Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fearless Fifteen

Peronsalized Tall Drinking Glasses c/o (Personal Creations)
At the end of 2013, I decided that 2014 would be my year to flourish, and I did.  The earliest part of the year was a big lesson in patience, as I interviewed and waited for acceptance into medical school.  I only applied and interviewed at one school (a huge leap of faith), and I had just started my first "big girl job" a few months before.  When you add to that some unexpected medical concerns, you can say I was in a place where things could have gone in several directions.  Or could they? 

I don't believe in accidents.  I don't believe in things happening for no reason.  I know that the events of our lives are so beautifully and divinely ordered for our good, intersecting with the lives of others for the fulfillment of a plan even greater than ourselves.  I also know that that was a run-on sentence, and I purposely do not use "proper" punctuation and sentence structure throughout this post...During this season of waiting, I learned.  I lived.  I enjoyed life.  One of the best parts about blogging is that it gives me a space to record and remember some of the things that bring enjoyment to life.  It keeps all the dates, the finds, the little moments from being forgotten.  Finding beauty in everyday life I shared, and in sharing I connected.

My goal for 2015 is to continue to do the same.  To connect.  To be present.  To flourish in the waiting.  It will also be a year in which fear no longer holds me back.  One of the things late 2013 and 2014 has shown me is to do the very things that scare you.  Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It will only last a minute, and that's where your growth lies.

Thank you for reading, commenting, and following along.  Again in creating this little space for myself, I've connected with others; the sense of community and seeds of friendship mean more than you know.  As I learn, I teach.  As I find, I share.  As I grow closer to the Creator, I create.  Seeking a life inspired, sharing it along the way.  Inspirationele.
Wishing you all a happy and fearless fifteen!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gift Wrap Tips and Tricks

While gift giving isn't the most important part of Christmas, it's still something I enjoy.  As I've said before, Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love all of the opportunities it brings to be festive and express creativity.  Gifting is one of my favorite things, but I enjoy gift wrapping just as much.  Here's a few tips and tricks for being decorative with your gift packaging: 

Taking a hint from Erica's gift wrap organization, I keep ribbons, tags, and other wrapping materials in a few sturdy boxes recycled from gift sets.  I typically don't buy much supplies during this season, but throughout the year I'll buy decorative tapes, tags, labels, and bags when they're on major sale.  I also save ribbons and salvageable tags and accents from gift bags, boxes and things I buy for myself or receive throughout the year.  Take advantage of the dollar sections at Target.  A lot of the supplies I used this year was purchased there throughout the year.

One way to switch things up is to use patterned or glitter washi tape.  Instead of putting a bow on the box, use the tape to make stripes or patterns.  I found this glitter tape and adorable owl gift tags at Target a few months ago.  Again I saved these up in my giftwrapping box.

Another idea to try is to use multiple labels to personalize the gift wrap.  You can also use them as stickers and make patterns with them. 

Work with not against the shape of the objects you're wrapping.  This particular gift doesn't lend itself to easy wrapping with regular wrapping paper.  It also wouldn't fit in a box without taking it apart and would leave too much free space in a gift bag without using a lot of tissue paper to fill it up.  So, I decided to just roll it up in some tissue paper and fasten the ends with glitter tape.  Now it looks like a big treat.

Some of my favorite gifts are the ones that come in boxes or nice packaging.  I really lucked out with this gift because the store had some really great free gift boxes.  This one is so nice and sturdy that I couldn't bring myself to wrap it.  Instead I decided to just add a festive bow to the top.  A few weeks ago I did some shopping at Target, and as I was leaving out store associates were giving out complementary gift wrapping kits with tape, bows, and boxes to customers.  The festive bows inside were just what I needed to top off a few of my gifts. 

Too pretty just to be thrown away, I decided to turn them into something reusable by making them into magnets.  While I wouldn't do this with just any bow or gift decoration, for these it works especially if they're going on a gift for someone who would like this kind of thing.  I just added a little piece of adhesive magnet strip to the back, added a little tape at the base for reinforcement, and you're set. 

I had to keep it simple this year, since I've been studying.  Learning metabolic pathways and pharmacology doesn't leave much time for blogging or crafting, but I'm glad to have this little outlet to share.  For those of you who have a little more time on your hands, here's a collection of other ideas for gift wrapping I've collected over the years.

