Day trip diaries: Cologne it is!

Weekend trips, and day trips rank pretty high on my priority list. ‘Why?’ you ask. Because, they require zero planning, satisfy your inner wanderlust, and are a breeze!

Europe, being the awesome continent that it is, lets you drive to neighbouring countries in the span of an hour or a few hours so that is something that I am thoroughly taking advantage of. Speaking of which, we decided to zip to Cologne last weekend for the husband’s college Europe mini-reunion. His best friend is a resident of Cologne, so we left it to him to plan our afternoon there because after all, locals know best!

No matter when you go to Cologne, no matter how short or long your trip is, the one thing that you absolutely have to see is the Kolner Dom or the Cologne Cathedral. It is one of the biggest Cathedrals in Europe, and it stands majestically right in the centre of the city. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and a renowned monument of German Catholicism, and Gothic architecture, which was declared a World Heritage site in 1996. It attracts around 20,000 people a day, and it is currently the tallest twin-spired church at 515 ft!ย What is beautiful about the cathedral despite its high footfall and busy days is the fact that it is so serene, and the footfall is managed in such an orderly manner!

We were also lucky to witness St. Chirstopher day in cologne, which is a big day for the LGBT community. There was a large, and peppy parade right outside the cathedral on the streets, the entire day!

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Post the Kolner Dom, a short walk will lead you to the Rhine riverfront. The Rhine riverfront is a beautiful spot with several cruises departing from there. Additionally, right next to the cruise departure point, there is a bridge which is known for its love-locks. What is interesting is that, the bridge was not initially built anticipating the weight of the love locks. However, in due course due to the weight of the love locks, the bridge starting wearing down, and work had to be done in order to ensure safety whilst keeping the love-locks intact!

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So that’s it about my mini adventure last weekend! I would love to hear about what you guys did last weekend, and what you plan to do this weekend, so write in to me via my blog or instagram!

Can’t wait to hear from you, and I’ll see you all very soon!

Outfit: Gap
Hair: Lucio Coiffure
Ear cuffs: H&M

PS: I am off to a very exciting city, and one of my favorite cities in the world. Any guesses where? ๐Ÿ˜€

xoxo

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Paris, the city of love! <3

Bonjour from the city of love, Paris! This week, I present to you a quick ready reckoner on how you can spend a weekend in Paris. Of course, a weekend is not enough but if you’re on a busy Euro trip or live in Europe and want a weekend getaway, then this one’s for you!

When you think Paris, what do you visualize? For most of you it’s the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Arc Dr Triomphe, right? Damn right! Paris is a city that is steeped in history and has the unique distinction in being a city that is both a bustling metropolis, and a city that makes you feel like you’re going back in history, and all in the centre of the city!

Before we drove to Paris, I had prepared a list of a few must-dos in Paris and my list read as follows:

  1. A hotel room with an Eiffel tower view
  2. The Eiffel tower and getting to the top of it
  3. Louvre
  4. Champs Elysees! (And visit the world’s first ever Sephora store, woot woot!)
  5. Arc De Triomphe

I wanted our weekend to be relaxed yet fun so I did not want to do beyond the must-do things. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Etoile and I highly recommend this hotel because it has the most fabulous rooms of the Eiffel tower.

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I mean, just see the above picture. I took it on my iphone 7 camera without a filter and needless to say, I was mind blown!

On day 1, we had an embassy appointment in the morning so we got free by lunch time, post which we walked to the Arc De Triomphe. Another plus point of this hotel is that most of the landmarks are within walking distance and I have always enjoyed exploring cities on foot so I always live at the city centre as more often than not, the landmarks and other ‘must see’ places are near the centre centre.

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Us, at the Arc De Triomphe

Post that, we walked to the mighty ‘La Tour Eiffel’ (Yes, it is around 20 minutes from the Arc De Triomphe but you won’t realize it)

I think words cannot do justice to how beautiful the Eiffel tower is. My husband loved it but it was his second visit to Paris and he was not overwhelmed by it (and as excited as I was). Once you’re at the Eiffel tower, I strongly urge you to go to the top of it. There are 4 gates (North, South, East and West) and the lines outside each gate move quickly and before you know it, you have your ticket to the summit.

