I SPY: While You Were Sleeping

Feb 28, 2017

What do you do when you can't sleep?  I re-decorate my house!  I'm still on UAE time and woke up at 4am today.  Perfect time to get out my hammer and get to work.  You think it woke up the kids?  NEVER.  Not even the dog!  Lazy bums!!



Remember when I went to Palm Springs and obsessed over the Parker's owl wall?  Well I stick to my word.  I've been collecting owls for the last six months and…Ta - da this happened while you were sleeping.  They finally got up on the wall!  You like my hooters?  I found them all on Etsy.



My powder room is so close to being complete.  I just need to run to Home Depot to get a brass rod to hang this Moroccan textile above the toilet and then I'll call it quits.



This tiny bathroom has been a work in progress for the last year.  I know, I know…I've been busy and procrastinating!  But it's been my baby project, and it takes time to find all the right little details.  But I'm happy it is coming all together now.



I won't lie…it is all about the floor though.  This is where I chose to blow my budget!  You know I'm a sucker for a good floor, and this vintage tile floor wasn't easy nor cheap to install. But I found good deals for the other mid century accessories and fixtures, so I saved there.

Faux Plant life from CB2



Decorative bulb from CB2



Mirror from CB2



Light Fixtures from Etsy

Inspired now?  Get to work!  There are so many quick, easy and affordable resources to spruce up your home decor.  Even places like Target have amazing accessories.  Trust me.  That store is a major danger zone for me!  E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.M.E.  Haha!

I SPY: UAE

Feb 27, 2017

ABU DHABI + DUBAI: February 2017

Any interest to visit the United Arab Emirates?  To be honest I didn't have much desire.  This wasn't the original plan for my trip!  I was to only stop over in the UAE to take a quick peek on my way to Iran, before Trump instilled the immigration ban.  BOO.  So when your given lemons, you make lemonade and spike it!  That's what this filthy rich country felt like.  Flat desert land, they've beautified with man made everything, and a whole lot of glitz!



1st stop ABU DHABI:

Abu Dhabi is the capitol of the UAE.  This is where the bulk of the Arab money lives, and Dubai is their playground.  It was a quieter town, more cultural and less jazz in comparison to Dubai it's next door neighbor, an hour away by car.  But not for long I presume, because soon the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums will open in Abu Dhabi and attract even more tourist traffic.



SEE + DO:

AL JAHLI FORT:
It's in Al Ain over an hour away from the main city.  For such a drive I didn't think it was worth it.  The scale was small. Just being honest!



DESERT:
You can't visit the UAE and not visit the desert!  The closest desert is Al Khatim an hour away.  I've been to quite a few deserts in my life, so skipped the camel rides, but did the extreme sports instead.  This was my first time dune bashing and sand boarding and it was so much fun!



MANARAT AL SAADIYAT:
Usually they have great art exhibits.  But I caught them at a bad time.  It was dead, as they were installing a new exhibit opening next month.  But their cafe and coffee was great!



SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE:
If there is only one thing you do when visiting the UAE, this is it!  Hence the many pics!  It's the largest mosque in the UAE and the third largest mosque in the world.  It is a pristine, gorgeous mosque, with a very strict dress code.  Ladies - please check requirements before you go, otherwise they will provide you with a hijab (head scarf) and abaya (dress cloak) to wear.






YAS VICEROY:
This swanky design conscious hotel has a great roof top bar, fine dining restaurants and the Formula 1 race track outside it's door.



SLEEP:
I stayed at the Ritz Carlton next door to the mosque.  It's a resort with a huge pool, beach, good spa, and a Venetian village attached filled with restaurants along the water.  Nothing uber fancy or trendy, but big clean rooms, and helpful staff.



2nd stop DUBAI:

Does Dubai need an introduction?  I doubt it because you've seen it plenty, splashed all over social media.  It is the Las Vegas slash Disneyland of the Middle East!  The tallest, biggest and fanciest of all.  All fake, but the modern infrastructure and roads will make you say WOW.  If you don't have a lot of time and want to hit all the main attractions take the Hop-On and Hop-Off bus.  I did this all on the green line in one day!



