A Saturday Morning Pamper

Friday, April 29, 2016

via pinterest
I don't know about you, but right around the end of the semester I'm really in the mood to pamper myself. I feel as though I've accomplished this much, it's time to relax a little bit! Especially before events, which I have quite a few of this weekend.

For me, Saturday morning is the best time to take to pamper myself. I get home from work at 10AM, and I'm ready to sit down and chill for a few hours. I don't always have that opportunity, but when I do, here's how I do it:

1. A Tasty Snack
My favorite at the moment are peanut butter-chocolate no bake cookies...

-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 cup honey
-1/2 cup natural peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts, salt)
-1/2 cup coconut oil
-a dash of vanilla
-a dash of sea salt, if desired
-2 cups of raw old fashioned oats

-Melt down your coconut oil over medium heat. Whisk in cocoa powder until fully combined; mix in peanut butter over heat as well (it softens and combines much easier!)
-Combine all remaining ingredients except oats.
-When everything is fully emulsified, mix in the oats. The consistency will be a bit thin, so don't worry if yours seems off! Spoon off onto a baking tray & let set in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Or, if you're impatient like me, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. Does the same job. ;P

2. Cosy pants
These relaxed leggings from last week's athleisure post are my current favorite. So. Dang. Soft. My stars.

3. Minimal Makeup
I like to feel comfortable when I'm pampering myself - and though feeling pretty is part of that, I don't want so much makeup on (read: lipstick) that I don't feel like I'm going to ruin my white bed if I get the random urge to dive into it. Trust me, this is a regular issue. XD A lightweight foundation (like this one), a little flick of my favorite eyeliner (nothing extravagant | long-term love this one), a flush of blush (my current fave), and of course mascara. I'm currently trying this one from Revlon...

4. Red Nail Polish
Nothing says glamour like a nice glossy red, does it? Of course my nails aren't really red all the time, but for this pamper session I was really feeling the Old Hollywood vibes. The nail polish I used, and my go-to red is Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy, in the shade "Get Lucky." It's a classic red; can't go wrong with that.

5. French press
My ultimate pamper-me beverage is a nice French press (my favorite way to have it is iced with cream, because hello it tastes amazing.) However, coffee is a stimulant - normally that's perfect, because Saturdays are busy, and after taking this time I usually have to get back to real life (boo). However, if I'm in a place where I need to wind down, a cup of hot Irish breakfast with a dash of skim milk is my second favorite. Mmm...

6. Fragrance
Whether this means spritzing my favorite perfume around my chill space (the couch, my bed, etc) or dabbing a bit of essential oils on my wrists and ankles, fragrance is something that really makes the difference between a lazy day and taking intentional time to unwind, at least for me. My favorite is lavender oil.

7. Journal // Read
During these times, the best way to get my day started is by reading my Bible, praying, and journaling my thoughts and prayers. Of course, I would ideally do this every day, but since my schedule usually only makes this study time possible at the end of the day, it's truly a luxury for me to get to do this before I do anything else. It just sets my day going in the right direction.

What do you do to pamper yourself in the morning? I want to challenge you all to take a little time for yourself this weekend, even if it's just a 10-minute power nap! None of us can go indefinitely without taking breaks. Remember to take good care of yourself in the midst of all your busy-ness. ^.^

How To Grow Out Your Hair (Quickly)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One of the things I probably get the most questions on, both in real life and on this blog + social media is my hair. Specifically, how I grew it out.

Now, I'd love to sit here and talk to you about this one miracle trick I found, something super cheap and easy that will give you long luscious locks in a month. Unfortunately, this is real life and that just doesn't happen. However, having cut my hair very short multiple times, and then spending the past two years consciously growing mine out and actually properly caring for it, I do feel I'm in the position to share at least my own experiences with the process, and how you can speed things up a bit.

Keep in mind, however, that this is just one girl's experiences: this worked for me, but that doesn't mean it's going to work 100% for you! Try things out; experiment; find your process!