So the Eiffel tower as you can see is slanted to a particular level and then straight so you take 2 elevators. The first one moves at an angle, and check this video out from the same! It was so much fun.

Once you’ve finished the first elevator ride then you have stunning views of Paris from level 1, however we are not done yet! We spent around 15 minutes there and then took an elevator to the Eiffel summit and OMG! it is the most beautiful view that I have ever seen! In addition to the gorgeous view of Paris, there is champagne created by none of than Celebrity Chef Alain Ducasse served there in the cutest champagne flutes that I have ever seen!

Check us clinking our glasses on the Summit in the below video! ๐Ÿ˜€

 

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Another gorgeous view of the Eiffel #NoFilter
Post the Eiffel visit, we walked around Champs Elysees with some yummy ‘Glace’ (Ice cream in French) and visited the world’s first ever Sephora store and boy! With its red carpet entry and numerous brands, I was mind blown!

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That’s me being super excited outside the Sephora store and seems like the man behind me cannot for the love of God figure out what’s going on. Haha!

And now we come to the gorgeous Louvre. The streets leading to Louvre are beyond stunning and it was again just a 20 minute walk, and what’s interesting about this walk is that the road is filled with several gorgeous boutiques of both big and small designers. For the style and fashion aficionado, it is a dream come true! Also special mention to the gardens outside the Louvre, it makes for such a gorgeous pathway before you see the majestic piece of art, that is the Louvre.

PS: There is an ice cream kiosk, in that garden and they sell the most delicious ice cream ever, so don’t forget to try it. Also Paris is so hot in the summers that I bet most of you anyway will ๐Ÿ˜‰

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So have a stellar weekend guys, do let me know if land up going to Paris and for any travel tips, and tricks you can always reach out to me via my blog or Instagram!

Au revoir and A bientot! xoxo

One thing that baffles most people about me is my inability to get jet lagged. Yes, I have flown a variety of routes and numerous times too and a few examples are Mumbai- New York, Seattle- Mumbai, Manchester- Mumbai, Mumbai- Cancun and Seattle- Luxembourg (Which I took day before yesterday) and as you know all of the above flights are 10 hours or longer with the Mumbai-Cancun flight clocking up to almost 30 hours with layovers.

So many flights and not once did you get jet lagged, you ask? I say NO and now I’ll tell you my tricks which can be incredibly helpful for you to be able to start work or start exploring the moment you reach your destination without avoid any jet lag whatsoever!

