Friend Favorites Part IV

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Truffle hot sauce, Masterclasses, Shiseido for men… this blog post really has it all! This week my friends are giving you the low-down on all of the things they are loving right now, which includes some intriguing recommendations to say the least. If you have been following along, you will definitely consider purchasing some Supergoop! products by now or investing in Hulu or Netflix subscription to watch all of the latest movies and shows my friends are loving. Today, we have three friends, who I met during my study abroad program, giving up their latest finds. They could not be more different, yet more the same in so many ways. Take it away guys and gal!

James (left), Ola (center), Jeremie (right)

Snack

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James: Apples, oranges, blueberries or nuts because they’re healthy!

Ola: Truff Hot Sauce – technically not a snack but it’s a condiment that I’ve been putting on everything from eggs to veggies and I would highly recommend if you want to spice up your life.

Jeremie: Greek yogurt topped with seeds, oats, and fruit is the best snack I’ve found to satisfy and sugar cravings.

Beauty Product

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James: Shiseido face wash– really makes my face feel clean. My aunt sent it to me in a care package when in college and I’ve been using it since.

Ola: Supergoop Glowscreen – I recently got this sunscreen because I’ve heard so many great things about the brand and founder. It’s moisturizing and makes the skin so radiant.

Jeremie: I have a love-hate with Crest 3D whitening strips. They feel like a chore to use, but it’s a big confidence boost.

Favorite Clothing Item

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James: PIMCO t-shirt, it’s from a friend and it’s soft and versatile. My friends and I give each other t-shirts from where we work and one of my best friends works at PIMCO. The shirt is blue and very soft, it’s also large so I can lounge in it. 

Ola: Soludos sneakers – I got a pair of these embroidered sneakers last summer and they are so cute and unique and super comfortable too!

Jeremie: I’ve been wearing smart trousers from H&M lately. They’re comfortable in spring weather and easy to dress up or down, depending on your shoes and top.

Show or Movie

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James: Movie is Limitless with Bradley Cooper. I like movies that involve smart people, I also like the idea of being able to unlock the rest of your brain.

Ola: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – I feel like I might be the only person who watches this but it’s a show where the main character hears her friends’ and family members’ innermost feelings and thoughts through song. As a former musical theater nerd, I really enjoy the performances and random singing and dancing.

Jeremie: I’ve been loving MasterClasses, especially Sara Blakely’s and Chris Voss’s. Anytime you hear someone speak about one specific craft that he/she mastered, it’s a great mix of entertainment and education.

Hobby or Activity

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James: Anything with friends: poker, drinking, the beach, you name it!

Ola: Reading! I’m currently enjoying Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, a British journalist. It’s a memoir about growing up that explores navigating friendships, jobs, loss and romance. I also recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo which I would recommend if you’re looking for something more serious.

Jeremie: My girlfriend and I have been finding things to do in our area on TikTok. It’s an easy way to plan a date night while doing things we normally wouldn’t.

Friend Favorites Part III

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Yes, it’s our first all-male edition of friend favorites, where I asked my guy friends what items they are using, snacks they are eating, what they are wearing, and so much more. Whether it be my girl friends or my guy friends, I feel like there is always something to learn. Who knew that I needed some kale chips and a Dyson hair dryer stat!? One of the many reasons I love asking my friends for recommendations is because they all have such diverse perspectives and viewpoints. I walk away learning so much and feeling motivated to give something new a try! Here are the latest friend recommendations- get your wallets ready!

Ivan (left), Justin (center), Hayoung (right)

Snack

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Ivan: Crispy kale chips 12/10, perfect balance between healthy, and crispy that you get from wanting to munch on something.

Justin: Frozen Mango. Perfect summer snack, cold and soft, yet firm consistency.

Hayoung: I don’t snack much, but chocolate covered pretzels, I have a HUGE sweet tooth.

Bathroom Product

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Ivan: Differin Acne Treatment Gel, it’s my hidden secret that I use to spot treat wrinkles, and small pimples!

Justin: Unseen Sunscreen by Supergoop. A daily essential and you never feel like you’re wearing sunscreen. 

Hayoung: My Dyson hair dryer, it dries my hair in like 15 seconds… it’s incredible.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Ivan: I am super eager to start traveling again, and nothing says beach side vacation like a pair of Havaianas.

Justin: Lululemon shorts, “The short.” Its just a must for working from home. 

Hayoung: My brown leather loafers from To Boot New York, it’s my go-to when I’m going out to dinner.

Show or Movie

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Ivan:Broad City” is the right balance between chaotic and borderline weird that I crave in a TV show.

Justin: Forget a movie or show – online classes on “EdX”

Hayoung: “How I Met Your Mother”, I think it’s the perfect show (except for the ending).

 

Hobby or Activity

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Ivan: Never underestimate the power of a good walk! I usually listen to Gary Vee’s coffee chats on YouTube, and it’s cool to listen to him while being outside and enjoying the weather.

Justin: Cycling! It’s important to get sun and fresh air, you can cover great distances and it’s great for socializing.

