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3.31.2013

Perked Up

Red skinny jeans (my new uniform as of late - similar), Black laceTopshop peplum top, Vintage denim jacket (similar), Studded MIA sandals, Black vintage clutch, Vintage sunglasses
 
I must admit that this winter kept me feeling so blue that I had a very rough time getting out of bed to the point I thought I was sick, until I recently accompanied the hubby on a business trip to lovely California and realized that like a plant I needed a little sunshine to perk up. I guess having lived away from NY for a few years in NV's 360 days of sun, spoiled my psyche, cause I used to love the grey skies of winter.

Which proves my very point that when you don't travel outside of your bubble to explore other places, you never know what you're missing and thus sometimes settle for less thinking that this is all there is to life without realizing you can live better and expand yourself and your mind.


 

 
 
 
 

3.29.2013

Grateful Moments

[Chocolate soufflé: shared with the hubby at a new neighborhood spot]

I hope everyone's week was a good one. My week was one of those that kept on derailing minute by minute with one bad news after another, but at least today was a good day with pleasant sunny spring weather. I'm looking forward to a much calmer weekend that will be spent with friends where we build each other up. In the meantime, here are a few things that lightened up my week.

[Traveling companions: a clutch, sunnies, my Nikon camera, a journal + pen for documenting the moments and inspirations]

[A new addition to my bar: a surprise gift from a friend]

[Nutella crepe + hot cocoa: a once in a while must-have craving]

[An old faux candlelit fountain in our home office that keeps us calm while hard at work]
 
 
 

3.27.2013

Blue Velvet Martini


Every once in a blue moon when say we've had a rough day or week dealing with difficult  situations  such as experiencing cold gloomy weather in the middle of "spring", a stiff drink becomes necessary simply for the sake of relaxing all the tense muscles. If you want to induce sunny thoughts, one of my favorite fall back libations for us is the blue velvet martini. Its spring-y/summery hue in of itself is soothing.


Ingredients

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/4 oz. blue curacao
Dash of Rose's lime juice (adjust to the sweetness level preferred)

Direction

Stir with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon.



3.26.2013

Celine Leather Luggage Tote Bag


While it's true most of us are inspired by the "it " bags that we see on the arms of many celebrities and  bloggers  which creates a desire within us to also own such bags, the fact is that many of us can't afford them. Does that mean we can't look as stylish?  No, because thankfully there are many other brands that have kept up with the latest trends while maintaining their goods at a much more affordable price tag for regular folks like us. If you really must have the top name brand, I've always encouraged people to sell things in their closet that might still be in great condition, but no longer serves a purpose and save that money for the splurge.

Also remember too, that most of those celebrities and the "it/successful" bloggers that you see sporting those bags on their forearms are given those items for free for the sake of advertising for those brands because of their huge following. However, take for instance, the highly branded Celine bag that ranges from a hefty price tag of $1,500 - $3,600 (depending on the size you purchase) compared to these beautiful much more sensibly priced options like: J.Crew colorblock tartine satchel or even this bowler bag by Asos is pretty stunning... check out this Colorblock one which is definitely an eye catcher. The versatility of a light weight leather coach bag such as this one is a must-have to carry all of a girl's necessities in style from work to a night out; it's also perfect for traveling.


NEW YORK CITY LIVING: THE PROS AND CONS


If you're an avid reader of my blog, I'm sure you've picked up on the fact that I've always dreamed of leaving suburbia life to live in the big apple (mentioned here, here and here). That desire stemmed from fond memories and experiences of going to college and getting my first job/internship there, hanging out with my friends in the city almost every weekend, and mainly the impelling energy of all its attractions allure almost everyone to live in NYC. But like anything else in life, dream vs. reality sooner or later hits us in the face and puts things into perspective.

