Our Winter Garden Christmas Tree & Twilight Fever

I went a little crazy this Thanksgiving weekend. After seeing New Moon last weekend, I decided that I would read both Eclipse and Breaking Dawn over the holiday weekend. And I did. Call me crazy, but after finishing the incredible series, am I the only one that feels a little sad? I guess it just feels sad to know that we'll never know what happens next (though I did think the ending was perfect, and it did give me a sense of peace.) The books were addictive and incredible- I definitely recommend them, and I now see why people say "read the book before you see the movie" (I tried to read Twilight after seeing it, and it just didn't feel the same. I skipped New Moon as well, and just read the last two)

What cheered me up was putting up our tree this weekend! I have been obsessed with unique/different looking Christmas trees since I can remember. I even used to hand make these amazing ornaments. The first tree my mom let me design while I still lived at home was pink and gold (before they even sold the now popular pink ornaments everywhere). To save money, I spray painted some of our older, multicolor ornaments gold, and bought what few shades of pink ornaments I could find. I then made my own clear ornaments with shimmering snow and artificial pink roses inside of them. The tree was full of artificial roses and peonies in various shades of pink. It was very girly, but it was jsut us girls, so it was OK!

I guess I've just never been into the red, white and green tree. I always wanted my tree to be a reflection of my tastes, not necessarily displaying the traditional Christmas symbols (Santa, reindeer, etc.)

Our tree this year is what I like to call "Winter Garden." We had the same theme last year, but added even more details and ornaments this year.

Our tree has ivory, silver and glittering gold balls and the rest is a mix of lime green and white birds, dragonflies, butterflies, snowflakes, apples, pears and ivory peonies. Who ever said flowers don't belong on Christmas trees? I think they add the most beautiful soft and feminine touch to the tree.

Because pictures can say a thousand words, I'm going to let them do so:

The ornaments (balls) are mostly from Wal-Mart. The tree picks are mostly from Michael's Arts and Crafts, the butterflies and dragonflies from Pottery Barn, and the birds were purchased online, I believe.

I also set our small dining table to match the rest of our holiday decor:

The napkins are from Crate & Barrel, and the napkin rings are from Pottery Barn.

Lastly, here is a view of the rest of our living room area with the tree:

Have you decorated your home for the holidays yet? Let me know what your tree and decor look like in the comments below!



Black Friday Madness and Spin Class Awesomeness

Yesterday, after I awoke from my post-Black Friday shopping trip nap, I took a spin class at my gym for the first time. My bestie Candice told me it would be "hard, but worth it," and she was right.

The thing about spin class, is that it passes by so quickly. That hour is over in a flash. I also love the upbeat music they play. It's so motivating and keeps you pumped. Not to mention, before the class began, the instructor said "If you're lazy, and don't like to work hard, this is not the class for you." I loved him!

So here's the thing about spin class...my ummm...lady area is sore. Yep, it actually feels bruised. They say you can buy a little gel seat cover to make it more comfy, and I may just have to invest. I'f you've ever done spin class, do you have any tips on making the seat more comfy?

I plan to take spin class at least once a week. You can't beat how many calories you burn, and it really breaks a sweat. You leave feeling like you really worked hard.

Now, onto my Black Friday shopping. I focused on swimwear, since we are going on vacation soon. I bought a super-cute bikini, beach bag and beach cover-up at Zingara Swimwear. They only have one location in the US, and it happens to be here in Houston (yay!) They have some of the prettiest/most unique swimwear I've seen, and I always know that not many other people will have the same suit, because it is unavailable elsewhere (unless you live in South America.)

The first suit I got is similar to the one above. Only the top I got is a triangle top, and it has 3 layers of ruffles, in all different prints. The suit's colors look brighter in person, and look amazing with a tan! The bottoms also have a cute little ruffle, but are cut super small in the back, which is why I've been working out so hard!

I also got this gorgeous animal print beach cover-up. It is silk, and sooo comfy and soft. It will look perfect over a bathing suit on the beach!

The wrap has a pull that cinches it at the waist, creating a beautiful sillouhette. I absolutely cannot wait to wear it on the beach! It's so chic! The last item I got was a bright purple beach bag. It is like a traditional beach bag made of that "wheat-like" material, but it is purple with an awesome tan leather handle. I was going to get a beige colored bag, but then I thought a brighter color would be more fun!

The only other item I bought after braving the blood-thirsty Black Friday crowds, was an incredible 3/4 sleeve black top with small white polka-dots from Club Monaco. Can I just say how much I adore that store? If I had unlimited funds, I would definitely buy a large portion of my clothes there, especially work and evening attire.

Speaking of blood-thirstyness, I just read the third Twilight installment, "Eclipse" on Thursday and Friday. It was that good. I just couldn't put it down.

Now, I want to read the fourth book to see what happens next. I may just start reading it today.

Did you brave the Black Friday frenzy? What did you buy? Leave me a comment below!

Hope everyone had a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!



Coach Handbags: I May Have to Reconsider

Coach handbags- Love em' or hate em' everyone has an opinion.

