Friday, February 21, 2020

10 things I can't live without

Today, I am sharing 10 things that I can't live without. These are things I use every single day without fail. If something happens to these items or if I run out of these products, I would repurchase over and over again.
1. Levi's wedgie jeans: See them on me here and here. I bought these jeans last year and I am so obsessed with them. So obsessed that I went and got the second pair. They are super flattering. I got both pairs in a size 25 and they fit amazing. If you're into mom jeans, give them a try. I promise you won't be disappointed. I have the distressed version (for the weekend) and the non-distressed version (for casual Friday).
2. Dyson V11 cordless vacuum: I got this vacuum for Christmas and I can't put it down lol. My husband and I are a bit of a clean freak. Having a clean house is even more important to us now that we have a puppy. This vacuum is small, lightweight but incredibly powerful. It picks up everything and it's been a joy to use.
3. SMEG tea kettle: I am a tea drinker. I drink a cup of green tea before going to bed every single night. My husband got me this tea kettle a few months ago and I am so in love with it. It heats up extremely fast. Not to mention, it looks super cute on my counter top. Eventually, I want to replace all my current small appliances with SMEG appliances
4. My Macbook air: This was another Christmas gift that I've been enjoying so much. This Macbook air is so lightweight and adorable. I didn't think I would need a new laptop but now, I can't image not having it
5. AirPods Pro: Another Apple product that I am obsessed with. I own a few affordable wireless earbuds but nothing beats the Airpods. The biggest issue I have with other versions is that they don't stay on my ears when I run. As soon as I sweat, they would fall off my ears. Not with the AirPods, I ran a half marathon with these in my ears and they stay put the entire time. Definitely worth the $$. I can't imagine running without them now. Noise cancelling is one of the key features of the AirPods Pro and it works amazing!
6. Breville multi- cooker: I have this multi cooker for several years now and I am still obsessed with it. It's a life saver. My husband and I are full-time working parents. This cooker makes my life so much easier when it comes to cooking. Dinner can be ready in 30 minutes or less. Everything always come out perfect and super delicious. This cooker was my Mother's Day gift 3 years ago. I accidentally broke the first one. I couldn't bear not having it in my life so I went and bought another one immediately after. That's how much I love it. If you haven't jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon yet you are missing out!
7. IT cosmetics CC cream matte with SPF 40: I don't talk about makeup products often on here  just because I am not a beauty junkie. I use the same makeup/skin care products for years. I picked up the IT Cosmetics CC cream (the matte version) a few months ago and I now understand the hype! The coverage is amazing. I have oily skin and this works very well for me (especially in the summer). I will for sure continue to repurchase this.
8. Jo Malone peony & blush suede cologne: This really has become my signature scent, to the point that people in the office noticed. It is a very delicate fragrance and not at all overpowering. It's also amazing layered with other Jo Malone scents. I love the scent so much that I also purchased the candle and the hand/body lotion.
9. Biossance gel moisturizer: This is one of the new skincare products that I picked up last year and I am so impressed. Since it's a gel moisturizer, it's light enough for my oily skin but hydrating enough that makes it feel plump and soft. This is my new skin care go to.
10. Lancome primermascara: I use this combination for years and I am still not over it. This primer/mascara combination does wonders for my short lashes. The primer not only conditions and protects your lashes but also keeps your mascara on all day! No flakes, no smudges, no running. I am always looking for the perfect mascara and I finally found it. They are truly magical products!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

