Organizing my Life


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Hello hello everyone! Been a while!

Lots of going on – home decor updates, beauty testing, travel, cooking, puppies. Between all the stuff, I have very easily missed deadlines and wasted vast amounts of money on missed vet appointments and lapsed vaccinations for my pups, late fees on bills etc. So I decided it was high time to get organized and get a Planner. I toyed with getting the Erin Condren Life Planner that EVERYONE in the social media community is obsessed with. But for now, I am happy with a more affordable one called the Secret Garden Do It All Planner by Orange Circle Studio.


The planner is a great size for my handbag and runs from August 2016 through December 2017. It has a nice monthly layout for all months in the beginning and vertical weekly layouts that I am loving.


There are pages for notes, to-do and shopping lists at the end, that can be torn out for ease. It also comes with 300 stickers – even though they’re not the most useful for me, but I can see them being useful for a number of people.


I don’t plan to super decorate my planner like everyone else because I think that totally defeats the purpose of a planner! Some of the planners I have seen online, while absolutely beautifully decorated, don’t seem to be for the purpose of planning (no offense to anyone!). I want to be able to see my things to do and important daily reminders and not have them be lost in a sea of pretty stickers and washi tapes and other messages. I’m still figuring out the best method to keep track of important life stuff in my planner, and will probably use some tape to flag items and put reminders, but will keep it pretty light overall.

I AM impressed with the super pretty Erin Condren planners and will probably get one of those next.. But for the time being, I am very happy with my $14.99 Secret Garden planner. Get it here.

Note: Links are for your ease and benefit – not an affiliate.


Itty Bitty Paris Beauty Haul


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Bonjour, everyone!

I am in Paris! I went to the city of lights for a 5 day visit to attend a friend’s wedding in the countryside and also see Paris. No surprises, I’m so in love with the city!


Anyhoo, as any beauty enthusiast, I had a list of French beauty products that I wanted to purchase and try. I am trying to stick to a no-buy buy minimally and finish what I already have, so I reined myself in to buy only a few products. These are all items that have been raved about by hundreds of bloggers and beauty experts across the world, so I want to see for myself what the hype is all about!


A quick tip for travelers – most stores (including pharmacies) are closed in Paris on Sunday. But a quick tip for all of you, who like me, end up in Paris on a Sunday – most pharmacies (and other stores) in Le Marais district ARE open on Sundays! A good one I came across that stocks most of the popular skincare is the Pharmacie des Archives on Rue des Archives (take the metro to Hôtel de Ville, take exit 6 and it will be the first thing you see). There’s another one right across from this if you want to explore more.

À bientôt!

Grain Free Dog Treats


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In the past month or so, we have moved our young Labrador to a grain-free diet to get over his constant stomach issues. I have always kept him away from wheat and corn products, but even the “good” grains like brown rice and oats cause him trouble if he eats too much. I’m now super conscious of everything that goes into his mouth (and a LOT goes in too!). So I’m constantly on the hunt for ingredients that will not only benefit my pup’s coat and overall health, but also be super tasty for a special treat that he can enjoy. I created this recipe using some of my favorite ingredients for my fur-baby and he loves them every time these come out of the treat jar!

Garbanzo bean flour is a great grain-free flour that is good for dogs. Flaxseed provides essential nutrients to benefit the skin and coat, and pumpkin is great to regulate your dog’s stomach. Finally, I added a little turmeric for its anti-cancer properties.


Makes about 100 1-cm treats

What you need:

Garbanzo bean flour – 1.5 cups (plus extra for rolling)
Egg – 1
Applesauce – ¼ cup
Peanut Butter – 1 tbsp
Canned Pumpkin {not pie filling!} – 1 tbsp
Ground Flaxseed – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Cookie Cutter

The Method:

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Mix all the ingredients together and roll into a dough. You may need extra flour if the dough is too sticky.

Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick on floured parchment paper using a rolling pin.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out desired shapes. Gather the scraps of dough left and roll them out again till all dough is used up.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies. These can be placed very close together as they will not expand during baking.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes till golden brown.

Cool the cookies completely on a cooling rack before serving.

Store in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. I store mine in the fridge.

**Disclaimer: Please use judgment and caution while feeding anything to your dogs based on their specific needs and circumstances.


Easy Frozen Doggie Treats


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I have an 8.5 month old Labrador retriever who LOVES to eat. In fact, “LOVES” is an understatement. He will eat anything that comes his way. To add to this, he has a sensitive stomach, so he is very prone to diarrhea if he eats anything bad. I am very picky about the treats I buy for him. But in an effort to keep his treats as natural as possible, I love making them for him at home.

