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Our Dining Room Reveal


Even though we gave this once used as a "family/TV room" (by the previous homeowner) its makeover into a dining room back in November 2017, I never got to share what it looked like before because I always felt it's not completely done exactly how I want it. For one, I'd love to blow out the back sliding doors and the window next to it and combine them into large french doors with black iron frames that open up to the backyard. It's also my dream to change all the windows and the flooring throughout along with the rug that's currently under the dining table. I'd like a couple of these for head chairs. However, since I've shared some bits and pieces of this room on Instagram, I thought it was about time I finally did a dining room reveal of some of the changes we made thus far.


the details that make a house a home


Since moving into our house two years ago, we have done some major updates such as our kitchen renovationthe entryway, our courtyard, our front yard, the living room, and dining room (yet to be shared - coming soon). But there are still a bunch of areas of the house we still have to tackle before it completely reflects us and feels like home. For instance, our master bedroom and bathroom suite, our guest bathroom, our backyard, our fourth bedroom, and the list go on. Another one of those areas was this corner niche space at the end of our hallway near our offices. It was so drab and depressing and was a smaller project that I wanted to tackle for a while. The seasonal change and cooler temps finally gave me the energy boost needed to tackle this space, at last, a couple of weeks ago. By simply swapping a few things here and there, this little corner instantly went from feeling flat to feeling fresh, cozy, and homey.


new fall season skincare secrets



With a new season comes a necessary tweak to our skincare routine to keep it well hydrated, plump and bright. In general, I grew up with good skin but I think it was mostly because I had a mother who taught me the importance of taking care of your skin by keeping it well moisturized instead of concentrating on the application of makeup. So I grew up keeping things simple and have always embraced the less is more approach in the way I take care of mine. I feel in the quest of achieving 'perfect' skin, many times we can become overly aggressive in our skincare routine when all we need is to protect the outer layer that does all the hard work. For this reason, I rarely stick to one complete line of products when it comes to my skincare as I periodically re-evaluate my needs and switch out and/or add new products, especially with each new season, to help maintain great healthy and glowy youthful skin. Recently, I was sent a few products from Lexli to try out and after several weeks of incorporating them into my skincare routine, I was happy to find some newfound favorites that addressed some of my problem areas right on time before the harsh winter months.




Venice was always one of the destinations at the top of our bucket list. When we were planning our summer getaway this year, we knew it had to be included in the schedule of places to visit, even if it was just to spend a day there. When it was 'officially' on our itinerary, I could not be more excited to get there! Visiting a city as distinctive as Venice was one of the most exciting parts of our adventures this summer.




Ironically, the year we decided to make our way back to Europe to travel to some of our always-wanted-to-visit places on our unofficial wish list, most of the country was experiencing one of the most uncharacteristically hottest sizzling summers in the history of man. Unlike many people who seek out beach destinations for the summer, we do the complete opposite; we flee and seek refuge in much cooler places to get away from the intense desert summer heat. Of course, one of the first destinations on that list this year was Greece but we did not realize how hot it was going to be. Out of all 20 cities we got to explore throughout Europe this year, we found Greece to have been one of the hottest, but with so many new excursions planned, we didn’t allow that to deter our adventurous spirit from exploring as much as we could for the six days we were there. Santorini was, of course, one of the top locations we wanted to visit, as well as Crete, Athens, and even some of the not-so-well-known spots, like Nafplion, Corfu, and Argostoli, a town on the island of Kefalonia. Argostoli is such a small colorful, quiet little town with some of the friendliest shop owners that we came across. However, although this little town of Argostoli was hot and humid, it offered a much cooler breeze in the shade which was hardly the case in other places.



Ah, Greece, how you've captured our hearts at first sight! The serene crisp white stucco adobe homes covered with bougainvillea, accented with bright pops of blue shutters, and doors sitting above these hills with views of the sea; you can’t help but fall in love and feel at ease with this picturesque Greek island of Santorini. It was intensely hot and humid on that day of exploring so there were many breaks, sitting down on stoops alongside the shady side of the narrow streets, filled with cafes and shops to catch a breeze and people watch.




The Amalfi coast was our second destination on our European summer vacation this year after Rome and what a relaxing treat that was! As a limoncello lover, one of the must-dos on this trip to Salerno, Italy was to head to the Amalfi coast for a lemon grove tour. That morning, we started out a lot later than we planned which caused us to run late for our tour time and we thought for certain that we missed this much-anticipated expedition. Seeing how behind we were running, we got bummed out thinking “oh well, we missed this tour (that we had already paid for). Now, what are we going to do?” Being hopeful, we still decided to head to our meeting point anyway to see if by any chance they waited for us.





We first fell for cruising the world on the high seas nineteen years ago when we tested the waters (no pun intended) to see if traveling in this manner was for us. To our greatest delight, we loved the experience contrary to the many negative ideas, myths and fears we had heard from those who had never cruised before. In fact, we discovered it was one of the most relaxing ways to travel. Ever since then, all of our annual summer vacations always include a cruise on the agenda. 