How to take red trousers from day to night

I purchased these pants last month and I am so obsessed. Red is my favorite color. It's a powerful color and you might feel intimidated wearing a red piece of clothing. Do not worry, I am going to show you how to take a pair of red trousers from day to night. Red is a loud color so it works well with all neutrals to create that perfect balance. For the office, I paired these trousers with a plain camel sweater. As you can see, red and camel go beautifully together. This outfit looks profession and is appropriate for the office. To increase the cost per wear, I paired the same trousers with a black cami. Black and red is a no-brainer combination. If you go out at night, complete the look with a leather jacket and you're good to go. I can think of a million ways to style these amazing pants. These pants are under $30 today! They're also available in other colors here. This is an awesome deal, grab them now before they're gone. These pants are for sure a work staple in my closet. Outfit details: Ann Taylor pants | H&M sweater | Banana Republic cami | VCA necklace | Chanel earrings *exact pair*. Makeup details: Laura Mercier caviar stick eye shadow *in Moonlight & Cocoa | Lancome lipliner *in Ideal* and Charlotte Tilbury lipstick *in Pillow Talk* 
AnnTaylorRedTrousers_SydneysFashionDiary AnnTaylorMadisonTrousers_SydneysFashionDiary

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Today is not just for couples. It's about celebrating love for family, friends and self. The kids had no school today. I left a few small gifts outside of their bedroom before going to work and of course, the puppy got a few treats too =) My husband stopped by my office and hand-delivered these beautiful roses. He always goes the extra mile to make me feel special. I truly appreciate the thought. I wish your day is filled with love and happiness. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Peru :: Bucket List Experiences

This is the last post from our Peru trip that we took last August - 6 months later, I was able to sit down and edit the footage from this incredible trip. Our time there was truly magical. There were many firsts on this trip: zip lining for the first time through the Andes mountains, tried Peruvian food, petted the adorable alpacas and experienced the unforgettable trek to Machu Picchu. The site truly is one of the 7 wonders of the world! Words and pictures can't explain how beautiful this place is. We are forever grateful for being able to cross the majestic Machu Picchu off our travel bucket list. My love for travel has been always with me. I don't get to travel as often as I would have liked due to family commitments, work commitments and of course, financial constrains. However, we love talking and planning our next destination. This trip was one for the books. No shopping and no dressing up for fancy dinners. I was in my hiking boots and workout clothes all week long but I loved it. I am so thankful for the experience. Nothing opens your mind, broadens your horizons and revives your body and soul quite like travel. I am thankful for the experiences and a wonderful travel companion. We are halfway through our travel bucket list (1. Hawaii, 2. Paris, 3. Rome, 4. Alaska, 5. Banff, 6. Peru, 7. Japan, 8. Greece, 9. Maldives and 10. Can't decide if we want to visit Thailand or New Zealand). Speaking of the next destination, we're planning our next trip to Japan with the kids in March 2021. Let me know if you have been there and your recommendations. All Peru related posts are here.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Gucci Ophidia iPhone Belt Bag Review

