Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A bag review :: Teddy Blake Lydia Dollarino Tote

Hope you’re having a great week! Holiday shopping season is in full swing. I want to get this review up just in case you’re looking to get a work tote for someone. At the beginning of the summer, I started going to the office 4 days a week. It was a big change for me as I was working from home for 2.5 years. Now that I am going back and forth between home and the office, I have to carry my work laptop home with me every day. I wanted a tote bag that would fit my laptop and have room for other essential items, the Teddy Blake Lydia Dollarino tote is the perfect choice for me. I've done quite a few reviews for Teddy Blake. You can read previous posts here.
I was looking for a work tote that will stand the test of time but at the same time, I don’t want to pay a high price tag for it. A work bag is something that will get beaten up eventually. What I like about the Teddy Blake Lydia Dollarino tote.

  • The size is perfect for what I need: The bag measures 10.6" (H) x 5.5" (W) x 14.2" (L). It fits my work laptop perfectly with room to spare (I have a 13” laptop)
  • I love the fact that it has one big compartment. I can understand having a divider in a bag but for me, I don't like to rifle through a divider. It also takes up a lot of space.
  • The central compartment can be expanded to fit more if needed
  • Available in 7 colors from fun to neutral shades. I decided on a neutral one because it goes with everything in my wardrobe
  • There is a generous interior zipper pocket where I keep my badge and parking pass
  • The adjustable shoulder strap is what sold me. Wear it as a single cross body strap or double it up as a shoulder strap,
  • The chain shoulder straps come with a soft and comfortable leather guard to save my shoulder from unwanted bruising. My work bag can get super heavy.
  • I love the pebbled calf leather. It gives off a luxurious look yet durable for everyday wear
  • The gold tone is muted and so not in your face as I am a silver kind of girl
  • The bag has a sophisticated and timeless look with no prominent logos

I’ve been carrying it to work for over a week now and I love it. If you’re looking for a functional luxury work tote bag, I highly recommend you look into this one.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving + Black Friday shopping

I hope you had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones. My husband and I hosted this year. Courtney came home from college, relatives came visit from out of town. We had a full house yesterday. A night filled with love, laughter, and lots of good food. We might take the girls shopping today. Speaking of shopping, there are some amazing sales going on right now. Take a look if you're interested. I already started my Christmas shopping and will be checking these deals out as well. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! My dress is 50% off.
Here are my top 5 deals:
  1. Lululemon: Their stuff is expensive. There are a couple of items on Madelyn's wishlist this Christmas. I am going to grab a few things for her. If you're been eyeing, this is the time because their products rarely go on sale.
  2. Mango: Up to 50% off their best sellers: I love their coats. I got 2 coats last year and love them both. They are a little bit more expensive then H&M but the quality is amazing
  3. Express: 50% off everything. See my recent purchases here. 
  4. Revolve: Get up to 70% off. It's my go-to source for fabulous holiday dresses. I found mine this year on Revolve as well. Can't wait to wear it next week to my company Christmas party.
  5. Fashionphile: 10% off everything. If you're looking to score a designer piece today, do it today. This is a rare promotion. I've purchased from Fashionphile many times in the past and the experience was always great!

Monday, November 20, 2023

Affordable dresses for the holidays

I purchased a few dresses for the upcoming holidays and I love them so much. They're on a major sale today so I thought I'd share just in case you're interested. Most Express dresses are $35 or less today. It's a major steal. This off the shoulder midi dress is so classy and perfect for the holidays. I got the same dress in 2 different colors/patterns. The fabric is thick and well made. It hugs you in the right places and shows off your curves. I also picked up this long sleeve ruched dress. Another wonderful option for the holidays. Again, the material is thick and heavy. The length is perfect on me. The color, unfortunately is too close to my skin tone. I am going to exchange it for the black one instead. All 3 dresses are 60% off today.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

My absolute favorite perfume is on sale

Hope you're enjoying your weekend. Just a quick post today to share an amazing sale with you - My absolute favorite perfume is currently on sale.  This is a very rare promotion. To say I'm obsessed is an understatement when it comes to Baccarat Rouge 540. I purchased the regular version at first. I love it so much that I purchased the Extrait version soon after. Yes, it's expensive. I can't believe I paid that much for 2.4 oz of fragrance but it's worth it 🥹 It's so unique and unlike anything else I've tried before. I can't enough of it. I always get compliments when I wear it. It's concentrated so a little goes a long way. Since the brand is so expensive, take advantage of the sale now if you're been eyeing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

A long weekend in the sunshine state

Sharing a few pics from our long weekend in the sunshine state. Madelyn didn't have school last Thursday and Friday so we headed to our home away from home for a few days. This time we invited another family to stay with us so the kids can play together. From cold/dreary Ohio to warm/sunny FL is just a 2-hour flight away. Since we are on the Gulf, the water temperature is still nice and warm. We plan to come down whenever she has a long weekend and if the schedule works out. If you're looking for things to do in St. Pete Beach, check out my previous post here. You can find my one-piece swimsuit here.

