Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sarah's College Survival Guide: Introduction

Hi, everyone! Some of you may have noticed that the blog looks a little different! I hope y'all enjoy the new small changes.

I'm especially excited to share this first post in a new series I'm starting on the blog called the "College Survival Guide" where I talk about my experiences from high school and all things related to college preparation. This series is dedicated to my readers in high school thinking about their transition into college, but I welcome all readers to contribute their thoughts.

To kick things off, I'll give you a background of my high school career. I went to a pretty standard four-year public high school in Houston, TX. Many of my friends from elementary school and middle school attended the same high school I went to, so I was surrounded by many familiar faces. I was active in my high school choir, engineering program, and other student organizations. I also found a love for many of my hobbies: photography, baking, makeup, fashion, and blogging.

Unlike many high school seniors, I didn't have much trouble choosing where to go for college. (I'll get into more detail about that later.) I feel blessed to be where I am today. I have learned things about myself that I might not have learned otherwise unless I moved to Austin for school.

I'm excited to share my thoughts with you about my college experience. If you have questions/concerns about college or have requests on topics I should cover in this series, please post a comment on my blog, email me at, or leave a comment on my Facebook page or my Instagram.

Up next in this series: Habits to start building now before going off to college

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My 5 Favorite Lip Balms

I have a confession to make: I own an embarrassing amount of lip products. Whether it be lipsticks, glosses, lip crayons, or balms, I know I have too many lip products. I'm aware it's a bad thing. Some of you understand, right? From a young age, I loved experimenting with lip color to the point my mom asked me on a daily basis, "Why are your lips so dark?" But one thing I know I won't give up is my love for lip balms - colored or clear, matte or glossy. They're practical, make me feel more put-together when I have nothing on, and a necessity in my book. Here are my top picks:

burt's bees, arrow boost, birchbox, nivea, pixi by petra, pixi pink

1. Burt's Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm - an old favorite that provides a hint of tint with a sweet + tart scent
2. ARROW BOOST Color Enhancing Lip Balm - minty, vegan, paraben/cruelty/gluten-free and adjusts to a perfect color for you according to your pH level
3. Burt's Bees Hibiscus Tinted Lip Balm - gives a nourishing "your-lips-but-better" look that glides on easily
4. Nivea A Kiss of Milk and Honey Soothing Lip Care - a sweet honey taste, great before bedtime and before applying lipsticks
5. Pixi by Petra Pixi Pink Shea Butter Lip Balm - a highly-pigmented shade of vivid pink that brightens my whole face

What are your favorite lip balms? I would love to know!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

January Favorites

{Big Bear tubing fun in my favorite Uniqlo travel-friendly packable coat}
My January started out on a high: fun travels, good eats, and great friends. After over a month of being away from school, it was difficult coming back. There were so many adjustments I had to make for this semester. I just recently bought a bike, so I've been trying to navigate all the bike lanes on campus and learn how to lock the bike up as quickly as possible. I also have a MWF class schedule which means it's up to me to keep my Tuesdays and Thursdays as productive as possible. It can be really difficult considering I love my mornings in bed! I'm just now getting back into the swing of things, but I'm hopeful that this will be my best semester yet. Here are some things that I loved this month:

{the softest, airiest, best nightie I've ever worn to sleep}
{most messy, but memorable dinner I had in Seattle, WA: a homemade seafood feast}
{the only eye products I've been using: yummy-smelling eye cream, my reliable lash curler, and the best brow pencil}
{catching up with one of my best friends from home over early morning breakfast}

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Seattle Travel Guide

I'm at my second week of the spring semester and all I can think about is how much I already miss my winter break. As many of you know via my Instagram, I had an amazing time in the city of Seattle, Washington, but I haven't had a chance to share my trip with you yet on the blog! Better late than never, right? To those of you that call this place home, I'm very envious! My trip didn't go as planned in many ways, but some things came as pleasant surprises, like the weather. I was blessed with sunny days and clear skies for the majority of my trip where I was originally expecting overcast and drizzly days. Here are some of the things I did/saw/ate on my trip that I highly recommend as a tourist if any of y'all get to visit. (with pictures* down below, of course!) There are still many places I want to visit in the Pacific Northwest, but we'll save that for another trip in the future. :)

