Monday, 1 September 2014

A Designed Life

Photo: Arif Feroze

By Yasmin Gamal

I had an epiphany this morning. The difference between a happy life and a miserable one is design. If you live a life of surrender to the status quo you can not be happy. Happy people actively seek and design lives they are comfortable with. They fill their homes with flowers and pretty things that make them happy. They find jobs that work for them and if they don’t they design an environment around them that is happy. They enjoy their meals and only eat food that nourishes their bodies and souls. They are proactive, assertive and positive. This doesn't mean you need to change your life. You just need to design it in a way that makes you happy. If you watch a couple getting married (in the Middle East), they spend months organizing a wedding and decorating their apartment. Most of it is done for the benefit of others, to impress other people or to assert their social status. But then after that they stop the design process. They have kids because it is expected of them. They settle down to a life they might not want or yearn for because they stopped making it their own lives. They just go with the flow. I am not against going with the flow, but there is a huge difference between accepting and adapting to life’s blows and just being defeated. Almost every Egyptian home has a room usually called the Salon. It is a whole room that is dressed up to the nines and probably used twice in a lifetime. That doesn't make sense, design wise. It is a waste of space and money. Space that could be better utilized for the family actually living in that home. That is exactly what happens when you design your life badly. You have wasted space. Valuable real estate in your life or time that should be used better. My mother’s grandmother used to say, "There is no poverty. Just lack of good opinion.". Whatever your resources are, with proper management they can be more efficiently and effectively used.

I came across this on my facebook, shared by my friend Reem, the sister of Yasmin Gamal. I quickly shot off a few messages asking if I could carry it here because life insights and writing such as this needs to be shared.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A broken toe and a picture please

Top: H&M, Belt: Mango, Skirt: Zara, Necklace: Forever21, Clutch: Aldo, Shoes: Steve Madden. Photos: Arif Feroze.

I have a lot to say today so let's start on a style note. This forest green top from H&M is light and summery even though it's full-sleeved. I paired it with a white pencil skirt for a sleek look. Since the green is a bit dull, I added a pop of color with the red belt and then matched my shoes and clutch to it. A white statement necklace completed the look. You've usually seen me rock pencil skirts with a flowy, blousey top tucked into it, but wearing a fitted top with one looks just as classy. And of course, it's the perfect outfit for the office.

In other news, I broke the last toe on my right foot, a few days back. I present to you, Exhibit A:

Obviously, I can't teach any classes until it heals. And I can't take any blog photos because I can't wear heels. {See what I did there?}

The lessons I learnt after getting my toe broke? 1. You really find out who your friends are, 2. You find out just how crucial every little part of your body is, and 3. I still hate flip-flops.

But don't worry, this is not the last you'll see of my posts during my recovery period. I have a few interesting posts up my sleeve, and I'll be bringing you Gift Ideas for Him and Gift Ideas for Couples since you guys liked Gift Ideas for Her so much. Plus, I have something coming up which I'm very excited about. I can't wait to tell you!

The photos above were taken when all the digits on my feet were intact. I miss my heels so much now I'm actually dreaming of them when I sleep.

Until next time, xoxo

Monday, 25 August 2014

Gift Ideas for Her

A lo of us have a hard time finding gifts for the people around us. Especially for the guys, when it comes to finding gifts for us ladies. So I decided to help the poor dears out. Here's a list of reasonably priced gifts you can get for your mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, colleague, female friend, sister-in-law, cousin sister... You get the idea.

  •  Travel pouches, scents, mugs and bath stuff packs from Marks & Spencer. 
  • Teacup sets, shoe boxes in different sizes from Lifestyle, Centrepoint.
  • Jewelry from Aldo.

  • Fine imitation jewelry from Debenhams and Marks & Spencer.

  • Statement necklaces from Zara.

  • Leather-bound notebooks from Jashanmal.
  • Books from her favourite author {that she hasn’t read}.
  • Bath sets and Body Butter from Body Shop.

  • Gym bag and gym bottle- don’t gift these as a way to make her go to the gym. That's just mean.
  • Personalized mugs/ key chains/ mirrors that have a photo or favorite saying of hers printed on it. You can get these done from various shops around town, and a few kiosks in the malls.
  • Tea sets, signs, frames from Pachachic.
  • Nail polish in her favourite colors from OPI and China Glaze. You can find them at Va Va Voom and Sephora at the malls.

  • Music system from any electronic store.
  • Portable chargers. {We girls generally don't tend to get these things for ourselves. At least I don't.}
  • Jewelry boxes from Lifestyle, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer.

  • Jewelry trees from Lifestyle, Debenhams.

  • Candle holders and scented candles from Lifestyle and Manazel.

That's it. Hopefully I've given you plenty of ideas to get a great gift for the women in your life. Of course, gift ideas are not limited to this list. Happy gifting! 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Planning holidays and playing formal-casual-formal

Top, Blazer: Zara, Jeans, Coral jewelry: Gifted, Cuff: Forever21, Handbag: Debenhams, Shoes: Steve Madden. Photos: Arif Feroze

Planning a holiday is amazing, isn't it? Where to go, for how many days, what to do, the fun to be had... It makes you so excited just thinking about it. I had even read somewhere that a happy thing to do was to plan a getaway. Not the actual going away, just the planning.

Ancy and I were recently planning a holiday. After talking it through, synchronizing our calendars and calculating how much time we'd need to save up money for it, we decided we'll go to London... in the summer of 2016. Yes, yes, I know it seems far off now. But really it isn't. Two years aren't that long. Or maybe that's just what I'm telling myself because the thought of taking a girly trip with my bestie is so delicious. A trip to London, just me and Ancy, shopping, sightseeing, and maybe visiting a town/ village in the English countryside. Ahhh... sounds brilliant. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't. But all I know is that we're saving up for it, starting now. And looking forward to it with bucket-loads of anticipation and excitement.

