where your teenage years feel like yesterday, yet your adult years have fully begun. That phase no one ever told you adults never really know what they are doing and are all a bunch of phonies. Oh wait. You are one now and you feel exactly like that.

Haha.

If you read my About page, you will understand quickly why I started this blog. I am in my early 20s, I have spent the past few years feeling very clueless about life and like a phony. I have wished over and over for some manual “How to Adult Successfully in 10,000 Easy(ish) Steps”, anything to help me feel or know I am not just a bumbling mess of a person. However, I had a reality check recently that changed my perspective towards life generally. As a result, I started experimenting/exploring different way or means to discover myself and figure out this thing called life. I must say I can’t wait to share them with you, if you are willing to stick with me.

Thank you for staying so far. Hope you keep coming back. Don’t forget to subscribe so you get notified when there’s a new post up. Enjoy your week!

A Late Valentine Post.

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Hey guys!

Welcome to my third attempt at owning a blog! Let us hope for my sake this one is here to stay and I do no up and delete it. That’s me by the way, dreaming of candy coloured fros and skyline fine dining with Beau. You can find that illustration at my Instagram Art Account.

Happy Valentine’s day to you all. I hope you had a great day celebrating in what ever way you deemed fit. I stayed indoors all day, slept ate, organized and now, I am writing this post. If you followed the link from any of my social media platforms, thank you for clicking. If you stumbled on my blog by chance, thank you also.

Once again, welcome to my blog. I hope we have a super fun time together. You can pop over real quick to my About and see what this is all about.

Thank you.

xoxo,

Folu.

“Of Candy Fros and Beaus”- Illustration by Folu Ajayi Illustrations.