Thursday, February 28, 2013

Online Shopping: Make Me Chic

I found via People Style Watch magazine and was instantly hooked on their trend-conscious website and inexpensive pieces (most of my picks below are $30 or less)! Thus, I'm sharing this online shopping destination as a one-stop shop filled with spring must-haves: turquoise, pinks, mint, flirty skirts, and lady-like structured bags. 

What's your favorite item/spring must-have?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Because You're You

There have been several times this month that I've wanted to make or give something to a friend simply because they mean so much to me, and deserve a "just because" gift every now and then.

My current favorite is {DIY sharpie dishware.} I blogged about my own experience decorating a plate, and have since made another one for a cupcake-loving friend.

{A single cupcake} Need I say more? Sweets are typically the way to any sane human's heart. My coworker brought me an extra treat from her Oscar's party. A "Life of Pi" cupcake. Genius!

{An inexpensive care package} This can be items pulled from the dollar store so long as they have a personal touch that you know the receiver will find joy in. Below is a sample of one I put together for a newlywed friend's honeymoon, but the same idea can be applied to any occasion!

And last but not least, a simple card will do. My favorites are by Papyrus. There is something about a beautiful and hand written note that makes life prettier, don't you think?

{Via Papyrus}
What ideas do you have for sharing the love and letting someone know you care in your everyday life?


Monday, February 25, 2013

A Red Carpet Moment

Yesterday afternoon I caught the red carpet coverage of the Oscars, and most of Seth Mcfarlane's opening monologue. Seeing the gorgeous gowns and on-stage talent got me thinking, that I could NEVER have so much attention on me in one moment (Jennifer Lawrence's graceful fall, anyone?). I can't imagine what's going through the minds of Anne Hathaway or Jessica Chastain (my usual favorites) as the spotlight is on them, "I hope nobody steps on my ..." "Do I have any lipstick on my teeth? ..." "Please don't let me say something ridiculous on national TV ..."

Knowing me, I would be caught in all of those embarrassing moments (and probably more). Though, I know those well-groomed ladies and gents are seasoned professionals at walking the red carpet, I'm glad that's their job and not mine.

With that said, though it would be a nerve-racking, who wouldn't want to wear a gorgeous couture gown?! Here are the ones I would take in a heartbeat. 

Red Carpet Oscars 2013

{All images from}

Tell me who your favorites were!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Favorite Cheap Beauty Buys

Beauty buys

I'm a sucker for Sephora just like every other gal, but some of my favorite beauty products are well worth the trip to the drugstore. Continue reading to find out why I love the four products above ... 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflections + Beautiful Sacrifice

Happy Friday! I smile every time I see this picture. I mean, what's better than a cuddly panda bear to kick start your weekend? :) Today's post is an opportunity for me to share what has been on my heart this month. Maybe a few of you have been asking yourself the same questions.

This past week has involved a lot of deep contemplation and a few ups and downs. One word that's been on my mind constantly is sacrifice. It has come up at the office with my coworkers, at church, and in my inbox in the form of a daily devotion. It's become clear that God has been asking me to discover what true sacrifice means to me.

A few Sundays ago my pastor preached about the woman who took a flask of precious oil (valued at more than a year's salary) and anointed Jesus' head and body as a sign to say that He was worth more than her family's financial stability. 

She was scoffed at and called an idiot for her radical actions. But Jesus defended her sacrifice and said, "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me...." 

Beautiful. What a perfect reward for the woman to receive. 

When I take a step back and think about what she may have been feeling in that moment, I see that her sacrifice was forgetful of harsh criticism, pure and honest in motivation, and overflowing with adoration and love for the King.

Are my sacrifices purely motivated, unaware of critique, and filled with love? 

I will continue to ask myself these questions as I give of not only my finances, but my time and heart as well, to the One whom everything is owed to. 

You can find Pastor Chris' full sermon here titled "In Her Memory."

Have a fabulous weekend!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Delicate Pieces

Lately I've felt like one of those people who shares a photo on Instagram every 2 minutes. Not that I have anything against that, but I simply don't feel comfortable enough yet to take pictures of myself every morning to share my #ootd. Until then, Sparkles & Prays will be my fashion outlet of choice.

This week has been all about the dainty and delicate. The scallop rings are my new favorites! Here is a quick glimpse at my office attire today ...