For years the hubby (who by the way, is completely the opposite - being a reserved person by nature, he has an aversion for crowds and traffic, although he does enjoy going to the cafes, museums and parks, but would also be fine if he never steps foot in the city) has constantly heard of my childhood dream to live in the city one day knew that this is something we'd have to try out to get it out of my system. Well, almost a year ago now, we did take the leap and moved from suburbia to city living - as nerve wracking as that was, it really has allowed us (especially me) to see the pros and cons of such a lifestyle with all the sacrifices that it involves. Living in a city requires downsizing to a level that brings you back to dorm rooms time or the stone age. After owning two homes where we've lived comfortably with all the amenities and then some for many years really made this transition a much more shocking experience than originally anticipated - starting with having no closet space whatsoever and what I like to call 'a truck stop toilet' in a 2x2 bathroom that even mini me would have a problem fitting in.  Admittedly, three months into it we quickly realized it wasn't for us (well, really me cause it was never the husband's dream) and it is not as easy and as fun as it originally sounded to make the move to city living. But, you don't know until you try sometimes right?!   I'm grateful that we have the circumstances to even have been able to try it, because not too many people can and/or are able to take such chances in life. So, here are some of the pros and cons from our viewpoint:

Pros: 
*It's the most exciting city that leaves no room for boredom. Note why:

Diverse city: It is the true melting pot - meaning, it's very rare to get stared down by others if you look different than them because everyone looks different. This makes it more tolerable of others since it's full of every kind of person you can imagine.
                                 
Best food mecca: A foodies paradise, it is known for the best pizza, best coffee, best pastries and its international authentic cuisine.                        
                 
Fresher water: It's been found that NY has the best water source. Having lived in other cities, I agree a 110 percent!                       

Attractions galore for everyone: The city offers some of the best museums, theatres, parks, free concerts, summer flea markets, festivals, flower shows and parades...to mention just a few. And It's definitely the best city for people watching.       
           
A fashion capital: One of the most fashionably stylish cities in the world besides Milan, Paris and London.                

Transportation: Gives you convenient access throughout the city.  It's not to be compared with many other cities.         

Convenient access to shopping: You're always steps away from great shopping which can develop into a costly habit if one is not careful.      

An energetic city: It's full of people trying to frenetically get things done.

Fitness conscience: People treat working out like another full-time job. They stick to it and maintain a great level of physicality and health.

Much higher income rates: However, look at the cons below on this one...

Career oriented: Meaning there's a higher chance to fulfill your dreams here if you’re a hard worker.

Cons:
*If you're not used to crowds or a rushed life, NYC can definitely be an overwhelmingly exhaustive city, filled with people that might appear rude. It's not a city for the faint of heart.

NYC people: Can be a real hit and miss - meaning that sometimes you find the nicest people in the world or on occasion can run into the most obnoxious individuals you've ever met. Personally, I meet more nice people than rude people in NYC who most of the time are willing to help if necessary. In other words, there are plenty of good Samaritans out there roaming those NYC streets despite what you've heard.

Exhaust-filled/polluted air: As you dust your apartment there's a constant gritty black sandy dust re-depositing on your furniture. Not to forget on hot humid summer days the soupy, hot, filthy, smelly subways with the occasional mice and rat encounters that can be startling at times, especially for tourists.

Noisy: Constant car horn blowing at all times of the day, fire truck sirens and subway noise make me find my ears ringing when I'm away from the city where there's complete peace and quiet.

Occasional disrespectful delinquents: Who damage your property with graffiti or break and steal items out of your car.

Astronomical rents: if you want extremely small dilapidated spaces with zero amenities, this is the city to come to, unless you're super wealthy willing to shell out  over 1 million dollars for a 900-1000 sq. ft. apartment that sometimes needs a gut reno, or you have $10,000 - 25,000+ a month to rent it. And don't forget to add the additional cost of $300-600 a month if you're interested in parking your car in a lot for convenience or protection from the kleptos that break your car windows. However, be assured that your car will be graced with plenty of dings, nicks and scratches in two days from the garage attendants moving it to and fro from the spot for you. It's become a city made only for the super wealthy to live spectacularly.

High stress level: Due to a very rushed life of getting out of people's way or keeping up with train schedules, mad traffic and/or looking for a parking space when you own a car (as we do) making it a struggle to arrive on time to engagements. And the need of quarters in case you do find a parking meter on the street costing a whopping $0.25 cents for every ten minutes. Or you can park at a garage for $ 30-60 an hour. Did I mention the pedestrian run-ins: People who seem to always want to walk right in to you no matter how far away they see you coming whether you're in their path or not.

