Friday, July 31, 2015

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I had a laugh with my sisters the other day about our odd habits, one of my main being I talk to myself. Quite prolificly, actually. It's one of those silly quirks I'm not afraid to admit to, because in all honesty I have no intentions of changing or breaking the habit. I regularly have long, drawn-out conversations in my head - whether with myself or between characters I've discovered for the purpose of writing literature. I think it's quite a natural thing for authors to chat with themselves, debate and ponder, because how else do we come upon the ideas that take a book from being ordinary to memorable? Those moments don't come when our head is following the beaten path, they come when we're thinking for ourselves, and sometimes that involves unorthodox methods, such as talking to ourselves.

Let's back this up a moment: why am I talking about talking to myself (or am I talking to myself)? I want to illustrate the idea that creativity is not rational. Never has been, really.

"Have I gone mad?"
 "I'm afraid you have. Entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret: all the best people are."

I'm not saying to follow some New Age philosophy of doing Odd for the sake of Odd. I'm saying the moment you think to yourself "this is crazy. It will never work," is exactly the moment you should take out your pen and paper and start writing; your brush and start painting; your camera and start photographing. Good things happen artistically when you are outside your comfort zone, when you've thrown the rationality, the safety net and the good-and-sensible rules into the backseat. Keep them there for later - you might need them; but during the early stages of the creative process you've got to throw caution to the wind.

The worst thing that can happen is you won't use the product of your craziness, in which case you can consider it educated research. XD

What's the best thing that happened to you when you did something crazy?

The Elegance Files, No. 1

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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I don't claim to be the connoisseur of elegance, but as I do claim it as part of my philosophy, I thought it would be fun to share some of my tips for being elegant, and for all you lovely ladies to join the throng in the comments below with your own. You are all lovely, with your own ways of being elegant, and I would love to hear what makes you feel beautiful. <3 p="">
Today's topic is body image, a taboo subject if there ever was one. If we aren't proud of our figures, society tells us we should be; if we are, we're told we're too arrogant. You may have read a hundred articles on how to be confident in your own skin, or you may have read one, and you would be as close to discovering a true sense of self either way. There are only so many ways you can tell a person to "be herself", and I've found maybe one, if any, to be truly helpful to me. So what do we do?

There are a lot of ways to feel confident in yourself, but true elegance is far more eluding. Elegance comes when you aren't trying. The most elegant people I know do not appear elegant because they have spent a lot of time studying the art of self-confidence, and harbor the marrow-sliver like a treasure. They are elegant - they are truly, humbly confident because they do not think about themselves, but put others before them. They are happy, because they have worked hard, because they spend their time productively and do not dwell on ill thoughts.
True beauty, and from beauty to body confidence, comes not from struggling with your "inner self" but understanding your inherent value in the kingdom of Heaven, how highly treasured you are by your Creator - and how can we destroy the work of the greatest Artist? 

Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be graceful if it kills you.

What tips do you have to be elegant? Is there any topic you specifically want to see a post on? 

This Is Your Procrastination Pep-Talk

Monday, July 27, 2015

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We all have those days where, no matter how excited we may have been about being productive last night, we woke up this morning and everything just. isn't. happening. Your feet are dragging. You want to lie in bed and scroll through Pinterest. You want to do every (wonderful, even useful) thing that has nothing to do with the work that must be done. The hard stuff has to be done first, you know, and you've pushed it far enough that you can't push the work off any more, but still. It's the last thing you want to do.

I don't know about you, but the only times I succesfully extricate myself from this sort of woe-begone Procrastination-Funk is with a pep-talk, and not just any pep-talk. I can't be told that everyone else got further today, or that I'm wasting valuable time, or that the sucessful people are working right now, and that's why they're sucessful.

