Dia de los Muertos / Sugar Skulls

I have a slight fascination with sugar skulls – the designs, colors, patterns, and what they stand for. So in celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) this upcoming weekend, I thought I’d try my hand at making them. I picked up this “little packet o’ fun” from Paper Source a few weeks ago – Sugar Skull Mask Kit – and wanted to make a tutorial out of it. Also, why does Paper Source smell so darn good?

The kit actually makes 6 masks, and comes with pretty much everything you need. I totally felt like a 6 year old kid sitting on the floor of art class making these, and I have to say, it was fun. I’ll definitely be making a couple more to add to my collection. Here’s a close up of the two that I did:

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Half & Half

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For most people, half & half is simply something they put in their coffee. For me, it is so much more. I have somehow managed to turn this dairy product into a few bad habits (and honestly, I have no desire to break them). This stuff is pretty much up there on my list, next to queso, of course.

1. I use half & half instead of milk, eggs, or water to make my pancakes. I swear, it makes them much more fluffier!

2. I talk half & half shots. (Yes, you read that right). I’ll take those little cups, pour a little sugar in them and then start downing them, just like shots.

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3. When I buy iced coffee, I pour half of it out. Then fill it right back up with a mixture of half & half and a bit of milk.

4. I buy the CoffeeMate Sweet Cream creamer, and take swigs of it right out of the canister. No shame here.

5. Every now and then, if I don’t have enough milk for my cereal but just happen to have half & half…well, let’s just say I do not run to the store.

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Now, that everyone officially thinks I’m gross, let’s answer the following question, “How can I dress up my jean shorts?” That’s easy, with sequins. Also, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that my standard outfit is jean shorts, a blazer and a top. Here, I’ve dressed it up a bit more, these two looks are a bit more casual: one and two. There are quite a few more, just click on the “My Style” icon to the right.

Have a great last week of October!

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Home “Remedies” (Because All Parents are Doctors)

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If you’re Indian (actually this probably applies to most people), when you came down with a cold as a kid, your parents most likely gave you some concoction of lemon, honey, and ginger. As you got older and experienced other sicknesses—flu, sinus infections, stomach virus, bronchitis, strep throat (things that clearly require antibiotics)—your parents still insisted that lemon, honey, and ginger was the answer.

Thanks to Udey, Mali and the auntie that threads my eyebrows, I’ve recently come to find out that castor oil will cure everything that lemon, honey, and ginger can’t. Say what?! Yes…the stuff used for constipation. By the way, I should tell you, my dad really thinks he’s a doctor. It’s what he actually wanted to be. So if he says it works…well we’re all supposed to believe it does.

For example, I’m in the midst of growing one of my eyebrows out because some other auntie botched it up months ago. I finally got an auntie who knew what she was doing (this is rare). She did them, I was happy and then told me to rub castor oil on the messed up one for a month and said the hair would grow back. Okay…

That same day I go to my parents’ house and my mom insists that I rub castor oil on this small bump I have on my neck (don’t worry, it’s just a deposit of fatty tissue…sexy). I have been to four doctors about this, they have all told me it will not go away, and I would need to have it surgically removed. However, Dr. Mali insists that castor oil will reduce it. Okay…

Later that day, I walk in to find my dad rubbing something onto his knees. He then proceeds to tell me, he’s rubbing…yeah you got it…castor oil to ease the joint pain. Okay…

Now I have to admit, I didn’t actually throw this idea out the window. For the past few weeks, I’ve been using it. Yes…I have. My mother is convinced that it’s working on my bump (I don’t have the heart to tell her that it’s because it isn’t inflamed that day), my dad insists his knees are better (he could be right, but I think it’s because he actually relaxed that day), as for my eyebrows—my hair is growing back (but isn’t that kind of what hair does?). I have yet to try it on any stomach issues, though.

So does this magical, mysterious, unicorn blood-infused oil actually work or is it just another weird home remedy of our parents? Seriously, I have no idea. I’m going to file it under “Windex Solves Everything” – Dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and take a swig of lemon, honey, and ginger the next time I get pink eye.

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Linked up on: Style to InspireCappuccino and Fashion and Bless Her Heart Ya’ll.

High Waisted

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I am not a fan of shopping for jeans. Sometimes, (if I’m lucky) I’ll run into a pair that works but I tend to always have a problem with them:

  • They are too tight and if I go up one size, they fit everywhere but the waist.
  • I buy what I think is the right size and fit, but after one wear, the material stretches out. Then I need to wash them so that the material shrinks back, and the cycle starts all over again.
  • That horrid “gap” in the back between your lower back and the top of the jean (that may or may not be solved with a belt).
  • Low-rise jeans (my worst nightmare).
  • I settle on a pair that works but I usually end up having to hem them because they are way too long.

