What I Learned in August

Friday, August 30, 2013

I'm linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Emily, today on Chatting at the Sky for a list of things that we've learned in August. It's a way to share some fun, silly, and not-so silly things that one has learned at the end of each month. Feel free to join in!

1. I discovered the BBC show Merlin and instantly realized Colin Morgan looks like Benedict Cumberbatch's younger brother.

Young Sherlock Holmes, anyone?

2. I really, really love Ingrid Michaelson's voice and her soft, catchy songs.

3. Lightroom is worth every penny. I am in love and can't stop editing pictures. My fingers want to fall off.

4. During the end of summer, I got into the delightful but very bad habit of ending each night with a episode of either Doctor Who, Sherlock, or Merlin - and became even more of a night owl because of it. Thankfully, I'm back to a (relatively) early bedtime now.

England has far superior tv shows...I've finally accepted that no American series will ever cause me to sob, scream, laugh, and cheer like BBC's series. Them Brits. They know what they're doing. And I was clearly born in the wrong country.

5. I finally accept and believe that I am an artist.

6. I am never going to run out of writing projects. I already have ideas and concrete scenes for two screenplays and a fiction novel in addition to the young adult fantasy novel I'm currently working on.

7. Downton Abby and One Direction CAN be mentioned in the same breath. Someone went through every episode of DA and recreated the song "You're Beautiful" with dialogue from the show.


 I'm not sure which is more impressive: the hours that obviously went into it or the fact that the cast makes the song sound extremely posh and eloquent. In either case, it's a hilarious watch.

8. I have the deep urge to make a plethora of short films.

9. I am officially in love with Starbucks new Valencia Orange Refresher. See previous post.

10. Baylor is where I'm meant to be, hands down. I staffed the 98th Aggie Awakening retreat at Texas A&M in July, and while I loved it, I was shocked by how much I missed my Bear family. I am so happy to be back on campus with all of my favorite Baylor people. There was much shrieking and hugging the first week back. :)

11. Also, I am probably the last person in the world to listen to Radioactive by ImagineDragons, but I am obsessed.

Cannot. Stop. Listening.

12. I discovered RainyMood.com, thanks to my younger brother who played it on his phone every night as background noise. I then found myself doing it also. Even though I had always rolled my eyes at people who needed sleep sound machines to fall asleep. One more instance where I ended up eating my own words.

I'm sensing a pattern here.

13. Benedict Cumberbatch can make anything sound sinister. Exhibit A:

Five Favorites

I'm finishing up the first week of school, but popping in to join Hallie over at Moxie Wife to share some of my favorites this summer.


Something Stupid by Michael Buble and Reese Witherspoon.

 It's an oh-so-cozy song and delightfully reminiscent of a romantic dinner at a perfect little cafe on a balmy evening in Paris or New York. And it's Michael...reason enough. Reese's voice is subtly there, but she adds a soft feminine touch to the song. Anyways. I listen to it 342 times a day.


Chobani's new Coconut Almond Greek yogurt with chocolate chips.

Image source
 Ugh. So good, so light and healthy tasting - and with the daily dose of chocolate necessary for happiness.


Mango Martini lipgloss from Bath and Body Works.

I love this little tube - it's the perfect amount of gloss that adds a natural pop of color. And it smells fabulous...much more of an sophisticated, grown-up scent rather than the little girl cotton-candy lipgloss. If I had to chose only one piece of make-up, I'd pick this. It's versatile for both casual runs to the grocery store and a formal ball. I'm almost out, but I can't restock because B&BW is no longer selling it. 

To say I'm devastated is an understatement. 


Starbucks' Valencia Orange Refresher.

 My love is still going strong. It's been "my" drink at Starbucks this summer. In fact, a friend who is a barista there knows it's what I'm going to order before I say anything.
Tip: try it with a pump of peach. So good! Tart and lemony, but with the tang and lightness of oranges.

Coral and mint accessories.

At one of my best friend's graduation this spring.

Coral is perfect for the still-feels-like-summer weather - I love paring it with deep jewel tones, like the lovely cobalt in the picture above. And mint is also delightfully cool and refreshing in the heat.

 I love stacking different hues and textures of mint to create a consistent look that doesn't match perfectly.

