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Author: Farah

28 Jan

Books for Newborns

 

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

During my last post, which to me seems like it was written in another lifetime, I wrote about preparing for my little bundle of joy while pregnant. Well, my husband and I are proud to announce that the little bundle has arrived and has morphed into a wild and rambunctious almost 4 month old boy named Rafee. His hobbies include yelling and refusing to nap. However, he is quite a curious and interactive baby, and as long as it is not naptime, he is the most smiliest dude you will ever meet. His childhood has so far been a blur of eating and outgrowing half his baby clothes already. Simply said, he is the joy of my life!

So it makes sense that my first blog post of the new year will be about the daily routine with Rafee that I most enjoy: story time! Shopping for newborn books was one of my favorite prenatal activities, and ended up registering almost every children’s book I came across. We are so grateful for the ones our friends and family ended up gifting us, and it is so fascinating to see how these books have engaged Rafee’s attention from the first day of life. Even before he was born, I savored our moments sitting in our nursery, rocking gently on our chair, and exploring each one, imagining what his adorable face would look like as he watched me turn the pages one day. Now that day has arrived, and our moments with the books are among the most fascinating and magical of early motherhood. I truly hope these moments last forever.

Through trial and error, I was able to figure out the books he most enjoys during his early development. For example, at 2 weeks old, the more sophisticated Dr. Seuss pictures and rhymes that I read to him during pregnancy didn’t really interest him, while the simpler board books with high contrast shapes and colors seemed to captivate him from day one. He was so mesmerized with books like “Spots and Dots” that I would sometimes prop the book open about a foot from his face as he lied down so that I could buy some personal time to take care of things like making coffee and using the restroom without him freaking out (For a newborn, he has serious FOMO!) I would frequently come back to find him still staring at the various shapes and colors on the pages. For those few minutes of freedom I am quite grateful 🙏🏼

My husband is a specialist in pediatric neurology, and he explained that the baby’s visual systems have limited ability to process certain images. Their brains are initially best at processing only simple shapes, along with faces and high contrast color patterns, especially the color red for some reason. Indeed, in the first few precious days after his birth, these were the only images that would sustain his attention, as long as the images were presented within 1-2 feet from his eyes. However, it did not take him long to start to process images with more subtle contrast and more complicated shapes and patterns, as well as images farther away that a few feet. It was enthralling to track the development of his vision as he grew, and the books were helpful in that process. Here are a few selections that Rafee enjoyed:

Spots and Dots by Art Baby 

This would sustain his attention for so long!

Peek-a-boo by Sassy Developmental Toys

The high contrast images and shapes along with the texture of this book entertained him!

Art for Baby by Yana Peel

I came across this book while browsing amazon one night and couldn’t help but register for it. Rafee loves it and it also makes a super cute coffee table book!

Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal 

This one again has those high contrast shapes and images but comes with a little story. I would say he enjoyed this one towards the end of the newborn stage.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle

Baby began enjoying this board book around the end of the newborn period. I think the repetition and bright contrast images may have done the trick in making him to sit through and concentrate until the end!

These were just some books that worked for Rafee when he was a newborn. And I enjoyed reading them to him. ❤️

You can find them all on amazon.

2 love
2 Oct

Getting Ready For Baby

Getting ready for baby can be time consuming, overwhelming (especially if you don’t know where to start) and so exciting! I can’t even tell you guys how many nights I’ve stayed up looking at reviews of products and narrowing down what items we want for our son. I say “we” because Solly and I discussed most of the items together and came to a mutual decision on all of it.

I know, I have several baby related blog posts that are shamefully overdue like our baby announcement photos (6 months late *covers eyes*), gender reveal and baby shower posts but I promise I will post them eventually. My superstitious ass has it all typed and formatted out on WordPress but a part of me wants to wait until he’s here, safe and sound, in my arms before I elaborate further on any of those events. Until then- I wanted to share some items we CANNOT wait to put to use (please note how I emphasize cannot in the previous sentence, 39 weeks and 3 days right now, had a great pregnancy thank God but want this baby out of my belly and in my arms now! Anyone else this far along and feel me?)

