NYFW [Day 1]
Wearing: H&M  sweater , H&M   pants  , H&M   blazer

Wearing: H&M sweater, H&M pants, H&M blazer

[Day 1] of my first New York Fashion Week (NYFW) ever! When I first started receiving invites, I thought to give them away like I did last season. I wasn’t about to hop on a flight to attend. It wasn’t until some convincing from others that I decided to experience it all — and I was nervous (to say the least). The minute I landed, I regretted the decision because I didn’t know what to expect, whether it was worth taking off work, or anything. This season I attended: Noon by Noor, Laurence & Chico, Pamella Roland, BLDWN, Self-Portrait, and R13 Denim — and no they were not all seated invites. Three of those invites were ‘standing’, meaning I was asked to fill in empty seats (hence how I got to sit second row most of the time), but any invite was a way into the experience!

Noon by Noor was the first show, since I didn’t really know anyone I just started making conversation with anyone around me. In doing so, I met some pretty amazing women. The show was spectacular (honestly). After waiting in line to: scan the invites, get in the elevator, be told where to sit (there was a lot of line waiting), once the music started, those 8 minutes of runway show were worth it. Little by little, the anxiety of trying something new went away, and I was just plain excited for the next shows.

 

Noon by Noor:

I started Day 1 with Noon by Noor’s F/W 2019 collection — being Arab from my father’s side I was low-key proud to attend the elegant & minimal women's line by Bahraini cousins Noor Rashid & Haya Mohammed Al-Khalifa.

 
Noon by Noor Fall-Winter 2019

Noon by Noor Fall-Winter 2019

True to their modern and effortless aesthetic. The block colors, silky dresses, and draping fabrics showcased a dynamic collection.
 
Noon by Noor F/W 2019 NYFW

Noon by Noor is known for their laidback yet elegant looks, this F/W 2019 collection included bold colored slip dresses and neutral relaxed co-ords pieces. The classic camel coats were a few of my favorite pieces as the ultimate sophisticated look with a twist of chic structure. The silk pleated blouses and dresses were a mixture of forest green, yellow, and black — all stylish, edgy, and subtle yet gorgeous as the models flowed down the runway.

 

Laurence & Chico:

One of the first brands to ever reach out with an invite, Laurence & Chico was not a show I could miss. Their thailand influenced runway and flight attendant whimsical humor reflected the brand’s true identity.

 
Laurence & Chico Fall-Winter 2019

Laurence & Chico Fall-Winter 2019

Bold colors, intricate beading, and embroidery. Laurence & Chico never disappoints in the realm of whimsical and fun.
 
LAURENCE AND CHICO

Laurence & Chico’s Fall/Winter 2019 is inspired by the designer duo’s recent trip to Thailand. Starting the show was a ‘flight attendant’ taking us through the air in their beautiful collection. The show was as dynamic as the collection was. Thai culture and cuisine are reflected in the collection through the use of bold colors, intricate beading and embroidery. The beautiful floral & leaves patterned outfits were my favorites, I loved the color mixture of green, pink, and navy. Silhouettes reflecting traditional Thai garments are reinterpreted with the Laurence & Chico touch of humor and whimsy.

 

Pamella Roland:

Of everything I posted from day 1, most commented on the dresses from the Pamella Roland show! And with good reason, at one point i put my phone down and just stood up during the show to look at each phenomenal design.

 
Pamella Roland Fall-Winter 2019

Pamella Roland Fall-Winter 2019

Tiffany glass and intricate stained-glass windows are the inspiration for this season’s collection, blending shades of bold and muted colors.
 
PAMELLA ROLAND

All overall WOW for the Pamella Roland collection F/W 2019 collection. Especially the dresses that were sparkling, glittering, and feathery— Pamella Roland did not disappoint with this collection. A strong sense of femininity and elegance, each dress made me think of wedding season in the Middle East, where gowns and cocktail dresses are made for the red carpet. The intricacy of the designs reflect the inspiration of Tiffany stained-glass windows — throughout the cocktail dresses and formal gowns, the collection is filled with elaborate detailing in texture and embroidery.

Valentine's Day - Give Me Experiences Part II
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Can’t believe it’s already been a year since my last Valentine’s Day post — the message still remains the same: Give me experiences. While I love gifts, as most of us do, I also love and have grown to appreciate experiences. Forget the chocolates and the roses. Keep the necklaces and bracelets aside for now. Give me your hand to hold as we fly to visit new countries. Give me conversation. Give me your time. Give me experiences. Give me you. This is a concept I’ve tried to implement not just on special days, but most days in my relationship. Whether that’s a relationship with a partner, family, friends, or yourself, it’s important to realize the best things in life are memories and experiences. It is the simplest, yet most luxurious gift anyone could wrap up and offer me. 