What five things are you loving lately? Head over to Moxie Wife to check out some more favorites! Happy weekend, everyone!

Modest Monday: Man, I Feel Like a Woman

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

[I wanted to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your comments on my last post about my weight - it's so good to know we all struggle with the same issue, no matter what size/body type we are. 

One of the reasons why I wrote it is because I love how blogging and sharing our hearts creates a very real community where we discover others with similar experiences or who are deeply invested in matters of the heart. Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading.]

 Just joining the Modest Monday party? Here's the original post. Each Monday, I post a modest, stylish outfit. 

Why? Because I believe you don't have to sacrifice fashion and style for purity. 
 Modesty does not equal frumpy. This is my way of showing that modesty can be fashionable and pretty. I'm a girl determined to live a life of 
and plenty of style. 


It's the start of a new school year and I couldn't be more excited! I'm a sophomore this time around and well-prepared for what the semester will bring...it's nice to know what to expect this time. There are so many emotions involved with being a freshman, including nervousness and excitement. There are so many new students on campus and in the dorms; I can't help but be excited for them and what they will experience about college life. 

If there are any freshman reading, congratulations on starting college! It's a wonderful time of your life and so, so very exciting as you venture out on your own for the first time. The world is literally your oyster right now, so drink it in - and study hard! 

Dress// Ross

Cardigan// Target
Belt// thrifted
Shoes// Payless 
Nail polish// Essie
Jewelry// Icing

I both loved and loathed wearing this outfit: because the dress was so sheer and pale, I had to wear a slip, which I absolutely loathed. 

I would like to state for the record that slips. Are. EVIL. Period. 

Then when you try to wear a backpack...ugh. Words cannot describe the utter villainy that those thin articles of clothing contain. Moral of the story? Buy dresses with built-in slips/liner fabric. Or petition clothing stores everywhere to radically redesign every single dress with a slip layer. 


But I loved wearing this outfit because it was so pretty. I usually wear dresses and skirts with hems a little longer than this one, but I liked the delicate train of the dress, which helped the shortness not be quite so in-your-face. And just like Shania Twain song, when I walked around campus in this outfit - 
man, I felt like a woman. 

While I'm not obviously a wild girl as the song describes, I think it's fun to wear clothes that do indeed showcase our figures in a tasteful way. So this is the Grace version of a "short skirt." And I do feel like a woman in it. ;)

I found electric blue/teal eyeliner a few weeks ago. I'd always wanted to try such a fun color, and thought it'd work particularly well with my brown eyes. I. am. in. love. I love, love color (in case you couldn't tell ;) and this eyeliner is perfect for summer, so I knew I wanted to rock it for the first day of school.

Because it's such a bold hue, I choose a monochromatic outfit to really emphasize the pop of blue. This floaty ivory dress was perfect in the August heat; it has very thin straps, so I added this lightweight black cardigan which was also nice in the cooler classrooms.

My belt is a bit more blue than teal in the pictures, but in person, the colors looked similar. I loved my eyeliner and wanted to add that pop of color to my outfit else, so it was proportionally distributed. And the gold buckle ended up coordinating perfectly with my gold ring and earrings. 

And of course, what's a solid-hued dress without a dash of pizzaz? I almost wore black heels, but decided on these fun new polka dot wedges that I picked up recently. They give the outfit a fun vintage touch. 

Have a wonderful first week of school, everyone - hope your semester is a splendid one!


Your turn! Show me your Modest Monday. Snap a picture of your outfit (it can be as casual or gussied up as you want) and leave the link to your blog in the comments below.

Don't have a blog?
 Email (raewyn83@gmail.com)
 Instagram (raewyn83) 
or Tweet (@GracefulEats) 
me a pic of your outfit with hashtag #modestmoday if you'd like to see it featured on the blog!

{Catching up on Modest Monday? Check out all the previous weeks here.

The Age-Old Struggle {In Which I Finally Talk About My Weight}

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

[Disclaimer: if reading about body image bothers or triggers you or if you are recovering from an eating disorder and would prefer not to read this, then please do what is best for you.]

I've thought about writing this post many times. Contemplated how to word it, how much to share, how much to not share...whether I should even address it - even though any long time readers can tell - or simply continue hiding and staying quiet until things have improved.

