Top Lists to Make Your Life Better

“Lists are a form of power” – A. S. Byatt

I have a confession. I’m a list maker. In fact, I might even be a serial list maker, if that’s a thing. I have lists for daily activities, lists for appointments, lists for things I plan to do in the future, and lists for my lists. I realize this may be a little extreme for many people (do they MAKE a 12-step program?) but having some organization in your life is also not a bad thing. Here’s a list of the BEST lists to make to keep yourself organized and productive. 

1. Household Chore List

If things tend to pile up in your house, then creating a list of tasks prevents this from happening (or at least happening as frequently). For me, doing just a little bit each day means I don’t have to spend a few hours on the weekend playing catchup. If you have a large home, then try the “zone” technique. Each area of the house is a zone, and you only focus a small amount of time on that one zone. Set a timer, put on a great audiobook or music, and before you know it, 30 minutes or less has blown past. 

2. !0 Minute Task List

Think about all of the things you need or want to get done. Select those that should only take around 10 minutes or less. When you get an unexpected chunk of time, drop one of these bad boys into that time slot. Believe me, these little 10-minute wonders add up when you are able to do about 3-4 of them a week. 

3. Travel Packing List

This is an essential list in my house because we are always on the go. Having a set list means a lot of the planning is already done, and all you have to do is put them in your suitcase. I also find it very helpful to have duplicates of my makeup and travel-sized items so that I can just leave them to live large in my suitcase. That way, they are already packed and waiting for our next adventure. Good travel lists could include a capsule wardrobe selection for the various seasons. Destination-specific lists with items and wardrobe are also wonderful. When I was first building my travel item lists, I took advantage of the return travel time to reflect on what items and wardrobe worked for me and what did not, and what I wished I’d packed but had forgotten. It’s a brilliant way to create a list that works for you and your family each time, no matter where you go. 

4. Kitchen List of Goodness

I don’t know about you, but it annoys me when we waste food. We don’t do it on purpose, but often after a meal is made, there are leftovers…which we promptly forget about until it becomes a science experiment gone horribly wrong. So, on the outside of our ‘fridge, we have a leftovers list, and down below that, there is a space for grocery items we want or need to replace. Same goes for the freezer…where things go in and often never come out. You can expand this kitchen list to include pantry items as well. 

5. Birthdays and Gift Lists

Remembering someone’s birthday is a great way to remind them how much they mean to you. Create a list on your computer or enter their birthdays onto your phone’s calendar. Then, set a reminder a week ahead, so you have time to order the perfect gift, or send them off a beautiful card. If your loved ones live farther away from you and you’d have to mail a gift, choose something that will ship well and arrive intact, like an elegant candle, diffuser, or a personal product like creamy body butter or lotion

6. Personal Goal List

I do not make New Year’s resolutions. However, I do focus on personal improvement at the beginning of each year….and I make a list. For example, it can be something small such as practicing better posture when I’m working at the computer. Or increase my yoga practice. This year I added to my list life skills that I wanted to make sure my children knew. I find this particular type of list also helps me with the planning of the other lists because it puts things into perspective and makes decision-making easier when you allocate your time and energy to something that matters. 

7. Gratitude List

I made doing this a priority many years ago, and it is an incredible tool for keeping me grounded, happy, and moving forward. Each year I read back through my gratitude list in a journal I keep specifically for this purpose. It’s often hilarious the things I wrote down in the past for which I was thankful. Because some days, all you can be thankful for was that someone remembered to put the toilet lid down. Or that the flowers you planted finally bloomed. 

Even if you implement only ONE of these lists above, I know you are going to find it brings a certain amount of satisfaction, as well as time, back into your life. And in the end, having more time to spend with family, friends, and personal pursuits is what makes life joyful. 

#nabilakhashoggi #khashoggi #lifestyle #explore #habits #nabilaK #spartanandthegreenegg


Train Travel

Consider Taking a Vacation by Train this Year


Traveling by train may not be your first go-to when planning a trip with your family; however, you would be missing out on one of the best and most relaxing ways to travel. Taking a train is a stress-free way to travel as you don’t have to worry about driving, traffic, or stops for human needs (bathrooms, eating, stretching legs, etc..) It’s all taken care of. Trains can even come with different car options, such as luxury seating or even sleeper cars for longer overland trips.

