Five Faves

Hi Everyone!

It’s hard for me to believe that it is almost Christmas!  It feels like the past few months have flown by and I am not even remotely prepared for the holidays! Nonetheless, I am looking forward to sleeping in and enjoying delicious food over the next few weeks so my countdown is on!  Here are the five things that I am loving right now:C54281B2-A78A-45AD-9B68-1F3D7609ACD8

I have been a Mindy Kailing fan for many years, and when I first heard about her movie Late Night earlier this year I was really excited to watch it.  Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the movie theatre to see it so I was thrilled when it was released on Amazon Prime earlier this month.  This past Friday after a long day at work, I poured myself a glass of wine and settled in to finally watch this movie.  It was just what I needed!  Funny, smart and well written I expected nothing less from Mindy Kailing.  If you are looking for a great movie to watch I highly recommend this one.

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I am always on the hunt for a great smelling candle and I especially love it if I don’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for it.  While doing a bit of Christmas shopping the other day, I discovered Capri Blue candles.  All of the candles that I tried smelled amazing but I finally settled on Exotic Blossom and Basil which has a light clean fragrance.  Once lit my home smelling fresh and welcoming, love it!72840045-7050-47CA-9D2E-E59073CAFB03

There are always such delicious baked goodies around the holidays but my absolute favourite is always gingerbread.  I have been on the hunt for some over the past couple of weeks and FINALLY this past weekend I found my favourite holiday treat!  It was soooo good and I am planning to enjoy a few more before the holidays are over.  CBED167C-9B71-464E-BA6B-4A597588284C

I made the decision at the beginning of 2019 to listen to more podcasts.  I really enjoy listening to them as I get dressed in the morning or even while I eat breakfast.  I consider podcasts a great way to learn about subjects and people that interest me.  One of my favourite podcasts is the Goop podcast and last week the host chatted with Melody Hobson about being colour brave rather then colour blind.  As a visible minority I really connected with the subject matter, and I strongly feel that anyone that is interested in this issue listen to this podcast as Melody Hobson is a articulate, incredible woman who is really interesting to listen to.F80DB4EE-655A-4BAD-AA3C-494E73D47938

Maybe it’s the colder temperature and my desire to nest in a chic space, or my love for marble and contrasts but I have absolutely fallen in love with this kitchen.  The colour of the statement foliage on the counter contrasts well against the marble, cabinetry and floor and helps to elevate the chicness of the entire space. Bright, beautiful and welcoming this kitchen is definitely going on my mood board!

Thank you for stopping by today!  What are you currently loving right now?  Let me know in the comments below and Happy Holidays!!!!!!  XXS

Photo credits: http://www.IMDB.com, http://www.goop.com, @ashleystark, http://www.simplyrecipes.com, http://www.capri-blue.com

Behind the Design with Gori & Yoon

Gori & Yoon is a young design studio that I discovered on Instagram earlier this year.  Founded in 2018 and based in Florence, Italian architect Elisa Gori and South Korean interior designer Jaehyun Yoon have combined  their diverse experience and backgrounds to design modern, elegant and functional spaces for both private residences and public spaces.  I have been a fan of their work from the moment that I first saw it, and I especially love how they use distinct shapes and materials to create timeless and refined spaces.  Needless to say I was very excited when they agreed to be interviewed for the Behind the Design series.  Here is my interview with Elisa Gori and Jaehyun Yoon:

  1. Did you always know that you wanted to work in interior design?Has it always been your passion?

JAE – When I was a child, I always liked doing something with my hands, for example painting or modeling something with clay. I remember above all that I spent so much time playing with lego block. Perhaps it was a sign that I was doing something creative in the future, that is, becoming an interior designer.

ELISA – Since I was a child I wanted to become a fashion designer. I have always been a creative person and fascinated by fashion, art and architecture, that is, everything that is aesthetically beautiful. For this reason I wanted to work in a sector that could express it.
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  1. How would you describe your design esthetic?

