What I want, need and love on my wish list this week …
Black Friday sales start now! Shop some of the best sales of the season and score big for the holidays:
See anything you want, need or love for your wish list?
Black Friday sales start now! Shop some of the best sales of the season and score big for the holidays:
See anything you want, need or love for your wish list?
After a busy week of runway shows at Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW), I retreated to the Shangri-la’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi for a weekend of relaxation. I didn’t anticipate the lengths to which the Shangri-la would go to make our stay as memorable as possible. It was a weekend of total indulgence from the culinary delights, to the rejuvenating spa, and especially the world class Presidential Suite fit for a queen. Read on to discover what a luxury stay at the Shangri-la’s Eros Hotel entails.
After a private and leisurely check-in at Mister Chai lounge over a cup of tea and biscuits, I headed over to Shang Palace for their signature Dim Sum lunch. I craved a proper Chinese meal in India and this restaurant was high on my list of places to try.
Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel prides itself as a culinary destination with five world class restaurants featuring international cuisine from India, Italy, East Asia, and more. Starting my culinary journey at Shang Palace, the meal kicked off with an assortment of dumplings, rolls, and potstickers made with the freshest local ingredients.
After a round of Sichuan and Cantonese dishes served up table side, I enjoyed one of the restaurant’s signature dishes — sauna prawns: chili and garlic marinated prawns cooked over a lava stone.
No meal is complete without dessert. I ended the insanely rich feast with a scoop of homemade ice cream.
After another evening of inspiring runway shows at AIFW, I turned in for the night at the stunning Presidential Suite. The amenities felt endless including a private dining room and kitchen, spacious living room and bar, sweeping views of the city, walk-in closet and dressing area, sumptuous marble bathroom with jacuzzi and shower for two, and a private concierge.
The bathroom alone was the size of a regular hotel room. I was overtaken by the glamorous wall-to-wall white marble — definitely bathroom goals.
The next morning I enjoyed breakfast in bed and took my time getting ready for the day. On the schedule: a body scrub at Chi, the spa at Shangri-la, followed by drinks at Grappa, and an authentic Italian meal at Sorrento.
After an over-the-top breakfast, I saved my appetite until dinner, which I knew was going to be epic.
Having been a while since I last visited a spa, I was in need of some serious pampering. The natural elements of the cavernous space at Chi immediately brought me down to earth. Once I changed into a fluffy white robe, I enjoyed a ten minute rest in the steam room to open my pores. My journey into zen mode was officially underway. Off the extensive spa menu, I chose a mineral salt and citrus oil body scrub, which left my skin radiant and smooth. For the the next half hour, I soaked in a warm milky bath of rose petals thinking, “this must be what Cleopatra felt like.”
With dinner plans in the evening, I wanted to look my best after a week of wear and tear. I opted for keratin hair smoothing and a blow-dry. The luxe treatment left my hair silky soft for the rest of my trip, minimizing the time I spent getting ready everyday.
In the evening at Grappa, we enjoyed a mixology demonstration from one of their award winning bartenders. This is a great place to go before dinner or after a party. The dim lighting is perfect for a romantic date or a night out with friends.
There are so many cozy corners at Grappa. Plus the outdoor terrace is a popular hot spot when the weather is nice.
After being thoroughly wowed by the bartender’s skills and attention to detail, we moved the party over to Sorrento, Shangri-la’s award-winning Italian restaurant. They procure fresh produce to create artisanal pasta dishes, Neapolitan delicacies, pizzas, and slow-cooked family-style favorites.
We enjoyed fresh tomato mozzarella salad, hand made pasta, mushroom risotto, oven roasted cod, neapolitan pizza, and two mind blowing desserts: the infinity chocolate cake and the decadent tiramisu.
I don’t think I’ve eaten better during a hotel stay. The Shangri-la also offers an array of international cuisine at Tamra restaurant and Indian street food at Mr. Chai, both of which I will definitely indulge in on my next visit.
