Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Desert Photoshoot

As promised, here are some shots from our photo-shoot in the desert, courtesy of our creative and talented friends at f27 Photography. We owe it to them for making us look somewhat decent. They were basically our paparazzi for the day; sneaking stealthily around, as we hardly noticed them (the sign of a good photographer) while we "acted candidly." We had a blast, taking breaks in between to eat, drink, laugh, chat and drive through the desert, searching for sunsets, hotels, diners, cafes and more...
Vintage printed top, F21 suede shorts, gifted DV wedges, Rayban sunnies }
The colorful Saguaro of Palm Springs

The Viceroy, Palm Springs
gifted Foreign Exchange romper, gifted DV wedges  Bebe: Baby Gap onesie }
{ On me: T by Alexander Wang dress, Chelsea Crew snakeskin heels  Hubby: Banana Republic linen shirt,  Joe's Jeans, John Varvatos Star leather oxfords  Bebe: Baby Gap button-up, Jumping Beans shorts }
Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls, Disney onesie, Baby Gap sunnies }
King's Highway, inside the Ace Hotel

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shopping Challenge: The Half-way Mark

I do realize how unsanitary I must appear, allowing bebe to roam freely on the floor while I'm trying on clothes.  I'm usually a better mother than this, really. If anything, it's the secret to keeping one's immune system strong.

We are now in the middle of June, and its dawned on me that I'm half-way through with my No Shopping Challenge. In some ways, time has gone by rather quickly. On the other hand, little bumps in the road remind me that I still have half a year left to go (with Christmas season and sales being expected hurdles). The most difficult times so far have been shopping for or with others, though I enjoy choosing gifts for family and friends, ignorance is no longer bliss and all of all sudden I start seeing a lot of things I would choose for myself. When that happens I am reminded to snap out of it, chastising myself for having wandering eyes. But in all seriousness, I am finding more joy in giving rather than receiving (or in this case, giving to oneself). Yes it sounds ridiculous but hey, if you were a guy, imagine not buying tech-y gadgets for a year! Everyone has their vices, and mine is found in accessorizing my closet.

A hurdle I did not expect came about last week while I was waiting to meet up with the lovely Anisa at Bruxie's in downtown Brea. To make a long story short, we had a bit of miscommunication that caused the poor girl to drive all over the OC. I decided to meander over to the Ann Taylor Loft across the street, thinking that the store would be harmless. The Loft is for middle-aged women, right? There was a huge 40% off sign in the window front. I'm a sucker for sales, and I figured if anything, I could find something for my mother. I guess I hadn't been in the store for some time because boy was I wrong. Upon walking into the store, the accessory section caught my eye. They had teamed up with Wakami (empowers Guatemalan women to become leaders in their community) to create a line of friendship bracelets, adorned with rhinestones, charms and colorful embroidery. Beautiful accessories that fund a good cause. I was smitten. At least now I know where to find a gift!

Next up, I noticed their sandals: snakeskin prints, neons, and plastic jelly sandals encrusted with colored rhinestones! They also had fun summery dresses with bold tropical prints that didn't scream "suburban mom." There was even a romper in sight with green and lime palm prints (*note the above photo- if I can't buy it there's no harm in trying it on)! And a classic striped linen tee (stripes...a weakness). Now I'm not sure if it was my excitement with the revamping of the store or my hunger to shop, but I was pretty sure it was a little bit of both. I felt my adrenaline go up and part of me started justifying why I could use a new pair of sandals...or perhaps purchase a bracelet to save for next year. Wait, what was I thinking?? I told myself I would try on a few items to get it out of my system.  That I did, and sure enough, nothing in the store was my size. Perfect. I walked out of the fitting room with bebe and made a beeline for the exit. 

As soon as I walked out, I felt an immediate sense of calm. I was reminded that I really didn't need anything. Everything would've been a want, something to bring me instant gratification, and I've been learning to die to some of these desires of mine. I still don't think shopping is a bad thing, I do intend on participating in this recreational activity again, but hopefully with a new sense of purpose. But it was the strangest thing, being inside that store and falling victim to a store's marketing ploys really does something to a person. So props to The Loft and their marketing team, because they nearly succeeded in breaking my shopping challenge...but not quite.

Either way, they really have come a long way, so I figured I might as well do some eyeball shopping and put together a few things that caught my attention. I've been digging more conservative swimsuits these days, being a mom and all, I feel the need to cover up a tad bit more- and chic, tasteful swimsuits are a rarity, but apparently The Loft have some that don't make you feel like a gramma!

Now that concludes my little spat with shopping. For those of you who thought I've been cruising through this challenge...I'm far from being perfect or disciplined. Lesson learned: Don't walk into unfamiliar stores without a purpose. Moving forward and celebrating the small victories...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Desert Mirage

Photo taken by our amazing friends from f27 Photography: We did a fun photo-shoot with them, will post photos soon!
We went for our first "official" vacay with Bebe a few weeks ago to the desert, aka Coachella Valley. Being only a couple hours away, I guess you could hardly call it a vacay. I had visited as a child, but never have I experienced it in this way. I guess things have changed over the decades, and traveling is always different once you're an adult. You see the world through "adult lenses," but having a child helps me bounce back into time to see the world through a child's eyes. Child-rearing may age you physically, but I think it keeps your soul young, and in the end, that's most important. 

There were many hidden gemstones we discovered- some were new, some were old. Palm Springs reminded me of a sleepier, 60s-70s version of Las Vegas (historically, this place was the Vegas of its time); minus the gambling, provocative women, clubs and add palm trees upon palm trees (which are not native to California btw), vintage shops, the most tastefully reconstructed hotels, barren sandy deserts and super friendly people. This place was definitely more of my cup of tea. 

My favorite part of our trip was visiting Joshua Tree National Park. I had been wanting to go since I heard about the gnarly-looking trees in college, but for some reason never made it out there (even though I studied in the other desert aka Riverside). We drove out there late noon, and hiked around the boulders while there was still light. Towards dusk, we went towards the lookout point and saw the most gorgeous sunset that overlooked the Salton Sea with rows and rows of mountain landscapes leading towards the watercolor sky. There was a cloudy haze that created a purple-ish blue glow that made the whole experience rather dreamy. Breathtaking hardly described the view, if only photos could do it any justice. Such beauty could only be painted by a Creator who creates to bring us delight. The best part? The view didn't even cost a penny. It's true, some of the best things in life are free.

We had planned to dine beneath the stars, so we packed food to have a picnic in the car. To the Hubby's dismay, it was a full moon and the glow was too fierce for us to see the glittering stars. However, we were still able to fine-dine in the trunk of our SUV, with a flashlight hanging as a chandelier. It started to get chilly, something we didn't anticipate. We rushed to finish our food and packed up to leave the park. As we left Joshua Tree, the sky turned dark and all you could see were the silhouettes of the Yucca trees, standing almost eerily with their claws, as if it were straight from a horror film. With no visible cars in sight, it very well could have been one. However, the stillness and serenity of it all gave me a sense of calm. Upon returning from our adventure, I declared Joshua Tree as the most beautiful site I have seen in California. We plan on returning, perhaps to go camping or "glamping," as my friend would say.

And here goes the photo diary...
- Fin -

Palm Springs, we'll be back for you!