I want to break free.

Summer is flying by and I am in slight panic mode, because I am running out of time! This summer after the birth of our son (which was scheduled for July 9) we were going to leave Chicago and return to England, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of men (and women)...

On May 13, as we were driving back from my first Third-trimester visit with my doctor, Queen's "I Want to Break Free" came on, I turned to my husband; "This is the baby's song!"

And the next day I was in the hospital because my water broke at 32 weeks! Generally considered a fairly risk-free time, it was nevertheless troublesome. I was admitted, poked, and prodded and on bed rest for the next 10 (and then another 4 postpartum) days. Then came more complications and I had to undergo an emergency C-Section! On May 24th we were joined by the newest and incredibly precious member of our little family. He was born premature but as healthy as can be at 33 weeks and 3 days, he stayed in the NICU for seven days after I was discharged...incredibly trying both physically and emotionally. Alhamdulillah. To read more about Preemies visit the March of Dimes.

This set in motion a completely alternative chain of events and so we've decided to stay in America another year.

Which means unpacking, unboxing, and resettling not to mention buying (and buying back) a lot of stuff. Am I overwhelmed? No...but I am nervous. This is the first time I'm not going to be working in 8 years! Taking care of Baby is time consuming but I am incredibly restless! I already miss work (I obviously haven't returned and don't think I want to), I miss creating and executing ideas and projects, I miss talking to people - which is crazy because I am generally pretty antisocial. 

On the plus side, I'm actually loving the shopping and upcycling.  

Here's an outfit I put together for a fun, summer, "business" look. Summer and Spring (which, let's be real is non-existent in Illinois) are my favorite time of year. I love wearing bright colors but pairing the pops of color with neutrals (black because, baby weight does not melt off and I can't work out until August - Boo C-Section!) to keep the looks "clean".

Outfit Deets:
Blue Collarless Blazer : Forever 21
Black Tanktop and Tights: H&M
Necklace: JCrew
Watch: Marc Jacobs
Shoes: Valentino

ZARA Céline, ZARA Do.

ZARA arguably has a faster turnaround from runway to store than any other High Street brand. And while all High Street brands "take inspiration" from designers, ZARA take only six weeks to "re-imagine" the looks at a friendlier price point.

I'm more inclined to spend big bucks on handbags or shoes because they will last, retain somewhat of their value, and may even be passed down. I balk at spending the same amount on an outfit simply because trends change so fast. While a handbag can be labelled a classic, seldom do articles of clothing do the same. And so, when I see a runway look at a mere fraction of the cost, I'm on that like Nutella on a Malaysian Paratha (Have you tried this? Please do. Run to your local Indian Grocery Store immediately.Do it for your taste buds!)

Céline however, does not find the flattery by way of imitation by ZARA as fantastic as I do. In fact, they had even banned editors and buyers from releasing any images of their recent Resort 2014 collection. This could be because Céline is all about being difficult to attain - rather it could be an attempt to prevent ZARA from gathering inspiration.

Either way, I'm happy saving money, so thanks ZARA.

 And thanks, Céline for your sheer brilliance and absolutely gorgeous aesthetic. 

(Yes, that is my Céline Luggage Tote. Ha! )

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

Stop browbeating her! Can't you see she is sexy? 

Outfit Deets:
Top: H&M 
Head Jewelry: Etsy 
Bracelet: Cartier
Sandals: Forever 21
Bag: Primark

No Justice, No Peace.

I'm not one to impose my personal views or beliefs on anyone. I  am very protective of my opinions - I only form them because I know them to be true with the core of my being - and I know that Israel is an apartheid, terrorist state that is intent upon the genocide of the Palestinian people. With irrefutable proof from eyewitness accounts via Twitter, footage of the operation on YouTube, and countless images available on Instagram, and Facebook,  social media is actively combating the lies told by media outlets. Online activists are organizing protests, raising aid, and petitioning their governments to act. And while this may seem like a small step, it is a step. Silence is compliance. Silence is letting the apartheid nation of Israel feel that its genocide of Palestinians is acceptable.

I would like to stress that I stand with Palestine not just because I am Muslim, but for the undeniable proof I have read and seen of Israel's oppression, of Israel's crimes against humanity. I stand with Palestine because no human life is collateral damage. I stand with Palestine because I stand against oppression. I stand with Palestine because I stand for justice, peace, and the pursuit of certain inalienable rights.

