things that made my week

the two things that made my week:

this movie


…for giving my guy & me a much needed break from a stressful week.


this book


…for making me literally laugh out loud (review coming soon).

this week has has been incredibly stressful at work, I haven’t been sleeping well, winter seems like it’s going to drag on forever, and everything is just ramping up. I am so glad it’s friday.

I’m hoping to catch up on some down time this weekend. I hope your weekend is lovely!

5 x…dream bags

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.18.22 PM

gucci soho disco bag | céline trio (in céline stores or try ebay) | mansur gavriel bucket bag

sophie hulme zip top bowling bag | fendi 2jours medium shopper

my 5 dream bags. by “dream bags” I mean: “bags I will purchase when I win the lottery and/or when I have saved up for years because they’re d*mn expensive”.

I like bags that are streamlined & simple. I don’t mind hardware but I want it to be used judiciously & with purpose. I prefer black (can’t you tell?) because it’s timeless, goes with everything, & doesn’t get dirty as quickly, but I also love a good taupe or grey and a classic red.

red is a tricky color for me – it has to be the right shade where it’s rich & attention-grabbing without going over the top. the red bag of my dreams is the soho disco crossbody from gucci. I’m usually not into logos, but I actually love how modern & graphic the gucci logo is, and on such a small bag, I think it actually looks more like a design than a monogram. plus the tassel…just a nod of whimsy & 70s freedom. the other crossbody on the list is the céline trio in black. it’s sleek & subtle, and the design is genius – it’s like 3 bags in one (which, for the price, it better be!).

for big bags, there are two that have made the cut: the sophie hulme bowling bag & the fendi 2jours tote. sophie hulme exploded on the scene last year with this bag, but it was the less popular bowling bag that caught my eye. I prefer its east/west design to the tote, and I love that it’s a no-frills bag except for the edgy metal plates near the handles. the 2jours tote is the exact opposite – it’s classic & prim through & through, which is usually a little too traditional for my taste, but something about the metal trim across the top, the hang tag, and its angular shape gives it enough of a modern touch that I absolutely love.

last but not least, the mansur gavriel bucket bag, aka the bag that sold out everywhere last year. this bag is perfect. it’s striking in its simplicity. I’ve debated back & forth between which color to pick (I’m torn between the brandy & the black), not to mention which lining to choose. my current favorite is the combination above: black exterior with a ballerina pink lining. priced at $495, this bag is by no means cheap but it is the most affordable of the 5 I’m dreaming about by a long shot. I’ve been saving up my pennies on the side since last year for this baby, possibly as a “congratulations for getting into nursing school” gift to myself this fall (cross fingers). I believe in sartorially pleasing carrots. wink.

what’s your dream bag?

good buys | wide-calf knee-high boots


if you’re a regular around these parts (thank you!), then you’ll know that I struggle to find knee-high boots to fit my wide calves. but, in November right around my birthday…I finally found a pair. then, when I was in Boston, I found another pair (in grey). I can’t tell you how incredibly giddy I was to finally end a years-long search for any knee-high boot that would fit.

I thought I’d give you guys the details in case you or someone you know is still searching high & low for your glass slipper, so to speak (for reference, my calves are about 18″ wide at their widest point). the only potential downside is that neither one of these is made of real leather, but having worn them for awhile now, I can say that the vegan leather & suede are pretty durable and I’m kind of glad they’re not real leather so I don’t have to worry about irrevocably damaging them in this snowy Chicago weather. I did purchase a backup pair of the black boots and also bought them in brown.


things that made my week | valentine’s day edition

this guy…

IMG_0318…for being my funny valentine

this week’s iteration of “things that made my week” comes from our valentine’s day dinner. we went to 312 Chicago, partly because it came highly recommended by a friend and partly because it’s really close to James’s office. we had a great time. there were no crowds, the service was friendly, and the food! the food was fantastic. we left stuffed to the brim. how was your valentine’s day?

happy weekend!

this buffala appetizer…

IMG_0321…for being insanely good

this caesar salad…

IMG_0323…for having a real anchovy

this seafood fusilli in arrabiata sauce…

IMG_0324…for reaffirming my belief that great pasta is always worth the extra workout

this peach sorbetto…

IMG_0326…for being the perfect end to an indulgent evening

current favorite nail polishes & products

IMG_0156if you follow me on instagram, you would have seen the picture above a couple of weeks back. I’ve been on a nail polish kick lately, and I’ve been really loving the products & colors I’ve been trying.

nails5last year, sephora came out with a new, revamped in-house nail polish line called formula x. I finally got around to trying out a couple of colors & the prepping system, which comes with a nail cleanser, a base coat, & a top coat plus a nail polish color of your choosing. I’ve found that all three steps work well for me. the cleanser helps to eliminate any lingering oils or products on my nails before I start polishing, the base coat works well in laying an adhesive foundation for the color to sit on, and the top coat is glossy & has kept my nails chip-free for 4-5 days on average, which is impressive for me since I’m hard on my hands. I do find that after a day or two, I have to apply a second coat of top coat to get back the shine, but that’s typical for me. I used to use seche vite regularly but I found that it shrunk horribly after first application, so I switched to dior‘s top coat, which is lovely but really only works best with the brand’s own polish. over other brands, it had some shrinking (but nowhere near as bad as with the seche vite).

