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Monday, 31 March 2014

#ootd: Regatta Monday

This year I decided to continue where I left off last year, that is, by making it a year with a number of 'firsts'.  So today, being Freedom Day and a national holiday here in Malta, we headed off to watch my first ever Regatta.  From the little that I know about this boat race, it is hugely contested by the cities surrounding the Grand Harbour and it takes place both on Freedom Day and on Victory Day (8 September).  Moreover, the beautiful weather that graced the island today called for spending the afternoon out in the sun.

To celebrate the weather, I chose to wear my new Zara yellow blazer which I bought a few weeks ago and hadn't worn as yet.  I don't know why - I'm usually the most colourful thing walking around in Valletta - but I was feeling it was a tad too summery for the last weeks.  I decided to also give my new leopard print espadrilles from H&M a road test - the weather was warm enough to warrant not wearing any socks or stockings.  I kept the rest of the outfit simple with grey, denim and beige neutrals and matched the print on my espadrilles to a scarf I had bought ages ago from Accessorize which has a vintage map print and leopard print trimming.

I was so chuffed with the outfit and with the gorgeous weather that I even got into a bit of a (clumsy) jump half way through the afternoon!
What I wore: 
Blazer - Zara
T-shirt - Zara
Jeggings - Suite Blanco
Espadrilles - H&M
Handbag - Mango
Scarf - Accessorize
Sunglasses - Blumarine
Necklaces - Astrid & Miyu
Ring - Parfois

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Sunday, 30 March 2014

App of the month: MyFitnessPal

This month's App of the month feature comes a week late because, as you know, last Sunday I was traipsing around Brussels, doing the touristy thing and I could post the feature as I had planned.  You can read about my Brussels trip here.
Anyway, partly inspired by the fact that I had some changing room let-downs while shopping in Brussels and partly inspired by the fact that the Malta Fashion Week is less than 2 months away and I want to look good in my favourite getups, this last week has been a calorie-counting reality check.  And I find no better way of doing that than through the MyFitnessPal app I have installed on both my iPhone and my iPad. There is also a web-based version which I use at times, but honestly speaking I find the mobile version so much more convenient.
The main reason for this is that I can really check my weight intake on-the-go as the app comes with a 'barcode scanning' feature which allows you to just scan the barcode of the food that you'd be about to have and hey presto! all the nutritional details are logged in on your profile according to the serving size you indicate.  Most internationally renowned and available brands are listed so there's no excuse ... and there is even data for more local items such as Twistees, gbejna or galletti! If there really is an obscure product is not on the list, you can still add the details from the nutritional values table on the product itself (N.B - all products SHOULD have such labels - don't buy anything that doesn't: you have a right to know what's going into your body!)
Another feature which I love about this app (though I use it more on the web in this case) is the 'My Recipes' option.  Cooking is one of my hobbies but I don't always necessarily follow recipes and like to get a bit creative in the kitchen.  When I'm planning such a meal, I log into MyFitnessPal and create the recipe online so I know what the nutritional value of such is, even before I cook it and eat it!

Last but not least, you can track your weight and exercise regimes on MyFitnessPal as well.  This week I've been weighing myself every single morning (this morning's peak was due to an ill-advised Badass Burger fest last night! urgh!) - I know that there are schools of thought which recommend against this, but I find that even the slightest move up or down on the scales motivates me to do better or to get back on track.  I still have to get back into a proper exercise routine but with the Summer time kicking in today (much to my usual confusion) this should come easier as the days get longer.  A great thing about it is that I can link my Endomondo exercise tracker to MyFitnessPal and the two apps do all the work. There's a whole list of apps that can be linked to MyFitnessPal.

For more information on MyFitnessPal, click here.

N.B. This is not a paid or sponsored post and all opinions are my own thoughts.