Here it goes…

1. UppaBaby Cruz Stroller and Bassinet 

I wanted a stroller that not only looked cute but functioned well. I had my eyes set on the Mima Xari in camel, and even went to a store 3 hours away one weekend to try it out but ended up not purchasing it. Although the Mima was beautiful, it wasn’t an easy ride. Felt forced. Also, if we had purchased it, we would have needed adaptors to attach the car seat as a travel system. What if I lost the adaptors one day? Would I have to risk waking up my infant by unbuckling him from his car seat and transferring him into the stroller after a car ride tranced him into a beautiful slumber? No. It was not a practical purchase friends, and even the reps at this particular NYC baby store agreed with me. I saluted goodbye to the Mima and was redirected towards the UppaBaby line. I love how easy it is to maneuver this stroller! Such a clean ride and the bassinet and stroller seat are so versatile. I can have him facing me for the first few months in the stroller seat, facing towards the world as a toddler and lay flat in the bassinet attachment for a few months while also using the bassinet as a sleeper separately from the stroller when needed. The UppaBaby Mesa car seat attaches seamlessly to the Cruz and Vista strollers, no adaptors required. No waking up baby by transferring him from the car into the stroller. We chose the Gregory model for the UB Cruz stroller, the Henry bassinet and the Henry car seat which attach easily into the stroller frame. We also chose the UB Cruz over the Vista because it was the tiniest bit more petite, and I liked that. Once we put it to use, I’ll update my review!

2. UppaBaby Henry Car Seat 

Car seats in the US are treated with flame retardants. Every company has a different allowance of flame retardant they utilize on their car seats, but what a lot of new parents aren’t aware of is that flame retardants can cause endocrine disturbances and developmental delays in babies and children. I had a friend mention how the UppaBaby Henry car seat is actually treated with zero chemicals because of the material it’s made out of- microfiber wool- which makes it a flame retardant free car seat. Love how it clicks right into the stroller, has an easy base installation and the blue marl color of it.

How cute is this little car seat mobile? Bought it on Wish for $1

3. 4 Moms MamaRoo

This has got to be the coolest swing ever. I’ve read mixed reviews about babies either loving it or not loving it. I have the infant insert with it, so I’m hoping my little one gives it a chance when he’s here! I love that it’s a smart connect swing that you can control with an app on your smartphone. Once I put the mamaroo to use, I’ll update my review!

4. Honest Company Products 

I purchased a trial size set from the honest company by subscribing to their free trial bundles on their website. Paid $5.95 for shipping and handling for a travel size set of household and baby honest products along with seven printed newborn diapers and a pack of travel size honest wipes.

Haven’t tried any of the products yet but I’m more than down with the whole eco friendly savoire faire and using clean products on baby and around the house.

5. GB Pockit Stroller 

This has got to be the COOLEST travel stroller EVER! I mean, just look at the video below. It really folds up that small and can go right underneath the seat in front of you on the plane! We have the travel itch right now since we haven’t been anywhere in months, and once baby can hold his head upright we’re taking this stroller with us wherever we go. I registered for some accessories for it- like a stroller organizer/ console for parents and a rayshade cover for extra UV protection to make traveling with a baby a little bit easier. If you have any tips on traveling with baby please let me know!

6. Ergobaby 360 Carrier

So this is another item we can’t wait to use for traveling. I like how you can carry the baby in front, in the back and on your sides without straining your neck and shoulders. It’s ergonomic design helps in preventing aches and strains while carrying your baby. We registered for the icy mint carrier which didn’t come with an infant insert but it was pretty easy to find on Amazon.

7. Solly Baby Wrap

The company’s name is Solly baby…I mean OF COURSE I was going to buy this! My husbands name is Sohail (Solly for short) and the wrap came in a pretty camel color that I couldn’t pass up! I like that there are different ways to carry your baby and the wrap is made out of breathable and stretchy material. I think I’ll use this one more at home whereas the ergobaby will be more of an outdoor and travel use baby carrier.

If any of you have any suggestions on products you personally love please DM me on the gram or comment below! 💙

4 love
15 Mar

Chanel Le Lift and Hydrabeauty Review

So last year I was walking the streets of Florence and came across a Sephora. There was no way I wasn’t walking in. Italian Sephora’s are just like the Sephora’s in the states, the people working are in the same uniform, ladies are getting makeovers, the music is peppy and the store smells like amazing goodness. The one difference was that Italian Sephora’s carried several different lines that you won’t find in the states. Brands like Chanel, YSL, Dior, La Mer, Versace and Moschino are in these European Sephora’s and guess what- they’re CRAZY discounted! So last year, I splurged on a couple YSL lip creams, a Moschino cologne for my hubs, a Versace perfume for myself and three Chanel skin care products. I walked by the Chanel aisle and remembered that Huda Beauty had once reviewed the Chanel Le Lift and reviewed it as one of her favorite face creams. So the Chanel Le Lift Crème Fine retails in the US for $165 for 1.7 ounces. I bought it for $99 for 1.7 ounces. Around this time last year, I had dry patches under my under eyes and the beauty advisor really recommended that I use the Hydra Beauty Gel Eye Crème. This retails for $68 in the US but I believe I paid no more than $38 for it in Florence. The last product I bought was the Hydra Beauty Nourishing Lip Balm which retails here for $50, but I paid around $20 something.

