Live your best life!

Some days I just want to come to my blog and share my heart with you guys. Today is one of those days. My heart breaks for my country at times. There have been a lot of tragedies here in America lately. It seems that every time I turn on the news, the media is discussing some type of crisis.  There was a massacre in Charleston, SC that claimed the lives of 9 people attending a bible study at church. Next was the unfortunate case of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found deceased in her jail cell after being arrested at a routine traffic stop for a reason that I am still unclear about. This past week a man wielding a gun fatally shot and injured patrons at a Louisiana movie theater before killing himself. These stories have unfolded in the past month. I am sure there have been many other tragedies, but I cannot bring myself to watch the news on a daily basis because it is so disheartening!

It seems that some people in this country have a blatant disregard for human life. Police brutality is at an all time high and racism has reached a level reminiscent of the segregation era. These days you can’t be 100% certain when you leave your home whether you will return unharmed or even at all! The fact of the matter is that there are citizens worldwide whose hearts are so full of hatred and malice. It would appear their goal in life is to incite fear. Unfortunately, it appears to be working.

I have been reading comments in my social media feeds and it seems that a lot of people have become fearful for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. I definitely get it. I must admit that was my initial reaction too. After much thought, I realized I would be doing myself a disservice by allowing fear and negativity to invade my space. I can’t allow fear to grip me in its clutches and destroy my life as I know it.

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We are all on this earth for a limited period of time so we must make the best of our time. We must live our best lives every single day! We cannot allow the “what ifs” and bad apples of the world to interrupt us from reaching our full potential. We have to be strong and of good courage and keeping pressing on!

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 

Deuteronomy 31:6

 

Am I naive to think that all the problems of the world will disappear because I choose to ignore the news? Absolutely not! However, I refuse to live my life in fear. If for some reason I end up losing my life in some tragic manner, I want to die knowing that I fulfilled my God given purpose and that I lived the best life that I possibly could while I had the chance.

I want to challenge you guys to live your best life without fear everyday as well.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, and of power and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Stay inspired guys,

Brittany

Photo Shoot at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

“I’m a sucker for cornrows and manicured toes”- Nelly

But toes are pedicured Nelly.. so there’s that.

I can relate to Nelly’s love of beautiful things.  I may not be a sucker for cornrows and manicured toes but I am a sucker for beautiful architecture. Clean lines, geometric shapes, and the unconventional use of materials really appeals to me. That is exactly what intrigued me to visit the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth last week. The exhibits looked interesting and I figured it would be the perfect backdrop for a style photo shoot. It did not disappoint! The outside landscape and architecture was beautiful and the exhibits inside were equally as stunning. My awesome friend KT was nice enough to volunteer to be my photographer for the day. I must say she is pretty talented! I enjoyed working with her and exploring the exhibits at the Modern. Here are a few of my favorite photos from our day.image

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If you are ever in the Fort Worth area, be sure to check out the Modern in Downtown Fort Worth. If you go on Wednesdays it’s $5 for adults, $1 for students, and children under 12 enter free. Sundays are free in 2015. I plan to return soon to check out the restaurant, Cafe Modern.

Hope you guys have a wonderful day!

PS. Be sure to check me out on the app Periscope (@creativityarise) for behind the scene look at photo shoots, travel, and other blogger related/ random adventures.

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Great Websites for Booking an Affordable Vacation

I haven’t gone on vacation since last December and I am currently going through withdrawal. I am addicted to traveling! I need to book a trip to somewhere with a beach in the next 30 days or I may have a serious meltdown! My friends, family, and even my readers often ask me how I can afford to go on so many vacations in one year. The common misconception among many people is that travel is expensive. It is true that traveling is not cheap, but it can be affordable!  There is a way to go on that vacation or last minute getaway for a fraction of the retail price. Being able to travel for less means that the traveler must be willing to adapt accordingly to get the best price. I’m not saying that you have to settle for less but being flexible will help when booking your next getaway. Knowing who has the best deals out there is also an advantage. Here are some of my favorite websites to use when booking getaways!

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1. Skiplagged.com I have been raving about this site to anyone who will listen since I discovered it a few months ago. It is a great website for booking flights. Here’s how it works. You book a flight from origin to destination as you would with any airline website. However, this website will look for direct flights to your destination as well as flights that have a layover in your destination. Sometimes the flights from your city of origin to your destination as a layover is much cheaper than it would be if you booked a direct flight to your destination. The only caveat is that you cannot check luggage if your destination is just a layover city. If you do the luggage will end up at that flight’s final destination. So in that instance, you will have to pack a carry on luggage. This works fine for me because I can pack for 2 weeks in a carry on in the summer with no problems. If you are an over packer who has to check your luggage, I would encourage you to only use this website if you can get a direct connection to your destination.

2. Hotwire.com This site is one of my favorites for booking hotel rooms. If you read my post about the advantages of booking hotel rooms at the last minute, you may remember that I live on the edge when it comes to making reservations. Make sure you review that post for some helpful tips and tricks. Hotwire allows you to book hotel rooms for a fraction of the retail price. The caveat to this website is that you will not know what hotel you will end up staying in until you pay. At first, I was a bit leary about using this site because I was worried about the type of hotel I would end up staying in. I can say that I haven’t had a bad experience thus far.

