Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take Me Back To: Iguazú

Crickets peacefully harmonized with the melodious jungle birds, creating a quiet symphony celebrating the end of the forest's storm. Lush, emerald green trees and vines surrounded my cabin and the nearby lodge, and the scent of fresh rain and damp foliage wafted through the air. As I sat in my treehouse-like cabana at La Aldea de la Selva, my own jungle retreat in Iguazú, I couldn't help but fall in love with this paradise. As if being in Argentina wasn't magnificent enough, we were lucky enough to explore the wondrous jungle as well. Even on my walks to the pool I saw exotic creatures like agoutis and giant lizards the size of cats. The sun blazed brightly, emanating warm amber rays during the day - while the nights were filled with exhilarating thunder storms and torrential downpours that were sometimes more frightening than they were amusing. Yet once the storms calmed down, the sun regained its power and illuminated the beautiful town of Puerto Iguazú.

But we didn't just come here to lounge by the pool and soak up the South American sun; we came to see the famed Iguazú Falls. When we ventured to these marvelous waterfalls, their beauty left me speechless. We trekked through the forest by foot and by truck, exploring different views of the falls and admiring the many birds and butterflies adorning the jungle, from which we hopped a boat that took us along the Iguazú River and up close to the falls. Our boat provided us with the most incredible view of La Garganta del Diablo, or the Devil's Throat, the most impressive and massive part of the falls. We went underneath several of the falls, rendering us drenched and filled with adrenaline for the rest of our adventure.

After our boat ride we continued hiking and exploring the falls. The many falls were all beautiful, but once we were atop the Devil's Throat, Iguazú truly took my breath away. I have never seen anything so astounding. I stood in complete awe as these massive falls plunged to the ground, spraying mist and creating rainbows against the gleaming waters. I was floored by the beauty and inspiration found in these stunning waterfalls. 

Following our visit to Iguazú Falls, we enjoyed life in the jungle while laying out and sipping caipirinhas by the pool, leisurely reading our books, taking a long road trip to the San Ignacio Jesuit ruins, and eating lots of succulent Argentinian steak. I'm no ardent meat lover, but these steaks were incredible. And paired with a bottle of Santa Julia cabernet sauvignon, it was as near to perfection as gluten free gourmet can get. 

After several days in the rainforest, we headed back to Buenos Aires. As much as I loved the bustling city life in Buenos Aires, I missed my jungle oasis and the enthralling waterfalls in Iguazú. I fell in love with the lush feats of nature around me, the combination of chaos and peace in the jungle, the character and comfort of my treehouse cabin, the strong drinks and even stronger sun at the pool, and falling asleep to the exotic symphony of the rainforest every night. Saying goodbye tugged on my heart, although I was filled with an incredible amount of joy for being able to see the marvelous wonders of Iguazú that I had always dreamed of.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Best Beauty Buys

Over the years, I've become quite the makeup junkie. It's taken me a while to perfect my routine, and after all this time, I'm convinced that I've finally found some of the best products out there. Although I sometimes like to spice it up, I pretty much stick to the same products in my daily makeup routine. So without further ado, here are my all-time favorite beauty buys:

Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick - Rivoli | Rosebud Salve | Sugar Lip Treatment - Rosé

MAC Eyeshadow - Gleam | MAC Eyeshadow - Tempting | MAC Eyeshadow - Espresso
Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara - Very Black | MAC Eye Pencil - Ebony | Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer

Bare Minerals Matte Foundation - Medium Beige | Bare Minerals Bronzer - Faux Tan 
 NARS Blush - Orgasm

Some valuable lessons learned...

Eye shadow primer does wonders - it keeps eye makeup fresh all day, and helps to avoid any creases that occur over time. Genius!

When it comes to foundation, go as natural as possible. It's inevitable that once in a while we'll pass out while still wearing our makeup (oops), so we might as well not wake up feeling guilty about it when it does happen. Bare Minerals does the perfect job of keeping skin relentlessly healthy and fresh, despite these occasional mishaps.

Invest in a good blush. Generally speaking, the price is worth it because it'll last forever.

Find a color palette that works for you. Just because something is trendy at the moment doesn't mean that it flatters your complexion! (Can you say, blue eyeshadow phase?) If you're having trouble deciphering which colors suit you best, ask a seasoned associate at Sephora or MAC for advice.