I have been using these items on and off for a year now but I can’t say I’m smitten. The crème fine face cream is a little drying. I read through the ingredients and noticed that alcohol is an ingredient and that definitely helps in drying your face. I will say that it helped my skin a bit in the summer when my skin texture changes, but nothing too major where I can see noticeable results. The crème fine does have a fragrance to it- which I know some people don’t prefer when it comes to a night time skin routine. The hydra beauty gel eye crème definitely helped the dry patches under my eyes. It however did not make my dark circles any lighter. Lastly the hydra beauty nourishing lip balm- I can’t say I was a fan of this product. It doesn’t really stay on too long, isn’t very nourishing and has a really sterile taste. I honestly prefer other lip balms over this one (The Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing and Plumping Balm in my opinion is unbelievably better, you can’t even compare them on the same level).

Would I re-purchase these? Probably not. If they change the formula omitting the alcohol, I might give it another chance. Also, if you find yourself in Europe wanting to splurge, don’t forget that you can get a VAT tax refund if you spend a certain amount when you’re shopping. This tax refund will work at Sephora, retail stores, tourist shops and so many other places. You will have to bring your passport along and they will give you a detailed piece of paper that you present to the Italian customs department (or any other country in the EU). Customs will stamp it and you are responsible for mailing it when you go home (the postage is pre-paid).  A few weeks later, you receive a tax refund for the items you purchased in the EU.

Another tip- any skin care item labeled “lotion” in Europe is actually toner. I was about to buy quite a few for gifts because of how cheap I thought the Chanel lotion was until I opened one up and it was a hefty bottle of blue liquid face toner lol.

 

7 love
6 Feb

Bermuda

So even before Sohail and I left to visit this pretty little paradise, I had “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys on repeat. I could not wait to be on another island and escape this icky, cold NY weather. And since our flights cost $200 total for the both of us it was a super sweet escape. Does anyone else get extra hyped when you get a good deal on something? Last year, half of our domestic travel cost us nothing! We flew for FREE! I want to share some pictures from Bermuda but also how we were able to utilize a total of 15,600 JetBlue points in order to fly to this island. Not only was it super easy to get there (a 2 hour and 11 minute direct flight) but that extra vitamin D didn’t hurt and flying JetBlue is always a pleasure.

People often ask how we get to travel so much, so hopefully this is a bit of a guideline for everyone. I’m going to add a sample itinerary to demonstrate.

Note: you do not need to have a JetBlue credit card to  redeem points for flights. You would need a TrueBlue account and can sign up for free. We use the American Express gold card that collects points for our everyday purchases. You get 3 points per dollar when you purchase airline flights, 2 points per dollar from grocery stores and gasoline purchases and 1 point per dollar on all of your other everyday purchases. When we signed up for the AMEX gold card there was an offer when you spend $1,000 in the first three months you receive a 50,000 points bonus. I was able to transfer AMEX points to my true blue account and to delta’s skymiles program and redeem them for free flights out of  NY to New Orleans, Chicago, Charleston and Salt Lake City last year.

If you open up the JetBlue app or log into the mobile site you will see that at the end of March, the points to Bermuda are 2,000 TrueBlue points one way [JFK-Bermuda]. Make sure to select the ‘pay with TrueBlue points’ before you proceed. Once you select your round trip flight you will only be paying 4,000 points and approximately $100 in tourism taxes from the Bermuda government which isn’t too bad for a round trip flight at all. We utilized 3,600 points per flight with the same amount in taxes so this is a huge steal right now.

This outgoing flight from JFK to Bermuda international is direct and 2,000 points plus taxes and fees. We purchased one way tickets for 3,600 points, so this is def a steal.

Notice here as well the flight back is 2,000 points but the price on top of the points is about $95 in tourism and government fees. In total each flight would cost 4,000 points and approximately $100 per person. That’s like flying to an island for $50 one way!


Peace out Bermewja

I love sharing my travel photography with you guys but I’m also going to start sharing some tricks on how to get to places without draining your bank account. Stay tuned.

9 love
21 Dec

Salt Lake City

Sohail had a day off for Labor Day weekend and of course you can count on me for taking advantage of that. With the help of some airline miles we took a trip down to Mormon town. On first approach flying in from the east coast, Salt Lake City appears like foreign territory. Its landscape bears more similarities to the Middle East than New York, and there is a dream like quality to the flat desert valley surrounded like a citadel by the rugged (and beautiful) peaks of the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges. This was by the way my first time flying this far out west. And that’s why you guys can count on me for taking every photo that I could.

