Wearing Purples and Browns Together

Wearing Purples amd Browns Together
Wearing Purples amd Browns Together

If you follow my blog, you know I like to write posts about pairing colors together (here and here). I love my navy colors, but I also like mixing it up from time to time. Enter wearing purple and brown together.

Brown is a good winter neutral. It’s not as harsh as black or navy because it’s got more of a warm tone to it. And, purple is an interesting color because it’s made of blue and red. Actually, both brown (made by combining red, yellow, and black) and purple are considered composite colors. Purple and brown go very well together and you may see them combined on shirts, sweaters, and other items.

In this post, I’ve paired a light purple sweater with brown brocade floral pants. There are hints of purple in the pants, but not a lot. The lavender shade of the sweater brings out the similar tones in the pants. Interestingly, the complementary color to purple is yellow, not brown, but because brown has warm undertones in it, the combination works!

Wearing Purple and Brown Together
Wearing Purple and Brown Together

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7 Holiday Gift Ideas Inspired By The Toronto Gift Fair!

It’s mid-November which means it’s the Christmas and holiday season everywhere you look! Given that clothing, shoe, electronic, department, and jewelry stores derive anywhere from 20-30% of their annual revenue from holiday sales, it makes sense that stores are heavily promoting gift-giving!

And, for us consumers, getting a head start on holiday shopping is always a good way to enjoy a stress-free holiday season. I’m always amazed by my friends and family who are so ahead of the game. You know what I mean: that friend whose house is all decorated by December 1st and whose shopping list is done. This is the friend who’s enjoying the holidays the way they’re meant to be enjoyed: relaxing in front of the fireplace and listening to Christmas carols – doing anything except shopping at the mall! Every year, I say I’m going to get more and more things done ahead of time, and I do a pretty decent job, especially with my holiday baking! (more on this in a future post).

Because buying gifts is the most time-consuming and most difficult part of the holiday season, I thought I’d suggest some ideas for preparing and completing your list. Here are some ways to think about your holiday gifts, as inspired by the Toronto Gift Fair. Continue reading

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Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Recently one evening, my daughter came home from a school event, with two big cookies that looked like oatmeal cookies. She said they were ‘breakfast cookies’. They looked (and tasted) delicious and contained one of my favorite baking ingredients: oatmeal. I had to figure out how to make them. Luckily, they’re made at the school and they were able to give me the recipe.

The term ‘breakfast cookie’ is an interesting one because you don’t usually think of a cookie as a breakfast food. It sounds like you’re sort of tricking yourself by having a cookie with the word ‘breakfast’ in front of it! Let me be clear here: these cookies contain butter and sugar and no fruit. You’ll find lots of recipes online for healthier breakfast cookies out there, made with mashed bananas, almond or peanut butter, and coconut oil. This recipe doesn’t have any of those ingredients. So, in that sense, it really is more of a traditional cookie!

In fact, this recipe is basically the recipe for oatmeal cookies, except that it has proportionally more of the dry ingredients. And, the recipe calls for ground flax meal, which you can taste and notice with every bite.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

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Honey Cake and Happy New Year Times Two!

Honey Cake & Pistachio Maamoul
Honey Cake & Pistachio Maamoul

I love to bake, so, by now, you’re used to all of the desserts you see on this blog. This time of year is always interesting with lots going on, like the beginning of the school year, sports tryouts, back-to-school shopping, and getting ready for fall activities like Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween.

One thing is for sure, though: I’m back to cooking and baking quite a bit more after the long summer break, where I apparently slacked off in the kitchen! Kids are always so honest. When I came back last week from a trip to Lebanon with tons of fun desserts like date and pistachio-filled maamoul (shown in the round box), pistachio nougats, and boxes of chocolate bars, I was surprised when my daughter said that I need to bake some desserts!

Honey Cake With Chocolate Glaze
Honey Cake With Chocolate Glaze

So, bake I did. I made brownies that are gone, and decided to make this Honey Cake (basically a coffee cake made with coffee and honey), which you may be seeing in stores as it’s popular this time of year for the Jewish New Year. By the way, this year the Muslim New Year and the Jewish New Year are on the same day, today – something that happens only once every 33 years! If you’ve ever wondered how the Jewish calendar observes the new year in late summer or early fall every year, despite being a lunar calendar, it’s because of the addition of ‘leap months’ into the lunar calendar to keep the holiday steady. You can read more about when the New Years collide here. Happy New Year! Continue reading

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Tie Front Tops Are Here To Stay!

It’s been a summer of all kinds of trendy tops, including cold shoulder, off the shoulder, lace-ups, and tie-fronts. And, if you’ve been watching the shop windows change, you’ll notice that these details are here to stay through the fall.

I did a post in the spring that included a long-sleeved wrap and tie top and I’m happy it’ll still be on trend come fall. This is a quick post on the tie-front tops that I’ve seen all summer. A tie-top is a bit different from a wrap top in that it doesn’t wrap – it’s just two pieces of fabric that tie in the front or side. I love the look because it’s dainty and dressy. It’s a bit frilly and girly and every time I’ve worn the top, I’ve received lots of compliments. I think it’s mainly because I’m usually in jeans and a t-shirt, but we’ll take it!