Drugstore mascara is the way to go. I can't tell you how many times I've experimented with highly overpriced mascara only to realize that the best stuff comes in tubes less than $9. Cha-ching.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Unions & Reunions

Oh hello there! I know I haven't posted for a week, but I promise I have a good excuse. My momma got married this weekend!!

I swear to you, it was one of the most beautiful and magical weddings that has ever happened on this earth. (As the Maid of Honor, I'm obviously not biased at all.) The venue was the stunning DeLille Cellars Chateau in Woodinville, Washington - a backdrop so picturesque and enchanting, I thought I was in a fairytale.

It was one of the classiest affairs one could possibly imagine. (None of that cutesy Pinterest crap that I'll probably want at my wedding one day. These are real adults we're talking about here.) Not to mention, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I'm fairly certain that most guests completely lost it when they saw my mom & I walking down the aisle together. Man, I tried so hard to keep it together!

It was truly an epic day. My mom is one in a million, and she deserves one in a million - which is why I am so glad that she found Lee. I am so, so happy for them, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to celebrate such an amazing day with them.

All photos courtesy of my dear friend Matt, because I was too busy celebrating to take any pictures of my own.

If you're not a foodie, why are you even reading this blog don't bother reading this next part:

I'm just going to take a minute to talk about the amazing food & drinks. With me being my mother's daughter, it's no surprise that she has a keen enthusiasm for fine wine and quality cuisine. On the wine list: DeLille Doyenne Aix, DeLille Doyenne Roussanne, and my personal favorite - Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay (the best Chardonnay in the world. Amaaaaaazing).

Plated appetizers included the Barking Frog's famous Grand Marnier prawns, mixed greens with sliced strawberries, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese and a lychee vinaigrette, and a kaffir lime & coconut sorbet to cleanse the palate. 

For dinner I indulged on the pork tenderloin, baby tri-colored potatoes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, hazelnut romesco and sweet onion nage. The menu also included pan-seared halibut with quinoa & corn, english peas and heirloom cherry tomatoes, sautéed bloomsdale spinach and asparagus cream sauce. For our vegetarian friends, there was also ricotta gnocchi with patty pan squash, fava beans, english peas, hazelnuts & lemon-brown butter emulsion. 

Are you hungry yet? (If you haven't done so yet, I highly recommend dining at the Barking Frog - it just might change your life.)

I'm already going through wedding withdrawals. Seriously. I want to go back in time and relive this day again, because quite frankly it all went by too fast. And did I mention how ridiculously fun it was? All in all, I'd have to say that it was the perfect event. Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Hendrickson!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Take Me Back To: Amsterdam

Two summers ago I spent a short weekend in Amsterdam, and it didn't take long for me to absolutely fall in love with this cozy city. The Netherlands will always feel special to me because my heritage is mostly Dutch. (Yes, in case you've wondered where a strange last name like "Likkel" comes from, I blame Holland entirely.) I would love to make another trip here once I move across the pond, because one weekend simply wasn't long enough to discover my Dutch roots and explore all of what Amsterdam has to offer. Here's a little flashback to one of my journal entries about my trip to Amsterdam, almost exactly two years ago:

As I strolled down the streets of Amsterdam, I admired the strange beauty in front of me. The rain poured down violently, creating spectacular sapphire ripples cascading down the winding canals. Charming brick buildings with intricate facades lined these quaint waterways, coloring the streets with rustic reds, browns and navy blues. The fervent raindrops bounced off of the many bicycles adorning the sidewalks, which lined up against every inch of free space along the canal railings. Locals and tourists streamed in and out of enticing cafes, while others trudged on through the storm - dodging the puddles and hurried bikers.

I looked upon the city in awe. After years of listening to my family talk about the beauty of Holland - the homeland of us Likkel's - I finally made it here. Something about Amsterdam felt strangely nostalgic and familiar, as if I had already been there before. The small restaurants reminded me of my grandparents' house, filled with authentic Dutch antiques and Delft porcelain. The quaint Dutch restaurants even emanated a similar scent as my grandparents' kitchen, like warm peach pie, freshly steamed vegetables and buttery Dutch Babies (a savory baked pancake dish that my mom used to frequently make me when I was a kid. Delicious!)

We spent the weekend roaming the curving cobblestone streets and mesmerizing canals, lounging in coffee shops, and wandering through the Van Gogh museum. While strolling through the streets of Amsterdam, I could hardly stop gazing at the charming canals and intriguing houses. I wished I could go in and visit whoever lived there, just so I could see if the buildings were just as fascinating inside as they were outside. Their unusual shapes and colors of vibrant simplicity left me awestruck.