Favorite Train Trips I Recommend

There are many places that offer amazing rail travel packages. For those traveling with younger children, the Rocky Mountaineer and  VIA Rail Canada are excellent companies to work with as they have a 2-3 day trip that is suited for children. For those who want a little more activity in their train travel, the  Glacier Express that runs out of Switzerland has a train trip that occasionally stops to allow passengers to disembark to go hiking amongst the mountains and glaciers. Should neither of those interest you, there is a company called Golden Eagle’s 21-day Silk Road which, as the name suggests, travels along the ancient trade route called the Silk Road and is a 21-day train ride from start to finish. It is advised you have prior rail riding experience as 21 days in a train can be taxing on those not used to rail travel. Not looking to leave the country, try these fun trips:



Planning Your First Rail Trip

Planning for a train trip may seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time riding one. However, the more experienced rail riders use travel agencies to do all the booking and planning, so all they have to do is show up at the station. If that is not your speed, then what many do is go through train companies like Amtrak. Here you can pick your destinations and select from many possible destinations using Amtrak’s “500 Destinations page”.  From there, it’s pretty much the same as purchasing plane tickets. Once you have your destination down, you can figure out what you will need to pack and bring.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling by Train

Like with anything that has been around for a long time, there are tips to train travel. Because even though train rides are relaxing and accommodate most things, there are ways to be more prepared and comfier while enjoying the trip.

Pack Light

While there are baggage cars on trains, those sometimes come with extra fees, as with air travel, so many passengers pack a decent-sized carry-on with everything they need. This way, you save some money and space in your seating area or travel car.

Learn the Route

This may seem like an unnecessary thing to do since you are not the one who is driving the train. But, if you experience or have high anxiety or become impatient, then knowing how much longer you still have before reaching your destination can be beneficial because being anxiety-ridden on a long train ride can make it feel so much longer.

Bring Entertainment

Bring something to entertain yourself, as there may not always be something scenic to catch your eye out the window or someone to talk to. So, it’s best to bring something to distract you from those boring times. Good things to bring onboard are books, portable gaming systems, drawing books, electronic tablets, and downloading some favorite shows onto your phone (often there is little to no Wi-Fi on a train).


Happiness 101

The Power of Positive Memories

Have you ever lost yourself in a good memory for a while? Maybe you reflected on a wonderful vacation you had with loved ones. Aside from giving you a feel-good moment, did you know that memories, especially positive memories, are powerful in other ways too? And now, research is backing that up.


How We’re Wired

As human beings, we evolved to recall situations that cause us pain so we can avoid it or make plans to deal with it before it happens. It’s an ancient early-warning system of sorts. While this served us well when most of the animal world was trying to eat us, it can work against us in the modern world. That means our desire to remember the positive aspects of our lives isn’t as easily triggered as remembering the painful aspects. However, new research shows that positive memories allow you to access deep personal resources that can inform your choices and experiences and contribute to better mental health.

Science Agrees: Positive Memories Can Heal

Of the numerous studies on positivity, one particular study published in the journal Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, showed impressive results. Using a technique called Social Broad Minded Affective Copying (BMAC), test subjects who were diagnosed as having suicidal thoughts were simply asked to recall a recent positive memory of being with another person. As they did this, their brain waves and vitals were monitored. The results showed that when a test subject was engaged in remembering a positive memory or experience that involved another person, all the areas of the brain involved in creating feelings of self-worth were activated. The person re-experienced the event as if it were happening again and received the same benefits and feelings of positivity as the first experience. This opens up epic possibilities for creating a wonderful reality for ourselves with the proper tools.

Positive Experiences build Positive Memories

It is now emerging from several seminal studies that human beings can consciously alter their own brain. The more you practice positive emotions and positive memories, the more your brain will change to accommodate this new normal. It’s a type of activation, and like lifting weights to build muscle, having positive emotions and positive memories upon which to call, build strong mental health. The sciencey word for this is experience-dependent neuroplasticity. Boiled down to its simplest definition, it is your brain’s ability over time to quickly access positive emotions by accessing positive memories and to remain in that state. This is a powerful tool to have at your fingertips, often at the price of only recalling something wonderful. You can literally shift that negative filter we inherited as primitive humans (our default mode) and deliberately shift it to a positive filter.

How Can it Work?

Simply recalling good memories sounds rather farfetched, but the truth is ,when you are stressed out, your brain shuts down your cognitive emotion regulation. This cycle, or downward spiral, can literally be interrupted by a positive memory, which thus frees up your brain to actively handle what is going on in a positive way. A 2019 study from England discovered that patients diagnosed with clinical depression had the inability, or a blocked ability, to recall positive memories. In fact, their cortisol levels were at the bottom. This led scientists at Boston University to do their own long-term study. Their research suggests that the key to treating certain mental health disorders may very well lie in the retraining of the mind; to allow positive memories to leave a stronger footprint on the brain than negative ones.

