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Saturday, 31 August 2013

we are ONE! ✩ giveaway post ✩

One year old that is! Well, almost!

This blog saw its birth on September 3rd, 2012 and since then, if you've been following closely, you will have seen some changes in format, style, and even content ... I don't like to think of this as being something to be ashamed of.  Yes, my moods are somewhat volatile at times and while one day I'm all into neons and brights, the next day I'm in the mood for gothic burgundies and blacks.  I like to see this blog as a reflection of my personality and what I would be going through ... thereby giving you a little window into my world.  And I do hope that you are enjoying the view!

So, since as you well know, I'm on a diet at the moment, rather than baking cupcakes and blowing candles to celebrate this milestone, I'm throwing a giveaway for you dear followers who have stuck by me during this year: a year which has seen me follow my heart to a different country, experience my first white Easter (it was a consolation prize for not having a white Christmas!), deal with monthly jet-setting and return to the motherland with a much changed perspective on life.

The gorgeous people at MVintage Fashion Jewels have gently sponsored this giveaway and we have this beautiful petite bib necklace up for grabs.

It is perfectly on trend with the curb chain details and the red highlights, making it a perfect complement to both casual and smarter outfits, especially for the upcoming season.  How do you get in with the chance of winning this stunner? Very simple!

Head over to my Facebook page here, click on the Giveaway tab, and just follow the simple steps on screen.  Real simple, isn't it?! And to make it even simpler, you can even participate directly from this blog post through the widget at the end!

The giveaway opens on Saturday 31st August 2013 at noon (CET) and runs till Saturday 7th September 2013 at noon (CET), and winner will be announced within 48 hours.

Before I close, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU and send a lot of virtual hugs to all of you who have been following my blog, have commented on, liked, or shared my posts.  YOU are the people who give me the encouragement to keep going with this venture.  Without YOU, I wouldn't be here right now, so THANK YOU once again!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, 30 August 2013

the fringe factor

Definitely not the best time of the year for it, but most certainly my all-time favourite hairstyle, i'm back with a blunt, thick fringe.  Yes, it's a nightmare to keep at the moment, what with all the high temperatures and high humidity gauge ... but this is how I feel most comfortable, most 'me'. 
fringe icons: jean shrimpton, jane birkin, brigitte bardot

I've always loved the long fringe look.  Even though it may not look like it, I find it such a versatile style: left to its own devices, it takes a hippy-chic Jane Shrimpton approach.  Primly styled, it can look rather retro ... a bit Stepford wifey if you may.  Swept sideways, it looks more modern and youthful. And of course, if it gets too hot or you want to show off your forehead, you can always pin it backwards with an alice-band or some bobby pins. 

In my case ... I just love it.  My mum thinks I look like a naughty child in it.  What do you reckon?

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

gadget crazy

I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but I am a real geek at heart.

Not because I wear thick framed glasses, or because I have a working knowledge of Marvel superheroes and faithfully watch movie adaptations of such.  Or because I'm eagerly awaiting the next Malta Comic Con.  But because I am seriously obsessed with gadgets.

Right now, competing with my long list of plaid, jacquard and heavily embellished clothing wishlist, there is a whole list of gadgets which I'm craving for.  Like, really badly.

Let me walk you through them ...

  • Jawbone UP Fitness Tracking Band

If you've been following this blog for the past year (almost!), you'll know that I find it very hard to keep up fitness and diet regimes.  This little wonder is what I need.  (yes, I do need it!) Imagine having a little personal trainer with you all the time, monitoring your every move, calculating every calorie burned, reminding you to move about after some time of inertia ... and telling you whether you're getting the much needed quality sleep or not.  This gem does all of that! And I need constant reminders and monitoring to be successful in my current diet and fitness phase. Add to that, the fact that it comes in a number of colours and in a form which is very wearable on a daily basis and on various occasions and the fact it syncs with myfitnesspal account, I'm sold.  So yes, the Jawbone UP Fitness Tracking Band tops the list of my must-have gadgets.

get it here

  • Apple iPod Shuffle

With my newly found fitness frenzy, having my workout playlists easily at hand and in a format which is not burdensome while I'm training has become a priority.  I love my iPhone, very much in fact, but it's turning out to be a bit too big to train with.  Luckily my Nike leggings have a hidden zipped pocket right on my backside where I can keep the iPhone, but every time I'm scared I'll be breaking it as I sit on one of the machines or lie down for those ominous crunches.  The iPod shuffle has been around for a while now, and never more than these last days has this little bad boy been more attractive.  With its clip-on feature and minuscule size, it makes it the perfect musical companion for the gym.

