Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tips for a Small Kitchen

I'm not going to lie, but the thing that caught my attention the most from this article was the yellow standing mixer :)  Sigh...what I would do for a standing mixer, most probably in red to match my red hand mixer.

But, in all seriousness, these are some really great tips for those with a really small space.  Luckily my kitchen has a lot of cabinets, much much more than my last condo.  But, because of this, the "Oh, this is so cute, I might be able to use this later" syndrome has hit me hard and I have collected more things than ever before and now have lost all that really great space.

But something that I firmly believe in is white plates.  All my serving dishes and platters are white.  Even my fine china is a shade of white.  You can't go wrong with white and you can always dress it up with something else, flowered bowls or napkins or a colorful tablecloth.  You wouldn't be able to do that if you're dishes were colored or had a pattern.

As for appliances, well, I have a lot.  These are a few things that I absolutely can't live without and would recommend everyone to have, in order of importance (for me).  I use them all the time, the juicer much less often.

1.  Electric teapot and warming tray (totally saves on my gas bill and my time)
2.  Toaster (4 toast slots, not me, it makes a difference)
3.  Rice Cooker (takes 15-20 minutes to cook 2 cups of rice)
4.  Hand Mixer (I have the 5 speed)
5.  Blender (the hubby uses this more than I do)
6.  Food Processor - Mini and 11 cup (I have both and the mini is perfect for quick chopping needs)
7.  Juicer (this is a great little juicer for small juicing needs)
8.  Waffle Maker (self-explanatory)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

True Beauty

I came across this quote and it reminded me of the many times my mom has told me to always smile no matter what I'm feeling.  Smile even if you're hurting inside and smile even if the other person is rude and arrogant.  You never know what the other person is going through or what kind of day they had, so smile and you might be able to give them something to smile about too.  

"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."  

- Roald Dahl (The Twits)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not Surprised

I came across this article today and wanted to share.  I definitely do not agree with everything this article says, and some things I agree with just because of first hand experience.  It is also very disheartening to read how retailers and money moguls go about trying to cheat the consumers out of their money. That's all it comes down to!

Read the's interesting.  I've put my comments in highlight :)

6 Secrets Retailers Don't Want You to Know

If you're like most consumers searching for the lowest prices when shopping, you need to know retailers have some tricks up their sleeve for fighting back against their own rising costs.

It's no secret prices keep rising. According to Consensus Economics, publisher of Consensus Forecasts USA, inflation and overall prices will rise a modest 2 percent in 2012, but income will not rise accordingly. Gas prices are expected to rise, and we can all personally attest to food price hikes. Even the U.S. Postal Service raised its rates in January, and it might do so again soon. Prices for branded goods in high demand such as Levi's jeans and Nike sneakers already rose 5 percent to 15 percent during 2011 and will rise another 5 percent to 10 percent before 2012 is over, according to retail analysts.

Be warned, say consumer experts and retail industry insiders alike, because the best price is not all you have to look out for when trying to get the most for your money.

1. Low prices don't go with high quality

Manufacturers for items from bedding to boots have been sweating price hikes in cotton, leather and other textiles. And, the costs of doing business in China, from sewing to shipping, have increased as well.

"It's a dirty little secret in the retail industry: To avoid retail price increases, retailers and manufacturers 'value-engineer' a product to reduce its cost by purposely taking the quality out of products to make that price point a reality for you, the consumer," says James Dion, president of Dionco, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm. "You will see this with smaller brands and private-label products at discount merchants and off-price retailers where the prices seem to actually get lower."

[Related: Things Your Thrift Store Owner Won't Tell You]

"Prices for popular name-brand footwear (think UGG and Nike) are still increasing 5 percent to 7 percent more this year with the quality and workmanship what you'd expect," says Mike Featherston, president and CEO of ICB International, a footwear development and resourcing company. "Not every manufacturer or retailer has cut corners, but be very careful at evaluating low-cost, no-name merchandise."

