2013 Thoughts & Happy New Year!

2012 just flew by...I can't believe I have been at my new job almost a year and that so much has changed. I feel happier and more fulfilled than ever before and I hope that will only continue to grow tremendously.

Happy New Year, from LULU!

Something I touched on last year was a resolution I kept and I've seen it do amazing things in my life. That resolution was to be thankful, particularly when it comes to prayer.  When we acknowledge things we are thankful for and thank God for the blessings in our lives, I believe He blesses us even more.  It doesn't mean every day is perfect or that I never pray about things I worry about---but overall, my attitude is one of appreciation and recognition of my blessings. So if you're looking to make any resolutions this year, being more thoughtful about what you're thankful for is one I encourage you to consider.

As 2013 approaches, I find myself having a hard time coming up with resolutions because everything will change so much once the baby comes.  Having said that though, one thing I really want to work on is patience.  Being more patient will come in handy in so many aspects of my life. I'm not sure how to get there---but I am thinking that becoming a parent sort of helps you with your patience because babies are unpredictable and you have to learn to just go with it.

I've started to think too about the direction my blog is going to take once baby arrives.  I will be taking a 12 week maternity leave and then returning to work full time.  I plan to continue blogging, but I know the challenges of being a full time working mom will probably limit how much I can blog, though I do see a lot of moms who make it work beautifully and maybe I can too (only time will tell). If you are a mom who works full time, I would absolutely love to hear some of your best tips for staying organized and making a daily routine.

I also know that my blog will evolve into including posts about baby, motherhood, etc.  I will still post about products I love, home decor projects and outfits, but I know that I will also include baby updates, a nursery tour, favorite baby products, etc.  Personally, I love reading mommy blogs, especially when I can follow one of my favorite style bloggers as she becomes a mother, but I know that's not for everyone and I definitely understand if you just come here for the outfits or product reviews.

It will be interesting to see how my style evolves when I become a mother---or maybe it won't much at all since I'm returning to work? Either way, I can't wait to embark on that style journey.

I'm not making a formal list of resolutions this year. I think I have a lot of change coming my way already and that will be more than enough for me to handle.

I wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year and may 2013 bring you all of the blessings you hope for.

Speaking of awesome momma bloggers, here are some of my favorite stylish mommas:

If you have a blog about your family or would like to recommend one of your favorites, please link it in the comments below!

Pregnancy Outfits from the Last Few Weeks

I have totally neglected taking outfit photos like I used to. When I do have extra time in the morning before I leave for work, I find myself sitting down to watch the Today Show instead of snapping outfit shots.

I also couldn't do outfit shots for awhile (in the morning or at night) because it was really dark outside and I didn't have the natural light I needed to produce decent quality photos.  BUT, I have taken iPhone snaps of what I've been wearing lately so I'll share some of those with y'all :)  Sorry for the messy background in some of the photos.

Target top, F21 Necklace, Express pants, Zara Shoes

WHBM jacket, Ann Taylor skirt

Banana Republic Dress, F21 necklace

Artizia Blazer, J.Crew blouse, GAP maternity really skinny pants, Tory Burch Reva flats

Old Navy top, F21 necklace, Express pants

F21 blouse, GAP modern boot maternity pants, Stella & Dot necklace c/o, Zara coat

LOFT jacket, Target blouse, Express pants

F21 necklace, Artizia shirt, Express pants

Nordstrom top, Express blazer, GAP really skinny maternity pants, Tory Burch Reva flats

Express cardigan, GAP shirt, Express pants, F21 necklace

Banana republic dress, Charming Charlie scarf, J.Crew belt, Zara coat

J.Crew top, Express pants, Stella & Dot necklace c/o

As you can see, I am wearing pants a lot, mostly because they are more comfortable in the cold weather than wearing tights. I have about 2 pairs of tights that don't have the control top and are comfortable but I just find myself drawn to pants more lately.  

I am looking forward to my bump growing and showing more in photos so that I can style more pregnancy outfits.

Thanks for reading :)

It's a...


Can you believe it?! No one is more surprised than I am.  My husband has said from the start that we would have a girl and I was convinced baby was a boy (so much so that I didn't even look at girl clothes or anything girly during my pregnancy thus far). My reasoning? I am so girly, I must be having a boy.  I don't know why I felt that, but I did. 

The ballon aftermath, the next morning. We got these so when Kevin's 
parents came up our stairs it was the first thing they saw!