get it here

  • Apple iPad Mini

Until a few months ago I owned a 10" tablet which was however given the cold shoulder the minute I got my Macbook Air.  Weight-wise they were pretty much the same, but obviously working on a 'proper' laptop trumps a tablet, especially when taking minutes during meetings! So why is an iPad Mini on my list? I'm hoping to get it (once the new versions come out in autumn) as an 'upgrade' to my Kindle (which I love, don't get me wrong!).  The iPad Mini just gives that little bit more than the Kindle - better internet browsing, millions of apps which can be downloaded and synced with my other Apple babies, and the all important backlight when reading in low light.  It's not like the Kindle concept is being given up - one of the apps on my 'to download' list as soon as I buy this is in fact the Kindle app so I can keep track of my virtual library just as well.

  • iPhone Film Scanner

Now, even though I was born when film cameras were the only form of photography we had, I'm still relatively new to the process of film developing.  I have recently bought a Diana Baby 110 camera which uses films I hadn't seen in about 25 odd years.  As you may have already guessed from the type of photos I post here, I love the look of vintage films, so I thought to myself it would be a good idea to actually try taking photos in the analogue way as well.  However, in this digital age, the only way of effectively showing your photos is by uploading them on websites, blogs or social networks.  That's where this Film Scanner comes in handy.  Once I finally develop the film I have on the Diana Baby 110, my ego wants to share them with the world and I can only do so with this nifty gadget!

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera

Last but not least is this instant camera which, much like the Polaroids of my much younger days, instantly prints your photos in a matter of seconds! And even though the film used is brand new (not purposely expired film for that washed out, light leaked effect), the output is quintessentially late 70s/early 80s in look! And the fun of it all is that with instant printing you can keep memories not just on your phone or laptop, but physically in your wallet or wall... and you can share them with just whom you want - and not the entire Facebook community! What happens in the photo, stays in the photo ... for real!

get it here

So that's where my hard earned pennies are planned to go, more or less.  Any help on getting these little beauties is much welcome ... so be sure that I'll be dropping hints like Miley Cyrus is dropping her booty for the next couple of months until my birthday! 

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Monday, 26 August 2013

Diet no-brainers

Oscar Wilde infamously said 'I can resist anything but temptation.' I don't know if good old Oscar was on a diet when he said this, because temptation is at its least resistible when one is on a diet.

And when the temperatures are soaring, and the humidity reaching breaking point, it is so easy to fall victim to temptation in the form of an ice-cream or a summery hobża biż-żejt. For us Maltese, this most basic and ubiquitous of bread stuffed with tuna, olives, capers, tomatoes and a whole host of other delicacies, is possibly symbolic of our tuck shop lunches back in our school days. A snack, which like the equally traditional and ever available pastizzi, we keep returning to over and over again. 

But not when we're on a diet. 

Well, not exactly. If you extract the bread factor from the hobża, and limit the lashings of olive oil, you're left with a nice hearty salad which you can have with rice cakes or cracker bread. I know, I know, it's not the same. But it does go some way into satisfying the craving for a 'workmen's bar' bought hobża or ftira with something equally tasty but with half the calorie count. 

As a post gym treat today I did just that: I used half a can of John West chilli and garlic infusions tuna and chopped up 3 cherry tomatoes, a gherkin, a couple of black olives and a handful of green ones (I'm more partial to green olives). 

I also added some capers and tossed all the ingredients in a bowl until they were combined well. Because of the reduced oil in the tuna, I didn't need to add any, even because it would have diluted the spicy flavour, and added unwanted calories. I didn't season either since there was enough saltiness in the capers and pickle and the chilli gave the necessary peppery kick. 

According to, this light dinner totals to just about 240 calories which I think is pretty neat for a diet-friendly twist to a traditional snack. Don't you think? Would you give it a shot? 

I've some other tricks up my sleeve on how to turn traditionally fatty food into light meals. Give me a shout if you want to hear more! 

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Sunday, 25 August 2013

a beauty blessing

As coincidence would have it, the day my nail polish decided to start chipping, I came across an offer on OPI Gel Colour at The Beauty Lounge.  It was like a sign sent to me from goddess Aphrodite herself.

Unless you've been living under a rock here in Malta, you'll know that last month The Beauty Lounge opened its doors and introduced a 'one stop beauty shop' concept to the Maltese islands.  After seeing other bloggers' reviews and press coverage, I knew that upon my return to Malta I had to find an excuse reason to visit.  The opportunity came in the form of a chipped nail.

