I spy with my little eye... the "Hats of yesterday and tomorrow - Take 1".

As you know it by now, I love my hats and my collection is growing every time I travel. They are usually hanging on the wall in the living room, on display (so I can grab one whenever I want just before I go out). I don't know why we stopped wearing them on an everyday basis, probably out of convenience I guess, but I refuse to let them on the wall of the living room. So after a couple of months of thinking and discussing with beauty bloggers, I came up with the "Hats of yesterday and tomorrow" project. The concept is easy, I simply asked a few beauty bloggers to choose a hat and create one contemporary look on themselves, and one vintage look corresponding tothe era of the hat on me, just to show that they are all wearable nowadays.

So here is Take 1 of the "Hats of yesterday and tomorrow" is with Anna from The Sparkling Blueberry. She chose a 1950's sailor hat, one of the most wearable hats that I own: an easy felt dark blue. She created a very modern colour block look on herself:

And for me she used darker colours, with a burgundy lipstick and very dark eyes for a dramatic 1950's look Ahoy sailors!

So you have it: 1 hat, 2 looks!
I had a lot of fun working with Anna, she is very professional, focused, sharp and creative. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know her better so I asked her to answer the HOB interview:

HOB: If you could live in a painting, which one would it be?
Anna: There was a famous Hungarian painter Pál Szinyei-Merse who has this amazing painting called “Picnic in May”. That art piece for me showing something that I can really imagine doing in the 18th century. It’s so laid back, calm but playful and flirty in the same time. You can see it here.
HOB: If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?
Anna: I love the 17th-18th century, mainly the Romantic era (note: I'm not sure if it's called like that in English too, but in Hungary we call it British Romanticism in literature). I miss the lifestyle and habits that, for example, Jane Austen (my favourite writer) pictures in her work. But sure that has a darker side as well, because those centuries were great for the richer but much worse for the poorer.
HOB: What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother/father?
Anna: My father has a weird attraction for flat caps, so every time I see one it makes me smile and think “My Dad can really rock this one”. My Mom is into fur…but not the regular “rich fur” ones, but more of the old, second hand and weird type of fur coats which sometimes makes her look like she just stepped out from Game Of Thrones.
HOB: What scent takes you right back to your childhood?
Anna: The smell of hot, hazelnut flavoured oatmeal (my favourite childhood meal) and the air in the forest filled with the scent of wild mushrooms and fallen leaves. (We spent million hours in the forests collecting mushrooms with my grandparents and parents)
HOB: When do you feel on holiday?
Anna: Good question. It’s very rare that I can completely switch off. Sometimes the fact that you don’t have to go to work doesn’t mean that you don’t work. My brain is always “working” thinking on the next thing to do, the possibilities, creating new ideas etc. If I can just completely empty my mind, sit with a glass of wine at a bar in Paris and just enjoying the moment, that’s when I feel I’m free.
HOB: What designer would you take on a camel ride?
Anna: I think Isabel Marant could really enjoy one, without making any scenes because of the sand on her sneakers ;)
HOB: Your favourite recipe to make?
Anna: Easy to answer; my favourite recipe to make -and to eat as well- is Potato Casserole. That’s my ultimate number one food, which I make really good. Unfortunately my husband don’t like it in general, so I haven't had it for 2 years, but you reminded me now so I know what will I have this weekend J
HOB: Best piece of advice you were ever given?
Anna: People are not changing, accept them as they are or don’t even start with them, but never ever believe that you will be able to change someone.
HOB: What book changed your life?
Anna: The one that taught me how to read in first grade… since then I’m completely addicted to the letters doesn’t matter if it’s reading or writing. I had a lot of nice memories according to books and sometimes they really planted thoughts in my head, but none of them were literally “life changing” so far. I’m still looking for The One ;)
HOB: The movie you've watched 30 times but might watch again tonight?
Anna: Ok… that’s awkward but I can watch Harry Potter movies over and over again no matter how many times, and same with the LOTR sequel as well. This magical/fantasy thing can really switch me off.
HOB: Three favourite spots in Dubai?
Anna: 1- Burj Al Hammam in the Jumeirah Beach Plaza. That is my favourite restaurant, where they serve the nicest Lebanese dishes and they have the best Kibbeh Nayeh (raw meat paste)
2- Safa Park and now Zabeel Park with the Ripe Fresh market: During the cooler months it was such an amazing experience to wake up early and to go out to feel like in a real market, just like in Europe. The vendors and the crowd also has great variety, there are organic food stands, clothes, décor and even beauty items.
3- Mercato Mall: It might sounds funny but this small mall in Jumeirah is my ultimate favourite. It’s so refreshing after the huge and crowded malls, and the selection of shops and services are almost perfect (I miss an H&M from it, but whatever…).
Have a look at The Sparkling Blueberry!

