So maybe I did a little more shopping...

In Toronto, a Saturday is always best spent walking around and exploring--- you can shop, eat, people watch and overall just take in the energy of the city.

That's exactly what we did that sunny Saturday. We walked to Queen street, the Eaton's Center and ate lunch at a restaurant across from the new Trump Hotel.

The night before, my friend Heather and I were in my friends Ashley's kitchen and we marveled at the fact that ten years ago...did we ever imagine we would be standing in Ashley's kitchen and looking over at our husbands hanging out before a night out...? It seemed natural and yet surreal at the same time. It was just one of those moments...(guess you had to be there).

Here's what I wore for our downtown excursion:







Shirt- Aritzia
Necklace- Banana Republic
Shorts- Buckle
Sandals- Steve Madden
Watch/Bracelet- Michael Kors/J.Crew
Bag- GAP


xoxo,

Veronika.

29.

Today is my 29th birthday. It's an age that has always made me feel nervous because when you're younger, 30 tends to be the age you assess all of the expectations you had in your twenties and contemplate whether or not they were met. You hope to accomplish certain goals by then---and 29 is the age where you sort of start panicking about what you have and haven't accomplished.


As I sit here at 29 and reflect on the last few decades of my life, I am reminded of how lucky and blessed I am...and all of those worries about 30 being just around the corner are fading as I think about where I am today.


When I was younger, I never thought I would have the kind of life that I have now. It’s no secret that I didn’t have a storybook childhood---but looking back, I don’t know that I would have changed it because it made me the woman I am today and I think that going through what I have has actually made a more compassionate and loving person.
I never dreamed that at 29, I’d be married, live in a beautiful house, have a job that is incredibly fulfilling and people in my life that I know I can count on for the rest of it, whatever it may bring.

Most importantly, my life now has really forced me to think about the power of gratefulness. In my 2012 resolutions post, I said that one of my goals was to be more grateful for all I have. It’s so easy nowadays to get caught up in comparison and thinking about who is where in life and what they have that you don’t (a better job, a smaller waist, a bigger house, anything really). We all struggle with that at times and taking the time to thank God for what you have instead of asking for what you don’t has really proved to me that being grateful is not only the key to happiness---but the key to becoming both a better person and closer to God. When you acknowledge all that is good in your life---you are setting yourself up for more and more blessings to come your way. Of course, I still pray in times of struggle---but every prayer first begins with what I’m thankful for.

I also never dreamed that I would have this blog---and all of the incredible people who read it, in my life. I don’t think I ever express enough just how much each and every one of you impacts me. From your comments to your emails to meeting some of you in person, I am just blown away by the kind and supportive women who visit this blog.
When I moved to Houston at 24 years old for love, I literally came here with two suitcases, the clothes on my back and my dear, sweet Lulu. I was very lonely that first year I was here. I yearned to connect with women who were like my friends back home and though planning our wedding was a fun distraction and I eventually met Candice (who is absolutely amazing) I still loved the idea of surrounding myself with a community of women who all shared the same interests.

Enter my blog, and nearly three years later I truly feel like I have made a lot of genuine connections with so many of you. Whether you leave comments and interact with me or you just check out my blog every once in a while, I want to thank you for creating this special community with me and allowing me into your lives as many of you have through email exchanges and on Facebook and Twitter.

It is truly incredible how much your life can change in just a few years and I know my life has changed (for the better) because of so many things---but also because of this blog and because of all of you. I have many, many things to be grateful for and today, on my 29th birthday, I want to say thank you to all of you for what you bring to my life.

(Random photo I love, taken last week on our trip to Toronto)
xoxo,


Veronika.

Shocking Pink, Toronto Edition

As much as I'm sad that I'm no longer in Toronto with my family and friends, I can't help but be excited to get back into blogging. I've missed you all!

First things first, if you'd like to learn about my favorite ways to get a summer glow (sans the actual sun, of course)---please visit Joan's blog The Baloney Bug where I've written a guest post on just that topic (self tanners and bronzers galore!)