What inspires me to work is gentle encouragement. And because sometimes that's hard to find, or you forget about it when you most need it, I have for you today a list of reasons why you should never, ever, ever give up and just frump. Bookmark this page if you need to; this is your procastination pep-talk. :)

Often we feed ourselves the lie that we aren't good enough, that our past failures mean our future can't be full of successes, and these insecurities flare up on days we don't want to do anything. Remember you are a beloved child of God. Remember you are loved more than you can fathom.

You've made it this far, and you've never been defeated by a sluggish day. Don't give up now.

Don't make a list of everything you need to do: make a list of the things you love. From there, work toward your ambitions, your dreams. Let them be wild and entirely unattainable, or let them be completely humble and quiet - be honest with yourself.

Do the smallest, easiest task first. Grab some chocolate, some tea, some coffee or whatever you know gives you a pep in your step, and accomplish something - anything - just to have one box checked off on that to-do list and to be moving. Work your way to the bigger things, but start small.

The last thing to do is whine about your problems. Scribble your thoughts in a journal or somewhere discreet, and get over with it. Spill them out on the page and then lock the gate to your mind, because you don't need those negative thoughts polluting your headspace.

Life has never been perfect, nor has it ever been easy. Trust that there is purpose in everything, and that it is human nature to be fallible. You're not the only one, but what distinguishes the success stories from the others is not that they didn't have off-days, it's that they didn't allow the off-days to overcome the on-days. Work through it if you can, and if you can't,

Sometimes the best way to refresh your perspective, make you more productive and rejuvenate you is a simple nap. It feels like you're wasting more time, but if you can relax your body enough to sleep, even just lightly for 20 minutes, you will find you're much more productive in twenty minutes than you would have been in an hour without that break to push you. Think of it as purposeful procrastination.

All the best, friends. <3 p="">

Morning & Evening Skincare Routine

Friday, July 24, 2015

not pictured: a near-empty bottle of witch hazel. XD
This post has been requested so many times in the past and for some reason I've taken ages to finally put it together! I think it was a combination of wanting to perfect it and plain-and-simple procrastination. ;)

Before we get in, let's talk about skin types. My skin is oily/combination, sensitive, and a bit acne-prone, meaning it has the tendency to be shiny around my nose and chin, but the sides of my face and forehead are more suceptible to dryness. I do have acne, but not too severely. It has been worse in the past, before I knew how to properly care for it, which leads me to an important point: proper and consistant skincare is the difference between a struggling, angry face (which means more makeup application, leading to further skin problems...) and a clear complexion. Having acne and spots doesn't mean your face is "dirty" necessarily: often it is a combination of genetics and hormones, as well as a lot of other factors. [Sidenote: I have a lot to say about skincare in general. Let me know if you want a post on it, because I would love to share!] Nonetheless, taking care of your skin properly severely reduces the effects of acne, prevents future scarring and keeps further irritation at bay. That's what we're aiming for here: not perfection, consistancy.

-I start by removing my face makeup with a hot washcloth, being careful to get around the ears and down my neck and remove any makeup.
-For my eye makeup, I apply a small amount of coconut oil, warming it between my fingers and rub it around my eyes and eyelashes (until I look like a proper panda) and then gently wipe off the dirty oil with a tissue. I apply a bit more coconut oil to my lashes to stimulate lash growth.
-For toner, I wipe my face down every other night with a cotton pad and witch hazel (nothing special here). It's an excellent natural way to get a deeper cleanse to the skin, but it is a bit drying, which is why I always follow up with moisturizer (whether I've used the witch hazel that night or not).
-Occasionally, I'll add an in-between step of a face mask, about once every two weeks to either exfoliate, add extra moisture, or simply pamper. I love this one from St. Ives as it can be applied as an exfoliator, or you can leave it on for 10-15 minutes like a proper mask, and always leaves my skin feeling super hydrated and smooth.
-The moisturizer I use is the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+, which is excellent at doing its job. It's a common misconception that if you have oily skin you shouldn't use a moisturizer, but the opposite is true: you have to replenish the moisture in your skin so that it doesn't overproduce its own oil. The Clinique moisturizer does a good job at hydrating my skin without being greasy, sticky or taking too long to absorb; definitely a favorite product!
-Last before I go to bed, I apply a good amount of lip balm. My current favorite is this mint one from eos.

