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A Day at Descanso Gardens

Last weekend, a girlfriend invited me to take a ride out to Descanso Gardens along with her little five year old girl. Wow, what a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city! We spent the day in deep conversation while enjoying our walk through the different gardens and the oak grove, stopping at every point of interest - finding ourselves taking deep breaths of relief to be surrounded by such beautiful nature as we achoo'd the pollution out of our lungs. Small breaks as these every now and again are important reminders that the kind of life that is worthy of being lived and loved is not mere physiological existence - just breathing and moving, fulfilling our basic material needs. We also need cultural and social interests. Taking time to use the more meaningful resources that life offers to fulfill our intellect and emotions, replenishes us in such a way that helps us to become better to society and those whom we love. If you're in LA and are not able to take a weekend getaway, I highly recommend going on a daycation by taking the short drive to Descanso (it truly lives up to its name: descanso meaning to rest) where stress instantly melts away. You will feel at complete peace. Some of the highlights for me besides the refreshing diffused soft lighting of the cloudy day peering through those majestic trees, was watching a group of different humongous fish nearly jumping out of the magnolia pond to catch bread being thrown at them from visitors, the occasional run-ins with unexpected wildlife, and boarding the tiniest train for an enchanted ride through a small section of the gardens. The grounds are indeed dreamy and perfect for weddings. In fact, while we were there, preparation for a wedding was in full swing, thus the pretty hydrangea arrangements around the fountain in the first photo above. It's definitely one of the best settings for a picturesque wedding.

{What I'm Wearing:} Pilcro And The Letterpress Crossbody Bag (old), Vintage Cat Eye Sunnies (seen here), American Eagle Ripped Jeans (seen here), Long Sleeve Multi-Colored Top (shown here), MIA Studded Wedges (also seen here), Michael Kors Bracelet (seen here)

*Photos solely via my iPhone


Favorite Links

1. This list of the best summer fragrances brought me back to my 20's when I used to have a fragrance for every season and occasion.

2. There was a period in my life when the only hairstyle I donned was this french twist. This flashback is a reminder of an alternative option to my daily top knots I currently wear to contend with this humid heatwave we've been having.

3. Now you can print your own 3D makeup at home. What a concept?! There's always someone smarter!

5. 12 oblique burners to melt that unsightly muffin top. Right on time to maintain that crop top and cutoffs figure for the summer.


Ombre Color Trend {Inspiration}

I wanted to start the week with what's been inspiring my imagination lately for a much cheerier Monday. I'm totally head over heels with this ombre color trend that seems to be everywhere right now. The artful play of these soft contrasting shades create such a masterful dimensional effect that makes me giddy. It's like looking at art. I can't wait to add a touch of this trend through art and accessories in my space. Are you also liking this trend?

*Images From Left To Right: 1// 2// 3// 4// 5// 6//


Grateful Moments

{Vintage photos like this inspire me and give me happy thoughts}

What a week this has been. In fact, this whole month has been so askew, it's left me with very little time and energy to feel inspired to write blog posts. Being the sound board for my friends and listening to heavy life stories and issues sure takes it's toll emotionally, but this is what true friends are for. After all, true understanding is found through compassion. However, to recoup mentally and decompress, it was important for me to buckle down to take stock and focus on the little moments that made me especially grateful this week. When you find yourself feeling depleted - what do you do to help replenish yourself?

