Monday, September 30, 2013

Just like back home..

As many of you might know, it was Ganpati celebrations around mid-September and so that's when we headed out to an Indian temple in our neighborhood. The temple trustees had setup traditional decorations, complete with food (modaks, ladoos, kadha-prashad and assorted Indian sweets). We got to attend Ganpati Aartis. Everything was just like the way it is in India, and just all the things I was missing. Festivals don't feel like festivals unless you do all the traditional things, right? All the things that you grew up doing back in India...

Hmmm..badbbudbududba..back to reality (there was a 'nostalgia' moment there). So, well lucky for us we got to experience and take part in the Ganpati celebrations. But wait! there's more.. we did attend the absolute traditional Ganpati celebrations hosted by the Marathi Mandal of Washington, DC. It was just like,  totally like, it is at home - from decorations to the food (yeah, food is a MAJOR factor here). But that's a story for another time (or post shall I say).

I love to wear Indian outfits and I try to wear them every occasion I get. Here's my Outfit-of-the-Day, all complete with bangles (so what they are mismatched :)), bindi, gold-string flats, oh yeah and salwar suit of course. I love the bright colors - purple and pink - how can anyone go wrong with it, right? And the 'chinese' stand collar..dig it BIG time. I tried a different hairstyle here; tied up my hair in a side-ponytail. Some days it just feels right to tie-up your here and get them outta your way. So, what do you think? Hit or a miss..?

Salwar suit from a shop in Thane, Mumbai | Chappals from Catwalk 
| Assorted lack bangles from our trip to Jaipur |

P.S.: Did you notice my nails match my outfit. That almost never happens, you know! So thought I would point it out to you....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

'Make-up' your face - Part 1 - Face Foundations & Primers

When it comes to make-up I am not a pro but then to think about it I am not a novice either; I am somewhere in between, experimenting, trying out different looks. And now maybe I have reached a point where I know the kind of looks good and suited to the occasion/ time of the day. If I am attending an evening party or a night-out, I trust the smokey-eye-bold-red-or-pink-lip look. For everyday look, I go plain and simple considering there are time constraints; it's usually a kohl-eyes, compact powder for the face, and a bold or subtle lip color. Sometimes, if I am in the mood and I have the time, I amp it up by dabbing my eyelids with bold mascara but nothing more fancy than that.

The make products, I use everyday, are a fair mix of high-end brands and the readily-available-drugstore brands.  I prefer to use the good-quality products for things that play an important role in giving a smooth finish to the whole look. For example, liquid foundation, face powder, lipsticks.
Whereas for the everyday-use makeup products, that usually get swapped per mood swings or even changing color-preferences, I trust the drugstore brands. For example lip balms, lip colors, and even eye shadows (which I don't use that often). So in today's post, I thought of doing a makeup products reviews, list my absolute fave products and also share if a particular product didn't work out and why!

Foundation:  Here in the US, it is so damn difficult to get a foundation in the right shade . And by right shade I mean the ones that suit the Indian wheatish skin tone. I have been literally going nuts finding the perfect shades (and spent quite some $$$ there too!). The foundations always look great in the store, in the jazzy yellow lights, especially when the makeup lady applies them with care and precision. But when I try them at home, in the daylight, the foundation looks a shade lighter or cakey giving me a weird look. Well, one good thing about taking risks and trying different foundations has been that I finally (!)found the light-weight and perfect shade foundation that suits my skin tone. I have had a good streak with the Clinique Even Better makeup with SPF15.

It's priced at USD 27 for a 30 ml bottle (which is quite reasonable for the quality) and the bottle is cute one (it can easily fit in your purse). I am in the Cream Caramel shade, and it is an exact match to my skin tone with a great coverage. It blends well with my combination skin type and spreads more or so like a cream rather than a heavy foundation. Though to be true, I don't wear the foundation daily; its reserved for occasion or weekend outings only. I got it along with me on my trip to India this summer and my mom loved it so much that I kept the bottle for her :) I could definitely spot the difference when she was wearing it; her skin looked fresh and glowing. 
Well, on that topic, while shopping in India, I got a foundation from there from the Lakme ABSOLUT collection (not in the pic below). I can't review it right now since I have used it only once, but here's hoping that it turns out to be good!

