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3.28.2016

Climbing To The Top


Climbing to The Top of 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco with Illesteva Sunglasses + Balenciaga Bag





16th Avenue San Francisco 163 Mosaic-Tiled Steps





The other morning, I read this article that affirmed our motto exactly about why we've chosen to live our lives the way we do, contrary to the way that others expect and/or want us to live. Some of parts of the article that resonated with me most...

"When you work hard every single day and there's only so much money left after your regular expenses, you have to make certain it's well spent. Spend your limited funds on what science says will make you happy."

"The trouble with things is that the happiness they provide fades quickly..."

"One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them."

On the other hand, 'Experiences - as fleeting as they may be - deliver more lasting happiness than things. Here's why: experiences become a part of our identity. We are not our possessions, but we are the accumulation of everything we've seen, the things we've done, and the places we've been. Buying an Apple Watch isn't going to change who you are; taking a break from work to hike the Appalachian Trail from start to finish most certainly will."

"Our experiences are bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. We don't compare experiences in the same way that we compare things..."

I'd much rather spend resources on experiences that will keep on giving when you reflect back, instead of spending loads of money on things that bring temporary joy. The joy and happiness that is derived from the memories of traveling or eating an amazing meal at a favorite top chef's restaurant is priceless and continues to bring more joy as time goes on. For instance, while we were out west for business, we squeezed in a little exploring time which led us to discovering the 16th Avenue tiled steps in San Francisco. Wow, what a great discovery that was! There was an older gentleman that took to us right away as we were about to climb the stairs and he explained to us the story behind the 163 mosaic-tiled stairs and the neighborhood. Looking at the photos instantly brings up a vivid memory of our time there. I can even still feel the fresh air that caressed our faces as we reached the top of those stairs only to be rewarded with the most amazing panoramic views. There's no fancy dress or shoes that can top the thrill of incredible experiences such as this.

Outfit: Nordstrom Jeans (similar here, here and here) |  Plaid Button Down (similar here) | Sweater (old - similar here) | Ankle Booties | Illesteva Sunglasses (similar here) | Balenciaga Bag


3.25.2016

Grateful Moments


1. Sweet floral greetings upon entering the guest bath.

Woah, how is it Friday already!? Sigh... other than a night out with a friend tonight, my most grandiose plan that I'm dreaming of for this weekend is to take a relaxing bath, soaked in bubbles, surrounded by candles with a book in hand. How about you - what are your weekend plans?

3.24.2016

Online Retail Shopping Sales Alerts


Favorite Top Online Retail Shopping Sales Alerts

The obscene amount of retail store sales alerts that flood my email inbox on the daily is enough to make an obsessive compulsive organizer like me scream! Even though I have an account that's specifically dedicated for such email, I'm still boggled by how fast it gets into the hundreds not too long after I empty it. Yes, I know I can unsubscribe or not give my email at check out when I'm asked for one, but I do at times want to know the occasional sale that my favorite stores are having. Plus, getting a copy of my receipt electronically also keeps life much more organized for me. I just don't like it when the one store multiplies into several unwanted spam emails from other retailers that I know I did not give my information to, which ends up causing me to lose track of which stores are having what sales. Therefore, in order to keep things in more of an organized fashion, I've decided to corral a list of my favorite retailers here (much like the holiday sales) so that I can simply come to it when I need to check out their sales. I'll do my best to periodically update their current special offers for the shopping pleasure of both yours and mine.

Anne Taylor | 40% off almost off everything using code: MARCH40 + free shipping on $175+ and $8.95 flat-rate shipping.

Anthropologie | Extra 25% off using code: XTRAXTRA // Giving me a perfect opportunity to score this real pretty skirt. Woot woot!

Banana Republic | 40% off your purchase using code: BRSPRING

Bloomingdales | Friends and family sale! // Take 25% off  using code: FRIENDS at checkout + free returns. 

Cosabella | Free shipping on $100+ on pretty little feminine things.

Express | 40% off everything + free shipping on orders of $125+

Free People | Free shipping on $100+ // Making it very tempting to score some enviable boho chic pieces.