Choose Your Mental Real Estate

This same study out of Boston University discovered that positive and negative memories are stored in completely different places in your brain. The ramifications could be huge after further research is conducted. Consider that there could be a treatment that, coupled with retraining of the brain, could completely reverse such disorders as depression or PTSD. That’s huge. That’s powerful.

How Do You Use this in the Real World?

There are quite a few ways you can apply this to your everyday life. And many of them are pleasurable to do, take almost no time, and can have a massive impact on the quality of your life. Here is a list of a few things you can do to help switch off the negative filter and create a new positive one.

  • Keep a picture on your work desk of a favorite vacation spot. In times of stress, simply lose yourself in that moment once again.
  • Create a list of your top 10 most favorite memories (like a top 10 playlist). Spend time each morning flooding your brain with feel-good hormones, and then go take on your day.
  • Keep a picture of your loved ones where you can see them often. Recall the situation that prompted the photo, what this person wearing, and engage all of your senses in that one moment.
  • Find mementos that represent something positive and make an appointment to touch them once a week, recalling why it is special to you.
  • Keep a gratitude journal (literally counting your blessings boosts positive emotions).
  • Practice self-care by spending some time alone, maybe with a good book, a lovely scented candle, and a wonderful fluffy blanket.



“On the secretly blushing cheek is reflected the glow of the heart.” –Kierkegaard

Glamour from the ’70s and ’80s is making a comeback in a big way (social media is absolutely filled with pages dedicated to beauty, glamour, and fashion of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s). People are nostalgic for the pre-internet days of Studio 54 nightlife, glitzy outfits, disco, and statement makeup. Think back to the uber fun, candy-colored photographs that made up all the glossy fashion magazines in the ’70s: from bright pink cheeks on all Guy Bourdin’s models to Lisa Taylor captured by Chris von Wangenheim, “maquillage de poupée” (doll makeup) is having a resurgence.

Rosy cheeks, however, never went out of style. Women have always when out of proper blush, pinched their cheeks, scrimped and saved for a pot of rouge, or even—quite a long time ago—used crushed berries to achieve a flirty, seductive look. Well, look no further for the perfect, clean blusher you can feel good about using. Nabila K has got you covered (literally) for all your high-fashion makeup needs and desires.

At First Blush

With shades ranging from dusty rose and golden sand to hot pink, Nabila K’s new line of blush covers every hue imaginable for every skin tone and mood. Deliciously light and shimmery or matte, Nabila K’s blush goes on effortlessly and, when applied to the apples of the cheeks or cheekbones, will turn any makeup look up a notch.

  • For a party where you want to look extra done and glitzy, try Nabila K’s “Pumped Up” to accentuate your cheekbones, channel Melanie Griffith in “Body Double,” or even a Peter Sato painting. When you have nostalgia for the mall and maybe even some ’80s pop music, this product will bring back memories. You’ll instantly feel like Debbie Harry. For a harlequin or doll look, apply a circle of blush to the center of your cheeks.
  • All you need to complete your look for date night is Nabila K’s “Bottoms Up” blush (that and a cocktail!).
  • “Hot and Spicy” is the perfect sandy, nearly terracotta bronze for a touch of highlight, shine, and a healthy, sun-kissed glow. An essential product for any seductress.
  • “Ruffles” is the go-to cosmetic for all our girly girls out there! For that à la mode look where you use a bit of blush on your nose (as if Jack Frost has been nipping at it), this is perfect. It’s subtle enough to use liberally and has just enough pop to really stand out.
  • “Ladybug” is the cute, lightweight blush every woman needs to feel her best and most feminine.
  • “Playful” is the ideal cosmetic for those fun-loving, flirtatious girlies out there looking to have a good time, and if you blush, it’s no big deal—no one will notice.
  • To achieve an effortlessly sexy look, try Nabila K’s triple-milled fine powder blush in “Sultry.” With pigments that last all evening, your sensuality will, too.
  • “Excessive” can be used as a bronzer and blush that will brighten your features and add a special glow to your overall appearance. Perfect for women with olive, tawny complexions!
  • “Echo” is the blush you’ll want for every day, at the office, or simply running around town. With a matte finish, you’ll feel glamorous all day long.
  • Feeling lucky? “Lucky 13,” with its frosted shine, is the deepest hue of all blushes and will make you feel as if kissed by a rose.