I have got the special sponge set from Sephora (as seen in the picture below) to apply the foundation evenly and get a smooth finish. I have been lazy to try them out (as you can see from the full pack) but I am going to use it soon and review it here then :)

Pressed powder / compact: The pressed powder, or as some call it compact,  is something which I wear every single day. Whenever I step out of my house and I am not in my tracks then I have to dab my face with the pressed powder. I have used the  REVLON pressed powder when I lived in India. It was ok and did the job, nothing wow! Usually I have found the pressed powders to be grainy and too light-weight so they don't stay on for the complete day. The MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation brightens up the dull skin without giving the feeling of having too-much-make-up-on. It's priced at USD 27 (yeah same price as the foundation..made for each other, right? ;)) and comes in a black round container. I am in shade NC42. The compact comes with a mirror and a nice soft sponge pad to dab the powder on and it gives a full coverage with a nice matte look. 

Eye-shadow Primers: - I started using a primer - which is almost like foundation base for before applying the eye-shadow - after a recommendation from a friend. She introduced me to Too Faced primer from Sephora. It helps the eye-shadow spread evenly and also stay longer. I got the NARS primer as a gift from a friend recently and I haven't used it much guess I will review it in an another post.

Lastly, just wanted to mention that I haven't used concealers for once. I mean I have but none have matched up to my expectations or to my skin tone. So that's that. If you have any recommendations, I would absolutely love to know.  

I decided to break up the makeup review into multiple posts so that they are not too long to read in one go. Also, I thought it would be a good idea to divide the posts based on the the different makeup products. Part 2 will include reviews on the eye makeup products.

Do drop me a comment below or shoot me an email if you have any questions or comments on any of the products,
If you want maybe I can do a make-up tutorial, write-up or maybe even a youtube video. I haven't explored that area personally I am wary....but lets see. Who knows, maybe I will finally take the plunge and be able to overcome my video-blogging fears :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wine Tasting

Last Sunday we were out wine-tasting with a couple of friends. Northern Virginia has some award-winning wineries and we had been looking forward to visit them out for quite some time now. We visited the Casanel Vineyards based on the yelp reviews of course (I trust them wholly people!).

There was not a formal wine tour or anything, it was a cute little place though with a open patio, tables and chairs, people drinking wines chit-chatting on that beautiful fall afternoon. For the wine-tasting we tried seven different wines ranging from the spritzy-flavored Pinot Grigio to a strong and robust Cabernet Sauvignon. The reds were quite bitter and strong to my taste, well I am more of a white wine person. After the wine-tasting, we headed out to the patio with a glass, some crackers and yummy champagne cheese (that thing was super delicious!) for a great afternoon by the wineries.

Yes, I was wearing the white denims again! They are clean, crisp and with their oh-so-chic fresh look I think they are a closet must-have. I paired my white denims with a colorful top for pop..well, like they say people, opposites attract :)

Target white denims (as seen here) | J.crew hot-pink top | Levis vest (as seen here) |
Payless tan-colored pumps | Forever 21 India neon earrings |

Ok, I get it..drinking and laughing at the same time is not pretty :P

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Staycation post 2 - BBQ and Spy Museum

Like I said here, this labor-day weekend we decided to take a staycation right here in DC. While day one spent watching B-town flicks, shopping and hiking at scenic locations, day two was nothing like it. It was I could stay staycation in true sense, staying right where you are - at home!

Sunday was reserved to be a BBQ day with the friends by our apartment pool. So, half o f the day was spent home, prepping on the BBQ delicacies - marinating chicken wings, paneer tikka, small red potatoes and veggies. And did I mention baking delicious chocolate brownies! By 5 pm we were at the pool, drinking beers and a special drink that hubs made (cranberry, lime juice and the works I tell you). We grilled shrimp, pork patties, buns, juicy husked corm, chicken, potatoes, paneer kebabs..uggh my mouth waters as I write this. The BBQ party went on till late evening and by the end of it we were too full as you can guess from above. BBQ is a really special thing that everyone must enjoy in the summers.