I have 2 pairs of go-to jeans. With fall/winter approaching I figured I’d need a couple more to add into my rotation. So began the hunt.

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After a lot of huffing, puffing, squeezing into, squatting down, and jumping up and down, I finally decided to try one more store, American Eagle. (My roommate recommended it. Plus, I loved their shorts, so I thought why not?). I tried on at least 10 pairs and with a help of a friend who was like “No girl.” “No.” “Absolutely not.” “Take those off.” “Don’t even try.” “Those are weird.”…I was able to pick out two pairs—one black and one high waisted (!)

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So I have to admit, I initially thought these high waisted ones were definitely going to be “mom jeans”—I’m going to take that back. I love them. First of all, AE sells them in long, regular and short (thank god). Secondly, they fit nicely—I can move in them, squat and breathe (holler). Plus, since they pull up a little higher on the waist, they smooth out that weird hip-area. I think they’re great and if worn properly, look sophisticated and put-together.

So for now, I think I’m done in the jean department. (Small victory).

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Here are a couple other outfits I’m into with the high waisted-look.

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Images via: one, two, and three

 Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Style to Inspire,  Cappuccino and Fashion, and Design Life Diaries.

Insta-Whaaat / August Re-Cap

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Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (let’s face it, I can’t really bake), El Real Tex-Mex Restaurant on Montrose, Hot Pink Pants & Chambray, Colored Trees at the MFAH Mixed Media Event, Car Selfie, Spy Store on Montrose (aka: the place where James Bond shops), Splattered Top, Whataburger (does this really need an explanation?)

You can find me here: jyoti_patel (Instagram)

Bubble Wrap

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This skirt makes me feel like I carefully wrapped (and pleated) some kind of comfy, bubble wrap-like blanket around my waist and walked out the door. I don’t often buy skirts; mainly because I feel like most of them are too tight, too short, are so long that I look stocky, rise up when I walk, flow up in the wind…you get the drift. Plus, I have to think a little bit harder with them because it requires pairing it with a top (something I don’t have to worry about with dresses).

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So when I saw this one I picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down and then I just stood there. How often am I going to wear a comforter around my waist? Do I really want to walk around wearing something that people might mistake for bubble wrap and want to pop? Then I thought, I really like to sleep and I always use a blanket when I sleep, and I really enjoy popping bubble wrap, so why not? (My logic is always so on point). In the end, I loved the versatile length of it (it can be worn high-waisted or a little lower for a knee-length or below-the-knees look. Plus, the dark mint/sea green color of it is so pretty; I don’t own anything like it. So this blanket-bubble-wrap skirt came home with me. I got it from H&M a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t find it online. Here are a couple of similar items: one and two.

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Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Myriad Musings, Cappuccino and Fashion,  Style to Inspire, Friday Frills and Penniless Socialite.

Insta-Whaaat / July Re-cap

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Morning Run Around Spy Pond in Boston, Taking a Ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, Book Club on the Beach of Georges Island, Exploring Fort Warren on Georges Island, Getting Salt Water Taffy Stuck in My Teeth, Subway Art in the T, Boston Skyline, Me, Jenny and Joanne at our Friend Frank’s Wedding, Fresh Veggies from Udey’s Garden, Double Trouble, Palm Trees on W. Gray Street in River Oaks, Houston

You know you want to follow me: jyoti_patel !

Hot Air Balloon Ride

I’ve always had this habit of either playing with my food or leaving bits of it on my plate—two things that drive my mom insane. I just can’t help it! What she doesn’t know is what happened to me once in third grade. I was playing with my food during lunch period (a questionable “burrito” from the school cafeteria and a Dr. Pepper), when the boy across from me, told on me to the lunch monitor. Like who are you and why did you even care? (I hate boys) The monitor came over, told me she was going to throw up and went on to say “proper, young ladies do not play with their food.” I’m really not sure where she got the word “proper” from. The next day, she made me sit apart from my class…alone…at a small desk…to eat my lunch…facing a brick wall…at the front of the cafeteria. It was harsh times.

Now, I play with my food a bit differently.

If you follow me on Instagram (at jyoti_patel), you’ll have seen this short video. The other two involve Skittles and Whoppers.