(Nabila K Blushes pictured above include: “Excessive,” “Pumped Up,” “Ruffles,” and “Lucky 13.”)

For more information on all the products mentioned in this blog, check out Nabila K’s website and the links listed below:


For more beauty tips and inspiration, read the blog.


Become a Lifelong Learner

“I am a lifelong learner and I love history. I believe that my drive for knowledge keeps my mind young and my zest for life at its highest levels.”

–Nabila Khashoggi

Being a lifelong learner and endlessly curious is why I have such a passion for literature, promoting my children’s books, art, and travel. Some may think I’m a bit whimsical, and, well, that’s because I am! Get curious and creative! You’ll see just how much there is to keep you endlessly fascinated and sharp.

Some tips for staying abreast of history, art, literature, etc.


“Learning never exhausts the mind.” –Leonardo da Vinci

  • Read, read, and then read some more! Visit your public library. Your library card may be the most valuable piece of plastic you own! Saul Bellow said, “People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”
  • Use your smartphone to find interesting, educational, fascinating content! We are so inundated with information—most of it useless and probably untrue. If we use our phones in an intelligent way to actually learn about things, they can be indispensable If you’re not sure of an event in history or person, when they lived, etc., look it up!
  • Engage with your friends. Ask them what they’re reading, what films they’re watching, etc. If you can go to a revival house, do so. Everything is streaming now and we can view great old films from the comfort of our homes but make a habit of going out with friends and watching films or seeing plays and then discussing them. History and art happen when intelligent people talk about ideas and things they’ve witnessed.
  • Travel if you can. One of the great pleasures of my life has been traveling extensively. This is partly why I wrote the series of children’s books, “Spartan and the Green Egg.” Travel also informs the creative process when I’m thinking of new ideas for my line of skincare and makeup, Nabila K. Certain fragrances from around the world are especially intriguing because of their exotic nature. For example, the damask rose is a favorite scent with an incredible past. If we can use an ancient Middle Eastern scent that adorned princes and princesses in our everyday lives, that’s true luxury!

For History Lovers


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

 –Mahatma Gandhi

As a lover of history, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that you must find out about the world, important key events, and how they shape people. It can be mind-boggling just thinking about the history of the world, how old and vast it is, etc. This is why I think everyone should regularly visit The Museum of Natural History (in NYC). The exhibits on extinct mammals, the evolution of man, and the incredible dinosaur bones really humbles me and are sure to make anyone who sees them feel very small in the scheme of things! Learning about our awesome natural world makes me feel vital and alive.

As a lover of art (especially photography), one should also regularly visit The Met in New York City. Having a sense of the history of art, important artists, and movements is fundamental to being an educated individual. Where would we be without art? Wherever you are in the world, try to visit great art museums (if you’re in Paris, spend an afternoon in the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay; in London, go to the Tate).



“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

 –Pablo Picasso


Another reason to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world is so that you can help bring about change where change is needed. Awareness is essential, and so is philanthropy. The Children for Peace (ONLUS) is a charity that means a great deal to me and one I try to stay as involved with as possible.


To read more about Spartan and the Green Egg, Nabila K, and The Children for Peace, visit the sites below:


To read more of a recent interview with Al Sharkiah magazine, check out their website.





Make the Most of your Space

If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ll soon realize that mirrors are a recurring theme. Not only do they look great, but they immediately maximize any pied-à-terre. Small spaces are ideal for creating a cozy aesthetic. Here are some easy ways to make any space—no matter the size—comfy and practical:

  • Lush textiles, comfortable seating, soft fabrics, etc. Make every possible place to sit plush! 
  • Express yourself: build a gallery wall. Lots of family photographs, art prints, and paintings make any room special. 
  • Storage (shelves): Think vertical! Bookshelves are very important and make any room a cozy library. We all could use more storage so try and install shelves and utilize beautiful dressers and other bits of furniture with lots of drawers.
  • Use a daybed. Not only are they adorable, but you’ll have a lot more room than if you opt for a larger one. Trundle beds also come in handy for overnight guests.
  • Soft lighting options (especially on a dimmer) are practical and healthier than bright overhead lighting, which can be jarring and disruptive to sleep patterns. No one likes being in a fluorescent-lit space for too long.
  • Plants and flowers make any nook so much cheerier and more attractive.