BBQ by the pool - Roasting potatoes, paneer and veggie skewers, pork patties, shrimp and many more goodies; my comfy outfit of the day (ootd); a friend and hubs working at the grill :) 

Monday was reserved for a day in the city and a long-pending visit to the International Spy Museum. Hey if you are into the spy movies, thrillers and love everything CIA, KGB, 007 then this museum is for you! Just want to say that it was some of the most memorable hours we spent there - studying our cover stories, playing spy quizzes & games, reading interesting facts and watching the stunning visuals. Apparently, Washington DC is one of the cities with highest number of spies in it!

Artifacts at the Spy Museum (top to bottom): The 'famous' Aston Martin with all it's features;
The Horse of Troy; Ninjas on display; A wall dedicated to 'Bond' movie posters.

Hubs and me acting out the 'spy' characters
We were assigned covers at the museum and guess we played them to the T :))

From city to the burbs, we decided to take one stop at the Historic Alexandria before we headed home. I had heard a lot about Old Town Alexandria and was pleasantly surprised with the cuteness of the place. Boutiques, restaurants, bookshops, antique shops and cobbled streets...simply reminded me of Boston's Newbury street. The main street ends at a beautiful boardwalk by the Potomac River and a evening stroll was perfectly called for.

So there ends the story of my staycation..must say it was an a pretty inexpensive affair with lots of fun and excitement! Do you do staycations? What are the activities that you plan for? Do share your views in the comments below.

My labor day all-white outfit along with the 'knotted-t-shirt' look were two things I have never tried before. What do you think? Is it a HIT or a MISS?

 Target white denims (got it on clearance for only 12$) | Old Navy floral shirt | GAP flats |
Ring from flea market, Dharamsala India | Forever21 India spiked earrings |
Van Heusen cami

P.S.: All my readers in India, have you entered this fab giveaway to win not one but THREE vouchers to relaxing massage treatments at The Four Fountains Spa!  Hurry up, only one more day left to enter the giveaway here!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Staycation post 1 - Great Falls Hike

This past long weekend J and I did a memorable staycation. Yep, a staycation. What it basically means is that you stay where you live, no travel to any new place but just explore the place you live in. And did I mention also laze around, do things at your pace and also enjoy and have fun without the fuss of packing, traveling, flying, no airport lines or airport food. No rentals, no nothing!

The idea of staycation sneaked on me when I read Ash's post about it. She did make it sound like the thing I should give a try. And so that's exactly what we did this long weekend (and that we didn't have anything else to do :P). Staycation means no chores, no menial cooking, being stocked up on groceries and yummy goodies..just have a great time in home-sweet-home. 

The long weekend Saturday morning started off with a lazy breakfast (don't remember what I had, of course 'cause I didn't do the cooking :P) and then moved on to watching movies back-to-back in bed! I watched Go Goa Gone, which I absolutely loved by the way. The start gave me a deja-vu from 'Pyaar ka Punchnama' (three guy friends sharing an apartment et al.) but the rest of the film was all about zombies and simply hilarious to say the least. Next one was Aashiqui 2; I had heard a lot about this one, but it wasn't to my taste..sorry didn't get the mushy love story. Songs are the best though, I did rewind the movie to listen to the songs over and over again. 

Early evening we decided to visit the Great Falls National Park which is by the way, literally 20 minutes from our house (actually make it 15 'cause I am pretty sure for the last 5 minutes we were going round in circles ...we missed the entry point the first time, you see!). The place was truly beautiful and the falls by the Potomac river were all so pristine and scenic. Wonder why we didn't visit it before! We took a small hike, pictures for the blog and then were outta from the scenic jungle to the urban jungle aka mall :) Yeah, took advantage of the labor day sales and did small-time shopping followed by some cool-and-healthy Mediterranean dinner at Cava Mezze Grill. 

So there ends the first part of this wonderful below to prove the fun :)
Loft striped top | GAP shorts | Aldo boat shoes |
Levis denim vest | Swatch blue watch | Sunglasses borrowed from husband

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Style guide for good-fit denims

It's been almost three years I shopped the regular denims/ jeans (Throughout the post, I am going to use denims or jeans interchangeably). Don't get me wrong, I love them..but since the colored denims have been in trend, for me the regular ones have just gone into an oblivion. And I broke this shopping-fast last month; I bought a couple of them (one in dark wash and one in light). And why would I go for buying the true blue denims, you ask? Well, one of my favorite brands 'Express' had a 40% off on denims. Enough reason to save money and get good stuff I say :)

Coming to the US, it has been a long struggle to find the perfect fit for me. The jeans here fit me  low-waist..hello, muffin tops and handles! Wearing tees or fitted tops would be a problem thus. After a many years of research, trials and tribulations, frustrating purchases, I have found a list of brands that have great fit which is sits comfortable on the waist, hips and straight down the legs thus flattering for the whole body.