To cure his ever sensitive stomach, I feed him a mix of canned pumpkin and yogurt on a regular basis. But mixing up the two ingredients every time is time consuming and messy. So I decided to turn that into this yummy frozen treat that is super easy to make, store and feed!

Though this is a frozen treat, my puppy loves ice and snow and loves this treat all year round!!


What you need:

Canned pumpkin {not pie filling!}
Plain yogurt {Greek or regular}
A candy mold or ice-cube tray {I love using silicone molds in doggie patterns!}


The Method:

Mix up some pumpkin and yogurt in equal quantities.

Add to the mold and freeze for a few hours.

Once frozen, take the treats out of the mold and freeze in a Ziploc bag or a freezer container for easy feeding!

Watch your pup enjoy the delicious snack!

**Disclaimer: Please use judgment and caution while feeding anything to your dogs based on their specific needs and circumstances.

Going Natural – The Wonder Mask


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Happy Monday World!

I have been on a face mask obsession lately and have been dabbling into both commercial and home-made ones. The best part about home-made masks is how customizable they are – it is so easy to substitute, add, or leave out ingredients based on personal choice and skin types! One face mask concoction that I created for myself has become one of my all-time favorites. This has been super good for my oily-combination skin helping with both break-outs and fine lines.

I used clay in this mask to draw out the impurities and detoxify the skin. Rice and oat flours help to exfoliate and brighten the skin. Neem and turmeric are known for their anti-bacterial and skin-refining capabilities, and also are great for anti-aging. Matcha and Rosehip seed oil provide also add to the anti-aging capabilities of this mask. Even though this mask does not have the prettiest color (far from it!), it is an amazing all-natural way to pamper the skin!!

I love to slather this mask on, while relaxing in a hot bath with my favorite candles from Bath & Body Works. The steam from the bath opens up my pores for the mask to work its magic!

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What you need:

Organic rice flour – 1 tsp
Organic oat flour – 1 tsp
Bentonite clay – 1 tsp {I use Indian Aztec Healing clay}
Neem powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Matcha – ¼ tsp
Rosehip seed oil – a few drops
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 tsp
Water – as needed

The Method:

Mix all dry ingredients together.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry till you get the consistency desired.

Apply the mask and wait for it to dry (approx. 15-20 minutes)

Wash off and follow with regular skincare.

Have a beautiful week!

**Disclaimer: I am not a skin expert or an esthetician. This recipe worked for me. Please use caution and your best judgment if you are going to try any of these ingredients based on your personal skin type and allergies.

Home-made Mexican Pizza


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I recently had a get-together for friends belonging to multiple cultures and countries. While deciding the menu, I was conflicted on what to serve. Should I go Indian to give them a taste of my culture? Or should I go multi-national? Would they like some spice? Would they want something mild? It wasn’t easy. Then I got to thinking – we all love pizza, AND we all love Mexican food. So I thought why not combine the two for a “Mexican Pizza” for an appetizer? I came up with this recipe and it came out great! The ingredients can obviously be catered to individual needs and preferences. The beauty of this pizza is it tastes great every time – I used cherry tomatoes ‘coz that’s all I had at hand, and it came out wonderful!


What you need:

Frozen or pre-baked pizza base
Black Olives, sliced
Jalapeños, chopped
Bell peppers, sliced
Tomatoes, chopped
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Refried Beans
Sour Cream

The Method:

Preheat the oven at 450 F.

Spread refried beans on the pizza base, and cover with shredded cheese.

Layer all of the vegetables on top. The ingredients are just a guideline – any favorite veggies can be used.

Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Top with more shredded cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes till the pizza is light and crispy.

Serve with sour cream.

Tip: This makes for a great party appetizer. Just cut in bite size pieces and serve with sour cream as a dip!

Favorite Lip Duo for Dry Lips


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Hi everybody! Fall is here in full force, and winter is already rearing its ugly, cold head here in Chicago. While it is a beautiful season, it brings with itself concerns like dryness on the face, feet and lips. I have discovered a new duo that has been helping keep my flaky lips somewhat smooth and moisturized.


Fresh Sugar Lip Polish

This is a lip polish from everyone’s favorite brand, Fresh. It looks like a thick paste of brown sugar and smells amazing. I have such a strong urge to eat it every time I open the jar! It contains brown sugar, castor oil, meadowfoam seed oil, jojoba seed oil, grapeseed oil, and shea butter to exfoliate and nourish the lips. A little bit goes a long way – you only need a tiny bit of the product to exfoliate your lips, leave it on for a few minutes (resisting the urge to lick away!), and voila – beautiful soft lips!