Friday, October 6, 2023

My first Hermes bag directly from the boutique

As mentioned in my previous post, I was able to purchase an Hermès Evelyne directly from the boutique. I still couldn't believe it. I always asked for this bag whenever I had a chance to visit a boutique. I stopped by 3 Hermès boutiques in Japan and got turned down every time. This time, the expectation was very low. During our stay in FL, hubby offered to take me to Miami for a day of shopping. Bless his heart =) I wasn't sure at first because truthfully, there isn’t anything on my list that I am dying to get. This bag was the only thing and I knew the chance of getting it in Miami was next to impossible. The drive was 3.5 hours from our condo. He talked me into it. We started driving around 6:00 in the morning. Got to Aventura Mall right at 10:00 a.m. Guess what? They closed that day for inventory lol Just my luck. While we were there, I decided to stop by a Cartier boutique to check out some of their watches. I was thinking about a Tank watch. Long story short, I wasn't impressed. For the high price tag, it looks and feels very underwhelming. Glad I got to see it in person. Took it off my wishlist =) Outfit details: I love this dress so much | Straw visor

My husband asked if there is another Hermès boutique nearby. After looking for a few minutes, I told him there is one in Naples and it's on our way back. He said "Let's stop by". I said "No, that's fine". Pretty sure the answer will be the same. He insisted to stop by. The Naples store is relatively new. The interior is beautifully designed. We walked in, looked around for 5 minutes, no one acknowledged us. To be honest, I felt a little intimidated. I told my husband "Let's just go". He said "Let's wait until we talk to someone". About 15 minutes later, a sales associate came over and asked us what we were here for. I told her that I was looking for an Evelyne TPM in any neutral colors. She asked "Do you have a purchase history"? I said "No, I do not". She then handed me an iPad and said "Why don't you fill out your information and I'll see what we have. What?? The conversation went further than I expected but my hopes remained low. While filling out the information, she came out with a freaking orange box in her hands!!! I squealed without knowing what was inside the box. She opened the box and here is the Evelyne TPM in the exact color that I wanted. It's the Hermès Taurillon Clemence Amazone Evelyne TPM in Etoupe and Bleu Indigo to be exact. My husband whispered "Are they going to sell it to you?" lol "I told him, yes, if the SA brings out something then more than likely, they will sell it to you".

I love everything about this bag, the size, the color, the functionally of it. Even though it is not a quota bag, it's just as hard to get as the Birkin/Kelly. I also purchased this beautiful scarf. Yes, it's possible to score an Hermès bag without a purchase history.

Friday, September 8, 2023

A year older 🥳😅

I officially turned a year older yesterday. I know I say this every year but I am incredibly grateful for everything in my life. A loving family, wonderful friends, a stable career and more. My girlfriends took me out for an early birthday dinner last week. My husband took me out for a dinner date last night. I've been celebrating all week. Speaking of celebrating, I got something really special for my birthday this year. I couldn't believe I got a bag offer from the Hermes boutique with zero purchase history but that's another story for another time =) My dress is only $12 and available in 10 colors. The straps are a little long on me because I am short. Other than that, I love it. The quality is chef's kiss! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

