Neon for Brunch

The weather in Houston continues to be what can only be described as "scorching hot." It was so hot this past Sunday that I nearly couldn't drink my coffee while we were at brunch.  We went to Tiny Boxwoods because my H had never been.

My first experience there was excellent---the line was long but things moved quickly. This time around, it was a disaster.  We waited in line for about 45 minutes just to order and without caffeine in my system, every little thing was bothering me. Like that the coffee ran out just as I just as I was filling my cup and that people were putting their purses on chairs when the restaurant was packed.  If the food wasn't so incredible and the atmosphere wasn't so pretty, I don't think I'd go back.  I had the ham and cheese kolache and a banana and nutella muffin. It was delicious.

(clearly taken after I had some coffee, hence the smile)

Thankfully, my neon pink dress was a stark contrast to the mood I was in that morning (I get pretty cranky without some caffeine in my system).

Sandals- Steve Madden
Neckace- Regina Pierallini (similar, love this!)
Hat- Ann Taylor outlet (similar; similar)

Houston ladies--what are your favorite brunch places!?

Motivation Mondays: Define Revolution Spin Class & Erin Stewart Shares Her Favorite Summer Recipes & Nutrition Tips

If you watched my workout DVD review video on my YouTube channel over the weekend, you’ll know that fitness is a huge priority for me right now. So much so that I’ve started to work with a personal trainer again to get back into tip top shape.

One of my struggles has always been getting cardio into my workouts. I love weight lifting and toning workouts but never enjoyed running, the elliptical or pretty much anything else cardio related.

When I was invited to try out Define Studio’s new Define Revolution class at their West U location, I was excited but also nervous because I hadn’t taken a spin class in years. This past May, I purchased an unlimited month long package at Define (River Oaks location) and took barre classes about five days a week so I was familiar with the studio but not with the Revolution classes which are exclusive to the West U location.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to class last Wednesday but all I can say is that once the class was over, I felt like I had literally bathed in my own sweat because the workout was that intense.  I forgot how it felt to sweat THAT hard during a workout. Of course I sweat when I do my weight training because I do incorporate cardio elements..but this was a whole new level of sweat (ie: I could only take this class on the nights before I wash my hair because there is no way you can skip washing it after this class). 

Here’s what I loved about the class:
  • The room---it’s super dark and has these really pretty lanterns lit. I loved that the workout was almost in the dark---I could see the instructor but it was dark enough to where it really created a great vibe. It felt relaxing and you almost felt more secure because you didn’t have to worry about catching a glimpse of your sweaty-self in the mirrors.
  • The music was awesome
  • The instructor Erin, was motivational and high energy
  • The workout was challenging---as a spinning newbie, I couldn’t put my resistance up as much as some people could but I still got an incredible workout.
The only downside to Define’s West U location is parking, but there is a lot across the street you can use (I got there early and was able to park in the main lot).

I asked Erin from Define if she should share some of her best nutrition tips with my readers and she happily obliged.  Here is a little more information about Erin so you know about her background:

Erin O’ Leary Stewart is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. She has spent time working in the raw food and vegan kitchen at Pure Food and Wine and owned and operated her own healthy cookie and granola company, O’Cookies Wholesome Bites. As DEFINEfoods Head Chef, Erin brings this expertise to DEFINE West University by providing food education and health-supportive cooking classes to further balance healthy lifestyles.

Tell us what you do at Define and how you got started with barre-based workouts.
I am currently a Lead Instructor and Teacher/Trainer for DEFINEbody and DEFINErevolution. I earned a BFA in Dance Performance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas where I also studied kinesiology and spent the subsequent eight years dancing professionally throughout the greater New York area. A desire to stay in shape throughout audition seasons led me to a fitness class inspired by former accomplished ballet dancer Lotte Berk, called Physique 57, where I spent several years as an instructor, before moving here to Houston and discovering DEFINE.

What are some healthy snacks every woman should pack to make good food choices during the workweek?
My 'on-the-go' snacks are Larabars, Justin's Nut Butter packs with an apple or banana, and raw walnuts or almonds.