1. My number 1 tip, whether you want to grow out your hair or not, is CARE. Even if your hair is shorter, if you don't care for your ends, they're going to split and break off and you may end up cutting off more than you wish.

2. A lot of people talk about caring for your ends, but what does that actually mean? For me, this means only washing my hair once a week. I know. Are you grossed out yet? This is actually a pretty common method for hair growth/protection, and the reason is twofold: first, washing your hair too frequently will strip it of it's natural oils, and likewise forces it to produce the same oils at a faster rate to "catch up" (this is why some of us have to wash our hair every day; slowly weaning yourself off the habit can be a little gross, and yes you'll be working that dry shampoo, but aside from saving your hair in the long run, you'll also be saving time. After a few weeks you should be able to wash about 2 times a week, which is a good place to be!)

Secondly, by allowing those natural oils to remain on your hair shaft, it replenishes the vitamins and nutrients necessary to promote healthy hair growth, not just for length but also strength. Which is imperative to long hair.

3. So you're washing your hair twice or (if you're brave and savvy with it) once a week, and your hair is feeling pretty strong, but it's not growing. This is where I pull in my best friend, coconut oil.
I know what you're thinking: "adding oil to my hair? Hm, nope." Stay with me here. The night before you're going to wash your hair, take a few tablespoons of coconut oil and, after warming it in your fingers to soften it (even better if you melt it all the way down in the microwave, but be careful not to burn your scalp!), massage it all the way through the shafts and ends of your hair. This part strengthens the hair you already have; next you're going to thoroughly massage more oil into your scalp, and this will promote hair growth.

Coconut oil is chock-full of nutrients and vitamins that are amazing for your hair follicle, and produce longer, stronger strands. Furthermore, massaging your scalp well in the process gets the blood flowing to your hair follicles to help them grow. Finally, by leaving this treatment in overnight, you allow the oils plenty of time to work on your hair. There are also theories about hair growing faster overnight, but I'm not sure how true they are. ;) In the morning, you'll want to thoroughly shampoo (massage that scalp again!) and give your hair a good long condition (shave your legs while you let it sit for a few minutes!). My favorite shampoo/conditioner combination is the TreSemme Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner set.

Like really, I haven't used anything else since I first tried it a year or two ago. <3 p="">
4. Finally, the most important thing to remember is patience. Growing out your hair is a long process, and it's not going to happen overnight. I have definitely noticed my hair growing faster since using coconut oil (within the last month it's grown almost an inch! whaaa??) but of course it depends a lot on what you're eating (lots of proteins will help, but remember it will help the rest of your hair grow too!) how much you're sleeping (as usual, the more the better). Remember also to get regular trims, because as painful as it is to feel like you're cutting off all the hair you worked so hard to grow, it would be a lot harder to have to cut off a lot more as those split ends work up the hair shaft. Of course, use heat protectant when you curl/straighten your hair, and limit that in general, and be gentle with your hair - but you knew that.

Something I noticed more recently, what with going off of sugar (still going strong!) is that my hair shaft has been a lot stronger. I'm not sure if that's related to my eating different food that are healthier for my hair because the sugar-filled options are out of the playing, or if eating sugar was weakening my hair, but I'm loving the results. :)

Best of luck with your hair-growing, ladies! If you have any more questions, let me know and I'm happy to answer them! And of course I'd love to hear your own stories + advice.

Whew that was long.

"Tonight, We Are The Lost & Found" | #OOTD

Monday, April 25, 2016

dress: thrifted; similar style here, another gorgeous one here / nude pumps: old navy, old, similar / lipstick: mac "Ruby Woo" / necklace: here
I wore this dress over the weekend to our school's Senior Toast, and I wanted to share it with you all! This dress was such a unique find, to be honest at first I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. I mean...bell sleeves. There's a part of me that squirms at the idea, but these are so graceful and beautiful (the detail of the crochet band along the bicep!) that I kinda fell in love, despite my uncertainty. Because the dress is short, I wore it with biker shorts (no wardrobe malfunctions here!) and it went off without a hitch. For shoes, I decided on low nude pumps - not too high, since the dress isn't long, but still enough to extend my leg line, since the silhouette can be a bit drowning on its own. A pop of bold, matte red to add color, a small brass necklace for detail (this one says "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good," and it's my favorite thing).