Also, check out my Anthroplogie inspired DIY gift wrapping from last year.  I literally whipped this up the night before a gift swap using things I already had at home.

Be sure to follow me over at Instagram for more style pics, inspiration, and bits of my daily life.  You guys have really been my gift; thanks for reading and following along!  I hope you have a great week, and spend some time with those you love!

P.S. For those of you still looking for gifts ideas, here's 4 Under $10.  One of these can be found at the grocery market. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gift Guide: H&M Picks (and Free Shipping!)

Ten days away from Christmas, and my gift shopping is almost done.  I made it a point to start early so I could focus on my studies, but I've still done a little browsing here and there for a few last minute things.  Here's my top picks from H&M.  While in-store offerings vary by location, home goods as well as kid's clothing is available online.  H&M is offering FREE SHIPPING (with promo code: 2907) until December 21, so I definitely recommend checking them out sooner rather than later if you're finishing up your last minute shopping.  Good luck!   



Patterned Blouse ($14.95)
Bangle Bracelet ($7.95)
Ceramic Plate ($6.95)
Carafe Set ($12.95)
Porcelain Plate ($6.95)
Cotton Shirt ($29.95)
Leather Handbag ($129) 

Stay tuned for more holiday inspired posts and a little gift wrapping inspiration.  Have a great week! 

P.S.  Need a few more ideas?  Check out "4 Under $10" for some more gifting inspiration! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Style Staples: Holiday Basics

Baroque Sequins Pencil Skirt (Forever21)
Gold Sequin Crossbody Pouch (J.Crew Factory) 

One of the great things about this time of year is the opportunity to get together with family and friends.  Often times this also brings up the question of what to wear to your holiday party or event.  If you're not sure what to wear to your Christmas, New Years or other seasonal gathering, you can't go wrong with something sparkly.  Whether it's with jeans or something more formal, sequin pieces can be styled easily with neutrals or basics to spruce up any holiday look.  While lots of people shy away from sequins out of fear of appearing gaudy, Alexandra does a great job of showing how classy they can be.

I bought a sequin crossbody pouch years ago that I usually bring out around this time of year.  While it's no longer available, this Abstract Sequin Beaded Clutch is a nice alternative.  This is a fun piece that would look great with a little black or red dress.  Even if you just wore it with all black or black with jeans, it adds something festive to your look.  I also like this Side Zip Envelope Clutch with gold embellishment because it's a little more practical, something you can wear all year round.

Flower Stone Necklace (J.Crew Factory), Pave Bead Necklace (Ann Taylor)
Luxe Lover Faux Pearl Necklace (Forever21

Here's my layered look for a daytime Christmas party I attended last weekend.  I kept it simple with all black: a cardigan, pants, flats and a crossbody bag, but I brightened things up by wearing two necklaces over top of this striped blouse.  Remember you don't necessarily have to go out and buy something new.  I've had one of these necklaces since undergrad, and the other is a year or two old.  This is just my first time wearing the two together, so experiment with what you have!  Sometimes layering a few different pieces or styling an existing piece in an unexpected way is just what you need to finish off your look.  Wear a necklace as a bracelet.  Wear a scarf as a necklace.  Have a shirt or sweater with a plunging neckline or interesting detail?  Wear it backwards--sometimes this works!  Again the point is to make it work with what you have especially if you don't have the time or budget to buy something new, and if you can do some shopping stick with the basics.  You also can't go wrong with pearls.  I recently lucked out on a few free shipping and 50% off deals that allowed me to order these classic pearl studs and pearl statement necklace as replacements for ones that were lost and broken.

What are your "go to" holiday looks and favorite pieces?
Feel free to share your links below :-)

Friday, December 5, 2014

November Favorites

After a bit of a blogging hiatus last month, I figured what better way to catch up and reflect then to share some of my favorite things and moments of the month.
Favorite Purchases

Bean Boots.  I ordered them in October for my birthday, and I finally got them last month.  Depending on what size you wear, they're most likely on back order until February, maybe even later (this is what happened to me last year, so I waited again); however, you can definitely get something similar from Sperry like these or these.  They're great for when I don't want to wear my tall, heavy rain boots in the rain or snow.
Chunky Knit Infinity Scarf.  I took advantage of the free two day shipping promo at Old Navy and ordered a ton of stuff, knowing that I would only keep maybe a few pieces.  This scarf was definitely on the keep list.  If I'm not wearing it outside, I'm wearing it inside and probably to sleep.  It's become one of my go to pieces, and if you can get it during a promotion I think it's pretty nice for the price.