{Twinkling lights are so dreamy}

{Braved eating a Quiche Lorraine this week - not sure I'll do it again}

{Fresh tulips on our breakfast table - love the ombre layers}

{A craving that needed to be satisfied}


Brands vs Sense

While I may strongly feel that it's important to invest in a great pair of shoes, I'm also fully aware that sky-high priced/designer name shoes don't necessarily equate to higher quality or comfort. Over the years, I have spent a good amount of cash on many designer brands only to end up consigning them due to the sad fact that I couldn't walk half a block in them without getting blisters (and we can all agree walking in shoes as if you're on hot coals doesn't exactly exude confidence). This taught me how to be a shrewd shopper - understanding that moderately priced shoes can at times be more comfortable and just as good looking as the higher-priced designer labels. But that doesn't mean compromising quality and style (I certainly never have), as I'm a person that lives in my heels most days and need them to expand as my feet usually slowly turn into a frog-like state as the day progresses. Only well-made real leather materials that can accommodate my rather unladylike wide flat feet conundrum make the cut when it comes to buying my shoes. As much as I love these Jimmy Choo black suede latticework vamp back zip 'Dane Sue' peep toe booties that have been high on my wish list for the longest time, when compared with the price of Ivanka Trump's 'Didia' cutout cage open toe suede bootie - you can't help but think twice about parting with the cash for its counterpart as they too, look just as chic, if not more chic because of the sensible price tag. Don't you agree?


Summer Sales {Nordstrom}

My ongoing (albeit slow-paced) quest to streamline my wardrobe has reigned in my spending on clothes quite a bit. In the last couple of years, instead of buying the first piece of clothing that I lay my eyes on when entering a store just because 'it's cute' (by the way, a word that I despise using when referring to fashion, as it often conjures up in my mind unsophisticated and/or unimpressive), I've been focusing more on the way I used to shop when I was working in Corporate America. It was more of a strategic type of shopping with a goal in mind; the selection of classic items that were business meeting appropriate, yet felt good and comfortable and would remain current for years to come. After receiving a couple of email alerts this week from one of my favorite stores - Nordstrom, I couldn't help but take a quick online peek at their anniversary sale. Not too long after several clicks, I quickly fell in love with these cool pieces (even more with the prices) that I want to add to my closet. These items are basic building blocks for a timelessly stylish wardrobe: Cutout booties, a quilted crossbody bag (at a whopping $24!), the classic aviator with subtle logo inlays at the temple, and a practical expandable tote to seamlessly transition from the office to the market on your way home.

As an accessory queen, I dare say that there aren't too many things that can make an impact on an outfit better than a multicolored bejeweled statement necklace. Again, my chin hit the ground when I saw the price. Though I'm big on statement necklaces, there are those moments the mood sometimes veers towards a dainty personalized pendant necklace and a pink rose gold bracelet for days when you want to go for a low key understated effortless vibe. These tobacco leather booties are the perfect match for a maxi boho chic kind of mood. Love them! For a fast and easy 'Je Nais Quoi' attitude, why not add these classic boxy frame sunglasses while you're at it for a well-rounded wardrobe that sure will amp up any ensemble on the mornings when you are faced with the dreaded, "I don't know what to wear today..."


Fall Wish List: Rainy Season Essentials {Hunter Boots + Umbrellas}

Time flies by so quickly these days that I find myself utterly surprised when the seasons suddenly sneak up without giving me a chance to prepare stylistically for them. In order to avoid being unprepared for the rainy season on the east coast this fall, I felt it'd be wise to start taking stock now of must-have rain essentials that I will need. For one, Hunter boots are definitely high on my list for their full-proof practicality on those torrential downpour days, and last but not least, sturdy umbrellas that will fight back those merciless winds without being blown outward leaving me and my hairdo looking like a stunned wet cat.

1. Gabby Wellington Boots "baring beige" will not only be great on rainy days but will assure a tight grip for walking when that rain turns into ice.
2. Transparent Pink Birdcage Umbrella will help to have rose-colored days instead of gloomy ones.
3. These not so mellow Yellow Hunter Boots bring the right amount of sunshine on the days it's most needed.
4. Aah, pretty in Pink Hunter Boot just makes me feel so girly and reminds me of the big square bazooka gum I chewed so much in high school.
5. Black Hunter Boots for those 'wanna be serious' kind of days.
6. Now on the days you just want to give lip to the rain without uttering a word, this Large Birdcage Red Lips Umbrella is your perfect companion.