So with Valentine's Day approaching, here are some ideas to make the day (or upcoming weekend) unique and special. Spice things up and be spontaneous! (whether you're a couple or single showing yourself some self-love with your friends). 

1. Go on a staycation

You don't need to go anywhere to be spontaneous and travel. To experience the feeling of a home away from home, book into a romantic hotel. Take off work, don't make any plans and then get creative together for your day of relaxation.

2.Go Dancing.

Real dancing - You can take a class together or hit a salsa club.

3. Ice skating.

There's a reason why couples are always hitting the rink in our favorite rom-coms. Go with your girlfriends or your significant other. Ice skating is always a fun idea. 

4. A scavenger hunt.

You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes or look for a local public event like the Amazing Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt in New York City.

5. A wine & Tapas crawl.

Skip the prix-fixe Valentine's Dinner restaurant - Hop from place-to-place (you can always check Opentable for ideas), grab seats at the bar, and order different kinds of wine and tapas all along the way. Way more interesting experience than a sit-down dinner.

6. Be a tourist in your own town. 

Especially in Miami or NYC, there is so much to do that we sometimes don't take advantage. Put everything else on hold for the day and do all the activities you have on your list but haven't made time for. 

7. Watch old romantic movies. 

If you want to stay in but need a change from Netflix shows - stream classics like Casablanca and Roman Holiday or timeless favorites like Say Anything and The Bodyguard

8. Cook Together

There's no reason to drop a fortune at a fancy dinner when you can make a meal yourself. Can't cook (like me…)? Meal delivery services like Plated have made it easier than ever to refine those culinary skills.

9. Go to an Event

Tickets to a local jazz club, a musical, sports game or museum tour? Either idea will be fun and outgoing. Dress up and splurge on fancy cocktails to make the outing extra special.

10. HAVE A SPA DAY

The only thing you really need to create your own at-home spa is some candles and oils.

11. DO A PUZZLE

Working with others on a puzzle will keep you entertained for hours without requiring too much energy.

12. SIT BY A FIRE

The most romantic Valentine's Day activity can be something as simple as keeping warm by the fire, with some hot cocoa for those currently freezing.

13. GRAB A COFFEE

A dimly lit coffee house can be just as romantic as a candle-lit restaurant. We did this for our wedding anniversary! And it was a night of fun & laughter while wearing some fancy outfits.

14. SHARE A MILKSHAKE

If coffee/tea isn’t romantic enough, then go old-fashioned by ordering one milkshake and two straws. You can add a modern twist by seeking out a place that serves boozy shakes or crazy toppings like the ones at Black Tap NYC.

Wearing:  Forever 21   Dress

Wearing: Forever 21 Dress

Ladies, if you’re like me and love to wear red on Valentine’s Day (or any occasion), this red satin dress is cute & affordable from Forever 21. So dress up and have some fun… but I get it, who doesn't love flowers and some jewelry, or Valentine’s Day chocolates and fancy dinners. There's no reason you can't do it all, if you can't think of a gift to get, last year’s Valentine’s Day post has some ideas. Point is whatever you chose to do/wear/gift, appreciate the time you spend with the people in your life. Don't stress over gifts or getting the best photo to share on Instagram - live in the moment and enjoy. 

Unpaid post - literally just a hobby run amok.

Travel Guide: Ecuador

THERE ARE TOWERING VOLCANO PEAKS, HIKE-WORTHY AMAZONIAN RAIN FOREST, INDIGENOUS VILLAGES, AND OF COURSE STUNNING VIEWS. WHEN IT COMES TO ADVENTURE, YOU CAN’T GO WRONG IN ECUADOR, especially spots like Quilotoa, Tena, and Banos. When it comes to Ecuador’s capital, Quito, THEre are MONUMENTS AND 17TH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURAL FACADES, PICTURESQUE PLAZAS AND MAGNIFICENT CHURCHES. ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES IN SOUTH AMERICA, DEFINITELY A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT! 

