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December 2016

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Top 5 Favorite Books (2016)

In keeping with last year’s tradition, the last post of 2016 will my top 5 favorite books of the year.

The Millionaire Next Door
My favorite book of the year has to be The Millionaire Next Door. The book is based on interviews with 500+ millionaires, national surveys and focus groups to better understand millionaires. The surveys were conducted between 1982 and 1996 so the data is somewhat old but I think the findings in the book are still applicable today. The main takeaway from this book is that looks can be deceiving – a lawyer driving a 7-series BMW, living in an affluent neighborhood and wearing Armani suit may not be wealthy while a plumber driving an old Buick and living in an average home can be a millionaire.

It is also interesting that 80% of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich and majority of them are not celebrities, athletics, or lottery winners. Majority of the millionaires are wealthy because they live below their means and they are avid savers. If you want to know if you are saving enough, the book provided a convenient formula:

Overall the book made me more conscious – I need to work on spending less and saving more!

Gone with the Wind
I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without reading this book – but now that I have, Gone with the Wind is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s hard to pinpoint what I love the most about the book – the story line, the characters, or the writing that makes you yearn for the Old South. The fight to prevent southern states from secession / freeing the slaves were definitely worthy causes; but as a reader, I couldn’t help feel sad for the lost of a culture and a way of life that Margaret Mitchell beautifully described in the book.

Of course there was the love story between Scarlett, Ashley and Rhett but my favorite is the friendship between Scarlett and Melanie; the friendship that helped the two incredible women through the toughest times. I also really admire Scarlett’s ability to overcome social expectations of what is acceptable and do what she wants – be a businesswoman so she can earn money and never be hungry again. Although some of Scarlett’s practices are questionable – I loved her independence, resourcefulness and determination.
East of Eden
Another great classic that I’m glad I finally read this year. The book focuses on the two families: Trasks and Hamiltons. Although at times the book rambles, the story and characters are fascinating. I love how well each character is developed. The Trasks: Charles, Adam, Caleb and Aron Trask; the Hamiltons: Samuel, Liza, and their nine children; Lee, the housekeeper and Cathy. To me, Cathy’s story line was the most intriguing and bizarre. It’s like she is possessed by a demon and is devoid of all human emotions. Yet, even though you know she is evil, you are still interested in her story – you still want to figure out a puzzle that has no solution.

Overall, the whole book is about good vs. evil and is basically a story about Cain and Abel and timshel – “thou mayest”, the idea that people have to choice their own moral path.

The Book Thief
This book is about Liesel, a girl living in Germany during WWII. On her way to her foster family, Liesel stole her first book, The Gravediggers Handbook. The Book Thief fell in love with words, with reading, with books. The book is a page-turner not in a suspense / must-know-what-happens-next but rather because it is beautifully written and the story line is heart-felt. You care about the characters and are genuinely curious and hopefully that nothing bad will happen.

My favorite part of the book is the love between Hans and Liesel – it is so beautiful. Hans is Liesel’s foster father – Hans holds Liesel when she is having nightmares and reads with her into the early morning. They know each other so well that spoken words are not necessary. Liesel had no one in the world until Hans came along and made her understand what it’s like to be loved by a father. My second favorite part of the book is that it is narrated by Death, which is interesting. Death in this book is not formidable, frightening or cold, instead it is humorous, curious, and a hard worker. Lastly, the definitions, explanations, drawings and lists throughout the book are a good change to the way information was delivered. This book has also been adopted into a movie and I can’t wait to see it!

Everything We Keep
Any book with “many unexpected twists” as its description is an automatic contender for me because I loved Gone Girl – the queen of unexpected twists. Although the book didn’t have as many unexpected twists as Gone Girl, I couldn’t put it down and stayed up really late reading the book.

The main character, Aimee, had her life all planned out and a big part of her life was marrying her childhood sweetheart James. However, a few months before the wedding, James disappears in a boating accident and was proclaimed dead. The book then goes through Aimee’s healing process and the quest to find out what happened to James on his trip.

 

Thank you for reading and please share any great books you’ve read that you think I should add to my list for 2017!