I’ve styled the top with white jeans because it’s a striped white and blue top and the white makes the top stand out. For fun, I’ve added floral, colorful sandals, and kept the bag a neutral beige.

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Exploring The Mini Shrines In The Villages of Christian Lebanon

Beirut, as seen from Broummana in Mount Lebanon
Beirut, as seen from Broummana in Mount Lebanon

Many of you know that I’m Lebanese and that I try to go back to Lebanon at least once a year. Last year, I posted two blogs about my visits: one about my  March 2016 trip and one about the Feast of the Assumption, which falls on August 15th. You all enjoyed my posts so much that the former post appeared in the Aramco Expats online edition and the other one resulted in my getting more emails than any other post!

Given that it’s August 15th today, the day of the Feast of the Assumption, I thought I’d show you, in pictures, how much the Virgin Mary is celebrated in Lebanon. It’s a national holiday there, and everyone named Mary is celebrated! I drove my dad crazy when we would go for walks as I stopped to photograph every shrine we passed. Making it a challenge to find unique and hidden shrines added to the fun.

In these photos, you’ll find shrines dedicated not only to the Virgin Mary, but to other saints that are important to Lebanese Christians. These include Saint Sharbel (also spelled Charbel), Saint Elias, and Saint Thecla. You can read more about the saints specific to Lebanon here.

This post is meant to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to walk and drive around the small Christian mountain village of Broummana, 20 minutes east of Beirut, in the Mount Lebanon Governorate. You will hear church bells ringing all day on Sunday and on other days of the week. Going to church is a daily activity for many. Outings to visit churches or larger shrines are common all year round. It would be an understatement to say that people in this small village are religious because they are very religious! Many activities revolve around the local churches. Check out this huge church square overlooking the beautiful mountains of Mount Lebanon:

Church veranda for public use and celebrations
Church veranda for public use and celebrations

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Bringing A Little Bit Of Europe To A Summer Outfit

Repeat Cashmere Top; Marc Cain Lug Soles; Furla Stacy Bucket BagThis post is a tip of the hat to European styling and designers. As I write this, I realize there’s a lot to talk about when you think about American vs European designers and the different approach to design and style. Hmm, I’m thinking this could be the topic of another blog post, but I digress.

This very simple outfit shown is a little bit outside of my comfort zone in that the top is flowy (where I usually prefer more fitted clothing) and the shoes are lug soles, which I’ve blogged about before (and a little higher than I would choose for every day wear). It’s a casual outfit, yet it has some details that make it more stylized.

Repeat Cashmere TopI gravitated towards this top because it’s navy and because it’s soft, made of silk. It’s also not plain, having some raw edging and tie-dye detailing which I like. The back has a keyhole button and loop closure and the slightly elasticized hem is a separate piece of fabric with more subtle tie-dye detailing along the seam. I paired it with classic white pants because I liked the contrast with the blue. This top is by Repeat Cashmere, a 40 year old clothing company based in Holland that I was familiar with because I love their winter sweaters and cotton blazers. Continue reading

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Wearing Orange…White, And Blue, For That Pop Of Color!

Wearing orange
Wearing orange

I’ve been told I wear navy all the time, and that’s true! It works for my skin tone, I’ve blogged about, and I’m just more comfortable in blues. One way to mix things up is to add bits of color to the blues I wear – and, orange is one of my favorite ways to do this. It’s not much different than red, white, and blue, which is often seen together. Orange is just a softer version of red.

In these photos, I’ve styled this orange merino wool sweater with white jeans. I like the contrast of the orange and white together. Merino wool in the summer is fine if it’s lightweight and a finer knit and it’s actually a good idea in the air-conditioned indoors. Continue reading

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Of Bell Sleeves And Bucket Bags

Bell Sleeve Top from Banana Republic; Furla Stacy Bucket Bag

Summer is passing by so fast and, before it’s over, I want to share a few of my favorite fashion trends. In this post, I’m combining bell sleeves and bucket bags, because, well, time.

Bell sleeves are making a comeback. I remember bell sleeves being big more than ten years ago. I had a super stylish blazer that I hope I haven’t given away – you may see it in an upcoming post! And, I’m seeing more bell sleeve jackets on websites for the fall.

This top works for me because it’s petite. It’s hard to get the right length on the bell sleeves if you’re short and I find that the sleeve length is key in getting an outfit to look proportional. I love the light blue color and the oxford fabric, which gives the top some weight and shape. I’ve paired it with white jeans because that’s mainly all I wear in the summer.

Bell Sleeve Top from Banana Republic Continue reading

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My Delicious Chocolate Orange Cake!

Chocolate Orange Cake
Zesty Chocolate Orange Cake

Almost everybody loves a good chocolate cake, but last week, I made a simple addition to my usual recipe to make an amazing chocolate orange cake. For some reason, I can’t follow a recipe without making a small change, adding a twist, or substituting an ingredient. It’s more fun that way, and I get to experiment in the otherwise strict domain of baking!

The following recipe is based on my go-to chocolate cake recipe, the ‘Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake’. I love that name. I’ve made it for guests and they love it, too. It’s very chocolate-y and it uses cocoa powder in both the cake and icing.

Chocolate Orange Cake
Zesty Chocolate Orange Cake

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