Friday, June 29, 2012

And the Award Goes To...

On Thursday night, we attended the PRSA Awards so I wanted to wear a dress to the event. This is the second time I wore my Ann Taylor watercolor dress, and this time, I paired it with my bright green Zara blazer.

This blazer has been such a wonderful investment for me. I'm really finding that it works well with a lot of my tops and dresses. Speaking of Zara, the store is having their annual sale right now. I went after work tonight and it was a cluster in there. I didn't feel like waiting in line for the fitting rooms and I didn't see anything I absolutely had to have so I left Zara-less.

Now, back to the outfit:









Dress- Ann Taylor; Blazer- Zara; Necklace- Regina Pierallini;
Earrings- Kendra Scott; Shoes- Ivanka Trump


Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Home Updates: Dining Room & Window Coverings

Getting window coverings and a new dining table have been a long time coming. We've lived in our new house for nearly a year and have done quite a bit already---but we're still rocking Ready Blinds (which are awesome, BTW) on our windows and never use our super uncomfortable IKEA dining table (not much of a dining table if you never use it!)

After eating at one of our (now) favorite restaurants for the first time (Liberty Kitchen in the Heights, for the locals), I was inspired by the farmhouse style table they had with a massive crystal chandelier haning over it.  I had never, ever considered a sort of rustic looking wooden dining table...but when I saw it at that restaurant, it gave me a moment of pause.

Fast forward a couple of months later, we were at Restoration Hardware last weekend ordering our drapery hardware, and we see this gorgeous desk that has a wooden rustic top, just like the farmhouse table at the restaurant.  "Does this come in a dining table?" I ask. Of course it did.


Our sales rep showed us a dining table from the Flatiron collection.  We loved how the top had that rustic wooden door look and that the frame was a black metal. We also loved how it criss-crossed underneath.

Our house has more of a crisp and modern look---and we love the juxtaposition of a more rustic style table in the midst of more contemporary pieces.





We are going to order it this weekend because Restoration Hardware is having their friends and family sale, which means the entire store is 20% off until July 4th.

Onto our drapery hardware. We chose pieces from the Estate collection in silver and crystal. Simple, but the crystal adds a nice touch.



We have really complicated windows...so we shall see how this all turns out. I am crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

As far as drapery, I was totally set on doing linen. Like dead set, nothing will change my mind ever.  Then, in the store, I saw the Thai Silk drapery and it had me at hello.  In my excitement, I even started delusionaly making comments of what a great fabric it would be for a wedding gown (seriously, what's wrong with me that I'm so captivated by drapes!?)

We will likely go with the white (which looks more ivory in person). The optic white may be a little to white...the plain white is a little softer.
Here is a photo of the drapes in a darker shade from the website. They actually look much more beautiful in person:




So now, the real conundrum. Chairs. I thought I knew for sure what I wanted...and then I found some other chairs I loved too. I was, once, again, dead set on linen, tufted dining chairs. Like these, from overstock.com



But then I saw these and liked them a lot too:




 

Thoughts? What do you ladies think would look best with the dining table? I think they would all look good (the last chair pictured would be an end chair only, keep in mind).  I like all of them, they're very similar but also different.

I think the linen chairs will be a nice contrast to the rustic table...I just need to pick some! If you have links to any others you think would work, please let me know. Thanks for all of your comments!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Light Rose

My undying love for the J.Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt is deeper than I ever imagined. In fact, during the extra 30% off sale, I picked up yet another one---this time, in the color "light rose." It's actually more of a bright coral color---and every bit as delightful as my other No. 2s (seriously, I need to start naming them). Let's call this one "Betty."

Meet Betty. She's bright:





Tank- GAP Body; Skirt- J.Crew; Jacket- Talula @ Aritzia;
Shoes- Nine West; Necklace- Banana Republic

Who else was able to snag a No. 2 during the sale!?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Henri Bendel Opens in Houston! My Wishlist

When I found out that a Henri Bendel store was opening in the Houston Galleria, I was pretty excited. I had seen the store before at Northpark Mall when we were in Dallas and I remember thinking how unique the pieces were.

