I tried it- Clear and Brilliant laser resurfacing

Although I’ve been lucky to skate through 30 with just minimal signs of my age, I am noticing things beginning to creep up. A lifetime of oily skin has left me with noticeable pores, marks from old breakouts and uneven pigmentation. Thankfully, significant wrinkles aren’t something that have plagued me quite yet, so I haven’t been looking to take drastic action. Wearing face makeup every day is a hassle, and I was hoping to find something that let me wear less, or none at all.

Any time we start looking at cosmetic solutions, the trade off for dramatic results is generally cost and downtime. Neither of which were a luxury I could afford, so Clear and Brilliant treatments really appealed to me.

So what are they?

Clear + Brilliant treatments are a step above a chemical peel, and a step below heavier resurfacing lasers like Fraxel. Instead of 1-3 treatments that leave you out of commission for a few days, it’s a series of six that let you go back to your normal activities pretty much right away. It’s great start to laser resurfacing, or awesome maintenance if you’ve had a larger treatment previously.

So what is it like?

I opted to go for a full set of six treatments to get the best result. They were spaced two weeks apart and performed at my dermatologist’s office (Van Dyke Laser & Skin). One of the medical assistants gave me the rundown of the process, asked me if I had any questions, I signed some consent forms and had the doctor gave me the thumbs up and we got started.

First, the MA cleansed my skin and applied a topical numbing cream which sat on for about 30 minutes. The feeling of having a numb face definitely took some getting used to, but I was grateful to keep the discomfort to a minimum.

Clear + Brilliant Treatment- Numbing Cream!

Clear + Brilliant Treatment- Numbing Cream!

The treatment itself was done by one of the estheticians in the office, and took about 30 minutes. She put a cold fan on my face where she was treating to further help any discomfort. I wouldn’t call it painful at all- more annoying than anything, but some parts were more sensitive than others. Overall, it was completely tolerable. I would describe the sensation as feeling “prickly”.  The esthetician asked me questions and kept the conversation going to keep me distracted, which also helped. When it was done, she slathered me in a soothing cream and some sunscreen. Keeping your skin protected is always important, but it is EXTRA critical after having peels, laser or any treatment done.

After the treatment it felt like I had a sunburn and ice packs helped this sensation calm down pretty quickly. I was able to ice for as long as I needed. Within about 15 minutes, most of the hot sensation was subsided. I looked red and a little swollen, but not like a weirdo. I just looked like I got too much sun.

Immediately post Clear and Brilliant treatment

Immediately post Clear and Brilliant treatment

The next day my skin had a strange rough texture, almost like sandpaper. It was tender, and it felt better to use cool water when I cleansed or showered. I was advised to use gentle products for the first 24 hours, so I used Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Cleanser, Calm After the Storm serum and Safety Blanket moisturizer by MyBody skincare. I found this combination to be perfect during my skin’s healing period. You can also use really plain and gentle items from the drugstore, like Cetaphil cleanser and moisturizer.

Thankfully I was able to put on makeup right away, so there was no time off from work or normal activities. Makeup went on slightly differently, but still looked fine.

Wearing makeup after Clear and Brilliant Treatment

Wearing makeup after Clear and Brilliant Treatment

After about three days I noticed that the sandpaper texture was going away on my face, but took a little longer to go away on my neck and chest. Neither were uncomfortable at all, though. By the time two weeks rolled around and I was ready for my next treatment, everything was back to normal.

So how were the results?

Great! With treatments like this, you have to have your expectations in the right place. It’s not going to give you as dramatic, practically overnight results as some of the stronger, ablative lasers. I experienced all the things I was hoping for- smaller pores, a more even skin tone, and fewer brown spots. I am very happy with my results, and plan to get another treatment every few months to help maintain them. Plus, I am wearing less face makeup than ever before and that was my ultimate goal! The photo below is after my first treatment and after my last. Unfortunately the lighting is different, but I think you can still see quite a bit of the improvement.

Clear and Brilliant before and after

Clear and Brilliant before and after

If you want to get Clear + Brilliant treatments yourself, you can go to their website and find a provider in your area. If you’re in Arizona, I totally recommend Van Dyke Laser & Skin. They do a fantastic job and make you feel very well taken care of!

Foil Pouch Tilapia

This is a great way to cook fish that is easy, fast, DELICIOUS and has super quick clean up.

foil pouch tilapia

Just add a thawed fish filet of your choice (I use tilapia) to a foil sheet big enough to wrap loosely around the fish. Add veggies and seasonings. I used onions, green onions, lemons, Mrs Dash and white wine. You could also try peppers, zucchini, etc! Close the pouch but make sure it doesn’t touch the fish or veggies. You want to make a sort of “tent” for the juices to steam the fish. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove carefully because the pouches and the steam inside will be HOT! Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

7 Ways to Use Your Instagram Photos You Might Not Know

1. Make a pillow

One of my personal favorites. Stitchtagram lets you make a collage style photo pillow. Wouldn’t these make a great wedding gift? The site also does clutches and coin purses.