I agree with this to some extent.  I have noticed that items you buy from Wal-Mart or K-Mart or sometimes even Target, just don't last the test of time.  I have also noticed how certain things I've bought from TJMaxx have rusted over time (such as my super cute red colander).  Now, I do think some of these stores are just CHEAP!  But in general discount stores such as Marshalls,  TJMaxx and even ROSS are where I find some of my best deals.  Some people won't even step foot into these stores, but you know what, you're loss, my gain.  I have found some of the most beautiful things at these stores (even ROSS) that would shock some people.  

I think one of the problems today is that retailers just make cheap products and sell them at low costs, just to force you to have to buy it again the following year.  But, I don't agree with the fact that all expensive things are high quality.  Perfect example is walking through Nordstrom and looking at their clothing.  I can get the same quality and material at another store for much less that will last the same amount of time (a week!).  I have a few items of clothing that I paid a lot for and they tore and shrunk after wearing them once.  This has nothing to do with the price I paid for it or where I bought it, but more so to do with the fact that retailers are able to get away with using cheaper fabric (such as this horrible trend where almost EVERYTHING is made of stretchy jersey material).

Handbags are another story.  I do agree that if you want a good sturdy handbag, you need to fork over the money.  My only problem with this is that I get tired of my purses.  And so, paying $500 for a Gucci that I will probably have forever just doesn't suit me.  But, I am starting to think about forking over some good mulla for a good black tote bag.  I'm considering it.  

2. Retailers take advantage of focus on price

Consumers often set a price in their mind to pay for an item, says James Dion, president of Dionco, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm.

"If your eye is on the lowest price when shopping for footwear, apparel or household goods, you can make serious spending mistakes this year," Dion says. "You will overlook smaller packages, (fewer) items in a set and inferior goods that simply won't last or wear as well."

It's a trend that can be tracked, according to Britt Beemer, who found similar results in his 2011 Consumer Track Back-To-School Shopping Survey.

"We found that a troubling 56 percent of people don't notice how an item is made and base their decision solely on price," Beemer says.

"It's very dangerous to be set on a price alone when shopping. Items of high quality may cost more than you dreamed, but you have to remember that one great, high-quality item replaces many mediocre items," says Vicky Oliver, author of "The Millionaire's Handbook."

Well, can't help it when you're living on a budget.  What are people to do???

3. Outlet stores are no bargain

You might think outlet stores and off-price shopping is the way to get the better goods for a cheaper price. "But manufacturers and retailers have figured out it's actually cheaper to just make lower-quality merchandise specifically for these stores (think outlet malls, Marshall's and Ross), and that's 90 percent of what you'll find there," says Vicky Oliver, author of "The Millionaire's Handbook."

"That Coach handbag at the outlet is not the same one sold in a department store," Oliver says. "It's a completely different caliber of an item. Its full-price cousin is sturdier, has superior stitching and softer leather. The outlet merchandise is less costly, but lower in quality, too. And if it is the real thing, the only reason it's there is because people with money didn't like it enough to buy it."

[Related: 10 Ways to Get Yard Sale Deals]

Oliver suggests spending time in the upscale department stores to train your eye and hand in the look and feel of the higher-quality designer items. "Try them on, and notice the drape and superior fit. Examine seams, pockets and buttons in the light so you can recognize high-quality versus low-quality when you are shopping on a budget," she says.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I have bought some great items at outlet stores that have lasted longer than things I bought elsewhere.  But the fact comes down to this:  it is no longer about name brands.  You can have clothes or handbags, or really anything from anywhere that just doesn't last.  Quality and craftsmanship no longer exists.  If they can make it look good for much less...that's what they will do.  They don't care if it doesn't hold up in the wash, or whether they pre-shrink the material before they use it.  I can't tell you how many times I've washed something in cold water and it has shrunk.  There is no excuse for this.  People should be able to buy nice things that last, period.

"That Coach handbag at the outlet is not the same one sold in a department store," Oliver says. "It's a completely different caliber of an item. Its full-price cousin is sturdier, has superior stitching and softer leather. The outlet merchandise is less costly, but lower in quality, too. And if it is the real thing, the only reason it's there is because people with money didn't like it enough to buy it."