I’ve tested out the formula x system with a lot of the brands I own, including essie, chanel, dior, butter london, opi, & nails inc., as well as with formula x colors, and while the system worked best with the formula x colors & dior, it played well enough with all of them. it’s a good “one top coat for all”. my one concern is that since it is on the thicker side, it might get harder to work with over time, like the seche vite, but I’ve used it regularly over the last 6 weeks, and it hasn’t gotten gloopy or hard to work with so so far, so good.

nails2nails1 as for actual nail polishes, I’ve stuck to neutrals on my tips and a pop of color on my toes. on my hands, I’ve rotated between dior‘s lady, orly‘s dare to bare, & nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in bamboo white. lady is the loveliest soft pink I’ve ever come across. I have a hard time finding soft pinks that don’t look too ashy or just beige on my medium-dark skintone. this one is perfect (how I wish it wasn’t limited edition!). the most neutral on me is the orly, which is really subtle & incognito on my nails, giving just enough color to cover up my nail bed. bamboo white is not actually white on me – it leans ever so slightly to a powdery pink. this one I was pleasantly surprised by, because like with soft pinks, whites are a tricky color for me, if they’re too powdery, they end up looking too stark against my skin. this one is soft & elegant, which is just what I was looking for (I wore it here; for better swatches, see Sabrina’s post). it would be a great color for the office & other more conservative situations.

on my toes, I’ve gone the exact opposite & opted for color, switching between the nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in judo red, the pair to bamboo white, and essie‘s splash of grenadine. judo red is a classic tomato red-orange that leans warm. it’s such a bold, brightening color. just like its mate, the formula was great & application was easy. spash of grenadine is not a color I usually go for, but it looked so cheery & springy in the bottle that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. it’s a really lovely pink/purple that applied well. I like that it’s bright without being neon, and I have nothing in my collection like it. I’ve loved seeing these two colors on my toes. they keep me believing that spring is on its way…even if it’s -8 in Chicago right now. -8!!!

hope you’re keeping warm! if you’re lucky enough to be someplace that’s actually warm, won’t you send some of that heat up to the great lakes?

let’s talk | keeping in touch

telephoneis it just me or is keeping in touch with friends & family, both near & far, really hard? I find it ironic that in an age where the world has gotten so much smaller in terms of technology and all the ways it helps us connect & become connected, it hasn’t really gotten any easier to keep relationships going at a level that’s deeper than a quick “happy birthday” post on facebook. don’t get me wrong – there’s something nice about being able to do that, and I firmly believe that the little things do matter, but sometimes I wonder if all that convenience subverts making the effort to go out of your way for something a little more.

aside from my parents & my sister, all of my family lives in the Philippines. my in-laws are in Boston. my sister goes to college 3 hours away from where I live. my best friend from high school lives in San Antonio, while my college roommate lives in Pittsburgh. having so many of the people I consider part of my inner circle so far away contributes to the feeling out of touch, but I think there’s more than distance at play, because one of my closest friends from college lives in Chicago and we’re lucky if we see each other a handful of times a year even though each time we do see each other, we moan about how long it’s been since the last time.

I think it’s so hard to keep in touch because it takes time & effort. a “like” on instagram takes a split second, but having a conversation, whether by phone or letter or email, takes longer. but don’t all things that are important take time & effort? one of my goals this year was to be better at taking the time & making the effort to be there for the people I care about. we’re all busy, and the world will just get busier & busier. I have to be intentional about not just eking out time for relationships but actually prioritizing those times by treating them just like any other appointment – on my calendar & not open to rescheduling.

how do you work on keeping in touch?


currently eyeing

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.25.31 AMone | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight

nine | ten | eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen | fifteen | sixteen

every year around this time, I start getting antsy for spring. in addition to checking in with my closet as to what I might need to replace or add for the upcoming season, I also take stock of my makeup & skincare wardrobe. I don’t do a complete overhaul – I just assess what I’ve used up & need to replace, what I haven’t been loving & need to change, and what new items I might want to add. here are some things I have on my radar for a spring refresh to my vanity drawer.


I don’t know what happened exactly, but my skin has changed in the past couple of months to where some of my good ol’ standbys are just not cutting it. I know some of it is due to the weather, but I think some of it is just getting older and my skin changing accordingly. I’ve upped my water intake to combat some of the dryness, and I’m looking into changing up my routine with different products. I want to purchase a new bottle of this exfoliating cleanser because I’ve now used up the last bits of my old bottle, and it’s been one of 3 current items in my routine that I find still works. I’m also intrigued by this cleanser as a replacement for my current cleanser in the morning. lately, I’ve found morning cleansing to be really drying, but I still want a cleanse, so I’m hoping this will be the perfect medium.

one of the things I wanted to do this year was to slowly add more & more natural products into my skincare/makeup routine. while browsing through sephora one night in bed, I ran across drunk elephant. to be honest, I was drawn in by its name & logo, but after reading about the line, I’m excited to try it out, specifically the day serum, the night serum, the face oil, the sunscreen, and the peekee bar (so, basically everything). I’ll report back how it goes once I get around to trying them out.