2. Make an iphone case


Casetagram allows you to make an iPhone case with either a collage of your instagram photos, or one single image. Possibilities for this are endless… a beautiful sunset, your kids, you and your significant other. Personalizing your phone case is a great way to show off something dear to you.

3. Send them as a post card

postagram post card

This is one I use very often, and am very happy with it! Instead of going through the trouble of printing a photo, buying a stamp and heading to a post office, why not just let an app do it all for you? It’s beyond easy. Import a photo of your choice in postagram, tell it what else to say and who to send it to, and it’s off- postage paid and all for just $1.

4. Wear it as a necklace

instagram necklace


Etsy seller CircleAndSpades will create a tile necklace from your instagram photos. Taking the old locket necklace and giving it a twist :)

5. Make a set of coasters

Coastermatic lets you protect your coffee table and show off your vacation pictures all at once. You could even choose photos within a certain color family to keep your decor in mind!

6. Wear them as a friendship bracelet

WearShare creates a water resistant bracelet with your choice of images plus a scannable QR code. These are so fun, I’m sure they’d especially be a blast for a teenager. You could also use these for VIP events, gatherings, company parties- so many different ways you could use these to give a personal touch.

7. Tile a backsplash

 image from http://lynnandtonicblog.com

While it would get a little spendy to tile the ENTIRE kitchen in instagram images, doing a few strategically placed throughout your tile project would look nothing short of amazing. ImageSnap offers them in a number of different projects, even as small as 2″x2″. You could also use 4″ size as coasters!

Any other out-of-the-box ideas on using instagram photos?? Let us know in the comments!

Protein Coffee!

Coffee is easily one of my trickiest vices. If I had my way, I’d start every day with a hot cup of coffee laden with the sweetest, tastiest creamer imaginable. Sugar free? No thanks. Low fat? Heck no! I like it rich and naughty.


This isn’t great for the waistline. A cup like that can run 200 calories plus and full of fat and sugar. Not the healthiest way to begin your morning. I had switched to plain half and half in flavored coffee, which was an okay substitute- higher in fat, but low in carbs and no sugar. Recently though, I had a great idea. Protein coffee!

protein coffee

Simply take about a half scoop of your favorite protein powder (I use Cellucor Whey protein powder in cinnamon swirl- yum!) and mix with a few tablespoons of warm water. I put it in my Magic Bullet to blend until smooth, and to give it a frothy texture.  Add the mixture to a cup of hot coffee and voila! You have delicious, protein rich coffee. If you use the same protein as me, the coffee has 65 calories, 1 carb, no sugar and12.5 grams of protein. Not bad at all!

I also experimented with both unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk. Out of the two, the almond milk was slightly lower in calories and carbs, and actually tasted a little richer. Both were tasty, but you can really get away with just adding warm water. Try it out!

Low fat/Low Calorie Deviled Eggs

Eggs are like little pills of protein- a staple of those looking to lose weight or build muscle (or both!) The problem is, eventually you can get sick of them. Real sick. So I do my best to try and doll them up any way I can. Deviled eggs are a comfort food for me, so I wanted to come up with a way to make them less fattening and dense in calories.

Of course, whenever possible try to get local farmers market eggs! The taste, environmental impact and cruelty factor is worth the extra dollar or two per dozen.

low fat low calorie deviled eggs

Low Calorie/Low Fat Deviled Eggs

3 hard boiled eggs
2 tbsp light Cottage Cheese
1 tsp light Mayonaise
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional- I also add a few generous dashes of Garlic Garni, not super easy to come by but available online and DELICIOUS

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Discard 3 of the egg yolk halves and put the remaining three in a small cup or mixing dish. Add mayo, mustard and seasonings. Mix well and spoon into egg halves. Optional- sprinkle with Paprika for color!

Macros- Calories: 193 Protein: 25g Carbs: 3.6g Fat: 3g

Top 5 Work Wear Trends, Spring 2013

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into a rut with the clothes we wear to the office. I love that some of the key trends this season can easily be translated into career chic! I picked five of my favorite spring trends and found pieces to match from Spiegel.com and how they can keep you looking current at work without breaking the bank.

1) Black and White– Seen on countless runways, the bold contrast of black and white is hot! Pick graphic prints, and tie in floral to make the look even more fresh for spring. Pair with a pop of color, or go black and white head to toe! Try the Priscila Skirt, $79

spiegel black and white skirt

2) Peplums– An homage to the late 80’s, I was convinced these tops that flare slightly below the waste would just look terrible on me until I actually put one on- they are amazingly flattering for just about ANY body type! They make your waist look slimmer and hide a belly or larger hips. Pair them with straight or skinny pants or a pencil skirt. Try the Hannah Top, $64

spiegel peplums

3) Hankerchief Hemlines– This flowy, asymmetrical hem gives feminine detail to a tunic or dress. To keep it more conservative for work, opt for leggings or opaque tights. Wedge heels and bare legs make this an adorable weekend choice too! Try the Ashley Tunic, $99.

