fashion

Stripes on Checks! Don’t mind if I do!

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life said Bill Cunnigham.

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And he was right! As I have said in an earlier post, I have always been afraid to mix prints. But, when I saw this top, I immediately thought of pairing it with this skirt. Now that I work at a place where I don’t have be conservative in my dressing anymore, I’m really enjoying myself coming up with different looks and pairing different silhouettes. Another thing I have tried out here is midi skirts. I have always worn skirts that are knee length or long. Somehow, the midi length was not something I was ever drawn to. A cousin of mine recently gave me a whole bunch of midi length skirts and since I’m in between sizes (My trousers don’t fit L) I started wearing then and I love it! I have even bought midi length skirts and dresses since!

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Why this pairing works – If the colors look good together, more often than not the prints will look good together too. In general, mixing any patterns together is tricky, but it is a great way add a ton of new variety to your daily outfits! You just have to make sure you are careful when putting the two patterns together. Mixing these two patterns will give you a chance to make your clothing more personal and individualistic. If done correctly, the two patterns will look absolutely AMAZING together!

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Why I think my look worked – The checks on the skirt was small so it didn’t clash with the stripes of the top. The accessories were simple. I had on simple earrings & shoes in burgundy which matched the top.

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What are your thoughts on this? Let me know your thoughts! Is it truly a fashion no no or is it now a fashion yes yes?

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fashion · Life · Recipes

10 Things

This year has been quite eventful. Haven’t had the chance to write a lot or even think about the blog. So sharing a few finds, pictures, interests and highlights from the year so far..

I’ve always been a fan of Bath and body work. Lovely Dreamer is my new favourite fragrance from them. Also loving this Lavendar and Cedarwood body butter.

This Mug Brownie recipe has become a favourite for a quick chocolate fix. Easy to make with ingredients always available in my pantry. And This creamy sauce has become by go to recipe when I’m in a time crunch. Can use it with steaks, pastas.. Makes for a quick, easy dinner.

Thinking about incorporating healthy recipes in my diet. Going to try this cashew sauce with my pasta next.

I just finished the Netflix series YOU and OMG I just loved it!Looking forward to Season 2 : Everything we know so far .

I loved watching Animal Planet, Discovery channel as a child. Looking forward to start watching Our Planet on Netflix.

Recently finished the Throne of Glass series and already having withdrawal symptoms!

If you’re terrible at remembering all of your passwords like I am, then this app: 1Password is for you. This is literally life changing for me!

I finally found the red houndstooth skirt that I’ve been looking for. Got it in the Marks & Spencers sale to boot!

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Talking about sales – Almost bit the bullet on this jacket! Yay or Nay?

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Also, loving this dress (Birthday gift to myself!) that I bought from The Label Life.

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So what have you guys been upto? Let me know in the comments section… Thank you for reading.

Travel

Abu Dhabi

While I was in Dubai, I made a couple of trips to Abu Dhabi. On my first weekend there went on a drive to Jebel Hafeet. It is a mountain range in the city of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi on the United Arab Emirates’ eastern border with Oman. The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, built in 1980, extends for 11.7 km up the mountain, rising 3,900 ft. With 60 turns and three lanes, the road is one of the top 10 driving roads in the world. Words can’t describe how beautiful the drive was. There was a short while where my phobias about drives kicked in but for the most part it was awesome. The setting sun, the view over Al Ain city were breathtaking. It was so cool and windy up there, couldn’t believe I was in a desert. Had an amazing view of the sunset. These pictures just don’t do justice to the beautiful view.

Then, I did a day trip (One of the packaged tours on viator). One of the things I liked about traveling solo here was that it can open you up to interesting conversations with people from other walks of life. I met people from so many different countries and had such interesting conversations with them. Sharing my culture, understanding their perspectives was very  eye opening.