-I begin by splashing my face with cold water to minimize pores, refresh the skin, wake me up. Pat dry with a clean, gentle towel.
-I like to apply a little more moisturizer around my neck/chin area and around the sides of my face, using again the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+.
-Before applying my makeup, I spritz my face with e.l.f. Makeup Mist and Set with Aloe, Green Tea and Cucumber, which not only moisturizes the skin, but also helps my makeup to last longer on my skin. It's not quite a fine mist, so I massage it in before applying my makeup, and if I feel like I need the extra layer of adhesion, use
-e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer. I've talked about this before in this post, so if you're interested, check it out!

That's it - I have quite a simple regime, and it works for me. I know there are many other products I could use, but I prefer to keep it simple so as not to potentially confuse or aggrevate my skin. :)

What does your skincare routine look like? What are your favorite products?

(Disclaimer: this post is not sponsered by any of the previous companies. I simply enjoy these products.)

Truth Is Like a Threshing Machine

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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"Truth is like a threshing machine: tender sensibilities must keep out of the way." -Herman Melville

I had a friend mention to me this week that he hoped I would become a successful, world-famous author, preaching to a lost world through literature. I have to admit I love the concept of it - garnering respect by doing what I love most? Pretty dreamy.

The problem with this concept is that it doesn't exactly fit puzzle-piece-like into the world we live in. The popular literature audience rejects truth in its full capacity, though their yearning for truth is evident in the small cameos it makes in even the most Godless of books. Truth is there, as it always has been, and it cannot be hidden entirely - yet, those of us who speak truth on certain topics are immediately refused. (There are so many issues that I could branch into from here, so bear with me.) It's selective truth, the sort of truth that feels good - or, occasionally, the unavoidable truths, that speak to the soul, whether it is understood or not by a Godless audience.

So what do we do? We can't stop speaking truth, but we're cutting out a large portion of the audience by doing so.

I've sometimes wondered if I had lived in the 18th century, would the purpose and heart of my writing would have been more appreciated? But we often forget that in the past, the writing we see as powerful and poignant today would only be commonplace, in a time of true appreciation for the written word. See, we are needed in this time to show contrast to false words and cast light on real truth, the sort of Truth that changes the world, as hackneyed as the phrase is. We cannot be afraid of hurting people or alienating people who disagree with us when it comes to truth. We write what must be said, and we do not back down.

If you want your writing to ring true in the ears of the reader, you cannot be afraid of stepping on toes.

Updating Your Bedroom (To Stay Cool This Summer)

Monday, July 20, 2015

As we well know, a good night's sleep is essential to health, but we can't always get that. I personally find it a bit more difficult to sleep during the summer for a multitude of reasons, but mainly due to temperatures: nothing quite ruins a gorgeous summer day like being unable to sleep at night because of the heat! While there's no foolproof recipe to a perfect night's sleep, there are a few ways to maintain a cool, comfortable temperature. Today I'm going to share with you the ways I've found most effective, as well as a few products that may help you in getting there! Sweet dreams. Xx

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I love my fleecy bedsheets in the winter, but living in the south in the month of July means using these is an absolute impossibility. Pick a pair of sheets with a nice lightweight texture, preferably in a cool-toned (or better, white) shade so as not to absorb heat during the day and resulting in a cool, crisp bed in the evening. Lightweight-but-still-cosy duvet covers like these, from Parachute Luxury Bedding, are another good option for those of us who don't want to sacrifice comfort for coolness!

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I love to have a ceiling fan going all night long, not just for a gentle breeze, but also the humming of it. I find the sound soothing and peaceful, just what I need to fall asleep quickly.

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Your body needs liquid for many reasons, not the least of which to fight heat and keep your overall body temperature down. Guzzling some water before you go to bed is an excellent way to cool down, and is good for you for multiple reasons besides.