JAE and ELISA – We prefer simple, clean, minimal shapes that can be easily understood. This always shows our personality, especially through the use of color, light and furnishings and decorative objects, also taken from different eras and styles, but always finding a common line, so that they can be combined perfectly with each other.

  1. Where do you find your inspiration from?

JAE and ELISA – We like to take inspiration from the things we observe and that happen in everyday life. For example, we find inspiration from travel and from observing what surrounds us.
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  1. What has been your most challenging project so far? Why was it so challenging?

JAE and ELISA – All the projects we do are challenges.  We must always achieve a result that is the best possible to satisfy our customers and at the same time ourselves. Surely, in a project the most difficult part is to create a dialogue with what already exists.

  1. What is your favourite project to date?

JAE and ELISA – Our latest project, “via Lovanio” is a project that reflects a lot our identity and our style. Furthermore, the Sarnese project in Tuscany was interesting, because the villa was on several levels and the rooms were very small but we managed to create open spaces and hide the pillars that were in the middle of the rooms through the use of furniture . Now, If we look at the old pictures of the house, it is unrecognizable.
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  1. How long does it take for you to normally complete a project?

Jae and Elisa – It depends on the size of the project and on what we are asked for, on average it takes about 3 to 6 months.

  1. What is your favourite part about working in interior design?

JAE – My favorite part is to create a new concept. I find it very satisfying to carry out a drawing with initial inspiration at the end of the project concept.

ELISA – The creative part and the human part, that is the relationship established with the customer.
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  1. Any favourite travel destinations that you like to escape too?  Why?

JAE – Every once in a while I would like to leave for some place where there is nobody to disconnect from the tiring life of the city. Where could it be? Perhaps an island half of the ocean? If I found a place like this, one day I’d like to go there.

ELISA – Whenever I can, I like to make short trips to Italy or Europe. I need to get away from the routine and to visit the cities where I haven’t been.

  1. How would you describe the design style/esthetic in Italy (more specifically in Florence)?

JAE – I like the style of design in Italy, especially in Tuscany, because they use colors taking inspiration from nature. For example, dark brown, beige, lightgray, desaturated green, all these neutral colors give me a feeling of calm, warmth and tranquility. They are also found in the facades of buildings and in the interiors of houses. It seems to me a good example of designing architecture, which fits well with the surrounding landscape.

ELISA – Florence and many Italian cities are historical, so the modern style is not very visible, perhaps only in the suburbs. To respect the historical pre-existences, in Florence there is a tendency to design in a classic or modern-classic style, especially in architecture.
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  1. Do you have a favourite type of project to work on (private/public)? Why?

JAE – I like both. But above all, I really like designing residences and restaurants / bars.

ELISA – I like more to design for the public, because I like the idea that my project can be lived by more people.

  1. What wellness practices do you incorporate into your lifestyle to help you deliver such beautiful projects? (This can range from workouts, nutrition, meditation practice, etc)

JAE – Actually I don’t practice a lot of wellness activities, but every once in a while, when I have to create a new concept andI don’t have ideas, I close everything and go driving around Tuscany where I work and live. Sometimes I like to walk around with headphones listening to the music on my playlist. So I can take the stress out and get the energy back on with my work.

ELISA – I like reading fashion and design magazines and I really like practicing pilates, as a method of relaxation.
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  1. Any words of wisdom for someone who is just starting out their design career?

JAE – Travel to many places to feel, see, try and touch new things by coming into contact with different cultures, so you will see that your inspiration will be enriched a lot and help create your identity in design.

ELISA – Always believe in it. Even if the desired result does not arrive immediately.