I felt like I stepped out of a Bronte novel. Um, heck yes.

Would you dare try the bell-sleeve style? Embrace your inner Marcia Brady? XD

The event itself was fabulous. Another reason for my choosing this dress was because our theme this year was Alice In Wonderland, Tim Burton-style, and the vibe very much about gothic elegance. I had to give a short speech, which went quite well if I do say so myself - I actually ended up doing it as a spoken-word poem! It was really fun to experiment with the style, and as I've done a lot of free-verse and read a lot of spoken-word, I found it came really naturally (so fun!).

Did you do anything fun over the weekend? I want to hear!

#Athleisure: How To Make Your Workout Clothes Work For The Street

Friday, April 22, 2016

Back in December I had the privilege of collaborating with NoNonsense to share how I style knee socks (still love that post. check it out here!) so when they contacted me again to share some #athleisure tips, I was all in!

You all know I work out pretty regularly, but sometimes I'm running from my workout to the store to pick up some necessities, meeting up with a friend or heading out to Starbucks to get school work done. I don't want to look like a slob, but I don't always have time (or space in my bag) for a full wardrobe change. 

Enter Athleisure. What is the concept? Athleisure is about using key pieces to transform your workout clothing into street-appropriate wear. Today I'm going to be showing three different ways to do it, for all you busy working-women and students alike out there!

Note: this won't include tips like "wash your face", "touch up your makeup" and "wear some perfume" because I assume you know that jazz. ;)

harem pants: c/o no nonsense

One of my favorite ways to get in a sweat, particularly on days when I'm more tired and/or have been hitting it harder with my other workouts that week is yoga. I find I'm most comfortable in looser pants (because flexibility isn't just referring to your limbs in this case, and knickers showing through too-thin leggings is just not a risk I'd like to take. A nice snug tank that won't fall in my face during chaturanga, a bright headband to keep back my hair, and I'm set.

jacket: similar; top: similar; sneaker loafers: similar
To make this outfit street-appropriate, I added shoes (because hygiene, hello!) a fresh top and a leather jacket. The crispness of the leather balances out the otherwise pajama-like pants, and by tucking them under to create a cropped look, makes the ensemble much more like "real" clothing.

And nobody knows you're basically wearing the softest pajama pants ever (seriously, these pants are dreamy.) Win-win.

heather leggings c/o NoNonsense
This is my running-day outfit: fitted and simple, with nothing that's going to need constant adjusting or messing around with. I love these leggings because they break up the usual black uniform that is my workout-wardrobe! There's something about that heather-grey, too, that I find to be really flattering.

breton top: similar; workout top: old navy, similar; orange clutch: tory burch, similar; sneakers: nike
I went for a classically preppy look with this one, layering a short boater top over my longer tank (it covers my bum, because leggings still aren't quite pants). This is a fun chance to play with colors too, since the leggings are grey, I went with a cool palette and complimentary colors. I really like how it turned out. 

Embrace the California girl in you and wear your sneakers with your street clothes! I like that these Nikes are cool enough to wear with everyday clothing without looking mum-sy or drab; in fact, they feel quite the opposite. 

black cotton leggings via NoNonsense
This look is a balance between the first and the second: for strength training days, mostly, or just when I feel like it! I think every girl ought to have a staple pair of black leggings, whether you go to the gym or not; there are literally endless uses for a well-made pair!

I actually have quite a stash of them at this point, since they're part of my work uniform. XD These are really good quality cotton leggings though; unlike most, you cannot see through them when you bend over, they're comfortable, slimming, and don't do that horrible thing where they are too big/stretched out on the second wear. Overall, really well done.