SEE + DO:

BURJ AL ARAB:
The only 7 star hotel in the world.  Only hotel guest are allowed inside so I have no clue what's so special!  But the architecture is enough to make it a worthy visit from Jumeirah beach.

BURJ KHALIFA:
The tallest building in the world.  The focal point of the city that you can spot from 60 miles away.  If you don't visit it then you can't really say you've been to Dubai!  Views from the top at 1821 feet high are phenomenal.  But be prepared for a lot of queuing.  Purchase tickets in advance online, to save you half the hassle.



CITY WALK:
An outdoor mall with a lot of street art that I was surprised to see, along with many cafes and concept stores that line the courtyards.  The best store was LE66, a Parisian concept store.  If you are a fashionista you must check it out.  A mix of European and Japenese designers I've never heard of, but such a great curated selection of fashion forward articles.  I wanted to buy everything.  Kid you not!



DUBAI MALL:
This mall is ridiculous.  It has every designer label, including all the American brands I didn't even know existed outside the USA like Bloomingdales, and Pottery Barn.  It caters to the foodies looking for the USA famous restaurants such as Magnolia Bakery, Cheesecake factory, and Serafina's to name a few.  But I refused to eat what I can get in NY!  I ate Lebanese food instead at Karam Restaurant inside the mall.  The fish, hummus and tabouleh was soooo good, and you can sit outside and be entertained by the fountain show that happens every half hour while you dine.  Then for dessert you have to go up and check out Level Shoes.  The world's largest shoe store.  I have never seen a shoe selection for ladies, mens and kids like this.  From high end to sneakers.  It was definitely Carrie Bradshaw heaven!



MIRACLE GARDEN:
This is not a stop included on the Hop-On and Hop-Off bus.  But if you get off at Mall of Emirates you can easily catch a short taxi ride to the gardens to walk under the tunnel of love.  That and the Emirates airplane decked out in flowers were the only two things I can rave about.  So lesson learned...don't go unless your a real flower lover!



SLEEP:
Dubai is not a cheap place!  Accommodations are pricey, luxe and pretentious.  I wanted something more authentic and low key, so I stayed away from the scene at XVA Art Hotel.  It is a charming boutique hotel, located in Old Dubai next to the Al Fahidi markets.



I'm glad I went to the UAE to see what the hype is all about.  I get it now for those who want to party, eat, shop, and entertain their kids.  It can be fun for a week, and if I ever come back with my kids we will be doing all the kiddy stuff the UAE offers: Atlantis the Palm, Ferrari World, Wild Wadi, Ski Dubai and the list goes on.  It beats bringing the kids to Orlando, Florida!  But it is nothing in comparison to a rich cultured country like Morocco.  So don't expect that and you'll be good!

P.S.  Remember it is an Islamic country.  Majority of the locals do wear national dress and are covered from head to toe.  Therefore, please respect their culture and I would not advise walking around showing too much skin unless your at the beach or nightclub.
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I SPY: New Territory

Feb 17, 2017

It's Presidents Day weekend and school is out for a week, are you going somewhere?  While many are going skiing, I am off to the desert to channel Middle Eastern vibes.  I had second thoughts about going after the immigration ban.  But luckily United Arab Emirates is not part of the ban, and if ISIS is what we're worried about then I think I'm safer there then here!



Anyhow…find me on Instagram @ispycandyblog exploring new territory next week.  Otherwise when not on the go I'll have my head stuck in one of these books.  Seen the movies yet?  I heard they're great, and both have been nominated awards, so once I finish reading you know I'll be at the movies when I return.  Peace out.  Play safe!

