Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to be a smart money woman

Aimed to offer women from Nigeria inspiration and support in pursuing and managing their financial dreams, this book by the owner of the website Smart Money Africa, Arese Ugwu, appeals every woman, especially those from areas where their status and achievements are not yet equally considered with men. 
The Smart Money Woman is the story of Zuri, a gifted woman working in the investment sector going through times of financial hardship only because she was unable to plan her budget and balance her spending. At the end of each chapter, there are some short financial advices and a couple of exercises that will help you to track your expenses, think about the right savings and investments and prioritize your debt payment. 'People with bad debt habits will typically go into debt buying things their income cannot support', like for instance, 'items that don't appreciate in value and most likely can't cover the cost of the debt over time'. 
There are a lot of ideas that any of you can consider from tomorrow on, for improving the financial situation, like, creating a plan for emergencies - around 9 months that can be covered in terms of rent and main necessities, in case of unemployment - setting financial goals for the year, put your money at work, by buying portfolios and investing in land or real estate. 'The most successful people are the ones who are able to articulate what they want for their lives. Success is deeply rooted in having a solid plan that is tailored to what you want'. 
Interesting are also the remarks and observations about the role of some women appearing in the story in the family. Some are just hunting for a rich husband, some are the real breadwinner but not officially acknowledged so, by fear of not affecting the social status of the man. Some are just advised to downplay their achievements in order to be more attractive. Although not very widespread, such mind settings can be encountered once in a while in some societies outside the African world as well.
The book is well written and has many interesting ideas that can help you advance your business or your financial independence.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fragrances to test this season

Although quite conservative in my choices of perfumes, I am always looking for new fragrances to test, sometimes just to answer a special mood or the need for a change into my life. In the last days, I've been out in the perfumes stores - Douglas, the German version of Sephora - discovering and trying to understand new scents.
Here is my short list of recommendations for this season.
This 2015 Paco Rabanne women fragrance, Olympea has a very elegant bottle, representing a laurel crown, illustration of the message of strength and dynamism. The olfactive impression was at the first sight unusual: an explosion of strong impressions, from sandalwood to citrus and vanilla, white floral and salt. It suits a strong, stubborn personality, that doesn't mind to wear it all round the day. A smell not easy to forget.
Offered in a bottle shaped as a hand grenate, the Flowerbomb by Viktor&Rolf is an exuberant pot-pourri of flowers. It may smell as a bubble gum, or like patchouli - not necessarily my favourite fragrance - balanced by musk, jasmine. The list of flowers seems to be even bigger, with orchid, fresya, rose, jasmine being only some of them. The smell is persistent and you can easily wear it for the whole day, but I particularly recommended for some day outfits and during some girls time. After a while it is just intoxicating, not in the bad sense.
Created by Prada in February 2016, Candy Kiss belongs to the same exuberant flower-inspired category. It enhances and explores the powerful musk smell, adding drops of vanilla and white cotton. It plays with emotions and impressions, the balance between elegance and fragility and strong personality. You can wear it for the day, with flowerly dresses and with a big smile on your face. It makes you even more special and different.
Alien, by Mugler is for people really wild at heart, and it is not only about the bottle - with a design between the philosophical stone and the witch secret weapon. The first thing I noticed about it was the strong pepper fragrance, followed by an elegant combination of amber and Indian jasmine. It makes you feel exuberant and special, a bit intimidating at a first date. 
Eau tendre by Chanel brings the flowers into your house and body, leaving around Romantic traces of grapefruit, jasmine and white musk. Elegant and distinguish, it embraces you in the morning and follows your steps during the day, until late in the night. 
Pleats Please is not only a perfume, but corresponds to a collection launched by Issey Miyake a couple of years ago. Although it follows the fruity-flowerly line, it uses exquisite fragrances, such as that of the special Asian fruit - Nashi, a crossing between apples and pear - combined with white flowers, patchouli, vanilla, cedar and white musk. Bubbling at any age and time of the day. It doesn't matter if you keep up with the dress code, this perfume is just another statement about how special and unique you are. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The transforming power of Birdie Foscarini Lamps