If you’re looking for a chance to recharge yourself between travels or after a long business trip, consider Shangri-la’s Eros Hotel in New Delhi on your next trip to India. You’ll experience the finest cuisine and the ultimate in spa rejuvenation for a visit you’ll long to repeat again and again.
This post is in collaboration with Shangri-la’s Eros Hotel in New Delhi. All opinions are my own.
Do you feel like you’re never in control of your finances? That you can’t quite save up for that dream vacation? Or pay off your student loans? Maybe you don’t like to think about finances for fear of being judged for your spending habits. Now there’s a mobile bank that encourages you to feel happier and more confident when it comes to saving and spending. Meet Finn by Chase, recently launched at “Food with Finn” pop-up events around St. Louis. I had a chance to demo the new all-digital bank. Here’s how to save money when you manage your spending and saving with Finn.
Finn is designed to help you change your attitude toward banking. Built for the digital generation, it offers intuitive tools that help you save, understand your spending habits, and make better purchasing decisions.
The team at Chase did a ton of research and testing, over 15 months to be exact. They asked millennials about their banking challenges and what drives their spending habits. They found that as spending is often based on emotions and short-term gain, it’s hard to keep track of the long-term impact on one’s finances.
Finn offers a few key tools that harness the power of emotions in your favor to help manage your finances:
Specify if the purchase is something you want or need. Then tag it with the appropriate emoji based on how it makes you feel.
Create spending rules that will automatically save money every time you make a certain type of purchase. For example, transfer $5 from your checking to your savings account whenever you buy coffee. Before you know it, you’ll be saving more money.
See your spending trends in one easy chart. By tracking where your money is often spent, you can make more informed decisions about where to save or spend next month.
Since Finn is a bank, you’ll also have all the capabilities of a traditional checking and savings account at your fingertips. Sign up at https://www.chase.com/personal/finnbank
I had the pleasure of trying it out at the Cortex Commons over some hearty chicken sliders and cheese fries courtesy of the Slide Piece St. Louis food truck. Local artist John Hendrix provided some amazing on-site custom artwork. And I also caught up with fellow St. Louis bloggers Summer Albarcha and Laura Heying.
While Finn is currently only available for St. Louis customers, Chase will be adding additional cities next year. Check it out here for more information on how to save money with Finn.
This post is in paid partnership with Chase. All opinions are my own.
This post is brought to you by Old Navy.
Life is all about happy coincidences. When I chose these Old Navy pixie ankle pants I was smitten by the marigold shade, which is having a moment right now. To tone things down I added a grey sweater with a cheerful rose gold polka dot print — my take on playful prep for fall. I patted myself on the back for coming up with such an awesome color combination, thinking it was so original. Little did I know that was not the case. It’s funny how color pops up in everyday life without even realizing it.
I had the intention of shooting at Lulu’s on Grand in St. Louis because I remembered it had a bright yellow door, which I loved. Yellow happens to be one of my favorite colors.
Imagine my surprise when I realized I perfectly matched the restaurant’s facade. I could stand in front of it and disappear like an illusion.
I swear I didn’t plan this. Like I said, it was a happy coincidence.
So I took it in stride and made the most of the location. In fact, I doubled down on it.
Perhaps this may go viral and start a new trend of dressing to match your surroundings…or maybe not.
One thing’s for certain, yellow is definitely my lucky color. And I totally recommend these Old Navy pixie ankle pants, especially if you’re trying to capture the playful prep trend for fall. These pants fit like a glove, with a good stretch, and a fabulous price at $35. September promos at Old Navy include up to 40% off all pants and jeans so be sure to get your sale on.
My lashes are probably one of my best features. I always get complimented on how long they are. However, they have a tendency to stick straight out. With no shape, I’ve got to curl those suckers and whip on a couple of coats of mascara before I’m out the door. I thought about getting lash extensions before, but never really knew much about the process. Trang Le, a licensed esthetician and owner of Glow Studio St. Louis, reached out to me about getting lash extensions or even a lash lift. She shared her pro tips about the process. Here are some things I learned about eyelash extensions. And keep reading for my before and after reveal (plus a special discount offer*)!
One: Here are the differences between extensions and lash lifts.