Quilted Tweed Vest.  I've seen some others vests trending this season that are fun yet much thinner and 2-3 times the price.  On the other hand, this Old Navy vest is fleece lined with a more substantial filling.  It's extremely warm and with the classic black or brown tweed fabric it's timeless, definitely the kind of piece you can keep for years.  Doesn't hurt either that it's a fraction of the cost!  I definitely consider it underpriced for the quality, compared to others I've seen.  It also comes in plus and maternity sizes.

Crown Vintage Aubrie Riding Boot.  I've been looking for a pair of brown boots to replace a pair that I've had for over five years.  While I've never heard of this brand, the quality is pretty good, especially compared to other boots I've seen at a similar price point.  They're real leather with a nice weight to them; the sole can be easily replaced after wear.  Luckily I was able to catch them on a promotion and use rewards points to offset the cost.  DSW coupons are not the easiest to find, but they do have promotions on occasion, so keep your eyes open; make sure you join their rewards club.  It's free, and you can earn cash credits towards future purchases. 
Favorite Moments

Finally burning this delicious smelling soy candle I bought months ago at Francesca's on sale for $10!  I was saving it since I stocked up on a few seasonal candles from Bath and Body Works back in September, but doing a deep clean of my apartment was the perfect time for letting this refreshing scent burn.  Slow mornings after finals, enjoying a cup of tea and doing nothing.  Guiltless web surfing.  Catching up on some much needed sleep.  Time with my family.  Seeing how much my youngest niece and nephew have grown in just a few months.  Individual sized Martinelli's post Thanksgiving dinner.  Good night sleeps.
 Favorite Getaway

This was actually my only getaway, but it was a much needed change of pace and environment.  I needed the break to spend some quality time with my mom and J at the end of the trimester.  While I've been to New York many times, it was my first stay at the Westin; I recommend it especially if it's your first time visiting the city.  And how cute is the hotel stationary and soap?  I haven't touched my watercolors since July/August, and these are definitely inspiring me to find some time to pick them back up in the new year.
Seeing Cinderella on Broadway staring KeKe Palmer.  When I saw the show Sherri Shepherd was playing the stepmother, but now NeNe Leakes has resumed the role.  It will be playing at the Broadway Theater in New York until January 3, and I definitely recommend seeing it if you can.  In the stage play the story line takes a slight twist, but you can expect the same happy ending.
Favorite Season

Coming back home to decorate, starting my second trimester of medical school, preparing for the next season, and the last month of the year.  Extremely blessed.  Overjoyed.  "Rested."  Loved.  Inspired.  

Have a great weekend! 

Linking up with Monthly Faves // Friday Favorites


Monday, December 1, 2014

Gift Guide: 4 under $10

Honey House Naturals Bee Bar Lotion ($7.50) - I'm a sucker for reusable and pretty packaging, and this product has both.  These bee bar lotions come in a variety of scents in a little tin perfect for dropping into your bag for moisturizing on the go.

Scalloped Shell Bowl ($1.50) - I've found so many uses for these little dishes all over the house.  From the kitchen, to jewelry, to office supplies the possibilities are endless.  You can easily wrap up a stack of these for gifting to everyone from your best girlfriend to your holiday hostess.  

Alaffia Good Soap (<$3) - This is a great natural product from a company that uses the proceeds to do a lot of good.  While I went with the coconut, there are many other scents to choose from.  A few of these wrapped in some burlap and fastened with twine or other decorative wrapping makes a simple yet practical gift for anyone.

Petite Mouse Ring Holder ($8) - This silver ring holder would make a great addition to any nightstand, sink side or dresser.  It's heavier than it looks and is the perfect gift for your jewelry lover.

Thankfully I finished most of my shopping on Saturday, but I have a few more gifts to get and would love to hear your suggestions!  Share your gift guides below! 

Have a great week and Happy December! 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Blessin' and Lessons

I feel like it's been forever since I've posted, but I'm glad to be back.  Today is the first day of my second term of med school, and I just want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes!  Finals were much better than expected, and last week I had a much needed break.  I got to spend some time with family, go on a few dates with J, and just rest!  I also spent a few days in New York where I got to see another Broadway show and meet Sherri Shepherd---more on this coming soon!

