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Designs by Alina:  Handcrafted jewelry fabricated with gold, pave diamonds, and choice pearls for the sophisticated modern-classic woman. Beauty and inspiration forever entwined. Lifestyle blog on design, travel, fashion, family.



Designs by Alina Lifestyle Magazine

Blog, Travel, family, interior design, jewelry design and fashion.




Alina de Albergaria


We are fortunate to live in such a loving and generous community where the desire to show gratitude is boundless. Local nonprofit leaders estimate that Santa Barbara County foundations collectively distribute about $150 million each year.

Earlier this month we were honored to partake in the Dream Foundation's Fifth Annual Endless Summer Dream featuring the latest styles from world-renowned fashion house, Oscar de la Renta. The event was held at the exquisite Nesbitt Estate in Summerland, California, where singers, synchronized swimmers, aerial acrobats and dancers transformed an autumn afternoon into a seemingly endless summer dream, befitting of the nonprofit’s mission to build and deliver dreams to terminally ill adults.

Says Dream Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Kisa Heyer, about the Annual Endless Summer event: “We’re always humbled and grateful as so many people give so generously in so many different ways to make the event possible.” While last year’s event gave birth to 100 final dreams, this year’s Endless Summer Dream is posed to be even more successful.

For more information visit

Dare to dream….Dream to give.


Alina de Albergaria


It’s all about timing. And she knew it.

On Monday, our daughter, Gisella, invited me on a sunset beach walk with the dogs. Our bond has been growing ever stronger despite the myths about how trying the teenage years can be. Admittedly, there are moments which disprove my words, but for the most part our twin high school seniors have been a tremendous fountain of joy making their imminent departure from the nest next year all the more daunting.


Had you asked me last week if I would have acceded to my daughter’s request, the answer would have been either an emphatic “no” or “could a cricket survive a gecko convention?” On the heels of our beach walk, not only was I feeling particularly loving, but with the news headlines coming at me in a flurry while I desperately tried to get a jewelry order out the door, my mind was elsewhere.

My acquiescence baffled us both.

And so it was that on a whim, just like with numbers one and two, our family welcomed puppy number three into our home. 


Today I am suffering from buyer’s remorse and told Gisella that we couldn’t keep her but because her tears proved more powerful than my words, we are giving it a try…

What did I just get myself into?!

*ADDENDUM: Soon after this post, the implications of what it meant to adopt a puppy for one who will soon fly the coop hit me like a cold shower. And as much as I wanted to please her, with an equal dose of sadness and clarity I walked back on my decision to adopt with the help of my bff. The pup, who was with us for less than twenty four hours, was returned to the breeder. In doing so she and I have learned a lesson or two about timing, caution and commitment.


Alina de Albergaria


“Why tempt perfection?” I thought.

Yes, I was once a purist when it came to flowers, rarely mixing them until our two year stint in San Francisco compelled me to turn over a new leaf. Our family has been fortunate to have had beautiful gardens in Santa Barbara from which I frequently cut flowers to embellish our interior spaces. The city however, challenged my penchant for floriculture as we hadn’t as much as a square inch of green. Determined to bring the outdoors in, I began to pay weekly visits to The Bud Stop near our Pacific Heights home, where my favorite floral artist created gorgeous bouquets for her clients on the spot.

Before long we were designing my bouquets together laying the foundation for my own exploration into mindful blending with varietals from San Francisco’s Flower Mart (second only to the one in L.A.) The joy I derive from flowers is such that a vendor once told me that I looked like a child in a candy store with covetous eyes and wide grin. He’s right, and I am happy to relive those moments while sharing some of the lessons I have learned along the way.

Mamma’s little helper at the San Francisco Flower Mart

Mamma’s little helper at the San Francisco Flower Mart

 1) Grouping

Elevating or placing focal flowers in front as well as infusing round shapes with elongated ones for balance and drama is key. Balance can also be achieved by designing in odd numbers. I typically use three or five of a kind versus four or six unless I am using a very large number of a single variety in which case I add them one by one until I achieve the desired look. Designers are often taught that symmetry is crucial. While in most scenarios I tend to agree, when it comes to floral art, a departure from the norm such as elevating fillers on one side while allowing foliage to cascade on the other can be absolutely stunning.

2) Adding fillers

I have never been a fan of tiny floral fillers like Baby’s Breath, favoring instead solid greens like lemon leaves, myrtle, or eucalyptus leaves depending on the hue and shape of the blossoms. This gives the arrangement a cleaner, more refined look. Another filler I love that is currently in season are Hypericum berries (below) which are available in white, green, and shades of pink, peach and red.


3) Vases

Opt for vases that complement your blooms and their placement in the home, keeping in mind that some flowers like tulips and lilies continue to grow in water. A taller vase would be better suited, for example, to an entryway or kitchen island than a nightstand. I like to infuse classic with modern by collecting glass, stainless steel, pewter and wooden containers. Recently I purchased the classic vase below with a gold accent which mirrors similar hues our dining room (below.) But when I am in a whimsical mood, I might tie cork ribbon or raffia around a vase (above.)