Started with a visit to Ferrari World. It is an indoors amusement park. We didn’t go in. Just saw it from outside. It is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and has the record for the largest space frame structure ever built. Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, is also located here. On the drive there we also got a glimpse of the formula one racing track.

From there we went to the Lourve Museum. Didn’t have time to go inside but it was at a beautiful location. Rumour has it that the Government is in talks to get the Mona Lisa here for a year during the expo 2020.

Next stop was the heritage village. This reconstructed village is one of the few places to get an insight into the pre-oil era of the United Arab Emirates. The walled complex includes all the main elements of traditional Gulf life: a fort to repel invaders from the sea, a souq and a mosque as a reminder of the central part that Islam plays in daily Arabic life. Basically a place that showed the past of the Bedouin life of Abu Dhabi before it turned into the vast metro that it is today.

I knew that this was a gulf country but somehow the image in my mind had always been only of the vast desserts. The waters never entered my mind. It’ so beautiful, pristine, unspoilt. They have such beautiful white beaches. During the drive, I saw the various colours of blue reflected in the waters. The pictures I took just couldn’t do justice to the beauty of it all.

The final stop was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is the Largest mosque in the UAE. The project was launched by the late president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, who wanted to establish a structure that would unite the cultural diversity of the Islamic world with the historical and modern values of architecture and art. His final resting place is located on the grounds adjacent to the complex. Oh My God! It was so beautiful. The entire place was constructed from marble imported from Italy, Greece.

It has seven imported chandeliers that were custom made in Germany and incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals. The biggest one weighs about 12 tonnes and the smaller ones about 3 tonnes. The shape of the chandeliers brings to mind an inverted palm tree.

The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet. This carpet measures 60,570 sq ft, and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters in Iran. The weight of this carpet is 35 tonnes and is predominantly made from wool. It took approximately two years to complete. It’s so exquisitely crafted, you can’t even see the stitches.

The pillars in the main prayer hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl. The work here was so exquisite. I thought that this type of workmanship was lost to us. But it was amazing to see that out modern Architects can still produce wonders like this. The design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by Persian, Mughal, and the Alexandrian Mosque in Egypt.

All in all it was a pretty good experience. I’m really glad I made this trip.

Food · Recipes

Mug Brownie

I was in the mood for brownies but didn’t really feel like making a whole batch. I wanted something quick and easy with ingredients that I already had at home. So after a lot of searching and some mixing and matching I came up with this recipe. Apologising in advance for the picture clarity. I didn’t have chocolate chips so I used a 70% dark Lindt chocolate bar which I think was a bad idea as it left a slightly bitter aftertaste. But the vanilla ice cream helped with it. Next time I’ll just skip it. I was very happy with the overall result. It had a nice fudgy consistency. Just the way I like it. Easy to make and so tasty! An afternoon craving satisfied.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons maida
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Cocoa Powder ( I used Hershey’s)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 teaspoons chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a microwavable mug (roughly 1 cup measurement) mix together all of the ingredients.
  2. Mix in the chocolate chips.
  3. If you don’t want to cook them off straight away, then place them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  4. Microwave for 60-90 seconds. (Timing is based on my microwave so your timing might vary). Always keep a close eye on your mug while in the microwave so it doesn’t over flow or over cook
  5. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream & enjoy!

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Life · Travel

Dubai

I learnt something about myself during this trip. I’ve always been someone who couldn’t do anything by myself. I couldn’t even eat alone. There have been times when I’ve stayed hungry rather than eat alone. Yep, I was that bad. Therefore, when I decided to do this solo trip, I wasn’t sure that I could go through with it. I just booked my tickets on an impulse. I didn’t spend all the days alone, but the ones that I did I was fine. I didn’t mind doing things on my own. In fact, I loved it. I had no itinerary planned. Just did things on the fly. Which is a very rare thing for me to do. This was the perfect place for me to try doing the solo thing as well, as it is very safe. Even all alone, late at night, in a crowded metro, I felt safe. I think what made it easy was the fact that though this was not my country, it still didn’t feel too strange, like I was in a foreign country, as everywhere I went I saw a lot of Indians and heard Hindi being spoken. Another thing was that the people there were very helpful, right from the metro staff, cops, shopkeepers or any random stranger on the street!