With offices in Milan and New York City, Foscarini is an exquisite Italian design brand, actively involved in various artistic project. For the development of its products it collaborates constantly with famous designers and experts, in order to deliver the fittest and the most creative items. Their products are usually matching a variety of spaces, from living rooms or bedrooms, to hotel rooms and lobbies to bars or special restaurants. Everything is about finding the right place and creating the maximum effect for an unforgettable ambiance. 
I like many of their products, but nothing impressed me better than Birdie, created by the Milan architects Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. Their inspiration: a bird on a branch, an impression of elegance and delicate movement their lamps are producing. The models are either suspended in the air, or set on the floor, wall or table. Each lamp weight maximum 3 kg and uses either LED or halogen lamps
The small delicate lamps create special effects into a room, either it is a single one, or many of them. Especially the reflection of light on the light-metal materials brightens the space. The special effects create a cozy warm ambiance, exactly what you need for the coming long winter evenings. Each version is unique and can be easily removed. It usually suits the simple furniture, and a simply decorated interior. 
You might discover that just a simple lamp can completely change your mood and make you love your home more.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 Elegant White Shirts from Anne Fontaine

White shirts are a classic fashion staple, especially if you are an adept - more or less against your will - of the office smart clothes. Anne Fontaine offers one of the best examples of elegance and craft, which makes every simple white shirt a statement well crafted. The prices are medium to high-end. If you are a lawyer or s business woman, you should have at least one of her items, as it sends a clear message of strength and self-awareness. Her products can be bought online too - site available in English and French - and for purchases of over 300 EUR., there is free delivery. In Berlin, there is a beautiful small shop on Kurfürstendamm 42.
Here are my 5 elegant shirts that I recommend. Believe me, the choices were not easy...
1. Agustina, 395 EUR.
This long sleeve silk shirt has an extraordinary elaborated embroidered front. The sleeves are 100% of polyester, and the front from silk. The collar can be open, giving an air of easygoing and self-awareness to the entire outfit. It suits a pencil skirt - the choice of the colour is up to you - as well as a pair of elegant black trousers. You can wear it during the day, at work, or for a late sophisticated date at the opera.
2. Antonina, 250 EUR.

Simple and elegant, this blouse with an elegant pagoda sleeves, is an exquisite choice too. The collar has a classical touch. You can wear it for a special occasion, during the day, matching some colourful patterned skirt or the obligatory high heels.
3. Nazia, 650 EUR.
The perfect outfit for the coming holiday season, this long sleeve blouse in foliage with embroided organza has a bohemian style for women that love elegance. It is the main resistance piece of any outfit and thus, I see it together with a simple pencil skirt. The fine foliage motif is exquisite too. The drawstring at the neckline can be modified and it changes completely the shape. As in the case of most shirts by Anne Fontaine, it requires professional dry cleaning.
4. Aelys, 195 EUR.
One of my favorite from this collection, it has long embroided sleeves in broderie Anglaise style. The chiffon removable lavaliere gives it an air from another, more stylish, times. It makes a date statement, but it can also be worn at a conference or special presentation, matched with a simple skirt or an elegant pair of trousers, preferably black or, if you want to be assertive, red or cognac, or even yellow. 
5. Naidy, 195 EUR
A classical cut, but with an air of sophistication, especially given by the long sleeves in lace. The lace part is playing a smart game with the rest of the shirt body, between transparency of the shoulders and arms and the opaque fluidity of the rest. Is very elegant as work outfit, but also a concert or business lunch. A simple silk pastel skirt make you look like an ethereal presence. 
Pictures from Anne Fontaine website

