Overcoming holiday blues

 

I am so excited for the holidays I can’t even stand it. Being away from my family has been very taxing on me. I went from seeing them every single week, sometimes multiple times a week, to now only a couple times a year. These past few months have been hard for me to go another day without feeling sadness. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I always love to be with my family the most during that time. Since I will miss the holidays with my family, I decided to fill my home with the spirit of Christmas and to surround myself with as many nice and loving people as I possibly can and to open my home and heart to more people.

I started off by decorating my home with Christmas inspired details, like ribbons, snowflakes and a Christmas tree. There is definitely a mark-up on Christmas related items, but to me, it’s worth the money and time it takes searching. I haven’t found what I like as far as decor, for example it’s been impossible to find garland. I thought of going to Dubai, but it’s not that serious right now. I also haven’t found any decent wreaths that aren’t super small, but again I gave up on that also. I’ve made due and it’s been fine so far. Some of the places I’ve found Christmas décor are Zara Home, Bath & Body Works now has their holiday candle, soaps and lotion collection! and Daiso in Muscat Grand Mall, Home Centre, and a few other home stores around town. I bought a tree off a lady who moved away and she sold it with all the ornaments. Totally not my taste at all, but it was a good price and it had everything already with it, so I can’t complain. I’ll get my “dream tree and ornaments” sometime down the line.

In addition to changing up the environment, I’ve also been trying to listen to as much Christmas music as possible. This immediately puts me in a great mood and I am totally in the Christmas spirit. I also have been trying to remember to tell everyone “Merry Christmas”! I thought about going to the church service here, but when I went on Easter, it was over crowded and honestly quite dangerous with how many people were in that room. Fire code definitely wasn’t in mind, so I won’t be going as I know it’ll be packed again. However, I will be tuning in via live stream on the church service from home. I definitely want to be sure that the meaning of Christmas is at the forefront of my mind. I like to use this time as more of a reminder to appreciate my loved ones and to be grateful for what I have. With Jesus Christ’s birthday, I always take this time as an opportunity to refresh, cleanse, purge and start from a clean slate. This time is my “new year”, so to speak.

I hope that this brought some inspiration to those of you who are away from home on ways to make it more of a happy time. Whether you live overseas due to the military or for work or whatever the reason may be, I hope that you find that little piece of home that will brighten your days during this time of year.

Love, Marcella

5 days in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was an experience to remember. I loved experiencing a new culture, a different people and just a completely different vibe than what I’m used to when I travel. I usually travel to tropical destinations, and stay on a nice resort, and sip my drink while sleeping on the beach or reading a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love relaxing and napping, but this time I wanted a more immersed cultural experience. I wanted to really learn about the region and meet the locals. If you are looking to travel to Sri Lanka, I highly recommend the places I’m about to tell you about. There is so much to see so I definitely want to go back and explore more of this amazing island country.

Things to do

I toured the Geragama Tea Factory. It was on the side of a mountain, and honestly I thought to myself ‘there is no way a tea factory is in this small space’; but when we went all the way to the top, there were tons of tea plants and lots of equipment to do the entire tea making process. You start the tour from the top and then work your way down through the different rooms of equipment, each with a specific purpose in the team making process.  We saw where the leaves are humidified, where they are processed, and every step from start to finish. At the end there is a shop where you could buy the teas produced there, and I bought the BOP tea = English Breakfast and a few packs of Green Tea. I have to say it is probably the best and freshest tea I’ve ever had.

After the tea factory, we told our taxi driver we wanted to go to a spice garden. He found one for us and it wasn’t what I thought. I had my heart set on going to a spice garden where you can learn about and buy different spices to cook with. But he took us to a spice garden where they make things out of plants for medicinal purposes. You can also cook with it, but this location specialized in research and development of healing spices. We did a tour and as we went along I learned more and more about everything in nature that can help you health-wise. I was amazed at how many benefits these things had, and all along I relied on Advil or Tylenol to help with headaches, but I could have been using natural products. They even had stuff to help with hair growth and thickening. Needless to say I bought a bunch of their products and I cannot wait to try them to see if they work. I’ll keep you posted on the natural beauty products I bought and liked.

We then headed out the next day leaving Kandy to head to Dambulla, and stopped off at the center of Sri Lanka. It was like an ancient house or temple made of rocks with etchings of people and lions. I learned that the lake next to it was where the temple was originally located, but back in the 90’s they uplifted all the rock to just a little ways over so that the temple would not be submerged in water and they wouldn’t lose that piece of ancient history. They had to mark every single piece of rock so that it would be put back exactly the way it was before. I can’t imagine having to do that in the heat and humidity.