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Event Post: Sweet Treats Party by Jane Norman & Oasis

Candies on tap? Check. Fashion savvy advice? Check.  20% off gorgeous clothing? Check, check and triple check!
of hearts and stripes 
A busy week came to a perfect ending with a fantastic shopping event at Jane Norman and Oasis in Valletta.  Beautiful dresses and handbags (my all-time guilty pleasures) took my mind off the week's stress as I browsed the racks and made mental lists of what to buy (the self-imposed shopping ban has looooooong been lifted!) Unfortunately, since I was heading out to another event after this, I did not manage to do any shopping, but I will definitely pop in again pretty soon.
this dress is perfect for every shape or size and the emerald colour is so flattering
breton stripes - one can never have enough of them
I love love love this dress! The embroidered neckline is so pretty!
Swatching away with Dorianne
Caroline from Caroline's Fashion Styling provided fashion advice to all the fashionistas who flocked to the store while Dorianne from *ask Dorianne guided those of us equally in love with make-up on the latest offerings by Pupa Milano - such gorgeous colours which really complemented the collection over at both Jane Norman and Oasis.
The Pupa Milano stand at the event ... I have my eyes on that mat yellow nail polish - so fresh for the new season
Caroline's dazzling smile and superb styling advice
bags in cute pastels and neutrals
I admit I'm more of an Oasis girl so I spent most of my time at the event on the Oasis floor, eyeing up some delightfully embellished dresses in the perfect shades for spring, while my Mister patiently waited as I caught up with Caroline and Dorianne in the meantime.  There's no stopping us girls when we meet :)

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

The #nomakeupselfie post

A few days ago, I was tagged by my friend and fellow blogger Caroline from Caroline's Fashion Styling to take part in the #nomakeupselfie campaign to increase awareness on breast cancer and raise funds towards this cause.

In all honesty, at first, I was hesitant to take part.  You know full well by now my aversion to showing my face sans maquilliage in public ... and seeing so many people posting #nomakeupselfies without actually saying much about the cause being supported - breast cancer research and awareness - was at kind of putting me off.

But then I plucked up the necessary courage - after all, victims of breast cancer face their fate with courage.  Why couldn't I pluck up some to show my bare face? I realised it was such a trivial concern in comparison to what they would be facing.  Silly me.  So here goes, not one but three #nomakeupselfies ... all taken this morning as I woke up, and all without any editing or flattering Instagram / Picmonkey / Pixlr filter!

And in case you're wondering, yes, I did contribute my little bit to the cause.  I chose a local organisation - Action for Breast Cancer Foundation Malta, who constantly and consistently work towards achieving the European guidelines for quality assurance in breast cancer screening and diagnosis in Malta and Gozo. You can find out more about Action for Breast Cancer Foundation Malta here and find out how you can contribute here.

Do your little bit too, come on.

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Life imitating Art

This weekend I allowed myself a little city break in the European capital - Brussels.  I did try and tease you a bit about it in fact if you've been following my instagram (#fs6inbxl).

Unwittingly, to some extent, this trip turned into a 'life imitating art' episode, the art, being Guze Stagno's What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels (read my review here).  Let me just summarise why:

  • Through an odd turn of events, I was 'sort of' staying at the Hotel Des Colonies - the same one which Stagno's characters slept in (I was actually staying at the Hotel Siru, but the two are interlinked and with a joint reception / breakfast area at the moment); 
  • Despite not taking a trip over to Bruges like the Stagno crowd did, I took the ultimate in tourist traps - a hop-on hop off bus ... which is ironic, seeing as I lost count of the times I've been to Brussels in the last 9 years; and
  • I finished off my stay much as the hapless group started it: lunching at L'Altro Mondo ... which did almost send me to the other world courtesy of a super-sized plate of pasta swimming in beschamel! 
Ever since I've read the book, every trip to Brussels sees me looking out for the characters described, trying to see the Capital through their eyes ... but trying my best not to behave like them! 