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Model of a Dhow at Dubai Museum

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Juxtaposition of the old and new – The moderns Sky scrappers against the Dhows of the olden days.

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I decided to do the touristy thing and try out the hop on hop off on the first day. Picked Big Bus tours. I bought the 1-day classic ticket priced at $70 online. It also included a Dhow cruise. Frankly, the cruise was a bit of a bore. However, it was a nice way to get a feel of the city. I thought I’d check the city out and come back on another day if anything caught my fancy. The tour had three lines. Red line – city tour. It takes you to the Dubai Museum and the various souks (Old, gold & spice). Green Line – beach tour. Covers the Jumeira beach, Burj Al Arab and Souk Madinat. Blue – Marina Tour. This was my favourite. It was a tour of the marina area along the walk, beach, and promenade. It also covered the Palm Jumeira. Loved the marina area. Thought I’d go back but couldn’t.

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Jumeira Beach – spend a lazy evening unwinding at Jumeirah Beach. The beach is extremely crowded throughout the day. If you’re lucky, you might have a stretch of the beach all to yourself – stick around till sunset, it is spectacular.

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Dhow Cruise

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The Marina

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The Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 2,722 ft and a roof height (excluding antenna) of 2,717 ft, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since 2008.

There is an outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, n the 124th floor. At 1,483 ft, it was the highest outdoor observation deck in the world when it opened.  The Burj Khalifa Tower has the longest single running elevator, which is 140 floors. The elevators go 10 meters per second and are among the fastest in the world. It took us approximately only one minute to reach the observation deck on the 124th floor. What a sight it was! You could see most of the city from there. I could literally sit there for hours, crowds or not, and listen to the clatter of so many different languages being spoken while enjoying the view.

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To avoid the daily rush of sightseers, you can purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time. I bought tickets online but I reached early and was allowed to enter. The ticket price start at 135 AED. The price goes higher as it gets close to the sunset. When the tide is low and visibility is high, people can see the shores of Iran from the top of the skyscraper.

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Sunset from the Burj

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Had to rely on kind strangers to take pics!

The Dubai Fountain, located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, is illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors. It is 900 ft long and shoots water 500 ft into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and other music. It is the world’s second largest choreographed fountain. I reached it after the descent from the observation deck so couldn’t really get a good spot for pictures. But, the choreography and the music was amazing. Definitely one of the must see things in Dubai.

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The Dubai Dolphinarium is a fully air-conditioned indoor dolphinarium, providing habitat to dolphins and seals, allowing the public to watch and interact with them through live shows and photo sessions. Priced at AED 105 (The 11 AM show is priced at 75 AED, so picked that), the show runs for 45 minutes and is really worth the money spent. Located inside the huge Creek park, it is accessible by Dubai Healthcare city metro station (with a 10 minute walk). Only hiccup here was, although I had bought the tickets online, I had to buy an additional ticket to enter the creek park, which was priced at 25 AED.

It was my first experience seeing a dolphin show. You get to be really up close with the dolphins and the seals. Avoid the first three rows for seating unless you want to get splashed on. The highlight of the show for me, was seeing the Dolphins hold paintbrushes in their mouths and paint some abstract on waterproof paper. Some of the performances presented were excellent especially where the trainers floated in speed on the dolphin’s nose. It was a really good entertaining show and demonstrated the intelligence of the dolphins and seals as well as the dedication of their trainers.

