Monday, January 30, 2012

polished + dramatic dining room

This dining room is such a refreshing mix of high style polish and drama. The white walls create an airy, clean feeling with a wash of sunlight; in the evening, this room's soft overhead light and dark wood tones make for a dramatic, moody space. xo.

Inspiration room from

1. 13" Sq. Gallery Frame, West Elm; 2. Wishbone Black Wood Y Chair,; 3. Potted Palm, IKEA; 4. Green Line Table Lamp, CB25. Terra Dining Table, West Elm; 6. Parsons Buffet, West Elm; 7. Oversized Equator Pendant Lamp, CB2.

Friday, January 27, 2012

valentine's day gift guide

Wondering what to get your significant other this Valentine's Day? These adorable gifts are sure to win his or her heart and make Cupid blush! xo.

1. MICHAEL Michael Kors Saffiano Medium Travel Tote, Macy's; 2. AE Hearts Glow Boxer, American Eagle; 3. Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Wild Hearts' iPhone Case, Nordstrom; 4. Insulated Six-Pack Holder, World Market; 5. Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Stardust' iPad Case, Nordstrom; 6. Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator, World Market; 7. 'Be Mine' Heart Charm, James Avery; 8. Floating Hearts Starbucks Card, Starbucks; 9. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries [6/box], Edible Arrangements.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

face wash review

I'm by no means a product hoarder. I try to use up what I have before going out to buy something new. So when I recently ran out of my Clean & Clear Morning Burst cleanser, I felt it was time to try out something different. I knew I wanted a product with as many natural ingredients as possible.

I considered Aveeno [which I have tried before and liked], Yes to Carrots, and Simple. Ultimately, I  chose Neutrogena Naturals, which I hadn't heard of before but stumbled upon while looking at the other cleansers.

Neutrogena Naturals

I've been using it for a week now and love it! There are very few ingredients and I like that the back label explains where each is derived from. The scent is heavenly--very subtle and herbal. I noticed right away that my skin did not feel dried out like it does when I use other cleansers.** The price was right which was also a plus. Overall, this one is a keeper!

What skin cleanser do you use? Do you have any recommendations for natural skin care products?

**Note: I would describe my skin as "normal", meaning it is somewhere in between oily and dry. Everyone has different preferences to skin cleansers so I am not sure how this cleanser would work on a different skin type.

I am not being paid to endorse this product. I purchased this product on my own and my opinions are my own.

Monday, January 23, 2012

spring + summer wedding guest style

It's a new year which means wedding season will be starting up soon! I love weddings because each one is an event. Witnessing two soul mates pledge their faithfulness and love to one another, catching up with old friends,  , dancing, and dressing up are what makes the occasion so much fun! 

When deciding on what to wear, take cues from the wedding invitation--such as the time of day, formality of the wording, location, etc.--to figure out the appropriate attire [unless it is plainly stated.] xo.

Dress, Francesca's. Hair, InStyle. Shoes, DSW.

Dress, Macy's. Hair, InStyle. Shoes, DSW.

Dress, ASOS. Hair, InStyle. Shoes, Dillards.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

best potato soup

I'm so excited to share another delicious recipe with you! Last week, I was on the hunt for a good potato soup. It's such a comforting meal on cold winter nights, don't you think? I stumbled upon the following recipe via Pinterest and I am thrilled to say it was delicious! I read several reviews and adapted the ingredients to my tastes and it turned out wonderfully. The best part is that this soup is relatively quick to make and doesn't require a blender [though you could use one if you want.]

Loaded Baked Potato Soup [adapted from Savour the Senses Blog]

3 lbs. small Yukon gold potatoes [I used 9 potatoes]
4 cups low-fat or skim milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low sodium fat free chicken broth
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup bacon bits
2 tbsp. butter or margerine [optional]

1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water until soft [about 25 minutes].

2. Set aside 1/2 pound of the cooked potatoes. I set aside 2 because I wanted a lot of potato chunks in my soup.

3. Mash the remaining potatoes and set aside.

4. Heat milk in a large sauce pan or pot over medium heat, adding the flour a little at a time and stirring frequently.

5. Continue to cook the milk over medium heat until thick and bubbly [about 8-10 minutes], stirring frequently. Milk should look foamy but not actually start boiling.

6. Add the mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, chicken broth, bacon bits, salt, and pepper and stir until the cheese is completely melted. 

7. Remove the soup from heat and stir in the sour cream, butter, and most of the green onions. Add additional salt and pepper to desired taste.

8. Return the soup to medium heat and continue to cook until heated through, stirring occasionally [about 10 minutes]. Do not let the soup boil.

9. Cut the reserved potatoes into small cubes and divide the soup into serving bowls. 

10. Top each bowl with potatoes, the rest of the cheese, green onions, and more bacon bits.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

winter/spring transition outfits

Even though it is technically still winter, the fashion world has forged ahead into the next season. Spring brights are popping up all over the place! To dress for this winter/spring transition, it's important to hit the right balance of colors. For a little inspiration, I've put together some outfit examples that showcase your winter neutrals [black, navy, charcoal] paired with spring brights [coral, green, yellow]. xo.

Sweater, Zara. Jeans, Forever 21. Shoes, DSW.

Cardigan, Old Navy. Dress, Banana Republic. Shoes, Forever 21.

Jeans, Gap. Top, New York & Company. Shoes, DSW.