What to do in St. Pete, FL

{St. Pete Beach - My swimsuit, Madelyn's swimsuit}
My family and I just came back from our summer vacation in FL. It was so nice to have our own place to stay this time. We traveled light, went to the beach everyday, came back home after a few hours, went to the pool and just took it easy. Our Airbnb is less than 2 miles from St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille Beach. It's less than 20 minutes from Fort De Soto Park and about 30 minutes from Tampa. I truly enjoy the privacy of this charming little island while still being close to all that the area has to offer. If you're looking for a place to stay in St. Pete Beach, I'd love to host you and your family. I wanted to share what to do and where to eat in St. Pete just in case you're interested.
{Snippets from our trip}
  • Explore different beaches - St. Pete Beach was named Tripadvisor's No. 1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021 for obvious reasons. It's gorgeous! It is known for its incredible powdery white sand beaches and laid-back lifestyle. We visited last year and fell in love with the area. There are so many other beaches near by that we haven't had a chance to explore: Treasure Island Beach, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Indian Rocks Beach.
  • Shell Key Island - If you're looking for a completely off the beaten track beach experience, I'd highly suggest visiting Shell Key Island. It's a 10 minute boat ride from the pier. Do not put money in parking meter prior to purchasing ferry tickets. For $5, the Shell Key shuttle will give you an all day parking pass for $5. We had the best time snorkeling and looking for shells. Shell Key Island is an undeveloped barrier island and the perfect getaway for those looking for a secluded beach.
  • Fort De Soto Park - The attraction is North beach! It was a lot less crowded than the other beaches in the area. This is a great beach for kids as the sandbars make a lot of shallow, warm pools. Beyond the sandbars the swimming is very nice. Very gradually sloping sandy bottom. If you have young kids, I'd highly recommend Fort De Soto Park.  Admission is $5 per vehicle and can be paid at the entrance booth or at an automatic kiosk.
{Shell Key Island - My swimsuit, Courtney's swimsuit}
  • Parasailing in Clearwater Beach - Clearwater Beach will always have a place in my heart. We've been taking the girls there since they were little. This time, we took them parasailing. Courtney has done it twice but this was Madelyn's first time. They had a blast. We went with Chute Em Up Parasail. The staff was wonderful and professional. The view of Clearwater Beach from sky is amazing! 
  • Walk thru the Don CeSar hotel a.k.a The Pink Palace - I personally haven't done this but it's on my must see list. The Don CeSar hotel a historical landmark and well-known tourist attraction in St. Pete Beach. You can book a few nights or just tour the hotel. The public areas are open to everyone.
  • Tropical fruit farms - Most tropical fruit farms are located in Homestead, FL which is about 4 hours drive from St. Pete. However, they do not allow going into farm to pick your own fruits anymore. They'll pick them and you can buy. I was able to find a custard apple farm in Tampa. They are my favorite. The owners are so sweet and friendly. They gave us a tour. My family and I had a great experience picking our own custard apples. I am not going share their contact publicly but if you are in the area and want to visit, send me a message.
  • Visit freshwater springs - Since it's so hot in FL, visiting freshwater springs on a hot summer day is really refreshing. There are quite a few of them in FL, you can Google to find the closest one to you. We took the girls to Weeki Wachee Springs. The springs are truly amazing and there are fun activities to do with the family. The crystal clear water was like nothing I have ever experienced before. It was a wonderful way to see natural Florida.
  • Pinellas Farmers & Flea Market - Open Saturday & Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I love this place so much. It has a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Lots of Asian fruits and veggies. They also have fruit trees and plants for sale. Tons of food vendors. Overall, it's a super fun place to visit on a Saturday morning and see different things
  • Saigon Night Market - If you're looking for Vietnamese street food, definitely check out Saigon Night Market. Super fun and delicious night market with a great variety of Vietnamese street food. The atmosphere is so fun and lively.
  • John's Pass Village & Boardwalk - Fun walk along the boardwalk with many shops to browse in. Great view of John’s Pass bridge. There is so much to see: Dolphin watching from the boardwalk, countless souvenir shops, festivals, live music and the beauty of the waterfront both along the Pass and the Gulf shore.
Where to eat:
  • Umi Sushi & Seafood Buffet
  • Saigon Bowl - Authentic Vietnamese food
  • The Kokonut Hut
  • Nam Viet Bistro - Family style
  • Kien Giang pho
  • Ha Long Bay
  • DeRusso's Pizzeria - The absolute best pizzas in town
  • Nine Spices Hotpot - My favorite dinner spot. I loved our experience here. Very spacious and clean. A great variety of menu items to choose from and the conveyor belt is a fun feature.
It was a much needed vacation. The girls will be following different school schedules starting next week. I am glad we were able to spend the last 9 days with them before Courtney heading off to college. She'll be moving into her dorm and Madelyn starts her middle school journey in a few short days.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

The Eras Tour Experience

If you're into Taylor Swift then you know scoring general sale tickets for The Eras Tour is next to impossible. I spent weeks learning the Ticket Master system, asking people for their verified accounts, refreshing the site during drop times and searching non-stop for face value tickets. It was exhausting and unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. 4 hours before the concert, I gave up and spent a gross amount for 2 obstructed view ticket for Madelyn and I. On a positive side, Madelyn had the time of her life. She was singing, dancing and enjoying her 1st real concert. The concert was epic. We were inside the stadium with other 60000 fans plus thousands of ticketless Swifties singing outside the stadium. Her voice is incredible. Each song was an amazing production 💜 Taylor Swift's epic “Eras Tour” is on track to become the biggest in concert history. I don't even want to disclose how much I spent. It kinda makes me nauseous but I am so glad that I got to experience it with Madelyn. I am also very grateful for my husband. He got off work early, drove 2 hours to Cincinnati, waited 6 hours in the car then drove 2 hours back to Columbus. We didn't get home until 2:30 the next morning. I hope she'll remember this experience forever 🤣 Outfit details: Dress *only $16 | Boots