At our original elective ultrasound at 17 weeks, 3 days, baby's cord was between its legs the entire time so the tech could not tell us the sex.  We had planned to tell our family and closest friends at Christmas, but of course we were okay with waiting a few days until baby was ready. 

We went back on December 26th and this time, the moment she started the u/s, baby was in a perfect position and she said "I'm thinking girl..." as she continued to look at the screen and my husband lightly gasped a little and looked at me and I just was stunned (I think he basically had my reaction on my behalf). I kept saying, "no, I think there is a penis there, are you sure you don't see one?" The tech probably thinks I'm crazy, haha.  She kept looking, but we had a very clear potty shot---the only thing between the legs were those three white lines that indicate a girl. 

To humor me, she kept the u/s on so I could continue to see there were no boy parts.  We were thrilled (we would have been thrilled either way) but I'll admit I was still wondering after we left if it was really a girl.

I have always wanted at least one daughter and for some reason, I wasn't sure I'd ever have one.  I guess that's why it took me some time to really believe it.  Our anatomy scan is in a couple of weeks and I am going to ask them to reconfirm there as well, you know, just for fun (because obviously that scan is given for a much more important reason than finding out the sex of your baby).

So, if anything changes between now and my 20 week scan, I'll go buy some different color balloons, but for now, we are thrilled to welcome our daughter in May! We're feeling very blessed as we are about to enter the new year and we continue to pray for a healthy and happy baby. 

Thank you to everyone who has shown so much support throughout this pregnancy so far!  I really appreciate all of your comments and advice :)

Daddy to be!

Mary Kay Skincare & Makeup Reviews & Giveaway!

I remember getting Mary Kay catalogs in the mail when I was younger. As I grew up and became interested in beauty and skincare products, I'll admit I never really thought about Mary Kay. It just wasn't on my radar anymore (out of sight, out of mind, I suppose).

(the latest Mary Kay catalog)
Through BlogHer, I was able to get reintroduced to the brand by testing out a bunch of products from their makeup and skincare lines. I'm excited to share with you all of the products I got -- and also tell you which ones stood out to me and are worth investing in.
I'll start with the best products, because of course you'll want to read all about those first.
My absolute favorite makeup product from the line is the Lash Love waterproof mascara. To be honest with you, I was actually shocked that I loved it so much. If you've read my blog for a long time then you'll know I am extremely picky about my mascaras (let's just tell it how it is: I'm a total mascara snob). I tend to stick to one mascara because all others are deemed inferior. The brush on the Lash Love mascara is not what I'm used to, but for some reason, it enables me to achieve both length and volume at the same time. This mascara is very easy to use on my bottom lashes, which I appreciate when I'm in a hurry (typically I use a separate bottom-lash mascara). I like to use this both on its own and layered with other mascaras. The other product you see in the photo above is the lash primer. I would say the Lash Love mascara is the must-try of the two. The mascara's suggested retail price is $15 and you can find it at Mary Kay.com.
My next favorite product is the TimeWise® Microdermabrasion Refine step, the suggested retail price for which is $30.
The reason I love it is because the grit feels just like the crystals in microdermabrasion scrubs that you get in spa treatments. It's that superfine grit that's hard to come by in drugstore formulas---it feels gentle yet effective on the skin. Your skin feels super soft and smooth after using it. I recommend using it about once a week (sometimes I use it twice a week if my skin is particularly flaky).
The second product shown is a post-microdermbrasion serum, called Replenish, which I've tested out a couple of times, but due to my acne regimen I've been careful about which leave-on products I'm using on my skin.
My third favorite product from the line will come as no surprise to you --- it's the TimeWise® Repair Eye Renewal Cream. I don't think I've ever met an eye cream I didn't like. As you know, I'm pretty passionate about being proactive when it comes to preventing fine lines and have been using eye cream since I was 25 or so. I like this cream because it has a nice thick consistency and moisturizes. It also doesn't have a strong (or even noticeable) smell, which is great.
(on my bathroom countertop)
Now onto the makeup products. I have to admit I wasn't as excited about these as the skincare products, mostly because the shades aren't ones I'd typically wear, but I will note a few of them that stood out to me as favorites.
These NouriShine Plus™ Lip Glosses are pigmented and long lasting. As you can see, the two reds are a little bold for my day-to-day look, however, the CafĂ© Au Lait color surprised me with how pretty it was on my lips. I've been applying it in the morning before work, and I top it with a quick pop of peachy/pink gloss for a nude/peach lip that works perfectly for the office.
I really wish they would have sent me pink colors versus the red/nude shades because I can see myself wearing the glosses all the time had they arrived in colors I typically wear. In particular, I can see myself loving the gloss in Pink Parfait and Pink Sateen.