I SPY: Insta Happy

Feb 16, 2017

Is it a birthday tradition in your house to awake to a breakfast surprise on your special day?  It is in ours, and if I ever fail to remember one year I'm going to be in BIG trouble!  He will never let it happen though…because this party doll reminds me the night before at bed time that I need to get busy decorating with balloons and setting up the table and his gifts before sunrise!!  BRAT.



Anybody's birthday soon?  I've got Fall babies, but somebody's must be coming up soon though?  When that special day comes you need to remember these for their birthday breakfast.



Start their day right with these birthday cake cream filled croissants from Union Fare.  Wouldn't that make you insta happy to find that colorful confetti surprise in your croissant?



To add to the rainbow try the other flavors too - fruity pebbles and red velvet.  They're all scrumptious.  But obviously their red velvet is a big hit standing there by it's lonesome self waiting especially for me!  HA.  Got to try.  They give croissants a whole new meaning!

I SPY: Fur Babies

Feb 15, 2017

Do you own a pair of Ugg - lies?  Guilty…I have more then one!  They are not the prettiest, but they are super cozy, and when it's cold all fashion is out the window.  I do have my priorities straight sometimes!  For you practical ones that's how the Ugg's trend started and has remained strong in and out of the house.  But I've found you an update for at home…check out my new fur babies!



How fur - mazing are these?  They are super soft alpaca house slippers from Peru.  You animal rights activist, please don't go crazy on me!  Alpacas are protected animals by law in Peru.  No animals were killed in this process.  Alpacas roam freely in their native land and only when they die naturally is their fur turned into alternative uses.  Hence the luxe price tag usually attached to anything alpaca.  But these fur babies are $175, not outrageously priced, right?



Grab yours now at Cote A Coast before prices go up!  While your at it, check out all the other drool worthy table top and home accessories this concept store offers from Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco and other ethnic tribes.  A fab place to pick up unique gifts for you and your loved ones, because you will be shocked by how affordable everything is!  REALLY.  A beautiful curated boutique, much like how I envision my home to look like one day when my kids grow up! Modern, clean palette, with accents from around the world.

I SPY: La La Land

Feb 14, 2017

What are your thoughts on raising kids?  Keeping it real so they know what to expect when they start adulting?  Or let them live in la la land, where everything is sweet and rosey because they're only kids?



Guess how old he was then?  2 years old!  That was his first year celebrating Valentines Day in school. Every year since then he has been spoilt by this Hallmark day.  Every kid in the class exchanges Valentines cards and gifts, and he ends up coming home with a bag of a lot of love.  Sweet!

Thank you to all the Martha Stewart mothers for all your efforts in making my babies Valentines Day special!  I know how much effort and time goes into these projects.  I've been doing it for ten years.  But this year I got my lil' guy to do it by himself.





Now he understands the struggle!  HA.  But in adult life I seriously hope he's not making or receiving 24 Valentines Day cards!  Not even adult life…come Middle School (6th Grade) they stop celebrating Valentines Day in class.  My oldest son isn't bothered by it at all.  He actually said it's 'refreshing' he doesn't have anybody special this year to send love to.  HA.  How unromantic!

But I'll be interested to know how my lil' guy deals with the rude awakening that not everybody loves you and sends you greeting cards.  After all he is naturally more calculative and sensitive.  I hope it doesn't break his heart!

Which brings me back to my original question.  Is it necessary to coddle our kids so much?  Everything these days is fair in school.  Even in sports everyone gets a medal.  But that's not how real life works.  Life isn't fair!  Is it?  So why fool them and break their hearts later on in life, when from the beginning we can educate the real way?  Food for thought.

P.S.  Happy Valentines Day!
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I SPY: Team No Sleep

Feb 13, 2017

Happy Monday?  Not!  Kick off to fashion week has already got me feeling like zzzz.  Even a filter can't conceal my dark circles.  That bad!  However, some didn't think I looked that bad when I posted this before on Instagram.

You want to know my trick?  Thrive Causemetics Brilliant Eye Brightener.  It's any girl magic!  It makes me look awake.  Raccoon eyes not concealed; but that little bit of highlight at my water line adds  sparkle that brightens up tired eyes!  Try it if your also team no sleep.  $10 off on me.  Use code: THRIVEFRIENDS10 at check out.