Friday, June 16, 2023

My baby is 18!!! 🤍🎉🥳

Last weekend, family and close friends celebrated Courtney 18th birthday and her graduation. It was an emotional day for me. I started this blog when Courtney was 5 years old. I was going through tough times and just needed something to distract my mind. Friends weren't what I thought they were. Never thought I’d still be here 12 years later but here we are. My blog is no longer what it used to be but I can't bear to shut it down. It's my online diary for over a decade. I've documented everything from outfits, family milestones, vacation recap, luxury purchases and more. This is probably one of my very last posts about Courtney. She's officially entered legal adulthood. I know I'll see less and less of her. I am not sad. In fact, I am happy that she's independent, responsible and smart. She's working now, getting ready for the next chapter of her life and I couldn't be more thrilled. On her 18th birthday, I wrote her a letter. She didn't read it right away because with her graduation and her birthday, it was quite hectic. I randomly came to her room one night and saw she was balling her eyes out. I thought there was something wrong but it turned out she was reading the letter I wrote her. We cried happy tears together. There is no secret that I am incredibly proud and love this kid unconditionally. However, I couldn't have done it without the love and support of my husband. He has the biggest heart when it comes to the girls and I am forever grateful to have found an amazing man to spend the rest of my life with. I used to be ashamed of my divorce. After a decade of working on myself, I was able to change my perspective. I am proud of myself for taking charge of my happiness and my wellbeing. I wouldn’t able to do what I am doing for my children if I am still in an unfulling marriage. Divorced parents and their children often get a bad rap but it’s all about your mindset/perspective. Instead of allowing myself to enter this downward spiral, I focus on my strengths and make the best out of a difficult situation. I also wanted to share a heartfelt speech from my husband to Courtney. For privacy reasons, I am only sharing the audio. It's been amazing watching her grow up and become the remarkable young woman she is today. Thank you for being with me for the past 12 years 🤍
{My husband's speech to Courtney on her 18t birthday}

To my Courtney:
We made it! Happy 18th birthday, sweetheart 🥳 Turning 18 is a big deal. Today is the day you enter legal adulthood. So, on this special day, I thought I'd write you a personal letter. Truthfully, I wasn’t fond of having kids. It just wasn’t my priority in life. I planned to be a one-and-done kind of Mom. The day you entered my life was the day I knew what pure joy is. I have loved you more than I thought humanly possible. It was like I grew a whole other heart just for you. Your Dad and I were slowly growing apart. When you were 4, I felt like it was time for me to walk away. It was a big decision. I was frightened but it needed to be done. I knew I’d be a better version of myself without him. I was feeling lost and wasn't sure of my direction in life. However, one thing I was very certain of is that you are (and always will be) my number one priority. I promised myself that I will always love you unconditionally and support you no matter what. I feel like I can finally give myself a pat in the back and say that I did it. I am forever grateful for the bond we have built. As you turn 18 today, I want you to remember these five things as you grow and start pulling farther from me. These are some of important lessons I've learned over the past two decades of my life.
  • Invest in yourself with self-love - Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for it. You must invest in yourself, or no one else will.
  • Figure out who you are - You need to know who you truly are in order to figure out what you want in life. Make a list of core values. Defining your values can help you decide what you truly want.
  • Never, ever settle for second best - Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not worthy. You are smart, talented, kind, beautiful, and capable of doing anything you set your mind to. You should chase after the best of everything and expect that it can be yours.
  • Cut negativity out of your life – You don’t need a big social circle. You only need a few who are truly there for you.
  • Your family will be there for you no matter what – When life gets tough (and it will), remember, you always have a family who loves you.
I look at you with awe sometimes, wondering how you could possibly be mine. You are beautiful, caring, and hard-working. You've proven to be trustworthy and responsible and all the things that people your age usually aren’t. I must give credit when credit is due. I couldn’t have done it without all the support and love Dad has given me. He was a single guy when I met him. It was a big adjustment for him of suddenly having an instant family. He’s not perfect but he is able to give me the number one thing that I asked of him and that is to love you unconditionally. I am so very thankful for the role he has effortlessly played. Welcome to the adult world, sweetheart! I can't wait to see what life has in store for you. It's going to be an exciting ride. Thank you for making me a mom.
Love you always ❤️