Since I've started using OPI Gel Colour about 8 months ago, I wouldn't change them for the world so it was only logical that I'd jump to the offer.  So last Thursday, I headed off to The Beauty Lounge to get my mani done, with my camera in tow to snap some photos for this post.

The staff at The Beauty Lounge were really welcoming and provided me with all the information I needed both out of personal and blogging interest.  As I mentioned earlier, the place offers a 'one stop beauty shop' where you can have multiple hair and beauty treatments, massages and why not, even a spot of healthy lunch.  You can even get that last minute accessory to complete your outfit for the night ... and with the exquisite range of bags and jewellery from Charles & Ron, you surely can't go wrong.
possibly, the bag of my dreams by Charles & Ron 
samples from the Spring Summer Charles and Ron collection

a healthy bit from Pure Kitchen

Personally, I found my OPI Gel Colour mani experience to be very satisfactory.  I could have an open and comfortable chat with the nail technician who did not try to dissuade me from going for a dark shade despite being summer (unfortunately, I've had a few brush ups with nail technicians who kept insisting I should go for a bright shade because it's summer and that's the 'rule'! so this was a very welcome break from all that!)
all the colours imaginable by Golden Rose
The prices for all treatments are very reasonable and I'm very tempted to book a few sessions over the coming weeks.  I'm particularly tempted to get some eyelash extensions in fact.  I was glad to see how they actually looked on my nail technician before taking the plunge myself. She clearly explained the process involved, the level of maintenance required and how long they last, allowing me to make an informed decision should I really decide to go for them.

I'm also quite intrigued with threading.  This ancient, yet innovative, hair removal technique is so much kinder to the skin and doesn't leave any tell-tale signs, thereby keeping one's beauty secrets, secret.

The Beauty Lounge can be found on Windsor Terrace, Sliema and is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, with the exception of Friday when in closes at 7pm for that extra hour of pampering. Knowing my crazy work schedule, it's very likely that i'll be spending most of my Saturdays there.  But that's the beauty of it after all - all the pampering that I'd need, all in one place!

N.B. all opinions expressed in this review are the my genuine thoughts and have not been motivated by sponsors, affiliations or payment of any kind. 

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D&G AW13 style inspiration

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

travel tactics

If I were asked to highlight the one thing I like most about my job, I wouldn't hesitate in saying that it is the fact that periodically, I get the opportunity to travel for meetings across Europe. Even though most times, I get away from the office routine for just a few days, it is more than enough to get a whiff of a different culture, lifestyle and fashion sense in a new country. And when a place hits all the right spots, it makes it more appealing for a second visit in proper holiday mode. 

So over the years I've been in my current job, I like to think that I've mastered the art of travelling light and making the most of hand / checked luggage allowances.  Add to that the fact that I moved from Malta to Poland and back again in the last year, I figure that by now I have a few tips that I can share with you all on how to make most of your luggage space: 

  • travelling light: 
Choose a colour palette to take you through your stay.  Pastels are perfect for hot climates or relaxed weekend breaks; nautical inspired outfits work best for city breaks or business trips, as do rich jewel tones, especially in autumn / winter.  Stick to classic shapes when packing your separates:  these can be easily mixed and matched to fit your whims while abroad and if they're all in the same tones, will all work together well.  Accessories are a must to jazz up basic outfits and won't take much space, so make sure you pack a couple of silk scarves or necklaces to play around with.  Always keep a Longchamp pliage with you: if you're planning some last minute duty-free shopping, check in your hand luggage (unless there is an extra charge!) and open up your trusty Longchamp to carry all your perfumes, make-up and chocolates!

classic basics can create multiple outfits, and save on luggage space!

  • the big move: 
If you're moving to a different country, check the climate for the period of time you'll be there unless it's a permanent move and only pack clothing which is suitable and that you'll actually use.  You don't want to take up precious luggage space with stiletto heels when you'll only be running around in snow boots.  Create a capsule wardrobe from what you already own and take just that with you.  You can always add more tops or bottoms once you've settled in.  If you have luggage restrictions, or are going for a very long time, possibly permanently, ship those items you absolutely can't live without just before you travel so that they arrive within a couple of days that you would have moved into your new country. 

