February Favorites, 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

"MARCH 1ST?! But yesterday was only February 29th!"

Hello again, friends - and welcome to the last day of February! Aside from the feeling that time is slipping by ridiculously fast, I'm very pleased that we've reached the month of March. February, aside from Valentine's Day (or Galentine's, as it were) has never been a favorite month of mine: you're worn out of being so terribly productive like you were in January (oops) and if you're anything like me, you're also quite bored of winter. That being said, March is the beginning of my favorite time of the year: longer, lighter days; preparing for event season; warmer weather; the smell of spring in the air; the promise of all new things; Easter (early this year, innit?); sunshine. Let's go into it running. :)

Despite not being the biggest fan of February, that doesn't mean there weren't things to love.

This is, granted, an odd one, but bear with me. In the month of February, my morning work shift went from being a New Thing to the norm. Early mornings didn't seem so early, and it's now gotten to the point where my body clock and alarm clock have synched: I will wake up within 2 minutes on either end of the alarm (after my alarm if it hasn't gone off; before my alarm in anticipation of it) on the daily. And I love the feeling of accomplishing 5 hours on the clock before 11 AM, eating my banana and drinking black coffee in the quiet times of those early hours at work, and the soft, friendly "good mornings" exchanged when everyone is that little bit more subtle. Call me crazy, but I love the early shift.

I'd never used a soy candle up until very recently, but if this brand represents all soy candles, I'm sold! The smell is amazing without being overpowering (also coconut cake in general is a divine scent for a candle) and despite having burned it regularly over the past month, less than 1/3 is gone. The price is regularly good value for money, but considering I purchased this half-price around Christmas time was such a bargain. Love.

I've been using a tester of this mascara for months (sparingly, because it's that good) and finally sucked it up and bought the real thing. I have a post coming up next week with a full review, but for now just know it's potentially my favorite mascara of all time...;)

The minute I heard about this I was in. Ellie Goulding? Yep, loved her music for years. M.A.C. lipsticks? My favorite. What's not to love? The fact that the shade "Only You" is out of stock pretty much everywhere, that's what. -_- Nonetheless, I still thoroughly enjoy using "Without Your Love", and cross my fingers every time I pop into a M.A.C. store, hoping "Only You" will be there. XD
It's perhaps more of a collectors item than anything (considering I probably don't need another sheer nude lipstick, and "Without Your Love" is a bit paler than I would usually go). However, the packaging is gorgeous (rose gold. le sigh.) and it's still a very high quality lipstick. M.A.C. never disappoints.

I read The Fellowship 2 years ago, for the first time, and though I loved it, it took a good 6 months to complete (between school assignments, etc.) and so I didn't fully appreciate the feeling of getting swept up in a novel like I did the second time, this February. I finished with the overwhelming feeling of "This book is glorious. I want another. Oh wait, there are two more..." And so I'm currently reading the Two Towers. And totally nerding over Aragorn.

I love Teavana loose leaf teas, and have ever since my dad got us all into them a few years ago. This year, he gave Chloe and I these gorgeous matching canisters of our own loose-leaf (so we don't have to mooch off his stash!) for Christmas. I often find that during the Christmas season I don't actually get to use smaller things because there are so many chocolates/desserts/candies/dinners happening. But the great thing is that by February, I still have some unused bits and bobs - like this tea - that I get to enjoy for the first time and fully appreciate. So I've been loving this. :)

This wallet (pictured above) is actually something my dad picked out to bring back to my mum when we were in Japan several years ago. Mum used it for a bit, but since she's brilliant with coupons, the foldover shape would bulge with all the paper and wasn't very practical. For a long time it sat in her closet until around Christmas, I believe it was, when I was looking for wrapping paper. I found it, asked to borrow it, and have been using it ever since. It's such a great timeless piece, the leather smell making the experience of using it that much more wonderful. I never thought of myself as much of a red person, except perhaps in lipstick, but I really love the distressed, rustic tone of this wallet, and I find it doesn't make a difference to me that it doesn't particularly "match" some of my other pieces. I love it.

I couldn't find anything like this wallet online, the closest one (linked) being from Burberry, meaning it's very expensive - but also very close to the original (which I have no idea whether it was expensive or not - I seem to remember it being quite affordable for leatherwear, though). It's an investment piece for sure, but the quality of leather wallets like these will last for years on years, which is something to consider.

That was a lot of chatter, so if you're still reading: you're fantastic!
What have you been loving this month? Let me know!

WELCOME (again)

Friday, February 26, 2016

(Writing this post is a little bit odd and a lot bit exciting. Just had to throw that out there.)