What are a few of your favorite healthy summer recipes?
My favorite recipes these days take advantage of all of the fresh summer produce (tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peaches, etc.). Here are a few of my latest recipes:

How important is nutrition in regards to your overall health and fitness plan?
Physical fitness can only take you to a certain point. For overall health, nutrition starts at the home. What you eat is just as important as any physical movement you give yourself. Your food choices can affect both your mind and your body, and can fully determine how you feel throughout your day.

If you wake up and reach for the big coffee and sugary muffin, you will most likely crash come mid-afternoon, which could then lead to more poor choices in order to keep going. Instead, have a bowl of grounding oatmeal or grains with goji berries and pure maple syrup with green tea. The low-glycemic sweeteners and antioxidants from the goji berries and green tea will help to keep a steady energy and a clear mind.

Having a disciplined outlook on eating, versus a controlled outlook, can make all of the difference as well. If you're truly craving that sugary muffin, there is no need to deprive yourself. Instead, have your muffin this time and have the oatmeal bowl the next. As long as you wake up every morning with the intentions to be the very best person that you can be, knowing that you will probably make some mistakes along the way, you will lead a long, healthy and sustainable life.

How can busy women, moms and wives make healthy eating a priority? What are some tips and tricks to help us stay on track?All it takes is a little bit of prep. Head to your local farmer's market weekly and prep your veggies ahead of time. Sundays and Mondays are my days to lie out meal plans for the week. I'll wash veggies and cut up fruit to have in the fridge ready to go. A big key is to roast off veggies in the oven and make a big pot of quinoa or rice at the start of the week. This makes throwing together one-skillet dinners so quick and easy because you've done the step that takes the longest ahead of time.

Any other tips and tricks to add?     
I never make just enough for one meal. All sauces and dressings that I prep for a dish, I will make enough to keep in the fridge to use throughout the week with other dishes. Trust me, you won't be able to get enough of my tahini dressing (from the Roasted Eggplant & Chickpea Quinoa Skillet recipe)! It goes well on everything from green salads to veggie stir-fries to freshly baked whole grain toast.

I have asked Erin to become a regular contributor on my blog so I'm going to have her answer a couple of questions each month or two related to diet and nutrition so we can all learn to live a healthier lifestyle.  If you have any questions, please leave them below and thank you Erin for motivating us this Monday! You can learn more about Define classes at:  Thank you Erin for motivating us this Monday!

Minty Saturday

When it's over 100 degrees outside, clothing options are limited. H and I were running errands on Saturday and I wanted to wear something comfortable that would also keep me cool.  So I went for a mint chocolate chip look with a little leopard thrown in, for good measure.

Tank- Banana Republic (love this; also LOVE this, and this)
Shorts- Buckle (similar; under $40 )
Sandals- Steve Madden (similar; another cute black pair; super cute!)
Necklace- Regina Pierallini (buy it here)
Bracelet- Tiffany & Co.
Belt- Express (buy it here)

What do you wear when it's 100 degrees outside?

Re-Styling a "Memorable" Dress

Sometimes when a dress really makes a statement (like my yellow lace Lucille dress from J.Crew), you tend not to want to wear it as often because it's so "memorable." 

I think they key is to have fun with the piece, everytime adding one or two different elements. This time, I switched out the fabric belt the dress came with to this hot pink belt that I got at the J.Crew outlet last summer. I also later added the navy blue cardigan. It's about making little tweaks that make the piece feel fresh.

Dress- Presley Skye at Nordstrom
buy it here; more gorgeous Presley Skye dresses here; here and here)
Shoes- Ivanka Trump (
buy them here!)
Belt- J.Crew (
buy it here)
Sunnies- Chanel (love these, too!)

How do you re-style a "memorable" dress?  Share your ideas below!