My tips for using would be to compare listings on Hotwire with Hotels.com. For instance, lets say Hotwire has a 4-star hotel listed in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC on their website for $56. I would go to the Hotels.com website, select 4-star hotels in that area and look at the list of hotels with those specifications. Sometimes you get lucky and there is only one hotel with that description so you know for sure where you will be staying. That is what happened when I booked a hotel in Downtown Fort Worth. The only 4-star hotel listed  was the Omni. Other times you may have a list of 10 or less and you have to do a little detective work to narrow down the choices. Hotwire gives you “clues” in the description. For instance, I was looking up 4-star hotels in Scottsdale, AZ 2 nights ago. One of the details in Hotwire’s description stated that there was a $22 per night resort fee. That helped make my job at figuring out which hotel I would be booking very simple. I just went through the list on hotels.com website looking for the hotel with a $22 resort fee. I only found 2 hotels with this requirement, the Firesky Resort and Spa, a Kimpton Hotel and The Saguaro, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel. Both of these hotels had amazing reviews on TripAdvisor and the photos looked spectacular. I would not have any reservation when booking the deal on Hotwire. BTW, the deal on Hotwire would have saved me between 40 and 70 dollars a night depending on which hotel I ended up with.

Groupon.com  We all have to eat. Why not eat the same food as others for a discounted price? You can easily choose to purchase a coupon to restaurants from the area you are visiting on Groupon. Sometimes you can get 2 for 1 specials, a 50% off coupon, and other great deals to try a new restaurant. There are even reviews from people who have eaten at the restaurant on Groupon’s site so you don’t have to worry whether the food is worth the price. It’s also a great way to stay away from chain restaurants and try something new when traveling.

I will have more websites for you all in a future post. These are a great starting point though! If you guys want any other tips and tricks for booking travel, let me know! I love sharing what I have learned. If you guys have a favorite website for booking travel, let me know that as well!

Remember you don’t have to be rich to travel. You can travel like a boss on a budget!

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Hey Y’all! Life & Blog Update

“Guess who’s back? Back again.”-Eminem

Brittany’s back. Tell a friend!

Gosh I missed you guys! I have been wanting to publish a blog post for a while but I just haven’t had the time. So I figured I would just drop in and tell you all hello! It’s been nearly a month since my last post. Here are all the details of what has been happening in my life lately.

  • If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (@creativityarise), you may have read that we have moved…yes AGAIN!! We are still in the great state of Texas but now we live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Let me just tell you, if I never see a moving box again, it wouldn’t be soon enough! If you are a Creativity Arise subscriber or a fellow blogger in the DFW area, let me know! I would love the chance to connect with you.
  • We moved from a house into an apartment on the 3rd floor. For the first couple of days, I thought I was going to die! It is 4 flights of stairs to get to my apartment from the ground and I am not in the best of shape. I am at a point now where I can make it to my front door without shortness of breath. That’s what I call progress people.
  • My blog celebrated it’s 3 year blog anniversary on June 25th! I didn’t do anything big to celebrate because I was too busy packing and moving but I may try to do something big at either the 4 or 5 year mark. I know its like a year or so away but if you guys have any ideas, let me know :)
  • I celebrated my 31st birthday on May 24th. It was a low-key celebration with my hubby. We went to brunch at DownHouse in the Heights area in Houston and did a little shopping at Katy Mills. I’m actually enjoying being a thirty something. Even though I don’t have a clear plan for my life like “people” say you should by your thirties, I have been having fun figuring things out along the way.

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I really enjoy the world of blogging and have some plans to provide you all with more content than ever! It will be a lot easier now that I have more free time than expected.  You guys can thank unemployment and relocation for that.

Here are my plans for the blog:

  • I am finally switching over to a self hosted blog and leaving the free version of WordPress behind. It can’t handle all of the big things I have in mind. It’s a scary self-hosted world out there but I hope you guys stay tuned for the big reveal. CA will be getting a fun makeover. I have set a goal to have it completed by Labor Day but I am hoping it will be much sooner. More details about the process will be coming soon.
  •  My focus will be more on travel, fashion, and lifestyle content. If you guys would like to see other things, let me know. I want to make sure that I am making content that you guys want to read continuously!

That’s it for now guys! I am waiting on Larry the cable guy to come install my internet and cable today. I have been without cable and internet for a week. That’s the equivalent of a lifetime to a blogger/ social media junkie. Luckily, my apartment complex has wi-fi in the common areas.

So what have you all been up to lately? Where have you traveled recently? I am currently in dire need of a vacation. The wanderlust inside of me is burning at an all time high. I haven’t been on a vacation since last December. Where should I go??

Stay inspired guys,

Brittany

How to Prepare for a Tropical Storm..or NOT

How to prepare for a tropical storm as told by a person with no experience preparing for a tropical storm aka me.

  • Step 1: Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy, I take shower, watch the news, I’m ’bout to take this city.
  • Step 2:  Really listen to the news and realize oh crap we are expecting a tropical storm….today. Wonder why I didn’t know about this yesterday before I traveled back to Houston from Dallas last night.
  • Step 3: Call mom and husband to determine if I should be concerned about approaching storm. News anchors seem pretty level headed, mom is in an uproar as usual and husband says it’s just a severe thunderstorm, so no worries!
  • Step 4: Decide after watching the traffic report that everyone else in Houston seems to be going on about their Monday morning as usual so I might as well follow suit. When in Rome, right?
  • Step 5: Arrive at work excitedly because I only have 2 days left at this job and I really like my coworkers. All my coworkers are present and seem unfazed by threat of approaching storm.
  • Step 6: Mention the storm to 4 of my coworkers and realize none have a clue to what I am talking about.  Me thinks maybe that’s not a good sign.
  • Step 7: Around 11am hallways on campus become chaotic and noisy. Coworkers come to my office to tell me we are having an emergency faculty meeting. Second in command cancels all classes from that point until Wednesday (tentatively) and tells us all to go home because the storm warning has gotten serious.
  • Step 8: Come to the realization that this storm is probably way more serious than I initially expected! Collect my belongings, clock out, and hug all my coworkers goodbye as I realize that this may be the last time I work with them if the school remains closed for the rest of the week.
  • Step 9: Google how to prepare for a tropical storm. Look on the FEMA website for emergency preparedness information. Read the pamphlet and then question whether I should follow their advice because the organization doesn’t really have a great track record when it comes to preparation. I digress.
  • Step 10: Hop in the car to go to collect items listed on the pamphlet along with food and paper products.
  • Step 11: Listen to my mom and friends freak out after hearing the weather report for Houston in their cities and try to reassure them that I will be okay staying at home during the storm.
  • Step 12: Go to Sam’s Club for water and snacks. It’s a madhouse. Makes me question whether I want to stay in the city now that everyone appears to be a little anxious.
  • Step 13: Drive home to look at the updated weather report…AGAIN to make an informed decision as to whether I should stay in town or pack a bag and drive somewhere away from this madness. Decide I should be okay at home.
  • Step 14: Do a little more grocery shopping at Kroger. Go on the hunt for D batteries for my flashlight. Apparently everyone else had the same idea! No D batteries to be found in my community.
  • Step 15: Finally track down some D batteries and duck tape at Walgreens. Answer questions about the storm for employees in the store. Walk outside and the floodgates of heaven open as to give me a little preview of what we can expect a little later.
  • Step 16: Come home, move all outdoor objects into garage. Prepare food, emergency kit for tonight. Talk to family and pray that I made the right decision sticking around to meet Bill.