Friday, October 7, 2016

10 Wallpapers from Cole and Son

I am very interested in wallpapers, as more than the simple paint on a room wall, it can be a simple yet very creative investment in the interior design and general look of a room and house in general. In addition, you can change it often, without too much of a hassle, as it is the case with general painting. In terms of financial investment, it is also fine, as you need only to pay for the wallpaper and the special glue, without spending money on workers or other tools that you need time to learn how to use yourself. After a while, you can call yourself a wallpaper expert and in one day, your entire house can look completely different.
My latest discovery, with models that suit any room and type of house - from small apartment to mansions - is the Cole and Son, producing fine and high-end designed wallpapers for decades. You can order them online, and the website is available in both English and Swedish.
Here are my top 10 choices, out of too many to mention, but you have a look on the website to find the right wallpaper that suits your budget and your style.
1. Bamboo
Delicate prints, available in different colours, that bring a touch of elegance to any corner of the room.You can choose a complete make-over or to cover only one corner, the effect is the same.
2. Archipelago Border
It is a world in itself, that this wallpaper brings into your home. Think about the Alice in Wonderland lost in a forest of colourful vegetation. It is definitely my favourite design for my working room or for the library.
3. Luxor Geometric
Jazzy geometric labyrinths, creating the feeling of movement. This is what you need to give more depth and dynamism to your space. I see it as a wall in the lobby, as an invitation to the visitor to start the journey of discovering your world.
4. Plume
Inspired by tribal art from around the world, it has fine brushstokes of greys, charcoal black and metallic gold. It matches an elegant minimalist living room, preferably with pastel furniture.
5. Balabina
Named after the Russian ballerina Feya Balabina, this beautiful elaborated design with peacocks covered by a luxuriant vegetation are a good adornment of the bedroom, or some walls of the living room. It indulges stylish vintage furniture. It is available in different colour combination.
6. Orchid
This design of orchid resting on stylish leaves is available in different colour combination. It can embellish the lobby, or a corner in the living room, with a stylish colourful chair or couch part of the landscape. For fixing, a special glue is recommended.
7. Flamingo
When it comes to flamingos, my objectivity fades, as I can see them everywhere in any corner of the room. Thankfully, I can choose between different colours - blue, grey or yellow, for instance - and patterns, and why not, have a house full of them! As colours on screen might be different from the real design, it is recommended to order a sample - for 1.5 pounds - to figure out if the pattern is what you are looking for.
8. Woodstock
Brought to you from the psychedelic times of the hippy revolution, this wallpaper - available in different colours - makes you feel forever young and ready for a change. It suits simple yet colourful pieces of furniture. Where do you want it fixed, it is up to you, as it suits any kind of setting, as long as you are into pop-art.
9. Opera
A bit of sophistication and style are always in need. For a stylish furniture, this wallpaper created in 1959 remains in fashion. The luxuriant combination of flowers and fruits, resting lasciviously on three-tired structures can suit your living room very well. With such a view in the front of your eyes, even the long family dinners are tastier. 
10. Bellini
Named after the Italian composer Vicenzo Bellini, this wallpaper uses the motif of tiles, broken by curves forcing the eyes to follow the various shapes into a labyrinth of flowers and leaves. Out of the four simple colourings, this is my favourite, and I see it very well embellishing the kitchen. I bet it can make me more creative when cooking something new.
Pictures from the Cole and Son website, English version

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Creative DIY project in Lübben

During my travels, I always pay attention to various creative discoveries. If you follow my blog, you might notice that I share my discoveries in terms of interior design or decorations, or some specific art of a local creative mind. 
 As I was visiting recently the Lübben locality in the German Spreewald, on the way to the train station, I noticed the hall entrance to a block of houses. Massive wall paintings were made not only out of drawings, but by using natural materials, such as tree rind, for creating the image of a tree.
 For the bicicle, a real row was added to a fine wooden silhouette.
The fine crafts and details of every landscape makes everything more real and almost a slice of real life. Some details, like the cats here add a note of humour to the work, but also succeeds to go beyond the common. 
 It is more than a children painting and more also than a piece of street art. It is a mix of imagination and creativity using mostly natural ingredients provided by nature.
Sometimes, you don't need too much to be creative. Just a focus mind and the desire to create. The rest will slowly but firmly come by itself.