I love spring nail colors…all the lovely, soft colors are such a welcome sight after a long, cold winter. this chic pink (lady) from dior‘s latest collection might just be the light pink I’ve been searching for; this collection from nails inc. has so many great colors; and I’m excited for essie‘s spring lineup (out in March; sneak peek here)…I kind of want every single color.


I actually received this perfume as a Valentine’s Day present from James, and I’ve been loving it. it’s a great transitional scent that’s not too heavy but not too light. from reviews I’ve read online, a lot of people think it’s similar to the stella by stella mccartney perfume, so if that’s a scent you love, this one will be right up your alley (funny enough, I don’t own the stella and don’t think I’ve ever tried it!). this is the first perfume I’ve added to my lineup in a long time, and it does not disappoint. I received the solid version, which is perfect for travel. I really like the design of the bottle – it’s simple, modern, & graphic.


when spring comes around, I want everything to be light & dewy, including my makeup. I eschew anything thick or heavy or anything that takes too much time. I’m intrigued by this cheek & lip stain – the color seems really pretty and possibly workable with my skin tone. I also had a chance to try out this tinted moisturizer in store on the back of my hand, and I’m thinking this will be my go-to base in the warmer months. not only did it feel like I was wearing nothing, it also felt really moisturizing. the shade spice is the perfect match for my skin.

lastly, I’m not the biggest fan of pink, but in the spring, it seems to be the only thing I want to wear, especially on my lips. I’m excited to check out the stick form of this amazing lip gloss (which is in my top 3 lip glosses of all time), the lipgloss version of one of my favorite lip balms, and ysl‘s newest addition to its gloss volupte line (also a favorite), which was also a Valentine’s Day present from James in the shade peach me love.

there are so many new makeup releases right now. are you eyeing anything?

image number nine via

good reads | the life-changing magic of tidying up: the japanese art of decluttering & organizing

tidyingupI’m sure you guys have heard about this book…it’s been everywhere! in my continual efforts to simplify my life (and because I was intrigued by all the hype that it had been getting), I bought it. I had a little bit of skepticism when I started reading it because a) things with a lot of hype don’t often live up to it; b) I’d tried other cleaning methods before & wasn’t sure what this could say that I hadn’t already heard; and c) I’m not the biggest fan of self-help/tutorial books. but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed reading this for the most part.

as you may have read/heard, the central tenet of the book is that when it comes to things, there’s really only one rule: discard anything that doesn’t spark joy. it sounds a little out there & laughable at first, but it really helped me when I tackled my closet after finishing the book. I didn’t think about how much I had spent on an item (and how much I hadn’t worn it) or of the situations when I might “need” something like this, or any of the other hundred justifications why you’re holding on to something. it was simple: as the book advises, I picked up each piece of clothing in my hands and asked myself then & there “does this make me happy to have this in my life?”. if the answer was yes, it stayed. if the answer was no or I don’t know, it went to the donate pile. within an hour, I had 2 bags of clothing & other items that were earmarked for savers & goodwill. another thing that stuck with me about the book was the idea of instead of focusing on what to get rid of, we should focus instead on what we’d like to keep. that shift in paradigm was eye-opening to me & made things a lot easier. I found that I was very clear about the things that I loved having in my life and coming from that selection perspective was much easier than asking myself what I didn’t want in my life. it’s crazy how sometimes looking at a situation from a different angle or point of view makes everything more clear.

while I do think that there’s a lot of good in this book, there are aspects of it that may be a little “out there” for some people. Marie Kondo advocates for speaking to your things – greeting them, thanking them for the work they do, etc. – which I find a little unconventional but also logical in a way. I’m open to anything that inspires me to be more grateful & appreciative for the things I do have, and I am grateful for everything my clothes do for me, so it’s not so crazy to actually go out of your way to say those things aloud. she also talks about the bigger picture beyond tidying and makes connections between the state of your things & the state of your relationships/life, which was actually enlightening for me but might be unexpected for someone who picked this up as a straight-forward decluttering guide. if you’re not opposed to a little bit of whimsy & philosophy in the midst of a lot of more traditional advice on how to streamline your belongings & your life, this book will be a good read.

I’m curious: have any of you guys read it? what did you think? did it work for you?

words for the week

happy Monday, friends! a quick post to get us all going for the workweek. the past 6 months have been really exciting for me as I’m working towards a nursing degree. what’s been really cool is that the good feels I get from doing it – the confidence, the assertiveness, the productivity – have affected other areas of my life for the better. it’s been a lovely experience so far.

we’re all working on improving ourselves in one way or another. here’s to all of us who are hustling.