Cambria Christmas Market

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In the small village of Cambria on the coast of California, every December, a magical kingdom in the form of a Christmas Market comes to life. Every year, it grows in size and a trillion more lights are added. I've even heard it being compared to Disneyland, which, as most of us know, is quite a comparison although thankfully, the market is about an arm and a leg less expensive than the happiest place on earth. If you're in California, no matter what corner of the state you're in, I encourage you to visit the Christmas market (or Cambria, for that matter) at least once. These pictures do not do it justice probably because I'm just terrible at night photography but, that's a story for another time. 

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.

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!

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! 

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...

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).

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!

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)

What I wish my dogs could understand

IMG_6607 In honor of National Pet day (April 11), I wanted to share some of the things I wish I could make my dogs understand. Sometimes I feel super mean for not giving them that extra treat or I feel guilty for not having time to walk them every single day. But when all is said and done, I just want to be the best pet owner I can be because they deserve that and much more.


Dear Djinn Djinn & Lulu,

Sometimes I wish I could make you understand...

That I would give you all the chicken and treats in the world if I knew it wouldn't hurt you in the long run. I'm not being mean, I'm just selfish and want you to be in my life for as long as possible.

I wish I could make you understand that car rides are fun and 99% of the time we're going to a fun place (only 1% of the time we are going to the Vet). Speaking of the Vet, I wish you could understand that they only want to make you feel better even if sometimes needles are involved. But a simple nail trim will not hurt you (ahem, Djinn Djinn) so please don't freak out.

I also wish I could make you understand that you don't need to bark at every little sound you hear outside- I appreciate you wanting to be the tough guard dogs that you are, but it's only the mail lady and she's harmless.

I wish you could understand that grass and dirt are very different than blankets and pillows and therefore, you mustn't pee on every blanket or pillow (ahem, Lulu)

Please understand that I keep trying to find the best food to feed you but there's literally a million brands to choose from and all I can do is hope that I'm feeding you the best.

I wish you'd understand that sometimes it's necessary to wear a sweater because you both are naked in the fur department and I don't want you to freeze.

If you could only understand that I don't mean to ignore you sometimes but as a human, I'm forced to have other responsibilities- it doesn't mean I love you any less. I often wish that for one day, you could be fluent in English and I fluent in dog just so that we can be completely honest with each other  about everything (although I'm pretty sure I already know what it means when you're sitting and waiting right by the refrigerator...no words are needed for that).

I'd love to make you understand how happy I was the day I adopted each of you- they are two of the happiest days in my life and I hope that everyone who wants a pet can experience an adoption day.

Above all, I wish that you could understand how much I love you. If there are still people in this world who think animals are "just animals", they have no clue and we don't need them in our lives. I wish I could make you understand, but somehow, I think you already do...

A Letter to my 10 year old self

January is my birth month (which means I get offended whenever someone says January is the worst month ever... just kidding but srsly) and for the whole month I have decided to focus on one theme: self-appreciation.

Last year on my birthday, I wrote a letter to my current self but this year, even though it's not my birthday yet, I wanted to write a letter to my 10 year old self because that is an age that I can remember being a true, care-free kid. Of course, my whole childhood was the greatest, but 10 is the age where you're still a kid, old enough to remember everything but not yet a teenager.

trip to SF Dear Victoria,

You still remember when you were 5 and you told your mom, "When I'm 10, I will...." and unfortunately you can't remember what you said you would do, but you do remember your mom saying "Wait, you've still got a long way to go until you're 10, don't grow up so fast." And after that, you never spent your life hoping to be another age than what you were.

But 10 came and went just as fast as any other age. Of course, you soaked in every moment back then- each and every blissful moment was spent enjoying yourself being a true kid (playing Barbies and Legos and roller blading). You hardly ever watched TV unless it was a Friday night or you were sick). You just barely escaped the glued-to-the-screen generation. You got to experience the best of both worlds: life with and without the internet. You were so lucky.

This was about the time when Old Navy came into existence and you still remember your very favorite shirt from there (as seen in the photo above). It was 100% cotton and even though you were 10, you definitely could appreciate an all cotton shirt (after all, you didn't start wearing deodorant til you were 12). You never could've or would've predicted how popular Old Navy would become or the fact that you'd still be wearing their clothes more than 15 years later.

You didn't have to care about your appearance. You didn't know what zits were, you had caterpillar eyebrows, and a Cleopatra haircut (minus the bangs). You wore ugly tennis shoes and your feet had already reached their full size (8) and since ballet flats weren't popular at the time, you had a hard time finding adult shoes that weren't high heeled. You were super thin which made your arms look freakishly long and even if some kids at school were bullies sometimes, you were completely happy and safe at home and nothing about your appearance could bring you down.

You hadn't discovered the Spice Girls just yet (that came a year after) but you never could've predicted that a British girl group could change your life and make you see the whole world differently (GIRL POWER forever).

You're definitely not 10 anymore and that depresses you more often than you care to admit. But you made the most of it and you have nothing but great, great memories. Your future now still looks bright and the age of 10 and its greatness definitely had something to do with your current outlook. You're able to see so much good still left in the world and somehow, I think your 10 year old self would be smiling at the person you've become.

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As always, thanks for your comments and I'd love to chat with you here or on social media.