I've decided to break up my Toronto trip into multiple posts that range from outfits to purchases to fun with friends.  I also plan to film my Canada haul video on Saturday and I'll post the link on my Facebook page as soon as the video goes live---or you can subscribe to my channel on YouTube for video notifications.

The first day of our trip was Wednesday. In true Veronika fashion, we picked up our rental car and headed straight to Yorkdale mall to meet my friend Jamie for lunch at Pickle Barrel and do some shopping. I wanted to get shopping out of the way on that first day so that we could focus on spending quality time with family and friends for the rest of the trip.

The day after my shopping spree, I wore one of my new acquisitions, a neon pink dress from H&M (by the way Houstonians, the new H&M opens here at Baybrook Mall [yes, really,] on May 31st).


So, what does a girl wear with a neon pink cotton dress? I paired mine with nude sandals, a bright green blazer and a spray tan that made me about 7 shades darker than my natural skin tone. Love.






Blazer- Zara
Dress- H&M
Necklace- Banana Republic
Sandals- Steve Madden
Sunglasses- Chanel
On my toes: OPI "Lincoln Park After Dark"
Watch/Bracelet- Michael Kors/J.Crew


More to come soon and thank you for your patience as I was traveling!

xoxo,

Veronika.


Motivation Mondays: Meet Alicia, Triathlete & Founder of Endurance Shield Sunscreen

I am thrilled to share with you today’s Motivation Monday---Alicia is a high school friend and a professional triathlete.  She is also co-founder (along with her triathlete husband) of a new sunscreen line called Endurance Shield.

Alicia and her husband Jarrod spend a lot of time in the sun and they realized that there wasn’t a sunscreen product on the market that truly met their needs as athletes who were passionate about sun protection but wanted a product with natural ingredients and one that could withstand their strenuous outdoor training.

Together, they developed a sunblock with great ingredients that was waterproof, sweat proof, moisturizing, safe for sensitive skin, non-comedogenic and that protected against UVA & UVB.

I asked Alicia to participate in Motivation Mondays to tell us more about her training regimen and her sunscreen line.  Since summer is just around the corner, there is no better time than the present to talk about sun protection and the fact that melanoma is on the rise, especially in younger women.

Here is what Alicia had to say:

When we were friends in high school, I remember coming to one of your triathlons and being absolutely amazed at what you were doing out there (like seriously, blown away!) tell us about how you got started doing triathlons.
I grew up as one of four children and my brothers were super athletic. Three of us decided to do a triathlon when I was 12 in Clarington, Ontario. I crashed on the bike, but got back up and finished 4th. I fell in love with the sport and it progressed super quickly from there. I started racing professionally at 14 and was on my first worlds team at the age of 15. I've always been obsessed with the Olympics and being an Olympian and I really felt that triathlon was my ticket.

0alicia3

Tell us about your current career in triathlons
2011 represented a year of big changes and successes for me. Formally an athlete focused on ITU (International Triathlon Union) racing, I transitioned into olympic distance non draft triathlon. I lead the Lifetime Series and 51.50 series (the two biggest non draft Olympic distance circuits in the country) for much of the 2011 season. My 2012 season will be focused on qualifying for Hy Vee (largest prize money Olympic distance race in the world) and racing the Lifetime Series with a few domestic ITU events. Putting all the technical jargon aside the transition from ITU racing to Olympic Distance non draft meant that I let go of trying to make the Olympic team. It was difficult for me, but I was consistently falling short of the standards I needed to achieve to make the Olympic team and rewards weren't enough to keep me motivated. I'm much happier now and loving the sport more than ever.