1) Express - Express has to be on top of the list. The material, fit, quality is all superlative..I seriously don't know how they do it. Express has variety of fits from skinny leg to boot cut to straight-fit (which I sometimes prefer to the bootcut). The bootcut is nonetheless perfect for the curvy body structure but I would swear by their skinny fit..comfortable and mid-waist to cover the love handles. One good thing about Express is that they carry high-waist skinny jeans and jeggings, which adds to the comfort of the whole look.
Price is on the higher side (around 80$) but I would say go for it..'cause a good pair of jeans lasts you 3-4 years at least (if your size doesn't fluctuate that is). And that's why with the 40% off sale I grabbed two pairs.

2) American Eagle - My last skinny jeans purchase was from here. The skinny fit looks flattering; the only pain-point being it hits low waist, so I have to be careful with the tops and tees I am pairing it (no room for fitted tops, I w'ld say).
The best part is the price which moderate (around 30-40 bucks) which makes it for a guiltless shopping :)

3) Levis at Macys - I like the curvy fit at Levi, though sometimes they do go overboard with the high-waist fit. The tricky part here is that the high-waist compromises on how the denim fits on the curves. I usually go for the mid-waist straight fit denims here - straight fit is in between a flared boot-cut and super-skinny denim. It's perfect for curvy/bottom-heavy body types. The Levi denims are economically priced at around 30-40$.

4) Calvin Klein - The thing with a good pair of denims is that you can dress it up for a dinner date or night-out. And this is when a denim with superlative fabric and fit comes to play. CK gives bang for the bucks - smooth and polished fabric with stretch at the right places to give room for activity (and hogging of course). The best place to shop for it would be the outlet shops, since clothes are reasonably priced there with the sales and discounts offered (they turn up to be around 70-80$).

5) Others brands - Guess, Old Navy, Diesel are some of the brands that carry good quality jeans. I have tried a couple of colored skinny denims (Rockstar fit) from Old Navy and they seem to be a great purchase for their price point of just 20 bucks. But again colored denims might last for a year or two and then go out of trend. So if you want a pair that stays good for more than that,  I would say invest in a high-quality dark-wash pair.
I haven't personally shopped at Guess or Diesel, but my husband has and he swears by their fit and quality. So any guys reading this blog (??),you might want to try these stores (you can also try the denim shop at Express).

I usually go for the dark to medium light wash denims for they look flattering on a curvy body type with the stretchy material at the waist. I try to stay away from the boyfriend jeans - they are on the slouchy side which does not look good on me. I would say have 2-3 great fitting pairs - a couple of dark washes (blue or black colors are versatile) and maybe one light.On top of that, you can go for capri-fit or ripped/frayed denims that give a more relaxed vibe and are perfect for weekend outfits.

Well, I hope this post has been useful and informative for your next shopping trip for denims. Do share, in the comments below, if you have any shopping tips or any stores that you have found to carry the perfect fit denims.


Contest and Spa Voucher Giveaway by The Four Fountains Spa (** Giveaway CLOSED **)

One of my favorite activities, when I am in Mumbai, is to visit a spa - The Four Fountains Spa more specifically - for a luxurious and wholesome treatment. Right from head massage to body massage to a fine facial, I have explored every de-stressing spa treatment here. And boy, does it work! I have found to step out with a glowing complexion, relaxed vibe in my walk and a striking change in my mood to become more blissful and gay ( I miss it now!). Apart from the treatments itself, what I love the most is their cool and comforting ambience, clean interiors, affordable pricing and a welcoming staff.
I have been a fan of their treatments so much so that, I have literally pushed my family members and every other friend and relative towards getting a spa treatment done here (I am crazy like that ;)). And might I add, all of them have loved the treatments 10 on 10!