The media may regurgitate the same spiel about Hamas' extremism, and it may seem like it is a Holy War - but I  believe this is it not merely about race or religion - it's about politics. It's about drama.

War is hot - shocking, gory, deadly headlines sell papers. They catch the viewers eye. This sense of dread - the impending sense of doom - the fear of inevitable death and the end of the world - that's what sells.

Human Suffering On Channel 4.

With that said, these media moguls have the godly ability to show you and me anything and make it become "The cold hard truth".

But who decides what truth to show us?  Which human suffering should we condemn and which humans should we condemn to living in an open-air prison?

This cannot continue. The information age must destroy the power of the false journalism.

As  the sixth day of Israel's Operation Protective Edge dawns, the Palestinian death toll reaches 162. As Israel prepares to launch a ground operation, Palestinians cower in fear, because they do not have the same protection afforded to Israelis. There is no Iron Dome to intercept missiles, no shelters to run to for protection, and no sirens to warn of danger. Palestinians are sitting ducks for the IDF's offense. This is not war, it is genocide. No live rockets have landed in Tele Aviv and no injuries have resulted directly by Hamas...so why is Israel collectively punishing the people of Gaza? An act strictly prohibited in the 4th Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulation.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world - by launching missiles into these civilian areas, Israel is sentencing these innocent people to certain death. Women, children, the elderly are all live targets. Israel is destroying homes, and when they attack Hamas (the democratically elected government), they can attack any building including but not limited to schools and hospitals. If you still believe that the people of Gaza are human shields, remember that it is not Hamas but Israel who is forcing them into two choices - surrender or resist.

And would you rather die on your feet or, in this case, die on your knees? There is very little room for contemplation.

The oppression and colonization of the apartheid nation of Israel needs to come to an end. Israel must retreat, cease fire, and return the illegal settlements. Israel must be held accountable in the International Courts for its crimes against humanity.

Many people may not be in agreement with my sentiments, and if I was to stoop to their level,  I'd say:
"Please shut up, you are stupid and blindsided by the corrupt Media. Also, I have seen a TV program on NatGeoWild about how chimps have scary killer tendencies and you bare an uncanny resemblance to them. Good day."

My condolences to the people of Palestine.


How Can You Be So Art-less?

I don't have much of an appreciation for Art. The most interest I've had in any painting is a toss up between Leda and the Swan or The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and that's only because they played a pivotal role in the plot of a novel or two I enjoyed. I guess I like my pictures painted through words. I don't like to guess at what the artist is saying, it is for the same reasons I don't enjoy poetry.

But I digress. My interest in art, despite having a great love of drawing (and winning a special prize at an exhibition of children's art at my favorite Aunt's art school at the age of 4), faded away with the mundane and  limiting instructions doled out by my inane Sixth Grade Art teacher. She was the absolute bane of my existence and the reason I didn't take a single art class until college. I deplore following techniques in art - how can something so subjective be taught? What would Picasso think?! 

I don't draw. I don't paint. But I do wear makeup and dress up in clothes I find aesthetically pleasing. So while you may have tried to repeatedly break my spirit by subtly threatening me with an A-, oh Art Teacher whose name escapes me, you can't take away my credit card.

Can I just say, I adore ZARA for their ability to "take inspiration" and produce pieces that are attainable to the masses? Brava.

Outfit Deets:
Top: ZARA (and definitely not Celine)
Skirt: Upcycled H&M Maxi skirt.
Wedges: Reiss
Necklace: TopShop
Arm Stacks: Casio gold watch; Hermes Clic Clac; Isabel Marant for H&M bracelet; Giles & Brother Railroad Spike Cuff.

Your face, it's so big...it's so round...

There's something about an expectant mother that leads strangers to assume the role of being your closest advisor and confidant. Suddenly nothing is off limits and people will feel absolutely no qualms in talking about your body, your skin, your general persona. It's like your identity is defined by one, sole adjective: PREGNANT.

I've had my share of awkward encounters, with the unsolicited belly touch to the wise predictions of the baby's gender after careful scrutinization of my stomach.* 

But the most interesting interaction I have had is with a woman who I worked with, but hadn't seen in some time. The first thing she did when she saw me was mime a baby bump, and when I confirmed that yes, I wasn't just bloated, she proceeded to have a very real conversation with me.