Days like this really make me miss my husband. I hate when he is away on business. Please keep me and citizens on the coast of Texas in your prayers as we brace for yet another storm. Flooding is inevitable and our last flooding event did not have a great outcome. Hope you all are doing well. Life update coming soon. :)

Stay inspired y’all!

Brittany

Postcards from NYC: Statue of Liberty

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The Statue of Liberty is an All- American attraction that I believe everyone should visit at least once especially if you love history. I must say preparing for the trip over to the monument was like going through security at the airport only on a level 10. I felt like we almost had to strip naked before going through the metal detectors. It was intense! Fortunately, having the chance to visit the Statue of Liberty was worth the hassle. The weather was cold and dreary but that did not take away from the enjoyment of the boat ride with a sea of tourists and the beautiful views of New York and New Jersey from the site. We stayed at the site for a while before the weather started getting a little cray so we decided it was time to hop on the ferry and head back to Battery Park. By the time we exited the boat it was being tossed to and fro from the choppy waves and most of the passengers including myself had to jump from the exit ramp on to the pier! Overall, it was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m down for any reason to get on a boat.

Have you ever visited the Statue of Liberty? Would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Inspired,

Brittany

Bulldozing through the Commute

Some days I wish I drove a bulldozer to work.

I’m so serious. Today is one of those mornings that I wanted to learn how to operate heavy machinery just so I would have a license to push all the ridiculous drivers onto the shoulder of the highway. Just picture it. My petite body operating 2 tons of fun with the song lyrics “move, get out the way” by Ludacris  blasting on the radio! Wait.. do bulldozers come with radios? Let’s just say it’s blasting on my phone. I digress.  You may be thinking “Whoa Brittany! You have a serious case of road rage.” I bet once you hear the things I saw during my commute this morning you will totally understand my frustration.
The city of Houston is one of the ten worst cities in the country in terms of traffic. I finally figured out why. People are so preoccupied with so many other things while driving that they can’t be bothered to actually drive!

Today I was stuck behind a lady who was not keeping up with traffic. People were passing us and even jumping into the lane in front of her. When I was finally able to pass her, I looked into her window thinking she has to be texting someone. What I saw just blew my mind. This chick was putting on false lashes. I was like really?! You have me over here doing 10 mph so you can put on freaking lashes! Why couldn’t she do that in the parking lot at her destination?

But wait… there’s more. I have the misfortune of getting stuck behind another driver in a pick up truck who was swerving in and out of the shoulder lane and my lane. I’m wondering to myself is this guy sleepy? Is he drunk? Is he texting? Either way I am worried about his safety and mine. So I put on my signal light to get over and a kind samaritan let’s me over. I look over into his window and what do I see? Take a wild guess. I’ll wait… This dude was typing up a document on a laptop! I was like really dude? You have got to be kidding me! Just because your laptop is portable, that doesn’t mean you should use it everywhere. How dangerous is that? And sadly that’s not the first time I have witnessed this craziness since I’ve lived in Texas.

This kind of tomfoolery is the reason why the number of deaths from car accidents in this city is so high and why I have just a touch of road rage. Humans of Houston please do better!  Or else you will force me to have licensed to drive a bulldozer and push those of you who purchased your drivers license online off the road. Don’t worry guys I’m only kidding…or am I ;)  Anyway what’s life without a little crazy thrown up in the mix?

Hope you all a having a fabulous Thursday. Only one day until the weekend :)

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Blogger Brunch + Afternoon with Addie

Several weekends ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a few bloggers in Dallas, Texas. Addie of Old World New, Aleshea of Glitz & Grits,  Lauren of Will Sing For Makeup and I decided to do brunch at Bread Winners Cafe in Uptown Dallas. We had a great time talking blog. It’s so cool to be able to connect with people anywhere in the world due to our common interest, blogging. The food at Bread Winners Cafe was divine!

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After brunch, Addie and I decided to take on the city of Dallas.  We hit up a few thrift stores in the area. Luckily for us, one was having a happy hour sale and everything in the store was 50% during that hour. That made the thrill of the hunt even more exciting! We found some really cool pieces that I plan to show in an outfit post soon.  After shopping for a while we decided to head to the Arts District in Downtown Dallas. I am an arts and crafts lover so it was cool to be able to hang out with someone else who could appreciate museums like I do.DSCN5719

The first stop on our museum tour was Nasher Sculpture Center. We ended up getting into the museum for half price ($5) because it was under construction. That seemed to be the theme of our day. I love a good deal. The center is beautiful! If I were a wealthy socialite I would definitely throw one heck of a shindig there! The sculptures in the garden were very cool.DSCN5721

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I loved that this piece can be interpreted so many ways. Is she in deep thought? Was she crying? Is she praying? Is she taking a nap? The world may never know!