Casually Strolling Baja

Gap cut-offs and Tee (seen in the last photo here), Navy Blue and Grey Striped Baja Hoodie (similar), Gifted Pendant Necklace, BCBG Dream Rose Gold Bracelet (styled here - similar), Michael Kors Bracelet, Mirrored Sunnies (loving these), Floppy Hat (similar)

After totally getting roasted in my skinny jeans while in Cabo last year, I thought I'd outsmart the weather this time when we went to Ensenada, Mexico by going ultra casual in my little cut-offs, light gauzy tee and comfortable wedges. It turned out that the weather outwitted me with an unexpected whipping frigid wind which hit me with each step as we walked downtown browsing the shops. At first, my New York toughness kicked in thinking 'this isn't really cold...' then, I quickly realized that perhaps spending this past year in warm breezy California might have made me a little soft. Before you know it, I dashed onto this street lined with stores selling these baja hoodies/ponchos that saved me from turning into a complete popsicle stick. It has a rough tapestry like exterior but a soft felt material on the inside to give you a nice cocoon like 'snug as a bug in a rug' feeling. As soon as I walked into the first store, I laid my eyes upon a soft pink and grey striped one, and my heart was immediately smitten, but they didn't have it in my size. (Figures). After going from store to store without any success of finding another one like it, I settled on this blue and grey striped one which I felt was the most decent color out of the bunch. And now, I notice so many people with them on. Isn't it funny how you might not have noticed something before until you own it, and then it appears to be everywhere? Consciousness is indeed one of the most profound gifts that we're endowed with as humans.


Grateful Moments

{The sweetest unexpected bouquet from the hubby}

Over these past few weeks, I've learned a few things about myself from the challenges of trying to adjust to a new environment (a.k.a: a new state). With everything I've faced, it all boils down to one major quality that I find necessary to deal with any difficulties - patience. And let me tell you, it seems like the older you get, the less patience you have, which I feel should be the opposite. As you mature, shouldn't you be getting better at virtuous qualities, including patience? We've always been told that patience is a virtue, and it is. Do you know why? Because without it, frustrations ensue which slows down the progress of character development. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, frustration is "a deep chronic sense or condition of insecurity, discouragement, and dissatisfaction arising from thwarted desires, inner conflicts, or other unresolved problems." Isn't it true we experience such feelings when we try very hard to accomplish something but do not succeed? The worst feeling of all is when we feel blocked at every turn, as if we were beating our head against a stone wall, with no chance of success. All of us know the feeling, no? Have you ever thought all those emotions would stem from one simple thing such as having a lack of patience? Sometimes we become so frustrated due to impatience that we become enveloped in despair, unable to even know where to start. Unfortunately, in severe cases some have abandoned the struggle, dropping out of society altogether just to live on its fringes. To get what they feel entitled to, some have resorted to crime and violence. Unrelenting pressures have caused some to thrust aside patience leading to the point of shattering marriages and family ties. How sad!

What all of that has made me realize is how imperative it is to put forth great effort in developing this quality in order to avoid getting to that point of desperation. We destroy ourselves and those we love when we become impatient. Focus on the benefits of patience, increase appreciation for it. Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have or want to go. Sometimes, we're not where we want to be, but neither are we where we used to be. So the key is to keep on moving forward by taking one day at a time. Happy Friday!

{A gift from a talented son of a friend - French bistro table set designed from champagne caps}

{These colorful kicks make my weekly dance routines much more exciting}

{Longing to be there this fall}

{Loving these new vintage champagne glasses}


Host A Beautiful Bridal Shower On a Budget

I had so much fun planning this bridal shower recently. It's been a good several years since I've worked on an event like that for someone else. When I was approached to do this shower, it was made very clear to me that everything had to be done on a very modest budget. Once I knew that, I was up for the challenge and was thrilled to have the opportunity to prove my philosophy that beautiful style doesn't have to be expensive. The bride wanted a garden themed wedding, so my mind immediately kicked into high gear, flooding over with ideas that actually kept me awake at night, which I mentioned here. My love for putting things together coupled with my keen desire for flawless presentation imbued me with the drive to create an atmosphere that would be unforgettably beautiful. As I was working on the this big event, which was being hosted by a friend of the Bride, she kept asking me how was I able to stay calm and collected while there was so much pressure to plan for it on short notice?  It made me think of so many other women that might be planning for such occasions during this high wedding season and how they might be feeling stressed preparing for these events. Trust me, I have no secrets that you probably don't already know, but I wanted to share several pointers that help me stay focus and calm whether planning for large scale events or small intimate dinners.