Her: Wow, I didn't even recognize you. Your face is so big.
(She isn't a first language English speaker, so by "big" I believe she meant swollen. An observation I had recently made myself - my lips are twice their normal size, but unfortunately so is my nose.)
Her: You must be having a girl because they say the girls always steal the mother's beauty.
(I think this may be a Russian belief, I haven't heard of this before.)
I didn't find her comments offensive as much as intriguing. I get told I'm glowing every day, but I know  it's because I'm wearing concealer and foundation - which I normally don't. My skin has actually been terrible in this pregnancy - does this indicate the gender of my child? I'm skeptical because I'm already mom to a lovely young lady, and I positively glowed like a halogen lamp during that pregnancy. This time around, my regular products are failing me miserably. My skin is dry and dull. My under eye bags have bags. I haven't exactly broken out, but I have bumps on my skin. 

It's like everything is too harsh but not enough all of a sudden.

So with that in mind, I've come up with an at-home scrub you can find in your kitchen. 

Sugar Scrub

                                 3 TablespoonBrown Sugar
                                 1 Tablespoon Organic Honey
                                 2-3 Tablespoon Milk
                                 1 Teaspoon Rose Water

                Mix the ingredients together and scrub like it's nobody's business.   

I love using all-natural ingredients on my face. The brown sugar exfoliates while the honey and milk moisturize and soften your skin. And the rose water soothes and reduces any redness while making your face smell ah-may-zing! I've used this scrub twice in the last week and I feel fresh after every use. I also think it's definitely helped in reducing the swelling in my face slightly.

I am wearing makeup, but this was after a whole day at work...so something's working.

*Here, I would just like to voice my vehement dislike for nicknames for my baby: Bump, Pickle, Nubbin - stop calling it weird words, it's a baby. Call it a baby!

To the library, and step on it!

When I was younger and much less wiser than I am today, I didn't give a fig about animal rights. I firmly believed (and kind of maybe still do, a little bit) that instead of spending money on saving animals, we could somehow use those animals to save starving children across the world.

It's horrifying, I know but it does make some sense right?

I've never liked any animals, except an interest in sharks stemming from watching Jaws at a much younger age than the rating suggested. I've had birds - chicks, a partridge, parakeets, and I even briefly owned a kitten (that I would not touch)...but I am deathly distrustful of dogs - not scared - I will cross the street if I see one. And if you're wondering, like an 8 year old acquaintance of mine, I have absolutely negative infinity interest in facing my uh, "not fear - just dislike coupled with suspicion".

Moving on. About four years ago, I had to do a presentation on Circuses. It started out with a revulsion for clowns that soon left me more shocked and afraid by the handling of the animal "entertainers." All of a sudden the image of the Lion Tamer brandishing his whip against the proverbial King of the Jungle was the most macabre scene I had witnessed in years (and as only one other person in the world knows, I have an obsession with researching very macabre topics).

For example, I have always enjoyed watching Animals in Captivity Attack.

I know that it's harsh, but really there is absolutely no need for humans to capture KILLER whales and abuse them for entertainment - I don't care how great the conditions are - it's against the laws of nature to try and bend these wild creatures to our will, so why do they face being put down if they act on their instincts? Shout out to Siegfried and Roy for not killing that tiger that got too frisky.

I try and avoid zoos in favor of sanctuaries and safaris and aquariums are the absolute worst. You want to see animals? Watch Nature, Discovery, etc.

Because of my new found concern for animals - still not completely an animal right's person - I am very against the use of animals for fashion: testing, fur, etc. Unless you're looking to survive by eating a rabbit and then wearing it's pelt to stave off frost bite, leave Thumper alone!

I am also now, slowly turning away from leather. I do own bags of calf skin, which I don't regret so much because cows are like, everywhere. Crocodile is a big no  no, I know they're evil, soulless, eating machines but they are so much cooler than cows or lambs.

Clearly I am still sorting through my views, and until I take a firm stand, there's always pleather(!)

I love the leather details that have been everywhere since last Fall, not at all ready to let go of this trend. And I was "extremely interested" at first sight when I saw the Kate Spade Fall 2013 Taxi, Off Duty Clutch. I need to plan a trip to NYC so I can hail a cab with it. Ha!

Kate Spade Taxi/Off Duty Clutch
Warehouse Faux Leather Full Skirt,
Forever 21 Faux Leather Collar Full Sleeve White Shirt,
Atmosphere Grey Cardigan,
Zara pointed toe heels,
Calvin Klein Opaque Ribbed Tights,
Topshop Double Gold Chain. (NO, NOT 2 CHAINS!)