PS: As I said above, I flew in from Seattle to Frankfurt to Luxembourg just day before yesterday and here I am fresh with no trace of jet lag so you can take my word on these tips ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. Always (as much as possible) pick a flight that lands into the incoming country at night, so that way you are tired when you land and can go to sleep immediately. Once you do that you are adjusted to that country’s time zone (Yup, even if you’re flying first class and have amazing beds at your disposal to sleep, resist the urge and watch a movie or two instead)
  2. Now yes, I know that you can’t always get a flight that lands at night because of numerous reasons so hack number 2 is to adjust your sleep pattern to the incoming country’s sleep pattern the moment you get in to the aircraft. So yes, if you’re flying a Mumbai – Seattle route and your flight takes off at 10 pm (It is 9:30 am in Seattle then so work accordingly), get some apple juice (Again a great alternative to coffee as it keeps you hydrated, yet awake) and stay up for around 12 hours till the time you land. Now I know that it can extremely tough to be up for so long, so what I do is I sleep but I keep an alarm. I sleep for 3-4 hours so that I get my sleep but still need more when I land in Seattle.
  3. Avoid alcohol and coffee on the flight: I say this because alcohol will make you fall asleep (I once was really tempted to get a glass and it made me sleep for 6 hours on a Paris-Mumbai flight) and thus when you land, there are high chances that your sleep schedule goes for a toss. But yes, I know that it can be really tempting to relax and have a glass of wine on the flight so I suggest have the glass of wine at the start of the flight when you’re not too tired because from personal experience the more tired I am, the quicker the wine makes me go to sleep and yes, the more tired I am, the longer the wine makes me sleep.
  4. In case you have no option but to book a flight that lands in the destination country in the morning (See, the staying awake plan works perfectly albeit leaving you a bit tired if you land in the afternoon or evening) then I suggest you sleep really well on the flight, and don’t worry I got tips for that too ๐Ÿ˜€
    – Carry an eye patch no matter what. I need it to be pitch dark to sleep, and the eye patch makes it darker so as to make your drift to sleep immediately.
    – Carry a travel pillow so that your neck feels comfortable (Though sometimes when I am sleepy, I can sleep just about anywhere)
    – If your flight involves a layover or 2 (Yes I have done that and it feels like death), and you’re flying coach, make sure you have a lounge membership via Priority pass or Lounge key so that you can rest and spend a few peaceful moments on your layover. Also, a lot of these lounges have sleeping pods and areas so as to make you feel refreshed. (Here’s looking at you Abu Dhabi) So if your flight lands in the morning, then definitely make use of these.
  5. The moment you reach your destination (And if you have landed in the morning or afternoon) head out and get some sunlight (Yes I know that if you have to go in for a meeting you can’t do that, but get some sunshine at every chance you get) because staying indoor worsens jet lag. Sunlight is a powerful stimulant that makes you adjust to the destination’s time zone easily. I did exactly that when I landed in Luxembourg and have adjusted to my 10:30- 7 am sleeping routine from day 2. (The first day I slept at 9 pm and woke up by 7 am).

Keeping up with the spirit of the article, I am sharing some of my favorite airport (and non airport) pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚

So write in to me with your favorite travel and beating jet lag tips, and I would love to hear from you! Happy weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

 

#OOTDFashFriday

Hello lovely people,

Let’s have some fun with my ##OOTDFashFriday section this friday. More than my look, I am focusing on my gorgeous smoky eye today created by Nage after an amazing skin prep session by Tatcha!

Typically I go in for a shaded brown or metallic eyeshadow which is perfect for the day, but today I am going in for a night look and hence Nage created a literal ‘smoky’ eye. Haha!

This look can be very tricky for the day and it is a tough look to create because the eyelid is a very small part and the eye shadow should be applied so as to not make your eyes look messy.ย Nage started prepping my skin with Tatcha post which she applied a very light foundation (The Laura Mercier candle glow foundation which I love!).

The elaborate smoky eye was done before the foundation though, and this is a tip that I recommend to everyone out there. You know why? Because when doing an elaborate look on the eye, very small chunks of eye make up can fall on your cheeks and if your foundation is already done, then it will have to anyway be redone, so it is best to do your foundation at the very end, just before applying your lip color.

Post the smoky eye, Nage gave me a very neutral pink color with a hue of pink with the Huda beauty Venus lip color + some MAC relentlessly red on that (For the pinkish hue) post which I applied some clear gloss from my crystal lipstick.

And ladies and gentlemen, that’s all there is to such a glam look! You can be done in under 30 minutes ๐Ÿ˜€

So do try out this look and let me know what you think! Till then, happy weekend and much love! xoxo

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#OOTDFashFriday: Memorial day weekend!

Hi lovelies, This week’s #OOTDFashfriday is a very fun one as I got the chance to play dress up with 2 amazing people in Seattle!

My dress is a suit dress from http://www.asos.com by a lovely brand called ‘YAS’. Do check out their collection for a massive selection in trench, skater, suit dresses or just about any other type of dress!

My lovely make-up is by James at the Downtown Seattle Sephora and he kept my make up dewy and fresh while managing to make it sassy and gorgeous! We retained some of the regular products that I normally use and also changed it up a little by adding a wine lip (Refer: Below pictures). Speaking about wine lip colors, if you’re a fan of a pinkish wine lip, Iย highly recommend the ‘Bengali’ silky satin lip color by Christian Louboutin. Not only is the packaging gorgeous, but the color also stays on your lips all day!