spiegel hankerchief hem

4. Colored pants- Wide leg or skinny- play with colored pants to make a bold statement! Coral is my favorite at the moment, but teal, robin’s egg blue and even yellow are awesome choices. Pair with a nude pump or an equally bold, contrasting colored shoe. Try the Emily Pant, $89

spiegel colored pants

5) The Sheer Button Down- Arguably one of my favorites this year, the sheer button down top super versatile. You can tuck it in, belt it, pair it with leggings- just about anything. The flowy, sheer fabric will stay cool through the summer months- just remember to wear a form fitting cami underneath. I love how the Brooklyn Shirt, $49 plays with a unique shirt tail hemline in the back!

spiegel sheer button down-horz

This is a sponsored post, however all trends and pieces were picked by me! :)

Protein Waffles- Two Recipes

Breakfast can be tricky when you’re trying to watch your carbs, or cooking for someone who needs to be gluten free. I tried two recipes, both were successful (one more tasty than the other) and both are good for different needs.

The first recipe is great for someone who is seriously watching their carbohydrate intake, as they are literally ZERO CARB WAFFLES (!!!). Now I’ll give a disclaimer- these are beautiful to look at, they have a very strange texture. If you compare it directly to a traditional flour waffle, you’ll probably be disappointed.

Zero Carb Waffles

waffles 3

1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate (I use Jay Robb Whey Protein as it is zero carb, sweetened with Stevia and tastes great)
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg white
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tbsp water
Few dashes cinnamon (optional)
1 packet Stevia (optional, but I like the taste of SweetLeaf Vanilla– it’s much less bitter)

Mix all ingredients. Add to waffle iron that has been coated with non-stick spray. Cook 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove, and add toppings of your choice. If you want to keep with the zero carb theme, try  Walton Farms Zero Calorie Pancake Syrup.

The second recipe was by far the taste and texture winner. These are not carb free, but are definitely lower carb and higher protein. They are gluten free waffles though, so if that is a dietary concern these are a good choice. This recipe yielded some extremely moist, flavorful and delicious waffles. I’ll be making these again for sure- they stand up to even a traditional waffle recipe. You’ll notice they got gobbled up before I could get a good picture!

Low Carb Waffles / Protein Waffles

protein waffles

1 Large Egg
1 Scoop vanilla protein powder (again, I am obsessed with Jay Robb Protein!)
1/2 large banana
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)
1/4 cup oat flour
A few sprinkles of cinnamon
A pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients into a batter, using a fork to mash banana. Add to waffle iron that has been coated with non-stick spray. Cook 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove, and add toppings of your choice.

Peaches and Cream Protein Shake

I was having a hard time with the idea of choking down another combination of protein, peanut butter and bananas. You can only dress those up so many ways. This combination was light and tasty, and a welcome change of pace.

Peaches and Cream Protein Shake

peaches and cream protein shake

1 Scoop vanilla protein powder (I enthusiastically recommend Jay Robb Whey Protein– hands down the best tasting and only 1 carb to 25 grams of protein with no artificial sweeteners)

1 individual cup of no sugar added peaches

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (less if you like a thicker shake)

1/4 cup of ice (more or less)

Add all ingredients to blender or Magic Bullet and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Approximate Nutrition Facts: 165 calories, 26g protein, 8g carbs, 2g fat

Fashion find: Must have for spring

I happened across this belt this weekend, and I’m in love! I didn’t give it a second look online, but I saw it in person I had to have it. In fact, I might grab it in a few more colors. This one is Coral, and I have my eye on the neon yellow as well!

Coral Belt

See? The picture online seriously doesn’t do it justice! Skinny Elastic Belt, $12.94 at OldNavy.com. Spring fashion on a budget!

elastic belt



Perfect Baked Brown Rice

Brown rice, while more healthy and nutritious than it’s white counterpart, is a serious pain to cook. Even when using a rice cooker I’ve had it come out tough and not cooked through. It takes ages on the stove and the hassle had me avoiding it completely for quite some time. When I started baking brown rice all that changed! It comes out perfect every time- fluffy, cooked through and very tender. Plus, it’s about the easiest thing. Put in in the oven and forget about it until it’s finished. The ingredients are basic, and can be adjusted based on your tastes. The recipe makes a big batch, and I keep it in the fridge for easy reheating through the week. Pro tip: This has been SO handy for my healthy meal-prep adventures lately!

Baked brown rice

baked brown rice

-1 cup brown rice (short, medium or long grain)
-2 1/2 cups broth

1. Preheat oven to 375, and boil broth.
2. Pour rice in an 8×8 glass baking dish.
3. Pour broth over rice, stir and quickly cover dish with foil completely.
4. Bake for one hour.
5. Remove foil and fluff rice with a fork. Serve immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container.

NOTE: You can also just use water in place of broth, but you may want to add about 1/2 tsp of salt and about a tablespoon of butter or oil.