Eyelash extensions are for those who want longer, fuller and darker lashes. Individual lashes are applied directly on top of your own lashes with a medical grade adhesive. The process can take two to three hours, depending on the number of lashes applied. The average shedding cycle is 4 – 6 weeks so refills are recommended every 2 – 3 weeks for a fuller look.
Lash lifts are great for clients who already have long lashes, but want a long-lasting alternative to help enhance their natural lashes. Rather than adding a synthetic eyelash to your natural lash, a lash lift alters the shape of your existing eyelashes. I call it a push-up bra for your lashes. The service takes about an hour. To maintain the look, a monthly appointment is recommended.
Two: Choose between three sets of lashes: demi, full or glam.
Glow Studio St. Louis offers Xtreme Lashes Semi-Permanent Eyelash Extensions.
Demi Set: Extensions are applied to about half of your natural eyelashes. This is for those who want a boost, but still want a very natural look.
Full Set: Extensions are applied to all of your natural eyelashes strong enough to hold an extension. The most popular set, many see it as a replacement for mascara and eyeliner.
Glam Set: Provides maximum fullness using the volume technique. This is a popular service for brides, guests of special events, and girls that love super voluminous lashes.
Three: For extensions, you have many options to tailor your look.
Based on the look desired, you can choose from the following lash types, curls, lengths, and widths.
Types: Classic cylindrical, flat, ellipse, silk, and mink
Curls: J / B / C / CC / D / DD / L / L+
Lengths: From 16mm all the way down to 6mm
Widths: From 25mm all the way down to 3mm
Four: While the initial application can be pricey, maintenance costs are less.
At Glow Studio, a Demi Set costs $150, a Full Set costs $250, and a Glam Set costs $350. ReLash eyelash refills start at $75 and are recommended every 2 – 3 weeks to maintain a full look. (Read on for discounts at Glow Studio through this blog.)*
A Lash Lift is priced at only $85.
Five: With extensions, many people forgo everyday makeup.
Because lash extensions and lash lifts create a dramatic effect, many people skip their everyday eye makeup. The base of the extension creates the illusion of eyeliner. Mascara is discouraged for use on extensions, as it may break down the eyelash extension adhesive. However, it’s perfectly fine to keep wearing mascara with a lash lift, as those are your natural lashes.
Six: Wait 24 hours after application before getting your eyes wet or applying eye makeup. And stay away from oil-based eye makeup or remover.
A lash lift only affects your natural lashes. Therefore, you can resume all normal activities after the designated 24 hours.
Oil and friction are the two worst things for your eyelash extensions. With eyelash extensions, skip the waterproof eyeliner and use oil-free eyeliner. Or use a wet eyeliner brush to apply eye shadow as eyeliner.
I also recommend an oil-free eye makeup remover such as the Xtreme Eye Makeup Remover and Facial Cleanser or Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water & Makeup Remover. To remove proteins and oil from the eyelids and lash line, I recommend an ophthalmologic lid scrub such as Ocusoft or Thera Tears.
After showering or washing your face you should brush your extensions with a clean mascara wand and gently pat your lashes dry.
Seven: Don’t rub your eyes!
If you have a tendency to rub your eyes, lash extensions may not be for you. The friction from rubbing will cause the extensions to come off your natural eyelashes. By rubbing your lashes you are also transferring oils from your fingers/hands onto your eyelashes.
A lash lift is applied to your natural eyelashes so rubbing is not an issue. I do advise against constantly rubbing your eyes due to the thin skin around the eyes (only as thick as a Post-It note).
Eight: If you are a chronic strip lash wearer, proper eyelash extensions application can actually improve the condition of your lashes.
Poor isolation, lack of proper home care, and cheap products can lead to lash damage. You are with your lash stylist for a limited amount of time and then you go home. Make sure you understand how to care for your lashes, as proper home care will be vital in the condition of your lash extensions.