This is the one key ingredient in maintaining calm. Write down everything that's going to be needed to make the party a success. From composing the guest list, the menu and music to the type of decor details you will use. Determine where, when and from whom you're going to acquire the items needed for the event. To save money, friends can be asked and assigned specific tasks, but make sure they are reliable and hold them accountable to follow through.  For instance, for this particular event knowing we were on a budget, I had the hostess take out every platter, cake stand, serving utensil, beverage dispenser, table cloth, candle holder and flower vase that she had so I could take an inventory of what would need to be rented or borrowed from other friends to keep the cost down. The more things that can be borrowed, the better. I even loaned some of my serving cake stands and platters which were used on the guests table.

When you're working on a small budget, you must be realistic of the type of food that should be served without compromising taste, quality and presentation. So stick with food that can go a long way in abundance. Also arranging food on large silver platters that's pleasing to the eye is one of the tricks to making simple finger food look expensive. I helped the hostess decide on very simple, yet rich and filling appetizers for the party that not only helped keep the budget down, but was as visually appetizing as it was delicious. You could hear the guests 'yum-ing' at every bite. (Will share the menu in a different post).

KISS: keep it simple Sally. Think in three's. I decided on three balloons for the corner of each table using the bride's wedding color scheme. It was a true surprise to her, and gave her a foregleam of what her colors would look like on her wedding day. In this case, we had white, black and yellow pearlized balloons in between the food and beverage tables, which I arranged in an L-Shape under a tent with different color citronella candle lanterns hanging strategically to keep the pesky bugs away. They served a dual purpose as they filled the air with a soft lemony scent adding to the lovely garden setting. I wanted to give the illusion of one long elegant table, so we butted three tables together and then disguised this by covering them with table linens. For the table linens, I went for crisp white and bought one of those yellow paper table cloths, folded it in half and cut it into runners for the center of the tables to add a color punch and warmth.

Always remember that dramatic statements are always in the details.  You can elevate even paper plates by placing plastic utensils wrapped in napkins and tying them with color scheme ribbons which makes a phenomenal presentation. Talking about presentation, setting your plates at varied heights by using books (at this event, I even used the crate that the cupcakes arrived in under the tablecloth) turn the simplest foods into an elegant display. Finally, I staged the table using rented champagne flutes and drinking goblets along with a mix of serving stands filled with a variety of sweets and bottles of champagne that I decorated with ribbons as the final details for the guests table. And not to be overlooked is the 'set of three' philosophy with the plates and wrapped utensils on the table which added depth and elegance. I mean, you can go all out by adding gold or silver chargers under real fine china. It's all up to the depth of your budget. I kept things real simple and cost effective for this shower.

Fancy floral arrangements can be beaucoup money. Why not opt for flowers that can go a long way in filling your vases? I'm more of a full, lush and low kind of flower gal. To cut on cost, I simply used Hydrangeas which are like big fluffy snow balls - since peonies were not available and probably would have cost even more for the amount I needed. The Hostess had lemon trees so we gathered some of those lemons (again going with part of our color scheme) in the yard and filled our glass vases with them for visual depth and interest. Then I cut the stem of the white Hydrangeas just enough so they'd sit atop the vases' lip mixed with a few branches of baby's breath flowers for a full effect. For the beverage table, I bought a bunch of yellow roses and placed them in varied small vases. I also used some of the petals and spread them all around the food table. Last, but not least, one final vase with two white Hydrangeas along with some green leaves was placed at the bride-to-be gift table along with three of the balloons tied to the chair she'd sit in when it was time to open the gifts.