Acne Update: Dermatologist Visit & Current Skincare Routine

When you have hormonal acne, it's like your skin is bi-polar. One week, your skin looks pretty fantastic other than some minor uneveness and some blackheads. The next, it's like your chin just decided to have a party and invite some of its cyst friends over for drinks....and instead of going home, those cysts pass out on the couch and the next morning, you're rubbing your eyes in a hazy fog wondering WHAT IS THAT ON MY FACE? and WHY HAS IT MIGRATED TO MY BACK!? (seriously, bacne in the summertime, so not ideal).

Hormonal acne is a whole new beast. That's why when I saw my dermatologist two weeks ago, I inquired about getting on a treatment plan for my acne. My dermatologist agreed and put me on some meds and topicals for my acne.

Here's a breakdown of my new skincare routine:


  • I am taking one pill a day of Minocycline, a broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic. Please consult your physician before starting any new medication, I am not suggesting or recommending that you use this medication, this is just what I'm on.
So far, this drug has helped with my facial/hormonal acne but my bacne has not improved whatsoever. I do not want to be on the drug longterm. I will probably be on it for another month.

For facial cleansing I am using:
  • La Roche Posay Effaclar A.I. gel cleanser (buy it here)
  • Neutrogena Acne Stress Control gel cleanser (buy it here)
  • Clarisonic Mia face brush- on my chin area primarily, also on my nose for blackheads (buy it here, in PINK!)

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m giving my Clarisonic a second chance. I read my friend Meg’s post about how her Clarisonic helped her hormonal acne so I started to use mine again in hopes that it would help me too. As I mentioned earlier, my skin is bi-polar. I will sometimes have 2-3 weeks of skin that is incredibly clear. So much so that my jaw nearly dropped when someone told me I had “beautiful skin” when I was wearing just a tiny bit of powder to a workout class last weekend. It’s like I cannot believe that someone would say that to me because I know what’s coming…eruptions. Massive, painful, deep-rooted, large cysts. I have to say that the combination of using the Clarisonic (I focus on my chin, jaw and nose) and applying the topical cream to my chin and jaw area has made me seen a significant improvement in pore size and frequency of breakouts. I also notice they seem to heal faster. Obviously the antibiotics are also helping, but the topicals seem to yield good results as well.

For topical facial acne treatment I am using:

  • 1% clindamycin phosphate gel on my chin and jaw area only- I only apply this in the area it is needed. I don't believe in treating unaffected areas of the skin.
  • Proactiv refining mask overnight preventatively and layered over the gel (buy it here)
  • Mario Badescu Healing Cream- on flaking/peeling/healing breakouts only, as needed (buy it here)

For back cleansing and treatment I am using:
  • Panoxyl 10% Benzyol peroxide wash--- I use this in the shower on my back---it's the highest amount of BP you can get without a prescription and came highly recommended by my dermatologist. I have mixed feelings because my bacne is very persistant and new breakouts seem to crop up daily.  I'll just be honest and admit that I'm glad it's not my face. I hate having bacne but at least I can cover it up with clothing.
  • Clindamycin phosphate 1% foam, applied to back, nightly

If anyone has better recommendations for acne on the back or acne in general, especially what worked for your hormonal or cystic acne, please share them in the comments below! Thank you for reading,

What I've Been Wearing: Workout & Gym Edition

I've been keeping up pretty well with my weekly workouts lately, exercising about 4 days a week.  That includes gym workouts, home workouts and my once-a-week Bar Method class.

Right now my goal is to heighten the intensity of my workouts because I realized that I wasn't in the shape I want to be in when I got a free workout with a trainer as part of my new gym membership. He worked me out for about 20 minutes on Sunday and it's Tuesday night and I can hardly walk. I've tried foam rolling, walking, pain meds, muscle creams, etc. My inner thighs and quads are especially sore. So yeah, I need to step it up and work out at a higher intensity than I have been to build up my strength again. I may even work with a trainer again to rebuild some of that strength more effectively.