  • be suitcase savvy: 
With luggage, I'm afraid, function this time has to win over form. If you're investing in a new suitcase, make sure you go for the lightest one possible when empty, especially if you know you will have weight restrictions.  Why should 5 of the 15 kilos you're allowed to carry be all luggage?! Luckily there are some pretty gorgeous looking extra-light pieces around that are well worth shelling out a few extra coins for.  When choosing luggage, it is also important to consider how portable it is - that is, how well or easily you can carry it.  If you're holidaying by train, remember you have to carry the luggage from the platform into the train.  If you're flying abroad, you'll likely be carrying your hand luggage up the stairs to the plane. (As a petite girl, extra large or extra wide suitcases are a nightmare for me, and so are those without any or with just two wheels!)

  • the little extras: 

Gadgets nowadays have made our jetsetting much easier:  a Kindle can carry all your library without weighing you down; your mobile phone can double up as a game centre or music player to keep you entertained.  Apart from these, I find passport holders a great invention, as simple as they are because I can keep all my ticket stubs, boarding passes, and of course, the much needed passport and frequent flyer cards all in one place.  Oh, and while you're packing your liquids, leave some space for some saline nose spray and eye drops to keep your eyes fresh and help you breathe comfortably while en route to your destination. 

Bon voyage! 
Published with Monogram

Friday, 16 August 2013

until we meet again ...

So this is almost it.  My time in Krakow is almost up. I won't bore you with details as to how I got to be in Krakow and why I now have to leave: all I'll say is that I was blessed with this opportunity and I want to thank those who gave it to me and supported me in this decision - you have my eternal gratitude.

The last 8 months were spent jetting between home in Malta and home in Krakow but packing and printing the boarding pass this time feels incredibly hard.  I have to pack practically everything and I know that I'll only be back in about 2 months' time and not in 7 days' time as usual.  There have been tears, let me tell you that - and I know that until I get on the plane on Sunday, more will be shed. 

But let me try to dwell on the positives, rather than the negatives: 

island vs mainland life

Let me start with a premise: I won't return to Malta with a typical ex-pat attitude that life abroad is a million times better than back on the rock.  There definitely are a lot of pros, but also cons.  And I love Malta for its heritage and quaintness but certainly not for its parochial mentality.  Living on mainland Europe certainly gives you a sense of space and imbues you with a sense of humility towards the greatness of the world in its entirety.  Others who have spent time living abroad will probably understand me. Despite being an island, I find Malta to be confined and confining.  The furthest you can go on a whim is to the sister island Gozo.  (Ok, you could go to the airport and buy the first ticket out to anywhere - unless you have to have pre-printed boarding passes bla bla bla ...) Simply catching the train to Wadowice, Katowice and Zakopane in the last eight months - places not much more than 1 hour away from Krakow (with the exception of Zakopane) was an enlightening experience.  Train rides actually give you the possibility of seeing the expanse of land you're crossing, unlike travelling by plane.  And you feel humbled.  Very, very humbled.

language barriers

Of course, one of the first things I took care of, even before I knew for sure that I would be coming to Krakow, was to start learning Polish.  I can't say I can understand all that I hear or that I can say much, other than basic introductions, descriptions and key phrases for shopping etc ... but at the grand old age of 33, learning a new language - completely alien in terms of phonetics and grammar to the languages I've learnt before - was a challenge.  As I said, my Polish language skills are still very weak, but at least I can say "I did it!"

the weather

Yes, even the weather deserves a mention in this list of things I will deeply cherish about my stay in Poland.  I had never experienced snow other than for one day when I was on holiday in the Italian Dolomites.  So experiencing what apparently was a long winter of snow for the first time in my life - including snow on Good Friday and Easter, was both novel and testing.  But at this point in time, I can almost quite safely say that I'm happy to trade in Malta's wintery flash-floods and its suffocating heat-waves for a cold, long winter and a summer where you can still wear a blazer with no one batting an eyelid or you breaking into hyperhidrosis!

work ethics

Being in Krakow for these 8 months was not a holiday.  While my boyfriend pursued his studies, I held the fort by tele-commuting for my job.  In other words, I worked from home.  I must confess that this had a lot of advantages: I was so much more concentrated on the tasks I was working on, could focus more and at times didn't even know when to call it a day! I made it a point to keep the routine of waking up early and getting ready as though I'm actually going out to work so as not to encourage myself to be lazy and stay all day in my PJs. Most days I even put make up on, even though I wouldn't have any outings planned in the evening! By all means, certain tasks would need more hands-on approach and actual meetings and running around offices so I did feel somewhat limited from that perspective.

