House Beautiful

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Dreamin’ of the Weekend: Maui Lovin’

(via the incredibly talented lovelies at Joielala – thanks Taryn!)

So a few times in the three decades leading up to this point in my life, there’ve been quite a few moments when I feel so happy, I could almost pinch myself.  Life at that very moment just seems sooooo good, and I don’t want the moment to end.


During Christmas, when I’m surrounded by the people I love the most in the whole wide world – for a whopping two week vacation!

Or, through an amazing twist of fate, when my job leads me to a country I’ve only seen on TV before.  Hello, Roma’s Trevi Fountain!  Let’s make a wish, shall we?

OR, while I’m away on a vacation in a tropical location with people I love… CUE SONG: Beach in Hawaii


Such was the case for Memorial Day weekend a couple weeks ago.  Meant to be a nice, long weekend in paradise spent with both my BF (who had QUITE a few tricks up his sleeve – more on that later)…

…and my ever-sassy counterpart Jonathan…

…the paradise that is the island of Maui became even more meaningful to all of us.

Because our collective karma is obviously WAY intact, the three of us managed to stay at the magnificent Grand Wailea for free.  Don’t ask how… we’re just good like that.

The waterfall upon entering the grounds.

The lobby of the hotel.

And the lush gardens with exotic plants and flowers everywhere you turn.

For four days, armed with magazines, pineapple drinks and sun block (which yours truly didn’t quite utilize as often as she should’ve), the three of us baked by the pool…

… and enjoyed the grotto/swim-up bar (shout-out to Richard, THE most easygoing, sunshine-y hotel swim-up bar bartender one could ever ask for).

We ate fresh seafood at restaurants like the famed Mama’s Fish House.  It is TOTALLY worth the hype.  Amen to macadamia nut-encrusted Mahi Mahi.

And we spent some quality time in the hotel’s yummy spa.

It seemed like quite the vacation, right?  Oh, but that wasn’t ALL that happened on this four day jaunt to the Islands.   Oh, no.

You see, said BF had known about this trip for a few months.  He wasn’t going to let the weekend pass with just the usual spa treatments, pool lounging and other standard luxurious activities.  He needed to ratch it all up a bit.  Make this vacation one to truly be remembered forever.

So how did BF go about doing this?

CUE SONG: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Well, it started with a nice afternoon walk down by the chapel on the grounds of the hotel.

It was a perfect Saturday late afternoon.

My BF looked at me, and he said:


He asked me a question.

Can ya guess what it was????

Let me give you a hint:

My wonderful BF is no longer just my BF.  He’s my… FIANCE!

Now THAT’S how you do a vacation!!!

So as I floated back into my little Southern California beach existence and looked back at our time in Hawaii…

I decided that all the sun, sand and sea was wonderful…

But what really made the trip truly magical was the love felt throughout the weekend 🙂

This post is dedicated to my shiny, new fiance, with whom I ALWAYS feel like I’m in paradise.


We Heart NY

(via flikr)

One mid-April weekend, two bi-coastal besties decided – on a whim – to fly out to the melting pot that is NYC and surprise mutual buddy, Melissa, for her 30th birthday.  The whirlwind weekend, full of yummy dinners, day-long shopping excursions and lots of dancing until the wee hours, culminated with a major bash for said-30th-birthday-girl at Tribeca’s Bubble Lounge on Saturday night.  Being reunited with a LOT of old, great friends was the icing on the cake.  Half of our hometown invaded NYC for the weekend, and went on a 48-hour belly-laughing, cheers-ing, and dancing rampage.

Just having stepped off the plane from NY, and with Alicia Keys’ “New Yoh-ohhhhk” still jammin’ in our heads, it’s hard to summarize all the things we love so much about NYC.  The place is like a jolt of espresso for the soul; the energy upon stepping into that city is like nothing else.   Here is a wrap-up of what we loved about our Bang-Up Big Apple Weekend:

1) Getting to surprise one of our closest friends, Melissa, who had no clue we were coming.  Well, neither did we.  Karrie ambushed her in the apartment lobby; Stephanie tracked her down in the dairy aisle at Whole Foods.  Both scenarios resulted in gasping, squealing, and hugging.  In that order.  This is how far we all go back:

2) Happening upon the cutest, most delicious mini-stuffed cupcakes we’d ever tasted, courtesy of Baked By Melissa, in flavors like peanut butter & jelly, red velvet, and tie-dye.  This little gem was quietly tucked away on Spring Street in SoHo, near the corner of Broadway.  Now also available online:


3)  Holing up in cozy cafes during shopping breaks, like BOOM on Spring Street in SoHo.  This one happens to be a personal fave of Steph’s…  largely because a few years back when she was trying to escape a blizzard, she went inside, sat down, and they insisted upon bringing her a giant mug of mulled wine to warm her up.  On the house.  She’s loved it ever since.  We had lobster bisque and the rustica salad this time.  It was spot on:



Jacques in Nolita also did not disappoint.  The beet salad, grilled chicken salad, and Dijonnaise moules were divine:



3)  Getting ghetto hair extensions at some joint called “Wig & Weave” on 5th Avenue.  And by we, I mean Karrie.  She whipped her Rapunzel-esque locks from side-to-side all weekend long, which sent all of us into doubled-over hysterics.  To Wig & Weave’s credit, they glanced at her hair color and matched it perfectly.  All 24 inches of it.

4)  Street Vendors, street vendors, STREET vendors! If I had a dime for every time I asked someone, “where did you find that AMAZING (thing)?”  And they replied, “On the street in New York!” I’d be a kazillionaire.  Scoring amazing pieces of jewelry like these on Broadway is yet another reason we love NYC.  Steph got the 2 of ’em for $30:

5)  Chinatown.  The sunglasses, the watches, jewelry, the perfume (!)  It’s a steal.  Literally.  If you even breathe the words “Rolex” or “Louis Vuitton,” the shopkeepers wave their hands, shake their heads, and vehemently deny in fear.  “Ohhhhh, no no no no NO!  No Rolex.  No Louis Vuitton.  Sohh-ree.”  But then, as you continue strolling down Canal Street, you can just barely hear, “you like-ah-da-Rolex?  Louis Vuitton?” floating through the air as you pass.  Our ears perked up, and we followed a shady little man through a Labyrinth of twists, turns, and seafood markets…  waited it out while he and his counterparts took cover until cop cars passed…  and were then presented with a giant pamplet of the available, prinstine knock-offs:

And folks, you better believe you can bargain.  Shady-man-with-a-Louis-Vuitton-hidden-in-a-black-trash-bag tried to sell Karrie this Rolex for $150.  She paid $50.  BANG.  The key is knowing what it’s worth to you, and not agreeing to spend a penny more.

6)  The kindness and generosity of new – and old – friends. Melissa’s adorable boyfriend, Paul, hosted 6 of us in his tiny 1-bedroom apartment.  Most of the weekend, it looked like a bomb went off in there.  But Paul just cheerfully bee-bopped around, ordered take-out for the crew, and stepped aside while a mob of us took over his universe for a few short days.  And the infectiously delightful birthday girl treated us to homemade lattes every morning.

7)  The local flav-ah. We passed this girl on the street in the Nolita neighborhood.  Her ensemble was so original and so creative, we couldn’t resist snapping her pic.

THEN, we passed this dude, who was totally engrossed in stylin’ his ‘do in a window on Canal Street.  Gotta love it.  He didn’t mind posing for us.  Not one bit.

8)  The everywhere-you-look inspiration. For instance, we night-capped at Madame Geneva on Friday night, which was like being teleported to Casablanca.  I wish we had a better shot of the white lanterns over the bar.  They were exquisitely intricate:

(via flikr)

(via flikr)

BOOM in SoHo (the Italian lunch venue) also had this gorgeous, Alice-in-Wonderland-esque skylight installation in the back.  It makes me want to live in a cartoon, and hop over lilly pads in the sky.  And no, I did not just smoke a doobie.

9)  Late-night dance parties:


10) Celebrating our girl Melissa (affectionately known as “Mayleesch”).  Because she is the the kind of friend who will always give  more than she gets, and do so cheerfully and gracefully, but expect nothing in return…  the kind whose effervescence, poise and generosity inspires you…  the kind of person who makes everyone around her feel good, and the kind you will only ever look up to, because she’s just that awesome.

Cheers to the Big Apple…  to impromptu trips for a good cause…  and to Melissa’s 30th!