Ideas from traveling 

Imagine you’re in an old-fashioned train carriage with luggage covered in vintage travel decals. If you’re in the dining compartment, the tables are, hopefully, covered with white linen and fresh flowers (or is this just in the movies?). When we travel, we put ourselves in lots of small, overly crowded places (most notably airplanes). A room that resembles a vintage-inspired ship’s cabin is very much out of a Wes Anderson film, and this aesthetic is getting increasingly popular. There’s nothing cuter than a room with a porthole or a maritime theme. If you’ve ever traveled to certain faraway places where one must sleep with a mosquito net, you’ll know how handy these are and that a safari-themed bungalow with a hammock can be very exotic.

Irresistible tiny places:

Maybe it stems back to that childhood wish of finding a place of one’s own where you can be independent and read comics for hours, draw, make up stories, or simply daydream, but small places have always seemed more cozy than claustrophobic. This is probably why playhouses will never go out of style, and dollhouses are simply magical.

  • Tree houses are, for instance, amazing places for play and wonder. If you’re surrounded by nature (in a tree, no less), then you always have a beautiful vista and bird’s eye view.
  • Parisian apartments are dreamy because, well, isn’t everything in Paris charming and elegant? High ceilings, French doors, lots of mirrors ,and, if you’re lucky, a terrace all make for an enchanting place to live or visit.
  • Any reading nook has its charms. Curling up beneath the covers with a flashlight is such a fun childhood activity, and as we get older, we still like to retreat to a place of our own where it’s quiet, and we can let our minds wander.
  • A cabana or pool house is an ideal hangout! If you’re near the ocean and can leave the doors and windows open, do! This is preferable to constant air conditioning and will fill your lodging with the wonderful scent of salty sea breezes. 
  • Attic rooms (especially at night with a lamp burning) are wonderful for artists and writers because they’re tucked away, undisturbed.
  • A cabin in the woods or ski chalet is an idyllic place to relax, sip hot chocolate and watch the world go by. It’s also perfect for getting lots of work done (for some). Henry David Thoreau lived a solitary life in the woods, in a small cabin, and wrote about it extensively in his book “Walden” (1854).  

#nabilakhashoggi #khashoggi #lifestyle #explore #habits #nabilaK #spartanandthegreenegg #makethemostofyourspace #tinyplaces #interiordesign #lifestylehacks 



“I will not retire while I’ve still got my legs and my makeup box.” –Bette Davis

Let’s face it: beauty has evolved. Of course, perceptions of beauty, the products available, and the way they are represented in media have all changed drastically over the years, but one thing remains the same: beauty is always in demand. It’s also always sought after and appreciated in a myriad of ways. 

Today, thankfully, we see all types of women –and men—depicted in beauty ads. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing people of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds represented.

A couple of other things that have drastically improved when it comes to beauty—makeup, hair, and nails—are the variety and quality of products.

Long before shopping on the Internet (so, very recently), beauty products were harder to come by, and people simply didn’t shop as they do now. First of all, the sheer amount of different products now was unthinkable then. There wasn’t much diversity in beauty wares. For example, women shampoo their hair far more now than they used to. If we’re going to go way back, the question of water was an issue. Without indoor plumbing, people bathed a lot less, and a good shampooing was quite the luxury! To even think of washing one’s hair every day was a foreign concept (and we know that it’s actually better not to shampoo every single day: let those natural oils work their magic).

Hair: Before the 1920s, women mostly wore their hair long. During the day, they usually styled it piled on their heads into a bun (think of a Gibson girl) and, at night, would let it fall, brush it out, and put it in braids with a nightcap. 

Before portable hair dryers, women were less willing to get their hair wet. Swimming without a rubber cap, are you crazy? Going to the beauty parlor once a week to have their hair set (in curlers) and styled for the entire week was very popular. A beauty parlor has always been thought of as a place of necessity—for the most basic maintenance—as well as a community hot spot. If you heard any gossip (especially in small towns), it was at the beauty salon.

Then, in the 1920s, when flappers were all the rage, women started bobbing their hair. How revolutionary! 

Soft curls have always been an incredibly feminine, lovely look. Long before electric curlers, women wore hard plastic ones to bed (can you imagine sleeping on those things?). Now, with heated rollers and sophisticated curling wands, one doesn’t have to sacrifice a good night’s sleep for voluminous hair. Thank goodness for hairspray and dry shampoo!

Hair dye has, over the years, become much more sophisticated. Women (and men) still use Clairol at home and, gasp, peroxide to achieve a platinum blonde look. Now there are so many more colors from which to choose, and it’s not considered risqué to dye your hair. One hundred years ago, it was all the rage (and pretty sassy) to put a henna rinse on one’s hair for a flame-red effect.


