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Hacienda Retreat Gated Courtyard Desert Oasis

We’ve had some reasons to celebrate around here. For one, today makes it exactly one week since we received the keys to our new house. After an arduous, year-long search praying our hearts out for a place to call home, we are finally blessed with one just in time for the fall, my favorite season. Don’t they say, ‘third time’s a charm’? Well, this is our third home of our married life, so let’s hope so!  

Three words to describe this 21-year-old new baby: inviting, secluded, and a retreat. As of today, we’re starting the process of giving her a much-needed facelift to have her looking her best in no time, and of course, I’ll be taking you through the renovation process. The idea that it’s not brand new makes me excited, for it gives us the opportunity to upgrade it just the way we like, and make it our own. I can’t wait to see our vision for this place realized so I can finally get back to doing the things I love most in life: entertaining friends, hosting happy hours, having high tea parties, and spending time gardening, slowly turning the backyard and courtyard into an oasis.
I look forward to chronicling the before and after updates, as we go through the process of making this new space home! Eek! So EXCITED!
Have a wonderful and safe week!



Zara Pink Blush flirty flutter tiered ruffle sleeve top

Happy Monday dearies! Today, the only things that are blocking my sunshine on this much anticipated solar eclipse phenomenon are clouds, a little bit of rain and the beginning of a flu. But on the bright side, there’s nothing like a beautiful blush blouse with sweet detailing, such as a flirty flutter tiered ruffle sleeve top paired with comfy wide leg linen stripe pants that cannot bring a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. I love the flirty flair ability of this top to jazz up jeans, or a pencil skirt instantly. Plus, it hits just the right spot for optimum upper arm-coverage if you’re as self-conscious about your arms as I am.

Zara Pink Blush flirty flutter tiered ruffle sleeve top

Zara Pink Blush flirty flutter tiered ruffle sleeve top

Zara Pink Blush flirty flutter tiered ruffle sleeve top

In the meantime, for those of you who actually got to see and experience the sight of the solar eclipse, it's a great day to remember this: ‘the moon loves the sun just as shadows love light. Love your shadow until your love transforms it in light.’ 

Have a good week!

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Top Best Budget-Friendly Durable Kitchen Countertop alternatives to Marble

Kitchen countertop options have been my latest obsession lately, as I soon will be doing some kitchen renovation. When working with clients, sometimes it’s usually one of the toughest material choice decisions in a kitchen design/renovation. Personally, I rarely have a tough time deciding what I want but I still like to weigh out the pros and cons of my options in any decision that I make, so as to assure that I will be happy with my choice years from now. Originally, I was planning on sharing about six different well-known stone countertops, like quartz, quartzite, Corian, soapstone, granite and of course marble just to name a few with their pros and cons, but I decided to share my top best budget-friendly durable kitchen countertop picks instead and the reason why these are my top favorite options.

First, the secret to make choosing a countertop less difficult and right for you is to ask yourself the following questions:

1) Budget. How much are you realistically willing to spend?

2) What are your household needs?

3) Do you have children? There may be lots of spills and crayon use or the occasional days of banging on it from temper tantrums.

4) Are you a messy cook/baker?

5) Are you OCD about keeping things shiny and spotless at all times (like me – hey!)?

6) Are you a practical person who needs something that not only looks good but will last for a very long time without any high maintenance?

In spite of the fact that I have a touch of “OCD” (according to some) about having an organized spotless house with shiny clean countertops, I still fall in the sixth low maintenance category, as I’m a gal who would rather spend time enjoying life, instead of spending time maintaining things. True, I like things I own to look good (who doesn’t?) – nevertheless, I don’t consider it a luxury unless they last a very long time and high maintenance free. That’s precisely why it was a no brainer for my countertop material of choice for the upcoming kitchen reno project. Quartz! Here’s why: in addition to the reasons mentioned above, the crushed quartz mixed with resin combo of this engineered stone makes it one of the toughest countertops out there, one that beats even real stone. Annnd, it’s also more budget-friendly. 

