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Ever since many years ago the hubby and I have become the traveling duo constantly on the go - whether it be road-tripping, driving across America (we’ve done it six times now through various routes), taking our pilgrimage spring break getaways, or jet setting off somewhere for our summer vacations. I decided to keep a separate traveling toiletry, beauty, and a health-conscious/emergency kit bag; ever at-the-ready to just grab and go, which makes packing on a dime a breeze and I never run the risk of forgetting the necessary things behind. 

As much as I appreciate writing lists, I find being prepared with the minutia of packing in advance frees up brain space to focus more on the fun part of traveling, like putting outfits together, anticipating the cities we’re going to explore, and of course what favorite meals and drinks we’re going to enjoy, instead of making lists and running around like a chicken with its head cut-off trying to think of what key beauty products I can’t live without on vacation that would ruin my holiday if were forgotten. Especially this chick loves to take her beauty routine indulgence to an even greater level when on vacation, so I can come back to reality rejuvenated and the best version of myself. Since we’re preparing for our upcoming summer vacation in a month, I took an inventory several days ago to assure that I'm not missing anything. I thought I’d share my top toiletry travel bag items I always bring. 

I may be a minimalist when it comes to makeup, but not when it comes to my facial care routine.  However, I still keep it simple. These are my must-haves to keep glowy and well-hydrated skin: Rose Micellar Cleansing Tonic to remove makeup and Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser to clean the skin. I then apply Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate for that summer glow (it smells divine too), and my latest under eye cream before face moisturizing with spf. Also, very important for me, are having pearly white teeth and well-lubricated eyes while on vacation to match that gleeful look and summer glowing skin in vacation photos. So, I keep Crest Whitening Strips and Genteal Eye Drops in my toiletry travel bag. And obviously toothbrush, toothpaste, Q-tipsfloss, and deodorantAt the end of the night after washing my makeup off, I love to use either one of these faves - dark spot correction solution and/or this overnight firming mask for my nighttime routine. I wake up with my face feeling smoother than a baby's bottom. Also,  another one of my favorite items I don't leave home without and even keep one in my car's console is this rose water facial mist for keeping hydrated throughout the day. It's such a great smelling refresher, especially during the warmer months.

One thing I don't skip even on vacation is my weekly body exfoliating routine down to the feet, so a pumice stone and a travel sized jar filled with whatever my latest most loved body scrub I'm using are also included. Who wants to come back from a vacation with dull skin and rough looking heels from all that exploring? Not me. I love to return feeling renewed, radiating rest and pure contentment. To combat dry skin, I bring along my go-to Eucerin rich body lotion or this great smelling, quick absorbing number one best body oil! Sometimes, it's not necessarily the most expensive "it" products that deliver. I love a Gillette Venus razor for several reasons - one, for its comfortable non-slip handle with moisture-rich strips that not only helps to give a close shave, but protects from nicks and cuts. And secondly, they come in one of my favorite colors - blush. {Insert hands in the air emoji here;-}. One tip, I learned years ago that changed my life is using hair conditioner as shaving cream. The bonus: you get a way closer shave that lasts a lot longer, smoother legs and one less thing to carry, plus saving a little bit of bag space and money from having to buy shaving cream. Win-win! A habit I've not given up since my high school days is spritzing my body with an after shower body mist. I just love the fresh and clean feeling it gives and definitely a good sunscreen.

Or the other option is you can just treat yourself to this 'much loved' complete eight-piece  or nine-piece self-care routine sets.

It's taken me a couple of frustrating decades before I got a handle on what worked on my extremely thin, fragile hair. And because of such, I take what I use in my hair extremely serious. Bringing along my own hair products are a necessity to keep these minimal strands in tip-top shape and under control. Thankfully, a while back I bottled up a couple of travel sized bottles with one of the best conditioner and shampoo that saved my hair many years ago and are now no longer available - Ojon except for this last one. I'm so bummed about it. I'm glad I always ordered them in multiple sets, so I'm good for a while. The two incredible products I would never blow dry my hair without are it's a miracle 10 leave-in and Nexxus heat protecting mist which gives my hair great sheen and keeps my strands healthy. I also always bring my lightweight one-step hair dryer and curling wand. I'll sometimes finish by running a small amount of this finishing oil through my ends. But the body oil previously mentioned can also be used in lieu of this.

Even after several years of not getting the salon UV gel manicure, my nails are still like paper mache thin. I now bring my own gel nail color and top coat to the nail salon. I can't tell you how much I love Essie gel polishes because they deliver the same nail salon gel manicure result with the ease of removing the polish without having to soak/file your nails off. I just wish they'd offer more color options, like in pretty metallic colors say. Normally, I get my mani-pedi done the day before I leave for my vacation and then travel with the shade (especially if it's an extended getaway past seven days) along with my travel manicure set that I put together, which includes cotton balls (hotels never give you enough), and a small travel size nail polish remover.

Naturally, there's one more thing you will never find any of my bags without and always packed with the largest cans I can find in my suitcase - Lysol. Which goes into my "Health Conscious Necessities Bag" category in my luggage that gets checked. Click here to read why. Also, you'll never find my purse without a version of these must-haves

How about yourself? What toiletry essentials won't you travel without?




