bruges by day // bruges by night


europe adventure // bruges

stepping into the heart of bruges was like stepping back in time. these red rooftops combined with thick fog, swans swimming in the mirror-like canals, and bells chiming throughout the city made bruges the most enchanting place we have ever been. preserved cobblestone streets wind their way through the medieval city centre leading to quaint, picturesque scenes at every turn. 

after we checked into our cute little room with a view we just meandered through the town, stopping to take a photo here, stopping to buy a waffle from a street vendor there. hoping for a couple of calm days, there were only a few things on our to-do list: canal tour by boat, buy chocolate (best chocolate of my LIFE), eat mussels & frites (popular belgian meal -- sans mussels for daniel of course), drink delicious beer and tour the de halve man brewery, and climb the beautiful belfry tower for stunning views -- 366 cramped steps through a very old spiral staircase to reach the bells at the top -- click on the link to check it out. 

we saw all we wanted to see and then filled the rest of our time with what i wanted to do most of all -- wandering the city, drinking in all its sights. belgium, you were magical -- all we imagined and more. *update* for more tips on things to do in belgium check out this link:

europe adventure // amsterdam


"its a world of laughter a world of fear, its a world of hopes and a world of tears...
its a world that we share and its time we're aware its a small world after all..."

in my head. on repeat. i suppose you can take the california girl out of the magic kingdom but you can't take the magic kingdom out of the girl. this fact aside, holland was like a dream. of course the bells, lights, canals, bridges (and clogs) reminded me of what i had only ever experienced as make-believe. it reminded me of disneyland -- only, this place was real. this is the place that disneyland is trying to transport you to. and here we were.

after separating from my parents we landed in amsterdam on a wet sunday night. the rain wasn't too light, it wasn't too heavy. it fell from the black sky softly on the quiet cobblestone streets. it returned to the still canals whose warmly lit reflections were disturbed ever so slightly, transforming their usually clear pictures to impressionist works of art. we walked in the rain that night, listening to the bells chime their music-box-like songs and watching the lights of the bridges flicker over the water.

morning came fast and we set off in exploration. from our hotel to the train station and then walked to dam square. from dam square we walked to bloemenmarkt, the worlds only floating flower market! we bought tulips to share and to plant some of our own. our wedding flowers were orange tulips, they are scheduled to bloom (if i don't kill them first... ) this spring, around our ten year anniversary. we did a lot more walking from the flower market to museumplein. museumplein means museum square and is, as the name would indicate, where all the museums reside. we scoped it out but decided to return later. from there we walked SOME MORE to this craft brewery and vowed to not walk anymore... at least until we had to leave. the beer (plus cheese & sausage) was the best of the trip.

the next day we opted to join the rest of the amsterdammers in their mode of transport -- the bicycle. bicycles were everywhere. they ruled the rodes the way the cars rule the 5 freeway in LA. they were rounding corners, jingling their bells, locked up on bridges, fences, and poles. so we figured if you can't beat them -- join them. best decision ever. what fun we had! i was worried that i was going to get hit by a car at first; or worse yet, slow down a dutchman on his way to work while he zoomed around me cursing tourism. thankfully i can report neither of those things happened! (i hope). we rode through the charming, neighborhoody area of jordaan, rented a paddleboat and paddled around the canals for an hour. it was a blast to get another view of the city whilst working off some of the gouda from the day prior. from the canals we rode to the rijksmuseum for vermeer & rembrandt. they were wonderful. the museum itself is such a beauty. (see IG for a photo of the building). it boasts a bicycle path through its center so you can see through the glass windows into the museum on either side as you peddle along to the sounds of violists playing vigorously in efforts to earn a few euro. after a slice of marzipan cake, glass of rose and obligatory jaunt through the gift shop we returned our bicycles and went out for a proper dutch dinner -- more meat and more cheese. fine by me. ;)

we departed from amsterdam for an early morning train to belgium by way of rotterdam. next stop: bruges.



"Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view... They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!"
-- Pride & Prejudice

europe adventure // english countryside

this storybook-like town is bridgnorth. idyllic and unassuming this little town stole our hearts. it isn't  bridgnorth's charm alone that makes such an impression but it is the people who reside therein. they are the family of our best friends and we have gotten very close over the years despite the distance. they took us in and treated us like family. many thanks to them!

after leaving london we passed through oxford for sausage & mash and drank a pint at their oldest pub called "the bear," dating back to the year 1242, before our arrival in bridgnorth.

our first day we all went to the chatsworth house in derbyshire county. this immense estate was used as pemberley in the film pride and prejudice. it was my dream come true. sheep dotted the land all around the house. the hedge mazes were the perfect place to get lost and daydream that you're elizabeth bennett... not that i did that of course. perhaps pemberly deserves its own post??

the next day we toured the town of ironbridge which was the home of the industrial revolution. we had the best pasties there... then a cream tea... thankfully we were also doing a lot of walking! after ironbridge we went home to bridgnorth and took the cliff railway up from low town to high town for the above view of the river severn. we saw the ruins of bridgnorth's castle and went thrifting on their main street. we had our meeting that night, then off to a proper english pub (translation: it was very, very old having the original door with the mark of the black plague -- really cool, also a tad creepy) called the halfway house for an ale named "shropshire lad," which was appropriate as we were in shropshire county!

the following day we were off to wales to a waterfall called pistyll rhaeadr. it was wet, windy and oh-so-very-cold which was perfect as that is exactly how one imagines wales to be! gnarly sheep, shetland ponies, mossy fences and RAIN. friday night we went to a mustache themed party (it was "movember" after all) for some fun times and delicious food.

saturday was our last full day *tears* and we went to ludlow castle which dates back to 1086. what an amazing time meandering its corridors and the view from the top was breathtaking. it was a clear, crisp day with children playing rugby in the shadow of the castle and i thought to myself at that moment: this is something i can never experience at home... and i was happy.
one last meal of indian food that night with all the family and we said our goodbyes...

thanks to all for a wonderful time making memories. until next time thoughts of hot english tea and cozy fires will keep us warm at night. (to be honest... it was ace.) we love & miss you all!

we were off to heathrow for our flights and sadly parted ways with my dad and mom...
we were on our own!

europe adventure // london

this view of elizabeth tower peaking out of the trees of st. james park is my absolute favorite view of my most favorite landmark. this was my fourth time visiting the UK and i still jumped up and down with glee at the moment i took this photo, the first moment i saw him on this time around -- it never gets old. i truly believe that even if i was a londoner (for real not just at heart) i would still catch my breath each time i heard those ever-constant sounds of big ben ringing through the city.

i have been dreaming of going to london with my family for the past couple years, maybe even before that. as you can see here. we tried last year and it didn't work out but this time around -- success! we made it! my dad, mom, daniel and i flew from san diego to new york city (i sang new york state of mind while waving to that beautiful skyline as we landed of course) and then on to heathrow. we left on a wednesday and arrived on thursday morning to stay until tuesday morning. we hopped on the tube and took the piccadilly line straight to our airbnb flat on the corner of shaftsbury and neal, in the center of covent garden. the location was amazing.

some of the highlights of our time in london: the above pictured walk from buckingham to trafalgar square, the national gallery, thames river cruise at sunset offered up picture-perfect scenes, neighborhood pubs, portobello road market in notting hill, tons of indian food, the british museum bible tour, the british library's treasures, drinking a glass of fancy champagne at harrods elaborate food hall, and saving the best for last -- beautiful london bethel and new friends made there.

from heathrow we rented a car, then daniel drove us to friends in the west midlands for the next chapter of our english journey... cheerio to london for now & hello bridgnorth!



even though i didn't win the madewell contest it was fun just to give it a shot! *no pun intended*
a few of my snaps did get featured on the their website, check it out! 
i suppose its the next best thing to a shopping spree. ;)

Beach Camping (20th annual)


sunbathe / swim / play / cook / clean / sleep / repeat.
some of the best days of the year gone in a flash. lots of love to my camping family... until next time.