In many respects, my concerns and even the subject of this post are silly and so very unimportant in the grand scheme of things...but when you're a girl, this sort of thing becomes monumental, unavoidable fact of your world.

I am, of course, talking about the fact that I have gained weight. 

There. I said it. It's quite humbling and yet freeing. There are so many thoughts jumbled up in my head, both good and bad, about that statement.

I was quite chubby as a young preteen and finally decided when I was about 14 that I was tired of being unhappy with how I looked, not fitting into most clothes, etc. I completely changed my lifestyle all on my own: I started exercising regularly, eating healthier, and by the time I was 17, had become a Zumba dance fitness instructor and was a semi-vegetarian.

All in all, I lost about 30 pounds or so. I loved my healthy lifestyle and maintained my weightloss until last year, when I was 19.

Summer, 2012
Last summer (and really during my senior year before that), I lost a good bit of weight to due the stress of choosing which college to attend. I was at a very healthy weight, but dropped probably 5-10 extra pounds.

 I've always been more of a stress eater, rather than someone who eats less when stressed, but that summer was different. As a result, I went to college as the tiniest I have ever been. I was a very healthy eater, a Zumba instructor, and someone who regularly practiced yoga... so I never, ever thought I would gain "the freshman fifteen" pounds that is so infamous among college students. I was determined not to.

May, 2012
However, most of my meals were in the residential dining halls - and while they always had a salad bar and healthy options - most of their food also contained a good deal of salt and sweeteners. When I came home for Thanksgiving, I had gained a bit of weight, but just a few pounds, which was actually probably good for me.

 That semester proved very difficult for me, though. I was under a great deal of stress again - but this time it was academic. I was in a very demanding honors program, which was both academically stimulating and challenging. I was overwhelmed with the workload and amount of research, essays, and reading that was assigned. I was so busy trying to survive that I didn't have any time to blog, to write, to read for fun, to watch movies, or doing any of the creative things that bring me joy. I felt so drained of joy and creativity.

 I was so overwhelmed with school and worried about making poor grades that I exercised very little. I walked everywhere to my classes, but it was a definite step down after two years of exercising an hour each day, five times a week.

Before I go any further, I want to state that I absolutely, completely loved my first year of college. I met so many wonderful, loving people, made incredible friends, learned so much, grew as a person, and was blessed with some amazing experiences. But with all positive things, there's always a bit of negative. All freshmen struggle with adjusting to college life, and experience some level of stress, no matter what. 

The last part of the semester came, with finals looming near, and I began stress eating. There was also some uncertainty about whether I would be able to return for my second semester because of financial reasons. I still hadn't gained THAT much, but I definitely wasn't happy with my body at that point and I felt heavy. Finals were pretty rough, but by God's grace, I finished with all A's, which meant a 4.0. That was 100% God - I was so sure I was going to fail all of my classes (lack of sleep and lots of stress contributed to that belief), but He pulled me through!

Now I was home for Christmas break and of course, it was sugar, baked goods, and Starbucks holiday drinks everywhere I looked...I managed to do all right through the holidays and even lose a pound or two.

New Year's Eve, 2012

(Keep in mind that I never weighed myself during the last year and a half, so I never had any idea what I weighed when I left for college or when I came home for Christmas break. I don't like numbers on a scale and prefer to simply go by how my clothes feel, as I think it's a much healthier and positive mindset - for me personally, that is. Everyone is different.)

The spring semester was really when things began to pile on (pun intended). Ironically, I was teaching Zumba classes on campus twice a week, had gotten a grip on my honors classes and knew how to handle the workload. But one of my weaknesses is taking on far too much more than I can handle. I ended up taking two honors classes, three regular classes, teaching Zumba twice a week, and working a part-time job on campus. The strain of being pulled in so many different directions began to take its mental toll and I gradually was just trying to survive the semester. I ended up dropping a class, which helped a little, but not much. I was so busy running around from one place to another that my time management ended up being very poor.

 I have realized that it takes very little for me to feel defeated, like a failure, or discouraged. Stress over not getting everything done that I needed to seemed much higher when I also reminded myself I wasn't exercising outside of my Zumba classes, that I wasn't eating as healthy as I used to, that I had gained weight, that I was always running late, that logical writing and rhetorical arguments didn't come as easily to me as it did to my best friend.