Hayoung: Getting a great meal with my friends, vibes are so good before, during, and after.

Friend Favorites Part II

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

It’s only the second part of the series and I feel as though there is so much for me to try that my friends have recommended! I love taking recommendations for so many reasons, the main one being that it bonds you closer to your friends. When you try something that someone else is passionate about, you are able to connect with them on that experience. A funny show they mention? The best way to spark some laughs in referencing the punchline during a conversation. A yummy dessert recommendation? An insight into your friend’s palette. A soft sweater they always talk about? The perfect birthday gift when the time comes. And when the time comes for these three friends of mine, I know just what to get them!

Farah (left), Thomas (center), Pam (right)

Snack

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Farah: Chocolate chewy bar. They are light, delicious and reminds me of the great memories I had durning my middle school and high school days in Tunis when we would go to the commecery to buy them.

Thomas: Pink Lady Apple. I have a bad addiction to sugar and find it sometimes satisfies my craving for something sweet and sugary.

Pam: Baked hot Cheetos. They are sooo good and addicting. I also think they taste better than the regular hot Cheetos.

Beauty Product

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Farah: Province Apothecary eye brow serum. My favorite serum to promote hair growth for eyebrows. The only thing that has ever worked for me!

Thomas: Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream. I love to use this product after I’ve washed, scrubbed, and toned my face with the Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner. My face is always glowing afterwards and makes me feel like I’m at my best.

Pam: La Roche-posay Lipikar Lotion AP+. I was using a toner that irritated my skin. It caused a really bad reaction and ended up drying out my skin MAJORLY. This has single handedly saved my skin. Also using it all over my body for soft and hydrated skin.

Favorite Clothing Item

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Farah: AG black skinny jeans legging. By far, one of the most comfortable pair of jeans that I have ever purchased. A little pricey, but the quality is worth it & I still have my first pair of AG jeans since I bought it 5 years ago!

Thomas: My current favorite clothing item has to be my HENRE swim shorts. Launching this summer, along with swim briefs I based the HENRE collection on the inspirational mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs.

Pam: My beige Khaite aceline cardigan. Soooo comfortable and cozy. Would wear it everyday if I could.

Show or Movie

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Farah: Definitely Grey’s Anatomy. And not because I’m a doctor! I first started watching this show in early 2000’s since my days in Tunis & it’s just been an ongoing thing for me, one of those shows that feels like home & Meredith is like part of the family.

Thomas: Schitts Creek is my absolute go to. The show is so beautifully written and produced. I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person from watching the show. There is a line in the show where the character Alexis Rose says to her brother “nobody’s thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you” and the saying really hit a nerve and changed the way I viewed life in general.

Pam: Grace and Frankie. They are such a hilarious duo. Love their different personalities and how they balance each other. This is really a show that is hard to stop once you start.

Hobby or Activity

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Farah: Driving around in my car with my friends, the windows down with my favorite playlist on!

Thomas: I love a long bike ride with my headphones in listening to Dua Lipa and my snapping photos of my surroundings on my camera.

Pam: Long walks. Not a big fan of cardio but I can go on hours long walks. Something about and evening stroll to close out your day or a mid-day walk to clear your mind. Also, I feel like this is all I can do these days…

Friend Favorites Part I

The favorites my friends are all talking about.

Is this another friend finds series I see!? Yes, you would be correct! This time, instead of asking my friends about their favorite beauty products, we are here to talk about all kinds of favorites- snacks, tv shows, clothing, you name it! I always feel like I can count on my friends for their recommendations when it comes to almost anything. And, if there ever was a time to get recommendations it would be now! With some extra time on our hands due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to explore and try new things. The first round of friend recommendations are coming from Divya, Upasana, and Celeste, who are here to bring you some excellent suggestions on food, beauty, clothing, media, and the hobbies that they are enjoying. Take it away my ladies!

Divya (left), Upasana (center), Celeste (right)

Snack

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Divya: Terra vegetable chips, satisfies a craving without making me feel too bad about myself!

Upasana: Caramel Popcorn! It’s one of those snacks that satisfy a craving but it’s also SO sweet that I end up eating less of it than I’d eat if I ate something salty!

Celeste: Smartfood popcorn! This snack takes me back to elementary school packed lunches and reminds me of my childhood.

Beauty Product

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Divya: The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I know it’s supposed to be a sleeping mask, but the hydration and feel has made it an all purpose, all day lip balm/lip moisturizer that I love.

Upasana: Cloud paint by Glossier. Working from home I don’t wear much makeup anymore, but something that makes me feel instantly bright and pretty in the morning is just dabbing on some cream blush on my cheeks and a little as a lip tint too! I use the haze and storm colors!

Celeste: Beekman 1802 fig leaf hand cream. It smells so good and I love the company’s mission!

Favorite Clothing Item

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Divya: Definitely my oversized white shirt. It’s so hot in Nigeria that sometimes I just want to comfortable and I can dress the shirt up/down which makes it perfect for every occasion without having to try too hard.

Upasana: I’m absolutely obsessed with these comfy lounge like pants that are also great to wear out for a brunch with friends or a day at a cafe just relaxing and reading!