The forecast said it would rain every day, 100% of the time, but we got lucky and it only rained at night, with the exception of one day which we ended up going to Dambulla temple rather than our planned hike for the day. Before you enter the temple, you have to remove your shoes. I was a little hesitant because the ground is straight up cobble stone, but luckily the stone is so old and worn that it wasn’t uncomfortable on my feet. The temple was very beautiful and there were very old paintings on the walls of Buddhist figures. There were lots of people there to give flower offerings to the Buddha. Afterwards, was a great photo opp because you end up being at the top of a big hill essentially and you can see the lush green land for as far as you can see.

I went on a hike in Sigiriya to the Lion’s Paws of Sri Lanka and we went all the way to the top. It was the most breathtaking and amazing experience I have had in a long time. It is an ancient fortress where a King’s palace later occupied. After the King died, the fortress was turned into a Buddhist temple until the 14th century. I couldn’t believe that something that old still exists. And the views and how high you were made you feel like you could touch the clouds.

Our last day I did a spa day after the Sigiriya hike. The spa at Jetwing lake was probably my favorite part of the trip after being sore and my feet hurt from all the hiking. My massage was 90 minutes and I swear the massage therapist had magic hands. The pressure of the Swedish massage was perfect! I also really liked that there is a shower in-room so you can take a quick shower afterwards if you prefer not to keep the oil on you, or before if you are coming from a sweaty hike. I was so relaxed that I asked the therapist if I could stay for another 15 minutes to finish my nap.

How I got around

We hired a taxi when we got to the airport, and the price to have a driver with the car for the whole time you are there is the same price you would pay for a rental car. Beware of renting a car as the driving is extremely dangerous in Sri Lanka if you’ve never done it before. I highly advise to go the driver route so that you are with an experienced driver and they know how to navigate the roads. Our driver’s name was Sunil and he was very sweet. His English was good enough that he understood what we wanted. Sometimes things got lost in translation, but if you are patient with each other, you will get the message across. Also, he has experience with tourists so he generally knows what you want without having to fully explain it. Just say Sirigirya, and he knows you most likely want to hike the Lion’s feet or Pidrangula as an example.

Where I stayed

I stayed at Ozo hotel in Kandy the first 2 nights and it was a decent hotel. It was quite simple and had a small balcony where you can enjoy the sunrise in the mornings. I had a peaceful sleep and the bed was super comfortable. I didn’t like their shampoo and body wash that was included. It just seemed of very cheap quality. I also didn’t like the hair dryer that came in-room. Luckily I brought my own, so I just ended up using that. These are minor grievances, and I overall liked the hotel. The restaurant was actually really great for dinner and they had good wine selections. And I also loved the breakfast buffet. I was happy with the fact that they had great customer service. We accidentally booked Ozo in a different city, and they switched the booking for us with no penalty. Win!

We switched to Jetwing Lake in Dambulla, which is only 15 minutes away from Sigiriya. The hotel was so unique. It’s a brand-new build, only 9 months old and the concept is super cool. It’s all about modern minimalism mixed with woodey furniture and a little grit. The lobby was fully open-air concept as well as the hallways. When I say open air, there are no walls. You walk up to a platform and there is the lobby desk. I absolutely loved our room. I love simple and chic. The shower was open concept, you just walk in and turn on the water. I loved that there was a separate tub that you could take a bubble bath in. I didn’t use it, but I should have. The towels were plush and soft. The hair dryer came in handy when I needed to wash my hair that evening from all the sweat build up. The bar was stocked with soda and snacks and the room comes with 2 complementary bottles of water.

 

There is so much to cover on this amazing place, so I will be doing another update on where we ate, nightlife in Sri Lanka and where I shopped. I had an overall amazing experience and like I said before, I will be going back!

Love, Marcella

Beauty around the world

 

As I find myself traveling around the world more and more, I have decided to share beauty finds from each place I visit. I recently went to Sri Lanka and I went to a spice garden. I thought a spice garden had spices for cooking. But the main focus of the one I went to was for medicinal purposes. I didn’t know this prior to going, but I was so glad I went.