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The Bengali silky satin lip color by Christian Louboutin โค

Now let’s talk about my gorgeous wavy hair in this picture, and the credit to it goes to the lovely Ren at #FlawlessBeautyBars in Westlake Avenue! My go to look is a lot of volume and beachy waves so that’s exactly what Ren gave me and I must say that she has done a fabulous job! So fabulous that it stayed intact for 4 days! ๐Ÿ˜€

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So, with the long weekend coming up, what are all your plans? Do share your ##OOTDs and weekend plans with me via instagram or my blog! Have a lovely one! xoxo

Chateau Ste. Michelle: A fabulous winery in the heart of Washington

Over the weekend, we got the opportunity to visit one of Washington’s most famous wineries, the Chateau Ste. Michelle vineyards, which today celebrates its’ 50th anniversary. It is located in Washington’s wine country, Woodinville and even though Woodinville consists of several wineries, Chateau Ste. Michelle stands out due to its’ history and award winning wines.

As soon as we got to the venue, we we embarked on a wine tour (For all those interested, they do a complimentary wine tour and tasting at 2 pm everyday, so arrive in time and book your spot. It starts with a charming guide taking you on a tour of the winery, and explaining to you the history of how their popular wines came into being, and a demonstration of the orbiter that is used in producing their white wines. (PS: The Chateau makes only its white wine here, and the red wine is made in a vineyard in another part of Washington). This demo also shows you how to get the maximum taste from your wine, certain do’s and don’ts that you need to follow while drinking wine for best results and the best food and wine pairings! (My favorite was pairing spicy thai food with some Riesling).

This amazing tour ends with an amazing wine tasting that lets you sample their finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Moscato (Yum! I loved this one).

Post which they have customized wine tasting programs for you with the most popular ones being the Custom flight (Where you sample 4 wines from Whites, Reds, Sparkling or Riesling) and the Riesling flight where you sample 5 Rieslings. In order to taste all of the above, my husband decided to go for the custom flight and I went for the Riesling flight (I also have a soft spot for dessert and sweet wines). In order to make this experience more enjoyable, we also purchased some classic brie cheese.

The tasting was so much fun with our lovely hostess finishing our wonderful experience with some bubbly. But before I sign off, given below are the names of our favorite wines that you can sample at the Chateau or order online via their website, http://www.ste-michelle.com

  1. 2013 Eroica Gold Riesling (Their award winning wine and rightly so!)
  2. 2013 Limited release Walla Walla red wine (My husband’s favorite among ’em all, hands down, so all you red wine lovers, take note!)
  3. 2015 Harvest select sweet Riesling (Slightly sweeter than your normal Rieslings, and also my favorite!)

PS: They also sell these umbrellas shaped like wine bottles, and as you can guess, it was love at first sight for me! Scroll down and you can see me clutching it tightly!

Also, I came across a very interesting table on http://www.winefolly.com that gives you excellent information about the nature and sweetness of several varieties of both red and white wines before you decide on your wine (Unless you’re always having a Riesling or Moscato or Chardonnay like me ๐Ÿ˜›

Cheers and may your evening be filled with a lot of wine! ๐Ÿ˜‰ xoxo

Wine Sweetness Chart

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#OOTDFashFriday time again!

Hello lovelies,

It’s that time of the week again, where I do my favorite #OOTDFashFriday column, so let’s get started, shall we?

Today’s look is one of my favorite looks! Why so, you ask? Because, I am wearing my favorite high street brand, Banana republic (You must check out their spring summer collection as it’s beyond gorgeous) and Chloe from Sephora has done my make-up beautifully!

Given below is a gif of the nudey- metallic palette that she has used to create my look. I love a dewy natural look with an elaborate eye, so that’s what she gave me!

