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12.31.2019

REFLECTING ON 2019


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I don't know about you, but I find it so surreal that we’re ending a whole decade! The idea of being ten years older alone makes me cringe. This really solidifies the sobering truthfulness of how time waits for no one. Reflecting on 2019 makes me realize how it's been a strange year: hopeful in the first few months, sneakily dreadful midway with an eventfully quiet ending which I'm grateful for. It will always be the year that completely mangled my overly genuine heart in a way I never thought possible with my perception of people, how I love, and trust and giving selflessly forever altered. It was not short of trying situations, disappointing revelations, plenty of emotional anguish, and defeat. While those times were extremely difficult to navigate through, what I can say is that despite those dark periods where I experienced the lowest of lows, it's during such times I experienced the most growth. One thing is for certain, 2019 was truly a 'coming into my own' kind of year on a whole other level. 

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I fully expect in the voyage on the sea of life, stormy weather is inevitable and during the worst storms of your life, that's when you get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you. One of the most eye-opening things I came to grievously accept is how some people can manipulate, lie, treat you badly and somehow manage to make it all seem like you're the bad egg. True, the lessons may be hard, the sufferings great but, I survived it all and remained firm with my feet planted on the ground with the help of my God. And thankfully, even though I weathered (the operative word here is weathered...) some bad times in this season of my life, there was an equal amount of experiencing the most beautiful rainbows and rays of sunshine through those dark clouds - leaving me with some really amazing memories to keep me smiling. I got to dance in the rainstorm so-to-speak. For one thing, I got to see more of the world together with the hubby than ever before and ended the summer such high notes. The takeaway is there are blessings despite the storms. 

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It is my prayer that the old negative energy is clearing out and that all difficulties die along with 2019. Meanwhile, in 2020, my main goal is to work on shedding some weight. I don't mean in pounds, (although very necessary as well), but shedding emotional baggage to create mental space for more important things. Important things like reading my Bible in the morning before doing anything else, living my life more mindfully in slow motion and cultivate more patience. The kind that can endure without any thought of retaliation, putting up with difficult circumstances without losing hope, while maintaining a positive attitude. The art of life lies in a constant readjustment from what we learn. So, for now, I'm determined to stay firmly planted and remaining steadfast no matter what may come my way which isn't easy but I hope to greatly improve by the end of 2020. Here's to a season of three-hundred-sixty-five days of newness to building back up putting all of those pieces together. 

What are your goals? I'd love to hear!

12.30.2019

2019 Best Beauty Buys


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I’m still in denial that there's only one more day left to 2019 and how behind I still am at producing this 2019 best beauty buys post that I started working on so long ago. I'm sooo not a last minute individual but the velocity of time these days coupled with a very tight schedule has kept punctual posting such an elusive task for me this past couple of years. Anyhow, this is the time I normally take a moment to reflect back and gather all the beauty product purchases I made in the year to pick out my most beloved ones that I notice improved my skin and hair dramatically. I really couldn't tell until lately, when every other person has been complimenting me more than ever before on how radiant and great my skin and hair look. If achieving shinier nourished hair and smoother, younger, hydrated, and radiant glowy skin is one of the things on your 2020 resolution list... look no further, here are my top 2019 best beauty buys that I highly suggest trying out to help you realize that goal. You're welcome!

12.19.2019

Accept Life As It Is


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Right here, right now - not as we think it should be or resenting someone else's perceived "best life." Don't waste precious time and energy on what doesn't seem to be right or fair in life. Realistically, we have to recognize that in this imperfect world, those who have great ability do not always receive recognition and those with less ability sometimes are more connected thus, receive more honor. To be real, I'm writing about this particular topic of accepting life as it is because it's something that I more often than not struggle with. For someone who has been hustling extremely hard for close to over three decades from working in Corporate America on wall street, to working in retail, started a freelance business in interior design, fashion and now, lifestyle coaching selflessly helping others to improve their lives, I can wholeheartedly attest that it's rare that great talent, abilities, good deeds and hard work in themselves guarantee recognition or "success." In fact, today, those less qualified are put in positions or given the opportunities, while individuals who are hard workers or more capable go unrecognized. It's amazing though how accepting that reality rather than to be obsessed with such negative circumstances helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Such mindfulness serves as a goad to stop us from worrying about the small, meaningless stresses in life and reminds us that happiness is not based on power, prestige or possessions, but directly connected to our faith and the important relationships that will last after everything else fails.

12.02.2019

No Such Thing As Being Overdressed


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We’re definitely one of those couples who are into dressing up for date nights, which sometimes includes a great night out on the town for a lovely dinner and a show. We often say how we were born in the wrong era, as our souls feel much more connected and at ease with bygone days when chivalry was a thing, people dressed up for occasions and had manners. Hence, our obsession with the era of dark, cozy speakeasies and movies such as The Great Gatsby, Midnight in Paris and Downton Abbey, for they take us back in time when people were effortlessly alluring.  One of the treasured lessons my mom instilled in me at a tender age in her short time in my life was the importance of being well-dressed and looking presentable at all times for every occasion. Her philosophy was whether you're going to the Doctor’s office, the farmer’s market or even flying on a plane, it doesn’t matter… you simply dress up. It shows respect not only for yourself but for others you meet. Then again, come to think of it, she was a child from that bygone era. Which would explain why I'm unashamed if I seem to be overdressed wherever I go. To me, there's no such thing as being overdressed. It has nothing to do with pretention, "narcissism", and/or vanity. It has to do with respecting oneself enough to present yourself well to the world because it does matter. I believe your attire not only shows who you are, but it also has a bearing on how you behave and definitely in how you get treated too. And it doesn't hurt that it makes a HUGE difference in how good it makes you feel about yourself.

11.22.2019

The art of hosting stress-free dinner parties with style


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While I enjoy special nights going out to eat at a few of our favorite restaurants, I equally love to recreate that intimate experience at my own home. What better way to share a meal and really enjoy each other’s company than to host cozy dinners at home? 

11.08.2019

Our Dining Room Reveal

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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.

10.18.2019

the details that make a house a home


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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.

10.14.2019

new fall season skincare secrets

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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.

9.20.2019

A GREAT END TO ONE EVENTFUL SUMMER OF 2019


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The hubby and I love getting out of town and seize any and every opportunity we can to slip into a unique, one-of-a-kind exclusive boutique hotel for a change of pace and to unplug for a good mental reset. One thing about being self-employed is that it gets monotonous and lonely really quickly and if you’re not surrounded by family or good friends to break up that routine, it makes it even the more difficult. So, getting away as much as we can has become vital for us. One of our favorite ways to battle that rut is to stay at exclusive hotels that make us feel like we’re in faraway places where we’re treated with such love and care that it instantly gives us that jolt of rejuvenation. That's exactly what we did recently. To finish on a high note, we took one of the most memorable getaways for a great end to one eventful summer season before we buckle down at home for the rest of the year. It was the perfect respite we needed to boost our mood.

9.17.2019

VENICE IN A DAY


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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.

9.11.2019

ARGOSTOLI GUIDE



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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.

8.30.2019

EASY BREEZY SANTORINI


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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.

8.20.2019

FOR THE LOVE OF LEMONS!!


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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.

8.05.2019

TOP 5 REASONS WHY WE LOVE CRUISING


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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.

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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. 

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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! 


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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.