Gap | 25% off your purchase online only using code: HOPTOIT

Guess | 40- 60% original price 30% off  limited time online only // Free shipping on orders of $99+ using code: FREESHIP99

H&M | Sales prices as marked online + free returns in store

J.Crew | 25% off your online purchase of $125 or more on full-price or sale items using code: SHOPMORE // Free shipping on orders of $150+ or $5 flat-rate shipping.

J.Crew Factory | 50% off online and in stores // Get an 40% off clearance using code: EGGSCELLENT

Lord & Taylor | 20% off regular priced and sale items using code: BIG or print pass // Free shipping on orders of $99+

Loft | 30% off almost everything // I really like this easy peasy chambray shirt.

Macy*s | Extra 20% off your purchase // Free shipping with $50 purchase + free returns.

Madewell |  Take 20% off orders of $100+ or 30% off orders of $200+ using code: NOJOKE.

Net-A-Porter.com | Sale up to 60% off // Free 3 day delivery and free returns within the US. 

Nordstrom | This particular sandal is screaming my name // more top picks right over here.

Old Navy | 20% off using code: BIGSAVE // Free shipping on orders $50 or more.

Shopbob | Friends and Family Sale! // Full-priced and sale items are 25% off with code: INTHEFAM


3.22.2016

BASIC SPRING SKINCARE BEAUTY ESSENTIALS

8 beauty skincare essentials to glowing skin in spring and summer


In the realm of beauty routine, simplicity and speed have always been my moto. I've always felt that the less makeup I pile on my face, the kinder my skin will be to me in the long run. And since the first thing people look at is the face, I'd rather them see the real me instead of hiding behind my real beauty or lack thereof  with a load of makeup. However as the years go by, I find that I'm relying more and more on concealer to help cover my raccoon eyes and a few age spots that are slowly creeping in but even then, I sometimes let it all hang out depending on the mood I wake up in. That said however, doesn't mean I neglect my skin (nor am I thoughtless about what I use on it) as I do believe that a great skincare routine using the right products is just as important and is key to impeccable glowing skin, in addition to a proper diet of course. And now that spring is here, there are definitely certain products that I've grown fond of and others that I'd like to test out to help beautify my body, leaving my skin radiant from head to toe. Here are a few of my personal picks and tricks for having soft and fresher skin in spring and summer:


1. A lightweight multi-purpose body oil that contains natural ingredients such as vitamin E and almond oil, helps keep skin firm and leaves the skin hydrated and lustrously soft. I usually carry in my bag a body oil mist for occasional spritzing (have been using this one all winter). There's nothing like the pleasing fragrance with each spritz that immediately evokes feelings of summer vacation escapes.

2. Caffeine is known to reduce swelling and I'm in desperate need of looking well-rested. Banishing my pesky under eye dark circles for me is a must. Testing out this yet to be tried coffee bean caffeine under eye cream is a necessary evil for me.

3. In addition to the application of a cleanser, masks can help exfoliate the skin, remove blackheads, clean pores and revitalize a dry dull complexion. Tata Harper resurfacing mask is 100% natural, plus the treatment of beta-hydroxy formula makes it a perfect at home alternative facial peel to soothe away winter roughness, for a smoother more radiant appearance. This more affordable option is also a very good one.

4. I was using makeup remover towelettes (like this one here, here and here) to remove mascara and foundation when I wear them for special occasions, but I didn't like the way they left my face feeling even though I'd wash my face with my cleanser after using them. I was noticing that they left my face feeling dry, especially around my mouth area and sometimes produced little bumps. So I decided to test out Burt's Bees cleansing oil - three things sold me on it: "coconut + argan oil and it's natural, I love the way it leaves my face feeling silky smooth without that oily feeling.

5. Self-pampering for me is one of the most important things when it comes to feeling beautiful and relaxed. So about once a week, I make sure to exfoliate in the shower with a favorite body scrub. Other two of my faves are: this one and this one. Removing dead cells off your body is important for smoother glowing skin. In my case, brown sugar spice skin. ;-) Speaking of brown skin - word of caution for us ladies: avoid harsh exfoliants that contain rough granules, because they can irritate the skin and trigger pigmentation problems. That's why it's best to use mild exfoliants and try not to use too many types at once or too often. Otherwise, the skin will appear dry and flaky instead of getting that sunkissed radiant soft glow that we're looking to achieve.