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DSCN5752Squad goals ;)

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After leaving Nasher, we walked a little further down the block to the Dallas Museum of Art. The DMA is huge and even better admission is free (unless you decide to pay for the featured exhibit). It spans about 5 floors. Each floor is categorized by countries and regions.
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After walking for a few hours, we decided to take a break and get our creative juices flowing at the Art Spot. The museum’s featured exhibition of the month was entitled Bouquets. So they asked for art lovers to create flowers out of materials to add to the art wall. I named mine “The Struggle”. I will let you guess why LOL.

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After leaving DMA, we spent a little time in the Klyde Warren Park. It was a beautiful Winter day so errr’body and their grandma were hitting up the food trucks and chilling in the park.

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I love this idea! I want to create an outdoor library cart for my house.

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DSCN5807Overall, I had a lot of fun that day with great people for very little money. These are great attractions for travelers  on a budget. I can’t wait to spend time with these ladies the next time I am in the Dallas area!

Have you ever visited the Dallas area? What is your favorite attraction in the area? Do you like museums and sculpture gardens? Comment below.

Stay inspired,

Brittany

5 Ways to Kill the Road Trip Vibe

I love road trips. I prefer riding in a car or driving to any other form of transportation. I enjoy passing through small towns, stopping at roadside attractions, eating fattening snacks (just keeping it real), listening to music and singing off key to my favorite old school songs. You can’t do that on a train, plane, or a bus without disturbing the other passengers. Although I enjoy road trips, there are a number of things that can instantly kill the excitement of a road trip straightaway! Here are my top five road trip vibe killers:

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  1. Excessive cell phone chatter. My husband and I went on a trip to Dallas recently and I was ready to toss his cell phone out of the window. That bloody phone rang from the time we left Houston until the time we checked into our hotel in Dallas. I guess that is one of the disadvantages to being married to a business man who always seems to have the answers to everyone’s pressing questions. Please don’t kill the vibe by talking on the phone. Enjoy your time with the ones you’re with. Tell funny stories, catch up on life, resort to simpler times when you actually enjoyed socializing with people in person. Do y’all remember a time when Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist? As a matter of fact, resolve to use your phone only in case of emergency.
  2. Messing with the music: This goes hand in hand with number 1. No one wants to mute the music so that you can take a phone call. Unless its an emergency, ignore the call. Sing along to all the fun songs with the rest of the car mates. Even worse don’t complain about the music. I think that the music selection should automatically default to the driver’s choice  since they are the ones who need to stay alert behind the wheel. Upbeat playlists are always ideal for long road trips.
  3. Too many pit stops: Word of advice…if you know your bladder is the size of an egg, do NOT drink a 2 liter soda during the ride so that the driver keeps having to stop at a rest stop or gas station every 20 miles for you to go to the restroom. This delays arrival to the final destination and is just super annoying and inconvenient. Children and old people are an exception. Being ill is another exception. If you are a healthy adult, then NO. Get your bladder in check and stop drinking like a fish!
  4. Having the misfortune of traveling with an incompetent GPS or Google Maps!: I can not begin to count the number of times that I have had to figure out where the heck I was because my GPS dropped me off in a sketchy neighborhood. I am really beginning to think that someone at Google was having a bad day and just put the wrong satellite coordinates into the system for various destinations just to mess with people. If I hear the word rerouting repeatedly when trying to locate a place I already know I’m in trouble. Getting lost is definitely a road trip vibe killer and a waste of precious time if you are on a tight schedule.
  5. Sleeping the entire trip: If someone invites you on a road trip it means that they REALLY enjoy your company. They are willing to be stuck in a vehicle with you for numerous hours. Let’s be real there are some people in your life that you would dare not invite on a road trip. So do your friend or family member a favor and don’t sleep the entire trip leaving them to drive with the music at a whisper or bored to death while driving through the desert or countryside. Naps are ok but at some point wake up!

What is your road trip or traveling buzz killer? Let us know in the comments below!

Stay inspired,

Brittany

It’s PI day!

I have a thing for numbers. If you tell me a number once or twice I can usually remember it. My family and friends like to use this skill to their advantage. Thank God I’m not a criminal. When I thought about today’s date 3.14.15 I instantly thought that’s PI! I did a little research and found out the today has officially been dubbed Pi Day around the world ! On 3.14.15 at 9:26:53 one of the popular sequences of the numbers will be represented for the only time during this century! Pretty neat, right? Math and science lovers I know you feel me.

Here are some (possibly useless) facts about Pi:

  1. Pi was the name of a character in the movie Life of Pi. Oh I guess that’s not the same thing.
  2. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. I’ve never had to use this fact in my adult life. Have you?
  3. Pi is the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet that represents {P}. This may be significant to sororities and fraternities and Greek people.
  4. Leonardo Di Caprio spent a lot of time trying to approximate pi aka trying to “square the circle”. Just kidding it was Leonardo da Vinci. Then he said forget this crap and painted the Mona Lisa instead.

So you see guys Pi is a big deal! Not really, but it gives us all a reason to eat pie today (a slice not the whole thing!) or run a Pi-K marathon (3.14 miles for those of you who have learned nothing from my ramblings about a number!).

So how are you planning to celebrate today? I think I will research where I can get the best slice of apple pie in Houston because I’m not running anywhere! What’s your favorite type of pie? Yum pie!

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Stay inspired,

Brittany

Postcards from NYC: Grand Central Terminal

Have you ever visited a place so glorious that you wanted to stay in its presence and bask in its glory forever? That was my exact sentiments when I stepped into Grand Central Terminal in December. I fell head over heels in love… with a historic building. The architecture, the history, the shops, the restaurants, the everything. It was like being transported back in time. I have decided that if I ever lost my home due to a series of unfortunate events and needed a new place to live, I would save enough money for a plane ticket to LaGuardia and excitedly make my way to my new address at 89 E. 42nd St New York, New York. The Grand Central Terminal has been officially dubbed “my New York City Happy Place”.