Things to do:

  • Teleferiqo: ride up the volcano, see Quito from above

  • Mitad Del Mundo: Quito's middle of the world

  • Shiripuno Tribe: Indigenous tribe in Misahualli

  • Umbuni Waterfall: Tena tour of Amazon forest

  • Pichincha Volcano: hike, horseback ride

  • Hop On/Off bus: hit all the historic spots of Quito at once

Best Cafes:

  • Cyrano: affordable coffee & bakery shop

  • Honey & Honey: coffee/tea spot in Plaza Foch

Where to eat:

  • Q Restaurant: modern Ecuadorian dishes

  • Zinc Gastro Bar: fun, great spot for brunch

  • Urko Cocina Local: cozy, casual Ecuadorian food

  • Cafe Plaza Grande: Old Quito lunch/dinner

  • Nubori: sushi in Ecuador

Where to Shop:

  • Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal: local artisan market

  • Otovalo: hop on a bus to their huge Saturday artisan market

  • Shepherd: Quito’s eclectic local shop

Relationship Chapters - The Lessons I’ve Learned

Once upon a time … I’m kidding, that’s not how this story begins. We met in high school (Egypt 2008). I was the new girl, he was in my first class and we were partnered up — but that’s not how this story begins either. At the time, he had his life, I had mine and all we had in common was IB Arabic class. I thought he was annoying, but we did become friends. Though I called him ‘my acquaintance’ just to bother him.  Our real story actually began mid-2009, when once again we were partnered up (this time for a science project) and instead of working on it, we skipped and hung out all day. Somehow we started talking everyday. He was convinced I was his soulmate, I’d just laugh and tell him he was crazy.

Dating

The story of us dating is a long (kinda weird and a little high-school-drama-filled) one, but in retrospect a beautiful one, because it’s our story. One thing I know for sure is I didn’t know the first thing about dating. I didn’t know wtf I was doing, and I’ve come to realize almost no one does. It’s kinda like when you’re 10 and you think 23-year olds know what they’re doing, only to get to 23 and realize no one actually knew. Seriously, when I look back at that time I just laugh. It’s the same lessons. This I have to credit to my mom for teaching me which is 1. Stay true to yourself and 2. Go with the flow. There is no point in changing who you are just to get someone to like you, the right person will just like you more. Sounds super cheesy, it was not that romantic in high school. I was this independent-academic driven-unromantic girl who barely gave Abd-Allah the time of day, which only sent him chasing after me. I’m not saying to be like that, what I’m saying is that was truly who I was. I was just going with the flow, meaning you can’t force things to happen.  You know that girl/guy who has a timeline for when they’ll get married, knows how many kids they want, of what gender, and even has their names picked out? — first of all, nothing wrong with knowing what you want (stay true to yourself right) but, having so many expectations may create stress in the process of getting to know someone. There’s a balance between knowing what you want and letting things fall into place. I honestly didn’t have any expectations, (maybe I was too young) but I did feel the stress from my dad’s expectations and society’s. My mom was the person who would support me in every decision in my life, constantly fighting off the rules of society for me. Point is, dating should be a fun time getting to know someone else, when you’re living in the moment and you're confident. Throughout the years of our dating relationship I learned that it does take work but if it's meant to work out, it will.

Long Distance

Long distance relationships never work’ — I can’t count the number of times I heard this. Our relationship entered a long-distance chapter, for 4 years (all college years), and when nearly everyone was telling me it wouldn’t work, here we are 3 years into our marriage. The answers to everyone’s questions were pretty obvious. Yes, I did miss him and yes, I was sad we weren’t experiencing college together. At the same time I realize (more now, than at the time) I was able to build an independent relationship with myself, while also building a relationship with him. Sounds confusing. Basically I got to be my own person. I wasn’t defined as a couple, I wasn’t defined as someone’s girlfriend, I was me. I experienced hanging out with friends, spending time with family, socializing in classes, all as just me and learn who I am outside of our relationship.

As far as our relationship went, it heavily relied on communication and trust. Which was the best part (although it didn’t feel like it at the time) because that is when Abd-Allah truly became my best friend. Long distance is difficult, but if you look at it the right way, it can be a blessing in disguise to talk to someone everyday and really get to know them. I’m not even kidding, we spoke everyday. Unless we were upset with each other and even then I’m pretty sure we spoke (I learned it is actually possible to fight over how much you miss someone). It required a lot of communication. I talked to him about my day throughout the day, we Skyped, watched shows together at night, I woke up to his messages in the mornings, visited each other every few months. All we had was communication and trust, which to me is important in any relationship. It's emotional intimacy and it takes work, because suddenly what you say and how you say it matters. Even though being apart is a b***h, it will test relationships in a way that creates a strong bond with yourself and each other. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, all I’m saying is never say never.