PS: Before she started the look, she prepped my skin using products from Japanese luxury skincare brand, Tatcha and I must say that they felt super light and breezy on my skin. I highly recommend you guys to go to your nearest Sephora and try this brand out. Alternatively, you can shop for their products online via http://www.tatcha.com/Shop. Feel free to write in to me for recommendations on the same too ๐Ÿ™‚

Chloe has used products from Laura Mercier (I wonder why I have never tried their products before. A special mention to their foundation. It’s so light and so dewy), Marc Jacobs (My kohliner), Anastasia beverly hills (My eyebrows and eye palette), Smashbox and Huda beauty (On the lips), Stila (Eyeliner), and Hourglass (Translucent powder).

For this look, I tried something different with my hair. I didn’t style it at all, just to see how it looks and thanks to my Forest essentials Shikakai shampoo and Qhemet Biologics cocoa flavored hair cream, my hair looked well set.

I teamed up this look with my favorite banana republic trench dress and ear cuffs from Asos.com (I have been addicted to these! PS: You also get similar ones in H&M, if that’s easier for you).

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Voila! These are my favorite pictures from the look! PS: In the second picture, my hair length is intact, it just looks shorter because all my hair except a layer is at the back!

So write in to me with your comments and suggestions and stay tuned for something exciting that’s coming your way! Hint: It’s about Seattle’s coolest new salon!

Have a smashin’ weekend! What are your plans? See you soon xoxo

 

 

 

#OOTDFashFriday: Banana Republic and Sephora VIB Rouge

Hello my lovely people!

It’s time for this week’s #OOTDFashFriday and after a very interesting week, which I spent partly in San Francisco followed by my Godmother’s visit to Seattle, I am here, presenting to you something very fun!

So today, I am wearing a Khaki shirt dress by Banana Republic, ear cuffs from Asos.com and my make-up has been similar to what I normally wear (Did not want to be repetitive with that, but if you’d like details on my regular look then do check my earlier #OOTDFashFriday posts or just write in to me for the same) with the addition of the SmashBox Infrared matte lipstick.

What I decided to do differently this week is my hair. My husband comes home and tells me, ‘You’ve styled your hair so well!’ and my mother via FaceTime tells me, ‘How come your hair looks so curly and voluminous, what did you do?’ Well, ladies and gentlemen, the answer is that I did nothing with my hair in terms of styling. I just washed it with the amazing #ForestEssentials ‘Bhringraj and Shikakai’ hair cleanser and conditioner, followed by their hair thickening spray (Which I highly recommend! All you peeps in India, you can walk into any store and get it or order it online and all you folks in the US and elsewhere outside India, most of their products are available on Amazon!). Post the hair thickening spray, I used the ‘Qhemet biologics’ cocoa tree detangling ghee which smells like hazelnut chocolate (Yum! I can’t get enough of it) which softens your hair and leaves it smelling like chocolate too!

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My #OOTDFashFriday

In other news, my thursday started on a super fun note where Sephora notified me that I am now a #VIBRouge member! (YAYYYYYYYY!). Needless to say, I am really excited and though I have not gone in for any make-up sessions yet (PS: Being a Sephora VIB Rouge member lets you have unlimited makeovers and make-up sessions at any Sephora in the region of your membership so you can imagine my excitement. Ex: I can go to any US store and get ’em!), I intend to go for them sometime next week and I can’t wait to share my looks with all of you!

Have a blessed weekend my peeps, and I’ll see you very soon with another blog post! In the meantime, for more info on what I am upto, catch me on my instagram @fiftyshadesofsin xoxo

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Viva Mexico!

Hello lovelies,

Since you all loved the Tulips festival weekend post so much, I thought I’d do another travel post this week with some gorgeous pictures, and the place that I have chosen is ‘Beach dream land’ Mexico! I am sure that Mexico has been a country that most of you love to visit and some of you really want to visit. So without any further delay, let’s do this!

There are several parts of Mexico that are highly recommended to visit like Cabo, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Punta Mita, but since I only had a week, I visited Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. It is really easy to reach Cancun from New York as there are multiple flights plying to and fro with only a 4 hour duration per flight so your options are aplenty.

My suggestion is to keep Cancun as your hub and then explore places like Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Isla Mujeres which are a driving distance from Cancun. They are all in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, so it makes sense to do one state/ area per trip ย (Unless you have 3 odd weeks to spare and want to cover the entire country). Just to give you an essence of how large Mexico is, the Cancun to Cabo flight is a good 6 hours, almost the same as a New York to Paris flight.