How do you stay cool on summer nights? Have you discovered any wonderful methods to falling asleep despite the heat (and without cranking your air conditioning unit to impossible measures!)?

My 5 Favorite Summer Lipsticks

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer. Because I needed another excuse to buy pretty lipsticks. XD
1. Maybelline Color Burst Lipstick in Rose Rush
A beautiful reddy-orange color with decent staying power and a semi-glossy finish that fades very nicely and evenly and doesn't leave the dreaded lipstick-ring after eating! I love my reds year-round, but in the summertime this is a great crossover that goes surprisingly well with a lot of different looks. It's also wonderful for us blue-eyed girls as orange and blue are complimentary colors and they bring each other out.

2. L'Oreal Pop Balm in Bold Blush
This is almost an elevated lip gloss, sheer and pinky-toned, but without any of the sticky gloopiness of most lip glosses. It doesn't last super long on the lips, but the color is lovely for summer & because of the shade it's a breeze to reapply.

3. NYX Soft Matte Lim Cream in Antwerp
One of my favorite lipstick lines is this one from NYX; the color range is beautiful, the formula smooth and creamy, not drying on the lips, and still extremely long-lasting. The shade Antwerp is a great slightly-brownish, slightly-peachy pink with a very buildable finish. With a thick application/two layers, the color can be a real statement piece. Conversely, with a light application, it's very easily a your-lips-but-better shade.

4. Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in #107
Believe it or not, I actually love a dark, full-on lipstick in the summer months, as I'm not doing much else with my makeup during the months (it's just too hot for a lot of it, you know?). The Rimmel x Kate Moss lipsticks are another fantastic line to check out, and this particular shade, a dark purpley-red, is my favorite. They are matte, extremely long-lasting, and the color range is fantastic. I also heard there's a line of nude lipsticks recently added to the collection, so I'll let you know if those are any good too!

5. Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Power Pink
I got this one just a few weeks ago on recommendation, and though unlike the Rimmel lipsticks, the lasting power on this one isn't amazing, the color is worth it. I never saw myself as a bright pink lipstick girl at all until I found this lipstick; something about the purpley undertones and almost electric vibe of this one have made it a recent favorite, however! Of course the packaging is dreamy, and I'm all for a pretty bullet-design. And it smells vanilla-y...

What lipstick are you loving this summer?


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Because sometimes, it's fun to daydream. :)

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Top of my list at the moment, as probably every other summer, because I love the idea of spending hot days strolling down through gardens and cooling off in museums, spending the evenings in long chats over beautiful dinners, and waking up in the morning to that classic Parisian breakfast fare of black coffee, croissants, and orange juice.

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Because if you can't spend a week in the heart of fashion history, what better option than to live on the beach and explore quaint cobbled streets and pastel-panted houses? Not to mention the abundance of fresh and beautiful food...
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I love the vibe of the city in summertime, and if that wasn't convincing enough, I've been positively loving Lauren Pfeiffer's Instagram feed at the moment - that alone will make you want to visit! I want to get up early, get my coffee and wander down the streets and explore.

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My namesake town. Full of quiet neighborhoods leading into a quaint town with the sweetest, tiny coffee shops and from there sloping to the great, grey waves. The weather is quiet, cool and foggy year-round, perfect for escaping the summer heat, and the food available is fantastic and fresh. Love.

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Just search for a few photos of Tuscany on Pinterest and you will see so many photos of beautiful farmland, rust-tinted streets, beautiful homes...not to mention, I don't think anyone can do pizza and pasta quite like the Italians. Love!

For more travel inspiration, visit my globe-trotting board on Pinterest.

Where would you most like to visit - and have you travelled anywhere lovely this summer?

Monday's Recipe: Blueberry Oatmeal

Monday, July 13, 2015

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It feels like it's been ages since I've posted something here! Sorry once again for the week-long leave-of-absence: I was out of both home and wifi for the majority of last week, and unable to share much along the way. I did however draft several things to share while I was gone, so stay tuned for that!