It's funny how this time last year I attempted to take on the massive undertaking of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my entire family.  I was working full time, but with the extra time I did have cooking became yet another outlet.  I had all these ideas for Thanksgiving decor and recipes, but things didn't turn out as expected.  Luckily they turned out much better with a few of the seasoned Thanksgiving chefs teaching and helping me along the way.  It's amazing how much things can change in one year.  Last year I was learning to bloom where I was planted, praying and waiting for an interview, rediscovering old outlets.  This year, I'm learning about pharmacology.  Either way, I can't be more thankful for all of the lessons and blessings I've experienced along the way.

Being that I have classes up to and including the day before Thanksgiving, I'll be eating and studying more than I'm making.  I've definitely learned that every second counts, and having the end of the week off is the perfect opportunity to catch up on three days of material; however, I wouldn't be myself if I didn't find some way to add my own special touch.  Here's some simple yet elegant and I bet tasty ideas you can whip up last minute to bring a little something extra to your Thanksgiving table.  Shout out to the folks who came up with these ideas, my inspirations.  It's amazing what you can do with a cookie cutter and a little extra dough!


I hope you all have a relaxing, blessed, and tasty Thanksgiving!  Thank you for all of your support and for reading and following along!  

> Follow me over at Instagram for everyday style and inspo<

Any last minute tips and tricks?  Quick and simple recipes?  I'd love to hear them!   


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Be Right Back

I've taken a little bit of a break from blogging lately since finals are next week, but I'll be back in a week or two with fresh posts including some seasonal fun, city love, recipes, style posts, and another giveaway!

I hope you're enjoying this fall weather, and thanks for reading and following along! 

To see what I'm up to in between posts, follow me over at Instagram!

Image: Lovely print from Elizabeth Mayfield.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hooray! A Winner!

Braids & Glasses! Please contact me at inspirationeleblog@gmail, so I can send you your treats!  Have a great weekend, and stayed tuned for fresh posts and more giveaways!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall into the Gap

Lately my style has been pretty casual, since school doesn't have a dress code except for patient encounters and labs; however, I always feel a little better, a little more focused when I put the tiniest bit of effort into what I'm wearing (more than leggings and a sweater).  Since I haven't done a style post in a while, I figured I'd jump back into the swing of things by sharing a few of the pieces I've been wearing most lately.  Comfort and versatility are two of the factors that have been driving my evolving personal style, and these pieces definitely fit that.  Here's a few of my fall favorites from the Gap:   

 Cozy Plaid Scarf in Vintage Navy (here)
I have two other Gap scarves from previous years in the same style but in super bright holiday colors, so I'm glad to finally have one in a more neutral palette.  This scarf is seriously like wearing a blanket around your neck, and it's worth every penny.  

 Chelsea Boots in Worker Brown (here)
Brown ankle booties have been on my wardrobe wishlist for a while, but I haven't been able to find a nice pair for my size 10 feet.  I was surprised when I saw them in store, and they fit like a glove.  They're not Madewell, but they're madewell.  I wear them with regular socks, and they don't irritate the sides of my feet when walking or wearing them for an extended period of time.  I'm looking forward to wearing them as much as possible throughout the season before I have to hide the pretty suede from the snow and ice.

 1969 Always Skinny Cords in Palomino Brown (here)
The Always Skinny jean has been a long time staple.  I live in the same two pairs of jeans and black jeggings, so I was glad to add these classic cords to my rotation.  Cords are a seasonal staple that the Gap does right.  If you're looking for a way to change up your look from the typical blue or black jean, these are a great alternative that come in a variety of neutral and fall colors.

All of these pieces were purchased during a 40% off sale, so I definitely recommend checking back frequently because the Gap is always running a good promotion!

What are some of your fall favorites?

Linking up with WIW

Friday, October 24, 2014

High Five For Friday: Seize the Day

This flannel.

This tote.

This song.

This quote:

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – this is my symphony." -William Henry Channing

This day.  Seize it

Have a great weekend guys!
I'll be back next week with more goodies,
and if you haven't already be sure to enter the giveaway :-)

Friday Favorites // High Five For Friday

Monday, October 20, 2014

{Fine Finds} Scalloped Shell Bowl

A few months ago I went to Pier1 Imports looking for a spoon rest.  I ended up leaving with that as well as two of these porcelain dishes, and they've quickly become two of my favorite household items.  I'm sure these little bowls were made for seasonings and sauces, but I've found just about every use for them under the sun.  For less than $2 each these sweet little dishes were worth every penny considering how often I use them (daily).