Now our motto is 'the longer the itinerary, the better' and Holland America Line offers some great long journey packages. Over the years, we have also come to appreciate that traveling on smaller ships affords us the peace and tranquility we’re after on vacation and a much more intimate first-rate service from the staff, which enhances our traveling experience. I could go on and on, but today I want to share the top five reasons why we love cruising. 

1. One-Stop-Shop Accommodations. Personally, the idea of an early morning wakeup, schlepping my luggage from one place to the next especially along cobblestone streets, possibly in inclement weather waiting for a ferry, bus, or train isn't my definition of a carefree, relaxing vacation.

On a cruise, you just board the ship and find your room or grab a cocktail while you wait a few minutes for your luggage to arrive in your room. It's easier to slip into vacation mode, as you don't have to worry about living out of a suitcase packing and unpacking at each destination. Instead, you unpack once and get organized as if you just moved into a much sought after cozy NYC city apartment. 

What's more, beforehand you can have them put fresh flowers in your room which I highly recommend! It brightens up the space and adds to your bliss upon entering the room as well as after a day of sightseeing. Also, after I thoroughly disinfect and sterilize every nook and cranny, I always bring my favorite oil diffuser to freshen the cabin's air and create a more pleasant experience.


2. Better Value For Your Money. With a cruise, your package price includes accommodations, food (and you're talking a variety of choices that your heart desires without worrying about the cost and if you don't like one dish, you can return it and try a different one), daytime and evening entertainment, and shuttle or tender transportation between destinations. No searching for hotels in your price range, no coordinating travel between cities and you can even choose a departure port within driving distance if you're not into flying or want to eliminate that extra planning step. Plus, you get better quality service than you usually would get on land. 



3. Amazing Itinerary Destinations. The ability to pick an itinerary that suits your preferences and allows you to visit cities on your travel wishlist in one vacation is just sensational! In addition to that is the idea of waking up in a new place every day just makes it even that much more thrilling. I mean, who would love that? I view cruising like wine tasting. You taste one country and city a day at a time until you find your favorite one that you'd want to travel to and spend more time exploring. That's how we've discovered so many of our favorite places over the years. 

4. Complete Disconnection. Between the expensive and limited sloooow wifi package service and/or roaming fees while at sea, you'll quickly find yourself turning off that darn phone completely and locking it up in your safe. Besides, the amount of onboard activities that are designed for your enjoyment inspires you to get in vacation mode, savoring every moment of your time. Cruising is an ideal vacation for us as it helps us to live our fantasy life of living off-the-grid. The vistas of endless ocean, the stars twinkling above as you feel the wind on your face and the gentle soft sound of the ship cutting through the ocean is so liberating! 


5. Great Bar Lounges and Restaurants. If you're anything like us, you not only enjoy aesthetically pleasing bars but a lively atmosphere, where you can imbibe on tasty drinks while carrying on delightful conversations with friendly bartenders. Also, the specialty and pop up restaurant's menu from world-renowned chefs containing just about everything you could ever want to eat or never tried before can be a foodie's dream. Think of wine tasting from different regions to fancy five-course wine pairing dinners. 

Essentially, it is not that life ashore is distasteful to us but life at sea is better, because we wanted freedom, open-air, and adventure which we find on the sea.

If you also love cruising, I want to hear what your top reasons are as to why you love it. Please don't hesitate to share in the comment box below the post. 

* See more travel posts here
* You can also check our past cruises here.




Finally, home after an incredibly hot and humid but wonderful month-long vacation traveling in different parts of Europe. We saw, we learned, we ate and drank a bunch, but thankfully, we walked and perspired a tremendous amount as well, which I'd like to think counterbalanced it all. Suffice to say, I have an inordinate number of photos from our incredible journey that I’ve been sorting through and cannot wait to share all the places we visited. In 30 days, we got to enjoy exploring a total of eight countries and twenty cities altogether. So, there’s plenty of beautiful and inspiring vacation destinations content coming your way. 




However, since this was only the first leg of our summer break, I'd like to share one of our favorite ways to travel and see the world and that is cruising! I've written about it before, but in next week's post, I will be sharing our top five reasons why we love it and always include one on our annual summer getaway itinerary. So don't forget to come back and check out the post next week! 

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The starting point of our warm weather vacation season always begins with our annual spring break trip to Palm Springs. It’s a getaway that we're always itching to make by March of every year, after the long winter stretch of hubby’s extremely grueling tight busy work schedule. One way I make the most of our travels is to reminisce about them afterward. I love to take the downtime to go through the pictures and allow my mind to soak in the experiences all over again by reliving the memories, the learnings that I didn’t get to fully process while enjoying what’s happening in the moment of the journey. 


I didn't want to begin our summer vacation coming up swiftly in a couple of days without reliving the wonderful memories of this trip once again by documenting some of the moments captured in this Palm Springs Photo Diary post. I hope you’ll enjoy them just as much as I do.

One of the main highlights for me was the intimate dinner at the Purple Room, a throwback to that old-school supper club with live jazz music. I can easily flood this post with so many favorite shots but for the sake of inspiring and keeping this post brief, instead of boring you, I've decided to keep the photo sharing to a minimal here.