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FOOD  & LIFESTYLE
FOOD & LIFESTYLE
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PHOTO EDITING APPS THAT I USE EVERY SINGLE DAY

I had some interest in photography, thanks to the work I do, and learn't some basic skills from my brother and sister who holds a degree in mass communication, but I had zero knowledge of how the world of photo-editing worked. When I started as a blogger five years ago, there weren't as many tools or apps as today that I could use for editing my photos. Using the filters on Instagram and photoshop were the only two photo-editing resort you could adhere to as an amateur. While photoshop still required some learning curve, Instagram filters were easy and user-friendly. I would apply them to my photos and just publish, without going into any detailed editing. Occasionally, I would use pic-monkey for editing photos for the blog, but I parted ways when they turned into a paid subscription. 

Fast forward five years later, photo-editing has become a huge industry and bloggers and influencers are spending hundreds of dollars getting their photos professionally touched. Having a cohesive looking, well-curated feed is the new trend and everyone is going cray cray with photo-editing. I agree that it is time-saving and the results are amazing, but why spend your precious dollars when there are gazillion apps that have preset features that you can apply to your photos, tweak it up a little and have the same look as a professionally edited photo. 

I have over the past year spent a lot of time testing out different photo-editing apps and their features. It has been kind of fun and a little overwhelming, blame it on the myriad options out there, but I am now at a happy place with a few of my favorites that I use pretty much every single day. 

1) ColorStory 

This app is available for both Apple and Android. Otherwise free for the basic presets, you could buy the premium ones for a small fee or for $25 buy the entire ACS+ package. There are close to a 100 presets to choose from. In addition to the presets, you can tune the images, add special effects and create a photo grid which is a duplicate of your IG feed- more like a preview of how your feed would look like. I use this app to apply the presets and my favorite is UDO from Lost Stories. I should be using this app for tuning my images, but I am pretty loyal to the Lightroom app coming up next. 


ZARA blouse // ZARA pants // CALVIN KLEIN kim heels // LELE SADOUGHI headband 





HOW TO STYLE A VEST TWO WAYS- STYLE SWAP TUESDAYS

If you guys have been following me, you would know that I'm a sucker for a good co-ordinate set, proof here, and here. So, when I saw this magenta pant suit here, I was sold and it had to come home to me. I generally would wear my coordinates set here on the blog and talk about how you can split and style them as separates, but would never share actual looks featuring the individual pieces as separates. 

I have been watching my spending lately and this was my perfect chance to challenge myself to come up with ways to split the pant suit and make the most of each piece individually. The first look is more dressy and exactly how it was advertised on the retailer's website. I would totally wear this look to office with a printed blouse under that vest and swap the open-toe sandals for more professional closed-toe pumps. The second look is definitely more casual with the mom-friend jeans, the dramatic sleeve blouse and the white mules. I would wear this look in a heartbeat and just swap the shoes for whatever the place I'm going to demands. 

I think I faired well in this self-imposed challenge of wearing a co-ordinate set as separates...what say? 


ZARA pant suit // ASOS zebra sandals // GAP jeans // GUCCI marmont belt/bag // ALDO mules 



SAUMYA IN THE CITY- CITY CENTER DC

It' been a while, precisely a month,  since I featured a new local hotspot over here. In case you are new to my blog or just need a memory refresh, I write a monthly series called " Saumya in the city " where I take up a local attraction and share some fun facts about the same. It could be a restaurant, a hotel, a museum, a shopping mall or even a building of national interest- the idea is to show you the real DC area.

Well, today's feature is a very posh, upscale location in DC- City Center DC. A $1 billion project that took almost a decade to complete, blame it on all the political controversies involved, is now owned by the Qatari government. Back in 2013 the Qatari government invested $650 million into the City Center project, thereby becoming the main owner. It is one of the hotspots in the heart of DC that looked recession free. With all the line up of high-end stores and restaurants this place is always bustling with tourists and enthusiastic localites.

CityCenterDC is a mixed-use development consisting of two condominium buildings, two rental apartment buildings, two office buildings, a luxury hotel, and public park in downtown Washington DC. It encompasses 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) and covers more than five city blocks. The main spine through CityCenter is Palmer Alley, a three-block long pedestrian mall running east-west through the middle of the development. Palmer Alley is one of Washington, DC's only pedestrianized streets, on which cars and other motorized vehicles are not allowed.

SHOPPING

City Center is a shopping mecca for all who come to DC. It is home to stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Kate Spade, Moncler and a few other high-end brands. Stores like Caudalie, Allen Edmonds, Alexis Bittar, and Tiffany & Co. are some other retailers that are a part of City Center.


EAST ORDER jumpsuit // ALDO shoes pumps // POP&SUKI takeout bag 



MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT OUTLET SHOPPING MALLS

I have been gushing about these white jeans over on my Instagram and stories, that I bought during my recent shopping trip to the Leesburg Premium outlet mall with my sister. These jeans are from Armani Outlet and having snagged them for $14 plus some change makes me want to gush about it even more. Yes, you hear it right $14 and some change- it was actually on clearance for $20, but if I spent $200 plus at the store, there was an additional 20% discount on the entire pre-tax amount. 