This has to be my favorite transformation: the blazer! This iconic wardrobe item is possibly the best way to pull your gym gear to the next level. Pairing it with gym gear and not looking like a total fool can be hit or miss, but by pairing it with muted colors, it can work incredibly well. 

Also, doing something fun and unique with your hair can add a touch more of "I put in effort" to the ensemble, if you're feeling like you need a little extra oomph. I'm currently loving tight dutch braids: they make me feel so bohemian and fun!

What do you think? Have you been convinced that athleisure can be done? What would/do you wear to make your gym clothes street-ready? Let me know!

This post is in collaboration with No Nonsense. I have not been paid for my thoughts on these products; all opinions are honest and completely my own.

Review: Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Color

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

This is not a sponsored post and/or paid for advertorial. These are just my opinions, for the benefit of the general public. Take 'em or leave 'em!

I recently picked up this Revlon Matte Lip Color in the shade "Seduction" when I was in CVS, not looking for lip products (you know how that goes! One peek down the beauty isle and I'm a goner. You have to pull me out with a rope.) It was on the shelf of new items, so of course I think "Ooh. Wonder if that's any good?" And as you well know, I'm in a nude lip phase right now where anything and everything browny-pink is a want. And I had coupons...all in all it was a complete bargain, which is how I justify the purchase. *wink*

So if you're like me and always researching new lip products, I've got the scoop to help you make up your mind!

-It doesn't dry completely matte like the name would suggest. It takes a while to dry down onto your lips, which leaves a lot of time for smudging or removal; however, if you give it a good 10 minutes to properly set before going out, it will last a good length of time.
-The color range is not my cup of tea; with a matte range I want to find more dark colors, but surprisingly they're all pretty standard bright pinks or cherry reds, which disappointed me a bit. There is one purple, but it's a bit on the red side of things. I considered picking it up, but as usual, I like to try a nude if the formula is new. Nudes are just generally more forgiving, whereas I'm very picky about my darker colors: they have to be very matte. Since I didn't know what the quality of this would be like, I figured it would be safer to go with the nude! Also "Seduction" is such a beautiful shade, I could hardly resist...

-The price point for this lip product is really good. The original price is around $8, and since I have a CVS card/coupons/etc I ended up only paying $4. Score!
-The product applies beautifully. Seriously: it's a dream to swipe on, the doufa applicator fits right into my lip shape, and the product itself is creamy and smooth (as opposed to the Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stains, which can be quite sticky, as much as I love them). Bonus points: it smells like a MAC lipstick, buttery and gently sweet.
-I found quickly that this particular shade is really good for my coloring; it's got cool undertones, but still warm and brown-pink enough to keep me from looking washed out (or dead) (don't want that).
-It wears really well. The product dries matte, but not super matte. It's pretty hydrating, but not so much that you get smearing while eating or drinking. That being said, I don't think I would purchase one of the darker colors in this shade, simply because I am so picky about my darker colors: if they're even slightly glossy, it will stay in my drawer and get no use, and that's just a waste. XP

Overall, I'm really enjoying this product! For a matte nude, I think it hits the perfect balance between long-lasting and hydrating, perfect for this sort of thing. For darker colors, I don't know if the formula is the best - but then, I haven't tried the darker shades, so I can't say entirely! The packaging is really nice, too, which is a benefit in my book: if it looks ugly on my dressing table, I'm going to be less inclined to wear it (surely I'm not the only one??) I want to feel like I'm using luxury products; even if it is drugstore, it doesn't have to be ugly, and this definitely fits that bill. But mostly, I'm just loving nudes a lot lately, so I've been wearing this quite often. Lovely.

Have you tried the Revlon Ultra Matte lip colors? What are your thoughts and/or opinions? Or if you haven't tried them, are there any nude lipsticks you're really loving at the moment?

Inspiration: Graduation Party

Monday, April 18, 2016

I'm currently in the process of planning my own graduation party for this coming May, and it's shaping to be a much larger project than I prepared for. (Just wait till I get married. I'm going to be my own worst nightmare.) All the stress aside, however, the fun part is the visualising, and I'm currently putting together a few secret Pinterest boards full of pretty things to get a visual idea of what I'm going for.