I love the fact that I get the same polished look and veining details as you would in marble, without the drawbacks. Especially, given my obsessive-compulsive nature, I know I would never be able to deal with staining and round circle etching on my marble countertops, as I’ve already been dealing with on my current coffee table. This man-made nature stone is as beautiful as it is practical because it takes away the added weight of worrying about spills, stains and having to seal it annually. Also, the different options to choose from are innumerous, which adds to the excitement of picking the one. Since I do love the look of marble a lot, I had to find quartz countertops with similar characteristics of marble. I want one that is sleek – mostly a brilliant white background with subtle grey veining as opposed to the busy look of a speckled/flecks variety.

So, I scoured through the options out there and narrowed down my top eight favorites (in order of preference), that have the look I’m after. 
I can’t wait to get the samples so I can see them in person (since it's hard to really get a true feel of the stones in these small square images on the computer), and in the light of the space and hone down to the one that will make the final cut. Stay tuned to see the renovation project as it unfolds and find out which particular quartz counter I pick. So excited! 

*Top Image Via



American Eagle High rise frayed skinny white jeans_Anthropologie flutter sleeve embroidered pink top_Chinese Laundry Perforated Ankkle Booties_Aldo Snakeskin Foldover Clutch

In the morning, who do you get dressed for when you reach in your closet? Is it to keep up with what others are wearing on Instagram/Pinterest? Is it to impress others? Is it to enhance the person that you are? After all, our clothes say a lot about us. Fashion by its very nature is transient. At best, the latest style can only adorn us for a while – thus, any good impression we make will quickly be compromised if our personality does not complement our appearance. However, self-confidence and satisfaction with oneself in life depends much more than looking good. 

American Eagle High rise frayed skinny white jeans_Anthropologie flutter sleeve embroidered pink top_Chinese Laundry Perforated Ankkle Booties_Aldo Snakeskin Foldover Clutch

American Eagle High rise frayed skinny white jeans_Anthropologie flutter sleeve embroidered pink top_Chinese Laundry Perforated Ankkle Booties_Aldo Snakeskin Foldover Clutch

American Eagle High rise frayed skinny white jeans_Anthropologie flutter sleeve embroidered pink top_Chinese Laundry Perforated Ankkle Booties_Aldo Snakeskin Foldover Clutch

It’s really about embracing the fact that each of us is made up of little details that make us unique. It cannot be gleaned or honed from copying someone else. Remember, the fashion industry constantly redefines “beauty” by inculcating in the populace’ mind their portrayal of a certain stereotype as “beautiful.” However, by considering and accepting your own individual uniqueness you won't feel the pressure to conform, but rather find that great style is about dressing for yourself and yourself only. It’s so much easier being ourselves instead of trying frantically to change what we have and who we are just to fit in. Ageless beauty consists of your true inner self, which is enhanced by what you wear. In essence, your well-chosen garment becomes like the bow atop the gift of you. My motto is: dress to feel good, not to show off. 

Flutter Sleeve Embroidered Top (sold out - other favorites) | Frayed High Rise Skinny Jeans | Sunglasses (similar) | Ankle Booties (old - similar) | Handbag (similar)

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Mango Metallic Handle crossbody bag_Paige bootleg denim_Ann Taylor Loft Cashmere blush turtleneck_Vintage round sunglasses

Good morning, everyone! Hope you had a relaxing weekend. For a good dose of inspirational boost on this marvelous Monday, it only feels right to wrap up the Alaskan cruise post (as promised) by sharing some of our photo journal of beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. It’s a place we’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time now and were overjoyed when we saw it was one of the destinations on our cruise itinerary. Being that I have a penchant for gardening/gardens and high tea – the Butterfly Gardens and Butchart Gardens were a priority on the must-check-out-places list. So, this post will mainly be about these two spots. 