With my long lashes, I chose to go with the lash lift as opposed to the extensions. It wasn’t until I had this done that I realized how long my lashes really were. My first reaction was that I looked refreshed. The dark circles under my eyes became an afterthought. My next reaction was that I looked like a Disney princess with my long fluttery lashes, definitely in a good way. Who doesn’t want their eyes to look wider and more doe like?
It has been over a week since I had my lashes lifted and I have had no adverse reactions. My lashes are still as perky as when Trang permed them 10 days ago. I can apply and remove eye makeup easily. But on most days I don’t apply any eye makeup, as my lashes create enough glamorous drama on their own.
Trang is a board licensed esthetician in Missouri and has been applying lash extensions for two years. She has a certification with Xtreme Lashes, a well established lash extension company in Texas.
She takes proper precautions to ensure procedures are clean and safe. All of the products she uses to cleanse, prep, and apply lashes are disposable single-use items. She throws away the sponges, applicators, gauze, tape, and eye pads after each client. The only items that are reusable are her tweezers, which she cleans between clients with Barbicide.
Mention Bangles & Bungalows to receive $50 off a Full Set of extensions (originally $250) or $15 off a Lash Lift (originally $85) if you are a new client.
Disclosure: I was provided a free lash lift in exchange for a review of my experience. All opinions are my own.
My sister lived in Kansas City, MO as a medical student at UMKC over 15 years ago. I always thought I knew what the city was like through my visits. But now I know that I only scratched the surface. Visit KC invited me to experience the “Paris of the Plains” last weekend and I discovered why almost half a million people adore Kansas City so much that they decided to call it home.
If you’re traveling from St. Louis, MO, I highly recommend driving as it’s only a 3.5 hour trip. Last Friday afternoon I arrived at the Raphael Hotel, whose charm is only surpassed by its impeccable service. The staff is bursting with enthusiasm, as if each member was waiting eagerly for your arrival. The hotel is directly across from the Plaza and is an absolute gem. More on that later.
Travel blogging is a delightful opportunity to meet fascinating people in your field. Not only do you not need to explain why you’re on social media half the time, but you may also feel free to stand over a table to snap a shot of your meal, or ask each other to take photos while trying multiple poses in front of the same wall. No eyebrows raised or questions asked! I had the pleasure of meeting four other talented bloggers: Meg Biram (our gracious host), Sarah of Life on Virginia Street, Erin of Her Heartland Soul, and Diana of Mother Soul (who also happens to live in St. Louis!) Check out their blogs for other unique perspectives on Kansas City.
Did you know that Hallmark (started by the Halls family) is part of a larger company, which is based in Kansas City? Halls on Grand is a glamorous department store under the Halls umbrella. It stocks some killer brands like Milly, Kate Spade, Jo Malone, Rebecca Minkoff, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta and more. The Halls company also happens to be a top employer in the city in case you’re looking to relocate 😉
When we visited, the store had tremendous sales in every department, which meant major scores for me! You know that feeling when you’re not looking for anything in particular and you find a ton of great stuff? That’s how I felt in every section of the store. I seriously had to control myself. This year is the store’s 100th anniversary so it has many surprises up its sleeves such as celebrity visits, fashion shows, exclusive discounts and more. If you’re a shopaholic like me, I highly suggest you stop here on your next visit to Kansas City.
Last weekend in Kansas City was a hot one. To cool off, our host blogger Meg (who also grew up in KC) suggested we take a break at Snow Co. Most of us were famished, so we ordered almost everything on the menu and of course the signature snow cones. There are both adult snow cocktails and mocktails for those who don’t drink. I wish we had something like this in St. Louis. It’s a great place to hang out with friends, grab a bite and gab for hours. (And also cool off — we probably needed to be hosed down, but a snow cone did the trick!)
I absolutely had no idea of this area’s existence from my previous time in Kansas City in the early 2000s. Now that might not be my fault as I learned that this neighborhood’s popularity exploded in the last few years. The Crossroads Arts District is known for its eclectic mix of unique shops, restaurants, businesses and art galleries. I think of it as an incubator for creative minded folk. (For the record, I was seriously tempted to sing Bone Thugs n Harmony while I was here, but I controlled myself.)