The laid back vibe was a second culture shock, the people of Salt Lake are endearingly friendly, with a respectful approach that is unlike anything we have ever encountered on our domestic travels. The conservatism was beautiful. A beautiful middle.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel America, downtown and it was phenomenal. We walked into our room with a beautiful view of the mountains along with orange creamsicle macaroons as a welcome amenity. We spent our time going to cafes, driving around, walking to cool street art locations and spending time with friends.

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Grand Americas pastry shop is as Parisian as it can possibly get. The macaroons were SO good, but the decor was cuter.

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Beautiful Utah

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The rose isn’t your typical hipster cafe. Or maybe it is. There are succulents, fun drink fusions and super creative desserts. I highly recommend the Rose establishment. So fine, we dined here twice.

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We spent a day driving around the valley and decided to stop by the Great Salt Lake.

 

We walked around downtown a bit.

Walked around downtown a bit.

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Shoe game: Schutz shoes on 655 Madison

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Eva’s boulangerie is a cute French influenced patisserie and boulangerie which will definitely satisfy both of your sweet (artisanal desserts) and salty (croque monsieur) needs.

Went out to dinner for Mexican one night at The Red Iguana.

Two words: mole sauce

Found a cool book shop

Love me a good book store

Right behind that book shop was this awesome mural

Right behind that book shop was this awesome mural and you know by now I couldn’t pass that up.

I love the West.

9 love
11 Oct

Manchester

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As summer wound down this year I decided to embark on one last international adventure. The only catch? My usual travel buddy would be unable to ride along, as he was busy saving sick kids back home. His loss ?

The plan was to snag a direct flight from the northeast US to Northern England so I could reconnect with a friend from medical school who was living in Carlisle, the capital of the English county of Cumbria. After a night of ticket sleuthing, I found a seat from Boston to Manchester, England on a very English sounding airlines, Thomas Cook. From Manchester, I took a two hour train ride to Carlisle where my friend greeted me at the train station. Carlisle was a quaint, beautiful and traditional English county sect. We stayed up all night talking, catching up and just being silly (those of you who saw my snapchat might remember us ordering in pizza, conversing with the pizza delivery guy with full on face masks like it’s totally normal ?) After 24 hours we bid farewell to Carlisle and took a train back to Manchester.

Although Manchester isn’t as eventful as London (Sohail and I were there earlier this year, but I never wrote a blog post on it because I accidentally deleted all of my London photos ??), it was still nice to leave the homeland and be in a different place, even for just the weekend. The best part about it was catching up with one of my oldest and truest friends and seeing her with her soul mate. It made my heart happy.

There was a street I loved in particular in Manchester and that was Tib Street. There was so much street art, and well, you guys know by now fine arts are my jam.

So if you’re ever in Manchester and in need of a photo backdrop, here you go:

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Flying over the Isle of Man

Flying over the Isle of Man on my way home

9 love
10 Sep

Huda Beauty Matte Liquid Lipstick Review

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Can we all agree that Huda Beauty is a beauty mogul? I follow her and her family on snapchat and they are always cracking me up. The UK has the royal family, America has the Kardashians, and the UAE has the Kattans.

As soon as I tried my recently purchased matte liquid lipsticks from the Huda Beauty collection, I knew I had to write a review. Her false eyelashes are some of my favorites including “Farah” (ironically) and “Samantha.” I had to splurge on her brand new line of liquid lipsticks, especially since the Kylie Lip Kits were beginning to wear down my olfactory senses.

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The first advantage of these liquid lipsticks is that she doesn’t use red 40, a chemical dye which is literally made from crushed insects and is present in numerous lipsticks and cosmetics in the market. A second advantage is that there are no parabens or phthalates in the formula. Parabens and phthalates are endocrine disrupters which will alter your hormone levels and have also unfortunately been discovered in abundance in tumor biopsies of patients with breast cancer.  Instead, she utilizes natural ingredients such as vanilla [vanillin], coffee seed extract [coffea arabica] and olea europaea fruit oil [a form of olive oil] to enhance the scent of the lipsticks, making it a superior aroma in comparison to the Kylie mattes. I personally believe the coffee seed extract aids in plumping your lips throughout the day, so there is no need to over line them.

My cat wanted in too!

My cat wanted in too!

I purchased bombshell, venus, trophy wife, flirt and spice girl. In my opinion, bombshell and venus are a perfect everyday hue (I am an NC25-NC30 in SFF). I liked how trophy wife and flirt looked on my skin tone, however I might wait until fall to really rock spice girl because of its earthy tones.