I don't particularly like their fabric bags with the logo plastered all over them because one, everyone has them, and two, everyone and their mom has the fake/counterfeit versions.

I've always liked their leather bags with less logo action on them, and this year's holiday line really impressed me...to the point where my entire view on the brand is changing (in a positive way).

I'll start with the LARGE ZEBRA HAIRCALF BROOKE bag. Sigh. It is gorgeous. At $1,400.00, it's no steal, but a girl can dream, right?

The bold print...the gold chain strap.... it is just completely priceless (and uh, apparently completely sold out too, says the Coach website.)

Then, there's the KRISTIN EMBOSSED EXOTICS ZIP TOP TOTE bag. Again, at $1,000, it's not really a "deal" but I've seen less attractive bags retail for more. This is from their business bags line, and it is a very roomy tote, perfect for the girl on the go!

Isn't it just lovely? The texture, color, and gold details look so expensive (well, I guess it is...but you know what I mean!)

Then, there's a little something most women can afford: this adorable POPPY LARGE WRISTLET that retails for $98.00. I absolutely loathe bringing a handbag when I go out, so a clutch or wristlet is the perfect way to stash my gloss, cell and digital camera while still looking chic.

Now, I must admit, I don't own even one Coach handbag. The problem is that the ones I can afford I don't like, and the ones I love I can't afford (or feel too guilty to buy!) I think one year, I'm just going to have to splurge on one of their bags that is classic, like the Kristin Embossed Tote above. I think when you invest in a pricier bag, it needs to transition through seasons.

I tend to use the same bag for fall/winter and spring/summer. I'm pretty loyal- I don't like to switch purses a lot, it's too much effort to transfer all of the contents. It comforts me to know that if I ever dared to spend a grand on a bag, at least I'd use it every single day, possibly for several years.

Do you like Coach bags? How many do you own? Which styles do you like best? Please let me know in the comments below!



A Little Beauty Trick: Apply Airbrush Self-Tanner with a Makeup Sponge for a Flawless Face!

As I got out of the shower tonight after my workout, I noticed how pale my skin was. I hadn't self-tanned in a couple of weeks, and I was starting to look...sickly (at least that's how I feel when I don't have a least a hint of color to my skin.)

When I'm working out regularly, I like to self-tan, even through the fall and winter. It makes me feel like my results are more obvious when I have a little color to my skin, because a tan gives the illusion that you've dropped at least 5 lbs from your frame.

Though I hate the smell, waiting for it to dry and feeling sticky...I caved and broke out my Ulta Airbrush self tanner, which I followed by using L'oreal Sublime Bronze Gel (I like to layer formulas.)

Tomorrow, I'll wake up to lightly bronzed skin (yay!)

Marisa Miller's pretty bronzed skin at the VS Fashion Show 2009 after party

Now, what I really want to focus on in this post is self-tanning the face. The face can be tricky...go too dark, and it will be horribly obvious...go too light, and you won't notice a wash of color at all.

One more pic from this year's show...don't want to show too many spoilers- the ones in a previous post were from last year's show.

Tonight, I tried a new technique. Instead of using my Clarins SPF 6 tanning milk on my face like usual, I sprayed the Ulta Airbrush self tanner onto a round makeup sponge (the one that comes with MAC's Studio Fix) and then I applied it to my face using the sponge.

I was able to blend right into my hairline, ears and neck with ease and it distributed the color evenly. I just thought I'd share this technique because it really makes using an airbrush product easier (I hate spraying it directly onto my face- I never feel like it gives an even application because my eyes are closed, and breathing the fumes in is quite awful.)

So yeah, that's what I did tonight. I'm sitting here on my laptop, on our couch, and I can still smell it! It's like the self-tanning smell never dies. UGH!

Do you self tan in the fall and winter, or is it part of your summer routine only?
I guess because I live in Texas, I like to have a light tan even through the winter.

Let me know in the comments below!



Weekend Haul: Today, I Discovered Department Stores

Today, I discovered department stores. You read correctly, department stores. Now, before you all think I'm crazy, I know what department stores are, and I have been inside of them before...but today I really discovered what they had to offer (typically, I just go there for one item, like tights, and leave without looking around.)

You see, my husband and I arrived at the mall at 11 a.m. Much to our dismay, we discovered the stores didn't open until noon. So I got a Gingerbread Latte at Starbucks...and then I saw that Macy's was open.

"Why don't we just go to pass the time and look at stuff," I suggested.

So we walked around the nearly empty department store and that's when it hit me. As we browsed around in the dress section, I saw so many gorgeous dresses- from cocktail dresses to evening gowns to work dresses. I couldn't believe my eyes...and the prices were incredible too. And, unlike Forever 21, the dresses there were actually long enough on me to be work appropriate.

I purchased a gorgeous 3/4 sleeve holiday/work dress by Tiana B. It has this pretty detailing on the sleeves and bottom of the dress. I think it's festive, but not too festive for the office. I also like that I can add a belt or some great accessories to spice it up for the evening. It's a great dress to wear to any evening holiday event. I've been looking for a dress like this for a long time, and am happy to have finally found it!