On a style note, this outfit is really about three colors- fuchsia pink, lavender, and coral. My {overly-simplistic} thought process while dressing was this- pink goes with purple, and orange goes with pink. So fuchsia pink top to go with lavender jeans, coral necklace and earrings to match with the top. I had to tone down all the color, so, a white blazer. But I couldn't resist adding more color with the shoes. They just went so perfectly with the clothes. Since this is a semi-formal look, I pushed the sleeves up to add a bit of casual flair and wore a cuff to smarten it up again. Me getting dressed up is like playing a game of opposites- casual top, formal jacket, casual jeans, formal cuff, push-sleeves-up for casual, formal handbag, casual necklace and formal shoes. Whew! But that's what makes it so much fun.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

15 Reasons Why I Love Life

1. A huge bed.
I have a king sized bed even though I'm the only one sleeping in it. I derive so much happiness from it. Whether it's sleeping spread-eagled on it at night, or reading a book lying in it, or simply lazing in it on a weekend morning, having a big bed is one of life's delights.

2. Reading.
A good book pulls you in and makes you forget yourself. It takes your imagination to places it has never been but always wanted to go. Whether it's light fluff or heavy and profound, reading is one of life's most pleasurable escapes.

3. Listening to my music.
I consider music to be very personal. A collection of songs that speaks to your heart is invaluable. Whether you listen to them in your room while doing chores, on your headphones in the middle of a chaotic day, or in your car on long drives, music instantly soothes and makes you feel better.

4.  Face to face conversations.
With the right people, conversations are like a drug- they’re addictive. The best conversations are those that stimulate the mind. I love sitting down at leisure with my friends or family and having deep conversations about life and its idiosyncrasies.

5. Gossiping.
Unless used to create rumours and manipulate people, I believe gossiping is healthy. We deal with people and emotions all the time. Obviously, we'll talk about people to other people. I love sitting with my brother to discuss how our parents sometimes drive us mad, and my regular gossip sessions with my best friend. Most times these gossip sessions help me understand people better as the other person gives me their opinion and insights on them.

6. Playing with my cat.
I have a cat named Snarf. He's a typical feline who demands my attention at all times. And I love it. Running around the house playing tag with him, him walking all over my keyboard demanding my attention, stroking his fur until he purrs like a truck engine, waking up to his sullen looks, and finding him sleeping in the most unexpected places {and in the most unexpected positions!} gives me immense joy.

7. Wearing silk.
Whether it's a blouse, pants, or even a small scarf, the feel of soft silk against your skin is wonderful. It makes you feel elegant, charming and very relaxed.

8. Flying.
I've flown to many places, ever since I was a child. Still, the wonder of flying hasn't worn off. There's just something about being thousands of feet in the sky in a huge metal bird, amidst clouds, crossing continents and oceans, which is awe-inspiring and wondrous.

9. Being surrounded by nature.
I'm a nature freak. Maybe it's because I've lived all my life in a sandbox. Forests, hills covered with green, fields as far as the eye can see, I love them all. Mother Nature. Such an admirable woman.

10. Putting nail polish on.
As simple as that sounds, it makes me very happy to put on a different nail colour every 2 weeks. I have a collection of nail colours that are mostly in different shades of reds and pinks. I love spending time choosing what colour I'm going to put on next. I never wear the same colour on my feet and hands as it gives me an opportunity to wear 2 different colours.

11. Making people laugh.
Making someone laugh at what you're saying or doing fills you up with so much happiness, it's unbelievable.

12. Creating something from scratch.
When you create something using your own two hands and see it through until the end, it gives you a great sense of achievement. It could be something as simple as baking a cake or a doing a painting.

13. Shopping for stationery.
I love stationery shops. All the varieties of paper, pencils, paints, colours... It makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. I want to buy everything. Just being there and looking at all the stuff makes me happy.

14. Laughing
Laughing loud. Laughing hard and long. Laughing at really silly, senseless things. Over and over. Laughing until you cry. Laughing so much you become breathless. Laughing until your stomach hurts. Laughing until you feel like your cheeks will crack. It's what makes life worth living.

15. Dreaming.
I have vivid dreams and I usually remember them when I wake up. Sometimes they're so realistic it takes me a few hours to shake them off. One of my favourite dreams is of flying. Just me, soaring through the air. I look forward to sleeping because I know I'll be taken to my fantastical world of dreams.

These are just 15 reasons I came up with. I could easily stretch this list if I spent more time on it. Your turn- what makes you feel like life is worth living? 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Quintessentially summery

Top: H&M, Jeans: Bershka, Earrings, Bangles, Bag: F21, Shoes: Steve Madden.
Photos: Arif Feroze

Summer calls for halter-necks. And for sorbet colors. Thus and therefore, this pink halter-neck and this mint bag. With the sun beating down hard, ice blue for jeans seemed a good choice. I pulled my hair back into a high pony tail to keep cool, and threw on strappy sandal heels. For accessories I wore dangly floral enamel earrings, thin golden bangles and my vintage watch. All in all, I was aiming for simple and cool {temperature-wise}. So a halter-neck top, ice blue jeans, a pony tail, and strappy heels. If that's not the quintessential summer look, I don't know what is!

P.S: Wanna wear this to work? Just throw a blazer on!

Until next time, keep cool! xoxo