Celeste: Midi silk skirts. These skirts make me feel so elegant and the length is comfortable for any occasion.

Show or Movie

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Divya: I recently binge watched The Spy which was so incredibly good. Definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern Politics or honestly a must watch just for Sacha Baron Cohen.

Upasana: I’d have to say this is the hardest question ever! I finished watch HBO’s Succession and I was absolutely hooked throughout! It’s masterful and nuanced cinematography with characters that aren’t deeply likeable, but are VERY real and that’s a testament to how phenomenal the actors are! Another show that’s my all time favorite that I always go back to, and currently have been watching is Gilmore Girls! It’s just a feel good, heartwarming show but has some very valuable life lessons and important messages!

Celeste: Daria. This show is so funny and relatable to being a teenager.

Hobby or Activity

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Divya: Tennis! I recently started learning the sport and it’s so fun. For me it’s a great way to be outside doing something active while learning a new skill.

Upasana: I’m really getting into candle making and I’d been watching my mom excel at making really creative, deliciously scented candles, so I thought I’d give it a try and it’s a really calming, centering activity with a great finished product that I can use day to day!

Celeste: Sewing and quilting. I love getting inspiration and coming up with ideas. It is an amazing feeling using my hands to make those ideas come to life.

My Virtual Cooking Class Review

It’s cooking time! Pants are optional!

Gilio Cooking School: Private Class

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This cooking school, virtual or not, will always have a special place in my heart. Marcella is the owner of the school based in Florence and a close friend of mine, whose classes I took during my brief stay in the quaint Italian city. When signing up for the private virtual class, Marcella asks what dish, from a long list, I was interested in making, giving me full reign to choose what I was interested in. I chose eggplant parmesan, a dish that my mom and I often make, yet have never perfected. Shortly after choosing the class, Marcella’s team sent me a list of ingredients and the recipe to look over for our prep. On the day of the class, we entered our Zoom room to see Marcella’s smiling face along with a second view of her work station, which definitely helps you follow along. She is also equipped with a microphone so that we can easily hear her instruction. The benefit of having Marcella all to yourself is that you can ask her as many questions as you’d like and even inquire about her recent trips to Gilio or current life in Italy. This class was approximately 1.5 to 2 hours long, which was just enough time for our eggplant parmesan to cook! This class is a perfect gift for a loved one or a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. The best part? Lunch is prepared!

Emmy Squared: Private Group Class 

I had the privilege of attending this pizza making class through a social program that my work hosted this past winter. The ingredients and truly everything you need to make both the delicious pizza and cocktail are included in the package that gets delivered right to your house. I am talking ice cube tray and even pizza pan! This class was taught by Emmy herself, who runs down the pizza making process and answers any questions about her famous NYC pizza empire. The great thing about the ingredients she sends is the already prepared dough as well as the ingredients for the dough, so that you can make your pizza ASAP without waiting for the dough to rise. During the class, however, she walks through what the dough making process looks like, so you leave the class with a dough all ready to go for tomorrow. This pizza was incredibly tasty, which I credit to both the instruction as well as the fresh ingredients sent. Because this was a company bonding, Emmy also hit us with some pizza trivia that was a fun aspect of the class, for sure. The pizza was yum, instruction was expert, and cocktail was refreshing. Overall rating 11/10.

The Institute of Culinary Education: Group Class

Having taken an in-person mixology class at The Institute of Culinary Education before, I was excited to try out one of their virtual classes just a few weeks ago. I always like to attend classes where I am learning something entirely new and challenging- bagels seemed like a good fit. In registering for the class, I was sent a list of ingredients for the course, which included bagel, egg salad, and bloody mary ingredients. I purchased the ingredients beforehand and also prepped some of the measurements, as to not waste time during the class. The morning of, I entered my Zoom room and was welcomed by our instructor as well as 25 other people. There was something so comforting about seeing other passionate bakers from across the globe in their own kitchens ready to make some bagels! We started the class making ur bagel dough, so that it could proof during the two hour class. Our instructor also had a pre-made dough to show us the technique of making the bagels, just in case her dough didn’t rise in time. The instruction was a bit rushed, yet this class was the first that our teacher was teaching virtually- all things considered she did quite well. We all had fun showing the camera our doughs and having our instructor give her comments on them. Everything that was made during the class was so delicious and the experience was really fun. My mom and I ended up making three batches of bagels that day, so we had plenty left over. Although I think I will be buying the majority of my bagels in the future to save some time, this was a great at-home activity that was well worth the $50 dollars! 

 

A Day in Boston, Massachusetts with Me- It’s a Date!

My favorite spots in Boston to eat, drink, and enjoy ☁️

It is hard to imagine that my first time visiting Boston was only six years ago, considering how much I regard the city as a second home. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Boston during my four years of college and many memories have been made sitting with friends in a cafe, seeing a late night movie, or walking through the Boston Commons on a Spring day. I finally sat down to think about my favorite places in the city and it was so hard to pick just a few for each category. When it comes to fun things to do and great places to eat, Boston definitely has a surplus. I was able to narrow it down by consulting a trusted Boston expert to come up with this list. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out at least one of these spots… or all of them… just sayin’.