Another thing I am trying to motivate myself to do is to detox from sugar. I don't mean never eat sugar again, but I need to gain control of how much I consume (cookies, candy, sweets, etc.)  I have read numerous studies about how horrible excessive sugar is for your body and how sugar gives your brain the same "high" that drug addicts get.  It's just scary to feel how much power it has over me and how intense the cravings are. It almost feels like I need a "sugar fix" or I "don't feel right." Does anyone have any tips for how to wean off of eating excess sugars? I have done some research online and am curious to see if my readers can relate or if you all have any tips?

I thought it would be fun to show some of my workout outfits since it's been requested numerous times that I share them.  Here are some from the last couple of weeks (all clothing is Lululemon, except for the green off the shoulder top in the last photo which is from Target).

Clearly, I'm a Lululemon addict---speaking of which, if you don't already know about it, there is a Lululemon addict blog that shows what's in stores each week and readers can submit photos of themselves trying on the clothes---which is very helpful if you don't have a store near you and have to order online. Check it out here:

What are your favorite clothes to wear to work out? I love Lululemon because the clothes are incredibly durable, stylish and functional.  I have items from the store that I still wear, 7 years later!

PS: My running shoes are by Saucony and my flip flops are by Steve Madden (with bows) and Reef (gold).

At the gym and at home, I wear my hair up in a ballerina bun or ponytail when I work out, but I don't put it up usually until I get there, that's why my hair is down in these photos, because I know someone will ask ;)

Pleats, Please

Today I wore my Banana Republic accordian pleat skirt and it continues to be one of my favorite new pieces.  You can see how I styled it previously in my Banana Republic Desk to Dinner post.

Even though it is more of an A-line shape, it wears just as well as a classic pencil skirt and is just as versatile.  Fuller skirts with pleating also have a sort of feminine and flirty feeling to them and they're a nice option if you're looking to step outside of the pencil skirt box.

Skirt- Banana Republic (buy it here!
this one fits large so size down, mine is a small & I could have gotten XS)
Shoes- Nine West (buy them here)
Top- Target (similar; another option
Belt- Express (buy it here; similar)
Blazer- Artizia (similar)
Necklace- Stella & Dot "ever after" necklace, c/o

Have a great night everyone!

Black on Black

I don't know what got into me this morning. Maybe it's the fact that I saw a personal trainer at my new gym on Sunday and realized that I am not as in shape as I thought I was (and can barely walk today)....and maybe it's that I need to curb my sugar addiction... or maybe it's because it was gloomy out...but I decided to wear all black. GASP! It's like I'm taking this blog back to 2009.

It's nice to switch it up sometimes though and I can never quite get enough of a great polka-dot top.

Top- Club Monaco (old, another option; and another)
Skirt- J.Crew (
buy it here)
Necklace- Forever 21 (old,
similar; another option)
Shoes- Zara

Do you wear black in the summertime? Let me know in the comments below!

PSSSTTT- Houston Gals & Brides to Be---You're Invited!

Shorts That Go the Distance

My bright purple J.Crew chino shorts are arguably one of my best summer purchases. They're comfy, versatile and fun.  So fun, that I seem to live in them on weekends.  Today was no exception. I met with Magen, Monica and Mishelle (whoa, that's a whole lotta "Ms") for brunch at Tiny Boxwoods. If you haven't been there, it's amazing! I had the chipotle steak salad and their cinnamon coffee is to die for. I plan to sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee forever now. Also, the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. Rustic meets glam meets urban garden. It truly feels like an escape from the city with it's perfectly manicured gardens and wicker chairs. Sigh. I just want to hang out there for hours (we kind of did, haha).

I chose my trusty Zara tunic to pair with my shorts, and I sweat right through that darn blouse, but it looked pretty cute. I think I would have sweat no matter what I wore though, it was THAT hot and humid here today. I was wearing workout clothes as I ran errands later in the day and the sweating continued. Ick.

Tunic- Zara (similar, similar)
Shorts- J.Crew (
buy them here)
Wedges- Ivanka Trump (buy them here
they are incredibly comfortable & go w/everything!)
Bag- Kate Spade (in coral)

How did you spend YOUR Sunday!?  If you're in Houston, have you been to Tiny Boxwoods?

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