But besides the Stagno references, this trip was 'art-full' in another way:  I spent my Saturday morning at the recently opened fin-de-siecle museum, soaking in a variety of art nouveu and realist pieces from the late 1800s.  Once the 'traditional' art fix was had, I headed off for my regular stroll in search of street art and the murals which adorn a number of Bruxellian corners. Needless to say, my thirst for this type of art was more than quenched.  

I feel that every time I dedicate a little extra time to this city, I find myself falling more and more in love with it.  I will never love it as much as my own Valletta or adoptive Krakow - nor will it ever top my favourite cities list and topple Prague or Ljubljana from the top spots.  

But Brussles has something that very few people - at least in my line of work - see beyond the Euro-grey.  It is a vibrant city full of delightful contrasts: where the majesty of the Grand Place and the Old Town sit in a friendly arrangement with murals depicting Tin Tin and other Belgian cartoon characters as well as street art pieces by popular artists like Space Invader and less famous ones; art-nouveau avenues host contemporary luxury and high street stores; grey suits invade the lush green parks on sunny lunch-breaks. It is a city that has social problems which can be easily seen, but which I feel endorses its diversity and celebrates it - it is ultimately, the capital where all of Europe and beyond, meet. 

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Wednesday Wishlist

I realise that once again I've been a bit MIA in blogging - the usual excuses reasons come to mind (work commitments, errands, appointments) and added to that much needed quality time with my bf who's finally back on the island.  You don't really blame me now, do you?! To make up for this lack of blogging, I'm making the most of this mid-week public holiday and bringing you a Wednesday Wishlist ... instead of packing for my work-trip / city break starting tomorrow that is! Priorities, priorities ...

Well, these are the items I'm currently craving, pretty badly ... even though practically each one of them comes with a little proviso.  Read on, and help me choose which item(s) I should actually invest in, and which one(s) I should ditch.

A trench coat (it's a Mango vs Zara kind of thing ...)

This has been on my wishlist for a number of months now, but I've always opted for less classic pieces. Blame it on my new work life, or the final realisation that I'm hitting my mid-30s pretty soon, I'm starting to look at more classic items to place in my wardrobe.  I love the texture of the Mango version but I'm a bit miffed it's not fully lined.  On the other hand, the Zara version is fully lined and the perfect length for my height but I'm not so thrilled with the material.  Decisions, decisions ... unless, of course, I decide to spend my whole paycheck on a real Burberry ... mmmm....

Superga classic white sneakers

A throwback to my Physical Edu lessons back in primary and secondary school, plain white sneakers are one of my current 'must-haves' in my wardrobe.  Perfectly adorkable when ditching the daily heels at the weekend, they can look equally cute and on trend with cuffed jeans, ditsy dresses and why not, even with a dressed down trouser suit.  My dilemma on this piece is whether to go for canvas or seek more durable (and easily cared-for) leather.

Kenzo x New Era flower block cap

I fell in love with this topper the minute I laid eyes on it - the coral and aqua colour combination is just perfect for summer, and the pattern and oversized embroidered logo is just such fun.  The problem is, I can't really see me wearing it, nor can I see where / when I would wear it! I'm no longer much of a beach bum, so that's out of the equation already ... Saturday morning markets? Glammed up with heels for the weekend? I'm so confused!

Moschino Jeremy Scott FW14-15 iPhone 5 case

This thing just grew on me.  When the pictures of the Jeremy Scott capsule collection for Moschino's FW14-15 started emerging, I'll be honest with you:  I was scratching my head no end.  I just couldn't come to terms with the whole McDonalds inspiration.  But without realising, my heart started settling on the fries shaped iPhone case.  After my Marc Jacobs 'Shorty' pug shaped case proved to be quite a conversation starter last year, I can't wait to own this one now ...

So there goes.  These four items are actually not letting me sleep soundly.  I'm serious.  Please do help me out in this oh-so-first-wordly decision process ...