Cafe Mox (food, drinks, & free library of board games)
Ballard Annex Oyster House (delish $6 clams + $1.50 oysters on the happy hour menu)
Beecher's Cheese (mac & cheese)
Piroshky Piroshky (the smoked salmon pate one is so good)
Beth's Cafe ("divey" 24 hour restaurant with a massive 12 egg omelet)
Un Bien (super yummy Caribbean sandwiches)
Duke's Chowder House (the most delicious clam chowder I had on the trip)
Ivar's (lots of seafood items, yummy chowder, & fries with a view of the waterfront)
Pizzeria Gabbiano (pay/ounce Roman-style pizza)

Molly Moon's Ice Cream (honey lavender...I miss you)
Sluys Bakery (charming family-owned storefront full of baked goodies)
Bluebird (seasonal + fun ice cream)

Elm Coffee Roasters (roastery with one delicious latte)
Storyville Coffee (sleek interior with their own board game & a mission to end human trafficking)
Herkimer Coffee (good music & good coffee)
Starbucks Roastery (not your typical Starbucks)

Seattle Art Museum (free on first Thursdays of the month)
Seattle Bouldering Project (indoor fun on a rainy day with lots of routes - even good for beginners)
Theo Chocolate (factory tour + lots of samples)
Gum Wall (gross, but intriguing)

REI Flagship Store (I love the routes outside the store and the climbing wall!)
Nordstrom Downtown Seattle (floors full of brands I've only ever seen online)
Lucky Vintage (the best vintage & consignment store I've ever been to)
Pike Place Market (fresh seasonal fruits & veggies, fish throwing, cheap bouquets, fun vendors)

Central Library (amazing modern architecture, try not getting lost inside)
Pioneer Square (lots of great things to see & eat)
Space Needle (360 view of the city)
10 Things I Hate About You Film Locations (spots from my favorite movie)
Gas Works Park (a gorgeous night view of Lake Union and the skyline)
Kerry Park (a postcard-worthy view of the city)
Olympic Sculpture Park (BEAUTIFUL at sunset!)
The Waterfront (great view of the water with lots of fun things to see)
University of Washington campus (unique buildings and cool libraries)

{enjoying the view and the music indoors at Ballard Annex Oyster House}
{yummy mac & cheese from Beecher's}
{seafood bites and delish fries at Ivar's}
{HUGE 12 egg omelet at Beth's Cafe}
{a much-needed latte at Elm Coffee Roasters}
{having fun at the SAM...hehe}
{starting off a new route at the Seattle Bouldering Project}
{finding my love for cacao nibs at Theo Chocolate}
{the beautiful view outside the REI store}
{awesome finds at the carefully curated Lucky Vintage}
{seafood galore at Pike Place}
{the house from my fave movie: 10 Things I Hate About You}
{the view at Gas Works Park with picturesque lanterns}
{the view overlooking the city at Kerry Park}
{the waterfront view}
{study time at the UW Suzzalo Library}
*Typically, I use my trusty DSLR for blog pictures, but this time, I used a mix of pictures from my GoPro, Galaxy S5 phone, and my DSLR, so the quality of the pictures might not be as good as usual! I hope you still enjoy them.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Break 2015 Recap

Happy Monday, y'all! I'm sure most of us are feeling a bit sad this morning, because we're back at school or work. I know I am. Even though I didn't get to go back to Houston, I had a wonderful and much-needed break with my family filled lots of rainy 5+ hour car rides, delicious food and homemade lattes, prayers and encouragements, karaoke, and late night movies and snacking.

This year was my first time baking both pumpkin pie and pecan pie and I ended up making two of each...which means four pies total. Four. And I didn't take any pictures of them! In general, I wish I had taken more pictures with my DSLR during the last few days, but I guess when you're caught up having a good time, the last thing you wanna worry about is lugging around a big camera. Thank goodness for cell phone pictures. :) Here are some of the few pictures I took below:

Thanksgiving 2015 | The Bella Insider
{thanksgiving spread}
Thanksgiving 2015 | The Bella Insider
{my first plate on thanksgiving day}
Thanksgiving 2015 | The Bella Insider
{rainy car windows on the drive to odessa, tx via Instagram @sarah_thebella}

I'm wishing everyone the best on their first day back from break!