Next up were these eye shadows---I will note that the blue one in particular was not very pigmented. The black/silver and the plum color were pretty. I wouldn't wear eyeshadow like this for the daytime, but it might be fun to use the plum color to line my lower lash line for evening. Overall I'd say that these are just okay---not a must have but if you are really into smokey, shimmery eyes, they would be fun to try out.
Lastly, I tested out one of the blushes from the collection -- and ladies -- I loved this gorgeous peachy/pink with a subtle shimmer.
(this compact is completely customizable---which is great for travel or if you like to change up your look a lot)
(the shimmery formula is mineral-based so it applies evenly and stays put!)
Have you tried Mary Kay products before? Which ones are your favorite? Let me know --and before you go, don't forget to enter the Mary Kay giveaway. You can have an opportunity to win a Mary Kay gift basket, courtesy of BlogHer!
Here are the rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 19 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 12/17/12-12/31/12.

Be sure to visit the Mary Kay page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more opportunities to win!

I was provided with Mary Kay products to use and review, and was compensated for this post, however all opinions are my own.

Good luck and thank you for entering!

Pregnancy Skin Care: My Updated Skincare Routine

Before we started trying to conceive, I stopped taking antibiotics for my acne (I had only used them for about 2 months or a little less---you can read about that here). I was still using the Proactiv Refining Mask as a spot treatment, but about 2 weeks after I got my positive OPK read, I stopped using topicals too, "just in case." 

The first month and a half or so of my pregnancy, my skin was pretty incredible. It was more oily, but it was also very clear. I did still struggle with blackheads, but my acne was gone.  I'm still not sure if it was due to a surge in hormones or if my antibiotics had wiped it all out and kept it from coming back for a couple of months.

After the initial six weeks or so of pretty great skin, I did start to experience some breakouts, but they were different than the cystic acne I used to have. I still break out, mostly on my chin and jaw, but they are not as cystic/under the skin and painful as they used to be (although I will get an under the skin one occasionally).  The acne on my back also went away which I was thrilled about---though I have gotten a few pimples on my chest randomly since being pregnant.

For the first couple of months my skincare routine was incredibly simple: I used my La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser (it doesn't contain salicylic acid or other no-no ingredients) and then applied my Neutrogena sensitive skin moisturizer on top.  That's it. At night, I had the same routine only I added eye cream (I was using Kiehl's).

Recently I ordered products from the Belli skincare line.  The line was created by a doctor and made with pregnancy-safe ingredients so I didn't have to stress about what I was using on my skin and could still use a spot treatment. I purchased the facial scrub, eye cream, spot treatment and belly oil.  So here's what my skincare routine looks like now.

  • Wash face with LRP Effaclar cleanser
  • Apply Neutrogena sensitive skin moisturizer
  • Apply Mamma Mio Tummy Rub (if I remember!)

Night (before bed):
  • Wash face with LRP Effaclar cleanser (with Clarisonic Mia)
  • A few times a week use the Belli scrub on my face
  • Apply Neutrogena sensitive skin moisturizer
  • Apply Belli eye cream
  • Apply Belli spot treatment if needed (usually just areas on my chin/jaw-this product is very drying so apply lightly)
  • Apply Belli elasticity belly oil

So, as you can see, my skincare routine is pretty simple these days. I am happy with it though. One odd thing I've noticed is that my forehead is a little bumpy sometimes, texture wise. It's like little tiny bumps but it's not excessive so most days I don't notice it much.  I also noticed more recently, between about 16-18 weeks of pregnancy that my jaw and chin areas are experiencing more blackheads and pimples than before. I usually can't resist extracting them which I know isn't good.

I didn't really know how pregnancy would affect my skin.  I would say my skin is just slightly worse now than how it was when I was on the pill-and it's slightly more oily. My dermatologist once told me that if your skin looks good on birth control, it will probably react similarly during pregnancy.  In my case, that appears to hold somewhat true.

How was your skin during pregnancy and how did your skincare routine change? Leave me a comment below, I love to hear your advice and experiences!

17 weeks!

I figured I'd start this weekly update with an outfit post! These were taken at 17 weeks, 5 days pregnant.

Blazer- Aritzia (similar, similar)
Blouse- J.Crew (similar, love this option too)
Pants- GAP really skinny maternity pants (buy here)
Shoes- Kate Spade (similar)
Necklace- c/o Stella & Dot (love this one)
Bag- LV Neverfull GM

How far along? 17 weeks (I do these a week behind as a recap, so I'm actually 18 weeks today)

Total weight gain/loss: At my last appointment I had gained 4lbs, but when I weighed myself at my in laws, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight so it looks like it is still fluctuating.