0alicia4

As an athlete, you spend a lot of time in the sun and I understand that's what prompted you to create your skincare and sun care line--tell us what finally drove you to pursue this endeavor
I have super sensitive skin and both sides of my family comes from Wales so I really don't have skin made for the sun. I had a skin cancer screening at a wellness fair and I was shocked. I had done MAJOR damage to my skin in my teen years. I became more diligent about using sunscreen during the summer months but I hated wearing sunscreen. It made my skin feel chalky and I felt like my skin couldn't breathe. When we moved down to Florida my frustration with sunblock hit a boiling point and my husband and I began searching for a better sunblock. It had to be sweat proof, waterproof, moisturizing (what aren't ALL sunblocks moisturizing?!), non comedogenic, clean feeling/ non greasy, safe for sensitive skin and made from incredible ingredients. In the process of developing the sunscreen we decided to make it anti aging:)

How involved is your husband in the business?
He's as equally passionate about sunblock as I am. Jarrod was a beach life guard for 5 years in NJ and he definitely understands the importance of sunblock. Our job as professional triathletes requires us to be in the sun every day and it's hot so we can't just cover up with clothing. He wasn't wearing sunblock very often because he felt like most products were actually clogging his pores and preventing him from sweating. He sees our sunblock as a performance enhancer because it allows his pours to breathe while protecting his skin. His body doesn't have to work as hard to keep him cool or repair his skin that would be getting damaged without sun protection. He's the CEO of the company:) He has an incredible vision for what Endurance Shield can become and he's very passionate about our product and letting people know that sunblock doesn't have to suck:)

0alicia2

Tell us more about the products in the line---which ones are your favorites, what different skincare needs do they address?
Right now we offer 4 different products, our cornerstone product is definitely our sunblock but we wanted to create a few other products that are inspired by triathlon but are for the entire family. My favorite product is our sunblock because there is absolutely nothing like it on the market and it exactly addressed all the issues that I had with sunblock and does more than I ever thought a moisturizing sunblock could! Here's a little info on each of our products.

0alicia7

Sunblock- Our sunblock is for health conscious individuals who want a sunscreen that’s good for them, that will endure the elements, and has a short ingredient list so they can feel good about themselves and their loved ones. It will provide you with superior protection from both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. It combines the powerful protection of microionized zinc to block the full spectrum of rays up to 400 nm. Our product is waterproof, sweat proof and is a moisturizer as well, so it won’t dry out your skin. Plus it’s PABA free, making it safe for sensitive skin. Non-comedogenic means it won’t clog your pours! Antioxidants help combat free radical damage, which can cause premature aging. Moms, you can feel good about putting this on the little ones. Ladies, you can feel great about using this as a daily sunblock and moisturizer under your make up.

Lip Protectant- It's the perfect partner for our unblock. It's enriched with vitamins B5, C, and E and super moisturizers jojoba oil and squalane.

Chamois Crème- Our chamois crème blends Azulene, Echinacea, Calendula, and nature's own anti bacterial agent, Tea Tree Oil. This soothing blend calms pain, encourages healing and prevents friction. Our ingredient list is short and packed full of ingredients from nature that you can feel good about putting on your most delicate areas. Try our chamois crème on dry, cracked or chaffed skin. It’s a great healing lotion!

Muscle Relief and Repair cream- Endurance Shield Muscle Relief and Repair cream provides effective relief of bodily aches and pains and is beneficial in relieving tension in sore or achy muscles. It's fortified with botanicals to enrich and nourish the skin. The cream relieve symptoms relating to headaches, TMJ syndrome, sore muscles and stiff and aching joints. Use it yourself or bring it to your next massage or spa treatment - you'll be glad you did. We don't add anything that creates warming or cooling sensations, so enjoy relief without all the uncomfortable tingling, numbness and burning.

Tell us a little bit about your beauty routine---I can imagine as an athlete you stick to a simple routine---which products do you love?
My big issues that I face daily with my skin are the sun and environmental/ chlorine damage and I have dry sensitive skin. My sport requires me to be outside all the time and on top of that I'm in the pool daily (which is also outdoors). I have to moisturize and protect my skin like crazy and then detoxify or exfoliate to get rid of any damaged skin and toxins. I start my day by applying our sunblock generously all over my face and any other places that might be exposed to the sun. After each workout I shower to remove all products. I use a gentle cleanser (Prana- Cleanse) to clean my face and then reapply our sunblock before my next workout. This repeats itself 2-3 times in a day. At the end of the day I completely exfoliate my entire body (Clear Choice- Body Polish) with products that are detoxifying and incorporate natural ingredients (Prana- Purify). I moisturize my face with a facial moisturizer and then moisturize my entire body with our Muscle R&R. I also use our chamois crème as a healing lotion for any damaged skin like blisters or chaffing.