Wow...the arrogance of some people.   Now, I've heard this before about the Coach handbags, and I really don't know if it's true or not.  I have seen NO difference between the ones in the store and those at the outlet.  But I do know, some outlet bags are made specifically for outlet stores and are stamped inside accordingly.  But you know what, WHO CARES!  It's a bag!  And, even if it wasn't made for the outlet store and it's there because, "...people with money didn't like it enough to buy it." then WOOHOO for you, you get a great bag that YOU LIKE, with a great price.  Why does our style have to be dictated by those with money anyways.

4. All bedding and bath items are not the same

"Consumers think any towel or sheet is as good as any other, and that's a costly mistake," explains James Dion, president of Dionco, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm. Two bedding and bath suppliers, who preferred to remain anonymous, gave the following advice for examining bedding and bath merchandise.

Towels: The standard bath sheet size is 35 by 60 inches, but bath sheets in stores today may be sized 30 by 54 and cost the same or less than their larger counterparts. Compare towels by size and feel first, then on price for comparable items.

Bedding: Pure-spun microfiber polyester is the cost-cutting bedding textile retailers from Wal-Mart to Bed Bath & Beyond turned to in 2011. A recent price check found that pure cotton 250 to 300 thread-count sheets cost double the same size microfiber. The thinner microfiber splits easily and does not breathe like cotton. Pure cotton thread counts now range from 100 to 1,000, with the lowest feeling like burlap. The main difference between the 600-count and 1,000-count is the exorbitant price. If the label doesn't specify, it is likely a cotton-polyester blend. And bedding sets may contain fewer items than you remember.

I TOTALLY agree with this.  Pay the money for good towels and good sheets and they will last you a lifetime.  If that means you're going to fork over $200 bucks for some nice sheets and towels, you're going to have them forever.  I got my sheets and towels from bed bath and beyond (wedding gifts) and they were NOT cheap.  They are amazing and after 4 years, they're going strong.  However, the sheets that I bought from TJMaxx because I loved the color and were reasonable (400 count)...not so great!  If you want something that lasts in this category, pay the money and get good quality.  Don't be fooled by the price or brand name.  Read the labels!    

5. The latest trends will cost you more

"If you examine hot new trends such as colored skinny jeans, faux leather outerwear, handbags and apparel ... with zippers instead of buttons or laces or less fabric, you will see that these are all ways a manufacturer can cut costs," says Andrea Woroch, savings expert for Kinoli Inc., creator of "These small changes per item really add up to a lot of cost savings for the retailers. Plus, they are promoted to you as the hot, new thing and priced higher to boot."

Apparel suppliers say it's cheaper to dye a pair of jeans one solid color than it is to acid wash or treat denim many times to achieve a desired denim wash, and they use less fabric in a thinner grade of cotton to manufacture skinny jeans and most "jeggings," or leggings that resemble skin-tight jeans. Zippers are faster and cheaper to sew in than buttons and lace, and they can take the place of more expensive fabric or leather, too.

"Most low-priced, low-quality nonbranded or private-label clothing today will simply fall apart faster than its branded counterparts," says James Dion, president of Dionco, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm.

My mom has always told me to buy clothing that has a classic look.  Something that doesn't mold into the trends of the season.  That way, not only do you save money, but you don't have to keep changing your wardrobe to fit the changing styles of the year.  Also, I've noticed in the last year, that more and more clothing are see-through.  Don't tell me this is the new sexy trend.  This is how they've fooled people.  Have everything visible...cause it's the style.  No, I'm sorry, you're style is dictated by retailers cheapness.  It is so hard to find a nice dress, anywhere that doesn't require you to wear a slip or even a shirt underneath it.  Dresses, tunics, skirts are supposed to have an inner lining.  You're bra is NOT supposed to be visible.  What happened to have some dignity and class? This is not just a hijabi issue...I know non-hijabi's that have a problem with this.  It comes down to them spending less time and money to make an item (hence less fabric) and therefore, forcing people to accept it, without question.

6. Beware of 'designer exclusives'

So what about brands such as Simply Vera, the Vera Wang brand sold only at Kohl's, or Jason Wu for Target? If you think it's the same designer merchandise sold at Bloomingdale's for four times more, then you need a reality check. "You're buying into the brand name, but you need to understand it's not the same," says Vicky Oliver, author of "The Millionaire's Handbook." "These designer 'exclusives,' as stores call them, are nothing more than cheaply made merchandise using that designer's name.