Can’t talk about Dubai and not talk about the Malls. The Dubai mall & Mall of Emirates just defy words. The famous Dubai Mall is located at the base of Burj Khalifa and is one of the biggest malls you will visit. With everything from a food court to hundreds of stores there are few things you’ll miss that they don’t have here! You will need more than a day to go through everything this mall has to offer. It has something for everyone and it is easy to get lost if you aren’t well organized. I did. It was one of the points in my hop on hop off tour. I stepped in to grab a bite and it took forever to get out.

Another thing that you notice about Dubai is the heavy constructions that’s going on. Everything from roads to buildings. They are gearing up for the expo 2020. The hope is that it will contribute to economic opportunities like new business generation and job creation across the region.

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If you’re an adventurer at heart, you must go dune bashing in Dubai. A number of companies conduct tours (we booked a private operator so it was a bit personalized and longer than the usual tours). Once in the desert, the tyres of the vehicle are deflated, and that’s when the real fun begins. Dune bashing is definitely not for the squeamish at heart. I’ve always been afraid of roller coasters, traffic, driving fast on the road so was really apprehensive about trying out the dune bashing. But, Oh my God, what an experience it was. We went on a 35 minute drive and it was exhilarating. I wasn’t afraid. I don’t really know what it was… Confidence in the driver, no traffic or just high on life and just living my best life. The twists & turns, driving on the dunes at a 45 degree angle is quite a dizzying experience but I just loved it.

With this, I ended my trip. This trip was one of the most rewarding, refreshing & inspiring moments in my life so far. It was one of my best trips. I did not want to leave. I think this was the first time after a trip that I had this feeling. I wasn’t even aware of how much I craved my own company. I was alone with my thoughts, was able to take in the sights, sounds in a more real way, and soak up little things that I may not have recognized otherwise. It was empowering to be in my own company and the ability to plan every detail of the trip without someone else’s input was pretty great, too!

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Food · Recipes

Lemon Pound Cake

It’s been a while since I have baked anything. Today being a holiday, I thought I’d give it a shot. To be honest, it was the 7UP in the recipe that caught my attention and made me want to try it out. I did make a few changes to the recipe that I found online to customise it to my liking and minimize some of the steps that I thought were unnecessary. Overall, it was an easy and tasty recipe.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups (345 gms) butter, softened

3 cups (500 gms) sugar

5 large eggs

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups (384 gms) all-purpose flour

1-cup (340 ml) lemon-lime soft drink (such as 7UP)

Lemon Glaze

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest and extract.
  2. Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured pan.
  3. Bake at 180° C for ½ and hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Spoon Lemon Glaze over warm or room temperature cake.

Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

2 cups(400 gms) powdered sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Method

Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, in a bowl until blended and smooth. (For a thinner glaze, stir in an additional 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, if desired.)

PS: People enjoyed it so much that I decided to sell this cake at a Mission Sunday event that my church conducted. Happy to report that it completely sold out!!

Thank you for reading! And have a good weekend

Life

Fitness Journey

I have always been on the thin side all my life. So, every time I spoke about exercising, I was always made fun of. It didn’t really bother me earlier, as I’ve been blessed with good metabolism. But, since I hit the big 3 O’s, my metabolism has slowed down considerably (Ah, the joys of aging..). I started getting a paunch that made me very conscious about my appearance. While I have never been conscious about body image issues before, the comments that I got really made an impact. I stopped wearing tight clothes. Started buying t-shirts a size or two bigger than my size. However, I didn’t really make any efforts to exercise. I have now joined cult in an effort to change that. I have made it to 3-4 classes a week for 3 weeks now.

On another note, It’s been a year since I started blogging but I still post very sporadically. The excuses that I mentioned in my previous post are still winning! Looks like that’s been the story of my life. While there are a lot of things that I want to do, somewhere down the line I lose focus. I procrastinate. This year I want to start again. Kick start my life so to speak. Starting with exercise & career. Eventually I’ll look at other areas. Will update my progress here to keep myself accountable.

What are your goals for the year? Do let me know in the comments…

Pictures by George Chiramal Davis