Favorite place for breakfast

Tatte

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Photo taken from Tatte’s Instagram

If you are ever hungry- or not hungry but you just need something to keep your teeth company- this is the place for you. Not a bad choice can be made at Tatte that is for sure! My favorites are the pistachio cherry tart, any of their iced drinks, anything with avocado or a poached egg on top, or basically…anything. You CAN’T go wrong here. Also, the quaint café vibes in here are not to be missed. 

Favorite places for lunch

KAVA neo-taverna

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Photo taken from Kava neo-taverna’s Instagram 

When I first went to Kava neo-taverna I fell in love. Everything about this restaurant is so special, from the hand painted wall art and nautical, Greek decor to the incredible food and friendly staff. This restaurant is so adored by me and my family that one time, when in restaurant was so full, we sat outside despite it being winter. The zucchini chips, mousaka, keftedes, desserts are to die for. But, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, so I just order one of everything. (You think I’m joking)

Pho Pasteur

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Located in Chinatown, Pho Pasteur is one classic Vietnamese restaurant that everyone must go to at least once. The food is super yummy and inexpensive, a perfect meal for when the Boston winds are forcing you indoors for a hot meal. Although the servers mean business, it’s a great, casual place to enjoy a meal before popping into one of Chinatown’s famous bubble tea places to top off. 

Favorite places for dinner

Trattoria Il Panino

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Photo taken from Trattoria Il Panino’s Instagram 

Being Italian gives me full authority to say that Trattoria Il Panino should not be missed in Boston’s North End. The restaurant has some of the best lasagna I have ever tasted and, if your stomach is up for it, some indulgent carbonara. Whether you are looking for a romantic date spot or a place to host a large birthday party, Il Panino fits the bill. You won’t be sorry when you ask for the dessert menu too. 

Barcelona Wine Bar

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Photo taken from Barcelona Wine Bar’s Instagram 

Barcelona Wine Bar is more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. The bar tenders and servers are some of the nicest I have ever encountered and are incredibly hospitable, willing to offer suggestions on their favorite wines on the list. If you end up going, you have to order a pitcher of their red or white sangria, which is a perfect share for two people. Some of my favorite menu items include the fried brussels sprouts with sherry and pickled onions, and patatas bravas, and hanger steak with truffle vinaigrette. Eating at Barcelona is like walking into a warm hug- you leave wanting another. 

Empire

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Photo taken from Empire’s Instagram

This Asian restaurant and lounge in Boston’s Seaport district is a go-to on a Friday night for sure. Empire has a wide selection of really delicious food in a luxurious atmosphere. Did I also mention they have great music? I had a surprise birthday party here and it was one of the best birthdays I can recall in recent times. The sushi is amazing and so is everything else on the menu.  

Favorite place for coffee

George Howell Coffee

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Photo taken from George Howell’s Instagram 

There are so many things that make George Howell unique. First, their coffee is some of the best in the city, with every coffee type available to order. Did you say an iced red eye with almond milk? Yeah, they have that. Coffee sangria? They have that too. The coffee shop is also connected to the beautiful The Godfrey Hotel, where you can sit and enjoy your coffee if the café gets too packed. With a delicious selection of food also on their menu, is there any reason to leave?

Favorite tourist destination

Boston Commons & the Public park

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If you are visiting Boston, you have to go to the Boston Commons and Public Park. Whether it be Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, the Boston Commons is the perfect place to take in the changing foliage and fresh air. Strolling through the park is also a great way to cut across the city, while still taking in some great sights. Grab a croissant and a coffee and park yourself on a bench- the park is yours!

Favorite day-time outings

Ice skating on the Frog Pong

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Photo Courtesy of Boston Magazine

I don’t know if it is just me, but ice skating during the Fall and Winter months is just such a fun and exciting outdoor activity. It definitely get’s the adrenaline pumping for sure! Located inside of the Boston Commons, the ice skating on this rink is a great way to spend an afternoon without breaking the bank either.

Kayaking on the Charles

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Photo Courtesy of Boston Magazine

Kayaking on the Charles River is another seasonal activity in Boston that has to be taken advantage of. The Charles River separates Boston and Cambridge, and kayaking along the river provides excellent views of both cities. This activity is a great one to participate in with friends, so rally the troops and hit the water!

Favorite night-time outing

Bars and Bowling

When it comes to nightlife in Boston, there are tons of things to do, from seeing a movie to Late Nites at the MFA and everything in between. Some of my favorite nights in Boston, however, have been bar hopping and bowling- two activities that are especially fun for a date night or night out on the town with friends. 

Lucky Strike

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Photo taken from their website

In terms of bowling spots, Lucky Strike is the place to go! Located in an iconic landmark building in Fenway, Lucky Strike has a full arcade, bowling lanes, a restaurant, and a bar. It’s a one stop shop for fun!  