So HEY. If you're reading this in your email, you might want to switch to the website view because ladies and gents: welcome to the new.

You all know I've loved graphic design, and have self-educated in the art for going on 6 years now (what. the time has really flown). I've always done my designs myself because, quite simply, I'm a perfectionist and I don't know what I like until I've seen it - as well as every other possibility. Basically, I'm a do-it-yourself girl, and it just was so much easier for me to create my own website. However, there comes a point where you have to know your own limitations: whether that's time, ability or patience, knowing when you've done what you can do and can do no more is a huge step in growing as a human.

This is my human-growth moment, because I knew I couldn't create the look I wanted for this space on my own, and I also knew someone who could. People help the people, and all that. :)

So friends, if you're new here: Hello! Welcome! Please introduce yourselves in the comments because I'd love to get to know ya better!

And if you're a long-time visitor (heeeeeey there), I hope the navigating experience is smoother, cleaner and overall just that much more enjoyable for you, because at the end of the day you're the ones who use this space, and I want you to enjoy it.

ALSO: shoutout to Bethany for making my design dreams come true, and fighting with that Pinterest widget until it did what you told it (it's my Pinterest feed behind the header, y'all. Let's just stop and appreciate for a moment). You are truly fantastic. Thank you. 

The Elegance Files, No. 9: Jenna Coleman

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Just a little series on being elegant, from tips my mother taught me and beyond. Click here to read more from the archives...

Ever since I shared this outfit post last week, I've been embracing a bit of a Jenna Coleman vibe with my clothing. I've loved her style ever since I started watching Doctor Who (and yeah, let's face it, a little before that too..;), but you know me: I go in cycles with my fashion inspiration, and so I might be obsessed with Emma Watson for a while, and then something reminds me of someone else, and then I'm feeling that new vibe until I get a new influence. Ya feel?

So since I'm loving her style at the moment, I figured it would be fun to do a StyleFile on her! Jenna is very high on my list of  elegant women, since she always seems to be dressed in a way that flatters her petite figure while remaining classy (read: modest) and fashion-forward.

Her red carpet style is timeless and feminine, often ranging among neutral or floral fabrics, or both. She tends towards a lot of either high-neck or off-the-shoulder necklines, and midi skirts, with the occasional jumpsuit (because fashion rules and guidelines are made to be broken!), always .

Absolutely LOVE this one. 
Her street style, contrastingly, is very easy going, slightly Bohemian and a touch preppy, ranging from the classic sweater-shirt-skirt combo (as seen in the first 2 photos) too a classic pair of black skinny jeans and her signature, the heeled black bootie.

This dress. This dress.

Some of my favorite of her looks are actually in shoots, but they always represent well her modern, classic/preppy style, and I love it.

What are your favorite of her looks? Do you like the modern, preppy look, and would you emulate it in your own dressing? Lemme know!

How Long Must We Sing This Song? | #OOTD

Monday, February 22, 2016

top: h&m / hat: j. crew / black skinnies: madewell, old / lace up boots: land's end, old
We've had on-and-off bouts of snow here these past few weeks, with bitterly cold days scattered in between (cold for this warm-blooded Southern girl, at least). The good thing is, however, that I'm getting good use out of my heavier winter pieces that at Christmastime (when temperatures were in the 60's and 70's on the regular) I wondered if I would have a chance to wear this winter!

So for this look I went with a fun and somewhat patriotic color scheme, warm boots that are completely faux-fur lined and the coziest things ever, my current favorite hat (stolen from my dear Madre) keeping my little head warm, and this plaid shirt which I have been practically living in, ever since I found it in an after-Christmas sale at H&M. Also goofing in front of the camera and getting very pose-y indeed. XD Fun times!

I have always said that I'm a summer girl, and it's true that nothing will beat the blaze of the sunshine and light, white, fluttery clothing - but sometimes, it's fun to experiment with winter trends and find things you really do enjoy wearing (and don't feel like an eskimo wearing them). I'm really enjoying fashion this winter. And spring is now soon on the way...

What do you wear to stay warm on these blustery days, without sacrificing style?


Friday, February 19, 2016

In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty into being healthy. I love searching out new recipes with nutritious ingredients, or editing old ones to fit my personal nutritional guidelines. I love working out. I go to the gym at least 3 times a week, and am generally quite physically active in other ways throughout that time too. I wouldn't mind loosing a bit of weight around my midsection (as every woman everywhere) or toning up my legs a little more. So yeah, I'm into fitness.

What I'm not into is eating disorders.