Engaged

Eventually the long distance chapter came to an end, which leads to the next one: engaged. Abd-Allah first brought up wanting to marry me very early on. The first time he said it was during one of our late night phone calls, I freaked out and hung up, then pretended my battery died… (probably shouldn’t have, but we were 19). When the time came though, I said yes. It was New Years 2014 and we were 21 years old. I know a lot of people get married at that age (some younger, some older), but I was ready to be engaged, not married. Everyone is different. Some people are happy just being engaged, some get married right away (wedding or no wedding), and some don’t end up staying together. No matter what anyone else expects, it’s important to move forward at the pace that’s right for your relationship. I wanted to treat ‘engaged’ as another chapter in our story and enjoy it, instead of rushing through it the way we were expected to. So we had a 2-year engagement, and thank God we did because planning a wedding is a struggle - trust me, you'll need patience with each other during wedding planning.

It was fun calling him my ‘fiancé’ that’s for sure, because when else can you say that. 

Married

First comes love, then comes marriage...” They say the first year of marriage is the hardest, and boy are they right. Whether you’re married or moving in together, they are both big (very similar) steps, because it’s like gaining a permanent roommate and having to learn how to live with each other in a different way than you’re used to. At least that’s how it was for me. Looking back at that chapter of our story makes me realize just how DUMB our arguments were (lol), one argument was over a plug-in fan I threw out (apparently it was his favorite fan, but I thought it was ugly). In the moment, it doesn’t seem dumb (that fan was really, really important to us) but what I’m getting at is it’s normal to argue

Weird to say since most people cringe at the idea that Abd-Allah and I argue. I get the “but you guys always seem so happy together” — we are, but nothing in life is perfect. Setting the example that silly little arguments are not normal (or don’t exist) is setting up other relationships to doubt themselves (not just in marriage but every chapter of a relationship). It’s far more romantic to dream of finding that person who will complete your life, rather than to imagine a relationship that involves time, energy, and investment. No matter what you see or think is perfect #relationshipgoals, all good relationships always require work. It’s not once you get to the finish line, that’s it. Marriage is not the end game, having a healthy long-lasting relationship is. I’ve learned that as long as we get over our fights and communicate, treat each other like friends, laugh together, respect each other, care more about what we feel than what others will think, then it’ll be just fine — because to me those should be the true #relationshipgoals.

3-year mark (anniversary ‘19)

Which brings me here, celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary (3½ if you’re counting the Egypt wedding), 5 years since he proposed, 8 years since the start of long distance, and going onto 10 years since our story first began. After all these years I can honestly say that there is beauty in the imperfections of each chapter. Now that I can look back on it all, it’s like watching two kids figuring life out together. I hope one day I look back at our current arguments and roll my eyes at how dumb they are. Nothing is perfect, with each chapter love grows and you understand each other’s language of love better. I’m not a sports person, but he is always telling me his thoughts on it. It took me a while to realize it’s because he just loves to tell me everything on his mind — that’s a form of love. It’s noticing the little things as much as the big things, because the little things are valuable. They are the moments when you realize your partner genuinely wants you to be happy and that’s pretty close to perfect.

…and who knows, maybe my lessons don’t apply to you at all — but it’s okay to talk about the struggles, it’s okay to admit that as cute as ‘high school sweethearts’ sounds it was not all perfect.  It’s okay to say relationships take work, because they absolutely do. And when you see #couplegoals on Instagram don’t resent them but understand it’s just a photo, be happy for them. It’s okay to admit that no matter how great your relationship is, there are sometimes ups and downs. Sometimes we bicker like roommates and suddenly we’re laughing and playing hangman. It does not take away from how much I love my husband to admit it’s not always perfect.

 
[01/02/2019] Anniversary Date ended with us overdressed in a coffeeshop after dinner. Laughing and loving every minute of it. After 10 years together I will say this, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate our milestones, it only matters that we’re together. I used to think our ‘anniversary’ or ‘Valentine’s Day’ or whatever had to be this big, grand thing — not true, it just has to be memorable. Whether that’s an average Thursday or flying off somewhere, never forget that what matters most is how you feel.   Wearing : Monique Lhuillier   Dress

[01/02/2019] Anniversary Date ended with us overdressed in a coffeeshop after dinner. Laughing and loving every minute of it. After 10 years together I will say this, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate our milestones, it only matters that we’re together. I used to think our ‘anniversary’ or ‘Valentine’s Day’ or whatever had to be this big, grand thing — not true, it just has to be memorable. Whether that’s an average Thursday or flying off somewhere, never forget that what matters most is how you feel.

Wearing: Monique Lhuillier Dress