6. I have a dilemma with flaky, dry irritated lips and it's not because I don't drink water.  Using a good lip exfoliation followed by an application of a buttery moisturizing lip balm is a must-incorporate in my beauty regimen as it means removing all the unwanted chapped, dry skin from my lips. Plus exfoliation helps minimize the darkness of the lips. So it's a win win. If you love creme brulee like I do, you'll love this one.

7. I have normal-combination skin, so I rarely ever use a toner. However in the warmer months where my face tends to look shiny, I do love to incorporate a toner to help minimize the shine, reduce the appearance of my pores and for a good dose of revitalizing hydration, I love using the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Mist. It smells fresh and is soothing to the skin.

8. The ultimate step is to smell yummy. Think smelling like summer vacation in the tropics and there's nothing that says summer to me like coconut. A light misting from head to toe of this honey coconut perfume (currently on sale) is one of the must-haves in the bag during spring/summer. It reminds me of sitting on the seashore under the palm trees in both Puerto Rico and the Bahamas sipping on fresh coconut juice interspersed with Pina Colada.

P.S. See more of my other favorite beauty products here.

Happy Spring, lovelies!

3.18.2016

Grateful Moments


GRAY MALIN GRAY MALIN, CLASSIC STRIPED SAILBOAT
1. Grateful for the gift of vision because seeing this reminds me that beautiful summer vacations are ahead.

Given the week it's been, I wanted to pen these words I read not only as a great reminder for me, but also for any of you that might have been or are still somewhat stuck in the overwhelming dark cloud of life whether it be through the encounter of the wrong people or momentary circumstances:

" Never let the darkness or the negativity outside affect your inner self. Just wait until morning comes and the bright light will drown out the darkness. Today (or this week) has been difficult, but tomorrow will be another day. Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.

Very difficult at times to do as our emotions can get the best of us, but not impossible to overcome. At the end of the day, there's truly more to be grateful for than not.

2. Favorite Essie's Neutral Nail Colors for this spring/summer
3. Old pretty little things that I can't wait to showcase once again sans jackets taking away their limelight.

Hand Blown Glass Vintage Ceiling Light
4. I have a thing with pretty ceiling lights, especially dimly lit vintage ones like this at one of our favorite restaurants.

Duck on Date Night Adorned with an Orchid
5. This tasty duck on a relaxing date night with the hubby.

PS. Which one of these pretty spring/summer sandals is more you? I love them all, but if I had to pick... I'd go with #3 and/or definitely #4. 

3.15.2016

SPRING AND SUMMER SANDALS {UNDER $100}


Affordable Sexy Sophisticated Spring and Summer High Heel Sandals Under $100

It's almost sandal season again, you guys. I can't wait to put away my heavy tights and let my feet bask in the sunshine of warmer weather. Wouldn't you agree, a great look isn't complete without a nice pair of hot, high heel sandals? In my book, one of the most important wardrobe essentials is having a well-curated collection of the right pair of high heels. And when I say right pair, I mean comfortable. I'm not talking about sandals that are simply eye candy and are as uncomfortable as heck. No, I'm talking about good quality pairs of shoes that expand and mold to your feet in all the right places, as would a great pair of jeans. Let's face it, whether it be an attractive pair of sandals like this or an alluring pair of sexy strappy set of high heels, they make for the perfect exclamation point in rounding out a well-polished outfit. I thought these sexy sophisticated options listed here, here and here make for the perfect addition to a hot summer style.

1. Dolce Vita Maitlyn Heel {limited sizes}

2. Hello Lovely Fringe Suede Heel {also available in whiskey color}

3. Steve Madden Carrson Sandals {also available in three other colors}

4. Joe's Jeans Ironic Heel {limited sizes}

5. Raye Betty Suede Heel {perfect highlighter accent color}

6. Snake Embossed Leather Heel


3.11.2016

Grateful Moments


Assorted Pastel Buttermint Creams After Dinner Mints
1. Cheery bright favorites, reminder of the imminence of sweet refreshing colorful spring and summer days, and that I'll be wearing one of these colors as a bridesmaid this summer.

