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?
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.
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?
My experience with Turkish baths, or Hamams, was an interesting one to stay the least. I’ve experienced an Arabic bath when I was in Spain. I figured this would be pretty much the same, but I was so wrong. In a good way. I went to the Ayasofoya Hamam which was originally constructed in 1556. Here’s a little background:
“The Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam in Istanbul was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect. It was built at the request of Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana), the wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century (1556-1557 AD). It was built where the ancient public baths of Zeuxippus (100-200 AD) used to stand, between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The area is also particularly significant as the site where the Temple of Zeus once stood.”
The men and women entrances are completely separate and on opposite ends of the building. I started the experience by entering the Hamam on the far end closest to the Blue Mosque.
I went in and was greeted by the manager. She led me in to the very quiet and dim room with relaxing, soft Turkish music playing and I filled out the standard “do you have any injuries” paperwork. Once I was done with that, I went to the changing area where you remove everything. When I say everything, I mean EV-ER-Y-THING. They do provide you with disposable underwear that feel more like a loose peace of cotton than underwear. And I got a purple peshtamal (turkish hand woven towel) to wrap around myself. I then met the attendant who would be performing the bath on me. She took my hand, and while holding hands, she led me to the next room. That was different for me. Usually they say something like “come with me” and you follow behind them. But she took my hand, and led me to the next destination. It’s subtle, but was very noticeable for me. I thought it was nice and immediately indicated to me that this would be a very different experience. We went into the all-white marble room and she instructed me to sit next to the fountain with the gold spout. I sat down, she ran the water and made sure it was a nice temperature. She handed me a gold bowl and told me to sit back against the wall and relax. I sat against the wall, to attention, and she said, “no relax”. I still didn’t understand what she meant, so she sat next to me and sat down against the wall and completely let herself relax. Every single muscle, down to her posture was almost limp. Then I had the “oooooh” moment, and understood what I needed to do. The whole point is to completely let go, and cleanse your body and mind. So I did just that, and used the gold bowl to pour water over myself as I waited for her to return.
When she returned, she also changed into just the towel and some flip flops so she doesn’t get her clothes wet while she baths me. She took the special exfoliating mit and scrubbed my whole body from my face down to my feet. She did everything. My butt, my legs, my boobs, feet, everything. I remember thinking “this must be what it feels like to a baby when they get a bath”! Once she was done exfoliating, she walked me over the the center of the room and then unwrapped my peshtamal and laid it on top of the heated marble. I laid down on top of it, face up, wondering “what the heck is she about to do?!”. She then took a bucket and dipped a cloth inside, flipped it around and then rung it out. When she rung it out, a huge blanket of foam soap covered my body. She did this 3 times and my whole body was covered in the soapy foam. Then she washed and massaged my whole body, I turned over and she did the same. Then we went back to the fountain and she rinsed my body and she washed my hair for me. It was literally the most relaxing thing ever. I thought we were done, and apparently we weren’t! We went up 2 flights of stairs and in to a small room with a massage bed. She then gave me a nice medium-pressure massage for about 30 minutes.
When I was done I went back downstairs, put on a robe and relaxed with my choice of Turkish coffee or Turkish tea. The experience was seriously unforgettable. I have never had anything like this happen to me before and it’s something I would love to do again. I felt like Royalty!
You guys, this is a must-do activity when traveling to Istanbul. Why is this the best-kept beauty secret? Because it is a full body exfoliation and moisturizing event! For days my skin felt incredibly soft and glowing. Have you ever been to a Turkish Hamam? Have you ever been to Turkey? xoxo
One of the things that I love about living in the GCC area is that there is always something to do and see. I’ve lived here for several months and haven’t taken the time to sightsee so I decided to take a weekend and do just that. Dubai is especially fun because there is so much to do.
I started the weekend off by heading over to Miracle Garden. It was hot as balls outside, so I only lasted about 30 minutes. Literally. It was blazing hot that day, and they give you a small umbrella at the entrance to try and cover yourself from the sun, but it doesn’t help at all. Other than the excruciating heat, the garden is so amazing. All the colors, the different sculptures made out of flowers, the different types of flowers. And it’s massive! I heard the garden is more lively in the winter time (i.e. December to February). Around that time of year it’s about 75 F or 24 C and it’s the perfect weather for outdoor living.
The Dubai Mall is a great place to spend time if you come anytime from late March to the end of October because it’s air conditioned. It’s so big that you can spend several days just exploring Dubai Mall. There is almost any and every major brand you can think of here. From high end retailers like Chanel, Burberry, Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton to high street like Top Shop, River Island, etc.
Just outside of the Dubai Mall there are water shows every 15 minutes and it’s synchronized to different songs. One time they did the 007 movie theme. Another time they did what sounded like a traditional turkish song. It’s a really lovely experience something nice to do with a snack or ice cream to take a quick break from shopping.