Sharing my latest handbag purchase - the Gucci Ophidia iPhone belt bag. The fanny bag trend is back again in a big way. I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull it off at first. This is one of the trends that it takes some serious style skills to pull off. I did try on several styles but they were all too big for my frame. The bag would take up my entire waist/body. They look ridiculous on me. While browsing, I noticed this iPhone belt bag from Gucci. As the name suggests, it's essentially a phone case. I stopped by my local Gucci boutique to take a look in person and I fell in love. Yes, it's small but it fits a lot and the size suits my petite frame. I am going over some pros and cons below if you're interested in getting this piece. This exact bag is available here, here, here and here.
- The price is attractive: I know it's still a lot for a phone case but for a designer item, $750 is not so bad.
- 2 for the price of 1: The belt is removable. Essentially, you are paying for 2 items: a phone case and a belt. Each piece can be worn separately.
- Versatility: As mentioned above, the phone case can be used as a wallet or as a clutch for a night out. You can also purchase a separate strap and wear this as a wristlet. The possibilities are endless. The belt can also be worn by itself.
- Durability: Since this piece is made out of canvas, it's so durable, yet light-weight and low maintenance. It's perfect for travel, outdoor activities and sporting events.
- Fits all the essentials: Even though this piece is categorized as a phone case, it fits quite a bit. The case has 3 built-in card slots. Technically, you don't really need to carry a wallet with this. However, it fits my Louis Vuitton compact wallet with room to spare. On the left: I can fit a compact wallet, a key fob, a full-size lipstick and my iPhone 11. On the right: If you are not going to carry a wallet, you can fit a pair of sunglasses in there
- The Ophidia line is less popular: I don't necessarily want to carry the same bag that everyone else is going after. I am happy that the Ophidia line is less well known than the Marmont or the Dionysus. I know this leather belt bag or this Marmont belt bag or the Louis Vuitton bum bag are more popular.
- It can be a bit tricky to decide what size to get depending on how you want to wear it. My Gucci belt is a size 75 and it’s perfect to wear with my high-rise and mid-rise jeans. For this particular piece, I wanted to be able to wear it as a waist bag as well as a crossbody bag. At the end, I went with a size 85. It's not perfect but doable. If I want to wear it with my mid-rise jeans, I use the shortest length. It would just be slightly loose wearing it with my high-rise jeans (I might punch an extra hole or wear my other Gucci belt). If I want to wear it crossbody, I'd use the longest length. Like I said, there isn't a perfect solution but there is a workaround. I am thinking about getting this strap to wear it as a crossbody. I think it would be a great option to have. I hope you find this post helpful. What do you think of the belt bag trend?
HowToWearGucciBeltBag_SydneysFashionDiary GucciOphidiaIPhoneBeltBag_SydneysFashionDiary

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The perfect pair of red trousers

Finally found a pair of red trousers that I've been on the hunt for ages. I used to love Ann Taylor but nothing caught my eyes for literally years. A few weeks ago, I got a promotion email from them and decided to take a quick look. I am so glad I did because these trousers are marked down to $27! The quality is amazing. They are fully lined and super well-made. I am wearing the size 00R here. It fits everywhere except the length. It's about 3" too long on me (a size 00P is no longer available in red). I have them hemmed. I am contemplating getting the grey one as well. It's down to $30 right now. Outfit details: Ann Taylor Madison pants | similar bodysuit | Free People sunglasses | Van Cleef & Arpels necklace

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January recap

Happy February, ladies! The first month of 2020 has come and gone. January was an eventful month for us. Here's what happened last month:
Highlights of the month:
1. I mentioned in this post that one of my career goals for 2020 is to set aside time to learn a new skill (or two) to boost my career? Guess who passed the exam to be a Certified Scrum Master? (me!!!). If you're working in an IT firm that uses the Agile software development method, you would agree that a Scrum Master is the key to a team success. I am thrilled to have this certification under my belt. It makes myself more marketable in the job market. One goal is down. A few more to go =)
2. Madelyn's very first competition: She competed for the very first time a few weeks ago and she did amazing. I love this kid. She's full of energy. I hope she will always be a team player and give everything her best shot.
3. Celebrated Lunar New Year with close friends and family: The older I get, the more appreciation I have for these traditional holidays.
4. Tried 2 new restaurants this month: I am a total creature of habit when it comes to food. I can eat the same thing everyday. This year, I am going to make the effort to try new places. We tried 2 new restaurants this month. #1: Kitchen Social: This restaurant just opened less than 3 months ago. However, it's quickly becoming one of the top-rated restaurants in the area. I can see why. The food/service/atmosphere is amazing. We went twice in January and had such a wonderful experience both times. #2: Restoration Hardware rooftop restaurant: Another new restaurant just opened in the area. Being a huge fan of RH furniture, I was looking forward to dine there. It was such a let down. The food is so overpriced. The restaurant is super gorgeous but the food was just meh. I am glad I gave it a try but probably won't come back.
Purchases of the month:
1. Finally purchased this Gucci belt bag using my Christmas $$ from the in-laws =) I will do a review soon (also available here and here)
2. Found a pair of red trousers that I've hunting for years. The best part? They were on major sale right now.
Looking forward to this month:
1. Two birthday celebrations
2. Taking the kids skiing for the first time this season