“If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.” –Coco Chanel

Women in small towns who wanted to bring a little glamour into their lives and some extra money started selling Avon and Mary Kay products. Avon—founded in the late 19th century—was the first beauty brand to be sold door to door by representatives. This made beauty much more accessible! This way of shopping has gone out of fashion because, as we know, beauty supply shops like Sephora have taken over, and, of course, there’s online shopping. 

Max Factor was probably the first big name in quality makeup (of course, quality has changed and gotten exponentially better, more ethical, organic, etc. over the years). Founded in 1909 by Maksymilian Faktorowicz, this brand specialized in movie makeup and really had a monopoly on the business. This is where the Pan Stik (or pancake makeup) began. Liquid foundation, imagine that! 

Elizabeth Arden and Revlon were also the go-to brands, but the range of colors and shades was limited early on: in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, red was all the rage. Classic, bright red lipstick and fingernail polish were pretty much the only options, and this is what women wore when they wanted to dress up and feel beautiful. Some of the vintage Revlon lipsticks that are still widely available include “Cherries in the Snow” (a pinkish red loved by Marilyn Monroe), “Fire and Ice” and, believe it or not, one of the early pinks worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” called “Pink in the Afternoon.”

The glamour goddesses of stage and screen have always used false eyelashes and press-on fingernails (think of Marlene Dietrich), but today, these things are much more refined and available to the general public. Mascara has changed a lot, too. It used to come in a compact cake, and you’d have to wet it and apply it with a little brush. Now there are so many types of brushes, colors, and brands of mascara and false eyelashes can be purchased just about anywhere.


Paul McCartney said that he wrote “Eleanor Rigby” about his mother; he thought of her pot of Nivea cream (thus the lyric). This was the staple when it came to skincare: Nivea or, of course, cold cream. A jar of Pond’s Cold Cream immediately evokes a great sense of nostalgia! 

For a little bit of color or “bloom” (if rouge wasn’t readily available), women and girls pinched their cheeks. This is still a great secret if you’re out and about without your blush!

Skincare has gotten so much more sophisticated over the years: now we have exfoliants, toners, facial wash for every skin type, anti-aging serums, and masks…just about everything you can think of! Although, people have been using the bare basics (such as mud) for centuries on their skin. Rose water has also always been a beauty necessity—for cleansing and adding a hint of perfume.


Long before Spanx and Skims, women had to rely on painful corsets, girdles, and control top pantyhose. Now it’s okay for bare legs to show beneath a skirt or dress, but it used to be thought of as unseemly! Still, stockings with seams held in place by garters are incredibly sexy and romantic. Today they are thought of as more of a novelty rather than a necessity. 

For everything you need to know about sustainable, organic, inclusive, and high-quality beauty products, check out Nabila K Cosmetics (for skincare and makeup)! 

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“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” –Edith Head

There’s nothing that transports us like wonderful clothes—costumes, even—and getting all dolled up. Sometimes, getting ready for a party is the most fun of all. Even before you arrive, feeling like Cinderella at the ball is a truly whimsical experience. 

Always a fan of flamboyant fun, dressing up is something I’ve always loved, whether I’m actually going out or reading my favorite Fairy Tales from childhood.

Having a theme is always helpful because you have an idea of where to begin when planning your attire. Seeing the Met’s Costume exhibit each year is always an artistic highlight.

 Lots of hair, jewels, makeup, and an evening gown make any woman feel like a princess. The amount of time, artistry, and detail that go into creating a certain hairdo, makeup, look, or piece of couture is staggering.

(The photo above was taken at the Monaco Red Cross Ball.)

In Praise of the Masquerade 

It’s rare that one really gets to dress up in finery galore, so when the opportunity arises, take advantage! Why not look and feel like a goddess?

Some truly spectacular galas:

  • The Rothschild’s 1972 “Surrealist Ball” was the ultimate in over-the-top glamour and definitely one of those moments where it’d be fascinating to be a fly on the wall, observing in absolute anonymity. 
  • The Black and White Ball hosted by Truman Capote at the Plaza Hotel in 1966 was complete with guests Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra wearing masks to resemble a black cat and white butterfly (other guests included Lee Radziwill, Ladybird Johnson, and Gloria Vanderbilt).

The Best Period Costume Film Moments

A love for fantasy and dressing up goes back to my love of movies, especially old films.