I stayed at the gorgeous Westin Laguna Mar in Cancun and most of the nice hotels are located in the ‘Hotel Zone’ and I highly recommend staying here because each hotel has it’s own slice of the beach and it’s pretty amazing to have your own private beach, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Also a special mention to the chefs at the Westin for having made the best chilaquiles every morning for my breakfast. You see, chilaquiles is a delicacy that is not available in every Mexican restaurant you go to. Certain hotels/ restaurants have chefs that can make it but only after you put in a special request. (PS: Do check my slideshow for a gorgeous shot of the same, which will make your mouth water!)

Mexico is a dream destination for all you water babies and adventure junkies, and you are left, spoiled rotten with a multitude of choices to keep busy, that include scuba diving, snorkeling, Jet skiing, parasailing, and dolphin watching, to name a few.

In addition to the above, the Xcaret Experiencias group also owns 7 theme parks in and around Playa Del Carmen which bus services running from most hotels in the hotel zone in Cancun.

So what are these theme parks, you ask. The attractions included in these theme parks are as follows, and I highly recommend that you do visit at least one of them. I visited the
Xcaret (Pronounced Esh- Caret) park in Playa Del Carmen(Around 75 km from Cancun)

  • A river that goes through the Mayan village
  • Amazing spa facilities
  • Scuba diving and snorkeling in the nearby reefs
  • An island of jaguars
  • Swimming with sharks
  • A coral reef aquarium
  • A butterfly pavilion
  • A bat cave
  • A greenhouse
  • An open church
  • A replica of a Mayan village with real artisans
  • An equestrian show
  • Around 15 restaurants and souvenir shops
  • A 6000 seater hall with live performances

The parks other than Xcaret are Xplor, Xel-Ha, Xensesm Xichen, Xenotes and Xoximilco. However, Xcaret is one of the biggest.

Once you are done exploring Xcaret, I highly recommend a visit to Tulum if you like history and archaeology. Tulum is a Mayan city around 130 km south of Cancun and was built late in the thirteenth century. Tulum can be a great day trip when you want to take a break from the above activities and do something different.

The best part about Tulum, is that in addition to having some great ruins, it also has its’ own gorgeous beach. It is also the only Mayan city to be built on a coast and it used to be a seaport trading mainly in turquoise and jade. It was also one of the few cities protected by a wall made of limestone.

The must see structures that do remain here today, are the Castillo (Or Castle) overlooking the Caribbean coast and the Temple of the Frescoes. Once you head north of the Castillo, there is a pathway that takes you to the multi hued and pristine Caribbean where you can spend an hour or two joyfully enjoying the idyllic atmosphere.

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to this slice of paradise, right now! For any more information, feel free to write in to me! Happy holidays! xoxo

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#OOTDFashFriday

Hello lovely people!

It’s time for yet another #OOTDFashFriday and I am using a very interesting product today for my look! I checked out the Clinique Beyond perfecting foundation + concealer from Sephora and I must say that I am blown by the results! (I used the Neutral Shade, FYI)

However, I use foundation very minimally and this was one of those times! I started my #OOTDFashFriday look with just 15 small dots of foundation on my face and blended it with a ‘Siliblender’, then used my usual products to do my eye and lip make-up.

I am wearing a gorgeous pearl chain with an off shoulder black top that I purchased from http://www.asos.com (As usual, haha) and I must tell you that pearls are my new obsession, they go well with most well fitted outfits and give your outfits that sophisticated edge. My earrings are via Amazon Fashion.

Oh, and this time my hair has been done by my amazing husband who challenged me saying that he can do a job as fine as my hairstylist and I think he has done a spendid job! (PS: He has used the Apalus hair straightening brush which we ordered via Amazon.ย com which I highly recommend)

So try my look and let me know how you guys enjoy it! It’s easy, breezy and really quick! (It took me only 20 minutes to get ready!)

Have a fabulous weekend! xoxo