Well, so the whole point here is that I couldn't be more happier to host a giveaway with The Four Fountains Spa (double happy as this is the first giveaway for my readers in India). 

And people, the giveaway vouchers (yes, not just one but three spa vouchers to win!) are towards some of the best and relaxing treatments at the spa!
-> The best answer gets a voucher for a Full Body Massage (60 min).
-> The second & third best get a voucher for a Partial Body Massage (30 min).  

The Four Fountains Spa has branches all over India and you can redeem the spa vouchers in any of the spa locations (Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune, Kolkata and Bengaluru). People who reside in cities other than the ones listed here, they can pass their voucher to friends, relatives staying in the city of the spa location.

To enter this giveaway, you must complete all the four rules below (Incomplete entries will be disqualified):
1. Answer this simple question in the comments below- 'What is your trusted way to de-stress and relax after a long day?'
2. Like the blog's Facebook page here.
3. Like The Four Fountain Spa's Facebook page here.
4. Follow The Four Fountain Spa's twitter account here.

For an additional entry:
1. Share the giveaway picture (below) on your Facebook wall and tag five friends.

Do not forget to mention your Facebook and twitter user ids in the comments below, so that we can verify your entry and qualify you for the giveaway.
Lastly, please mention your email id, in the comments, to receive the spa voucher in case you win :)

Giveaway ends next Tuesday on Sept. 17th. Winner will be chosen and announced in the following week.

All the best people and here's to a relaxing time at the spas! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mini Blogger meetup & Howrah Bridge

While in India I met with two pretty ladies whose fashion blogs I follow to the T - the vivacious Shubhi from Shubhi's Revels (now 'FairyTale Style') and the charming Aditi from SoSaree! Shubhi and I had a coffee date on a rainy afternoon (perfect setup I say!) which continued into a photo shoot (my first with a fellow fashion blogger, it was super fun believe me!) and then we joined Aditi for a pizza-and-sizzling-brownie dinner. We almost spent half-a-day together and not one moment was dull, I tell you!

It was a gab-fest, people.. we touched upon every topic under the sun, right from our fashion blogs to our personal (married - for Aditi and me) lives to our aspirations. The evening had it's twists and turns when Shubhi found that she had misplaced her Blackberry, frantic times to find it, and then finally finding out that her dad picked up her Bbery from the coffee shop. All in exciting evening to say the least which I enjoyed every bit. Looking forward to catching up when I am next in Mumbai. 

Loft colored jeans (similar) | H&M black top (borrowed from mum) | Coach bag
Howrah Bridge printed scarf  (buy it here)| Catwalk sandals | Earrings gift from a friend

  Instagram Collage by me :)

Outfit Pictures c/o Shubhi. Thanks a lot Shubhi for the amaZing pics; it was so much fun doing this  photo shoot! 
Funny story about the photoshoot. With all the prying eyes on the road, it was so difficult to get a quiet place to do an outfit photoshoot....phew! Finally Shubhi and I found this deserted park behind the coffee shop and in almost 10 minutes we had both our outfit pics taken (that was my quickest photo shoot ever!). It also started raining by the time we were on the end..and then there were also some couples seeking lone time in the we quickly made a dash for the exit. 
Well, least to say, it is indeed not-very-easy, as it is here in the US, to take outfit pics and be a fashion blogger in India..hats off to all you Indian Fashion Bloggers :)

The quirky house-print scarf is from Anupriya's own brand - Howrah Bridge. Anupriya is a dear friend, fellow fashion blogger and Owner & Designer at Howrah Bridge. I loved this print and the colorful panels; makes it great to brighten up that plain, boring tee/top. Check out 'Howrah Bridge' on Facebook for some original and quirky designs and beautiful detailing.
Funny story about the ordering process - I had placed an online for another Howrah Bridge scarf through a third-party online portal. When I let Anu know this, she checked her inventory to find out that the scarf I ordered was sold out. Bummer! But Anu, the sweetheart that she is, was graious enough to send me additional designs to browse through. Out of the all the exquisite designs, this quirky print definitely caught my eye and now I have it for me :) Thanks Anu for the wonderful customer service, personalized shopping experience and the thoughtful and kind note with the go girl!


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