I know several of you lovely readers are also graduating this year, whether from high school or college, so I thought it would be fun to share my inspiration with you, in hopes it's of some use!

CONTEXT: Last year, when my sister Chloe graduated, our color scheme was a nice classy pink-and-gold affair, a little bit shabby-chic, very lovely indeed. Since a lot of our guest overlap (I mean, we're sisters, it's bound to happen XD), that is unfortunately off the books. However, I'm coming up with something different, but very much up my street all the same. It feels very me. And that's the important part, because if I'm not feeling it, I won't be able to get excited about it and do my best. We don't want that!

all images via pinterest
As you can see, I'm going for a very bright, whimsical feel with a pastel color scheme. I definitely want to incorporate hot air balloons somehow. Also lemon-designs. And basically anything kitsch and somewhere between Kate Spade and Bilbo's Eleventh-First Birthday Picnic, tent included.

I'll let you know how that works out. XD Would you be interested in seeing more along this process? I'm envisioning some DIY's or documenting, but let me know what you think!

Are any of you in the process of grad-party planning? What are some ideas you've had? 

Transition | #OOTD

Friday, April 15, 2016

sweater: jon josef, similar / dress: old navy, old, similar that I love! / sneakers: target, white version 
You all know I love spring better than any other time of the year; it's like Christmas Eve, and the anticipation of summer is almost better than summer itself. But sometimes it can be difficult to dress according to that fickle weather. For example, we had delicious 70-degree for a good 3 weeks, and then this past week has been chilly and rainy and...well, fickle. It finally got sunny and a bit warmer the day I took these photos (score!) but you never really know what you're getting into. One of my favorite ways to start to enjoy my summery dresses (because I can't help myself) is layering with a sweater. In this instance, I've worn a sleek turtleneck for a Parisian vibe (when am I not going for that look, I ask you? XD) and little grey sneakers for a more playful vibe. Because the dress is such a statement piece, I kept the shoes and sweater neutral, adding a little pop of red with that favorite wallet of mine.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this look. What are your favorite ways to transition your wardrobe for spring?

Monthly Playlist: APRIL

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

via tumblr

I haven't done a playlist in so long! Since last time I shared a playlist I covered some of my favorite writing music, this time I want to share what music is keeping me pumping while I work out! The song links are all nicely complied as well, so you can click through and listen to it while you get your sweat on this week. :)

Enjoy! xx

1. "House of Gold" - Twenty One Pilots
2. "Quesadilla" - Walk The Moon
3. "Bad Blood" - Taylor Swift, feat. Kendrick Lamar
4. "The Schuyler Sisters" - Hamilton Original Broadway Cast (this song though. XD)
5. "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - U2
6. "Cecilia and the Satellite" - Andrew McMahon
7. "We Don't Talk Anymore" -Charlie Puth feat. Selena Gomez
8. "The Fault In Our Stars" - Troye Sivan
9. "Wait For It" - Hamilton Original Broadway Cast

What do you listen to when you work out? I'm always looking for new music!

The Elegance Files, No. 11: You Have A Voice

Monday, April 11, 2016

Something that is often confused with elegance is silence.

via tumblr
We think of classy, genteel women and we look at ourselves and say "I could never be her. I have too many strong opinions." I think that's probably the most common response I've gotten to my philosophy of elegance, because people seem to think that if we're going to be respected in our community, we've got to talk less and smile more. (Did you get that reference? ;) And I just think that's the farthest from the truth.

Women in history are not often remembered for their words, and that is because of those that did talk, most only spoke of fashion and the weather: all the nice conversation-starters we imagine ourselves being confined to when we think of the words "an elegant woman." There is nothing memorable in small talk to be recorded, so why should we bother? But when history remembers the words of a woman, it is when she spoke not only powerfully - after all, anyone with significant air supply and disregard for her own better judgement can do that! - but the women who spoke, spoke on what mattered.

