Wednesday, February 29, 2012

retro brights

My latest fashion inspiration comes from music newcomer, Lana del Rey. She effortlessly injects spring brights into 70's Hollywood Glam for a style that's all her own. I love that her style is simple yet still gives off the fun California girl vibe. Take cues from Lana with high-waisted shorts, simple white tees, and bright flirty dresses. xo.

images via

crop topbikini / hoopsshorts / yellow dress / maxi dress / white tee / sunglasses / multi dress /

Monday, February 27, 2012

treadmill interval workout

Here's a fun 35 minute treadmill workout to try today. I included ranges for the level [speed] and incline so you can tailor it to your current comfort zone but to also encourage you to gradually increase when you feel ready for a challenge. xo.

*During the "run" intervals, do 10 seconds of high knees at each minute mark then resume normal running posture in between.

Friday, February 24, 2012

my healthy habits

Being healthy doesn't have to be difficult. Establishing some easy habits such as the following 10 I have suggested will make a big difference in your overall health and quality of life. xo.

1. Green tea. According to Harvard Women's Health Watch, green tea has enormous antioxidant properties that studies show help reduce the risk of certain cancers and other diseases. A few cups a day are all you need to reap these benefits. Tazo Zen Green Tea is my favorite.

2. Ingredient substitutions. Many delicious foods from cream-based pasta sauces to cakes contain an unhealthy amount of fat. Eliminate calories and fat content with simple ingredient subsitutions that have minimal effect on flavor but a positive effect on the waistline. Read my healthy ingredient substitutions post here.

3. Water. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. [i.e. a 130 lb person should drink 65 ounces of water a day.] H20 is important for a healthy immune system as well as cleansing toxins from your body. I love those big double walled 20oz. tumblers that can be found virtually everywhere these days--3 of these babies a day keeps me hydrated and healthy.

4. Eat in more, dine out less. By cooking at home, you will not only save money but also get to eat fresh foods and know exactly what ingredients are going into your food. I love Skinny Taste for delicious, lightened up recipes.

5. Exercise. Cardio and strength training 3-5 times per week are essential to a healthy toned body. You don't need to be a marathon runner; a 30 minute brisk uphill walk or jog will get that heart rate up. Simple yoga or pilates routines are great for building muscle strength and maintaining good posture! Don't forget to switch up your routine every few weeks to keep from getting bored or plateauing. Here are some of my favorite YouTube fitness gurus with free workout vids:

6. Fiber. Not only does fiber take longer to digest, which increases the feeling of fullness and thus curbs appetite, but it is also can absorb extra calories during digestion. I like to add fiber powder to my morning smoothies. Berries, dark leafy greens [i.e. kale], and whole grains are a few excellent sources of fiber.

7. Skip the artificial sweeteners. It's better to use natural sweeteners than the chemical-ridden stuff, plain and simple. Skip the Splenda and Sweet n Low and replace it with natural honey, maple syrup, stevia, Sugar in the Raw, or agave. Check the ingredient labels and make sure there aren't any extra hidden chemicals. Look at Trader Joe's, Central Market, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc. for natural and organic sweeteners.

8. Farmers Market. Buy local, buy organic. Foods at farmers markets tend to be free of chemicals and pesticides, which is the best for your body!

9. Eat more veggies, period. Broccoli, green beans, peas, asparagus, and edamame are my faves. As someone who used to despise veggies [I was a picky eater growing up], if I can do it you can, too! Start by incorporting veggies in your pasta. You can hardly taste broccoli and peas when they are mixed in with your spaghetti.

10. Taking the stairs is another easy thing to incorporate if you live or work in a building with multiple floors. I'm not saying you need to climb 80 flights if you work in a high-rise, but a few floors will get your heart rate up which burns a few extra cals. Every little bit helps!

What are your favorite healthy habits?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

lip balm review

I'm a big lip balm fan so when I heard about Maybelline's new Baby Lips tinted lip balm I was so excited to try it out! I bought the purple one called "Grape Vine," which is a delicious, non-medicinal grape scent. Even though the balm is purple, it leaves a lovely berry flush on your lips--perfect for fall! Other flavors include Cherry Me, Pink Punch, and Peach Kiss, which would be lovely spring/summer hues [Peppermint and Quenched are both clear.] I definitely recommend checking this product out if you haven't already--it's amazing!

