Winter 2017 Bucket List

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I think every year, everyone and their dog says something along the lines of "I can't believe it's already almost Christmas!" and so, for that reason, I try not to be that person. But this year, wow, I really CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ALREADY ALMOST CHRISTMAS. Why does time fly by now that I'm no longer 12? I know it's not officially winter just yet but I know if I don't write this now, I might never write it. There's so many things I'm looking forward to this holiday season.

The Nutcracker. When I was little, almost every few years, I'd see some production of The Nutcracker. It's a must. Holidays are just not the same without it. I stopped seeing it for a while and last year, saw it for the first time again and realized how much I missed it. So from now on, it's going on my to-do list every Christmas. Side-note: In case you're curious like me, those Nutcrackers actually don't do well at cracking nuts at all. Had to learn this the hard way and it's safe to say, years ago, I was responsible for breaking the jaw of one innocent little Nutcracker (I'm so sorry, Mr. Nutcracker! Please forgive me....)

Christmas Market. I know Christmas Markets are a big thing in Europe but I only recently heard of them when a local Christmas Market opened. I now see why they're a big deal in Europe because they're really quite festive and fun.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 50th Anniversary. If you love classic films, this is a must. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and TCM is bringing it back to the big screen. If you're like me, you weren't even alive when this came out in theaters the first time, but it was a big deal back then (it's a comedy/drama about an interracial relationship) and I just love this film. It's still relevant to this day.  Check to see if it's coming to a US theater near you, here

Murder on the Orient Express. I didn't even remember they were making a remake of this film/book until I saw the ad for it on IMDB. I usually dislike new movies but I am a big Agatha Christie book reader and so this is one movie I'm surprisingly looking forward to (thinking about re-reading the book but why spoil it).

Home Alone in Concert. Now unfortunately this is one event I probably won't get around to simply because it's a little far from me location-wise, but Home Alone is literally one of my favorite holiday films and the thought of seeing it on the big screen while a live symphony plays all the music is just too much to handle. My inner 10 year old self would absolutely swoon.

What are you looking forward to this Winter?
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Life, lately

charminghouse I disappeared for a while. I apologize...life is a bit busy to handle for the moment but I just wanted to tell you that this blog has not been discontinued. It is still very much alive, it is just a bit inactive. Kind of like a volcano, waiting to erupt but sitting quiet in the background until then. In the meantime, I'm very active on Instagram (so fear not, if I ever stop posting on instagram, you'll know I've definitely fallen off the face of the earth). I've lost my motivation and inspiration lately but I'm sure it will return very soon because, hello pumpkin season!
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The most perfect coffee table books about Classic Hollywood

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Lately, I've been obsessed with coffee table books. They're just so pretty to look at and to display and are the perfect conversation starters. I know I've been talking a lot about Old Hollywood lately, but I thought I'd share with you some of the books I've bought recently and have really enjoyed. Any of these would also make the most perfect gifts (perhaps for someone other than for yourself...)

Even if you aren't an Audrey fan (does this type of person even exist, though, let's be real?) but love 60s fashion, you HAVE to get this book. It is a hardcover book that is filled with the most beautiful, vivid photos of Audrey wearing the most stylish clothing. It also contains quotes by and about Audrey and has just the right amount of text for a coffee table book (in other words, it's all about the pictures). I love the whole feel of this book and it's the kind that won't easily switch pages if you're laying it flat on a table while reading (does that make sense?). I can't say enough good things about the beauty of this book, really.

This book is quite a bit smaller than the Audrey one but can still be considered a coffee table book. I love the beautiful pictures that highlight some of Hollywood's most famous stylish films (Gone with the Wind, A Place in the Sun, Breakfast At Tiffany's, to name a few). There is quite a bit more reading involved with this book but that only adds to the appeal because it is an informative read. Unfortunately, my only "complaint" is that I've only seen about 8 of the films mentioned so until I watch the others, I can't quite get a real feel for the fashion styles that are highlighted here. 

Now, this is the only book on this list that I don't actually own but I've been eyeing it for a while now. I recently learned of the Kodachrome photography method (not how to do it, unfortunately) and while people in this day and age either love Kodachrome or hate it, there's no denying that it added a special effect to those classic Hollywood stars. While the stars in this book tend to be from around the 50s and earlier (I myself am more familiar and enthralled by those from the late 50s and 60s), it is still a book that seems worth having. If I was into film photography, I'd definitely want to learn more about Kodachrome (I hear it doesn't exist anymore? But I guess that's a conversation for another time...) 

I've been talking about Natalie Wood a lot lately but it's only because I recently discovered how great of an actress she really was (somehow I had convinced myself that Miracle on 34th Street , a wonderful film in itself, was the extent of her career, but how wrong I was!). Now, this book is something special considering it is the only family-authorized biography of Natalie. Like the Audrey book, it is a perfectly large book with the most amazing clear photos that really captivate who Natalie was as an actress and person. It includes highlights of her most famous films and did I mention, there's SO MANY photos? 