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4) Buy local

I have much respect for farmers who are up shortly after midnight setting up their booths at 3:00AM. While it may not always feasible, especially in some agricultural zones, I strive to support local suppliers who offer the freshest blooms. Furthermore most imported flowers negatively impact the environment as they require refrigeration and contain many chemicals to preserve them in preparation for transport.

5) Learn about seasonal varietals

Purchasing seasonal flowers to me is as natural as opting for seasonal vegetables and fruit. In Southern California we can still find garden roses well into November. As we head into winter, I enjoy designing with hydrangeas while incorporating gourds and pomegranates into my arrangements. Lilacs, which are mostly harvested in late April and May are an all time favorite of mine so I am always on the lookout for them. If a flower you love is out of season, consider similar ones. Garden-style spray roses, for example, are very similar to Ranunculus. And if you are peony obsessed like I am, you will be happy to discover that some garden roses are very similar to peonies (bottom left) like these David Austin Yves Piaget and O’Hara roses from our garden (below right).

6) Feed your flowers

Always use flower food, especially on the first day as it really does make a difference. In a pinch I find that a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of bleach keep the flowers happy and water clear. One of the Santa Barbara Farmers Market vendors swears by a penny in the vase which seemingly aids in preventing bacteria growth, though I haven't found this method to be very effective.

7) Flower Maintenance

Cut the stems at an angle to insure maximum hydration and repeat this practice along with changing the water in your vase every 2-3 days. This is crucial to discourage bacteria growth. I don't find that refeeding makes much of a difference but feel free to do so, it will never hurt.


8) Tip for hydrangeas

Have you ever bought perfect hydrangeas only to discover that a couple of hours after placing them in your home they droop over seemingly on their last leg? I used to get quite frustrated until I discovered that they were simply thirsty. These elegant blooms need A LOT of water and unlike most flowers they hydrate not only from the stem but from the petals too. Cut the stem at a very sharp angle and immediately submerge it in one inch of very hot water for 30 seconds. The heat breaks down the sap allowing the flower to absorb water. If they need an additional boost, try removing larger leaves because as gorgeous as they are, they may be robbing nutrients from the bloom. You can also try misting the with water, but be mindful of adjacent flowers, most of which have an aversion to moisture.

The most important tip I can impart is that you give yourself ample time to experiment. On several occasions I have spent the better part of an hour on a single vase! So pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the journey which is just as delightful as contemplating your finished bouquet!

Where to Stay in the Newly Gentrified Downtown L.A.

Alina de Albergaria


When our daughter asked to see Billie Eilish perform in Los Angeles, I froze remembering that I had promised myself never again to attend a large venue concert. In 2014, our then eleven-year-old son reintroduced us to the Beatles while learning to play the bass. He could never have imagined the beautiful impact his musical choice would have had on our family. The memories of the five of us dancing around the kitchen island to Here Comes the Sun and his favorite All My Loving are forever etched in our minds. My husband and I were excited to take him to see Paul McCartney at Candlestick Park, the last scheduled event in the 54-year-old stadium. His joy that evening was priceless, but being stranded until the wee hours of the morning in an unfamiliar town, had me literally shaking in my boots. I vowed to forever forego the urban madness in favor of our beautiful Santa Barbara bowl, where top notch performers like Rod Stewart, Katie Perry, and Sting perform under the stars.


Three days before Billie Eilish was scheduled to play in LA, I was told that the venue was not the beast I had imagined but the Shrine Auditorium where I had covered the Academy Awards in the late nineties. At one tenth the size of its Candlestick Park cousin, the Shrine was definitely doable so a few moms embarked on an L.A. adventure with eight preteen/teen girls to see the concert of their dreams. Like five years ago with our son, the experience was thrilling. Nothing compares to bearing witness to your child’s emotionally charged cries of joy.


I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the South Park district of downtown L.A. where we stayed, was completely devoid of trash, a permanent fixture along with many homeless people just a decade ago.

An iconic beacon of change in an ever-evolving downtown, our Hotel Figueroa oozed L.A. culture with a nod to the past, not least by showcasing compelling works by local and international artists, continually reminding us that we were experiencing the city’s thriving art scene at every turn.

The boutique appeal of this downtown landmark is undeniable. Flanked on one side by a Spanish style fireplace and on the other by Veranda restaurant, the pool is in equal measure breathtaking and quaint. Rather than defying the skyscraper surroundings, Hotel Figueroa embraces them with a multistory mural reminiscent of the classic-modern fig tree wallpaper I fell in love with in our bathroom.

The hotel boasts three restaurants and two bars, one of which is located in the lobby lounge where the breakfast buffet is served. Bar Figueroa is in one word “sexy,” with perfectly mismatched furniture and trendsetting art exquisitely juxtaposed with Spanish Colonial architecture, an ambitious design aesthetic which Hotel Figueroa achieves flawlessly. The idea of kicking off the day in a sun-kissed room, hinting at the night before, is yet another example of opposing design elements which coexist in perfect harmony.