In short, I very quickly became consumed with negative thinking towards myself. I was tired of having additional responsibilities like work (even though I appreciated both of my jobs which were work study) instead of simply studying like many of my classmates. My sleep schedule got severely out of wack and resulted in more late nights at the library than I care to admit. It became very easy for me to get upset and frustrated with myself. I had planned to run a half-marathon, but realized it would be a horrible idea because I hadn't been training for it at all - another thing I was upset at myself for.

With all this stress, my sugar + caffeine intake increased. Because I was staying up so late to study or because I couldn't sleep from stress, I would snack. Well, all those snacks add up. When I am highly stressed, I crave sugar like a mad woman. All my additional muchings, lack of sleep, and very little exercise accumulated in a very real weight gain. This, of course, only added to my negative thinking: 'How could you let yourself go?!' 'How embarrassing.' 'Wow, and you're supposed to be the healthy one - look at you now.' 'What will all your friends think - the semi-vegetarian fitness instructor who gained the freshman 15?'

February, 2013
It was horrible, and I was very unhappy with my body, with how I looked, and with how I felt. Many of my clothes no longer fit or were tighter on me...I didn't really share my frustration or how I felt about myself with most of my friends on campus. I didn't even really discuss it with my best friend, who had gained a few - only a few - pounds herself. Her weight gain was not noticeable, whereas mine was. Being surrounded by fit friends and a campus full of girls who were in shape or didn't seem to have gained weight doesn't exactly encourage talking about your weight gain.

What I really remember about the spring semester was how much happened, both at college and outside college. My younger brother had to go through several surgeries for his knee and then was finally told he could never play cutting edge sports like baseball and basketball again - both of which were his passions. My mom had poor health, and there was additional family stress.

I do want to emphasize that everyone has problems and causes of stress, so in no way do I think I am special in that regard. I am sharing my story because the way I reacted to said stress was a huge part of my weight gain.

I finished the spring semester with decidedly lower grades: I made B's and B+'s, which was a blessing, but after the previous semester, I couldn't help feeling like I had failed after all. However, it was a learning experience - I can pinpoint all the things that resulted in those grades and how I can not make those specific mistakes again.

Looking back over the past semester, I realize that I basically had burned out by the end of April. So I came home determined to lose weight, get back into exercising, and thus back in shape for the next school year.

Ah, how the best-laid plans go awry. I was home for a week before I started a summer job which had long hours; I often got home at 10:30 or 11, and promptly reached for chocolate or ice cream. Again, I was learning the new ropes and stressed by how much I had to learn and how meticulous + precise I had to be in my job because I was handling money. I then started summer school which meant class everyday, a large amount of material covered each day, and tests nearly every week.

I was also home, which meant I could eat non-dining hall food,go to fro-yo shops, etc. My plans to exercise on a daily basis fell through because I was so exhausted from work and school that I wanted to do nothing more than curl up in my bed and sleep when I got home. I had very little time to study because of work, so I eventually had to quit. My stress wasn't entirely abated because I was taking a science class - which is my weakness. Start talking about atoms, electron levels, and DNA replication and my brain freezes. I finished summer school finally about a month ago, and actually managed to do all right in the class, which I was immensely happy, relieved, and proud about.

Of course, after all THAT, I didn't want to. do. anything. So I caught up on sleep, watched many Netflix episodes of Doctor Who, Robin Hood, and Merlin. I basically enjoyed being lazy and had absolutely no motivation to exercise, even though I now had time.

And quite truthfully, the reason I haven't kept up with Modest Monday more this summer is because I am not happy with how I look...I don't feel pretty when I look at pictures of myself and I don't think I look my best in them. So when it comes to snapping pictures of my outfits, I've become more and more reluctant to do so, because let's be honest...none of us like unflattering pictures. And lately I feel like I can't take any that flattering! It really is very silly, I know, but there it is. We've all been there when we've seen a picture of ourselves that we didn't like how we looked in them.

It sort of feels like an out of body experience, because in many ways I don't feel like me. I feel like I'm trapped in a thicker skin that I can't seem to shed, and picking out outfits - rather than pure fun - has become more of a "What I can wear that will hide what I don't like?" or even worse, "What fits today?"