"They don't feel, look or fit the same as the real thing," she says. "Unless you have disposable income to spend on this stuff, you'd do better to save up your money and invest in just one classic, beautifully fitting piece of the real thing. Even the high-end department stores have sales and coupons, so get on the email lists and befriend the sales associate to find out (about) sales -- and spend your money then."

Don't settle for less in your shopping bag: Read labels and open loose products to check sizes. Evaluate fabric, fit and workmanship carefully to make sure you're getting the best your budget allows.

I'm disappointed to know this, but not surprised.  My dad has always told me, if you are going to spend the money, get the best.  Now, he may not agree that this extends to clothing and handbags :D but it definitely can.  Now, this doesn't mean I'm going to pay $1000 bucks and get that Bottega Vendetta bag I really want or $300 bucks and get that beautiful dress from Nordstrom.  No, not in my budget and I'm saving up money for other things.  But, all things in moderation!

This article sends the wrong message to people.  I haven't read Vicky Oliver's book, but maybe this is something I should pick up and read.  Just be smart about what you're buying.  If you can spend a bit more to get something that lasts longer, then by all means do, but make sure you use it more than once.  Don't be fooled by the high price tag and fancy brand name too, they aren't always going to be better than the bargain deal.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Night at The Beach

Last night we decided to go to the beach for a small after dinner "picnic" with my father-in-law.  On the menu was tea tea and more tea :)  

We don't make enough time to do stuff like this.  It was a lot of fun.  I wish we had stayed longer!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend Fun

This has been one of the best weekends I've had in a long time (minus the times with the hubby).  I saw some of my closest friends and even made a new tighter friendship.  Just being with people that appreciate you and let you be yourself is an amazing feeling and something that I haven't had in a long time.

Certain people come into your lives at the most unexpected times and do the most amazing things, and for me this new friendship that was made helped me free myself of years of anguish.

 Oh hello, I have your twin at home :)

 How cute is this?  Perfect for...hmm...

 If I didn't have enough teacups...these would be in my cabinet.

 Beautiful coasters.

If I didn't have an ant problem, I would have gotten this.

 Veggie Grill's Grillin' Chickin'

 Buffalo Wings.  These were amazing but super spicy. Did you know celery helps reduce the burning feeling after eating something really spicy?  


Friday, August 24, 2012

Invisible Bike Helmet

My husband has been talking about getting a bike for a while now.  He works about 10 minutes away from our home, so it would be much more efficient and green to ride a bike to work, but more so, great exercise.  I told him I think it's a great idea, and I'm totally for it.  BUT...if he gets a bike, he has to get a helmet.  Well, his immediate answer was, "I don't need a helmet."  Typical, I know.  And so, a debate ensued, where I said yes you do, and he said no I don't, and it went on for about 10 minutes.  We got no where, but either way, I'm going to make him wear one, whether he likes it or not.

Two swedish students have come up with a great idea, an invisible bicycle helmet.  And the idea belongs to two women :) Props to these two young women for their marvelous idea.  I hope it succeeds and makes it way to us as soon as possible.

Watch the video, it's amazing.  I figured out pretty early on in the video what it was, but not how it works?  What about you?

I'm just wondering, what happens if the sensors don't work?  

Pink Dolphin

I knew there was a reason why they had a pink dolphin at the Atlanta Aquarium gift shop :)

This little guy is named pinky, and he's an albino Bottlenose Dolphin, as confirmed by his red eyes.  His skin doesn't generate the melanin needed to give his skin the necessary pigment and so he looks pink.

The Amazon River has pink dolphins that aren't albino.  Their skin is naturally pink and they are smaller in length than sea dolphins, but have longer snouts.

Isn't this amazing? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The tomatoes on my tomato plant are beginning to ripen.  The weather has been so hot here the last couple of weeks, and although it has made me miserable, the tomatoes seem to be happy :)  These tomatoes are a big larger than cherry tomatoes and in my opinion even more delicious.

YAY! There are more to come :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Armoire Makeover

I love before and after projects.  This armoire makeover is one of those amazing DIY projects that really gets me excited.