The room decor echoed that of the lobby, an exquisite marriage of today and yesteryear. The only downside is that there was neither a mini bar nor room service at night which seemed like an opportunity lost. We returned from the concert at 11:30 with our hearts set on some pintxos (the Basque word for Spanish tapas or appetizers) from the hotel’s Breva Restaurant which had closed a half hour earlier. The concierge recommended ordering from L.A. Cafe, but our delivery arrived nearly an hour later when we were already asleep.


I am not eager to attend an event at the nearby Staples or Convention Center, but there is no question that next time DTLA calls, I’ll come running…straight to the Hotel Figueroa (and I will be certain to order some pintxos when I do!)

Hotel Figueroa, 939 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California 90015

Photos 1, 3, 9, 10, 20, 21 : courtesy of Hotel Figueroa. All others: Designs by Alina


Embracing Happiness and Melancholy

Alina de Albergaria

Change is cathartic even when we don’t like it.

For the most part I have been flying high ever since we returned to our beloved Santa Barbara in 2016. Two weeks ago we took the children to Spain and Greece, an experience replete with ups and downs, the latter, I assume due to modern day society in which families ostensibly live separate lives under the same roof.

As a child, I spent most of my free time with my brothers, riding bikes, jumping rope and playing jacks, later spending it with friends and absorbing new cultures for I had lived in three continents by the time I was sixteen. Television was enjoyed alongside my siblings and/or parents, daily family dinners were never optional, and on Sundays my father would usher us into the living room to share new discoveries from the Encyclopedia Britannica. For better or worse, human interaction was the norm as my life unfolded.

Cut to the Computer Age.

Never in the history of humankind has man experienced such rapid change. Gone are the days of continuous sibling interaction, spontaneous bike rides, jump rope and jacks. Instead parents carpool their children all over Timbuktu for exercise and social interaction. Now that our teen twins and their friends drive, that lifestyle continues to keep them entertained, though more often than not, the interaction between a half dozen kids in the same room is usurped by their iphones. We strive to follow weekend brunches with board games which our youngest has wittily dubbed “bored games,” her fingers itching to tap, type, and scroll. We encourage the children to sit with us in the library to read, but I find myself getting irritated with their inability to stay focussed and end up insisting that they place their phones in the kitchen. Our three television sets take a back seat to laptops which lure them away from us and each other with infinite on-demand entertainment choices. Sunday family movie nights have become increasingly challenging as we all struggle to agree on what to watch. My husband and I are no exception. Hard-wired with “Encyclopedia Sundays”, I desperately seek educational or inspirational content from which the children might learn while my husband wants them to simply have fun. (It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who is the first to get outvoted.) In an effort to keep the peace our Sunday movie nights have dwindled down to bi-monthly movie nights, and even then the five of us are rarely, if ever, present.

Our aforementioned trip presented its share of challenges. Being together in tight spaces (airplanes, taxis, hotel rooms) with intermittent internet access meant that we were obligated to interact with one another continuously, something that modern life does not foster. Furthermore we were scheduled to visit friends and family in Barcelona, including my elderly mother who is in an assisted living facility. Less freedom of choice was tantamount to conflict. Images of my childhood and adolescence surfaced leading me to crave a roadmap for present day child rearing. But all I could think of was: “We are the guinea pigs of digital age parents,” while trying to remember that so too are our children.


I am infinitely grateful for the sometimes arduous trajectory which brought me to the present, life overflowing with love and abundance. Notwithstanding, excessive scrutiny of modern day parenting coupled with the fascinating book I am reading, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, led to a myriad feelings which may have been responsible for my melancholic mood today, lending credence to the aphorism “ignorance is bliss.”

On my way home from dropping our daughter off to her city college class, I decided to take the beach route home for some respite. Listening to I Know by the Gypsy Kings, the Spanish band which saw me through my thirties, with the morning sun and palm trees in view, I was disappointed to discover that my somber mood did not ameliorate, quite the contrary it deepened. Rather than fighting the feeling I decided to embrace it, parked the car and set foot on the ground of my beloved Santa Barbara, owning my melancholic mood.


Feeling calm with a renewed perspective, I returned home and reached out to our tween daughter with whom I had experienced the most friction on our trip. I encouraged her to come to my room, where the Gypsy Kings belted out a tune, and we ended up dancing to my music and hers (Billy Eilish) to our heart’s content.

The true value of introspection is clarity. It is important to slow down, to step away from questioning and judging ourselves, especially in today’s inattentive world. My job as a parent is critical, and while my parenting skills (and those of my husband) are far from perfect, I am certain that we are doing our absolute best. That should be, and is, good enough.

Today’s events left me with the realization that I may have been confusing melancholy with nostalgia, a desire to revive, not my own past, but that of mankind, despite knowing that I am happier today than ever before. And because the present cannot be fully appreciated without the past, I will continue to exhibit deference to all the feelings (melancholic or not) that life brings, cognizant of the fact that the ability to feel is life’s greatest gift.