The terminal is more than just a beautiful historical landmark. It is also home to casual dining restaurants like the Shake Shack, Eata Pita, and the Chirping Chicken and fine dining establishments such as Cipriani Dolci and Michael Jordan’s the Steak House NYC. My favorite feature at the Grand Central Station was the Magnolia Bakery. If you are a fan of Sex & the City, you may be familiar with the name. If not just note, the cupcakes there are aaah-ma-zing! I had the gingerbread cupcake and the red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing (don’t judge me) and they were delicious. My husband had their hummingbird cake and raved about how awesome it was. He didn’t even let me sample it. He wanted all the yummy goodness for himself.  Junior’s, makers of awesome NY style cheesecake, is also in the building.. The terminal also has retail stores like the Apple store, Kenneth Cole NY, Banana Republic and more. Basically it has all you could need under one roof. I will stop raving about the GCT and give you all a chance to enjoy the postcards from Grand Central Terminal.

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Have you visited the Grand Central Terminal before? Is it on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Shoes in my Suitcase

I have learned a lot about packing for vacations over the years. I’ve learned that its easy to pack 2 weeks worth of clothing in a carry on during the summer but far more challenging during the winter due to the amount of layering that is required to keep warm. I also have learned how to keep from accruing those pesky overweight luggage fees (I will give you a hint..leave the majority of your closet at home!) I love love love shoes. Most women do. I think we were programmed that way.  No, seriously. Put the words shoe and sale together on a sign in front of any store in the world and I guarantee there will be sea of women gathered in the establishment searching for that perfect shoe in their size.   I have a closet full of shoes. I would love to pack them all for vacation but that would be overkill.  Instead I have decided that comfort is king when  selecting the best footwear for traveling. I wouldn’t be true to my inner fashionista if I said not to try to look stylish during a getaway but practicality must be the deciding factor for footwear especially if the primary mode of transportation during vacation is Pat & Charlie (your feet).

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Here are my top 5 tips for packing shoes for your next vacation.

1. Choose old faithful. We all have at least one pair comfortable pair of shoes in our wardrobe. Pick the shoes that are guaranteed to give you at least 8 hours of support for trekking around the city or countryside and plan your outfits around your shoes. I have 3 go to shoes, a pair of flat boots, a pair of sneakers (trainers) and a pair of ballet flats.

2. Say no to sandals for walking around the city. Some people may disagree with this point but allow me to make my case. Reason #1 why you should say no to sandals during a city getaway is comfort. Lots of walking + little support= a recipe for disaster. Reason #2 Did I also mention that wearing sandals in a city is disgusting? Case in point: I went to Las Vegas during the summer a few years ago. I wore a pair of thong sandals from Aldo to navigate my way through the city. Not only were my feet hurting from the lack of support from the shoes, the bottom of my feet were BLACK like tar from walking around town. You would have thought I walked the streets of Las Vegas barefoot from all the filth that had accumulated on the bottom of my shoes and feet throughout the day. I spent what felt like hours  sitting on the bathroom counter in my hotel, soaking my feet, trying to scrub the black mask of God knows what off my soles.  Let’s say gross in this case would be an understatement. I cringe just to even think about the amount of other people’s DNA I collected during my walk through the Sin City. Since that day I have vowed to never walk a major city with sandals on unless I am going straight from my car to an establishment and back to my car.

3. Say yes to sandals for a tropical retreat. I am all for wearing a cute pair of flat sandals or flip-flops if you are going to a tropical beach destination. It’s practical and let’s be real you probably won’t even wear shoes at all if you are frolicking on the beach all day. I am usually barefoot as soon as I hit the beach because I love the feel of  warm sand between my toes and waves crashing up to my knees.

4. Save your heels for the evening.  Your feet will thank you. I’ve gone on trips with women who thought it was a good idea to wear their favorite high heels while sightseeing. You may look fabulous in the morning but within a few hours you will be tired of walking. After a while you may end up slowing everyone else down due to discomfort which can be a huge inconvenience. So do everyone a favor and wait for dinner at that fabulous restaurant or head out for a night out on the town to rock those stilettos.

5. Do NOT wait until your vacation to try to break in a new pair of shoes. I learned this lesson the hard way. I had a new pair of ballet flats that I purchased specifically for a trip to California. I figured they were cute and they were flat. Logically they should have been fine to wear. Boy was I wrong! Those things left me with blisters on my ankles and pain at the ball of my foot. I tried adding insoles and cushioning my the back of my ankle with band aids and they still hurt. Those shoes ended up getting nixed by the end of day 2 on that trip. That leads me to my bonus tip: When in doubt, resort to a great pair of sneakers. Those shoes are made for walking! I try to make sure that I pack a pair for every trip in case of emergency.

What are you go to shoes for vacation? What is your worse footwear story? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Foodie Friday: Heart Shaped Smoked Salmon Tapas

Are you looking for a last-minute dish to create for your Valentine? Our guest blogger, Sarah Knepp of Sarah Sofia Productions- a boutique wedding and event planning company, has the cutest little heart-shaped smoked salmon appetizer to help you woo your boo. Do you know the old saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”? I believe it’s the way to a woman’s heart as well. Seriously guys who doesn’t appreciate great food?  Keep reading as Sarah shares her quick and easy recipe for these yummy little seafood bites.

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Smoked salmon is the perfect appetizer for cocktail parties, bridal showers, and your Valentine’s Day celebration! To make this popular appetizer festive for Valentine’s Day, you simply use a heart-shaped cookie cutter!  Voila, you will have a delicious Valentine’s Day inspired smoked salmon appetizer ready in minutes.