Earl’s, Citrus and Salt, Lolitas

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Photo taken from their Earl’s website 

There are so many fun bars in Boston to go to, so it was hard to narrow it down to just three. Earl’s , Citrus and Salt, and Lolitas are top of the list, however, because of their delicious menus, beautiful ambiance, and yummy drinks. Earl’s is especially one of my favorites because of its open-air rooftop! You can’t go wrong with any bar in Boston, but you especially cannot go wrong with stopping by these three!

Everyone can’t leave Boston without buying….

A ticket to a Red Sox, Celtics, or Bruins game. 

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If there is one thing that Boston can be prideful of it is their sports. I have been fortunate enough to attend a Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins game and I have never been disappointed. The fans are proud and heartwarming, the stadiums are well taken care of, and the odds of a Boston team winning are definitely in your favor. If you are looking for a true Boston experience, attending a sports game is the way to go! 

My Favorite Holiday Recipes

The food they serve in heaven.

Let’s face it, there is a special place in heaven for holiday foods. Cookies, cakes, filet mignon, creamy mashed potatoes, a cheese plate… you get the idea. Every year, I look forward to the food that fills our holiday plates- it only comes once a year! Here, I have provided the recipes to some of my favorite foods to make during the season so that you can recreate some of them in your own home. Maybe, some of these recipes will make it into your holiday rotation. If they do, make sure to send me a photo!

1. Bûche de Noël Recipe (Yule Log Cake)

Courtesy of Mon Petit Four

This Yule Log cake is one that I make every year. The cake is light, fluffy, and the perfect canvas for decorating and making festive. I like to cut up marshmallows and add them as “mushrooms” as well as adorn the cake with bay leaves, which look like tree leaves. The possibilities for this cute creation are endless!

2. Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Courtesy of Handmade Charlotte

These cookies are a cross between a vanilla sugar cookie and a brownie all wrapped up in one. Soft and chewy, with a little crunch, this chocolate sugar cookie recipe is a holiday go-to! The rolled sugar on the outside also adds a beautiful sparkle, making it a beautiful addition to any dessert table. 

3. Roladen 

Courtesy of Lecker 

A German staple during the holidays, Roladen is a great recipe to add some variety to your dinner rotation. This meat dish is packed with flavor and definitely an indulgent meal to impress any guest. My family likes to pair our Roladen with potato pancakes, and red cabbage… did I mention I was German. 

4. Russian Tea Cookies

A Dedekind Family Recipe

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This family recipe is one that we make every year that never fails to surprise and delight. These nutty cookies are the perfect side to any cup of tea or hot chocolate. It’s hard to mess these cookies up! So, even if you would not consider baking your strong suit, give these a try- they are basically fool proof!

5. Scalloped Potatoes

Courtesy of Chocolate Moosey

If you are concerned about calories, maybe skip on this dish. If you are up for a decadent holiday treat, you have to make this dish. Packed with cream, cheese, and all the good stuff, if you are looking for a yummy side dish, you have got to try this delicious scalloped potato recipe. 

6. Pancakes 

Courtesy of Like Mother Like Daughter

Whether it is the holidays or not, this pancake recipe is a go-to. If you think you have a fluffy and tasty pancake recipe, I would try this one anyways- I bet you it will give yours a run for its money. Add chocolate chips, blueberries, bananas, or anything you’d like, but make sure to pour over some maple syrup for a guaranteed yummy brunch.  

7. Chocolate cake

Courtesy of Add a Pinch

If you are unsure of what holiday dessert will be a crowd pleaser, it is never a bad idea to go with a chocolate cake. This cake I make for birthdays, holidays, and “just cause it’s Monday” and it never fails to delight. The chocolate flavoring really comes out strongly, given the added espresso, and the coordinating icing recipe makes for a match made in heaven! 

10 Gift Ideas for the Holidays Under $100

It’s that time of year again. But no stress, we’ve got you covered.

Oh the joys of the holidays, where all is merry and bright! This holiday season is extra important, given that we could all use some comfort and joy in 2020 (gospel choir singing “yes”). When it comes to buying gifts this season, let me help you de-stress even further by providing my budget friendly holiday gift ideas for you and your loved ones. Gift giving is one of my favorite things during any holiday- Birthdays, Christmas, Housewarming- you name it! To me, a gift symbolizes, in a tangible form, the care and attention that you pay to your relationship. It shows that you see them, you appreciate them, and you have taken the time to really think of them. So, let’s show some love this holiday season for those we care about. You never know how much those around you might need it.

Stationary

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Stationary is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I love sending letters through the mail and always find that some unique and fun stationary can make your note even more memorable. This stationary I chose is from Papier and is even customizable to include the gift receiver’s first and last name. Who doesn’t love a customized gift for just over $20?! Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to receive a thank you note on this stationary too!

Ugg Slippers

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These slippers were the first thing on my Christmas list (just dropping a subtle hint here). They are so comfy, so cozy, and, let’s be honest, when we are working from home we need something to brighten the day. At just $100 I think these slippers are a worthy investment in your wardrobe for the stormy winter to come. 