I wanted to share a recipe with you guys today, as it's been quite a while since we've done one of these.  (I'm also thinking of doing a series on breakfast, so let me know if that interests you!) Anyway...

You know I love my oatmeal. It's one of the best breakfasts because it's so clean and simple, while still being a versatile base for whatever you top it with!

-2/3 cup of oatmeal
-2/3 cup of water
-pinch of salt
-1/2 cup (or a handful) of fresh blueberries
-a pinch of unsweetened coconut shavings
-2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

-If you have the patience to cook your oatmeal on the hob and clean the dishes afterwards, props to you! For the rest of us, I simply combine the water and oatmeal in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt for flavour and pop it in the microwave for a minute and a half. Watch it while it cooks, because you do need to stop it and stir occasionally to avoid overbubbling.

-Once your oatmeal is done, transfer it to your bowl and top with blueberries, a drizzle of the maple syrup and a pinch of coconut. Maple syrup is wonderful because it doesn't contain additives of chemicals and sugar, etc. and the flavour, of course, is delicious and pairs well with any sort of fruit.

-Allow your bowl to cool for a few minutes before enjoying. :)

What have you all been up to lately? How are your summers going? Let me know!

Top 10 Summer Essentials

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

(Sorry if you're not a summer girl and all these summer-themed posts are not up your alley, but I can hardly resist. ;)

I recently shared a Summer Style Guide, and it got me thinking a bit about my ultimate summer essentials, beyond fashion alone. I compiled a list and I wanted to share it with you in hopes it is useful!
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1. The Biggest Sunglasses I Can Find
There really is nothing more chic than a large, dark pair of shades in the summertime. The bigger the better.
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2. Infused Water
Of course water is a necessity year round (and especially in the summertime). So why not cheer it up with a bit of lemon, mint, strawberries or cucumber? Check out more recipe ideas here.
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3. A Wicker Picnic Basket
Summertime to me is all about picnicing, and the best way to have a picnic is with a large wicker basket. I'm still looking for the perfect one - have any of you found one you like, and where have you found it?
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4. Bright Nail Polish
Becuase we have more time to paint our nails and more excuses to show them off. Some of my favorite colors this year are Essie's "Tart Deco" and Sally Hansen "Set Sail."

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5. A Good Book
Technically, I actually like to have two main books to work on each summer - of course I read others, but I like one long book that lasts me all summer and I can peck at in between others (this year, that's David Copperfield) and one short, fun read that I can take on vacation (Paper Towns for me this year).
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6. Deodorant and A Nice Perfume
I only use natural deodorant, as antiperspirant is bad for your pores, skin & health - Arm & Hammer have a good one that lasts well. For perfume, I love Our Moment. It has a fresh floral scent without being too overly sweet; it's soft, not too overpowering and overall just a beautiful scent.

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7. Flowers
Whether yours are handpicked from a whimsical field of wildflowers (le swoon) or fresh-cut from the grocery store, nothing beats a bunch of flowers on your table. I also love planting and nurturing flowers in the summertime: working in the dirt and feeling the sun on your back is one of the best feelings, to me.
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8. A Big, Floppy Hat
Useful for more than the beach and the pool, I wear mine whilst on the porch reading, going to the park (remember the picnics?) and basically any opportunity I get. There's just something so swish about a big, sloping hat.
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9. Watermelon
It's not summertime without a big wedge of watermelon by the pool; recently I've been loving making watermelon salad, with chopped watermelon, strawberry slices and slivered basil for a new twist on my favorite summer fruit.
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10. Foundation With SPF In It
Wearing plain ol' sunscreen underneath your foundation always ends up a bit messy, doesn't it? I still haven't found one I like to wear, but skipping SPF in the summertime isn't really a possibility; instead, I like to find foundations that have an SPF of 20 or more - there are so many good ones on the market, it's easy to find one that suits you! My favorite is the Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation at the moment. :)

What are your summertime essentials?
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