  • Claudia Cardinale in “The Leopard”: wears possibly one of the most beautiful gowns ever shot for the screen.
  • Elizabeth Taylor in “Dr. Faustus”: no one quite does cinematic beauty and spectacle like La Liz in all her various outfits and wigs. She’s even painted entirely silver at one point.
  • Marisa Berenson in “Barry Lyndon” is one of the finest examples of an actress used for her supreme modeling capabilities. In order to inhabit the role, she had to simply sit and stand while wearing the most ornate 18th-century costumes, complete with wigs, bonnets with plumes, corsets, white makeup, an enormous beauty mark, and elaborately complicated gowns. At times, she’s like a wonderful Georgian painting come to life. 
  • “Eye of the Widow”—a film I did in the early ’90s (alongside the great Mel Ferrer and F. Murray Abraham of recent White Lotus fame)—called for a great deal of costuming, complete with a corset, hoop skirt, and hair in corkscrews curls. 

18th Century fashions were especially over-the-top—elaborate powdered wigs, ruffles and bows, bustles, gowns with a million layers and petticoats, etc.—and completely fascinating. There definitely is an art to dressing up, and the history of fashion is endless!


  • Goya’s portraits are so hypnotic; one can get lost in them. Painting the aristocracy—lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses—employed Goya, so he was able to work and wow us with his wonderfully dark and more complex pieces later on. His “Black Duchess” (1797) has always been a great source of inspiration.
  • Women known for dressing up, like Luisa, Marchesa Casati Stampa di Soncino (the heiress who wowed Europe in the early 20th century), are supreme muses and influence painters, sculptors, poets, and, of course, couturiers and fashion designers. 

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“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” –Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Valentine’s Day has always been a favorite holiday (if nothing else, the candy and flowers will always lure you in). A romantic ambiance complete with a bubble bath, rose petals and candlelight are a sure way to anyone’s heart! Go ahead and give in: make this Valentine’s Day extra special for yourself and that special someone with all the charming bits and bobs. 

The phrases “Lovecore” and “Heartcore” have taken over the lexicon and are intended to describe décor and aesthetics that rely heavily on a romantic theme. 

Romantic and passionate love are always ideal on Valentine’s Day, but so is the love of friends, girlfriends (i.e., “GALentine’s day”), and one’s self. Self-love and self-care are incredibly important, and, now more than ever, we’re actually talking about how to nurture ourselves as well as others. This means taking time to be alone and, like Miley Cyrus’s recent siren song, buying yourself flowers. This is not selfish or even a wee bit sad (even on Valentine’s Day); it’s liberating!

What you’ll need to win hearts and/or treat just yourself:

Bubble baths, oils, and organic salts (all rose-scented, of course) are must-have items for the most romantic day—and night—of the year. Even if you’re simply soaking by yourself and not coupled up, taking a hot bath is one of the most relaxing, practical forms of self-care in which to indulge. Fill the tub to the rim (but watch for overflow; your neighbors downstairs will complain when water drips ruin their V-Day plans), fill it with Nabila K Rose Garden bubble bath, organic rose bath salts (with actual rose petals), and just a tad of bath oil. What could be more luxurious? 

Candles are absolutely necessary for conjuring romance. If you’re not one who goes for a lot of frills, fake it till you make it: there’s nothing like a candle flame to ignite passion. If you’re on a budget, try Nabila K’s small soy-based candles (these are perfect for fitting onto the corners and edges of a bathtub). Take your bubble bath game to the next level with light emanating only from Nabila K Rose Garden candles

  • Oil Diffusers are a chic flame-free option for perfuming large spaces (try Nabila K’s Rose Garden scented option).
  • Red lipstick (or gloss) is a Valentine’s Day essential. How else are you going to leave red prints on his cheek, collar, and, most of all, seal your love letters? Make sure to mark them “SWAK.” Nabila K has the perfect red lipstick in the shade called aptly called “Vixen.”

Perfume is necessary for evoking passion and is one of those things we always remember: long after memories have faded, a special scent remains. Fragrances even have the power to unlock memory.

  • The perfect love letter is, of course, sealed with a kiss. More than that, it has to be written from the heart. Whether you make your own heart-shaped paper Valentines or purchase a greeting card, make sure that the message is heartfelt and filled with a bit of poetry. Nabila K’s unique stationery is a great idea for the occasion (especially the Rose Garden design) and is blank, so you can choose the perfect, one-of-a-kind sentiment. 
  • Of course, champagne is the beverage of choice! Like Oscar Wilde said, “Only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason for drinking champagne.”
  • Plush toys—especially teddy bears—have always been a favorite and always make for sweet, cuddly presents.