Walking around, it almost feels like part of Brooklyn transplanted into the Midwest and then given its own local flair. For one thing, it’s much cleaner. Also, the people are incredibly nice. There is that creative startup mentality with its contingent of small businesses, cafes and local artists peppering the area. I was most in awe of the sheer amount of street art surprising you between alleyways, along boutique walls, on garage doors and front and center on the sides of brick buildings. This particular sign below is popping up all over social media. So I was excited when I accidentally came upon it. Perfect Instagram opportunity.
If you know me, food controls a large part of my brain. The first thing I do on any trip is look up restaurants and then read the menus. The menu at The American was the first thing I researched when I saw the itinerary. I was sold at three course menu.
When we arrived at the restaurant (more like architectural marvel), I was in awe of the 70s style design. Built in 1974, the eatery has sweeping views of downtown Kansas City with its sky high windows. I immediately thought the restaurant had a lounge like atmosphere and was only missing a lounge singer — the perfect complement to a classic night out in the 70s. Well, ask and you shall receive. We were entertained by an amazing singer and piano player who performed a moving rendition of Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley.
The service, of course, was impeccable, the plating beautiful and the food exquisite. From the root vegetable appetizer to the lobster tail and finally the mochi cake with chocolate mousse, I was a happy camper. The food didn’t stop there though. Between courses the award winning chefs treated us to several small tastings, which kept our palettes primed for every course. Do visit this historic establishment before the kitchen closes at the end of the year. Special pop-up events with its chefs will continue through next year. And the restaurant will eventually transition into an event space.*
Before the night was over, we headed to Tom’s Town. We were given a private tour of their very own distillery and speakeasy as well as a generous dose of Kansas City mafia history. Did you know in the 1920s the mafia had a large hand in government operations, effectively sidelining Prohibition and allowing the liquor to flow freely in the city? This was just a sample of the fascinating and colorful city history we learned about on the tour. If you’re truly intrigued by KC’s mafia past, apparently there is a gangster bus tour you can take. Another trip to Kansas City, anyone?
By the end of the night I was ready to sink into bed. If you can tell by the wrinkles in the bed below, I could not help myself and had a bit of a lie down before I took this picture. The bed is pure heaven. Visit KC provided us King Size suites at the Raphael so that we could truly get the full experience. Let me tell you — it’s pure luxury. There was a massive dining table in the main suite and I sat there for a few minutes just taking it all in: the gingham wallpaper, fluffy bathrobes, granite countertops, boutique bath salts, subway bathroom tile and of course the chocolates on my pillow. A girl could get used to this kind of lifestyle. Now I know why Eloise lived in a hotel.
That was only day one of our trip to Kansas City. Stay tuned for next week’s recap of the rest of the trip and more reasons to love the BBQ Capital of the World.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Visit Kansas City. I was paid to attend a weekend tour of Kansas City, MO in exchange for a review of the trip. All opinions expressed are my own.
*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that The American would close in August. The current chef will actually leave in August and the kitchen will close at the end of this year. The restaurant will transition into a special events space.
When dressing for a South Asian wedding or formal event, my accessories options are limited. I have a few pieces of costume jewelry picked up on trips to India and some western jewelry that pairs well with ethnic attire. As a single Indian-American woman, I don’t have much high end jewelry to choose from. (Usually precious sets of jewelry are part of a South Asian bride’s trousseau.) So I am always on the lookout for well made traditional Indian jewelry. That is why I wanted to share Art Karat jewelry with you featuring precious and semi-precious jewelry, including options that won’t break the bank.
Designer Asha Kamal Modi founded the company Art Karat Group with her husband Kamal in 1986. Starting with a small boutique in New Delhi with just 2 craftsmen, the couple now manages workshops around India employed with over 500 craftsmen. Art Karat jewelry is made on silver and studded with precious and/or semi-precious gemstones. Each piece makes a statement. Popular in Bollywood, Kamal’s jewelry has been featured in top films like Devdas, Monsoon Wedding and Zubeida. Learn how Mrs. Modi, an award-winning gemologist, has channeled her passion for making beautiful Indian jewelry into an internationally renowned brand.