So here's the simmer-down: does elegance mean speaking less? Sometimes, yes it does. There will always be things that do not require your comment, and of course a woman must learn to hold her tongue, just as a man must. But sometimes it means speaking, even if your temporary respect does seem to hang in the balance: true elegance is, after all, long-standing, and perseveres after we have gone. But those who are silent are forgotten: there is no elegance in wordlessness if no one will speak up for the truth. Sometimes, "my silence is my self-defense", and self-defense does not leave a legacy.

You know what does? Bravery.

Let's be polite on the smaller issues, that when the bigger waves come we have not worn out the strength of our arguments by constant nagging. Because you do have a voice, and you never know when it may be the one that saves. 

The Chic Sheet: 6.4.16

Friday, April 08, 2016

I'm running from place to place this weekend, so here's a quick list of what I'm loving to make your own weekend a little bit brighter. xx

1. Carly Cristman
I found this lovely lady through Jenny's blog, and I absolutely love her style videos. Not to mention she's hilarious. Check her out!

2. Emma Watson X Lin-Manuel Miranda
I finally watched this whole interview - hilarious. And fascinating. If you like musicals, Harry Potter or want to see Emma Watson beatbox, check it out.

3. Kate Spade taxi iPhone 6 Case
It's on sale. That's a good reason to buy this adorable phone case, isn't it? Just look at how cute.

4. Hydrangeas (see above photo)
Tied with peonies for my favorite flower (theoretically. I don't think I could ever really choose.), these have been decorating our kitchen table for a couple days now and I love the delicate bit of powder-blue that they add. It never truly feels like spring until you have flowers on the table, does it?

5. Mango Red-Bud Soft Serve
I made this last weekend because I had the ingredients required and why they heck not? As some of you might know, I'm continuing to go sugar-free even though Lent has passed, and so recipes that flater my sweet tooth without including said ingredient are gold. Shoutout to Rachel Heffington for coming up with this lovely, spring-colored treat. :)

What are you loving this week? I don't know about you but I am very ready for the weekend. Let's make Friday fantastic!

xx, Carmel

Of Backpacks and Traveling Papers | #OOTD

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

top: forever 21, similar / boyfriend jeans: old navy, old / sandals: eurosoft / rucksack: rosetti, thrifted, similar
So I found this backpack under piles of other odd purses and tote bags at a thrift store, two summers ago. My sister and I were shopping for a two-week trip with Hillsdale College, and I wanted to find the perfect small traveling purse. You know the one: big enough to fit a book and your traveling papers (doesn't "traveling papers" sound so much more quaint and adventurous than "boarding pass" or "passport" or "i don't really know what this paper is but it got me here so let's keep it"?) - but still small enough that you can wear it after the traveling part of the day is done and the adventures are starting. I don't remember exactly how much it cost me - something like $10 or $12 - but I remember seeing it and grabbing it immediately.

Funny thing is, I didn't actually end up taking it: I had been advised by wiser, smarter people that a backpack wasn't safe in D.C. where, like most cities, there are pickpockets - heck, even I knew as I picked up that leather backpack that it wasn't incredibly practical and that at the end of the day I probably wouldn't bring it with me, but there's something in the idea of a little leather satchel that just makes you want to tuck in your most precious belongings and start out to somewhere amazing.

And even if I didn't take it to D.C., I've used it countless times since: whether to work in the morning, filled with a book, a banana and my R2D2 change purse (there's a story behind that too, if you're interested...) or around town on errands or going shopping.

Fun fact: the straps can zipper together to be worn over one shoulder only. How fun is that?

Am I the only one who loves the whimsical, adventurous feeling of slinging on a knapsack (and am I crazy for feeling so?)? Do you also want to go wandering through cobblestone streets when you wear a small satchel?
Design by Bethany. All images and text displayed here (C) Carmel Elizabeth 2010-16, unless otherwise stated. Please do not steal.