More taxes out of your pocket: For the privilege of living in the city aside from paying your typical federal, state taxes, you also have to pay an additional city tax. So it's like having a pocket full of holes, because the more money you earn, the more it goes right back out of your pocket before you even realize it, especially if you're self-employed like we are.

We knew and calculated most of (the monthly fees for parking the car at a garage and the extra city tax came as a surprise) these pros and cons before moving to the city, but things always appear much simpler in theory. With all that said, do we regret our decision? No, because if we never experienced it, we would have always been wondering 'what if? What would it have been like if...' so we're grateful that we're able to dispel these thoughts knowing that the lifestyle just does not work for us at this point in our lives. Does that mean I/we hate NYC? Never may that happen! I'm a die-hard New Yorker and always will be. You can take the girl out of NY, but you can't NY out of the girl;) the hubby doesn't mind visiting it every once in a while, but not to live. Maybe one day we'll be one of those buying a penthouse for vacation in one of the Trump buildings. Thus, we're not turning our backs on NYC or saying never again - it's just that the lifestyle we dreamed of living in the big apple isn't in the budget as of right now.

As people who like to move forward, we are ready to move on to the next 'dream of what if...' on our list. Which I'm sure will be mentioned on this blog as well at some point. Life is a journey. The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between and explore this amazing planet that we've been given as a gift.

"The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday." - Steve Maraboli


 

3.25.2013

A Diffuser Vase: Simple Makeover


Ever since I was a child, I always had a knack of making the simplest changes on ordinary accessories to bring them to another level that fits my personal style and brings a smile to my face. Since my NYC apartment is so tiny, I'm constantly looking for creative ways to bring light and life into the space. So when I brought this diffuser set to the apartment, I realized that it blended in too much with the white walls of the apartment. Although the white looks nice and crisp, I still wanted to make it stand out. I felt that it needed something to elevate its style; it needed an element of fun and pizazz.  Normally I would have painted it but there's no outdoor or sufficient space to do this thus, the idea of some glitter nail polish was a perfect and quick solution for this project. And what girl doesn't like sparkly things? I immediately went to town bedazzling the body of the vase with the silver glitter -  and for contrast I decided to fill-in the circles and the lip of the vase with the gold glitter. What a simple, quick and affordable way to bring a subtle sparkle accessory to a shelf that might have otherwise felt dull or ordinary.  Now this pretty vase has double duty: filling your space with continuous fragrance while adding a decorative elegance.



For this simple project: all that is needed is one or two of your favorite glitter nail polishes (I used Spoiled silver glitter + Milani gold glitter)  and five minutes of your time. I strongly believe that love is in the details. Hope this idea inspires you to put your personal stamp on your space. Have fun!



3.24.2013

Still Wishing For Spring

Red HUE skinny jeggings (seen here...similar - they're so comfortable, I don't seem to want to wear any other jeans now.  Perfect for easy traveling. I've embarrassingly been living in them), Chambray shirt (similar), Vintage sunglasses (similar), Crystal multi-layered cluster necklace (seen here, similar), Topshop booties (seen here)

Imagine our disappointment (especially the hubby's face and body language was classic as he'd rather be in CA than in NY. So, it's an inevitable fate I'm afraid...) after leaving a moderate climate in sunny California to land in a frigid slushy misty grayed NY sky the day before "spring". We literally wanted to turn right back around  and get on the plane to return to CA. Even a girlfriend said to me "every time you come back from Las Vegas and California, it's always snowing here..." Although the sun has been peeking through here and there, it's not to be fooled with warm weather. Overall, I would rather have the cold days much better than the hot humid sticky summer days. Happy spring!

 
 
 
 
 
 

3.21.2013

Seven New Things

"Happiness comes when you overcome the most impossible challenge."
 
{My first mail encounter upon my return from our trip and I couldn't be happier:}

After our return from a business trip on Tuesday, it was very hard to get back in routine and feel motivated. However, with the help of some favorite tunes, including Taylor Swift's "I knew you were trouble when you walked in..." and thinking of the moments of the trip that made me feel happy, I was able to get through the week. These are a few of them. Hope you have a restful weekend.