Maybe enlist a game savvy friend to help in that area. Since it was a surprise bridal shower, I skipped this because I knew the bride would rather spend time chatting with the guests instead of playing games, but it's good to play a fun game to keep your guests engaged depending on the crowd.

I'm not big on tchotchkes and neither was the host or the bride-to-be. So we opted out of having them. It's a personal choice. One idea I had though since it's summer was to wrap pretty summer nail polish bottles along with pretty nail files in Thule/or small organza bags tied with the party color schemes' ribbons with the bride's name and date of the shower on tags to give away. Cute, right? Again, the host wasn't keen on favors and didn't want to spend money on them. But, it is in my back pocket for my next Bridal shower event.

Remember To Keep Calm And Enjoy The Process.

Happy Event Planning!


Sporty Casual Chic

Stripes Jersey Top (really liking this and this), Suede Wedges (old), Juicy Couture Necklace and Bag, Red HUE Jeggins (styled here and here) via Bloomingdale's

I hope you all had a great relaxing long weekend. Right off the bat, the weekend started with a barbecue invite to some friends, which may or may not have ended with the girls watching 27 dresses while some of the guys played guitar or watched the world cup game. Rounding out the weekend yesterday was doing what I love to do best - entertaining friends at my home. We passed the time playing two of my favorite games sequence and phase 10. The hubbies as you can imagine (boys being boys) were merciless as they whipped us girls in sequence. I'd like to think it's because we let them since we were feeling rather jovial after having some wine and tea spiked with baileys (huh huh...that's right - try it, if you haven't) before playing the games. But we sort of redeemed ourselves in phase 10. Booyah!

Have you ever waken up feeling in the mood for a certain type of outfit? Or am I the only one? Well, Friday I woke up and had a definite idea of what I wanted to wear; my new super light weight and comfy number 85 baseball-ish vibe shirt that I recently spotted in a store window in Beverly Hills and totally dashed in to get it. Combining this sporty essential casual top with my red jeggins along with the feminine chic red and black wedges, inadvertently gave the outfit a classic sporty casual chic look that my mood guided me into that day.



Red Velvet Pancake

I'm sure what I'm about to say about pancakes will shock most people. I don't like'em much. Nope, not at all. Just saying the word alone makes me feel bloated and overstuffed. I can feel the sore throat from trying to swallow spongy pancakes down my throat as I think about them and last, but not least, they make me lethargic. Yeah, pancakes are not my ideal food of choice for breakfast. On the other hand, nothing says "happy weekend mornings" to me like lovely thin light crepes that leave you satisfied without the over-gorged 'beluga whale feeling' that I often get with pancakes. However, after accidentally coming across this red velvet mix, I was intrigued. Being a huge moist red velvet cake/cupcake fan, I wanted to give it a try and I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. In fact, it's going to be part of the rotation in my weekend morning breakfast options. It's so easy to whip up these light fluffy, red velvet tasty beauties with a hint of chocolate flavor in less than 15 minutes. I made them small and thinner by using a 1/4 measuring cup to pour the batter on to my griddle pan and spread it flatter than usual as to keep them more palatable to me. I finished them with a controlled amount of maple syrup, blueberries and a little sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.

If you love red velvet cake and cupcakes like I do, you'll really like this pancake mix. I've already made a batch for my friends and their 6 year old son that spent an evening with us from San Diego, and their son loved them. Whenever a child loves something, you know it's got to be good! Follow the recipe on the container or adapt it to your liking. Either way, you won't be disappointed and I'm not paid a dime to say that.


Favorite Links

1. Timely tips and advice on to how to pick wedding flower arrangements using the florist that's right for you. 

2. Best insider tricks for online shopping that'll have you scoring the perfect fashion pieces at discounted prices.

3. I loved the story behind the birth on the most covetable Birkin bag. Why can't I be so fortunate!?

4. Because I'm so particular, most times I'd rather do my own mani-pedi. These 20 amazing life-changing tricks on getting the perfect manicure done at home more efficiently are much appreciated.

5. This 101 on how to build confidence blogging is one of the best posts that I've ever read.