0alicia6

Summer is just around the corner and a lot of women hate to wear sunscreen---tell us why it's so important.
Ladies, I understand why you don't like to wear sunblock- it's sticky, chalky, greasy, causes breakouts, and forget about putting it under make up comfortably. However, no one can deny it's importance. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually, while 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in a lifetime. If a fatal disease is not enough to motivate you, up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of a person's lifetime sun exposure is not acquired before age 18; only about 23% of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18. About every 20 years a person accumulates an additional 25% of accumulated exposure (based on a 78 year lifespan). You're never too young or too old to start slowing down the aging process and reducing the amount of accumulated sun exposure.

*** All of these facts were quoted from the Skin Cancer Foundation website.

What is different about Endurance Shield products?
Hands down our ingredients. My passion for good ingredients started with food, but I started looking at everything I was putting in or on my body. When I looked at what was in my sunblock I couldn't pronounce the ingredients, nor did I know what they were. We also wanted to make products that did more. Our sunblock isn't just a sunblock, it's also moisturizing, anti aging and safe for ALL skin types- even babies:) Our lip protectant has SPF 18 but it also contains some of natures best moisturizing ingredients. Our chamois crème provides a chafe free environment for sensitive skin, but it's also anti bacterial and contains ingredients that sooth pain and nourish damaged skin. Our Muscle R&R Cream not only soothes achy and tired muscles but also nourishes your skin. We wanted to make products that were multitasking and made from incredible ingredients.

Chances for Children 1 Mile Run

What are some of your long term goals?
I hope to continue to race professionally as a triathlete for as long as my body and passion allows me to. My husband and I would love to start a family some day and if I can continue to race/ train while being a great mom I'd like to try and combine the two. I hope to have get a book published that I've been working on for the last 4 years. I hope Endurance Shield will be setting the standard for sun protection and skin care for the entire family. We hope to raise consumers standards for what sunblock and skincare should be.

Besides training, do you have any other workouts you like to do to stay in shape?
I do strength training in my home 2x a week. I use a BOSU ball, swiss ball, TRX and stretch cords to do my strength workout from the comfort of my living room. In my off season I like to do other sports like rock climbing, yoga, and cyclocross.

Who most inspires you?
I love it when I see friends/ family (even strangers!) toughing through a workout. When I see anyone putting in a great deal of effort into a workout it makes me want to first give them a huge high five and I think of their effort in my next workout. It's especially inspiring when that person is a loved one and you watch them change their standards for health. Seeing them set best times, or call you with the news of a new dress size or finishing something they never realized they could achieve makes me smile for weeks. Seeing health become a lifestyle is so inspiring and motivating to me.

Thank you Alicia for motivating us this Monday!  You can check out Endurance Shield sunscreen products on the official website.

Before I go, I just want to say that Alicia sent me the sunscreen, lip balm and chamois crème to try out and they are all phenomenal. The sunscreen smells so amazing (so does the chamois crème!) You can truly tell it is packed full of natural, moisturizing ingredients and the sunscreen wears really well under makeup (which for me, is hugely important).

I highly recommend this sunscreen line and I encourage you to try it for yourself, especially if you have sensitive and acne-prone skin like I do and want to use a product with natural ingredients.

xoxo,

Veronika.