Add some smooth jazz, jewelry, and lingerie and you’re all set for a perfect Valentine’s Day! Even if you’re sleeping alone, cozy pajamas are sometimes the cutest and, clearly, the most comfortable! As for jewelry, costume is just as fun as real gems; try something with a heart charm to feel exceptionally cute.

  • Chocolates (in a heart-shaped box, no less) are always welcome, and Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without them. An old-fashioned box complete with satin pleats and a big bow is the ultimate treat.

For more information on the Nabila K products mentioned above that will make your day—and night—as lovely as possible, check out the links below:

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How to Live a Mediterranean Lifestyle

“I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at midnight.” 

-Mercedes McCambridge

When people hear the phrase “Mediterranean lifestyle,” most will probably think of diet, but it’s so much more than that. What we consume is what constitutes our lives, but it’s not just about food and drink: it can be culture, beauty, poetry, architecture, and that irresistible Mediterranean sunlight that drenches everything white.  

Maybe it’s the sheer beauty of the landscape that makes inhabitants of Mediterranean countries happier and healthier. These countries of Europe, North Africa, and Asia in the west are almost achingly beautiful; everything is old and kept in beautiful shape (they actually appreciate their culture and want to keep it intact). History is very important; old buildings are preserved and cherished, and monuments and statues are revered. Architecture and art are a way of life, and beauty is extremely important!

Europe especially reveres its artists. People can be seen dancing and singing in the streets; there are actual troubadours who will serenade you in the town plazas of Spain!

Greece, Italy, Spain, and France, oh my! These are some of my favorite places in the entire world (and I don’t think I’m the only one). 

Some tips on how to live like a local and reap that glow that only these countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea can offer. 

“I love Spanish food. My diet is the Mediterranean diet, which is good food. I eat well.” 

–Penelope Cruz

Indulge in food and drink (the Mediterranean diet): olives, olive oil (which is called “liquid gold” for a reason: it offers not only culinary greatness but is beneficial for silky, shiny skin and hair), freshly caught seafood, oranges, herbs and spices, whole grains, vegetables, paella, tapas, etc. Eat fresh! Go to the market every day and see what looks ripe and delicious (never eat processed food if you can help it, and everything in moderation). Take your time to really enjoy the flavors. Of course, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece are known for their little outdoor cafes that are so charming, and we all know more time spent outdoors is very good for our mental and physical health. Because the Mediterranean diet focuses heavily on fruits and vegetables and is low in saturated fats, it’s heart-healthy. It’s a way of life, not a fad diet.

  • Bathe in the sea, go for a boat ride, smell the lavender and rosemary, literally take time to smell the roses, so to speak. We all know that Spanish is the loving tongue, the French have a “joie de vivre” sort of attitude, and the Greeks are culturally steeped in the beauty of gods and goddesses, so it’s no surprise that they’re very sensual people. Living by the sea is also very calming and tranquil.
  • The Mediterranean light is so captivating and, because it gets very hot and arid during the summer, it’s customary for shops to close in the afternoon so everyone can take a little siesta. Then, in the evening, around nine o’clock, restaurants and cafes reopen so townspeople can enjoy dinner until late. Meals can last for hours. Enjoy wine or an Aperol Spritz and laugh easily and often. Try to take it easy so you, too, can live a laid-back life.

Community and family are very important. People actually talk to each other in the streets; meeting friends for coffee seems easier in these parts of the world.

  • Generosity and hospitality. Go somewhere where things aren’t mass-produced: try a tiny French bakery and see how much love goes into the sweet delights.
  • Walk a lot! Move freely. Don’t think of exercise as a chore but a way of life. If you do something daily, it becomes much easier. 
  • Adopt a zest for life, for conversation, and for meeting new people.
  • The décor is sublime, especially with colorful tiles everywhere.

Artists who have captured this Mediterranean feeling…

Isn’t it amazing that so many of the greatest fine artists the world has ever known are from Mediterranean countries? 

(Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “The Farm at Les Collettes,” 1914)

Some of our favorite painters—from Baroque to Impressionist—include:

  • Van Gogh (especially his paintings of Arles and Avignon)
  • Velázquez 
  • Goya
  • Cézanne 
  • Gauguin
  • Monet 
  • Renoir 
  • Matisse

For more tips and musings on life and beauty, see what’s on the blog.

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