I love the color and I love how everything has it's own place.  I think, if and when we move, an armoire for a desktop computer is great, assuming the hubby agrees, since the desktop computer will probably be his :D (I promise not to put out pink accessories on your desk).  The bright interior is not only soothing, but the fact that you can close up the space when you need to, to hide the mess, is one of the best things about an armoire.  That way, when you have guests, you don't have to run around cleaning up the desk, stuffing papers away that you won't be able to find later.  Brilliant idea!

Eid Mubarak

Ramadan is officially over.  May Allah accept everyones prayers and wishes from this path month and help us to continue on an even better path this coming year.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Search of: Great Black Tote Bag

I am looking for a really great black tote bag that I can take to work/school and use as a carry on when I travel.  Something that holds everything and anything (including my laptop) and that has really sturdy handles.

I had a really great Coach tote bag that I used for years, but as with all great things that I have, I eventually wear them out.  So, since then, I've been trying to find something just as chic and yet even more practical for my many uses and major roughness with bags (I think this is a genetic mere has the same issues).

I came across this bag on pinterest about a month ago and totally fell in love with the style and just had to have it.  Although not black, it was something different.  I thought it was going to be perfect.  I was a bit unsure about the zebra print, but decided to step outside my comfort zone (not an animal print person) and give it a try.  Sadly, after 3 days of use, the bag tore.  The zebra print was made of straw weavings and pulled away from the leather seam.  Luckily amazon has a great return policy, so I'm returning the bag.  Clearly it was lousy quality or a sign from God that I own too many bags.  I would prefer to go with the latter :D

So once again the search is on. 

Here are some styles I am currently in love with:

(If I had a choice and money wasn't an option, this bag would be the ONE!)

Steve Madden 
I would buy this in a heartbeat, as it's in my price range, but it's out of stock :( Why?? Why is the one bag that I can afford not available.  Cruel world I tell you! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vela Scarves

A few weeks ago, I had purchased a vela scarf, Ruffle Prima Ballerina in black. When I received it, however, I noticed that in the corner edge of one of the ruffled pieces, the seared edge stitching had come apart from the material. Vela was generous enough to take the scarf back (pay my return shipping...actually still waiting for it) and send me another one, with a complimentary scarf.  It was very generous of them.

I'm not sure why there are gray lines throughout the ruffles though. I think it might be due to the machine used for searing of the edges...maybe i'm wrong, but it bothers me.  I'll have to figure out a way to coverup those lines, maybe dye the scarf again???  I should haven't to do that, especially when I paid about $40 for it.  Disappointed, but nonetheless, I don't want to return the scarf again.

 My complimentary scarf: Foil Print Silver

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stephen Wiltshire

Have you ever heard of Stephen Wiltshire?  He is an amazing artist who can draw any cityscape, skyline, or scene from heart.  He is also autistic, which makes his talent even more amazing.

"In May 2005 Stephen was invited to Tokyo, to complete his biggest ever panoramic drawing of this vibrant city, well known for its modern architecture. 
...One of Stephen's extraordinary abilities is to memorise landscapes up to the highest detail. During this flight he had a thorough look at the view of the Japanese capital from the helicopter, including thousands of buildings, towers, highways, cars, buses, even down to intricate details of trees and windows...Up on the roof above the 54th floor, an amazing scene burst upon his view. Stephen had another look at areas which he had not seen from the helicopter, and after a short while he was ready to start his masterpiece. After a short discussion he was ready to start the 10 meters long panoramic artwork. From this moment Stephen had only his exceptional memory to recall and draw the full landscape building by building.
Throughout the 7 days Stephen sketched from morning to evening. He seemed to be so fascinated that only his 6 o'clock beep from his watch could stop him for the day...
Day after day the 360 degrees view was slowly emerging and gradually built up to the most amazing drawing of Tokyo drawing ever produced."

London Gallery
To be able to draw with such exquisite detail, all from memory is an amazing talent.  His drawings are for sale, although a bit out of my price range.   Maybe someday I'll get to visit his gallery and see the drawings in person, and maybe pick up a piece while I'm there ;)


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