After having seen the store in person, the day after the official grand opening, here are my top picks & wishlist items:


These are so stunning, especially in person, that it took every fiber of my being to just step away...far far away. I hope to get these lovelies for the next special ocassion that comes up...My H joked "Christmas is about 6 months away." LOL.






I absolutely loved the rose gold/tortoise version of this bracelet---I couldn't find it online, but this bright blue one was actually the first one I saw in the store and it is gorgeous.




I love this travel makeup case because of its bold striped pattern and also the super-deep pockets.  I actually gave my Target makeup travel bag to a friend, so I will probably purchase this one for the next time we travel. I like that has the little hanger and that it is plastic-coated so it won't get dirty.





 

I liked this little charm bracelet---the little hat box is an adorable touch and it would like great layered with other bracelets. I also think it would make a cute gift!






 

and finally, there's nothing prettier than a simple bracelet---in rose gold, of course






 
Have you ever shopped at Henri Bendel?
What are your wishlist items? Link them below!

 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Motivation Mondays: Jill's Slimdown

Today’s "Motivation Mondays" features Jill and showcases her incredible weight loss and fitness story!  I know Jill because back in the day, we both used to work at the same tanning salon chain.  We had kept in touch via Facebook and when I saw the incredible before and after pictures she posted on her wall last week (talk about bravery!) I emailed her immediately to ask her if she would share with my readers what she did to lose weight and get fit.   

As with all of my Motivation Monday posts---this is just how one person did it---there are so many ways to get fit and reach your goals---with that said, here is Jill’s story!

Jill is 27 years old, lives in Canada and works as a Group Benefits Customer Care Representative.

Jill's Incredible BEFORE & AFTER
she was170lbs on the left and 145lbs on the right
Congratulations on your incredible weight loss and fitness results!  First, tell us what made you decide to finally start eating well and working out---what made you hit rock bottom?
Hi V!  Thanks for the congratulations.  It's rewarding!  I'll tell you first of all that I've never been a big gym person.  Last summer my doctor prescribed me a medication that made me gain 30lbs instantly.  I got really puffy, bloated, uncomfortable and self conscious.  I joined the gym back in September and saw no results in 6 months...In fact, I gained.  I was starting to believe that either I was doing something wrong or I was just going to continue to grow, no matter what I did to prevent it.  One night I was at the gym and I saw (or I thought I saw!) my friend Dr. Heather Voisin (disclaimer: Voisin is affiliated with the brand ISAGENIX).  It turns out it wasn't her, but I was so excited that I came home and emailed her how I thought I saw her and how excited I was!  Needless to say, she was telling me about this amazing cleanse she was doing to help release some of the unwanted waste from our bodies and that weight loss was one of the perks.  Awesome!  I needed to know more so we set up a date.


How did you decide on what kind of eating and workout plan you were going to commit to?
Dr. Voisin was telling me about the importance of cleansing and there is a reason that traditional diets never work.  Toxins are stored in our fat cells. If we can remove the toxins, we can remove the fat as well. So, I decided to do a 30 day nutritional cleanse with ISAGENIX.  Along with my new cleanse, I was already going to the gym.  I picked up a 4-day-a-week schedule while on the cleanse to kick-start my weight loss.  I was losing approx 4lbs / week in toxic waste from my cells.

Did you gradually start eating better and working out or did you go full force from the start? I went full force into the 30 day cleanse. It is a combination of nutritionally dense meal replacements with healthy snacks and a healthy meal every day.

Tell us about what your weekly workouts look like I do a lot of the stepper and the bicycle.  Alternate days (or lazy days) I do weights.  Sometimes I do a combo of both.  Depends on how I feel.  The odd time I go swimming and I always go for a steam after!!  Usually I go approx 3 times a week and I am usually doing my cardio/cool down for approx 45 - 60 min.