Home, Travel

Puerto Vallarta

The sub-zero weather in Boston made me daydream about a warm sun beaming down on my skin and a soft breeze playfully tossing my hair. The cold definitely kept me indoors this weekend so instead of shivering outside and taking pictures for an outfit post, I looked through my Puerto Vallarta pictures and would like to share my favorites.

The main reason I wanted to visit Cabo / Puerto Vallarta last summer was to see the hidden beach in PV. However, the hidden beach was shut down for a few months to restore the site and limit tourist / human impact. Although I was extremely disappointed, I understood and respected the local government’s desire to protect the environment. So instead of visiting the hidden beach, we walked around the beautiful malecon (boardwalk). The boardwalk is filled with various statues to take pics, gift shops, snack vendors, and fresh juice stands. 

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Fashion, Home

My Top 10 Favorite Celine Bags

Celine is one of my favorite designer handbag brands. I love Celine handbags for their minimalist designs, stunning colors, and incredible leather (Celine leathers smell so so good)!

Since I can’t have them all, I will let out my love by sharing my top 10 favorite Celine handbags ranked in the order of preference (except for the first three bags – it too difficult to rank these three).

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1.  Celine Trapeze
The Trapeze was my first love out of all Celine bags. The combination of the sleek lines, simple design, contemporary wings, large handle, and the shoulder strap made it a winner for me. I personally think the design of the Trapeze is timeless ; especially if you tuck in the wings, then it just looks like a feminine briefcase. This is also a very easy bag to carry due to the comfortable shoulder strap. The opening and closing of the Trapeze can be annoying but I personally don’t mind it. Another problem for the Trapeze is the bag sagging and losing its shape after prolong wear, especially if you overstuff your bag. Overall, the design of the Trapeze is simple but it is stunning and always makes my heart skip a beat. See my detailed review on the Trapeze here.

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2.  Celine Luggage
To be honest, for years I didn’t get the Celine Luggage bag. I didn’t think it looked aesthetically pleasing because the design is too busy; every time I look at the bag, I just see the silly monkey face. Then over time, I somehow fell (deeply) in love with this bag, learned to appreciate its design, and even found the face to be adorable. I had the hardest time debating between the micro or nano luggage but ultimately went with the nano due to the shoulder strap. The nano luggage is seriously one of the most practical bags ever. If you get a handheld option of the luggage (micro, mini or phantom size) then the weight of the bag might be an issue. The larger bags are also more prone to sagging as the leather softens over time. If I have to pinpoint why I love this bag it would be the bag’s practicality and unique design. My main complaint is the long shoulder strap on the nano – why designers don’t make adjustable straps is beyond my comprehension. See my detailed review on the nano luggage here.

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3.  Celine Box
Oh the Celine Box. I have a feeling out of all the Celine bags I will eventually have, the Box will be my ultimate favorite. The design of this bag is timeless and so beautiful. My heart is set on the stunning red Box. Currently there are three reasons hold me back from purchasing the Box. One, the hefty price tag. Two, I like the smooth calfskin but I will probably hate the scratches. Three, whenever I see it in stores, it just doesn’t take my breath away. I have two theories on that last part: either this bag just doesn’t look good on the shelf because it is so simple or this bag only looks beautiful in pictures. Regardless, unless I grow some sense and stop buying designer bags, this is a bag that I must have in my collection. I am thinking about eventually getting this bag from a consignment website – if the leather will be scratched anyways, I might as well buy a bag that is already scratched at a discounted price.

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4.  Celine Trio
For the longest time, I was obsessed with the Celine Trio. I really like the simple rectangular pouch design with minimal hardware and logo. The three connecting pouches are an ingenious design since the bag allows the user to detached a pouch to be used as a clutch. Furthermore, I like the look of the three pouches from the side and the separated compartments help with organization. I have seen the Trio on sale on sites like Gilt and think eventually a bright color Trio (yellow, pink, or green) would be perfect. One of my main concerns with the Trio is one of the pouches falling off if you overstuff it (based on user reviews). Another concern is accidently slipping my phone / wallet in between the pouches and cracking / losing the item. Lastly, I have heard there are quality issues where the strap connects to the middle pouch.