Special thanks to Elisa and Jaehyun for taking the time for this interview.  All images courtesy of Gori & Yoon.  You can see more of Gori & Yoon’s beautiful work on their website http://www.goriyoon.com or on Instagram @goriyoon_archtecture

Thank you for visiting Stylishly Zen and I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XXS

Five Faves

As this year (and this decade) wind down, it feels like the days are going faster and there have been more then a few moments where I am struggling to stay in the moment.  Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?  With two months left in 2019 my goal is to try and stay in the moment as much as possible, develop a deep breathing practice that I can actually stick to (I will keep you posted on how that goes), and work on things that actually make me happy such as this blog and decorating my apartment.  For now though, here are the five things that I am currently loving:

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It was love at first sight when I first saw this padded shoulder t-shirt on Instagram and the fact that it was sold out only made me want it more (clearly I am a marketer’s dream).  Despite the fact that it is ridiculously expensive for a t-shirt, I signed up for the waitlist and immediately ordered it when it (finally!) came back into stock. The quality is fantastic and it fits really well.  As basic as this t-shirt may seem to some, it makes me really happy and I love wearing therefore making it my perfect t-shirt.

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While I haven’t seen every episode, I occasionally enjoy watching My Next Guest with David Letterman.  While scrolling thru Netflix the other day though, I came across his most recent special featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and I nearly screamed with excitement.  While I rarely have an opportunity to enjoy a Bollywood movie, like many other people on this planet Shah Rukh Khan is one of my favourite actors – he is just so damn cool!  The interview was fantastic as he is charismatic, humble, articulate and interesting.  I highly encourage you to check out this special to see just why this man is one of the most famous actors on the planet even if you have never heard of him before this.

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This cashew butter is a recent discovery for me and it is safe to say that I am hooked.  Made in small batches, Logan Petit Lot’s mission is to offer new twists on classic flavours of nut butters.  Cashew Coffee is by far my favourite and I enjoy a spoonful on top of my chia pudding every morning.  It has minimal ingredients, taste great and I love the fact that it is locally made – a win win in my opinion.

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I have heard a lot about a lot of the benefits of positive thinking and yes I have read The Secret in the hopes that it would help me to shift my mindset and put me on a more positive path.  Needless to say I find it a struggle to keep a positive and focused mindset all of the time and I tend to fall off of the proverbial bandwagon fairly often.  When I heard about Gabrielle Bernstein’s new book though, I was willing to give the whole attracting your dreams to you concept another try.  I have not yet finished reading it, but so far it is an enjoyable read that offers a number of tools to help you to attract what you want into your life.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put in the effort, but this book helps you to become more self aware.  I am by no means willing to say that I am some success story, aside from greater self awareness I don’t think that there has been any other shifts in my life at the moment.  But even if the only thing that I get from this book is greater self awareness I will be happy that I read this book.

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I have been in love Eye Swoon’s Athena Calderone’s New York home from the moment that I saw it.  It has since been profiled (along with Athena herself) in a few major publications including Architectural Digest and Porter magazine.  I recently came across this image of her living room on Pinterest and I once again fell in love with this space as it is chic and modern, yet comfortable and cool.  Athena has managed to strike just the right balance of fabulous throughout her home.  This picture along with many others of the home are on my vision board to help motivate me to capture the same vibe and perfect balance in my own home.

Thank you for stopping by today, let me know what you are loving this month in the comments below!  XXS

Images via http://www.frankieshop.com, netflix.com and http://www.pinterest.com

 

Behind the Design with Ahmed Hussein

 

Hi Everyone!

I had the pleasure of interviewing the incredibly talented Egyptian designer Ahmed Hussein for this month’s Behind the Design. I first discovered Ahmed on Instagram when I came across a stunning marble bathroom that he designed, and I have been hooked on his work ever since. His clever use of luxurious materials, texture, colour and art demonstrate a talent  for design that most people can only hope to have. If you are looking for a talented designer to follow then look no further as Ahmed delivers projects that are nothing short of fabulous every single time.  Without further adieu, here is my interview with Ahmed Hussein:

  • Did you always know that you wanted to work in architecture and design?  Has it always been your passion?

In the beginning, I decided to go to the faculty of engineering to become a chemical engineer like my cousin, to get big salary.

But at the end of the first year, in the engineering drawing class, one of the teachers noticed that my drawing was very different and distinctive, 

Then asked me, which department you will join?

I answered chemical.

He asked me do you love chemistry.

I answered no. 