My favorite restaurants are of course the ones where I can get items that remind me of home like Texas Roadhouse and Cheesecake Factory. But if you’re looking for a little more culture in your food options I LOVED Abdel Wahab! The food there is absolutely delicious!
-When getting a taxi, don’t use the concierge. They use the more expensive black cars. Ask where to find a “regular taxi”. Do the same in the airport. There will be people asking you “taxi? taxi? you need a taxi?” and my first time here I said yes and was put in a black car. I thought “wow this is so cool. Dubai’s taxis are all town cars”. Really? Who am I kidding lol. I later found out those are people who are trying to get rides out of tourist who don’t know any better i.e. myself. So don’t make the mistake I made. Unless you prefer a town car, then more power to you. But for me, I just want to get from point A to point B.
-I highly suggest if you are visiting the GCC area, do it between the months of November and early March. Any other time, it’s just too hot! Especially to do anything outdoors.
Let me know if you want to see more travel guides. I’ll have part 2 of Dubai for you soon! xo
It truly seems like the time is flying by! I feels like just yesterday I moved to the Middle East and now, suddenly I’m about 5 months in to living here and I’ve found my groove! My time here involves many busy days of work, housework, cooking, spending time with friends and finding time in all of that for self-growth, meditation, saving money, working out, being great, etc. It’s exhausting! So I decided it was time for a much-needed break and I wasn’t going to take anything other than the sounds of the ocean and a nice cold cocktail with the warm sun feeding my soul and my skin. So that’s exactly what I got, but the place I stayed was more amazing than I expected.
Shangri-La is a franchise of hotels that has several locations around the world and they are known for their five-star service and accommodations. They have locations in the Hong Kong, France, and Japan just to name a few. First of all, the room was pretty awesome. It’s like staying at your relative’s house who is well off and super clean. It feels like a safe haven. Away from all of the chaos and racket of city life. Of all the activities I did, I especially appreciated the room for my one night of “stay-in-bed-and-watch-a-movie” night. I loved that there were good channels to choose from and there are different languages also (french, spanish, arabic, english, etc.), and they even had a good movie channel in English. The mornings were heavenly because the drapes were black out and I was able to sleep in for as long as I wanted.
Breakfast is included in your stay and it’s a full buffet of deliciousness. You can omelettes made-to-order any way you like. There were meat options (chicken or beef), and you had your pickings of fresh breads. My favorite was the chocolate croissants. I almost always have as salad for breakfast when I travel. So in sticking with tradition, I enjoyed a large salad at breakfast every morning and their salad bar had everything you could want, even smoked salmon! You can also order any sort of coffee you want like a cappuccino, americano, latte, etc.
What to Do:
I really liked the water sports area at Shangri-La. I did the donut ride which is a speed boat that is connect to a floating circle by a long rope. Then the boat takes off really fast and then is pulls you along for a super fun ride on the waves it creates. I had the wind blowing, water splashing in my face, lifting from my seat from the wave cutting. It was a blast! I think the total cost was 20 Omani Riyal for this ride which wasn’t too bad for 2 people. Then we did kayaking which is the only free watersport. I liked that you didn’t have to pay to use the life vests with the kayaks. Kayaking was such peaceful ride along the cove. You can see the entire property and the natural rock formations on your ride. Once I circles back around to shore, we decided to go snorkeling and borrowed some snorkeling gear from water sports area. I saw so many fish! And the waters are crystal clear. I couldn’t believe how far down you could see in what I considered a pretty deep area of the water. It was just stunning.
I really liked Al Tanoor restaurant. It’s buffet style but you get gourmet items. I usually don’t like buffets because they seem to have lower quality food or food that has less effort put in to it because they just worry about making it in bulk, not necessarily the food itself. But this buffet was so opposite of that. I loved that you can get made to order options like the skewer of prawns that you can order and have made fresh for you and they bring them to the table for you when they’re done. Or the beef tenderloin is made fresh that day. There are also so many healthy options too. I didn’t do any other restaurant option because the buffet was enough. One day I just did the buffet breakfast and the buffet dinner. I brought in my own snacks from a local store before hand and had that snack during the day while spending time at the beach because I was pretty full from the breakfast buffet and didn’t really need a full meal for lunch.
There is a rooftop bar on-site that plays house music. The vibe is really nice and the setup reminds of a Miami outdoor bar area with the wicker furniture and white cushions. The bartender was ok. They weren’t very good at making a classic margarita, however their drink list has really good options. They had one drink that had cucumber and red peppers. I love spicy, but I was a little nervous it’d be too spicy but it wasn’t. Actually it could have used more pica (means spicy in spanish) in my opinion.
I can’t wait to share more of my travel and life adventures with you all! Please subscribe to my Youtube Channel Love, Marcella. xo