The warm break in the weather this week has us feeling so re-energized, it has beckoned us to venturing out of our cocoons, taking daily morning walks alongside the east river and parks once again. Ahh, that scent of fresh spring air has me excited to get my hands dirty, getting our terrace back in action for enjoying the nicer days under the sky reading, lounging and eating in the outdoors. May better days ahead give you the needed hope and respite to carry on with your life this weekend.

A Spring Bunch of Tulips in An Owl Vase on the Bart Cart
2. The sweetest tulip bunch handed to me from out of town visitors who stopped by for a visit.

Colorful Healthy Salmon Breakfast Bites + Fruits + Tea
3. Our morning breakfast has been pretty colorful lately.

Orange Crosley Record Radio Player
4. Once I laid my eyes on the color of this Crosley player, I've been totally thinking of replacing mine here. 

Sweet Tea Gift Set
5. This sweet tea set just reminds me that I need to send a couple of gifts out today. Life needs more sweet tea and sunshine.


Other cool things that made me either smile or went huh, how cool/interesting!

~ Would you say this sunglass beach towel is a yay or nay? 




~ ...and just in case you missed this how-to post.


3.10.2016

Favorite Links Around The Web


March 2016 Favorite Links Around The Web
March 2016 Favorite Links Around The Web
1. Though I have heard of and applied these 5 closet cleaning tips over the course of my life, still, method N0. 3 is one of the most ideal suggestions I've read about and yet, would be the hardest to effectuate.

2. If you're in need of a good crack up, I suggest reading these 50 brilliant sarcastic jokes - they had me in stitches. I love them all, but my favorites were N0. 9, 19, 26, 28, 43 but read 49 at your own risk and remember, I didn't write them. So save your judgments.

3. You mean that's all it takes to look like a Kardashian?! How'bout the cash, any video on that?


5. I have extremely fine hair (as can be seen here) and never have worn any extensions in my life (so yes, this is my own hair), making these best 20 short hairstyles for fine hair worth considering/filing in my beauty archives. Kelly Ripa is my hair muse, which is why I'm still seriously considering going for her summer hair color + length. 

6. Learning about the powering effect of a loving hug/touch during my adolescent years always made me wonder how in the world that I kept alive. Especially, when you read this powerfully touching story of how the amazing power of a touch (known as a Kangaroo) saved a life.

* Image credit: 2 | 3

3.09.2016

3 How-To Tips for Hosting An Afternoon High Tea


Oscars Champagne Afternoon High Tea How-To host one

I always enjoy entertaining and having people over. It's one of the things that make me the happiest. Setting up and creating a special atmosphere to share with friends is just sheer bliss for me. So last Sunday, for the Academy Awards show, I opted to celebrate it along with a friend in a much different way than I generally would. As the sun is setting later now, it got me in the mood to start out the celebration early with a champagne afternoon tea, served with a variety of delicious treats. Needless to say, it was a wonderful way to spend that Sunday afternoon that stretched well into the late night.
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting An Afternoon High Tea with Veuve Clicquot Champagne
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Champagne Afternoon High Tea
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Champagne Afternoon High Tea + Veuve Clicquot
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Champagne Afternoon High Tea + Veuve Clicquot
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Champagne Afternoon High Tea + Veuve Clicquot
I'd like to share 3 simple tips to help allay the intimidation of hosting a party effortlessly.

* Preparation is Key. Whether entertaining family or friends, being a good host requires a bit of planning. Prepare as much as you possibly can the day before so that on the day of your party, all that's left to do is getting yourself dressed and putting on the playlist for your occasion. Buy fresh flowers and arrange them in their prospective vases/cups, place them in their designated areas, including the bathroom. Think inexpensive bunches, like carnations or in season flowers that can be divided between at least several small vases and still make a big impact.