I spy with my little eye... a new home and a couple of Dubai lessons.

Bonjour pitchouns, sorry for the lack of posts. Despite what it looks like, I did come back from Hong Kong eventually. I've actually been back for a month but life has been upside down and now that I found a balance, I thought it would be a good time to share what I learned in Dubai in 3 years. These turmoil periods always make me think and when I finally settle somewhere with my cup of latte and a cookie, I like to reflect on the whole experience and write down my lessons.

My grandparents were expats, my parents were expats, I am an expat, it's part of who I am, but I finally found my limit: 6 houses within a year, this is too much. I had no idea when I moved to Dubai that I would adopt the Bedouin lifestyle, this isn't really what I was going for. But things happen and you just have to adapt. I have friends who like their cosy houses, I do too, but I am lucky to have been used to packing, unpacking, travelling light and moving often. I learned how to make a home early and quickly, I have a couple of things, silly little things that I need around me to feel at home, like landmarks: my morning mug, the Fortnum and Mason tin where I keep my coffee, a couple of prints that I like and one or two hats. As long as these are around, I'm comfortable. This is how I roll.
Now about Dubai. Friends back home always say that Dubai is bling-bling and glamorous and has a lot of attitude, well I think Dubai gave me a couple of lessons of humility:
1- Coming here as an expat, you discover you are in competition with people who are as capable as you are and will work for half your salary.
2- Speaking fluent English is not an exploit, Filipinos and Indians are much better than you are. This is a special message for my French "compatriotes".
3- I can confirm that I am more of a pot luck normal expat gal', rather than a boozy brunch or yacht: I love spending my day with friends but I like to remember it...
4- Filtering is key. Don't follow every piece of advice you hear. People build their own world according to their own needs and personality. Listen but filter: as much as I understand the importance of marketing oneself, not everybody has it in them to attend 4 events a night, keep mingling and manage to look fabulous by 45 degrees, and that's ok.
5- Know your friends. I've met amazing people here. People I can call in the middle of the night and will drop everything to come and get me if I need them to. I'm extremely grateful to have them in my life.
6- Surprisingly, I've learned to lower my standards in Dubai. You would think that it would be the opposite but no: with the cost of life rising tremendously every year and the salaries not following, I actually live less comfortably than I did in Paris. I'm absolutely fine and happy where I am but Dubai is not as comfortable as you'd think.
7- Keep an eye on your bank account. Dubai isn't what it used to be 10 years ago, life is expensive and expat contracts are rare. Young expats come here, enjoy the expensive lifestyle, the beach, trainers, sun, boozy brunches, and forget why they came here in the first place. Saving is not as common as in Europe. Because it feels like you're on holiday, it's easy to spend much more than you normally would, and you wake up one day, all your friends have put money down for houses and flats while you were sipping champagne on a boat and, there is a weird feeling that you've missed the boat. Dubai is full of Peter Pans, it's not a bad thing, just a fact.
8- I love the fact that Dubai is a place where you can still create, there is space for new ideas, everything hasn't been done yet. But I've seen so many people with ideas who get caught up in Dubai social whirlwind and end up postponing their plans. Making space to get things done and keeping yourself in check is important. At least to me.
That's a little insight into what has been going on in my head lately. I'm sure you all have your own expat experience, and I absolutely love mine, but I like the idea of being real.
So this is what my Dubai is like.
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