Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | Abu Dhabi, UAE

Hello from the United Arab Emirates!

Waseem and I have been in Dubai for a little over a week with still quite a few days left! Waseem is here on business and I was at Pop Con Dubai over the weekend speaking on a social media panel as well as being Chrisspy’s model for her masterclass (also at Pop Con!). I’ve been to Dubai several times, usually for long layovers so my mom could hit up the gold souq; but Waseem and I also visited for our first wedding anniversary almost three years ago! I was excited to come back for such an extended period of time with a little bit of experience under my belt. What I was most excited for was the chance to drive down to Abu Dhabi and visit the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque again! This mosque is my favorite place I’ve ever visited in the world – how can it not be?! It is so gorgeous and peaceful – not pretentious like I expected prior to my first visit. It’s beyond decadent, adorned with marble, gold, precious stones, and crystal galore, don’t get me wrong – but I think there’s something really beautiful about feeling proud of your place of worship.

The Grand Mosque was established by the late president, who wanted to create something that truly unified the Muslim world – its peoples, history, & art. Materials and artisans from all over the world were brought to design and create this mosque and the design is best described as a fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal & Moorish architecture. Yes, I got that from Wikipedia haha ;) The Grand Mosque accomodates over 40,000 worshippers and is made up of over 1000 columns and 82 domes, it will seriously take your breath away!

Tourist hours vary depending on the day. I was lucky enough to pray jummah (Friday prayer) twice here! In 2014 it seemed as though tourist hours began right after prayers ended (busloads of tourists came through as we were getting out) but the current schedule shows that tourist hours begin after 4:30pm on Fridays – be sure to check the schedule! I was a bit nervous about taking photos after prayers but no one said a thing & the mosque seems to be very photo friendly – they even host a photography competition every year! I have heard that you cannot bring tripods though, luckily I didn’t visit alone! :) To be honest, I don’t understand the Rihanna controversy from a few years back – she wasn’t doing anything that everyone else wasn’t doing! All tourists take a million photos. It’s the #1 tourist destination in Abu Dhabi and there are guided tours daily!

I drove down to Abu Dhabi with my friend Shyema (who took my bomb photos!) on Friday for Jummah prayer. Waseem & I spontaneously drove down last night and I have to say it is also soooo beautiful at night! To visit during Mahgrib (sunset prayer), is on my bucketlist! I don’t know if I can handle another drive this week, but God willing – next time!

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Santorini Secret Suites & Spa | Santorini, Greece

Happy Fri-Yay!

This year has been quite the doozy! I think I’ve traveled internationally at least once a month since March, with the exception of May. Not only has it been an exciting year traveling the globe, I got to visit my dream destination twice in the same season! My husband and I visited Santorini during our anniversary trip in March and I was back again in August! Santorini Secret Suites & Spa was generous in hosting me and their property was such a quintessential Oia dream – everything was so white, clean & dreamy. Located right off the pedestrian walkway in Oia, shopping and restaurants were available all around the property. During our first visit at a different property, our room was on the street level so it wasn’t built into the cliffside like the rest of the hotel and like most of the residences in Oia. At Santorini Secret, we had such a Cycladic experience living and sleeping in our cavernous room!

Everything is carved into the cliff so be prepared for a ton of stairs! I get tired easily so I was happy to have a higher room; but the lower you get, the more private the rooms get as well. I had no issues with guests walking by when we were lounging on our terrace though (which was rare anyways!); & from inside the room you can’t hear a thing! So peacefully quiet & private.

Santorini is the most photogenic place I’ve been & any picture taken outside on the terraces or stairs at the hotel will be flawless by default. You can’t take a bad photo with all the light reflecting everywhere and the ever-so-perfect backdrop! You gotta check it out below to believe it!

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Thirty, Flirty, & Thriving

….& tired? Oh my goodness, I began writing this post on Monday and got so tired that I never finished. It’s a good thing I didn’t because I just backspaced all of it!! I was a little (a lot) sad the night I turned 30 and I wasn’t really expecting it. All year I whined about turning 30 but I think I said it more to be funny than it actually coming from a real real place. Then midnight hit on October 11th & I felt a little blah. Fast forward 15 minutes and I was sitting at the kitchen table with tears in my eyes, my heart sinking, and my husband trying to console me lol!!