I learned about all sorts of different plants and trees that have many different benefits for your body. I was amazed that it was all found in nature. I couldn’t believe how many natural remedies are made from the different combinations of plants, tree saps, roots, etc. One in particular that sparked my interest is the Sandalwood tree. At the spice garden, they made a cream made of sandalwood that can help with the worst acne. It helps with acne from small pimples to cystic acne. Over time it’ll clear it up, but it’s not for sure it’ll rid it for good. I have struggled so much with adult acne these past few years and I am willing to try anything, apart from internal medicine, to clear it up. So I’ll let you know how that goes. I can’t wait to share what other beauty products I found in Sri Lanka. I also am going to share a skin update after I try the Sandalwood a few times. Lately my skin has been fluctuating and I’m nervous it’ll break out but I won’t know until I try!

What are some of your favorite beauty products you’ve found while traveling?

 

How to Cut Curly Hair at Home

Hey y’all, so about a week ago I did something craaaazy! I cut my own hair at home! I didn’t even own a pair of hair cutting scissors. I had to make a special trip to the store for a pair of scissors just so I can attempt this madness. Let me explain, just hear me out. I am extremely particular about who cuts my hair and how they cut my hair. Cutting and shaping curly hair is not easy. There’s strategy and planning behind it. Since moving overseas, I just have not seen anyone with hair like mine and when I finally did step foot in a salon, I asked what is their process for cutting curly hair and the first thing they said was flat iron. Uh, nope! That’s pretty much a recipe for a bad hair cut. Feeling super discouraged and frustrated I decided to take matters into my own hands, literally. So here is a video of me cutting my own hair, LIVE! I show you step by step so you can cut your own hair at home also. Please note that you will do this method if you’re looking to achieve a similar look (rounded & full hair). Subscribe to my channel here –> Love Marcella for more curly hair, beauty and lifestyle videos.

xo, Marcella

Buying a Chanel bag in Paris

I have always bought fashion magazines as a little girl and teenager and I remember being mesmerized by the different styles the designers made every season and how different stylists put their own spin on the collection. I remember being able to see people on the street or on tv and in movies and knowing exactly what designer they were wearing and the season it came out in and their inspirations behind that collection. I was a true student of fashion and it brought me so much joy. It was a lovely obsession. It was my escape.

Now, years passed by and I still love designer items. Especially designer accessories. I have always been fascinated not only by the craftsmanship but also the story behind the brand and the person who created it. What was their motivation to start their fashion house? Who were they as a person? What obstacles did they overcome to get to the point that they are at now? I feel connected to them because I myself feel like I’ve had a lot of obstacles to overcome to get to where I am today and I know there’s a lot more I’ll need to overcome to get to where I want to be.

As far as craftsmanship goes, I know what it takes to create something. It takes people who “get it” to understand the value of  what has been created. I truly appreciate the hands that work to make an item, the hours it takes to make it, the attention to detail, sourcing the materials, etc. I think about the whole process and economics behind it and I appreciate what the team behind a brand created, the process they went through to create it, their inspiration and how it was able to get into stores.

There are certain brands and items that I would consider investment pieces. In my opinion I believe the top ones are Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermes. I’ve seen those brands have certain items that are produced over many seasons and have either held their value or increased in value. On this list of top investment pieces are the Chanel classic flap bags, Louis Vuitton classic prints and the Hermes Birkin bags.

My first luxury/investment piece is going to be the Chanel Classic Flap medium size in black with calfskin leather and gold hardware from the Paris boutique. I went to the Chanel store in Dubai mall and I tried it on to be sure it’s exactly what I wanted. It is e-ver-y-thing and MORE! It is so elegant, classic and I can literally wear it with anything, every day. I prefer the calfskin leather because it’s more durable. The lambskin looks and feels more smooth and even more elegant, but it’s not suitable for everyday wear because it can get damaged very easily due to the delicate nature of the lambskin leather. I don’t plan on beating up my bag, lol, but I want the extra assurance that it won’t scuff so easily with daily use. So I’m choosing the calfskin so I can wear it to work, out on the town, with ath-leisure wear, casual days or on date nights.  I am so in love with the Chanel Classic Flap and I cannot wait to own it soon!

I hope that you take this post not only for information/educational purposes, but also as inspiration if you want to own a luxury item/s. I am using it as a way to put my desires out there in the universe. I’m using this post as a source of accountability for what I want to achieve. It won’t happen without a lot of hard work and discipline. This has been a goal of mine for a long time and I will achieve it. I’ll write an update post when I buy the Chanel Classic Flap medium in black with gold hardware in Paris!

In the meantime, do you own or want to own a luxury bag? What are your favorite investment pieces and why?

xo, Love Marcella