It actually looks nice and fitted when it's on. I especially love the 3/4 sleeves that hit just below my elbows. It was 25% off too!

I also found some gorgeous work dresses there, but I'm going to hold off for now. It's nice to know I have a go-to place for when I need an appropriate-length work dress. I prefer to wear dresses over anything else, so finding ones that are long enough for my 5'10 frame can be a challenge!

With about 30 minutes left until the mall opened, we headed to JC Penny. I bought an adorable dress from Charlotte Ronson's line (also on sale). It has some pretty beading detail at the neck.

It also plunges into a great ruffle "V" shape in the back.

After my department store shopping success, I headed to Forever 21 to return a belt I had ordered online (the studded "Carrie" belt I talked about a few weeks ago- I ordered it in two sizes because I wasn't sure.) I got this pretty argyle sweater. I love how the sleeves have the block of cream, it really makes the sweater looks polished when it's on. You probably can't tell from the photos, but the cream part is actually a bit metallic/shimmery...very holiday appropriate!

I also got this amazing feathered/bejewled headband! It is so fun and pretty! I even plan to bring it on vacation. I like to wear accessories on the beach. Call me crazy but I think it's fun! I have to pull my hair back somehow, why not pull it back with a pretty headband instead of something plain, right!? I recently saw Brody Jenner's girlfriend Jade wear a prett feathered headband with her bikini, and she rocked it. It gave the look a little something extra!

I also got these pretty animal print-esque metallic bracelets. I think they will look amazing with a nice tan and beach hair. Yes, that's right, I also bought these with our vacation in mind.

My final purchase was this pretty leaf/ruffle top from Charlotte Russe. I saw it displayed in the window under a black blazer and I just couldn't resist. Each ruffle leaf is shimmery and has a sort of polka-dot subtle design on it. Very feminine.

I am loving all of the sparkly, shimmery, party-type clothes that are avaialble in stores during the holidays. The holidays bring so much more embellishments and details to clothes. I love that. I tend to stock up on party dresses during the holidays because they are hard to come by in the summer time, when the focus is on bright, flowy dresses.

What did you buy this weekend? Leave me a comment below! We saw New Moon today, and it was really good. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning, but it really developed the characters a bit more in this movie. I'm going to skip reading the second book and just go right to the third, because now I want to know what happens next! Have you seen New Moon yet? Hope everyone had a great weekend!



A Touch of Color: My Tresses Rejoiced!

This afternoon, I paid a visit to my awesome stylist and had my hair colored.

Here are some photos to show you all how it turned out. I am very pleased with it! So blended and pretty, just how I like it!

David curled my entire head for me with a curling iron, kept them in pin-curls until they cooled, and let it all down at the end of styling. These curls are definitely made to last (lots of hairspray was involved too!)

I hope you all like it as much as I do! More to come tomorrow...I'm seeing New Moon! Can't wait!



Countdown to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

I read the Glamour Magazine Girls in the Beauty Department Blog on the daily, and today they had some backstage pics from the VS fashion show (it's being taped tonight, and will air Dec. 1st).
I know I've said it before, but this is my favorite fashion show of the year. I don't know if they can technically call it a fashion show, but they do, and that is OK with me!

Where do I start? I love the creative accessories, jewels and other costume-ish adornments they add to the lingerie. I love the angel wings and how they change every year to go with the themes in the show. I love the super-toned bodies, full voluminous hair, bronzed skin and shimmery eyes.

Please tell me that there are some of you out there who are as excited as I am every year for this show!?

Also- have you been following the VS model search? Who do you think will win? You can check out their boot camp videos here. It is actually quite amusing. Celeb personal trainer David Kirsch asks each of the girls to strip down to their bikinis prior to their workouts, and then asks them what they think they need to improve upon. One of the girls appeared to be fairly perplexed and I could totally see her saying"I don't really know, my body is pretty perfect," but she somehow managed to keep in her head. You can watch the boot camp videos here.

Yesterday evening, I took a Power Pilates class at Your Body Center and it was incredible and very challenging. I definitely plan to supplement my regular workouts with at least one tough class like that a week.

Tonight, I tried Hot Yoga at the same sutdio, and I will say this- it is extremely difficult. It is also very rewarding and cleansing. It is literally like detox. The room is 105 degrees and you do 90 minutes of yoga during the class. I believe there are 40 positions you go through.

Hot Yoga is the kind of class you just have to try once. I plan to continue to do it once in awhile. It is best described as grueling, but the more you do it, the better (and easier) it gets.

If you work out regularly at a gym, I 100% recommend taking supplemental classes either at your own gym (good) or at a studio that specializes in the type of workout you are after (even better!)

I find that the pilates classes offered at my gym are not as intense as the ones at the studio. They are good, but the ones at the studio focus on doing a full body workout and feature a larger variety of moves, IMO.

I also want to try the pilates classes that use the machines like the reformer and the proformer, but they are very pricey, so those will have to wait.

I hope you all had a great week, and HAPPY FRIDAY!



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