Sunday Houston Blogger Brunch- May 2012

I think brunch was invented so that people would look forward to Sundays.  Once a month, a bunch of us Houston blogger gals get together for brunch and this month it was at Haven, a restaurant described as a "seasonal kitchen"---they use fresh, local foods and their menu changes all of the time because they use what's in season. I had yummy chicken enchiladas and a mimosa.
It's hot here in Houston---but AC makes it freezing cold indoors, so I decided to wear short shorts with a long tunic and blazer. Yes, this is the same tunic I wore to work last week, just styled differently!

The balzer may look new to you---because it is! I had to return the white pants I got at Zara because they fit was off from the other two pairs I own and I decided this bright emerald blazer would be a versatile addition to my closet. What do you think?

My H was nice enough to snap these shots before I left the house. Let's all thank him for better photos!








Tunic- Zara (buy it here)
Blazer- Zara
Shorts- Buckle
Wedges- Michael Kors
Necklaces- both by Stella & Dot c/o:
Katie McMaster Kiner



I've been mentioning that I need to get my hair colored and cut soon---though admitedly, now that is had grown out from my last set of highlights, it does look more blended. I get a lot of requests to post photos of my haircolor as it looks "in real life" and I would say this shot is pretty close.


At brunch were Nina from http://www.thehssfeed.com/; Shasie from http://www.live-life-in-style.com/; Magen from http://www.magenpastor.com/; Monica from http://www.classandfab.com/; Katie from http://www.sugarlaws.com/; Annina from http://www.cinchedatthewaist.com/ and Mishelle from http://www.houstonista.com/.  Check out their blogs for style, beauty, food, fashion and more!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

xoxo,

Veronika.

Glorious Green

I feel like I've been on a green kick lately...it might just be "my color."

I had an awards event to attend this past week for work and I wore my trust Zara tiered ruffle dress.  It has never failed me!





Dress- Zara
Blazer- Nordstrom
Necklace- Regina Pierallini
Shoes- Ivanka Trump
xoxo,

Veronika.


Tunics as Tops

Happy Friday! H and I are relaxing, catching up on our DVR and enjoying Chinese food!

So, this morning, I went to put on my new white Zara pants (that I also have in jade and black) and the fit was completely off. I didn't try them on when I bought them because they were the same style and size as the others I bought, so I figured they would fit the same.

Needless to say, I had to return them today---but my trusty jade pants never fail me. Case in point:







Top- Zara (it's a tunic---buy it here)
Pants- Zara
Necklace- Banana Republic
Shoes- Ivanka Trump
Bag- Kate Spade



xoxo,

Veronika.

PS- I totally need to get my hair done soon!

Skincare Updates: Acne & the Pill (or lack thereof)

This is a long overdue update on my skin since I stopped taking birth control pills in January. My skin was pretty good for the first couple of months and then it all went downhill.

I'm now back to having hormonal acne around my chin, jaw and mouth area. Lovely, right? Fortunately, it is not as intense as it was when I was in my early 20's but it's something I'm not used to as I had pretty great skin for the last several years (which, looking back, I didn't appreciate as much as I should have).

Perhaps I'm just overreacting because I'm not used to having several blemishes at once, but the kind I get leave marks behind, which is incredibly frustrating because it feels like the old marks are just starting to fade when a new one pops up next to the mark that's fading. It's like a vicious cycle. Dear skin, please stop being crazy.


I'm finding that as I get older (I turn 29 at the end of this month!), my skin tends to scar/get marks on it more easily than it used to. Any little blemish leaves a mark---and the deep, under the skin ones are the worst because they can take weeks to go away, even with products that help fade the mark. Weeks of peeling, crusting, flaking and fading are now typical for me.

Another surprise side-effect of being off of the pill is that I am now also getting breakouts on my back (read: bacne). I also had a couple of blemishes on my chest area but I have gotten that under control and it is clear again. My back continues to be a struggle with spots popping up randomly so I've now established a routine for that too. Fortunately, only a few crop up at a time so it's manageable but still annoying.
I thought it would be helpful to outline the products I'm currently using to control my acne and to preventatively treat my skin.

Cleansers- I am still using both La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser and Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Power Foam Wash. These are my tried and true cleansers and I've been pleased with them for many years.