{ Gold Revival Fossil Necklace | Urbanog Cognac Boots  | Scallop Rings}

I bought the scallop rings from Groop Dealz, an incredible on-trend site that functions similarly to Groupon. Unfortunately the deal for the rings ended, so I linked the Google images tab above, I didn't know until now that they are replicas of the Kate Spade scallop ring! Perfect. has one incredible boot selection. I couldn't find the ones pictured above (I bought them in the fall), but I did link their knee-high boots page above, which is filled with so many pretties!

I've been wearing the gold Fossil necklace almost everyday. It's the perfect piece to make an outfit feel complete!

I hope to take some outfit photos over the weekend, so please, stay tuned!


Must Try Meals

In the morning, I cook my eggs in the microwave instead of on the stove because I'm simply Sad, right? I do enjoy cooking, but most days I would rather save an extra 30 minutes and reheat some takeout. Essentially, this post is meant to inspire my inner chef to cook a delicious and love-filled meal every now and then, at the very least. And will hopefully inspire you to also take up your whisk and join me. I hope to give one new recipe a try this weekend, I'll let you know how it goes!

{Credit: Caramelized Bacon Wrapped Asparagus}
Carmelized Bacon. 'Nuff said. I'd love to pair this with some whole grain rice or quinoa to complete the meal.

{Credit: Best Tomato Basil Soup & Grilled Cheese}
Grilled cheese and tomato basil soup apart are my comfort food. The two together is my heaven. I can't wait to test out this scrumptious looking recipe.

{Credit: Shrimp and Pesto String Bean Pasta}
 I'm under the impression that pesto can be added to any meal and still taste good. This one seems like no exception ...

{Credit: Baked Cheesy Gnocchi}
Of all the delicious Italian dishes out there, Gnocchi is at the top of my list. This baked version seems like perfection. Looks like it could simply melt in your mouth.

Let me know in the comments below if you decide to try one of these recipes out!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekend in Review: What Brightens My Day

This past weekend was spent enjoying time at home, with friends, and shopping, of course. Below are a few snapshots from my 3-day weekend. All things that fill me with joy and make me wish I could spend my days relaxing all the time!

{BCBGeneration Ballerina Pink Bow Flats | Bought at Marshall's but can be found here in select sizes}
{Another Marshall's find. Ronnie bought me this ladylike long strap tan purse by Urban Expressions. I think it goes perfectly with any outfit. I couldn't find any online stores that carry this, but they have this style in mint, coral, cream, and tan at Marshall's for $24.99}
{Pale Pink and Mint Green polka dot nails. Not as good as the salon, but I tried!} 
{Left to Right | Favorite Base Coat | Mint Green Polish | Pale Pink}
{Any free moment I have is spent flipping through magazines! The latest Vogue issue is HUGE!}
{I picked up these vibrant orange spray roses and a silver vase on my walk to the grocery store. I love waking up to fresh flowers by my bed!}

Monday, February 18, 2013

Project Organize: Night Stand Storage

I'm an organizer and a re-organizer. I get bored with my surroundings after a few months and often find myself adding new decor elements or moving around furniture. Last week I mentioned how I wanted to create a new storage/nightstand space next to my bed and  thanks to the 3-day weekend I was able to set up a new shelf (which I had assembled backwards the first time and second time. Don't worry, it's not like I'm bitter about DIY furniture...).  My goal was to have a neater arrangement to display the items I use on a daily basis. And here is how it turned out:

{Recognize the plate? DIY Plate Personalization Tutorial here.}

{I wish I could display only the prettiest things, but had to utilize the bottom shelf for my printer. I also hid notebooks and papers in the blue magazine file boxes, $1 at Target! The pretty patterned boxes also help conceal other necessary yet unappealing items.}

{I decided to add a bit of color to the backboards of the shelf. I used some scrapbook paper I had lying around, but eventually want to go for a cleaner black and white look.}

Once again, I'm sorry for the not-so-high-quality images. I'm currently saving up to buy a better Canon camera! 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Woodzee Glasses: "Wood Looks Good"

This past year I fell in love with several sustainable fashion brands and have yet another one to add to the list. Woodzee, an up and coming wooden glasses company based in Northern California, strives to provide stylish and eco-conscious glasses and sunglasses. Woodzee sent me a pair of their new Bookworm Spectacles to test run, and I have to say my friends and I loved them! The Bookworm collection is not yet available for prescription lenses, but I do see Rx glasses in Woodzee's future as their young and smart company continues to grow. I recruited my gorgeous roommate Kathryn and dapper boyfriend Ronnie (several of their frames are unisex!) to help me model the bamboo wood frames.