Heart Shaped Smoked Salmon Appetizer (serves 8-12)

Ingredients

* ½ Cup light cream cheese

* 8-12 Slices Rye bread

* 1 package of smoked salmon

* Fresh dill

* 2 Small heart-shaped cookie cutters

Step 1: Lay rye bread flat on a cutting board and press down two heart cookie cutters side by side. You can also use pumpernickel bread. Trader Joe’s has small square pieces of pumpernickel and rye, which makes the process a little easier.

Step 2: Remove excess bread and place to the side. Do this for the next 7-11 slices.

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Next, spread cream cheese on each heart cut out.

Step 4: Place small pieces of smoked salmon on each piece of bread.

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Lastly,Garnish with fresh dill.

Serve with your favorite drink and enjoy!!


Thanks for sharing Sarah! I don’t know about you guys but I can’t wait to try out this recipe! It looks like it would be the perfect size for a snack as well.

Want to know more about today’s featured blogger, Sarah? Head on over to her blog,  Sarah Sofia Productions, to find out all the details on her boutique wedding and event planning company. Check out her simple recipes that are sure to make your next get together a success. Also be sure to follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for even more food and event planning inspiration!

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Stay inspired,

Brittany

Postcards from New York City

During the month of December, my favorite travel partner and I took a weekend trip to New York City. We have always talked about visiting the Big Apple during the holiday season. This year the stars aligned and we were able to make the journey from the Lone Star State to the Empire State. I must admit I was not impressed during my first trip back to the city in May of 2013 but I am so glad that I gave the city a second chance. The weather was cold but not unbearable. We were able to visit so many attractions! I have longed to go back since we returned home. Manhattan is magical during the holidays.  Decorations can be found on almost every street corner. City lights get brighter due to the glow of thousands of Christmas lights everywhere. People seemed to be a little more jolly on this trip. It could be my imagination but I’m going to blame it on the holidays. We took so many amazing photos that I decided to dedicate a post to each of our stops during the trip. I hope you enjoy my postcards from New York City! First up, fashion & lights!

Zuccotti Park at night

 

New York Stock Exchange Wall Street

 

Christmas Tree Wall Street

 

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Marquee at Southern Hospitality restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen

 

Christmas Tree Bryant Park

 

Window display Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Window display Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Window display Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Little Red Riding Hood Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Cinderella Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Trekking through Times Square

 

 

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Rockefeller Center

 

30 Rock

 

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Stay inspired,

Brittany

What I Wore: NYC in Winter

What does one wear to the city that never sleeps during the coldest months of the year? Layers…lots and lots of layers. Here are a couple of outfits I donned during our recent trip to NYC in December. Of course, these are just the bottom layers. All outfits were topped off with gloves, earmuffs, a hat, scarf, and a coat to keep warm. It was in the 40s during the day and 20s through 30s in the evening so I had to put my figure out a way to stay true to my inner fashionista without sacrificing warmth so I could enjoy our holiday getaway.

NYC

Outfit #1 details:

  • Hat: Pharmacy near Battery Park NYC
  • Polka Dot Vest by Liz Claiborne ~JcPenney
  • Striped Long Sleeve Tee by Old Navy
  • Sweetheart cut black jeans by Old Navy
  • Knee High Flat Boots by New Directions~ Belk (super old)
  • Hoops: Charming Charlie

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Outfit #2 deets:

  • Silver faux fur vest: Fabulous You boutique
  • Necklace: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Black sweater: NY & Co. (old)
  • Hunter green jeans: Macy’s
  • Knee High Flat Boots by New Directions~ Belk (super old)

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All bundled up and ready to explore the city!

My husband was convinced that I couldn’t be a fashionista and be warm but I proved him wrong. I was cute even though I looked like I was smuggling the Michelin Man in my pea coat. What do you guys think?

26 Ways to Amp Up Your Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. *Queue love songs, balloons, teddy bears, and chocolate and reservations for 2 at a fine dining establishment*  Better yet ditch the idea of waiting for a table at a fancy restaurant or catching a movie in an overcrowded theatre and opt for a more unconventional date based on the ABC Date Night Challenge. Here is a list of dates you can try inspired by the alphabet. These dates can be done alone or with someone special.