As we already know I have a thing for ring dishes, and these little bowls can definitely be used that way, but I've found them especially useful in the kitchen.  It's the perfect way to save a sliced lemon or lime.  I just turn it cut side down, and it keeps it fresh without any other wrapping.  It's great for sauces, seasonings, and portioning snack dips like peanut butter or Nutella.  I also use it for holding tea bags.  Since I usually try to get several cups from one bag, this little dish is the perfect size for holding it.

Not only are they functional, but the scalloped rim is such a pretty detail.  I can easily see myself buying a few for gifting, especially at the price point.  They would look great stacked and wrapped up in some burlap with ribbon.  Just an idea ;-)

What are some of your fine finds?  Have any kitchen must haves?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting


I don't like carrot cake, but I love this carrot cupcake cake.  Seriously, ever have a bad experience with a food and never touch it again?  I can't say that I ever had a "bad" experience with carrot cake, but I've just never found one that I liked until this one.  J's mom was sweet enough to make my mom and I a couple boxes of carrot cake cupcakes.  After one bite, I found that one just wasn't enough.  Even my dad couldn't keep his hands off of them.  So of course, when I find something good I want to share it, so I asked Mrs. Y for the recipe.  Not only did she give me the recipe, but she was also kind enough to whip up this little review to share with you guys.  If you don't make the cake right now, you'll definitely want to save the recipe for later.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and this recipe is perfect for the season!

"What better way to enjoy the fall season than to have a delectable dessert!  This cupcake is heavenly, spicy, tasty, yummy and moist.  This is the recipe of Loren Avellino winner of “The Chew Tank” contest.  This is Loren’s way of sharing carrot cake without having to cut it.  If you are watching your calories, this is the recipe for you without forfeiting a delicious taste.  I substituted the unsweetened apple sauce for regular apple sauce.  I did use Neufchatel cream cheese for the frosting; but if you don’t mind the calories you can use regular cream cheese.  The frosting is delightful.  The bottom line is you will not be disappointed, if you like carrot cake.  Don’t forget to share.  Happy Baking!"

Let me know what you think if you try the recipe!
What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

Photos: These photos almost didn't happen.  This was the last cupcake.  The other's didn't make it.  They were that good.

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday and Handmade Tuesdays


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Zavino Wine Bar and Pizzeria

A few weekends ago I traveled into the city for a little day break.  I picked up some new candles at Bath and Body Works, got some fresh donuts, scored a ton of fresh fruit and vegetables for $8, and caught a movie.  It was amazing, a much needed break from my daily routine.  Earlier that day, I also tried a new [to me] restaurant.

I've never been a huge fan of sausage pizza, but something told me to give it a try and I'm definitely glad I did.  Compared to the heavy chunks of greasy meat I've had before, the crumbled sausage on "The Joey" was perfect, and the chili flakes gave it a nice kick.  The ingredients were all very fresh, and the service was quick.  Next time I visit I want to try "The Polpettini" (with ricotta stuffed veal sausage) and "The Diavolo" (with sopressata, a salami). 

Margherita (Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato, Basil)
The Joey (Berkshire Pork Sausage, Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato, Spinach, 
Garlic, Chili Flakes, Provolone)

The gentlemen next to us ordered the most delicious looking meat tray and pizza overflowing with greens.  I don't know exactly what's hidden beneath that forest, but it looked amazing.

Zavino is the kind of place I recommend for happy hour or catching up with a few friends, as there is something for everyone.  There's a variety of boards and pizza for sharing as well as small plates to full meals depending on your level of hunger.  I'm not really into happy hour since I don't drink alcohol, and the drink specials are usually better than the food.  I prefer good food over a good drink, but I could easily be happy here with all of the dishes and trays for me to choose from.  And of course, as the name implies there is plenty of "vino" to choose from; Zavino has a full beer and wine menu including cocktails and drink specials.

Interested in visiting Zavino?  Check out more of their menu and location information here.  And as if you needed more convincing, there's a gelato shop across the street.  Do it. 

What's your favorite pizza (or any) restaurant?  I don't know exactly where or when, but I see travel in my future, and I'd love to keep your city picks on file!  

 Have a great week!  

Linking up with Biana and Meghan
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