As soon as we disembarked at the port, we chartered a bus to our first stop - the Butterfly Gardens, which is only a short five-minute drive from Butchart Gardens. Walking through the souvenir shop, you head out the back door and enter into this intimate miniature tropical jungle with surprises at every turn (I’ll point out what startled me in the photos below as we go along, so keep an eye out). You immediately are surrounded by all sorts of butterfly species not only under foot, but flying all around you. As you continue to wander around, you come to a serene pond filled with a variety of large tropical fish, Flamingos and a refreshing waterfall. To our surprise, Victoria was a lot warmer than expected that day (mid-80’s), which left me looking like a wet chihuahua in my faux fur vest and light cashmere turtleneck. It was comparable to our typical hot soupy summer days in NYC, which I secretly enjoyed feeling the dewy drops on my skin, getting the moisture that it desperately needed - given that we’ve been living in the desert these last 10 months.

Mango Metallic Handle crossbody bag_Paige bootleg denim_Ann Taylor Loft Cashmere blush turtleneck_Vintage round sunglasses

Butchart Gardens Victoria Island British Columbia Flamingos

Butchart Gardens Victoria Island British Columbia_Iguana

This is what startled me and had me almost running, screaming with fear when I picked up my head and spotted him perched right above ogling at me. (Insert a screaming face with two hands holding the jaw and cheeks emoji).

Victoria British Columbia Canada_Butchart Gardens

Holland America Cruise Part II: Butterfly Gardens + Butchart Gardens
Victoria is one of those incredibly breathtaking destination islands that’s worth spending more than a few hours in. It was definitely the perfect port to finish up in before we docked back in Seattle the next morning and is officially ranking as our third favorite city from this cruise vacation. We’re already planning to go back to explore the amazingly picturesque spots we didn’t get to see this time around like, Inner Harbour and the Royal British Columbia Museum. We’d also love to do the hike through Goldstream Provincial Park and experience the ferry ride to Sooke, since I’ve heard whales can be spotted on this one. Rounding it out with the main goal of any vacation - wine tasting at Cowichan Valley, where there are dozens of small vineyards offering tours and tastings. Yes, please… just say when?!

Holland America Line Seattle Marina Port View

Fun fact: As if the story of Jenny Butchart turning this abandoned limestone quarry surrounding her home into the incredibly stunning gardens that are now one of the most famous tourist attractions (certainly, a woman after my own heart), the Butchart family story gets even more interesting. Did you know that while traveling in Europe, they received word that both of their German Woodland Ducks had died after an eagle attack? Since they were already mostly there, Mr. Butchart insisted on going to Germany to purchase new ducks. But Mrs. Butchart would hear nothing of it, insisting that if they went, they’d miss their steamship home. Her husband, Robert who had a love for ducks put his foot down and insisted to go, so off the family trekked to Germany. At last, after making his purchase and arranging for the ducks to be shipped back to British Columbia, the family rushed back to England only to find out that they missed their boat by two days! 

What boat did they miss? The Titanic!! Thus, the story is, two dead ducks saved the Butchart Gardens. You’re welcome America and Canada!  

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To see more of this cruise vacation, click here
To see more travel posts, click here.



A Nod to 60's Mod Style Dress - Audrey Hepburn Style

If I were to categorize my style, it would be “classy prep”. At least that’s what one fashion style quiz once said a while back, which coincidentally, is exactly what my friends used to say about my wardrobe style way back when. But in all honesty, I love fashion too much to dogmatically say I fit into just one particular style. However, if I had to pick one category for the rest of my life, it would be 60’s fashion for sure. I’ve always been smitten by the ladies style of that time period and that era in general. That’s why, as soon as I saw this dress in one of the loveliest vintage shops while we were in Palm Springs over the springtime, I knew it’d be a perfect addition to my slow-growing collection of vintage dresses.

A Nod to 60's Mod Style Dress - Audrey Hepburn Style

A Nod to 60's Mod Style Dress - Audrey Hepburn Style

The intricate sparkly silver shimmer detailing in the fabric and the lace overlay embellishment around the v-neck, adds interest to this stunning little statement number. This made it the perfect outfit choice for our double dinner date night when we took our friends to celebrate their anniversary. Next time, I’d love to dress it up with these nude heels, a fancy up-do and finish it up with this handbag. How about you? What era do you identify with the most?

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