Honestly, I think that this is one of those products that can be easily DIY’ed at home given you have the time. However, having it pre-packaged in a jar is always helpful in a hurry, without the need to whip up a tiny bit of scrub every time you need it.

One caveat though – even though the product is made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, it does contain artificial fragrance. So that may be a concern for people with sensitive lips, or those who tend to stay away from fragrance. I personally do not have issues with it.

I had received a deluxe sample (0.28 oz), but will purchase the full size to keep handy once I run out of this one. The full size comes in a 0.6 oz tub and retails for USD 22.50.

Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment


Josie Maran’s Argan Lip Treatment is quite underrated, in my opinion. It comes in cute little plastic jar with a screw-on top. Inside, the product itself is a very light pink that just looks like solidified oil. It doesn’t really smell like anything to me – just has a slight smell of oil (provided I have no sense of smell). It contains argan oil and squalene that helps to rehydrate and seal the lips, and true to the Josie Maran like, does not have any of the “bad” stuff.

When you rub your finger on the product, it melts the oil that you can put on your lips in a thin layer. I usually put this on my lips before sleeping or after exfoliating my lips, and they feel great in the morning! Provided this product won’t do much else to the lips like plumping etc., it’s main claim is to keep lips hydrated and fill in fine lines, which it performs expertly.

My only peeve about this product is the jar packaging. While it looks super cute and princess-y on the vanity, I hate having to dip my fingers in little pots of lip balm. I wish they bring this in a tube or stick format – now that would be amazing to have!

The full size comes in a 0.24 oz pot and retails for USD 18.00.

Favorite Japanese Products


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I am not a beauty guru, not a beauty blogger, barely a blogger. But I do like to chronicle my favorites and experiences sometimes so I can come back to them and remember what I liked. The first half of 2015 has been great – we got a new house, a new dog, promotions at work, parental visits – eventful, to say the least. Between all the madness, I have managed to (somewhat) sort out my skincare routine. While earlier, I would just use samples every week when I was away from home for work and use my full size products only at home which meant that they never really had the chance to be used long enough to be truly effective on my skin.  In the past few months, I have diligently been sticking to a few products and have now decanted them into little travel bottles for travel as well, to truly test them out.

Sana Soy milk Isoflavone (or Isofurabon) Milk or Essence…


Since I don’t know Japanese, I do not really know what this product is. My guess is some kind of essence or emulsion. I got this from a drugstore in Japan, and believe it has fermented soy in it. I wanted to hop on the Asian million-step skincare bandwagon and thought this would be great to try. It is a milky emulsion that looks like a very light lotion. I use it twice a day after washing my skin and acid-toning, patting it all over my face and neck. I let it sink in and finish with a moisturizer. It feels a little sticky but absorbs quickly into the skin. And it does not break me out! My skin has been feeling smooth and plump and bright. Loving this!!

Hada Labo Gokujyun Perfect Gel


To add to my crazy obsession for Japanese skincare, this is another product I picked up in Japan that I had no idea about. This is a gel like face cream that I think can be used AM and PM (looks like I can read that on the jar 🙂 ). It is super light-weight on the skin and absorbs quickly. I love it for my oily skin that makes my skin feel smooth and plump. It has super hyaluronic acid for preserving skin’s moisture and keeping it supple and hydrated, and never oily. I’ve been using it consistently in the morning and as a night cream, and has not caused any break-outs. My pores appear smaller and clearer which I’m super delighted about! It also layers quite well under a BB cream or foundation. My only gripe is that I don’t think this has sunscreen. But that’s okay since I usually put a BB cream with sunscreen on top during the day. Another love!

Heroine Make Volume and Curl Mascara


Another love from Japan – the Heroine make volume and curl mascara. This is my new love that I carry around and want to fill up every nook and cranny in my home with this! It lengthens and volumizes my lashes so beautifully, and can also hold a curl. I can wear it everyday for naturally fluttery looking lashes, but also curl the lashes and build up the mascara for a more glamorous look. It doesn’t clump, doesn’t transfer or flake. The only downside, sometimes, is that it is waterproof so it is difficult to take off at the end of the day when used everyday. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, though, on the days when we want tough no-budge makeup. Overall, love it!


As soon as I run out of these products, I am running to my local Mitsuwa marketplace (Chicagoland area has excited!!) to repurchase!

My Newest Moisturizing Obsession


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If you haven’t already guessed from the title, I’m loviiing a new moisturizer, the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream! My first impression to this face cream was one of disgust. Why, you wonder? Because of the smell. If you’re familiar with Fresh products, you are probably aware of a certain smell associated with their products. I haven’t used any full-sized products from Fresh, but only their samples that have all had the same strange fragrance. And this fragrance, I had hated – till now.