Virtual Cooking Class

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Ok, hear me out. This virtual cooking class is one that you HAVE to take with the lovely Marcella Ansaldo. I took cooking classes with Marcella in Florence many times, one more enjoyable than the next. When I found out that she was doing classes online, I knew I had to seize the opportunity to see her again. Marcella incorporates expert Italian food history into all of her courses and makes the virtual cooking experience one that almost mimics that of an in-person class. 10/10 for me!

Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub 

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This body scrub really does it for me. It smells amazing and leaves your skin silky smooth because the coffee grinds, which act as an exfoliant. The company Frank Body has a large assortment of fun products that you should also check out, in addition to their original scrub, which the company became famous for. Coffee + Skincare = Happiness

Glossier You Perfume

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When I first smelled Glossier’s You perfume I was skeptical. I was used to enjoying floral and sugary sweet scents. However, after using a sample of You and smelling the scent after it mixed in with my skin I was hooked. This perfume is one of my all time favorites, with such lovely mild, peppery notes. It was also The Fragrance Foundation’s Fragrance of the Year winner in 2018. Although it is a bit pricier ($60 for the bottle) it’s Ursula approved to be worth it.  

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea book

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If you love business, entrepreneurship, and media as much as I do, then this is the book for you. Written by the Co-Founder and First CEO of Netflix Marc Randolph himself, this book documents Netflix’s journey from CD sharing start-up to public company. If you know everything about business or nothing at all, there is something for you to take-away and learn from. Bottom line: you never know an idea won’t work until you try it.  

Abercrombie Puffer 

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If you ever spotted me last winter, you would have probably seen me either wearing this coat or its furry cream sister. I am completely obsessed with this puffer from Abercromie, which keeps me so much warmer than a lot of my more expensive coats. It fits right at the waist and can be buttoned all the way up to the chin. When I am wearing a coat I prefer to be swaddled in soft fabric, where you can barely see my eyeballs I am so snuggle. This coat does just that. 

Bose Speaker 

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This Bose speaker does everything a good speaker should. One charge lasts an incredibly long time, the sound quality is clear and crisp, it’s Bluetooth, and the volume spans a pretty nice range. Even better? It’s just under $70! I have had my speaker for over four years and it has lasted me through college and beyond. A perfect gift I’d say for a college or high school student who needs to tune out the world. 

Sugarfina Candy Box

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I know what you are thinking. She wants me to purchase candy for adults? Ummm…. yeah I do! I have received one of Sugarfina’s candy boxes as a Christmas gift before and, let me tell you, this is a gift that does not disappoint! But, then again I am a sugar-holic. My favorites from Sugarfina include the champagne bears and peach bellini hearts (the matcha bears also look 🔥). Everyone needs a bit of sweetness in their life, wouldn’t you agree? 

A Subscription to my Newsletter

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[Enter shameless plug] If you haven’t already, go sign up for my weekly newsletter! My newsletter comes out every Sunday and contains a link to every article you might have missed throughout the week as well as some exclusive new content! Best part? It’s free! 

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Uma on Type 1 Diabetes and Recipes for Success

Uma on living with Type 1 Diabetes and the recipes she loves the most.

When I first learned about diabetes it was through my seventh grade English teacher Mr. Murray. On the first day of class he explained to all of us that he suffered from diabetes and that if he ever started slurring his speech that we should remind him to go and drink some of the apple juice he stored in his desk. I had never heard of the disease before, yet, as I grew up, I met more and more people with the condition. When I recently heard about my friend Uma’s new website T1Buddies, a recipe sharing platform aiming to help those with Type 1, I knew that it was a resource that I had to share with you all. Uma is a complete inspiration and I am so honored to share her story on the blog. Also, head to T1Buddies to share a recipe of your own or to try and spot my homemade tomato sauce recipe if you’re feeling in the mood to cook!


Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 6.19.32 PMUma! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Uma, I’m 17, and I currently live in Singapore. I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for about 4 years, but in spite of this I’m still a big foodie, and I’m almost always craving bubble tea.

When did you first find out that you have Type 1 Diabetes and what was your reaction to the news?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my freshman year of high school, so I was 14 years old at the time. It was an incredibly unexpected situation for me and my family, so once I was finally able to begin processing the news, it was quite disorienting, to put it mildly. And before I could fully acknowledge the diagnosis, I was being bombarded with more information, so overall it was a very confusing time. 

What has been the most challenging part about managing your Type 1 Diabetes?

When I was first diagnosed, the most difficult part was not the physical management of the condition, but rather taking care of my mental health. I had just become a teenager, ready for a “normal” high school experience – one that didn’t include needles and carb counting. The mental hurdles took a lot of patience and effort to overcome, but thankfully, I’ve reached a place where it’s not the hardest part of diabetes management anymore. Now, the most challenging thing is keeping my blood sugar stable while stressing over my college applications. 

What do you wish more people knew about Type 1 Diabetes?