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  • A: Aerial yoga. Aerial yoga looks like it would be so much fun but I am afraid I might fall and break my neck.
  • B: Beach. If you’re lucky enough to still have warm weather and a beach, take advantage of it! Most Americans would be willing to trade places with you in a heartbeat.
  • C: Cooking class or cook a meal at home together.
  • D: Dancing. This can be done at home to your favorite slow jams or go out to a popular night spot and dance the night away.
  • E: Enjoy some ethnic cuisine or sample an exotic delicacy. Head to the nearest foreign food market and pick up some exotic delicacies like escargot or order some take out from somewhere like a Lebanese restaurant. Discover a new dish together.
  • F: FroYo: Create your own or head to your favorite FroYo shop and enjoy your froyo with some convo.
  • G: Garden Party! Attend a garden party solo or with your special someone. The city of Atlanta has a nice one planned this year at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
  • H: Hot Stone Massage: After my glorious massage in Mexico, I will find any reason to get another one. Valentine’s Day for the win. This can be a solo date or a date night with your sweetheart. Either way you will feel like a million bucks after your session.
  • I: Ice Skating: Woo your boo with your stellar moves on the ice or maybe you might even bump into that special someone while in the rink.
  • J: Jump from an airplane: This one is for all the daredevil couples out there.
  • K: Kinky Game Night: Turn your favorite games into a kinky showdown after dark. Parents put the kiddies to bed. Pull out the cards for strip poker and get out the Twister mat for a twisted good time (preferably naked!)
  • L: Love Lunch: No time for date night? Pack a love lunch equipped with your special someone’s favorite meal and a cute love note to spice up the one hour break and show you care. 
  • M: Museum After Dark: Museums in the city are known for throwing some awesome shindigs after the general public leaves for the evening. Check to see if your city is offering a V-Day party like the  one at American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
  • N: No Technology Dare: Leave all technology at home and do something you’ve always wanted to try without interruptions.
  • O: Opera concert. If you’re into classical music, consider heading to your nearest opera house to enjoy some beautiful arias, duets and choruses to celebrate the day of Amore.
  • P: Indoor picnic. My hubby and I did this last year for V- Day and it was very fun and romantic!
  • Q: Quiet evening at home: Maybe you’re not into the whole Valentine’s Day phenomenon. That’s ok too. Spend the evening relaxing alone or with loved ones watching your favorite rom/com.
  • R: Recreate your first date: What better way to celebrate your love than to recreate the first time you went out. Personally I would just revisit the locations of the initial date just in case the first date was kind of a bust.
  • S: Stage play: What’s Valentine’s Day without The Vagina Monologues? It’s like cupcakes without icing! Well those are just muffins and still as good. You get the gist.
  • T: Tango Lesson: Learn the art of Tango, the dance of love, on the day that celebrates being in love.
  • U: Underwater adventure. Go deep sea diving. I hear its an exhilarating experience. Remember to take your GoPro camera to capture the moment.
  • V: Valentine’s Day Gala: Lots of churches and other organizations choose to host galas to raise money for their organization or charity on V Day. So grab your tux or your gown, get decked out, and party with your sweetie or your friends for a good cause.
  • W: Wine Tasting or Whiskey Distillery tour: Go to the site where your favorite local wine or whiskey is made. Pack a dinner or try the onsite restaurant for great pairings.
  • X: EXplore: Discover a new neighborhood in your city and head to the next town over and hit up the local hot spot. Or my friend suggests that couples should explore each other’s bodies.
  • Y: Young In Love: Create a date reminiscent of young love. Create your own Valentine’s day card, get your sweetie their favorite gift or treat, go to your favorite diner. Share a bowl of spaghetti or a milkshake.
  • Z: Zip-lining: Nothing says I love you more than being connected together wearing a harness and zipping down a steel wire with the fear of falling into the jungle or water below. Everyone knows its true love when you are willing to possibly die together! *insert sarcasm here*

It really doesn’t matter what you decide to try this Valentine’s Day as long as you spend some well deserved time loving on yourself or the one you adore.

Which date night idea would you try? Let me know in the comments below!

Golden Globes 2015

I’m not a big fan of award shows. They seem boring and mundane. The same people are usually nominated year after year so they don’t excite me much. However, I LOVE watching the pre show red carpet coverage for each event. I park on my couch for at least an hr to ooh and ahh over celebrity fashion and yell the occasion “epic fail” or ” fire your stylist immediately” for the unfortunate ladies and gents who are caught parading in their less than stellar fashion choices.

Last night the Golden Globes aired. One can usually expect this red carpet to be a little more classy than other award shows like the Grammys. There were A LOT of hits and misses for the evening. I’m sure the Fashion Police will be all over the celebs that missed the mark…I’m looking at you Keira Knightley. I hate to be rude but did y’all see that dress?Absolutely atrocious. Sorry Keira, I still love you..I just have to keep it real. I was in utter disbelief that it took 30 people an entire week to make that horrible Chanel dress.  Am I being harsh? I’ll let you guys be the judge.

I don’t think this dress was flattering at all. I understand she is expecting but I am certain her stylist could have found her some glamorous maternity wear. She’s such a beautiful girl. I was expecting so much more especially since Fashion Police host Kelly Osborne was predicting that she would be one of the best dressed for the evening. I digress.

Let’s chat about the evening’s trends and best dressed on the carpet instead. The overwhelming trends tonight appeared to be the colors silver, red, and white. Beaded/sequin dresses were also very popular.  Plunging and halter necklines were also a thing. I had so many favorites on the carpet but I will try to limit it to 5.

1. Reese Witherspoon: She always looks classy so I expected nothing less. She didn’t deviate from her classic Old Hollywood red carpet hairstyle. The sparkling silver strapless gown she donned complemented her golden tresses and makeup beautifully.

2. Jennifer Lopez: Does this woman age at all?? Her style of dress reminded me of a more classy version of her infamous Grammy dress from that time she dated the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy. I like this version much better though. I think it would have been a little classier if Jennifer’s “golden globes” weren’t so exposed but she still looked gorgeous nonetheless.

3. Katherine Heigl: I love love loved this Zac Posen dress on KH. It was classic, sophisticated and accentuated all of her womanly curves. She looked very effortlessly chic. Her hair and makeup complemented the dress very well.

The next 2 were my favorite unconventional fashion looks.

4. Emma Stone: I was so thrilled that Emma Stone took a risk by wearing a jump suit on the red carpet. She looked spectacular and I think the risk totally paid off. Kudos to her glam squad. *Editor’s note: Emma’s shoes look super uncomfortable… yikes!

5. David Oyelowo: This is a look that you will either love or loathe.  I loved this dazzling ensemble worn by  “Selma” actor David Oyelowo. It’s so creative yet stylish at the same time. I don’t think I have ever seen a man wear a suit reminiscent of material covered in mod podge and glitter. No shade. I think its dope. Don’t even get me started about the shoes! This look is fashion forward in my opinion. Much different than the normal black and navy tuxedos we usually see on the red carpet.

Other noteworthy celebrities include:

Julianne Moore:

Amy Adams:

Quvenzhane Wallis:

Giuliana Rancic:

Kate Beckinsale:

Kevin Hart:

Felicity Jones:

Did you watch the Golden Globes? Who is on your best dressed list? Who is on your worst dressed list? Let’s chat about it! 