Maternity clothes? I bought some dress pants and black skinny pants at GAP maternity for 50% off. I also got three long sleeved v-neck tops there. I don't need them yet but everything was so inexpensive that I decided to go for it. I wore the black skinny pants to work on the 24th and they were great---but they really stretched out as I wore them so I am going to have to try and shrink them a bit.  Word to the wise, size down a size or two from your normal size in GAP maternity. That's what I did and I still find the skinny pants got baggy. I will report back on the GAP modern boot dress pants as well.

Stretch marks? Not yet (still using Belli's Elasticity Belly Oil at night and Mamma Mio Tummy Rub during the day). 

Symptoms:  Nothing new from past weeks.  I am feeling pretty good.

Sleep: Still using my Snoogle and have been sleeping well. Sleeping on my left side is becoming easier.

Best moment this week: 
Getting to see the baby at our elective u/s.  We went to find out the baby's sex before Christmas, but baby's cord was between its legs the entire time. No biggie!  We will find out when baby is good and ready :)

Have you told family and friends: Yes!

Miss Anything? Not really.

Movement: I continue to feel those popcorn popping sensations in the evening.  Sometimes it's several pops in a row and sometimes just once or twice. I can't wait to feel movement more consistently!

Food cravings: I'm not sure if I'm having cravings versus just liking things. I haven't had a moment this week where I just HAD TO have something. One thing I have been loving lately are egg McMuffins and breakfast burritos. Maybe my body is asking for the protein from the eggs! I'm also loving these iced gingerbread cookies that come out around the holidays...but I'm obsessed with them every year!

Anything making you queasy or sick: I sometimes hate the idea of eating chicken. I hate plain chicken right now---it has to be stuffed or have some kind of sauce or be chicken salad. Plain, grilled chicken is a no-go for me lately.

Have you started to show yet:  My stomach continues to fluctuate in size. I totally thought I finally popped...and then one day I woke up and my belly was smaller than it was two weeks prior.  It looks like it will just take some time for this belly to pop.

Gender prediction: We hope to find out whenever baby is ready to show us!

Belly Button in or out? In, but it's starting to look less deep than it used to.

Wedding rings on or off? On

Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy!

Looking forward to: Hitting the 20 week mark. I can't believe I'll be halfway through the pregnancy in just two weeks. Our anatomy scan is the second week of January and we are praying for a healthy baby.

Thank you for reading and for all of my pregnant readers, please feel free to check in below as well and let me know how your pregnancy is going :) I also welcome everyone's advice and comments about pregnancy!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my lovely readers!  We are currently enjoying some pie while unwinding from all of the festivities.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday!

Bar Method Houston---Holiday Giveaway & Interview with Studio Owner!

This post has been such a long time coming and I am thrilled to share it with you today. If you're been following my blog for awhile, you'll know that I was one of the first students in Houston to participate in Bar Method classes---back when the studio owner, Rachel, was hosting weekly classes in her home to prepare for the studio opening.

I felt so privileged to have been part of that first group and Rachel is even lending me the Bar Method DVD so I can learn all of the modifications I will need for pregnancy and be able to return to class soon, now that my OBGYN has cleared it.

I asked Rachel about what inspired her to open her own Bar Method studio---and she's also generously offering a special promo to my readers---read below for more details---and if you're in Houston, maybe I'll even see you in class!

Rachel Good - the Bar Method Houston Studio Owner 

When did you first learn about The Bar Method/take your first class?
I was living in LA at the time and went to Chicago for work in 2008.  I stayed with a friend who insisted that I try this bar workout with her while I was in town.  She and I worked out together a lot when i lived in Chicago, so I didn't even hesitate to say yes.  She explained that she wasn't going to tell me anything about the class except it was challenging and there was a ballet bar in room.   I remember that first class being the most challenging thing I had done in my life....and I couldn't quit giggling at myself and how bad my legs were shaking. No matter how many times I said to myself to stop shaking, I couldn't!!  Once I got back to LA I discovered there was a bar method 3 miles from my front door.  I tried the 30 day new client special, and I was addicted from that point forward.