This year we have already attended several memorial services, including one over a week ago. During such painful times, the natural tendency is to keep one’s distance because sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect words to say to the grieving person (s). But really, writing even the most basic ordinary sympathy message is more important than doing nothing at all. If you don't do anything, this will leave you with a black cloud over your head and you’ll have that gnawing feeling that your silence has made someone think you don’t care. Even though it’s not easy, it is important to reach out in sympathy.

Personally, I can tell you that one way to help grieving ones to deal with their emotional heartache and ease their emotional wounds is by receiving tender care over time like a physical wound. Do not underestimate the value of providing consolation by means of a sympathy note, or a letter. Such expressions found within those notes make the bereaved feel loved and cared for. A sympathy note is the strongest healing defense against loneliness. True, our words won’t take away the pain of losing a loved one, but they’re much needed both at the time and years later. Your condolence note may be reread months or years later, giving comfort and help heal their painful heart.

Writing condolence notes is much easier if you yourself have experienced the death of someone you loved. Not only do you know how important it is to receive a thoughtful note, letter, or card, but you also know what words you needed to hear and were comforted by. Try to recall specific words that people said or wrote to you that were most comforting.

Now, still wondering what soothing words of consolation to write? If you really don’t know what to say at all, here are a few helpful examples of how to write sympathy messages, including the ‘Do’ Say and Don’t Say’:

·     You could simply write down an encouraging quote or a hopeful Bible verse.

·      If you knew the deceased, you could share a happy memory that you cherish or a quote he/she liked.

·     “We don’t know what to say except that our heart is very saddened for you. We can’t understand exactly how you feel, but we know God does and will keep raising you up. We hope that our prayers will help a little.”

·     “I’m so sorry for your loss. May God sustain you at time of such great loss.”

·    “May you find comfort in knowing that your dear one is safe in the memory of God, who will eternally remember every detail about him and bring him back again in the resurrection.”

·      “While words fail to capture the pain of losing a loved one, we look forward to the time when words will fail to capture the joy of having our heavenly Father return your dear one to you.”

·     “It is with deep sympathy I write this card. Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart.”

·     “I’m writing this note to let you know that I’m thinking about you during this painful moment. Please know that I love you and I’m here for you.”

The basic ‘Do Say’ Phrases

‘I’m sorry…’
‘We’re going to miss him or her …’
‘I have so many wonderful memories of him or her …’
‘Just wanted to check in. I hope you’re doing okay; I will write again after the memorial service …’
‘I’m thinking of the nice time we all had together last …’
I remember …’
‘I knew …’

‘Don’t Say’

‘I didn’t know him very well…’
‘It’s awful…’
‘I’m so sad, I’m so upset…’
‘You must be devastated…’
‘It’s better this way…’
‘I don’t know what to say…’
‘At least you didn’t have to… {Don’t try to second-guess what they would have preferred to the person’s death if they’d had the choice.}’
‘Life must go on…’
‘I know how you feel…’
‘Is there anything I can do for you or what can I do to help?’ (They will always refuse.) 

Instead, make a thoughtful care package of favorite things or practical things to drop by. Perhaps things like artisanal food items, wine, gourmet cheese. Or a bouquet of flowers, a spa basket with great self-carepampering goodies with a relaxing scented candle. You can never go wrong with a loving gesture, remember, the smallest effort can make such a huge impact.




Happy Friday! What a week this has been. After a few days of waking up in the middle of the night for hours on end, suffice it to say, it was rough to operate in full capacity this week which made me less productive and got in the way of tackling a lot on my to-do list. I wish I could say this is going to be a completely relaxing weekend, but our weekends most often are just as busy as our working weeks, if not more sometimes. We’re hosting a couple of friends over tomorrow, so I have to prep for that. Thankfully, I enjoy entertaining friends at our home. What are you guys up to this weekend?

Here are my five favorite links of the week: 

1. Kerry Washington's NYC Apartment on the Hudson river tour has me missing our old NYC apartment.  

2. Our summer travel plans have me currently searching for lighter weight blazers.

3. Since a lot of you are loving my new beautiful oil diffuser pictured above, here's my coupon code to get $10 off your order.

4. I'm one of those people that know I'm being watched all the time. This surveillance test exercise couldn't prove me any more right. Uh huh!! {insert wide eyes emoji here;-}

5. Super adorable sandals perfect for comfortable summer exploring. 




Finally got to pull the final details together on this space we started on late last Spring. 

One of the major selling points for me, when we were on the market to buy another home, was for it to have a gated front courtyard and I wasn’t going to settle for a house without it. After a long journey (over a year) of looking for a ranch style home in the right neighborhood that ticked almost all our must-haves, our persistence paid off. Imagine our excitement when we first pulled up in front of this house and saw those security gates with a decent sized front courtyard!  As soon as we stepped into the space with a rose vine growing on one side of the walls, heard the sounds of jolly birds chirping away, and looked up to see the pretty blue sky above our heads, we knew we found a little hideaway and a place we could truly transform into a vacation resort we would enjoy.