Stay inspired,

Brittany

Hello again + 2015 Goals

Hey everybody! It’s has been a while since I last blogged. We have some catching up to do! First of all, I hope you all had an awesome Christmas and Happy New Year!! Hopefully you didn’t gain weight during the holidays like I did. I just can’t resist all the yummy pastries at Christmas time. No worries though, it gives me a goal to accomplish during the first month of 2015. If you have been following me on Instagram then you may have noticed that I did quite a bit during the month of December. One of the best things I did during the holidays was visit New York City with my honey. We had the best time ever!! I will tell you guys all about that trip in an upcoming post.

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for new goals! I am limiting my list to 5 this year so that I can be more focused. Here are my top five goals for the year.

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  • Goal #1: Be productive! I set this as a goal for last year and I failed miserably. I feel I had too many days where I sat around doing nothing. I was very lackadaisical. But I am carelessly lazy no more!
  • Goal #2: Pay off another student loan. My plan is to attack one per year. The one I am currently focused on is nearly $17,000. It’s going to be a heck of challenge but I would love to have it paid off by New Year’s Eve. I am telling you all this to help keep me accountable. I am even going to start a series on finances to show you all what I am doing to save money and pay off this debt.
  • Goal #3: Save more money! If I’m going to pay off my loan than I will have to find more ways to save money around my home and get myself a side hustle. Stay tuned for that!
  • Goal #4:   Go on more daycations! I live in a new area and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what Houston and surrounding areas have to offer. So I want to take you guys along with me as I venture out and I plan to do it on a budget!
  • Goal #5: Spend less time on social media and more time with people. I know this may sound shocking but I actually enjoyed taking a break from some of my social media accounts and spending time with people I care about. I realized that although its nice to share my life with the world, it even better to live in the moment. The best moments don’t even make it to social media most of the time and I’m ok with that.

BONUS: Cook more at home. I have had one too many mishaps with my food allergy lately so I took this as a sign that I may need to learn to cook some of my favorite dishes at home. This way I KNOW what’s in my food and also I can keep the tip for myself :) I started a group on Facebook called Keeping Our Coins as a dedicated space to share yummy recipes and money saving tips. If you guys are interested in joining, just click this link: here. Also if you would like to see more food related posts on Creativity Arise, click the like button on this post.

Remember to take the Black Eyed Peas advice and don’t wait for someday to make your dreams come true. Make them happen today!

What are your goals for 2015? Did you miss me? ;) Let me know in the comments below.

Hope you all are having an amazing Friday. The countdown to weekend brunch has begun!

Stay warm and inspired guys!

Milestone

grad 2006

On this day 8 years ago, I graduated from the University of South Carolina but more importantly I finished nursing school! It was one of the best days in my life. If someone told me back then in 8 years you will not be working as a registered nurse at the bedside, I would probably have laughed. After all those late nights, early mornings, stressful exams, clinical rotations, and presentations, I was convinced that my heart beat on an EKG would print out in the shape of a nursing caduceus. Never in a million years would I have imagined that my life’s journey would lead me away from the bedside into the world of nursing education. Initially, I felt like I was just taking an intermission from the stress of hospital managed patient care.

Some people in my family and even some of my friends questioned me about why I gave up on my dream. But I never really gave up on my dream. I just felt so limited and I longed to do more! I wanted to impact patients in a mighty way without worrying about being scolded for minute things like clocking out a few minutes late because I decided to console a patient having a rough day. I believe that my decision to become a nurse educator has been one of the best decisions I have made. I am still impacting the field of nursing in a great way by imparting my knowledge to the next generation of  nurse clinicians. Although my focus may have shifted, the field of nursing is still my passion. God just decided to send me where I am needed most to help fill a shortage of nursing educators and to help ensure that only the most qualified and compassionate students become nurses who touch the lives of many…maybe even yours :)

Do you remember what you were doing on this day 8 years ago? Share your favorite #throwbackthursday memory.

Stay inspired, Brittany

Hanging out with Mom

My mom came to visit me during Thanksgiving for a week and we had a blast. It was the first time she visited me in my new location in Texas and I wanted to show her a good time. During her time here, she showed me that you can have a great time without spending a ton of money. One of the things that we did was take a lot of photos! My mom has always had a knack for photography. She used to take classes back in her day. I have tried to convince her to start a photography business on the side because I think she is talented. I am pretty sure I inherited my creativity from her.

Yesterday before she left,  we visited a coffee shop in the Houston area called Tout Suite. They have pretty good hot cocoa and some decent breakfast tacos. I was hoping for a more extensive breakfast menu but nonetheless it was a cute little breakfast joint with a great atmosphere.

Tout Suite

I ordered the potato & egg and sausage & egg breakfast taco with some hot chocolate.

Tout Suite

They have a pastry section in the Suite as well. I decided to try red velvet, ginger snap, and creme brûlée macarons for the first time to see what the hype is all about. I am not a fan.

Tout Suite

Mom enjoying a Texas root beer.

Instagramming my hot cocoa like all the bloggers do ;)

Instagramming my hot cocoa like all the bloggers do ;)

Tout Suite

Tout Suite

 

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Super cozy look for a rather chilly morning in Downtown Houston

Tout Suite

After leaving the restaurant, my mom and I head to the Discovery Green in Downtown Houston to take a short stroll in the park. It turned into another impromptu photo shoot.

Out in the weeds

Out in the weeds, hair blowing in the wind.

Discovery Green

Probably checking Instagram again. I’m a little obsessed.

At the end of the morning we did a little shopping in the Pearland Town Center before I dropped her off to catch her flight back home. While walking through the shopping center, Mom spotted a boutique with these beautiful Tiffany blue doors. Of course she had to capture the moment and I didn’t mind.

Pearland Town Center

I was really sad to see her go but I will cherish our time together. These photos are proof that all you need to have fun is be in the presence of good company. A great camera and talented amateur photographer doesn’t hurt either ;)

Hope you all are having a wonderful Wednesday!