{New pair of sunnies for spring/summer...a girl can never have enough sunglasses}

{Bags of goodies from Santa Monica...will share more at another time}
 
{Some new home accessories: musician guys in honor of my musician hubby}
 
{I'm going to try flats this spring and summer in exchange for my 4"wedges that I call my flats}
 
{A collection of post-cards from Shabby Chic Couture in Santa Monica...I find them soothing for some reason}
 
{Yummy chocolate pearls + "F" for Friday! Happy Friday}
 
 
 

3.20.2013

Spinach Turkey Roll-Ups


This is one of the easiest recipes with a quick prep time and can be served as dinner or customized as appetizers. They are a perfect addition to serve at a tasting party, Oscar night cocktail party or for a healthy family night dinner. I decided to serve mine with salad and roasted corn and peas for the hubby and I. It was a hit! The turkey came out juicy with a great mild hint of sage blended with the spinach and cheese.


Ingredients
  • 6 turkey cutlets pounded thin 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces Asiago (or mozzarella/your preferred cheese), shredded
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 6 fresh large sage leaves
  • 6 - 12 toothpicks

Directions

Preheat grill or grill pan to high.

Start by pounding each cutlet placing a sheet of parchment paper, wax or plastic wrap on a cutting board using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Pound over the entire surface of the meat until it is 1/4 inch or less and even throughout in thickness. Essentially, you want a thinner, cutlet.

Lay all the pounded cutlets out on a cutting board. Sprinkle each cutlet with salt and pepper on both sides. Then begin layering each with a sage leaf, the spinach and then the Asiago cheese. Begin rolling the cutlets tightly and away from you. Evenly insert the toothpicks 1 to 2 inches along the seam of the turkey roll-ups to hold it together on the grill. Grill the turkey roll-ups on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes or until your desired doneness. Once cooked, let sit for 10 minutes. Then serve alongside any side dish of your choice or slice each turkey roll-up to bite size and serve as appetizer.

*Important: Don't forget to remove the toothpicks once the turkey roll-ups are done. I think we all can agree chomping down on a toothpick wouldn't be an enjoyable bite nor a good dinner memory.

 
 
 

GEL MANICURE VS COFFIN' NAILS


Recently, Michael Strahan on LIVE! With Kelly and Michael read the news clipping "Gel Manicure vs Coffin'Nails" warning about how it can be dangerous because of the UV light used to dry the gel on the nails. Basically, dermatologists are saying that it actually increases the risk of skin cancer...allegedly. This is something that I've thought of too, since I've been getting the gel manicure when I know I'll be traveling for a long duration because it is extremely durable and has a three week non-chip, no worry guarantee. However, I thought it was a strange coincidence when Michael Strahan was curious about what women do when the new nail starts to grow in because a couple of days before, I had contended with the same dilemma and had to find a solution for my unsightly growth gap (no pun intended...Michael;) from my cuticles down, as I had an event to attend when I got back from my travels and had no time to go sit in the salon for 45 minutes+. What did I do you ask? Well, with all the new nail design trends going on at the moment, I was inspired to create my own look customized to fit my personal style with just two things:

1. Milani jewel gold glitter (also used here)
2. Finished with OPI RapiDry top coat (seen here), or Seche fast drying works just as well.

The very unattractive nail growth of before and after

The manicure ended up lasting an extra week longer than usual. I thought it's such a quick solution for those who get the gel manicure and might not have the time to go to the Salon.

Pros:
Like I mention above - the manicure lasts three weeks with no chipping or dulling.

Cons:
~ The exposure to the UV light (which tingles by the way) once they put on the gel color and it feels much hotter on the skin than I think it should.
~ You waste a good 45 minutes to an hour getting the nails done.
~ You have to go get the nail polish removed professionally so as not to damage your nail beds if peeled off.
~ Frequent use of the gel manicure actually weakens your nails from all the filing that they do after soaking the gel off your nails.