{Here are some snapshots of us having fun with the Woodzee glasses!}
{She's flawless! Kathryn also said what she loved about the frames was their springy flexibility, as she has a hard time finding glasses that fit her face comfortably.}

{Ronnie loves the look of dark wooden accessories, so these dark brown bamboo glasses were a perfect combination--looking both natural and high-quality.}

 {Woodzee's Mission}

"Our mission is simple. We strive toward growing a business that is committed to providing quality products priced for everyone to enjoy. We are equally committed to promoting a healthier relationship between humankind and nature, by constructing beautiful pieces created from natural renewable resources. Our goal is to travel the world in search of the most amazing wood to share with our customers through our products  while also giving back to the local communities from which we harvest the wood used in our products. Ultimately, we hope to promote preservation and rejuvenation of the forests that we visit worldwide. Please join us in fostering a healthier relationship between style and nature by enjoying Woodzee's unique wood products."

{One of my favorite styles: Woodzee's Brown Bamboo "Daphne" sunglasses | $85}
 **This post is sponsored by Woodzee**

DIY: Sharpie Plates

 I've seen this simple DIY project floating around the blogosphere for a while now and finally had some time to make it my own! I used the directions found here and altered the idea a bit to make it my own. Lately I've been enamored with everything Kate Spade. So, these plates here and handbag here were definitely the inspiration for this simple dessert plate. I purchased the sharpies from Wal Mart and the plates from a dollar store.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, I used a fine tip Sharpie to write the words. 

Next I used the gold felt tip Sharpie to create the polka dot pattern. As you can see, my writing nor the dots are perfect, but I was happy with the result--especially since it took me a grand total of 2 minutes to create. Then, bake for 30 minutes.

I'm super pleased with the results and have a few more plates and mugs that I'd like to play around with eventually. I'd love to create a collection of my own one day. One thing to note, is that these dishes can only be hand washed, otherwise the Sharpie might come off in the dishwasher. Leave me a comment to let me know if you decide to try this inexpensive and incredibly easy project!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Projects: Styled Organization

{Left Image | Right Image}

Earlier this week I said I had a lot of DIY projects on my mind, just waiting to be completed! One that I'm planning to do this weekend (thanks to a day off of work!) is reorganizing my bedroom storage. Living with a roommate means I need to maximize the space that I have for storage, but still like to style it in an appealing way. 

What I love about the image on the right is its "styled organization." I have countless magazines, always need room for accessories and jewelry, and love the patterned boxes that can conceal items that aren't as display worthy.

Though I tend to gravitate towards the simplicity of the shelves on the right, I do love the idea of embellishing a plain shelf with patterned paper. I purchased a shelf from Target for only $20 (now on sale for $17!) and am hoping to add a pop of color to the back boards like the example above. 

I'll post more before and after pictures of my little DIY project next week!

What are your 3-day weekend plans?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blog Redesign

{New office accessories from  the $1 section at Target!}

My Valentine's Day present to my blog is a new and custom design for Sparkles and Prays! I found Kotryna Bass--a budding graphic designer--through her profile on (order your own design by clicking here). She is currently creating custom $5 blog designs (an incredible deal!)  for anyone looking to revamp their site. She is super easy to work with and very on top of things. I simply gave her a few examples of blog styles I liked, and she created this look within a day or so. You can check out her blog, Girl With a Movie Camera here, and contact her for any other inquiries you might have about her work.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's Ahead? + Wardrobe Essentials

This month, my plate is stacked high with several new commitments and a busy season at the office. Additionally, I've found new purpose for regularly updating Sparkles and Prays and find it brings me so much joy during rather routine workdays. With that said, I have a ton of great DIY posts coming up in the future, including a post to highlight some awesome wooden spectacles by an up and coming brand called Woodzee. Nonetheless, until I have the time to dedicate 100 percent to those new additions, I'll be creating simple yet helpful write-ups about style and beauty that will allow me a break from editing work and hopefully provide an inspiring retreat for you readers as well. 