Monday, January 27, 2020

What I purchased from Peru

Peru is known for being one of the leading producers of Alpaca fiber in the world. Before heading to Peru, a few genuine Alpaca products were on my list to purchase since it's kind of difficult to find this material in the U.S. Alpaca product is literally everywhere you go, on the streets, in every shop, at every tourist site and museum. However, not all products are created equal. Today, I am sharing a few tips to help you find the best Alpaca products if you're heading to Peru.
1. Where to shop for souvenirs in Cusco: As mentioned above, you can find souvenirs everywhere but the Sunday market of Pisac is the best place in my opinion to buy Alpaca products. The market has an incredible selection of Peruvian crafts. The market is about an hour drive from Cusco. You could spend hours here browsing.
2. Real Alpaca wool vs. synthetic material: Even though the tag may say that it is made from alpaca or baby alpaca wool, that may not actually be the case. Use your best judgment. Real alpaca wool feels cool to the touch. It's very soft especially if it's baby Alpaca. Alpaca wool is much heavier than acrylic yarn. Last but not least, if the price seems too good to be true, chances are that is the case.
3. Negotiate the price beforehand: Speaking of prices, everything is negotiable in Peru. After a couple of overpaid purchases, I learned to go low lol.  Start with offering half the asking price then go from there. Don't be afraid to walk away and try another stall. You can always shop around and return to the place that offered you the best price. We purchased 3 Alpaca blankets for 600 Soles ($200) each. One for us, one for my in-laws and one for my parents. A couple of scarves for 200 Soles ($70), a couple of ponchos for my aunts for 600 Soles ($200) and a few souvenirs for friends. It was an enjoyable experience and I am glad we were able to bring home these beautiful items.
AlpacasBlanket_SydneysFashionDiary AlpacasBlanket_SydneysFashionDiary PeruPurchases_SydneysFashionDiary PeruPurchases_SydneysFashionDiary PeruPurchases_SydneysFashionDiary

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate it. I am looking forward to my Mom's delicious food this weekend. I have always wanted my own traditional dress (the one I wore last year was actually my sister in law's). The Vietnamese community is very small in Ohio so it's next to impossible to find someone who can make áo dài. I am always apprehensive about ordering a customer dress online. One day I decided to look on Etsy and see what they have. Much to my surprise, there are quite a few options. Prices are actually affordable. After spending some time browsing, I ordered this dress. For $60, it's not a big deal if it isn't going to work out. I am so thrilled to report that it fits perfectly! The owner was very accommodating. She altered a few things for me without any additional charge. Red is my favorite color and I love the pearl detailing on the collar. This dress is perfect for Tết. I am excited to finally have my own áo dài. If you're looking for one, I highly recommend you give this Etsy shop a try. They ship quickly and I have nothing but good things to say about it. Also, wanted to share a closeup photo of these gorgeous this year's lucky envelopes from Cartier =)
LunarNewYear_SydneysFashionDiary CartierLuckyEnvelopes_SydneysFashionDiary

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Vietnamese sticky rice and mung bean cakes (instant pot version)

Lunar New Year is this weekend and I am excited to celebrate it with my family. I am even more excited for traditional Tet foods. I can cook simple Vietnamese dishes but when it comes to complicated dishes, I still have a lot to learn. This year, I wanted to try my hands at making Vietnamese sticky rice cakes. This recipe requires skills and is very time consuming. I gave it my best shot and it turned out way better than I expected. I still have to work on my wrapping skills but they taste amazing. I am excited to share them with my parents. I use this multiple cooker and 4 cakes fit snugly into the pot. If you're interested in making them this weekend, I follow this recipe. Instead of using a 4" x 2" high cardboard form, I asked my husband to make me a wood mold. 1 VietnameseRiceCakes_SydneysFashionDiary LunarNewYear_SydneysFashionDiary