I also recently purchased the Revlon Color Burst Lip Butter in "Raspberry Pie" and am seriously loving it! It is not as balmy as the Maybelline Baby Lips is, but the product still glides on smoothly and the color is gorgeous. It is extremely pigmented so I usually dab it on and finish with my Baby Lips on top to blend it together and get the balmy effect.

Overall, both products are excellent but Maybelline's Baby Lips is much more of a lip balm than Revlon's Lip Butters. I think the Baby Lips keeps my lips softer longer during the day, but I've got my eye on a few more tinted lip balms to try before reaching a final conclusion on my favorite.

Let me know if you have tried either of these products out or have any different recommendations for tinted lip balms! xo.

Monday, February 20, 2012

flower photography

Some camera practice on a beautiful sunny afternoon...


GymDJ workout mixes

Break out of a workout rut with some new jams from GymDJ, a site where you can download free music playlists to your phone or other mp3 device. Their upbeat mixes expertly blend pop tunes to fuel your workout and range from 25 minutes to almost an hour! Visit GymDJ here and rev up your motivation to burn some serious cals. xo.

*Not a sponsored post.

Friday, February 17, 2012

rainy friday

Speaking of rain...

TGIF. xo.

rainy day uniform

Rain, rain, go away! I don't know about you but it's been raining off and on for weeks here in Texas and it makes me realize a rainy day uniform that is both chic and functional is an immediate necessity!

Brave the storm stylishly with a cute, colorful anorak, a minimalist "bubble" umbrella, and some rain boots that look like riding boots. Don't forget a weather-resistant bag to protect your electronics and important items from the elements. As for hair, a  textured side braid and veil of anti-humidity hair are all you need to look put-together. With these essentials, you will be ready for the next rainy day! xo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

zig zags galore!

Last fall, the Missoni for Target craze ignited a new obsession with zig zag and chevron stripes in the fashion and home decor worlds. I love this print because it's fun and a little less predictable than it's sophisticated [and equally chic] cousin, the stripe.

Throw a little zig zag in your life for some major style points... just minimize it to one printed item per outfit or maybe a few if you are incorporating it into home decor to keep it from being too "busy" and overwhelming. xo.

1. Bag; 2. Rug; 3. Shoes 4. Pillow; 5. Rings6. Duvet; 7. Dress.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

cupid cake bites

Need a yummy sweet treat idea for Valentine's Day? This Cupid Cake Bites recipe is a crowd pleaser and a perfect snack to share with friends, co-workers, and significant others.  xo.

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 can chocolate frosting
2 pkg. candy coating [vanilla or chocolate... or both!]
Pink sprinkles
*Red velvet or strawberry cake mix would also be great options! Cream cheese frosting would complement both flavors nicely.

1. Prepare the cake as directed on the box.
2. Let the cake cool completely. Then, crumble it up in a large mixing bowl.

3. Mix in about 3/4 the can of chocolate frosting. You can always add a little more if needed, but I've found that an entire can makes the balls less firm and more difficult to form.
4. Once everything is mixed together, start forming ping pong sized balls and set them on a wax-lined baking sheet.

5. After you make all the cake balls, transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator or freezer to get firm for about 30 minutes to an hour.
6. Melt the candy coating in the microwave according to directions on the package.
7. Using a fork or fondue skewer [or anything similar], dip each ball into the coating and set onto a wax-lined baking sheet. Add sprinkles quickly before the coating hardens.

8. Place the coated cake balls in the refrigerator to harden for about 30 minutes. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

puppy love

Meet Mav and Chloe, my two bundles of joy! These two are best friends and sources of great amusement [and sometimes dismay] in my life. In the quiet moments before work or on a sunny weekend afternoon, my pups can melt my heart with their brown-eyed gazes. How can anyone resist? xo.