Treatments--- I continue to believe in layering products and these are the ones I use on a daily basis depending on what I'm treating. The Mario Badescu buffering lotion is primarily used to treat and prevent cystic acne, the La Roche Posay targeted breakout corrector is used to treat and prevent, the Kiehl's to treat whiteheads. I'm also still using the Kate Sommerville Exfolikate about once a week (especially good for dealing with all of the peeling I have).

Another treatment I'm using every single night is the Proactiv refining mask--- I use this overnight to treat existing breakouts or ones I think will sprout up. This mask, in my opinion is essential for anyone struggling with acne. It really helps dry out breakouts and reduce the inflammation that comes along with them.

Moisturizers- 99% of the time, I use my Neutrogena Sensitive Skin moisturizer. It's truly the best one I've found and I have not had any issues with it whatsoever. It leaves my skin hydrated without clogging pores. I can also use this at night if my skin is dry and it gives just the right amount of moisture. Occasionally, when I have a post-work event, I will use the Origins Zero Oil moisturizer.

Scarring and red marks---this is one of my largest pet peeves about acne. It's not so much the acne itself, it's what it leaves behind that can be the most difficult to treat. My skin tends to get really really red and then there is weeks of peeling, crusting and flaking before the mark is completely gone. The products that help me most are Kiehl's Clearly Corrective and Dermatix scar cream which I use when needed (it helps smooth an area that's really peeling and red---I'll put it on top of the Kiehl's sometimes and sometimes I use it on its own. I tend to apply it when the mark is on its way to being healed)

Bacne and pores- to treat and prevent acne on the back and chest, I am using Neutrogena body wash on my chest and back only. Then, after my nightly shower, I apply medicated acne cream via Clearsil pads to my back only.

Pores- to reduce pore size and helps clean them out, I still use the Peter Thomas Roth Max Complexion Correction pads and Finacea prescription cream. I use the pads about twice a week and the finacea once a week or so, twice max.

Flaking and peeling--- although the Dermatix helps a bit with this, I am also using plain ol' Aquaphor to treat the flakiness overnight. I just apply a tiny dab and let it sink in before my head hits the pillow.

Makeup setting spray--- this doesn't count as skincare, but I thought I'd throw it in here anyway. I've been enjoying this spray. Definitely makes makeup stay fresh longer.

Finally, here are some of my tips for acne sufferers:

  • Change your pillowcase at least every 2-3 days
  • Sleep with your hair off of your face (I like to wear mine in a high ballerina bun, but not too tightly)
  • Try to reduce stress
  • Treat your skin preventatively, every night, not just when your skin is breaking out
  • Use makeup that doesn't clog pores (check the label)
  • Drink a lot of water

If you have any questions about my skincare routine that were not covered here, please ask me on my Formspring page. If you have any products that have worked for your acne, please share them below!


xoxo,


Veronika.

Neon & Lace

This morning while getting ready for work, I vowed to bypass my trusted J.Crew No. 2 pencil skirts for an older favorite, my lace pencil skirt from the Ann Taylor outlet.

Reunited, and it feels so good

I'm seriously so happy I rediscovered this skirt.  Sometimes I find myself buying new things and only wearing those things (obessively) for a couple of months.  I need to focus on mixing and matching older and newer pieces---I think that's the key to understanding if your wardrobe is going in the right direction. Are you just buying a mish-mash of stuff that you can never wear together or are you making cohesive choices that are versatile?

The skirt and belt are older, the blouse, jacket and heels are newer.  Combined, they made this (btw, H was home this morning and he took these photos):







Top- Zara
Skirt- Ann Taylor Oulet
Belt- J.Crew
Shoes- Nine West (new, buy them here--these are SO comfy wore them all day
and was on my feet a lot and they are amazing!!!)
Bag- Kate Spade
Blazer- Nordstrom

Do you ever make it a point to "re-discover" items in your wardrobe that you've ignore for a few months?

xoxo,

Veronika.

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