a stylists take: grow out


the time has come. the time to grow out that short haircut. for many women the time came months ago, even years ago. what held them back? fear. uncertainty. laziness... just to name a few. it never seems like the right time to bite the bullet and suffer through the dreaded "awkward stage." but what if there is no awkward stage? game-changer, i know. so hear me out: there is a way to grow out that pixie cut in a stylish, on-purpose manner.
follow the below tips for a stress-free grow out period:

tip one: 
book your stylist. make haircut appointments every six to eight weeks. one of the biggest mistakes that makes for an unsuccessful grow out is never getting a haircut or letting too much time go by in between appointments. "get a haircut when you are trying to GROW your hair?!" you may ask? absolutely. when the hair loses all shape and becomes completely unmanageable is exactly when one gives up altogether. that is where the aforementioned "awkward stage" thrives. regular trims become especially crucial when growing out a pixie cut. the nape needs to be cleaned up consistently while the sides grow out to meet it. a mullet is the alternative. no thanks.

tip two: 
routine switch-up. we all have our styling habits. when we have a certain hairstyle for a measure of time we get used to it and that is just how we style our hair -- blow-out with a flat brush, blow-out with a round brush, blow-out with a comb, blow-out with fingers, blow-out haphazardly, flat-iron straight, flat-iron waves, curling iron, curling wand, air-dry, or my all time favorite: roll out of bed and spray in some spray wax. just to name a few. whatever your routine, once your haircut changes shape change your routine. (i learned this the hard way years ago when i continued to style my longer hair messy like i styled my short cut. looking back on pictures it strongly resembled a lions mane. no joke.) not sure when to switch-up the routine? ask your stylist.

tip three: 
long live product! do not shy away from product. however, know that product change-ups will be necessary during the grow out process. for instance: volume is a bad word with a cropped cut but as length develops volume products are a godsend to fight flatness. waxes and pastes are helpful with both long and short styles but are used in different ways. your stylist can help you find the right products to suit your needs as your hair changes shape. some current favorites? redken velvet gelatine and satinwear are "one size fits all" choices for a smooth blow-dry. also, quick tease is an aerosol spray to create a airy, teased effect sans the backcombing, bye-bye rats nest. the new flex collection by redken is also amazing, pomade-like texture designed to go in towel-dried hair before its hit with the blowdryer. gives the hair texture and hold. 

may these tips lend a helping hand in the fight against grow out stigma. ;)
any questions or feedback please leave a comment below.

anniversary loot


this years wedding anniversary we decided on a spending limit for our gifts. 
needless to say, daniels gift was waaaay better than mine. his creativity paired with his capabilities made for brilliance. 
i ended up with not one but two presents. both were things i had mentioned that i wanted: my stag horn fern mounted on the wall and a copper hanging rack. but the way they turned out blows the way i had imagined them way out of the water... er, out of the apartment. 

anyway, i am in love! cue heart emojis of all kinds. ;)

a few lovely things


new little baby for the bathroom.
anniversary present: hand-made copper hanging rack.
they are still obsessed with the sheepskin.
hiding from the heat today. its 100 degrees in may. UGH.

nine years: i love you 'til the end


i just want to see you when you're all alone
i just want to catch you if i can...
i just want to be there when the morning light explodes
on your face it radiates
i can't escape
i love you 'til the end
i just want to tell you nothing you don't want to hear
all i want is for you to say...
why don't you just take me where i've never been before?
i know you want to hear me catch my breath
i love you 'til the end
i just want to be there when we're caught in the rain
i just want to see you laugh not cry
i just want to feel you when the night puts on its cloak
im lost for words don't tell me
all i can say
i love you 'til the end
//the pogues//

dedicated to daniel:
today we celebrate nine years... 
its our last year in single digits and i have a feeling it'll be a good one.
happy anniversary! xoxo

anniversary photo shoot by this lovely lady.
also: some photo shoot out-takes (press play.)

a few lovely things


lavender honey from our local lavender fields in my coffee this morning.
my new succulent. so in love.
these two.
pin cushion from the farmers market.
my sweet cat.