Okay, so. Suddenly I feel as if I'm on an episode of Reading Rainbow (oh hi, no one remembers that show but me) and trying to convince you that OMG, these books are everything, but don't take my word for it, go find out for yourself! And let me know what some of your favorite coffee table books are! 

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Any Way the Wind Blows: a day of kite flying

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You'll have to excuse me for being a bit MIA lately. It's summer and all I feel like doing is being outdoors or reading a book - just me?

First time flying a kite since I was about 7. I really don't know why this is only about the 2nd time in my life I've flown a kite. I guess it's one of those activities that you forget to do but when you do, it instantly brings a joy that you didn't realize was missing. It really brought me into a peaceful state of mind when just hours before I had been worried and restless like the adulting adult that society is forcing me to be. I realize how important it is to just let go and be free...
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Adopting Lulu: One year ago today

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Today marks one year since I adopted Lulu. It feels like I've known her furever and yet it feels like just yesterday that she came home with a scraggly coat, skeletal little body, and a million rotten teeth. Understandably, she was frightened and sad and wasn't sure what kind of family she was being brought into. Luckily, for her (and for us) she fit right in and these days, you'd never guess she once suffered so much. She's a feisty 5lbs of pure delight. She loves chicken and egg more than she loves me and she loves teasing Djinn Djinn (who also loves teasing her).

She's actually about 6 years old (probably 7 now) so I've decided to celebrate her birthday and pup-iversary on the same day, and of course Djinn Djinn will also be celebrated (even though his birthday is July 1) because he's still the boss (when Lulu allows him to be). These two are crazy insane little creatures that have nothing but love to give.
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A while back, I bought Djinn Djinn a dark green collar and it fits his personality perfectly and also makes him look quite sophisticated, if I do say so myself. For this special celebration, I bought Lulu the same type of collar except smaller and in a turquoise shade (a lot of Chihuahuas are often "dressed" in pink which I didn't want- Lulu is such a tomboy!). They both look so "complete" now and more than anything, I hope they're as happy as they make me. I mean, once you're a crazy dog lady, there's no turning back...

Here's to many, many more years of being best friends with these two...
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Lace tops: I missed the bandwagon

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When lace tops first started trending some seasons ago (I don't think they're "on trend" right at this moment but I just barely jumped on this bandwagon a couple years ago- don't push me off yet!), I was unsure if I could look and feel good in one because they were more frilly and "fancy" than anything I am usually drawn to. Sure, I like tops that have a unique style to them with various prints, colors and textures but somehow, the lace top felt a bit too wedding/1800s Lizzie Borden-esque. The other issue I had was, what do I wear under this see-through thing? A camisole every time? I can't be bothered! 

Then one day I spotted the lace top I'm wearing in the top photo (and the one below) and somehow, it "spoke" to me. It didn't seem too fussy and I loved the pattern of the lace so I bravely decided to give it a try. It ended up being a really stylish (I mean, I think so) and surprisingly comfy top. These days, I take a second glance whenever I see a lace top and I'm currently the proud owner of 3. I've found a way to make them work for both super casual looks just as well as some almost-dressy looks.

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What I love most about lace tops is that they are versatile and now I see that they have a bit of a timeless feel to them, depending on how you wear them. I like that they can pretty much be worn from Spring all the way to the beginning of Fall. Even though I'm often late to the party with major trends, I think after this whole lace top thing, I will be less hesitant to try something new. Now, off-the-shoulder and ruffle tops are all the rage. I tried on a few and liked them but some of those off-the-shoulders are, well, very shoulder-y and to be honest, I don't think my shoulders appreciate being the center of attention (I mean, I'll have to ask them just to be sure...), she says as she posts a photo of her bare shoulders below...

Are you a lace top wearer or trendy top follower?

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A millennial's guide to classic films (a.k.a. movies made way before we were born)


I'm already predicting that a total of maybe, I don't know, 2 people will read this post. I've decided to write about classic films (in my opinion this means films that were made before 1970) because they're such a huge part of my life. I literally almost never watch films that were made in this day and age (I mean, other than must-see films like Home Alone, for example) because basically, I'm 80 years old... and I'm definitely okay with that.

When I was younger, classic films were always on in my home and my earliest film memories are The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Pollyanna, and The Parent Trap. I remember my parents mentioning names like Maureen O'Hara or John Wayne and I'd think "who?" and wonder what films made them so famous and why hadn't I heard of them? This was during the time when to me the only movie stars who mattered were Princess Jasmine and Aladdin.