Let’s talk about the face cream…



The Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream comes in a glass jar with a screw-on lid. The packaging is sturdy, beautiful and simplistic, and feels quite rich and high-end. It is also travel friendly, but is glass so gotta be careful of it falling!


I have to say – this product is expensive. It comes in 0.5 oz and 1.7 oz sizes for USD 16.50 and USD 42, respectively. I am still using a 0.5 oz sample I got in one of the beauty boxes, but now having used this cream, I might just splurge on a larger container of it! Damn you, Fresh!!


This was the part I was most on the fence about. The first time I smelled it, I could not stand the smell, so much so that I immediately stopped using the face cream. When I ran out of everything else, I decided to give this a go again just till I could get another moisturizer that I liked. However, I have to say that as I started using the face cream, the smell grew on me. Now I’m at a point where I actually really like the fragrance! I have not really smelled a lotus, but since the cream has lotus flower extract, I think that might be the source of the smell. I would describe it as a dried-rose-gone-slightly-bad type of smell. That doesn’t sound too good and it might take a little getting used to, but it’s worth it for how good the cream is!


This is where I am totally blown away! It’s been a while since I’ve used a face cream consistently for a while and loved it since my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel, which is the only moisturizer I have ever repurchased. But I haven’t enjoyed anything else since and I’ve been trying to test new face moisturizers to find The One. It becomes even more difficult to find the perfect cream for oily skin that balances the skin out without over-drying or being super heavy. The Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream is THAT cream. Despite being a face cream instead of a moisturizer, it leaves the skin moisturized without feeling heavy. It makes the skin silky smooth and preps the skin when used before makeup in the morning. At night, it acts as a great night cream – this has kept my skin hydrated throughout the harsh Chicago winters.

The Fresh face cream also contains awesome anti-aging ingredients like lotus flower extract, blue-green algae extract, hibiscus fruit extract, fig fruit extract, vitamins C and E, and vegetable glycerol, and maca root extract, all of which are supposed to be “youth preserving”, which I love for my skin!

I do wish this cream had SPF which it does not right now, because I hate putting sunscreen on my skin. But I can live with that for now.

Overall, this is definitely a must try for all skin types!!

Favorite Chocolate Cake


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There’s nothing more elegant than a simple, moist chocolate cake. It is one of those sweets that everybody enjoys, unlike pies and tarts and even cookies, sometimes. I am not a fan of chocolate, but as long as there is a good balance of sweet and chocolate, this cake is my favorite baked dessert.

I adapted this cake from Ina Garten’s recipe (don’t we all just adore her!!). What I like about this recipe is that it is super simple and doesn’t require extensively precise ingredients or techniques. It is great for beginners and experts alike, and is really hard to mess up. Every time I’ve made this, I’ve ended up with a beautiful, moist end product that has been devoured instantly.

Hope you all enjoy baking this as much as I do!


Chocolate Cake

A wonderfully moist cake with a hint of coffee topped with chocolate and coffee icing.

What you need:

For the cake:

All-purpose flour – 112 gms
Sugar – 128 gms (1 cup)
Cocoa powder – 48 gms
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Eggs, extra-large – 1
Buttermilk – ½ cup
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Vanilla extract – ½ tsp
Brewed coffee – ½ cup

For the icing:

Semi-sweet Chocolate – 56 gms (2 oz)
Unsalted Butter (at room temperature) – 2/3 stick
Confectioner’s Sugar – ½ cup
Egg yolk (at room temperature) – ½
Cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Instant coffee – ½ tbsp
Vanilla extract – ½ tsp

The Method:

Preheat the oven at 350 F.

Grease a 9” round cake pan and dust with flour.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of your Stand Mixer), sift all dry ingredients and mix well together. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except coffee.

Now with the paddle attachment on and the mixer running on slow, add the liquid to the dry ingredients.

Scrape the bowl and add the brewed coffee. Combine on low speed.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let it cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool.

For the Icing:

Whisk the butter in the stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.

Slowly sift in the sugar and cocoa, and whisk till smooth and creamy. Scrape the bowl and whisk well.

Dissolve the instant coffee in a teaspoon of warm water and add to the icing. Whisk one final time till well incorporated and you like the texture and taste. *Note: You can always adjust the ingredients if you want the icing more or less sweet or chocolatey.

Layer the icing on the cooled cake and enjoy!

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to ½ cup of milk. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to get your buttermilk!

Happy baking!