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Where do I begin? Just kidding, the list is not long. The main thing I wish more people knew is that Type 1 Diabetes isn’t caused by a person’s diet or an ‘unhealthy’ lifestyle. In reality, no one actually knows the cause of Type 1, and there isn’t a way to prevent it. I remember a time when I told a friend about my condition, and he assumed I got it because I “ate too much sugar.” I knew after the fact that he wasn’t trying to call me unhealthy, and that he just didn’t know much about Type 1, but it still felt like an accusation at the moment. I hope that in the future, people will be more aware of Type 1 diabetes, and understand that it is not the person’s fault for having it. 

How has Type 1 Diabetes changed your perspective on life, health, and food?

My condition changed more of my perspective than I could’ve imagined 3 years ago. First, I’ve become a lot more knowledgeable about my physical health, and the science of diabetes. If you asked me what I knew about diabetes in middle school, I would’ve responded: “That’s what happens when you eat too much sugar…?” 

Type 1 Diabetes has also made me realize that it’s better to teach people about the condition instead of becoming angry at comments or questions that seem ignorant. In the story above, I was pretty upset at the comment, but since then, I’ve tried to educate my friends and relatives if they have questions.

Finally, the most important change: food. Being diagnosed at 14 was already a challenge that was amplified by the fact that teenagers eat out often. At first, I was disheartened when I watched my friends buy sugar-heavy bubble teas, or order off of restaurant menus without a care. But, with practice and patience, I learned how to enjoy myself and food in spite of my condition, which will be very helpful when I head off to college.

Overall, Type 1 taught me how to take care of myself without restricting every part of my life. Plus, I am no longer afraid of needles and blood, which is a helpful side effect. 

What are some of your favorite recipes to make?Screen_Shot_2020-11-09_at_11.21.16_PM-removebg-preview

A recipe that I recently discovered is oyako donburi: a Japanese chicken and egg rice bowl. Its literal meaning is “parent (chicken) and child (egg) rice bowl” which I thought was an amazing name. Oyakodon is now one of my favorites because it is relatively healthy (lots of protein) but is still really delicious. I’m also a big fan of pancakes – not a complicated or fancy dish, but that’s kind of why I love them. When I have the time, I spend probably way too much effort decorating plates of pancakes like a food artist, and they are very Instagrammable. 

 

Tell us all about your new website T1Buddies!

T1Buddies is an online collaborative cookbook for the Type 1 Diabetes community. (T1BudDies… get it? Anyway…) All of the recipes are submitted by Type 1 diabetics and friends/relatives, and the collection is continuously growing. I started this project because I realized that there are not a lot of resources and support for Type 1 in Singapore, and that the group of people affected by T1D is quite scattered here. T1Buddies is a way to unite the community both in Singapore and around the world by connecting through food – which is also a personal passion of mine. Before I developed T1 Buddies, I started an Instagram account for personal recipes, which was additional inspiration for this website.

What is your hope for the future of the Type 1 Diabetes community?

The Type 1 community has already come so far, both scientifically and socially. The advancements in medical technology alone are remarkable, and the community in the US is quite strong. My hope is that this unity will expand outside of the USA because, a bit unfortunately, the network of Type 1 diabetics is very much global. I also hope that awareness of the condition improves around the world. In Singapore, advocacy for Type 1 is overshadowed by the more prevalent Type 2 diabetes. In the States, although Type 1 is more common than in Singapore, there are still incorrect assumptions and a gap of knowledge about the condition. I’m confident that the T1D community will advance in the future, and I’m excited to see where the medical and technological research takes us next.

A Day in Kuwait City, Kuwait with Fay Al Bader

Ever wonder what it is like to live in Kuwait City, Kuwait? Good thing I know someone who does- my bestie Fay!

In my first post of this series, my dear friend Divya, who is originally from New Dehli, India, but has grown up in Nigeria shared her favorite places to go and things to do in a day in Lagos. Next up is my bestie Fay Al Bader. Through hearing Fay talk about Kuwait since we met, it has always been top on my list for places to visit. Fay is my very first- and by no means last- Middle Eastern friend. In knowing Fay, I learned all about the Muslim faith, tasted Arabic coffee for the first time, and introduced more than one Arabic word into my vocabulary (habibi being a personal favorite). Fay’s enthusiasm for the Middle East even motivated me to participate in my college’s Dubai Elective Abroad program, where I traveled to The United Arab Emirates for ten days over Thanksgiving break. Without Fay, there are so many things that would be unknown to me, one of the many reasons that I cherish our relationship and am honored to call her one of my closest friends. Fay was kind enough to “virtually” show us around her home city, so without further ado, Fay take it away!


Kuwait… The Pearl of the Gulf… A land that I am honored to call my home. If anyone has been to Kuwait or met anyone from here, they will undoubtedly know how much love its people have for their country. It may be small to those looking at it from the outside, but to me it is my world and it will always be the most beautiful place in my eyes. One of the things I admire the most about Kuwait is that you still find a deep sense of culture and traditions embedded in many aspects of our daily lives and within many homes, which is something I believe is very rare to find in other parts of the world in our present day. Regardless of how far we progress and embrace change, you will always find Kuwaiti families that are determined to keep our culture alive and to stay loyal to our traditions, traditions that our late grandfathers and grandmothers have instilled in all of us. 