* Decide Your Table Theme and Food. I went with a white palette using a white tablecloth as my base (but if you don't have a tablecloth, a nice pretty throw or an oversized scarf can be used as well) with accents of "vintage red roses" aka, roses that started dying prettily - I added some baby breath to the arrangements for their delicate touch. Then decide on the types and amount of tea sandwiches, mini deserts and tea. The options are endless, but here's what I chose for my menu this time around:3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Veuve Clicquot Champagne Afternoon High Tea
~ Tea Sandwiches 
(ideally should be two bites)~
Turkey Celery and Almond Sandwiches {recipe to follow}
Scones with Raspberry Jam and Cream
Mixed Berry Fruits and Cream
Chocolate Covered Miniature Sponge Cake with Vanilla Cream
Chocolate Tartlets {recipe to follow}

~ Teas ~
{when it comes to tea, I love heavy flavor and dark color brewed tea that stand up well to milk and sugar or creamer. Plus, I enjoy blending different flavors together, so I combined these two favorites.}

* Set The Atmosphere. Besides setting a beautiful table with its delicious delectables, you want to set the mood with the right music on low volume so guests can hear you and each other comfortably. I generally, start the playlist for the occasion five minutes or so before my guests start to arrive. I love using spotify these days in lieu of my iPod. As with my iPod, I've created a great variety of playlists for any occasion or sometimes I'll put on my good'ol Crosley record player depending on the evening. If you go that route, make sure to select the records you'd like to play beforehand, to avoid fumbling for them as your guests are coming in or already in your home. Light candles before you put on the music. Since this was the Academy Awards show, I had the pre-red/red carpet going all day. But as I always say, when it's all said and done - the key to being a gracious host, is ensuring that your guests feel comfortable and welcome. The important thing is to enjoy your time with your guests and have fun!
3 Simple How-To Tips for Hosting A Champagne Afternoon High Tea + Veuve Clicquot



3.08.2016

SALMON AND HERB CREAM CHEESE TEA SANDWICHES


Afternoon Tea Salmon and Herb Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

I'm not sure if it's because I'm "fun- sized", but I find myself more excited about food when it's presented in tinier portions. I once read a quote that says "taste everything, but eat nothing", and that couldn't be any more true nibbling on an array of these sweet tiny tasters for an afternoon tea. It's precisely why I love tapas, wine flight pairings and obviously high tea, as they give you the chance to taste just enough without feeling overly engorged. I also find the act of having to gracefully pick up miniature items to pop in my mouth adds a level of finesse to life - a moment that reminds you that life is meant to live beautifully by enjoying these beauteous morsels that were created as a gift for us humans to savor with our family and friends. Really, then, what better way to slow down and intentionally create more of these moments than by carving out time amidst this short-lived, agitated life surrounded by chaos to share them with loved ones.

Afternoon Champagne and english Tea Salmon and Herb Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Ingredients* {makes 16}

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons each finely chopped fresh dill and chives
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon drained capers rinsed, chopped finely
4 slices bread (crust removed)
4 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon

Directions

1. Combine cream cheese, chives, dill, lemon juice and capers in a small bowl. Season to taste.

2. Cut bread slices into thick strips. Spread with the cream cheese mixture; top with a quarter size smoked salmon and finish with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture atop the salmon. Repeat with remaining bread, cream cheese mixture, smoked salmon. Then arrange them on your serving tray.

* Herb cream cheese mixture can be made a day ahead.

3.04.2016

Grateful Moments


Las Vegas Summerlin Majestic Palm Trees in the desert
1. Missing warm weather on this misty snowy wet cold day today.

This week, I found myself doing a lot of reflecting and self-examining that left me feeling less than one hundred percent. Re-learning how to not over analyze or make too much out of everything that people spew in my face has definitely taught me that sometimes, the qualities that we think we've mastered can either subtlety erode away or we have not completely cultivated them to the extent that we think. But I'm feeling super grateful for two things: first, that I could take the much needed mental health rest days without the added burden hanging over me of worrying about making "a boss" mad for calling in sick and second, tomorrow we'll be having some out of town guests over for afternoon tea after their long flight out of the country, which seems to be a recurring theme around here lately (which by the way I'll be sharing some of my Oscars high tea shindig next week some time, including a couple of the recipes... so make sure to check back;-).