Insta-Whaaat / May & June Re-cap

I tend to forget that I have an Instagram account, which is weird because it’s my FAVORITE social media platform. To bring it more into the spotlight, I’m going to try and do a monthly re-cap. Since I’m quite a few months behind (I did a First Quarter Re-cap in May), I’ll do May and June this week, then July and August over the next two weeks.

May-June_Instagram Recap

Houston Skyline at Discovery Green, Leather Pants & Flowers, Chocolate Croissant at Common Bond Café, Homemade Masala Burgers, Craft Night – Painting Pots, Completed Jar of Nutella, Texas Pride, Morning Sunlight in My Bedroom, Hiking Down to Hamilton Pool in Austin, Floating the River in Austin, Strawberry-topped Pancakes for Father’s Day

You know you want to follow me: jyoti_patel !

Girls at the Gym

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The other day, while I was at a yoga class, I realized that I have a few gym-related pet peeves, all centered around girls. Why is this? I’m all about #GIRLPOWER, but at the gym, I find some of them to be quite obnoxious. For example

1. A few months back, I built up the courage to venture to the front of a very popular Zumba class at my local gym. (By “front”, I mean 3rd row out of a 10 row class). Girls line up outside the door 30 minutes prior to class (yes, it really is that good), and then race in so that they can get to the front. Since I’m in the class before, I get to see this shit-show take place. It’s like a pack of hungry hyenas running to grab gazelle scraps. Most of them absolutely LOVE staring at themselves in the mirror and making pouty faces while dancing. From my usual place in the back, it’s quite entertaining. I never noticed the “social-gap” between the people in the front and those in the back until that day. It first started off with one girl yelling “Get out of my way! You’re in my spot!” to a new girl. Then continued to say that she couldn’t see herself in the mirror. (Ugh…if I was the mirror I wouldn’t want to see her). Poor new girl. Luckily, a nice girl allowed her to stand next to her in the front. To which the plastic huffed and puffed about, then turned around to ask us, “Did I do something wrong? Am I not right? AM I NOT RIGHT?!” Then I’m pretty sure she z-snapped us.

Also, before I knew it a group of much older women (who definitely come every week to release their inner-sexiness), somehow managed to dance their way into the teeny bit of space in front of me. How this happened, is beyond me. They even turned around and gave me dirty looks as if I had taken their assigned spot. Older women + their booties + death stares = I’m scared.

Not only that, I got yelled at a couple times by the girl behind me that said “You’re all up in my space. If you can’t keep up move to the back.” There was so much animosity the front, that I was eventually forced to the back and have never ventured up there again.

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2. There’s a girl in my Pilates class that comes in late every week and goes straight to the front of the class, next to the instructor. Then proceeds to pull out her cell phone and starts texting, surfing the web, answering e-mails, making phone calls, Instagramming, etc.—all the way through class. To make this even better, while doing the exercise she limply raises her leg or arm, while holding and staring at her phone. After that one set of exercises is done, she puts her phone down and then starts doing the poses that WE JUST DID, on purpose. She totally knows that while the instructor is teaching the next pose, everyone will be staring at her in the front. Therefore, she takes advantage of this time to show everyone how “awesome” she thinks she is at Pilates. WHY ARE YOU HERE? No one likes you…trust me.

3. The girl who places her yoga mat either RIGHT in front or RIGHT next to mine, every single week, and then proceeds to breathe extremely loud throughout class. Its common courtesy, in any yoga class, that you stagger the mats and place them a good distance away from each other. Not plop your butt down where you feel like it. Come on now…I actually care about yoga. I want to make sure I’m doing the poses right and you’re ruining my hour of Zen by breathing like a dinosaur in my space. Go away.

4. Girls that cake their make-up on for the gym. Like CAKE IT on. This is completely beyond me. One, you’re here to work out, not to win the Southern Belle Beauty Pageant. Two, you barely even exercise because you’re scared if you sweat, your mascara will drip down your face and make you look like a crack-addict. What is the point? Just wipe it off.

5. The girls who constantly strike a pose, after each and every single routine in Zumba. This isn’t drill team, no one is a football cheerleader, and this isn’t soul train. One or two times, after a really good song – I get it. But thinking you’re a Pussycat Doll – it’s just weird.

However, I’d like to give props to the girls who come in every week, try their hardest and are there for good reasons. I’m with ya – I don’t like them girls either. Ok, end rant.

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Linked up on: I Would So Rock This, Myriad Musings, Penniless Socialite, Style to Inspire, and Cappuccino and Fashion.

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