food glorious food

As a vegetarian with lactose intolerance, Poland is possibly the least likely of places where I could have found edible stuff to satisfy my needs.  The weighing scales, however, state otherwise.  With a cuisine based on meat and dairies, as well as stodgy carbs, I succumbed to the latter two (with the help of lactase enzymes which I've been over consuming!) Pierogi are by far my most favourite of traditional dishes with bite-sized smoked oscypek and obwarzanki battling for the top spot in the snack category. There's a good selection of soy-based mock meats here which I don't find in Malta (so i could have a 'normal' looking sandwich with soy mortadella at times) but they're a bit difficult to come by.  I've also found what I have decided to name as the largest, most delicious vegetarian burger I've ever eaten at this place called Moa Burger - the fava bean is a must for those like me or if you're not in the mood for meat! In terms of size, let's say that I could cover my face with the bun ...

my days with warhol, banksy, biffy and franz

Suffice to say that if I weren't to remember any of these things about Krakow, the one thing that would be permanently imprinted in my mind is that this is the place where I saw my first Warhol and Banksy up close.  Those of you who've been following this blog know I'm pretty obsessed with these two artists, and finding a Warhol retrospective when I moved here and a Banksy piece in another exhibition on during the last weeks was possibly one of the highlights of the year.  As I mentioned in another post, the 'grand finale' so to say of my stay here was the Coke Life Music Festival where I got to see some of my favourite bands.  The only chance of seeing these foreign acts while living in Malta would have only been possible by getting on a flight and heading to one of their concerts or a festival in another land. For some reason, Malta seems to only appease or attract those of a more 'pop' or dancey musical inclination and anything remotely verging on the alternative is regrettably given the cold shoulder.

the simple things

As I stated in my first point, I don't want to return to Malta to snob it.  But there are things which the island can certainly learn from here (and I'm just focusing on Krakow, not all of Poland!) Efficient public transport with precise timetables posted on every stop (and schedules adhered to), public transport tickets valid for all forms of public transport, shops - including grocers - open till late to cater for people who work long hours, 24 hour convenience stores and supermarkets, all forms of art given equal prominence and promotion, cleanliness ... Just a word on this latter aspect: with horse-drawn carriages as a main tourist attraction in the Old Town, you'd be hard pressed to find any sign of horse poop along the streets, simply because the cabby drivers pick it up straight away and dispose of it in a sealed bag.  I think it's high time this practice is adopted back home as well. 

and of course, him

He was of course, the best part of these 8 months and I fail to find the words to describe how much I'm going to miss being with my boyfriend, until I get to come back to Krakow.  Words have no place here, only feelings.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

not just for dorothy

Possibly the most infamous red shoes in history, or at least fairy tale history, are those worn by Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Over the years, red shoes have somehow acquired an association with sex and sin, possibly because of the fact that red is generally considered a sensual colour, evocative of passion and seduction.  Certainly a far cry from the innocent, pig-tailed dorothy look.  Studies have also been carried out on the meaning of wearing red shoes: "Dr Elaine Webster, a Sociologist from Otago University, New Zealand has spent the past six months asking why women wear red shoes. And, she has concluded that young women wear them for excitement, and out of a desire to be noticed; whilst most men associate red shoes with sex and sin.  Dr Webster, whose long term interest is "dress and identity" conducted the research after being impressed with the way that women spoke about their red shoes." (source: wiki answers)

Another wearer of red shoes, whose garb, appearance and behaviour could very well be diametrically opposed to the sensual and seductive one in Webster's study, is the Pope - courtesy of a tradition which pre-dates the mid-1500s when the papal vestments were changed from top-to-toe red to white.  (source: Yahoo News)

Let's set aside all the psychology, history and tradition. Red shoes are just plain fun.  As are all coloured footwear for that matter.  We very easily tend to stick to black and tan for our footwear of choice, them being the conventional neutral colours which go with everything.  But slapping on a pair of coloured - why not, red - shoes, can quickly turn a plain outfit into a stunner.

Make the shoes the statement of the day.  Wear an all denim outfit and put on a pair of red loafers and block-coloured tote or clutch, preferably with a bit of red in it and you're ready for a day in the city.  Jazz up your LBD with a pair of red heels and a lick of red lipstick for that glamour Hollywood look.  Brighten up your beachwear with a pair of red canvas wedges and a patterned headscarf.

The most important thing is to have fun with your style.  With shoes, experimenting and 'daring' with colour can be much easier than wearing bold colours around the face area.  And if pillar box red is not your go-to colour, there are a myriad shades to choose from which would still make the desired impact. 
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