Las Vegas Wynn Hotel Suites Marble Floors
2. It was the greatest treat for the eyes, waking up to floors like this throughout our hotel suite while away.

Wine Bar Bottles And Seats
3. One of the things that reverberates my soul is seeing a well-executed restaurant's bar and entryway.

Venetian Hotel Las Vegas Aquaknox divine seafood Restaurant + bar
4. These friends couldn't have garnered any more brownie points with me for the loveliest five course seafood and wine pairing surprise - one of my most memorable nights this year yet!

La Cave Hideaway Bar Restaurant Lounge ceiling fixtures at the Wynn Hotel
5. Love love ceiling fixtures - especially, in settings such as in this cozy bar hideaway.

P.S. The iPhone 5s takes the worst pictures in history. Sigh... and I thought my husband's dinosaur crackberry was bad. Sheeeeesh.... Yes Apple, I realize it's a tactic to upgrade and make you large profits.


3.03.2016

RASPBERRY BUTTER


Oscars2016 Champagne Afternoon High Tea Raspberry Butter Recipe-Glutten-Free Raspberry Butter Recipe

Oscars2016 Champagne Afternoon High heart-shaped-Tea Raspberry Butter Recipe-Glutten-Free Raspberry Butter Recipe

Personally, one of the most enjoyable parts of planning any event and/or gathering, is in the small details (much as in decorating). The little details are what make your heart flutter when your eyes move around a room or in this case a well-arranged tablescape. Take for instance a simple thing as this little customized heart-shaped raspberry butter that I made for my afternoon high tea this past Oscars Sunday. Because really, there is no greater combo than the florally sweet taste of the raspberry fruit jam with the saltiness of the butter. No? Try it atop hot biscuits fresh out of the oven. I promise you, it'll be hard not to put it on everything that you can. And it took me just about a couple of minutes to whip up (tasted way better than anything you could buy in the store for sure), but the special touch that it added to my table setting made the occasion feel that much more elegant. Here's how I made it:

Ingredients*

2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (soften at room temperature)
2 Tablespoons of this gluten-free raspberry fruit jam (you can also substitute fresh berries)
Pinch of salt (to heighten the flavor of the fruit jam - optional)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then press your mixture into any shape metal cookie cutter of your liking. I went with the heart shape option because I felt it was appropriate for my sweet lovely afternoon tea.

*Can be made the day (s) before - than the morning of the event, just pop out your butter into a favorite small dish.

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3.01.2016

Don't Need No Hateration


Los Angeles Palms Lined Street in A Convertible Mustang Listening To Mary J. Blige

I love when a song's lyrics speak what sometimes cannot be expressed as in the case of this 2001 throwback tune of Mary J. Blige called, "Family Affair." I Got to hear the words of that song a couple of weeks ago and haven't been able to get them out of my head, especially the following parts of the song....

Don't need no hateration, holleratin'
In this dance for me
Let's get it percolatin', while you're waiting
So just dance for me

don't need no haters
just try to love one another
we just want why'all have a good time
no more drama in your life
work real hard to make a dime
If you got beef, your problem, not mine

Los Angeles Palms Lined Street in A Convertible Mustang Listening To Mary J. Blige
Distressed boyfriend jeans and Cynthia Rowley Cashmere Cardigan in Los Angeles California
Los Angeles Palms Lined Street in A Convertible Mustang Listening To Mary J. Blige
Los Angeles Palms Lined Street in A Convertible Mustang Listening To Mary J. Blige
Shirt (seen heresimilar here) | Suede Ankle Boots (on sale + more faves here) | Cashmere Cardigan (from a couple of seasons ago, but I really like the color combo + style of this one) | Sunglasses (similar here and here) | Necklace (similar here and here + more lovely options here as well)
Speaking of unforgettable tunes, who's enjoying American Idol's last season thus far? The past episode with imminently pregnant guest star Kelly Clarkson, was one of the most emotional shows in Idol history yet - wouldn't you agree? Who are you voting for? It's a tough show this season because they all are very talented with strong vocals, but I have a strong feeling the last three that are going to battle it out this season in the end are: La"Porsha // Sonika and Trent or maybe Dalton.