The good news: Now they have regular gel nail polishes (in an array of colors that are much more inexpensive) that can be applied at home with a drying time of 5 minutes - promising no more dings or smudges with a lasting shine and easy to remove. I think it's one route Kelly wouldn't mind going for because you can change the color as often as you want since it applies like a regular nail polish. AND, it's UV light-free/less time consuming!

PS: I'll be using the new gel nail polishes now that they're available.


3.18.2013

Chocolate Affair

Talbots chocolate pure Irish linen dress (similar), Limited white jacket (similar ones here and here), Delicious shoes, DKNY bag (similar), Mixed vintage bracelets 

I really like shift dresses for their versatility. It's very rare that I find one that doesn't fit just perfect.  It's one of those must-have items that I think would be worth paying a tailor to nip and tuck where appropriate to flatter your figure if you found one that you loved.  This chocolate linen shift dress is one of many that I own and has been in my possession for years now. What I really like about a shift dress is that they're not only easy to slide on, but it also serves as a blank canvas to dress up for work, evening, and weekends just by changing accessories, or pairing it with different types of jackets depending on the look you're going for. And since they're sleeveless, they're perfect for the summer with a myriad of different colors to choose from to suit any personality.








3.17.2013

An Amazing Look At Los Angeles


For years now, I've had the privilege of many travel experiences worth journaling about. I walked on the truest deep blue and picturesque beaches of Barbados, visited the amazing Monte Carlo, and experienced the rain forest in Dominica. I marveled at Spain's bustling vivacious city of Barcelona and Rome's centuries old ruins that just leave you in awe. I feasted on estofado de mariscos in Mexico, ceviche and margarita in Cabo San Lucas, Deep dish pizza in Chicago, and nutella Panini with café au lait in France just to mention a few.

But each time I come back to Los Angeles, I experience an indescribable excitement that always leaves me and the hubby desiring to live there. I know part of the reason is because of the gorgeous weather that just immediately relaxes you and puts you in a good mood.  (Actually, my love affair with this state really began with a childhood viewing of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.)  I was always fascinated with all the fancy convertibles speeding down the palm tree lined highways under the perfect beautiful blue skies of California while the ocean breeze wisped through your hair/face. The interplay of the climbing vines mixed with bright red Bougainvilleas creates such a pleasant kaleidoscopic of lushness along with the aromatic scent in the air - just makes you feel grateful to be alive. The city is almost the whole package deal (with the exception of a few minuses: like the lack of theaters, the frequent wild fires, smog, earthquakes, mudslides, no seasons, non-attractive critters I'm sure, and the insanely nonsensical traffic). But an attractive state nonetheless... besides what cities don't have their minuses.









The additional pluses aside from the ones mentioned above is the fact that it is the entertainment capitol of the world with it's fair share of fashion and décor boutiques and it's a foodie's paradise with its culinary superstars, including the museums and fragrant parks. This place makes New Yorker's such as ourselves feel like home every time. The real estate is just as astronomical as it is back east except that you get better value for the money as it is a luxuriously relaxed, beautifully clean lifestyle if you settle in the right zip codes. Our ideal area in Los Angeles is definitely the west side - I guess because parts of it reminds us of Long Island, NY where we're from. Favorite neighborhoods hands down are: Santa Monica, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills. I mean check out a few of the quick shots I snapped while driving/exploring some of these areas. Doesn't it look dreamy?



3.15.2013

Best Remedy To Good Mental Health

Fresh flowers at the airport café made an ungodly early morning flight much more bearable.

My grateful moments posts have become the best remedy to good mental health as they've allowed me to consciously stop and take time to think about the moments that made the week special. Uploading the pictures of some of those joyful and inspiring moments have really helped to refocus my mind on the positive and dismiss the things that weren't so pleasant. However hectic life gets, I have found that taking the few seconds each week to document such positive memories bring relief from carrying a heavy heart into the weekend...and we wouldn't want that!

Some cookie dough/cookies'n'cream/graham cracker crust ice cream that helped endure the packing.

Sabon's Amazingly fragrant olive oil based soaps: perfect for Spring and Summer.
 
How adorable is this tea bag package? I love small details/presentations like this.
 
And this is to you;)... Happy Friday and weekend!