Ugh. It is not nice. I don't like it. Because, honestly, gaining weight stinks. It is so, so easy to gain weight just like that and so very hard to loose it. It takes a toll on your self esteem, your comfort level, and even your confidence.

But I'm determined to get back to feeling like me again, to be a better, healthier, stronger version of me. I may not end up being as fit as I was before...I may not end up being as tiny as I was when I started college. But I want to be the new me - one who makes good choices and takes care of herself.

August, 2013

So, now, I'm heading back to school weighing more than I did last August when I arrived as a freshman. I'm looking forward to walking everywhere, getting back in a routine, and actually making time to exercise this year, because it really is necessary for my sanity and I've missed it so. I'm taking a break for teaching Zumba because I got burned out with teaching last semester, which took all the joy out of it for me. But I'm planning to still be active and get back to being Grace.

To loving how I look and being a healthier, more positivity-filled me.

If you ever gone through something similar or perhaps are right now, I completely understand and sympathize with you...body image and being happy with how we look is so hard! For many of us, it's something we constantly struggle with - for some, it's not really an issue. But we've all struggled with how we look or how much we weigh before. Maybe you've gained weight, or maybe you can't gain weight despite your efforts. It's a universal bond among women...and something we all go through at one point or another.

I obviously know how difficult it is - and how hard it is to verbally admit it to someone. However, I loved having the two or three really close friends who didn't judge me whatsoever...and who had gained some weight themselves so we could grouse together. There really is nothing like complaining to someone who understands where you're coming from because they're in the same boat. ;) So if there's any of you girls out there who wants to vent or talk about it, you are more than welcome to shoot me an email.

Or simply find one of your close girlfriends, a sister, your mom, or a good female family friend...it's always so encouraging when you talk to someone. They remind you the world isn't ending simply because your clothes are a bit snugger than normal  - and that you are still beautiful, regardless.

Much love,

{Modest Monday} Party Like It's 1920

Monday, August 12, 2013

 Just joining the Modest Monday party? Here's the original post. Each Monday, I post a modest, stylish outfit. 

Why? Because I believe you don't have to sacrifice fashion and style for purity. 
 Modesty does not equal frumpy. This is my way of showing that modesty can be fashionable and pretty. I'm a girl determined to live a life of 
and plenty of style. 


Happy Monday, everyone! Hard to believe summer is almost over...I'm trying to soak up the last non-filled-with-school days before I head back to college. For today's Modest Monday, I thought I'd do something a bit different and feature my adorable little sister in Great Gatsby attire. 

In case you can't get enough of the gorgeous, sweeping film, haven't read the novel, or the Gatsby craze that has swept Pinterest, weddings, and the world, this post is for you. Maybe you're looking for some Gatsby-inspired attire, or are attending a 1920s costume party, or looking for a costume for Halloween this fall. Either way, enjoy!

All it took was a rainy day, the Great Gatsby soundtrack and a compilation of my wardrobe and the little sister's. 

She asked me to do her make-up, so how could I resist? She's such a little lady!

One who has perfected duck lips, that is. 

Dress// (from my closet) Tunic from Wal-Mart
Camisole// Target
Shoes// Payless
Belt// Necklace from Wal-Mart
Earrings// The Icing
Headpeice// Headband from Charming Charlie's
Bracelets// Wal-Mart

I kept her makeup on the soft side with browns and a soft plum on her eyes, mascara, and then added some burgandy lips for a pop of color.

 I love this jeweled headband: I simply pulled it down on her forehead  pinned it into place, and curled her hair with a hair wand.

 Rosebuds and glittery diamonds!

Little girl eyelashes...

It doesn't matter how fancy your outfit is...you have to remember to have fun. 

And strike a pose like it's 1920. 

Above all, daaaaance!


Your turn! Show me your Modest Monday. Snap a picture of your outfit (it can be as casual or gussied up as you want) and leave the link to your blog in the comments below.

Don't have a blog?
 Email (raewyn83@gmail.com)
 Instagram (raewyn83) 
or Tweet (@GracefulEats) 
me a pic of your outfit with hashtag #modestmoday if you'd like to see it featured on the blog!

{Catching up on Modest Monday? Check out all the previous weeks here.