It really needs to be said that starving yourself is never okay. I work at a fitness center, and I see signs of this in little nudges all the time. And you'd miss it, too, if you weren't looking for it because our society is so conditioned to these subtleties.

"Nah, I'm not hungry, I don't need anything."
"Wow I forgot to eat today! Haha oops."
"I haven't eaten a bite since breakfast. Trying to slim down for that prom dress you know!"
"I feel so fat. I'm skipping lunch."

It's not flat out anorexia, which by now most people are very aware of and actively fighting against - but it's the way we talk to ourselves, constantly tearing apart the beauty that is God's sovereign design, and taking it into our own hands in small ways to try to "fix ourselves".

There's nothing wrong with striving to live a better lifestyle. But these poor eating habits that we foster for the sake of our waistline (oh - and when does skipping a meal ever make much of a difference?) do not fall into that category, and have got to stop.

The world needs you, beautiful woman. Eat the good food God gave you and love yourself. Of course you should be careful what you put in your body - in fact, that is just as important as eating full meals - but don't let yourself get carried away not being fed. Your body needs nutrients to function properly. You're a nicer person when you have food in you. And if you want the science of it, your body works better when you're burning on a long, low fuse of portioned meals rather than crashing from low blood sugar to only go bouncing back up with overeating from starvation.

Eat, woman. You're a beautiful creation of the same Lord who created the glorious Heavens, and that's a treasure to be valued and cared for, far above the riches of this world.
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." -1 CORINTHIANS 10:31

In the Name of Love | #NYFW-inspired #OOTD

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


turtleneck jumper: tommy hilfiger / red-print dress: thrifted, unknown / tights: we love colors / heels: forever 21, old
Fun fact: I call this my Clara Oswald dress (especially when worn with black tights as seen here). It's ridiculously similar to this dress from The Day of The Doctor, except I happened to thrift it before that episode premiered, on a complete whim. There were several times between when I purchased it and the premiere when I considered passing it along, but I'm so glad I held on to it. It's now one of my favorite pieces I own, for two reasons: 1 - hello, fandom reference! 2 - it's straight up a fun piece to wear. A nice change from my usual monochrome, right?

Every year, when Fashion Week comes around, I find my desire to visit New York especially strengthens. It's been a long-time dream of mine to watch the shows in person, and glean inspiration from all the gorgeous clothing and people that flock at this bi-anual event - and you know I love the drive and vibe of New York. I'm promising myself that one day I'm going to get there, but until then I'll continue to be inspired by the street style photos all over the internet, and dressing that little bit more adventurously, even if it's just to run errands or have coffee with friends. Let's be real though: all my outfits are inspired by New York Street Style. XD

Also: leftover flowers from Valentine's Day make photoshoots that much more glam. I'm itching for Spring to be here already...

What inspires the way you dress? Do you have any secretly-nerdy outfits? ;)

Granola Girl: A Homemade, Sugar-Free Granola Recipe

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's the Lenten season again, and like last year I've decided again to give up sugar for this period! (If you're interested in knowing more about why I celebrate Lent and what giving up sugar looks like, let me know and I'm happy to write a post explaining it) but for today, I wanted to begin a small series of sugar-free recipes that are helping me through this season and keeping me from being a grouchy chocolate-and-cereal-craving lady!

Today's recipe is granola. As you're probably now realizing, I'm a huge fan of cereal which - besides chocolate, because I mean chocolate - is probably my worst eating habit. I could it eat for every meal of the day (i.e. Blueberry Mini Wheats with fresh strawberries and a lot of milk. Can I get an amen?!).

But fasting from sugar cuts out every type of cereal known to man (if you know of any crunchy cereal that doesn't have sugar included, I would love to know!) and so I've had to come up with other ways to satisfy that crunch-craving. Enter homemade granola!

Recipe adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's "It's All Good" cookbook.

-1 1/2 cups rolled or old fashioned oats
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/3 cup of honey
-1/2 cup plain dates, chopped roughly
-1/3 cup chopped walnuts/almonds/pecans
-a pinch of sea salt

-preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
-whisk together olive oil and honey in a large bowl until it creates a slurry; add in oats and stir to evenly distribute the slurry. The mixture at this point should be a bit clumpy
-throw in your chopped fresh dates, and pour the mixture out onto a baking tray, sprinkling with a pinch of sea salt.
-bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
-let the granola cool in the tray for a good 10 minutes before transferring it back into a bowl and combining with the remaining ingredients.
-serve on top of yogurt, fruit or with milk in a bowl (because cereal. remember? XD)

Let me know if you try this recipe! Is anyone else out there as obsessed with cereal as I am?