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Exhibition: REGNVM

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to attend the opening of photographer Kris Micallef's exhibition and book launch REGNVM at Blitz in Valletta.  I'll be honest with you - this was more of a social event as, with all the people attending, and my being vertically challenged I only got glimpses of the artworks on display.  But those tiny glimpses were enough to make me want to see more.

So I headed back to the exhibition last weekend, bright and early to allow myself the time to be engulfed in beauty of these images.  Kris Micallef is a Maltese photographer, best known for his work in fashion editorials and campaigns. His architectural background presents itself in an incredible sensitivity in choreographing form, focus and light through his landscapes and portraits.

Walking around Blitz, taking my time in front of every photograph, I could feel this sensitivity.  All images are taken underwater and the fluidity of the medium surrounding the model-dancers inundates the viewer in an otherworldly manner.  Entering REGNVM, you are entering another world - a world with a sometimes blurry vision of delicately shaped bodies, but who emit strength through their eyes and sculpted features. The three elements - the bodies (solid), the sea (liquid) and the air (gas) - are fused together by the artist in these images which are at times serene and at times disconcerting.

My favourite piece, by far, is one where a male figure is suspended in mid-descent into the water. I loved how Kris captured that fraction of a second before the body was fully submerged - that feeling of belonging to two spaces, above and under water; that sense of 'letting go' which you get when you're diving / jumping into the sea or even just easing yourself into a bath. You feel like you're letting yourself go into a peaceful space, and yet, there is always an element of 'unknown' which somewhat rattles you.

Most of the works are in monochrome, which I felt gave the water a mercurial feel making it more tangible; however, I must confess that my favourites where those images captured in colour, where the tonalities of the sea were captured in their deepest blues.

I asked Kris a couple of questions to put this exhibition into some more perspective:

FS6: What came first: the diving skills or the photo shoot/book inspiration? 
KM: I have always been fascinated by underwater portraiture. The idea for REGNVM came before I was equipped to actually work on it. After buying the necessary equipment I decided to do a scuba diving course. It was a fantastic experience which opened a lot of new opportunities. In the end I opted not to use scuba and free dive instead - I found it to be much easier for what I had in mind. The idea of a story book came along while working on the project. I was happy that the story I had in mind was coming out through the photos but we thought that it would be a great idea to capture the series of photographs in one book and include a short story woven around the pictures. This is where Adrian Mamo and I decided to get in touch with creative writer Stanley Borg and together worked on my first publication - REGNVM.

FS6: You chose a crowd funding platform for this project. How did the Maltese public react to it? And more broadly, how easy / difficult was it to reach your targets? 
KM: I decided to opt for crowd funding as one of my main funding sources for the REGNVM exhibition and publication. I had already heard about crowd funding platforms such as indiegogo and kickstarter and I had also contributed to a few artists' campaigns. I thought that this would be a great opportunity and also a great risk however the crowd funding campaign was received with great reactions and infact I reached more than my target of EUR5,000. ( Many people had not heard of crowd funding before and I think that now the local scene is more aware of other alternatives that can help them make their projects happen. It has helped me make one of my dreams come true - my first exhibition in Malta and my very first publication! I'm very happy with the support I've had and with the feedback I've received since the exhibition has been launched. My crowd funding campaign was supported by contributors from Malta, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Belgium, Holland, Uk, Germany, Brazil, Czech Republic,Gibraltar, Italy! REGNVM is also supported by Malta Arts Fund, Lux-It Lighting, Maxmotion, thesmartskinclinic, Smugglers, Selkies, MJK Transport.

All the prints on display are for sale, so you can make the REGNVM world part of your own.  There's also the book, with even more images and a set of postcards, all available from Blitz. The exhibition is open until 20th March 2014. If you're out and about in Valletta, I suggest you dive into the surreal realm of REGNVM and leave the busy city life behind. You owe it to yourself.

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