Tell us about what a typical day of eating looks like for you
Breakfast:
I have a shot of this awesome drink called "Ionix Supreme".  This helps start my day off properly and helps with the stress. Next I have a Vanilla shake with a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavour.
Snack: Hardboiled egg, 2 x sliced turkey meat, 2 x non-processed cheddar cheese
Lunch: Another shake for my lunch.
Dinner: I honestly eat whatever I want for dinner.  Mind you, it's not fried or fast food.  I eat normal things like skinless chicken, pasta, veggies etc. but the quantities are small and just enough to make me feel full.
Beverages: I mainly drink water. Coffee with milk.  Sometimes I cheat and drink ginger ale every now and again because I love the carbonation.


What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?
I enjoy eating fruit. I've taken a recent liking to blueberries.  I usually have them in my fridge along with raspberries.  I catch myself eating them when I watch tv instead of chips or cookies. I find cutting the fortified sugars makes me not even crave them.  Instead when I have a sweet tooth, I go for those blueberries!


Were friends and family members supportive of your new healthier lifestyle? My family and friends were very supportive. Some were skeptical because sadly North Americans do not know very much about cleansing. Most if not all other countries do some form of cleansing and we are one of the unhealthiest nations in the world so there has to be a link. Some of my close family members joined the cleanse with me and have been just as successful with their results as mine.  Rewarding!

What advice do you have for a woman who would like to be healthier but lacks the motivation?  What caused you to finally have the drive to succeed?
I think the best advice I could give for someone else would be to make the drastic change right then and there.  Don't make gradual changes because it's easy to fall back into old habits.  You know you need to do something for your health.  Don't start tomorrow.  Start today.  Get the ball going.  It becomes habit.  As much as I didn't want to join the gym, I knew I had to.  Once I started noticing the results, I became driven.  During my cleanse, people were starting to notice the weight come off on a weekly basis.  That's amazing!!!


What can you do now that you weren't able to do before you lost the weight and got fit?
I have never told anyone this, so this is a little uncomfortable for me, but I got to the point where my thighs were so big that I couldn't even cross my legs when sitting down.  I didn't even know that was possible.  Believe it or not, I found that very upsetting.  I can clearly say after I released 25lbs (and still losing!) I can fit into some of my size 4 jeans again (from a size 8-10) and cross my legs :)  The other things I have noticed is that I am not in pain while sitting at my desk job from my stomach hanging over my pants.  I didn't even realize being overweight for my height caused physical discomfort.  What a horrible feeling.  On the benefit, my stamina is higher and my energy levels are greater as opposed to when I wasn't being active.


What are your goals as you continue to pursue a healthier lifestyle? My goals to continue to pursue a healthier lifestyle is to continue to use these ISAGENIX products.  They really are the reason for my success in the weight loss, energy level increase and stamina.  I now help other people reach their goals. I am so thrilled with my results that I want others to feel and look as great as I do!



Jill's weight loss progression:






Other than this incredible accomplishment---what are you most proud of in your life?
Honestly, losing this weight.  I never ever thought I could have gained weight, let alone take it off. I'm still in the process of releasing some more toxins and waste from my system, but I know what it is that I need to do and I have the tools to succeed. Anybody can do this.


What are some of your best "stay on track" tips?
This is something I'm trying to figure out myself right now.  I just told my dad the other day that I think I'm going to try running (which I hate running), but I need to change up my routine and give it a fair shot at trying to melt those pesky pounds that don't come off!  Who knows, maybe I'll turn into a runner?!


If you'd like to learn more about the products Jill used in addition to exercise, please see this linkThank you so much for sharing your story, Jill!  If you have any questions for Jill, please leave them below and I will ask her to come and answer them.