What inspired you to want to open your own studio?
I took class literally up until my last day in California.  As I was leaving, I asked one of the teachers if they knew of any studios in TX.  She was excited to report one opening in Dallas.  When i told her I was moving to Houston, she casually suggested that I open a studio there. When I returned home to Houston, I was staying in shape by running and doing the Bar Method dvd's.  And though the dvd's are challenging, it's nothing like being in a classroom. After being back for two months I quickly realized that Houston was ready for the Bar Method and I was going to give it to them!!

Tell us about the certification process.
The certification process to become an instructor is just that, A PROCESS!!  First you attend a training that consists of 6-7 hours of classroom time a day for seven days and that's either in San Francisco or any studio in other cities that is hosting a training.  The classes include learning from an extremely large manual that teaches you the setups, hands on training and anatomy lessons.  Once you return to your home studio, you immediately start to apply what you learned by teaching community classes. You are then evaluated by headquarters and must teach an entire class and pass within 6 months of your 7 day training.  You have to be motivated and dedicated as the process is all about how hard you are willing to work.

What was it like running a mini studio from your home?
The studio in my living room seems like such a long time ago!!  I was teaching classes in my house for over a year.  And everyday I had to move my furniture from my living room to the kitchen...so exhausting!  But, it was fun to have these small classes and really get to know a handful of individuals who came to class week in and week out.  My teachers and I gained a great deal of knowledge and the flexibility to practice when we wanted was also nice. To say I miss those days would be silly, but we made some life long friends/students and it was a necessary step to get me where I am today.

What was the most exciting part of designing your Bar Method studio?
The most exciting part of designing the studio was picking out my colors and figuring out a way to bring my personality into it, while maintaining the feel of every Bar Method studio you would walk into across the country.  I love the clean look of modern, but I also adore the idea of repurposing something old and making it new again.  I think you can see how I brought the old vs new together right when you walk into my reception area. The Tiffany blue and gray color scheme is modern, fresh and relaxing. There are lots of modern accessories surrounding my reclaimed wood front desk and chic distressed retail piece.  My studio turned out better than I imagined....which is fantastic considering how much time I spend there.

Why is the Bar Method such an effective workout?/What changes have you seen in your own body?
The Bar Method is a one-hour total body workout comprised of muscle strengthening and stretching techniques partially performed at the ballet barre, strategically choreographed and executed to music. The system is designed to create a uniquely lean, firm, sculpted body by combining the muscle-shaping principles of isometrics, the body-elongating practice of ballet dance conditioning, the science  of physical therapy, and the intense pace of interval training.  From my own personal experience, the biggest change I have seen is an increase in muscle tone, I have great posture without even thinking about it AND I have carved abs....which I never thought I would have in my thirties.

What do you love most about teaching?
What I love most about teaching is getting to know the students, pushing them through some incredibly hard exercises and helping them celebrate their achievements.

Can you do Bar Method during pregnancy? 
Yes you absolutely can do Bar Method during pregnancy!! The Bar Method worked with a team of OBGYN's  to develop pregnancy guidelines and modifications. We believe it is important to remember that in a normal,  healthy pregnant women, exercise is the best way to achieve a successful pregnancy and avoid the blues in the postpartum period. Pregnancy is not a sickness and we should empower women to feel strong and in charge of their bodies during pregnancy.

What is the most rewarding part of achieving your goal of opening your studio?
On a personal level, the feeling of accomplishment after months of hard work is something I can't even put into words.  Most rewarding of all though is becoming a part of the Houston community and working to change peoples lives.  Aside from great classes from some amazing teachers, in the very near future, I want to offer students goal coaching and nutrition seminars in hopes of giving them a total life enhancing experience. 

The early bird special is running right now (until Dec 31st) which is 40 days for 100$.  All Veronika's Blushing readers will get 10% off of this special! What better gift is there to yourself this holiday season than to get 40 days of fitness and one of the best workouts I've ever done.  It's also the perfect way to start the new year---ladies, when I was doing Bar Method classes my body was toned and tight and strong---you will not regret it!

The code is:  VSBLUSHING12  visit http://houston-montrose.barmethod.com to buy your package!

You can also purchase a special after the the new year---the new client special is generally 30 days for 100$.

Rachel is also generously giving away one week of unlimited classes---a $110 value to ONE of my lucky readers. Please only enter if you are in Houston and can attend classes in the studio located at: 503 Westheimer Rd, Houston TX 77006.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for entering and if you decide to start taking classes---please let me know how much you love them (because, you will) on my blog or Facebook page!  You can visit the Bar Method Houston at: http://houston-montrose.barmethod.com
FTC: I am not being compensated for this post. I took Bar Method classes with Rachel and they are phenomenal so I am sharing my experience.
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