Well, this might sound like a sweet deal to you but appears you didn't pay much heed to the $200 minimum spending part. In order to save a little more, I ended up spending more than what I had aimed for. Like everyone else I fell into this trap widely known as the 'marketing gimmick' that lures you into spending more to avail all the additional in-store discounts. This is just one of the many marketing strategies that stores use, but since we are talking about the outlet malls in particular, let's review some of their myths and facts. 

What is a factory outlet? 

An outlet store or factory outlet is a brick and mortar store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the consumers. 

MYTHS

If you need deep discounts on anything, shop the outlet locations- while this might be partially true, it is not applicable to all retailers. Brands have separate manufacturing units for outlet and retail malls - what you might see at the retail store, it is very unlikely that you might find something similar at the outlet location. Sometimes merchandise at the outlet store is either rejected or are just sale leftovers of the retail stores. Whatever doesn't sell at the retail might gets redirected to the outlet for resale,  price adjustment not guaranteed. So when shopping at the outlet mall next time, remember that the collection is unique and the price is priced for outlet location which could be slightly lower than what you find something similar for at the retail. 


ARMANI outlet jeans // ZARA blouse ( similar ) // ALDO SHOES heels ( buy same




LITTLE THINGS THAT SPARK JOY - style swap tuesdays

Sometimes, there are little things that can turn a bad day around, which even bigger events can fail to  do. I am the kind of person who tries to find happiness in everyday things- no matter how big or small they are. The other day I was talking to my niece about what she would miss the most when she moves back to India next month. I was stoked by all the little things she remembered and all those series of events and moments that were irrelevant to others, but meant so much to her. 

Likewise, little things/ happenings that mean nothing to you, might mean a lot to others. They might spark some good memory or a thought that is exhilarating. For me things that ignite slightest of   happiness mean a lot and being able to share them with you will bring me even more joy- sharing is caring after all!

1. When you order something expensive online and it goes on sale soon after, there is nothing more exciting when the customer service rep happily honors it and makes the price adjustment. Joy level- super high !!

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H&M blouse  ( same ) // H&M skirt // ALDO shoes heels // J. CREW leopard blazer. 





NAIL CARE 101- five tips to keep your hands and nails looking youthful

Your nails and say everything about you. The overall appearance of your hands and nails can be a precursor of any underlying health issue. While I'll let your doctor decode the medical side of your nail-health, we will tackle the aesthetics and nail-care-at-home part of it. 

Partly genetic, but my mom has been a major contributor in all the sister's good skin, hair and nails. She would involve us in all the DIY masks and packs she would make at home. We were like guinea pigs- all that she would learn at her herbal beauty class, she would test on us. Result- we sisters are a huge advocate of at-home beauty remedies. Call it old-school but I am happy to recycle those beauty remedies for my daughter and pass along the same to her as Grandma's home remedies. 

The tips that follow below are mostly hand me downs from my mom and some are just that I picked up from other beauty enthusiasts and editorials. 

SEVEN TIPS TO KEEP YOUR NAILS HEALTHY AND HANDS LOOKING YOUTHFUL 

1) Exercising- We all are no strangers to the overall health benefits of exercising. Be it for good physique, posture, skin, hair or even nails, there are lot of reasons to exercise. Exercising alleviates stress and anxiety which otherwise can be a major deterrent to your state of body and well-being. When you sweat your body releases endorphins that lead to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain, we feel elated and when you are happy insideit shows outside. 

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SUMMER DRESSES AND BOOTS- STYLE SWAP TUESDAYS

Today's outfit is totally inspired by a close DC blogger friend, who wore a white maxi dress with a pair of white killer boots for a summer soiree at a local restaurant last week. TBH, I would have never thought of wearing boots in summer but my friend made it look so comfortable and effortless, that I got lured to trying it out. Honestly, I was sweating all the way to my ankles cuz it did not occur to me that my friend was inside throughout where it was cool and zero sweating whereas I was going to be out in the blaring sun where it was hot and humid. Rest acceptable, the only thing I had on my when taking these photos was 'how to get those boots out '... lol! Glad, I was closer to home and was able to remove them soon. 

There is no denying that the outfit stands out and with those western boots it is a fun twist to the everyday summer maxi dress, but I am also not going to deny the idea of ditching the boots in summer. I wore it once, I liked it, now time to bring out another pair of heels that are more summer appropriate for another fresh summer look. Happy sole equals happy soul after all. 

How many times have you worn an outfit inspired by a friend or sister and later realized that 'that look is not meant for you'? 

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ANTHROPOLOGIE malibu floral maxi dress ( buy same )  // DANSE LENTE Johnny bucket bag ( buy same ) // MANGO western boots 


BIRTHDAY BUCKET LIST- A TRUE CANCERIAN

Happy July 1 lovelies! 

It is my birthday month and I couldn't be more excited to see what thirty seven looks like. At 36 I am married, have a beautiful family, have multiple careers, a home mortgage, 529 college fund for Riri, a retirement fund, life insurance - overall a decent life. Well, this is exactly how your life is expected to be in your thirties, right? Some standards set by the society for you that you are expected to have accomplished by a certain age. But what about your own wishes, your dreams, your bucket list?????? 

TBH, I don't exactly have a bucket list. Reason- I never actually attempted to make one. But there are these random things that I always wanted to do and would like to check them off my wishlist before some mishap happens and things change for the worse. Nothing too extravagant or fanciful, just random everyday things that would make me happy. So for once ( much deserved cuz it is my birthday month ) I am becoming a little selfish and rounding up things that I would like to do before I turn 40. 

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