Disclaimer: I am adding this due to the response I've gotten about this post. I want to make it clear that I am not affiliated with Isagenix nor do I advocate for cleanses of any kind, by any brand.  I am sharing one person's experience in using this product as part of a 30-day challenge to get on a better path to health and fitness.  I do not have anything against using a cleanse for a short period of time in combination with eating real, whole foods and working out ---with the ultimate goal of learning to eat healthy and exercise and have a healthier lifestyle overall, for the long run. I do not promote or advocate the long-term use of cleansing products and have never used, and do not plan to use cleansing products of any kind.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Just Peachy- Amazing Salad Recipe from Women's Health Magazine!

Last night I made the best salad ever.  There's a backstory to this so I'll tell it really quickly--- basically, I used to have a salad phobia.  I LOVED eating salads...but I could only eat them at restaurants when they were prepared for me. If I tried to make my own salad, I would feel sick when I tried to eat it and it always tasted awful.  Strange, right?

In the past year, I've been experimenting more and I've made a few salads that I have enjoyed---but none of them were better than the one I made last night.

I discovered it when flipping through my latest issue of Women's Health Magazine (I'm a loyal and loving subscriber) and I was intrigued because the recipe called for peaches, which I absolutely love.  In fact, I've had a salad before at Ruggles Green that has peaches and it was delightful.


After running errands all day, H and I stopped at the grocery store and I bought all of the ingredients I would need to make the ir "Peach Salad with Basil Oil." This recipe is from the July/August 2012 issue of Women's Health Magazine, and I credit the below photo to them as I couldn't find the link to this recipe on their website.




So, here's what you'll need:
  • Baby Arugula
  • Peaches
  • Walnuts
  • Mozarella Cheese
  • Salt
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
Tools:
  • Knife for chopping
  • food processor
  • Mixing spoons or tongs
  • 1 large bowl
  • Measuring cups/spoons



Here's what it looked like, step-by-step:










YUM!  This was one of the best dinners I've had in a long time!


 I hope you'll love this recipe as much as we did! 
What is YOUR favorite salad recipe? Please link it below if you can find it online!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fitness Updates: Thoughts on CrossFit & Workout Updates

A little over a week ago, my husband and I checked out a local CrossFit gym and took an introductory class.  I had been so excited to try it after attending a few fundrasiers at CrossFit gyms and meeting a few people who did it.  I promised I'd post about our expereince on my blog, so below are my thoughts about it.

I'll admit that I started to get a little worried when I read more about the workouts online, but I wanted to check it out myself before forming an opinion. The workouts seemed really hardcore and reading that a lot of military men and women did the workouts was a sure sign that it would be tough.

When we first got there, we had a great instructor tell us more about CrossFit (I had read a lot of the information online before we got there) and he took us through one of the speed tests after showing us correct form (I think it was 500m on the rowing machine, 40 squats, 30 situps, 20 push ups and 10 pull ups).  I felt like I was going to die afterwards. I think it took me 7 mins and 30 sec.

We thought long and hard about whether or not we wanted to join and ultimately we decided that it wasn't for us.  Here are the reasons I decided it wasn't the right choice for me:

I am not in any way interested in powerlifting, olympic lifting or lifting heavy- I'm just not.  I know some women are really into this and I think that's great, but I have no desire to learn to lift a super heavy amount of weight, do power cleans, etc.  I love being strong and fit, but I don't need to lift 70, 80 or 90 lbs over my head to feel strong (again, nothing wrong with that, just not for me).

Paleo diet- I don't want to eliminate dairy and all kinds of other foods out of my diet (including beans!) You don't have to do the diet if you CrossFit, but it is strongly encouraged. My diet motto is that you only live once---so eat well most of the time, but indulge in delicious (but not great for you) foods in moderation. No one ever became obese from eating candy and cookies in moderation.


Cost vs. Value- It would have cost my husband and I nearly $300 a month to attend CrossFit classes just twice a week. We were paying less than that for unlimited bootcamp classes when we were doing those.  CrossFit is the kind of workout that you have to build up to, meaning that at first, it would be difficult to do it more than two times a week...but I think paying nearly $300 a month to get 8 workouts out of it is really excessive. 