When I look back on life I don’t have many regrets, just sometimes a feeling of bad luck which leaves me resentful and angry. I can honestly say I hated my 20s until I met my husband which didn’t happen until the halfway mark at 25. Add in a couple years of beginning-of-marriage-stress-that-no-one-warns-you-about + moving 3 times, life didn’t begin feeling like bliss until just these past couple years. And now here I am, feeling like my 20s were a person and they have just walked out of my life, feeling like my youth is over, feeling like I never truly got to live during my 20s the way I should have. But then I realize… I’m living now. Through hard work, dedication, & blessings from God I can say that I’ve gotten everything I’ve always wanted. I always wanted to travel, own pretty things (eye roll at my younger self lol), be married to an incredible person, live in LA, the list goes on.. so what am I really mad about? That I didn’t get to casually date? Join sororities? Be popular in school? Spring break in Cancun? Cringe to all of it. Taking a step back and dissecting my pessimistic feelings, I realize I just wish that I had my current life earlier in life. But hello? who doesn’t want their success before the hard work? (not just talking about work-work, relationships are work too!)

While I moped in bed, my husband started up random chatter about Chinese bamboo trees. I wasn’t in the mood to listen to it but I gave him my attention anyways. He told me about all the attention and care these plants require every day but that they show no growth for what feels like forever. Fifteen years to be exact (after Googling just now I think he meant five, but same thing in this context) !! After 15 years of all that TLC, the Chinese bamboo tree shoots up six feet out of nowhere over six weeks. And he asked me “did the tree take 6 weeks or 15 years to grow 6 feet?”, I was being bratty and yelled “6 weeks!” even though I knew that was the wrong answer. Long story short, he cheers’d to his little Chinese bamboo tree at dinner last night lol!

It’s so easy to get caught up in what we can show for ourselves without acknowledging the blood, sweat, & tears it took to get there. Age is not just a number, they are years to be proud of.

I’ve waved bye-bye to my 20s & welcome my 30s with open arms… and a few fine lines + a slow-ass metabolism. ;)

Enjoy the outfit, had to ride 90s nostalgia with the clear heels!

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Doha Travel Diary | Qatar

Last month as I was closing out a long Eurotrip, I found myself with a 2 hour layover in Doha. With my in-laws living a short plane ride away, I suggested that they visit me for some long overdue quality time…. & my 2 hour layover became nearly a week haha! My wheels are always turning and I’m always ready to seize the moment! My father in law is a big foodie so with recommendations from family and friends in tow, we spent most of our time restaurant hopping without a single complaint from me! The food in Doha was so good everywhere we went. We started off at an Iraqi restaurant and over our few days we consumed so much more; fish & chips, Pakistani food (& a halwa puri brunch one day, yum!), Egyptian, traditional Qatari, & I don’t even remember what else! It was a blur of amazing food! We got in a little bit of sight seeing as well but not as much as I would have liked because the days were so hot so we wouldn’t really begin our outings until 4 or 5 pm. Our main outings were Souq WaqifMuseum of Islamic Art, shopping at the mall (duh! The Middle East loves malls!), & dune bashing in the Arabian Desert with Qatar Inbound Tours. I don’t recommend the last with your parents if they’re not the adventurous type lol! Trust me when I say that my mother in law was f r e a k i n g  o u t! I’ve dune bashed before in Dubai, so I should have known but my father in law really enjoyed himself – we would have stayed longer if we could have!

Enjoy all the photos, I’ll chat about all the places as we go! Starting with Souq Waqif..

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Soft Brown Makeup | Kyshadow + Brown Sugar Lip Kit

Hi loves!

You know I have a hard time straying away from nude/neutral looks! I just love warm brown colors, I can’t resist! I finally got my hands on the Kylie Cosmetics Kyshadow Bronze Palette and the new Brown Sugar Lip Kit and had to create a look with them! You’ll be obsessed with the Bronze Palette if you love warm brown palettes like the Morphe 35o (code IRENE for a discount!), but I love that this palette includes a black shadow! That’s the one thing the 35o’s are missing!

Don’t even get me started on Brown Sugar, I’ve been waiting for this color all my life lol! Enjoy the tutorial!

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