As soon as I left the city, I was overwhelmed with a heart-wrenching feeling of homesickness. I had only just begun to discover my heritage, and it was already time to say goodbye. My flight was delayed several hours, and I sulked through the airport desperately wishing I could stay longer and explore more of the country. I want to stay for weeks and learn more about my roots, meet distant family in Hardenburg, and experience more of the welcoming Dutch culture. Amsterdam, I am counting down the days until I get to see you next.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

You Stay Classy, Pottery Barn

Today I left my job to go travel the world.

I'll be honest: my life in retail has been anything but glamorous. And yet, this job has been the biggest surprise blessing. Even through the toughest of times, my work family has inspired and relentlessly encouraged me. Although saying goodbye is quite bittersweet, I'm beyond thankful to walk away with many friends and fond memories. Each and every one of my coworkers has impacted me in such a unique way, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Thanks to Pottery Barn, I now understand the value of a good 80s playlist, when to say "God bless" instead of "Oh $%@!", and how to ward off the advances of 85-year-old men who ask you to help "wear out their new sheets" with them.

To my fellow #partybarn peeps, thanks for bearing with me as I didn't know how to handle myself in any other department besides Bed & Bath, the times when I would inappropriately sing my stock checks through the walkie talkie, any time I got mad at you for messing up the towel wall, and the handful of times when I changed the music to the 80s Playlist when nobody was looking.

You'll always have a place in my heart, Pottery Barn. Thank you for a remarkable year and a half. And don't let anyone mess up Bed & Bath now that I'm gone.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Words

photo via

These past few days have been spent researching hostels, buying flights, canceling flights in the middle of the night, booking hostels, and researching cities/neighborhoods/airports/public transportation to no end. My brain is fried. And yet, I am so insanely excited for this adventure. 

In a little less than one month, I'll be jet setting to London, hopping over to Paris, and then settling down in Madrid for my new life as an expat. Whoa.

Am I ready? Questionable. Terrified? Sufficiently. Happy? Undoubtedly.

There's so much to do before I leave - so many friends to be seen, favorite restaurants to be visited and goodbyes to be had. Parting ways with my Seattle life will no doubt be bittersweet, but I can say with confidence that I'm ready for the next chapter. And I think it will be a good one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1960s Inspired

Okay, I know I'm a little late to the Mad Men party, but I just finished watching the entire show on Netflix and now I am obsessed. I love everything about this show: the plot, the aesthetic, the character development, and most importantly - the style.

This season, I find myself particularly drawn to all things 1960s inspired. I want to teleport myself onto the set of Mad Men and steal the wardrobes of all the characters. What I would give to have all of those darling pencil skirts, retro shift dresses, vintage full-circle dresses and classic pumps! And the hairstyles, so glam!

The character whose style I envy the most is Betty Draper Francis. Sure, she's the poster mom for bad parenting and Sally Draper will probably grow up to be a Freudian nightmare, but I can't get enough of Mrs. Draper Francis' style. She adds a bit more preppiness to her ensembles than the rest of the Mad Men ladies - a quality that I can surely appreciate. As much as I love to channel my inner Joan Holloway and flaunt curve-hugging red dresses when I hit the town, Betty's look is more easily recreated for daytime looks.

Hat - J.Crew | Top - Ann Taylor | Necklace - Kate Spade
Bracelets - J.Crew | Pants - Gap

I can't get enough of this Mod Dot shirt from Ann Taylor. Yes, I shop at Ann Taylor. I'm turning into my mom and I love it. Judge if you must. I juxtaposed my bold polka dots with some classic pearls, and added in my floppy beach hat for extra 1960s vibes. (I was wearing some cute retro wedges earlier in the day, but then I kicked them off to go frolic in the sand.)

Now all I need is an old fashioned to sip on, and a handsome Don Draper by my side.

Monday, August 5, 2013

SoCal via Instagram

Sunday brunch at Bottega Louie
Bitters for morning cocktails
Newport Beach birthday picnic
Birthday macarons | Reunited with my one true love, Coffee Bean.
Celebrating 23: Night One in Laguna Beach
Tattoo parlor emotional support (hint hint) | Xia meeting Street Kitten for the first time
(seriously, is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen? I can't even.)
The incredible view of Downtown LA from Perch