Do what you love- I love pilates, bar method and similar style classes---and I've always been a big believer in doing what you love. Plus, I get great results from the classes I take, so I plan to continue those. After watching some more CrossFit WOD videos online, that just confirmed to me that it's not something I want to do.

Planning for the future- The final factor in all of this was that we want to eventually have a baby...and starting an extremely intense workout regimen right now could mess with my body and I don't want that to happen.  When I was working really hard at bootcamp, my cycles were a bit wonky even though I was on the pill.  I actually saw some pregnant women doing a crossfit workout when I was at the class (like full-on doing power cleans in 90+ degree heat) but that's just not for me and the timing isn't right. I feel that level of intensity isn't necessary for me to feel fit.

Again, I think CrossFit is a challenging and incredible workout, and I admire anyone who can do it, but it's just not for everyone.  I think it's a great fit for people who really want a difficult challenge and also for athletes. I know a few people who do it and absolutely love it---and that's great! Maybe I would grow to like it too if I did it for awhile---but I just really had to think about what my goals are and CrossFit just didn't fall into that framework.  Obviously I haven't done a full workout and have not attended CrossFit classes on a regular basis, so please take these thoughts with a grain of salt---I'm just saying that after the trial it's not something I'd move forward with.

By the way, I was sore for like 4 days after that workout.

So, many of you are probably wondering what my fitness plan is, moving forward?  I'm continuing with Bar Method classes once a week and I also joined a local gym that has lots of classes, including spin. The best part is that a few of my co-workers go to that gym so we can all keep eachother movtivated!


I also brought my yoga mats and free weights into my office so that I could do my workout videos in there. I am loving the setup so far. I just bring my laptop in the room with me and either do a YouTube workout or my Tone it Up Beach Babe workout video or Ballet Beautiful workout.

Have you tried CrossFit before?  What are you doing to stay fit this summer?

Friday, June 22, 2012

50 Shades of Purple

Though I never quite had an affinity for Barney, the big purple dinosaur, it certainly didn't keep me from wearing head to toe lilac, with a few touches of gold, for balance, of course.

Why, not, I thought?  This outfit actually kind of reminds me of our sofa pillows!





Shirt- Talula Boyfriend Shirt (Aritzia)
Skirt- J.Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt
Belt- J.Crew Outlet
Necklace- Aldo Accessories
Shoes- Ivanka Trump

(the pillows I mentioned above)


Do you tend to mix colors from the same color family together? I think it can be a fun alternative to contrasting colors.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The White Pant

I don't recall the last time I owned white pants (I returned the ones I got at Zara a couple of months ago because of fit issues) so when a co-worker recommended GAP's modern boot pants to me, I jumped at the chance to buy them at 30% off when GAP was running a promo a few weeks ago.

A word of warning---these stretch like crazy as you wear them.  I got a size 4 Tall---they fit great at the waist/hips but the legs do get baggy throughout the day. I'm going to blast them in the dryer when I wash them and see what happens. I do love the fit overall though and they're a great alternative to black, navy and gray dress pants for summer office wear.


 





Sweater- J.Crew Tippi Linen in "neon rose"
(buy it here, on sale!)
Pants- GAP Modern Boot (buy them here)
Bag- Kate Spade
Wedges- Michael Kors
Necklace- Regina Pierallini


Do you wear white pants in the summer?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All Tucked In

This printed tunic from Zara is one of my most loved blouses of the moment. I love that it's super thin and lightweight because it wears so well under pencil skirts. You may remember that I also wore it tucked into shorts for brunch a couple of weeks ago.


(...and if you don't remember, here's that outfit):


...and here is that same tunic in Monday's outfit






Tunic- Zara; Skirt- J.Crew; Shoes- Nine West "Martina" pump

Do you own a lot of tunics?

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