Friday, February 10, 2012

austin road trip

My husband and I recently visited Austin to see some good friends of ours and I thought it would be fun to share a few things we did there! For any of you who have never been but would like to, I recommend the following stops:

This trendy restaurant had excellent sushi and a super fun atmosphere! It was very moody and dark inside with upbeat music [sort of like a club vibe.] Be prepared to wait a while if it's a weekend/evening.

I was so excited to finally see this! There are many farmers' markets in Austin, but this one was downtown. We brought cloth bags to hold our goodies while we shopped and taste-tested the wares at various booths. There is a sweet little picnic area to stop and have a bite to eat [there were a few booths the served ready-to-eat snacks... we got tamales!] Even if you never visit Austin, I definitely recommend checking out your local farmers' market. PS: Make sure you bring cash! A few vendors accept credit cards but not many.

Thirsty Planet was a cool little brewery on the outskirts of Austin. We didn't make it in time for a tour, but for $7 we got a keepsake pint glass and tickets for three beer refills of our choice. It was a little chilly outside but we sat on a picnic table and enjoyed the fresh air and sunlight over a game of chess [chess boards available inside the brewery.] Overall, I thought this was a really neat place and a great budget-friendly way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

If you're an Austinite, what other stops do you recommend for my next trip? I love discovering hole-in-the-wall, non-touristy places. xo

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

valentine's day on a budget

With Christmas not far behind, many of us don't want to break the bank for another holiday [especially a "Hallmark" holiday.] However, the hopeless romantics out there--myself included--still enjoy celebrating the holiday as an excuse to dote and be doted on. Here are some ideas that will save you some bucks this Valentine's Day while guaranteeing your holiday is still sugary sweet. xo.

1. Top; 2. Pizza; 3. Wine; 4. Candles

Monday, February 6, 2012

favorite west elm accessories

If you have read my previous home decor posts, you may have noticed I am obsessed with West Elm. I get endless inspiration from their designs and color schemes. Their  crisp yet lived-in furniture and accessories blend beautifully with any home decor styles, from contemporary to eclectic. As such, I have picked out my top 10 favorite West Elm home decor items of the moment--even just one of these would freshen up a dull space! xo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

waffle grilled panini

Living in a 900 sf. condo has it's perks, but one thing I had to learn is how to be creative in a small kitchen with limited space for appliances. When I was registering for wedding gifts 2 years ago, a panini maker was not on the list [though I really wanted one]. We just didn't have room for it! However, I did get a Belgian waffle maker that not only makes amazing waffles but doubles as a panini press.

All you need to make a delicious panini is:
2 slices of bread
Butter or margarine
Season salt [optional]
Cheese of your choice, shredded or sliced [sliced is less messy]
Sliced deli meat of your choice
Veggies such as tomatoes or avocados [optional]

1. Spread a very small amount of butter or margarine on one side of each slice of bread. I used about 1/8 tbsp. for each slice. Sprinkle lightly with season salt for extra flavor.

2. Once the waffle maker is at desired temp [I set it on the highest temp because it cooks faster and gets super crunchy], place one slice of bread butter side down on the grill. Add a slice or two of meat and a slice of cheese, then put other slice of bread butter side up on top of the sandwich. If using shredded cheese, sprinkle a little in the middle of the sandwich so that when it melts, it will not go over the edges and get all over your waffle maker.

3. Close the waffle maker and let the sandwich sizzle in there for about a minute or two. You can open it up periodically and check to see how "done" it is. I like mine pretty brown, but if you don't you can take it out sooner.

4. Turn off the waffle maker and remove the sandwich with a fork or tongs. Lift up the top slice of bread and insert sliced tomato, avocado, etc. if you'd like [it would get kind of messy to add those in before cooking.] Serve with ranch to dip in if desired.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

valentine's day date dresses

I love getting decked out in reds and pinks for V-day dinner. Call me traditional, but there is something so romantic and sweet about those colors! Whether you are going out for cocktails with your beau or a fancy sit-down dinner with the hubby, these outfits will make your date do a double [or triple] take when you greet him at the door. Ah, l'amour... xo.

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