Friday, January 13, 2012

bbq chicken sandwiches

I may be a Texas girl, but you don't have to be Texan [or southern] to love BBQ. The spicy, tangy, sweet flavor of a good BBQ sauce can add so much zest to an otherwise boring meal. I make these BBQ chicken sandwiches often because A. they are delicious and B. they are super duper easy to make!

With the help of a slow cooker and only a few ingredients, you can create a delicious meal in no time. Enjoy! xo.

1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce [or your preferred choice]
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. light or fat free Italian salad dressing
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
Black pepper
1-2 chicken breasts, frozen or fresh

1. Mix BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Italian dressing, and brown sugar in a small bowl to make the marinade.

2. Put chicken in the slow cooker and pour the marinade over it.

3. Cook on high for approx. 3.5-4 hours or low for 6. Keep an eye on it and check the center to see if it is still pink. Once it is white all the way through, remove the chicken and shred it with two forks.

4. Toss shredded chicken on a skillet and pour another 1/4 cup BBQ sauce [or more to taste]. Stir it around on low heat and let it soak in the flavor for about 5 minutes.

5. Serve chicken mixture on toast or buns. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the commercial break workout

You can always make time for a workout!

With our favorite TV shows starting back up in January, it seems harder to squeeze in all we want to do during the precious evening hours after work or school. Give this quick workout a try during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show and you can knock out your exercise for the day! xo.

*If you record your show, you can try this workout during the show, or don't fast forward through commercials and still do the workout in between. I'd recommend still scheduling a few days of cardio during the week, but this is a great way to burn some calories when you don't make it to the gym.

Total Body Commercial Break Workout

Complete as much of the workout as you can on the first commercial, then pick up where you left off during the second, and so on. Once you reach the end, you can start over.
  • 15 tricep dips
  • 15 push-ups
  • 15 double leg lifts
  • 15 bicycle crunches
  • 15 plie squats
  • 15 lunges [each leg]
  • 1 minute plank

Monday, January 9, 2012

wardrobe basics for the modern lady

No matter what your age or stage in life, there are certain wardrobe essentials that every stylish, cool girl should have. Below is a compilation of timeless classics with a few modern accessories thrown in the mixOn a day you can't find anything to wear, refer to the basics for an easy work or weekend ensemble. xo.

1. The Trench, Banana Republic.
2. The Little Black Dress, Kohl's.
3. Black Pumps, DSW.
4. Lightweight Scarf, Banana Republic.
5. Chambray, Old Navy.
6. Dark Wash Jeans, LOFT.
7. White Button-Down, Banana Republic.
8. Cardigans, J.Crew.
9. Skinny Belts, Kohl's.
10. Blazer, ASOS.
11. Big Sunglasses, Forever 21.

Friday, January 6, 2012

my case for indoor cycling

How I got into it

Oh cycling, how I love thee! I can sing praises for this form of exercise all day. I first tried cycling last spring after my mother had raved about it when she tried it at her gym. I remember thinking, "If mom can do it, I can, too!" So off I went to get my own gym membership. The rest is history. 

Why I love it
  • Your cycling experience can vary depending on who teaches it, thus ensuring your workout stays fresh and interesting. 
  • Each instructor creates a playlist for the class to accompany a "ride"--a series of hills, jumps, sprints, etc. [all things you will learn once you try it!] I love that the speeds and intensities match up with the music. I get so into the music that I don't think about how hard I'm working! 
  • The class flies by and before you know it, you've burned anywhere from350-550 calories [depending on length of the class and how much effort you put forth!] 
  • Cycling is low impact. I run a few times per week so I cycle to give my knees a rest while getting my cardio in [bad knees run in my family so I will have to face this sooner or later. I'd rather it be later!]
What to wear

Wear comfortable shoes. There are special cycling shoes that you can buy, but unless you plan to turn it into a hobby I'd stick with your regular gym shoes.
Shorts or capris are best--pants might get caught on the bike as you pedal. If you wear short shorts, I'd suggest some biking shorts (spandex) underneath to keep from making skin contact with the bike seat. Lots of sweat people in there... you don't want their bacteria!
Finally, don't forget a towel and a water bottle. You'll need them!

My verdict

Cycling is a really fun way to get your heart rate up and burn tons of calories. My advice is to not give up after the first few times you try it; it can be challenging at first learning where your ideal seat height should be and maintaining the correct posture and form. Take cues from your instructor and the class around you. Try out a few different instructors to know which teaching styles you prefer!

Have you ever tried cycling? What was your experience? What is your favorite part? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

alt. rock playlist

A soft collection of alternative tunes... perfect for a quiet morning run. xo.

Monday, January 2, 2012

a clean + warm den

I'm a sucker for cozy, warm spaces, and this inspiration room fits the bill. It is clean and contemporary with notes of amber and mahogany to keep it from appearing cold. Shimmery fabrics add a touch of glamour. All you need now is a cup of joe and a good book [and maybe a furry friend]. xo.

Inspiration room from

1. Tan Chunky Shag Rug, Target; 2. Bijoux-Dots Pillow Cover, West Elm; 3. Manhattan Track Arm Love Seat, Target; 4. Wood Polka Dot White Vase,; 5.Dupioni Silk Tie-Top Drapes, Pottery Barn; 6. Henry Leather Arm Chair, West Elm; 7. Lack Coffee Table, IKEA; 8. Hammered Verdigris Serving Tray,World Market; 9. Wood Knot Table Lamp, West Elm.
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