Then he smiled and starts talking about architecture.

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  • How would you describe your design esthetic?

Design as a musical melody has to touch your feelings

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  • Where do you find your inspiration from?

From everything and everywhere 

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  • What has been your most challenging project so far?  Why was it so challenging?

El Merghany apartment because of the painted 2 ceilings 7m x 4m and 3m x 4m

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  • What has been your favourite project to date?

Every project I did has something in my heart 

  • How long does it take for you to normally complete a project? 

8 to 12 months 

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  • Any favourite travel destinations that you like to escape too?  Why?

Paris, Rome, Athens & Barcelona 

Historical cities, I love old stories  20A6462A-6717-4646-AADC-B2D478EB5FB3

 

  • Describe your perfect day in Cairo – what would you do?  Where would you go?

The week days I start my day at 10 am go to my office and finish at 7pm 

Then I go back home to see my family 

The weekend I try to relax and do something new and different with my friends and my family

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  • What wellness practices do you incorporate into your lifestyle to help you deliver such beautiful projects? (This can range from workouts, nutrition, meditation practice, etc)

I take my bike at the night with my headphones for one hour before I sleep 

(Workout and music give me the power)

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  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

            I hope to become one of the most famous designers in the world

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  • Any words of wisdom for someone who is just starting out their design career?

Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and above all don’t let anyone limit your dreams 

Thank you Ahmed for taking the time for this interview!

If you would like to see more of Ahmed’s work you can find him on Instagram @ahmedhusseindesigns

All pictures in this post were provided by Ahmed Hussein Designs.

I hope that you have a fabulous day! XXS

Stylishly Solo – A Guide to Dining Solo

One of my favourite parts about travelling is the opportunity to try new foods and to learn about new cultures through food.  One glance at my Instagram and you know that I love to eat, so it should come as no surprise that dining is an integral part of my travel adventure.  While planning my first solo trip, I really didn’t give much thought to how dining solo would be.  I just assumed that it would be similar to every other dining out experience that I had previously had.  Clearly I was naive.  But because I never thought to just stay in and order room service, I strongly believe that my naivety helped me figure out how to happily dine solo. It takes practice and I don’t think that I will always get it right, especially as dining experiences vary from city to city and country to country.  But, there are a few things that I have learned that help to make the experience more pleasant.  Here are my top five tips for having a great solo dining experience:

  1. Get uncomfortable.  Normally while travelling, I like to stick to the a dining format that works for me – a light breakfast normally at a cafe where I can people watch.  Lunch is not normally a huge meal – just some place that looks decent and not too touristy, a place to rest and refresh during my sight seeing adventures.  I like to make dinner an event – I look for fun restaurants to try, I like to get a little dressed up and I take my time and enjoy my evening.  Whenever I speak with people about my solo travels, dining solo especially going out for a nice meal is what tends to surprise people the most.  The most common response that I get is “I could never do that!  I would be so uncomfortable!”  Dining solo especially at a proper restaurant requires a bit of gumption (so to speak) and it is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. The first thing to do is to really think about why it is that you don’t feel that dining solo is for you. Yes, some people might stare at you, you may get a not so great table as the better ones are left for groups larger then one person and the waiter or waitress may not give you as much attention (or forget about you altogether) as they tend to the other diners in their area. All of these things (and so much more) have occurred to me while dining solo.  I survived and I learned – like anything in life, you have to be your own advocate.  This doesn’t mean causing a scene or berating the staff.  It just means that you need to figure out how to clearly communicate when you need to and to not take the other stuff so personally (which is much harder said then done at times).  Even if your first (or second or third) solo dining experience is not the greatest, take some time to figure out what it was that you didn’t enjoy.  Was it the food?  Try another restaurant.  Was it the service?  If so, what was it about the service that you didn’t enjoy?  Did they ignore you or treat you badly?  Did they rush you or was service incredibly slow?  When I was in Madrid last year, I was really excited to try a particular restaurant where I had heard that the risotto was spectacular.  I arrived practically jumping with excitement only to be rushed thru my meal (two courses was over and done with in under 40 minutes).  While the risotto was spectacular I was a little sad that the experience was over so quickly (just to be clear – this was not a fast food place and my fellow diners were enjoying leisurely meals).  Rather then get upset and vow to never go back despite the fact that the risotto was some of the best that I had ever had, I decided to try a different approach.  I made another reservation for the next day and when I arrived I was greeted by the same server as the day before.  I explained to him that I loved the risotto and that I wanted to enjoy my meal at a leisurely pace.  He happily agreed and I had an incredible meal that I really enjoyed.  I even ended up going back again when I returned to Madrid to catch my flight home a few weeks later (yes the risotto was THAT good).  What I learned was this – since solo dining is still quite rare in many parts of the world it can sometimes be seen as something to be embarrassed about.  Hence why they thought that I wanted to rush thru my meal and get out.  The restaurant had good intentions but initially we just were not on the same page – speaking up got us on the same page and enabled me to enjoy the type of meal that I had been looking for, in a gorgeous setting with incredible food.  That is what I call a win! IMG_3730
  2. Do your research.  The majority of us have the internet at our finger tips and are frequently on social media, so there is no excuse not to do a bit of research beforehand.  Research the type of food that the region that you visiting specializes in, suggestions where you can have an authentic local dining experience, is they take reservations and the location as you want to make sure that you can get to and from the restaurant safely.  Doing a bit of research will help you to get more comfortable with the solo dining experience.  It will also get you excited about the food that you are about to eat and the environment that you will be experiencing.  This helps to make solo dining an adventure rather then just any boring forgettable meal, and it will also help you to avoid the tourist traps for a more authentic dining experience.
  3. Enlist help.  Just because you are travelling solo, it doesn’t meant that you have to figure out and do everything yourself.  Asking your hotel for help and suggestions can save you a lot of stress in the long run.  Some restaurants are inclined to give you better service if your hotel makes the reservation for you as they don’t want you go back to your hotel and complain – word of mouth counts for a lot.  Hotels are less likely to recommend a restaurant where their clients are not being treated well.  There is no harm in using this to your advantage to help to ensure that you enjoy a pleasant meal with good service.  It is also a great way to discover new restaurants that you may not have found otherwise.  While in Naples, Italy a few years ago I asked the woman at the front desk for a restaurant recommendation for dinner.  Luckily she was very honest and told me that most people enjoy a popular restaurant nearby the hotel but her favourite was another one a little further away. I decided to take her recommendation and I ended up at a little eight table restaurant where I had one of the best meals of my life!  While the hotel recommendations are not always the greatest, more often then not in my experience they have been really good.  For this reason, I am always willing to ask my hotel for help – they may just steer you to one of the best meals you will ever have!
  4. Eat at the bar.  If you feel that other diners will stare at you with pity while sitting at a table dining solo, ask to sit at the bar.  I always try to make a reservation for dinner but, when I arrive at the restaurant I don’t feel like being isolated at a table alone I ask if it would be ok to just sit at the bar.  More often then not the restaurant has no issue with this especially as it frees up a table for walk ins.  Eating at the bar can feel more social as bartenders tend to make conversation and there are always a ton of people around who you can converse with.IMG_2932
  5. Look up.  It’s really easy to just bring a book or a magazine with you or to play on your phone the entire evening but you will be missing out!  I have had some great conversations with people while solo dining.  If your nose is buried in a book or your phone you are instantly less approachable.  Look up and look around.  I love to people watch and dining solo is a great opportunity to do so.  I love looking at what people are wearing (once a fashion girl, always a fashion girl), how they interact and I especially like to see what others are eating.  Overall, solo dining is a great way to experience the local culture and to get a better understanding of the people and country that you are visiting.

Solo dining is nothing to be afraid of.  It just takes a little bit of planning and a little bit of gumption, soon you will be on your way to enjoying an incredible culinary experience regardless of where in the world you may be.

I hope that you have a beautiful day and happy dining!  XXS