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5.  Celine Edge
The Celine Edge, especially the black and red color combo is stunning. It is such a shame that Celine discontinued the Edge. To me, the design is simple and the bag looks practical – I thought it would be in its permanent collection for sure. The only thing I don’t like about the design of this bag is the small snap closure compartment on the back of the bag (see example here). Celine should have left out the snap and used a magnetic closure instead or even no closure. Regardless, I hope Celine eventually brings this design back, especially the black and red version!

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2016 Holiday Gift Ideas for Her

The holidays are around the corner and one of my favorite things to do around this time of the year is shopping for gifts! There is nothing more satisfactory than finding the perfect gift that you know your recipient will like and put to good use!

Here are my holiday gift ideas of beauty, fashion, and other goodies by different price ranges. Hope these will give you some ideas!

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Under $50

  • Bubbler Crab DIY Gem Paintings – If you know someone who likes arts and crafts then they will absolutely love these DIY gem paintings. The kits come with various gems that you place directly on pre-glued canvases. The finished paintings look stunning and the paintings are really fun and addicting to work on.
  • Too Cool For School Egg-ssential Skincare Set – This gift set would be perfect for anyone that is into skincare. The set comes with a cleanser, mask, moisturizer and cleansing brush and is from the Korean skin care brand, Too Cool for School. Egg has been used for skincare for centuries and this set is a convenient way for someone to try various skincare products with egg.
  • S’well Bottle – I am still obsessed with S’well bottles and have to mention them as a gift. S’well bottles can keep drinks hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours. They really do work and the bottles are beautiful. You can find third party bottles that are cheaper and work just as well. I actually have both (S’well and third party) but have always preferred my S’well bottle.
  • Fresh Sugar Lip Entourage – Any lady would love this lip set from Fresh. From the cold weather to drying lipsticks, everyone’s lips need a little more nourishment this time of the year. The set comes with lip polish, lip serum, nourishing lip balm and two lip treatments and will be a safe / perfect gift.
  • Anjou Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser – Candles are the best around this time of the year but instead of giving someone candles that will eventually burn out, I think a diffuser is a better idea. A diffuser is more practical since you can choose multiple scents and again because it lasts longer than candles.
  • Tocca Fragrance Set – Perfume is a popular holiday gift but it is often tricky to pick a scent someone will like. That’s why I think a perfume set with a few various scents is a great idea. The recipient will have a few selections and small perfume bottles are super cute!

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  • Brandt Magnetight Mask – Magnetic masks are super popular this year and anyone who is into skincare will definitely want to get their hands on this. I personally haven’t tried but I have watched YouTube videos and seeing the magnetic specs flying off the skin is pretty awesome. This is definitely on my to-buy-list.
  • Goorin Bros Lady Roulette Wool Fedora – A wool fedora in the winter can complete any outfit (and of course keeps you warm). Without a double, my favorite hat company would be Goorin Bros, one of the oldest hat makers in the country.
  • Zoeva Rose Golden Luxury Makeup Brushes – Anyone who loves makeup will appreciate a makeup brush set from Zoeva. Zoeva makes high quality makeup brushes and are relative affordable compared to alternative such as MAC, Bobby Brown and even Sephora brushes. Zoeva ships from Germany so make sure you place your order early!
  • Urban Decay Naked Palettes – The Urban Decay Naked Palettes are the best and will be well loved and well used. Each palette offers 12 wearable shades that are pigmented and can be easily blended. The problem might come down to which palette to pick.
  • Le Specs The Prince Sunglasses – One can never ever have too many pairs of sunnies. Out of all the sunglasses, I think the Le Specs The Prince are a must have. The sunglasses have the classic aviator shape but because of the flat mirror lenses, it looks much more modern.
  • T3 Voluminous Hot Rollers – If you know someone who loves voluminous curls then this T3 voluminous hot roller set would be the perfect gift. It comes with 8 rollers in two sizes and delivers big, natural, and bouncy curls. (Note: might not work well for short to medium length hair.)

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