Finished look

Finished look, applied bombshell.

The colors don’t last as long as the Kylie mattes, but I do find Kylie LKs overly dry. Huda’s formula has more moisturizing ingredients within it. And even though I did need to reapply after having dinner, I really didn’t mind to.

xo ?

 

14 love
7 Sep

Portland

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Our recent adventure led us up I-95 to the cutest little town by the sea – Portland, Maine. My “Maine” objective was to taste the famous Lobster rolls, which, by the way, were on point. It is also a vibrant and scenic city that I have been eager to cross off my domestic adventure list this summer.

Portland is only a 2 hour drive north from Boston if you stick to the interstate, although we opted for the slower but charming coastal route through Hampton Beach and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Whatever route you prefer, make sure to experience this colorful city sitting at the mouth of the Fore River as it empties into Casco bay. Portland is the essence of New England with an unexpected variety of culture, food, shops and trendy cafes.

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We started our trip off by having lunch at 3 Buoys

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Oh sweet Maine. This lobster roll and sweet potato fries were to die for ??

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After lunch we walked to the boardwalk and came across the lovelock bridge

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Walked around downtown for a little bit

Walked around downtown for a little bit

Tried so hard to get a picture of this mural but there were trucks parked in front of it! If you know where MECA is downtown, walk around there and you will find this awesome mural!

Tried so hard to get a picture of this mural but there were trucks parked in front of it! If you know where MECA is downtown, walk around there and you will find this awesome street art. 

Before heading home we stopped by Cape Elizabeth to check out the lighthouse. It was so beautiful.

Before heading home we stopped by Cape Elizabeth to check out the lighthouse. 

If you want to experience the true essence of New England, visit Portland!

⚓️

15 love
10 Aug

Keeping Up With Kylie Jenner

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Let me start off by saying- do you guys know how flipping hard it was to get these?! I wanted to buy all of them but the inevitable happened- some of them sold out RIGHT as I was checking out. Despite all of the Kylie Lip Kit mania and her unattainable products (I mean, she did “break” google once didn’t she?) I want to share an honest review of them.

I’m usually an NC25 mixed with NC30 in MAC’s Studio Fix Foundation. More NC25 in the winter and NC30 in the summer, and the lipsticks and lip kits that I purchased (I bought Mary Jo K, Koko K, Posie K, Exposed, Dolce K and 22) seemed to all work well with my skin tone. I can be a little apprehensive buying lipstick online especially if I can’t swatch them ahead of time, but I’m glad I took the plunge so you guys don’t have to!

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Right to left: 22 lip liner, Posie K, Exposed, Dolce K, Koko K, 22 and the Mary Jo K lip kit.

Mary Jo K

Mary Jo K is literally the most perfect red

Dolce K

Dolce K

Exposed

Exposed

Koko K

Koko K

Posie K

Posie K

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I absolutely love all of them. They glide on, smell like vanilla cupcakes and truly are long lasting. I went out to dinner last week wearing ‘exposed’ and I talked, laughed, ate and kissed a baby and didn’t need to re-apply at all.

What do you guys think of her new Kyshadows and perpetual new matte shades? Can you keep up with Kylie Jenner?

xo

16 love
10 Aug

Chicago Art Hunt

Chicago is my favorite city in the continental United States. I’m definitely a little biased though, because I lived and rotated there for a while. It’s the home of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michelle Obama, Oprah and Kanye West.

And whenever I fly into Chi-town it feels like I’m simply coming back home. ‘Homecoming’ by Kanye West plays in my head the whole time I’m there. It was awesome bringing Sohail to Chi town this past month because not only did I get to play tour-guide (is tour-guidess a word? because I was totally going to type that) but we were finally able to experience my favorite city together! I’ll be honest with you guys, I was in the moment so much that I kind of forgot to take pictures but I’ll share whatever I did take, as always. Here’s a little street art guide next time you’re in Chicago and need a backdrop for a photo or two.

How dope is this mural? I got a lot of questions on where it is and I have all the info for you guys.

Location: 2236 N Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square

Artists: Victor Ving & Lisa Beggs.

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If you go to the above mural and look to your right, you’ll find this one under the train tracks.

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Walk the opposite way of the Chicago mural and you’ll find this in the alley way.

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Soley loved this one. Walk through that little alley way and you’ll find this abstract piece covering the entire wall next to a department store.

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And if you’re on the hunt for some good latte art, go to Sawada cafe in the west loop. We had the military lattes which are a 10/10.

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I love coming back home.

13 love