How does Art Karat stand out amid such a saturated market for semi-precious traditional jewelry?
Art Karat is undoubtedly the market leader of the semi-precious jewelry industry. We single handedly pioneered the concept of designer semi-precious jewelry in India.
Art Karat is still the only semi-precious jewelry brand where all the jewelry is made on silver studded only with precious gemstones. Each Art Karat piece is a work of art. We do not mass manufacture. We always create very limited pieces of each design. And we work really hard on each piece to ensure it is different from the others.
Every industry in today’s time is saturated be it phones, fashion, shoes etc. But there are always market leaders who inspire us, who constantly innovate to set new trends and always strive to excel. It is these qualities that set apart Art Karat from the rest.
Some of your collections often feature hundreds of designs each. How long does it take for you to create a new collection?
It takes almost 6 months to create a complete collection, although the thought behind each collection and the research goes on for years. Our collections such as NIZAM, BEGUM, and RAJWADA were almost 5 years in the making. It was imperative for us to find the right craftsmen and elements to put them together.
You have designed jewelry pieces for major blockbusters in Indian cinema. What are some of the most important things as a jewelry designer to consider for the silver screen?
The most important thing that guides us is the vision of the director. Like any creative person, a director knows what they are looking for and our jewelry must relate to the period and costumes he or she is trying to depict in the film. The color schemes being used in the background and the contrasts our jewelry can create to accentuate the entire frame are extremely important.
What person in your life has had the greatest impact on your success and how?
My husband. He is the driving force behind me. Thirty years ago, he envisioned a line of jewelry on silver so beautiful that people would let go of their irrational obsession with gold. Now the semi-precious jewelry market has grown into a full industry.
Art Karat has become a family business with your husband and children taking on major roles. How do you ensure that boundaries remain between family time and business time?
We as a family live and breathe Art Karat. For us Art Karat is not just a business. It is a way of life. There is no differentiation between family and business time.
What advice can you give budding jewelry designers on growing a business in this modern era?
Be passionate. Success comes to those who believe in it the most and the longest.
How has the landscape of Indian jewelry changed in the past 30 years since you began Art Karat? And where do you see it going in the future?
The major change that we notice is the acceptability of the product itself. As people get more educated and women become independent, they accept semi-precious jewelry as a part of their life and have let go of their obsession with gold jewelry.
Where can people shop Art Karat jewelry in the US and Canada?
We do more that 50 exhibitions in the US and Canada and people can shop at www.artkarat.com online.
Can you believe another year has gone by? I hope your 2014 was memorable! January and February tend be the coldest months of the year. Stay warm and cuddle up to my January playlist. Listen to my playlist here on Spotify!
Image: The Last Dawn; The Dornoch Firth, New Year’s Eve 2008 by John Haslam; license: Creative Commons.
What I want, need and love this week…celebrate 2015 with these party perfect picks for New Year’s Eve!
1. NARS + 3.1 Phillip Lim Nail Polish in Gold Viper: Dress your digits with a splash of gold featuring this special hue blended by beauty collaborators NARS and 3.1 Phillip Lim.
2. New Year’s Eve 2015 Coaster Set: 2015 motifs are a great way to get party goers excited about the new year, especially with this colorful coaster set from C. Wonder.
3. Gold Leaf Bubble Cocktail Glasses: Fizzy drinks are key to toasting the New Year. Set the mood with these bubbly gold-leaf decorated flutes.
4. Happy New Year Garland: A modern take on the traditional garland to announce the new year.
5. Metallic Pleated Midi Skirt: Dress yourself in a statement silver skirt, perfect for dancing the night away.
6. Gallop Metallic Court Shoes: Rose gold crackled leather heels, yes please!
7. Pretty Polly Black Embellished Tights: Smattered with gold and silver sequins.
8. Party Hats: Counting down on New Year’s Eve isn’t the same without festive party wear like these tinsel trimmed paper hats.
See anything you want, need or love to celebrate New Year’s Eve?