I can go on and on about why I have such a deep love for Kuwait, from its unique culture, its phenomenal food to its hospitable people but I will leave it at that. I hope everyone gets the chance to visit my beautiful country and experience all that I have with your own eyes. I sure do love every bit of it, down to the last grain of its fine sand.

Favorite place for breakfast

Madison & Heig

Photos taken from Madison & Heig’s Instagram 

They have a lovely selection of dishes, freshly baked pastries and drinks that always uphold to a high level of quality. Their staff and service are excellent. The place also has a great vibe and is decorated with such simple but beautiful elements. It also has floor to ceiling windows so it brings in so much sunlight (which I love to see especially in the morning) and you can see the waterfront because it is located on one of Kuwait’s main roads, the Arabiain Gulf Road, which overlooks the ocean.

Favorite places for lunch

Habra

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Photo taken from Habra’s Instagram 

The Peacock

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Photo taken from the following website

Aside from the fact that both these places have delicious food, they also hold so many memories. I often go to both these restaurants with my family and we always order the same dishes, if not more food every time we go. One is more fancy than the other but they both have the friendless staff and maintain an exceptionally high level of quality. Both are also family friendly which I love.

Favorite places for dinner

White Robata

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Photo taken from White Robata’s Instagram

Both these places have exquisite food that is prepared so well. I also like that you find a combination of young couples, families and group of friends at all times so it is nice to be around. In addition, they are not too loud which I really appreciate because I don’t like being in a place with music so loud that you have to constantly scream. Again the staff is extremely friendly and attentive to detail.

Ora

Photos taken from Ora’s Instagram

White Robata in particular is located in Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Center (a.k.a JACC), which is one of the newer complexes that houses multiple restaurants and a beautiful Opera House which hosts many concerts throughout the year. Moreover, the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating areas and in the winter, I enjoy sitting outside because it overlooks the dancing fountain, which always plays many national and/or famous songs that everyone always enjoys. It is so heartwarming to watch  families and friends gather around the fountain and enjoy the beautiful show, especially the young children who end up singing and dancing along.

Favorite place for coffee

Toby’s Estate

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Photo taken from Toby’s Estate’s Instagram 

I would say this is my favorite coffee place for multiple reasons. For starters, their selection of coffee and pastries are great. There are also multiple branches that are conveniently located around Kuwait so you can easily find one to stop by. Each branch is uniquely decorated and has so much open space. Again, you always find a mix of younger couples, families and friends, which isn’t the case with many of the other coffee shops. I particularly enjoy this because I feel more comfortable around this mix as opposed to just younger group of friends.

Favorite tourist destinations

Shaheed Park

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Photo taken from Shaheed Park’s Instagram

It is dedicated to all the martyrs who lose their lives within the Iraqi Invasion (1990-1991). The park has multiple phases, one of which is still under construction, and includes a few restaurants, tracks for running & walking, an atrium-like stadium (which hosts multiple concerts) and last but not least, a wall that displays the names and pictures of all the martyrs. 

Souk Al Mubarakiya (The Old Souk)

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Photo taken from the Souk’s Instagram 

This is probably the place that encompasses the greatest amount of Kuwaiti culture, which I found is the most beautiful part about it. You can find everything from traditional clothing, food, sweets, jewelery and so much more as you roam around this historical landmark. More importantly, this place embodies so much of Kuwait’s history of Kuwait and will definitely find a few stores that have been there since Al Mubarkiya was built, many passed multiple generations.

Favorite day-time outing

Either going to a mall or going out for coffee

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Photo taken from Toby’s Estate’s Instagram 

I like going to a mall for family lunch or to do some random shopping. I prefer going in the morning at times just to avoid heavy crowds but sometime I like being around a lot of people because it feels lively. I also like going out for coffee during the day with my family or friends because it is always very natural and chill and you get to sit down for a while and get to enjoy each other’s company after a long and tiring week.

Favorite night time outing

Movie

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Photo from the Cinescape Kuwait Instagram 

There is something about getting a warm bucket of popcorn and a side of nachos to share and enjoy with family and friends that is so comforting to me. It was also a tradition for my family and I to go out and enjoy a movie together every Friday night so I hope it is something we start doing again. Whether it a comedy or a thriller, I will always prefer going to a movie at night then getting dressed up for another dinner.

Everyone can’t leave Kuwait without buying….

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bakhoor, a dara’a, and local sweets 

Each and every one of these represents local culture and something special to Kuwait. You can find these items in essentially all other Gulf countries but they will also have distinct variations that are unique to every country.

Bakhoor – Essence

Dara’a – a local piece of clothing that is typically worn with Ramadan and family gatherings. They range from very casual, light designs to beautiful and lavish pieces that take your breath away with the amount of detail it holds.

Local sweets – first of all they are delicious and you never seem to have enough. Second of all, they contain local ingredients and are made from recipes that have been passed down from generations of families. (Of course every family makes it differently and has their own touch, which I love).