As I got older, I started watching more classic films but mostly the family-friendly ones. They just were so easy to watch and become captivated by. 13 Ghosts. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Calamity Jane. Swiss Family Robinson. That's the gist of it. Anything with Hayley Mills. Or Doris Day. Or Audrey Hepburn.

There's always been this sort of magic that classic films bring and it's not just due to their story lines. It's like catching a glimpse of a world I knew nothing about- a world before I was born. I know Hollywood tends to exaggerate or glamorize things but I am still able to get a bit of an idea of the general lifestyle that people led back then. I can sense the bad- the racism and addiction problems that we still face today, for example. And at the same time, I see a lot of the good- the catchy soundtracks and amazing fashions, for example.

Some of the best ways to watch classic films that I've found are: Warner Archive (monthly subscription service like Netflix), Amazon (I rent films that look particularly interesting without having to commit to buying in case I don't like the film, plus I like that you can instantly stream them), and sometimes YouTube has some really old films or parts of films. Netflix occasionally has some good classic films (as of now, my favorites that are currently listed on there are The Parent Trap, Desk Set, & Cheaper by the Dozen so that's a good place to start if you're interested). Additionally, you'll probably find that your local library has a ton of classic films to borrow for free or for a small fee. (None of these sites are sponsored, by the way!)

These days, you'll catch me watching any category of classic films from westerns to film noirs. I'd like to make this a more regular thing where I highlight and talk about a current favorite classic film or film star especially if I can relate it to fashion/personal style. I hope you won't mind too much. :)

I'd love to hear what your favorite classic film is, if any!
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Day trip travel guide: Cayucos, California

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I recently took a day trip to the coastal town of Cayucos here in California. It is a super small town with a lot of life and just perfect for a weekend getaway. I've visited a handful of times before but I never got to know it as well as I did this time. Usually, it's full of tourists on weekends during the Summer (duh?) but this time, despite it being Saturday, it was nearly empty and it was quite nice to be able to walk the sidewalks without having to make room for everyone else (I'm not usually selfish, I promise, but I am a fast walker so, well, don't judge me).

Obviously, being a coastal vacation town, there's a lot of entertaining stuff to do that you don't usually get to do IRL (surfing, kayaking... who am I kidding, I don't do that stuff even on vacation but it sure looks like fun and it's nice to know it's there if I ever get brave enough). Usually, I go the antique shopping route because this town has a couple of large antique malls, so it's always fun to step back in time and browse through all the old stuff that I recognize from all the classic films I religiously watch (there's some pretty random stuff out there).

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Once you're done browsing these antique malls, your stomach will inevitably start growling and the good news is that there's a variety of eateries to choose from. After a quick google search, because millennials and their technology, I opted to try Duckie's Chowder House, a short distance from the pier. Being the predictable soul that I am, I ordered fish & chips and iced tea with a side of clam chowder (which, honestly, used to be as weird-looking to me as sushi still is, #sorrynotsorry- Duckies clam chowder is award-winning, by the way, and I definitely can assure you it's the best one I've tasted in the little time I've been eating clam chowder) and I inhaled it all in a matter of 5 minutes (you know, I'm all about living in the moment).

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After stuffing my face, it was time to roll myself out like Violet Beauregarde ("Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!") and take a short walk on the pier. It was golden hour and literally the most perfect lighting and scene I'd witnessed in such a long time. You know that rare feeling you get that all is right with the world? That's what overcame me at this moment.

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There's still quite a bit I want to do the next time I visit Cayucos. I've got my eye on their famous Brown Butter Cookie Company as well as Ocean Front Pizza, because there's nothing that brings more happiness in this world than cookies and pizza (and dogs), don't even try arguing with me.

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In true Cinderella style, I wanted to get home before midnight so that was all I got up to this time around. It was a memorable day (despite the 8,000 photos I took to help me remember the day because one day I'll be 90) and I am already looking forward to returning soon. If you're in California and need a weekend trip, this is definitely one to make. If you're not from California but are just visiting, I'd stop here for lunch if you're passing through. Let me know if you've been to Cayucos before or if you'd like to visit someday, because...because, I'm just nosy like that!

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A Wildflower show

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Over the weekend, I went to a wildflower show. Not gonna lie, my first thought was "ohh, this will be a great chance for me to get out of the house and practice my photography". But when I saw all the plants IRL, it was actually very interesting and educational and I realized you don't have to be 85 years old to appreciate the beauty of acquiring plant knowledge. *Granny voice* The kids today just don't appreciate stuff like this. But in all seriousness, events like this are really quite special.

I wasn't even going to mention this because it doesn't matter anymore, but what a pain this post was to upload. I got locked out of my flickr account (fyi, that's what happens when you forget your yahoo email password that you've had since you were 15 and can't remember the password for the email you used to backup your yahoo email account. Long story short, don't let this happen to you)
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