In addition, a huge shout out to all my new followers, thank you so much for joining me in this journey! I am humbled by your comments and your time! (And I just purchased my own domain name to get rid of the at the end of the web address. Now, you can simply find Sparkles and Prays via!)

Now, for some fashion eye candy. Here are some of my wardrobe must-haves, each for $25 and under! 

Wardrobe Essentials (1)

Basic V-Neck Tees: My absolute favorite closet staple is a white v-neck shirt. I can dress it up or down, pair it with a statement necklace or printed scarf. Whatever mood I'm in, I gravitate towards this basic foundation.

Watches: I have one Marc by Marc Jacobs rose gold watch (similar here) that seems to go with every outfit I own. I love the pop of coral in this wrap watch, and think this timeless piece (no pun intended) is a must-have.

Waist-Cinching Belts: I have about 5 different belts that I wear on a regular basis, including one leopard print skinny belt like the one above, which adds so much to a basic outfit. I think both curvy and athletic body types call for at least one waist-cinching belt in your wardrobe. Pair with a high-waisted skirt or around the waist of a flowy top.

Nude Heels: You've heard it time and time again. Skin-colored heels lengthen your legs and go with any color.

Chic Heeled Boots: Wearing boots makes me feel more pulled together than any other shoe in my closet. Something about the clean line of a knee-high boot brings me both confidence and comfort.

Preppy Cardigans: Maybe it's just because I started working in an office, but I've fallen in love with cardigans. I have about one in every color! Some with fun buttons, patterns, pockets, and ruffles. I think this extra layer is an easy way to pull together a look, both casual and dressed up.

Delicate Necklaces: I've become a huge fan of small necklaces that you can wear everyday. I absolutely love the quirky "hello" charm on this gold necklace, and it's only $6.99!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Delicious Bites: Homemade Oreo Cakesters

I was searching around the web for a new recipe to try out for Valentine's Day. Instead of giving a box of chocolates I like to make some homemade sweet treats for loved ones. My search led me to a blog post by Chloe of the Every Craving blog and her sweet recipe for "Better than Oreo Cakesters." I tried my hand at baking these Oreo-like whoopie pies and have to say they are definitely better than name brand Oreos!


Ingredients: (makes 12 cookies, 6 large sandwiches)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
{I found the filling to be incredibly delicious, but also a bit runny. When sandwiching the cookies together, I had a hard time stopping them from sliding apart. I compromised a bit by adding a 1/3 cup of flour. However, even then it seemed to be not as thick and fluffy as I had imagined. In the future I may look into a different cream filling recipe. Still, the added cream cheese made for a to-die-for combo!} 
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients for the cake mix (the first 8 on the list) in a large bowl until it’s all combined. Beat in the oil and eggs until it forms a rough, semi-crumbly dough. Scoop out the dough with a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop and place about 2-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used my hands to roll the dough into balls, but didn't worry if they weren't perfect). Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the cookies are set (they will seem underdone but they will continue to bake when cooling). Let cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. 
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add in the sugar by the 1/2 cup, beating will after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined. I also added 3 drops of red food coloring to the mix in celebration of Valentine's Day, of course! Lastly, spread the filling mixture onto the cookies once the cookies have completely cooled and sandwich them together. 
I put the cakesters in the refrigerator to let the filling set and slightly harden . I was amazed at the delicious taste and texture of the soft and moist cake portion. I had my roommates give it a test, and the recipe was a huge hit!
If you decide to give the recipe a try, leave a comment below letting me know how your trial run went. :) Happy Baking! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Butterflies + Santa Barbara

{Beautiful Santa Barbara}

This past weekend I was able to travel up the 101 and visit my sister in Santa Barbara. I'm blessed to have siblings that live in such gorgeous coastal towns! Whenever I visit she  plans one adventurous thing to do, so this weekend we hiked around the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, a quaint eucalyptus grove that rests a short walk from the ocean. I was surprised to see the Monarchs nestled tightly together on a single branch, turning the bright green branches to orange. This was a moment I wished I had an awesome DSLR camera so, unfortunately, my iPhone (as great as it is) just couldn't capture the moment. Instead, here are some snapshots of one lone butterfly, a few plants, the ocean, and two silly sisters enjoying the view. 
{My sassy sister}
{A restful Monarch butterfly}

{Excuse my bellybutton.}