a few lovely things (sunday edition)


the quarta necklace by tiro tiro studio. i wear it every single day.
(plus i got it during a flash sale -- 50% off! 
keep your eye out for sales and giveaways on social media sites)
hand-picked flowers from our front yard.
a gussied up adventure jar. fill up quick, jar!
snuggled-up bing is cozy on our sheepskin.
sunday nap time.

happy forty-one years


this weekend we are celebrating my parents forty-first wedding anniversary.

we had a dinner at our house on friday: appetizers, champagne, grilled fish + veges (note-- if you haven't yet-- try escolar, its amazing!), salad with candied pecans + blueberries, and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. we listened to music and sang loudly all nite, my favorite. ;)

today we followed up with a lovely dinner with my grandparents. salmon! 
(makes me think of "sushi!" #youvegotmail)

i am so grateful to them for setting a wonderful example in marriage for me and daniel and for being the best parents i could have ever hoped for. love you both. xoxo

//dedicated to my mom + dad//

snippets of the weekend + april first


here are a few bits + pieces of our celebratory weekend!

it included: cardamom lattes, quiche + croissants, gift + card exchange (bourbon for him and icelandic sheep wool for me -- heart-eye-emoji times ten), go-cart racing + pizza for his day, then on sunday it was indian food + cinepolis tickets for my day. 
all-in-all a pretty low-key weekend. ;)

//happy seven hundred and twenty-eight weeks to my other half and very best friend//

to read a day-we-met essay click here.

a study in gray


cement with new life.
march skies.
hand-dyed cotton, a little rough around the edges.
this fuzzy fur.
granite rock close-up.

a stylists take: monochromatic.


i've always been one to follow the trends. and i'm not ashamed! its actually quite fun. 
firstly, it goes with my job description. and secondly, i am certainly never bored. 

its been a long time since i have done a stylist's take. so long that i am embarrassed to admit, although you can find out how long its been with only a couple clicks of your mouse. its funny because fashion is actually my most favorite topic to write. its where my passion lies. then why do i avoid it? this is something i am trying to figure out myself but heres what i have so far:
i have been putting pressure on myself that each style post has to be top notch. and of course i want it to be. but sometimes my own head is my worst enemy and i need to write about what i want to write about and just hope for the best. you feel me? i hope so!

i always have a wealth of style-related thoughts that go through my mind on a daily basis:
 what should i wear? should i change my hair color? to grow out or not to grow out? how much make-up is too much make-up? what items are worth $$ and what items are cheap-out-worthy? dressing for the season, dressing for an event, dressing for work, dressing for bed. and of course thoughts about how other people dress -- some of those thoughts i probably shouldn't share ;)

so today and lately my mind has been focused on monochromatic. i have been noticing this trend and its so out of my box. i am usually always with a pop of color. and now? nothing. zip on the color. i have been leaning toward black, white, gray, chambray and neutrals in general. based on a purchase the other day someone asked me if i had to wear an all-black uniform to work. hmm. nonetheless, i have been loving it. my wardrobe finally has some key and basic pieces that it has been missing for sometime. i have a lot of statement pieces because they are always the ones that draw me but now the pieces with the draw are the black cotton tees. 
ohh one-hundred-percent cotton how i love you. who would have thought? 
(but lets leave feelings about all natural fibers for another post or i will end up on a tirade of sorts.)

so dressing in a monochromatic way leaves much to the imagination. my favorite two ways to make up for the lack of color are in variance in texture and styling with innovative jewelry and accessories. so if you decide to go out in barely-different shades of white this spring make sure the textures stand out as separate and this will add interest. also bring in a focal point with a cool clutch, shoes or necklace. you'll end up with a natural, simple and fashion forward look.

please feel free to leave questions and/or comments below!
oh and happy monday ;)

a few lovely things (spring edition).


these booties
patio chair hand-me-downs.
fresh green growth.
clearing out some clutter and aiming for simplicity.
april first anniversary gift waiting on the fireplace. ;)


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