Psithurism Playlist, Version Who-Knows-How-Many?

Friday, February 12, 2016

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Shoutout to MK for getting me obsessed with U2. Get ready for some throwback hits, guys. Xx

I recently hit 70,000 words with Psithurism which, for those of you who were unaware, is actually the third time I've hit that landmark with this book. The first was, obviously, the first draft. That's now sitting happily on my old computer doing absolutely no-thing, because let's face it: first drafts can be pretty terrible. The second time I passed 70,000 words was with the same draft, but I lost about 15,000 words in a strange computer-eating-document phenomena at the end of last year (hence, new computer. Which is snazzy, I have to say...) And though at the time that was devastating, it's been a good experience in the end, because what I've rewritten to make up for it is some of my favorite writing I've done, and that's worth something, right?

All that to say, it calls for a celebration! I've compiled a few snippets for your reading pleasure, as well as a look at the music I've been listening to while I write these past few months, because it's been a long time since I've shared a writing playlist and it's changed vastly since I last did.

Whew. That was a lotta words.

After a time, when the coffee was frothing and ready to be served, she began to be aware of quiet footsteps outside. She did not turn to see to whom they belonged, only allowing a slight smile to creep up her lips, pulled another cup from the cupboard. -PSITHURISM
1. Where The Streets Have No Name - U2
2. Outlawed Tunes On Outlawed Pipes - Braveheart Soundtrack, James Horner
3. Hymn To The Sea - Titanic Soundtrack, James Horner
4. The Resurrection Stone - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt. 2, Alexandre Desplat
5. Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
6. Caledonia - Celtic Woman
7. A Gift of a Thistle - Braveheart Soundtrack, James Horner
8. The Steward of Gondor - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Howard Shore (feat. Billy Boyd)
9. This Is My Choice - Captain America Soundtrack, Alan Silvestri
10. 40 - U2 

Obviously this is majorly soundtrack-driven; I've found that my stories are really more like movies in my head, and they need fantastic composers. Also in case you didn't notice, I have a thing for James Horner (composer nerds can I get an "amen"?) What are your favorite soundtracks for writing?

Last-Minute GALentines Day Ideas

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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I've always disliked the stigma of Valentine's Day. Or at least the way we portray it in modern culture. But what I do love is loving on other people, whether friends, family member or significant others (it's the history nerd in me jumping out: did you even read the story of St. Valentine? Pretty sure it had nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey.) But something I've been loving more recently is Galentine's Day - a day for you and your girls in which you basically do what you love and give each other something lovely. :) Here are my 5 last-minute Galentine's Day ideas, for you and all the fab ladies in your life!

This is one that could as easily work for a Valentine's date idea, but I especially love the idea of going to a local art museum or exhibition with a few of my close girl friends, and grabbing a coffee as well. Maybe it's just me, but studying art seems to be one of the best possible conversation openers, and I love to study it with people who's opinions I respect. Grab a gal pal or two and check out what art is near you. Even if the museum/show is terrible, you'll have a good time with a good friend. :)

I so rarely actually get to sit down and have coffee with Mum, but when we do it's always a treat. This one is especially special if you two have a mutual respect of coffee - if not, you do you! Cronuts would be a great alternative.

My sisters and I have all varieties of different schedules, so getting us all in the house at one point is a feat. Gather your sisters (or soul sisters!) together for a movie night, nail painting and dessert! My personal favorites are Sherlock, this nail polish from Sally Hansen, and these no-bake cookies. Mmm...

Nothing like a lot of chatty women with coffee and pastries to make for a good time! One of my favorite ways to get together with people is in the morning, over breakfast (straight up the best part of the day, if I'm honest): call up all your favorite ladies and have one big warm, coffee-sippin, valentine-giving, pastry-tasting, Galentine's Day celebration.

Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to treat yourself! I love to clean out and get rid of things at the beginning of the year (as you well know) but by Valentine's Day I'm about ready to fill in the cracks and try some new stuff! Get a new lipstick, try some fancy chocolate or experiment with finding your perfect fragrance. Scour libraries and book shops and breathe in the smell of ink and paper, or burrow your nose in a new piece of literature for the afternoon. And when you're all pampered up, meet up with a friend for lunch! Or have lunch with yourself (and people watch because that is my favorite) because you, my friend, are beautiful.

Happy Galentine's Day ladies! Xx
Design by Bethany. All images and text displayed here (C) Carmel Elizabeth 2010-16, unless otherwise stated. Please do not steal.