I SPY: Black Excellence

Feb 10, 2017

Every month is a time for awareness, and do you know what month this is?  Black History month.  Time to get educated y'all and get the facts, know them and share them.  Especially necessary in these heightened times of division when we must remember to stay woke, and put an end to racism.



So many movies in theaters right now supporting Black excellence, history in a positive light, and these are Oscar nominated - Fences, Hidden Figures, I Am Not Your Negro and Moonlight.  Seen any?  Saw Moonlight a while back.  Excellent.  Yesterday was a snow day, and I took the kids to see Hidden Figures.  It was great in more then one way - movie was up lifting, entertaining, kept the kids quiet, and educated them.  Hoping to see Fences this weekend.  What are you up to this weekend?  Enjoy!

I SPY: Butter Fingers

Feb 9, 2017

Tight?  Not your budget, your muscles?  As I catch up in age I feel my recovery from working out takes longer, and my body needs more then a five minute post workout stretch.  I need a damn massage!



Have you had a Thai massage before?  It's not the typical oiled up Swedish massage your probably use to.  Your fully clothed in comfortable gear.  No oil used.  The therapist uses their body, hands, feet and strength to knead you, step on you, and stretch your body to ease you into yoga positions you never knew you were flexible enough to perform.

Pilai is my go to girl!  She has butter fingers, and knows the magic touch.  When you leave her no frills room located in Times Square, you will feel knot free, and lengthened.  Must try, because she gets the job done.  Not in NYC?  Google Thai massage in your area and give it a go.  Your body will thank you!

Pilai
T: (347) 806.4896

I SPY: Houston Chronicles

Feb 8, 2017

When you travel what must you do?  Eating for sure, and I'm always on the look out for street art too because I have this thing with walls.  Obsessed!  Here's the new highlights from my Houston chronicles that I discovered this trip back.

Haute Dimensions - 6521 N. Main Street, Houston, TX

Kung Fu Saloon - 5317 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX

Old Post Office - 1050 Yale Street, Houston , TX
How coincidental I'm matching the polka dot wall?  Totally!  As were the other random drive by wall finds.  Simple surprises in life that I had to take a snap of, even though my boys eyes were rolling backwards every time I pulled over!  Sorry not sorry kids.

Laredo Taqueria - 915 Snover Street, Houston, TX


However the boys did approve of this new taco joint I found.  Laredo Taqueria.  It is where the real locals go for the good grub.  It shows, with the line out the door at their Snover Street location, even though it's nothing pretty inside, and servings are sloppy.  But the taste of the meat and tortillas was something else.  Super YUM, and super cheap.  We are officially Texas Mexicans after eating there!



Us three amigos had a whirlwind weekend with so much excitement revolved around Super Bowl LI.  We fitted in my food and wall fix, enjoyed the pre game NFL experiences, two of us left happy with the Pats win, and I'm relieved our first trip carrying our lives on board with us, not checking in bags, and all of us sitting seperately on the plane was a success.  We now know what it's like to fly the Spirit way!  HA.  The kids survived just fine, and I got a break...three hours of peace and quiet plus a nap!  YAY.  

I SPY: Stock Up

Feb 7, 2017

Time to get healthy?  Just for a week!  Super Bowl weekend is showing after effects and I need to nip it in the butt.  FAST.



You know stadium food ain't healthy?  Duh!  But that pork belly burnt ends sandwich from Killen's BBQ stand was so worth the cheat.  I will spare what else we brought to our seat!  But we were at the Super Bowl for over five hours y'all.  So you know that pork belly sandwich was just an appetizer!  HA.



My kids were stuffed silly and the next day asked to eat something healthy and no more fried junk food at the airport coming home!  so they together with me are going on a fish, veggie and bone broth diet for the next week.



You've heard about the benefits of bone broth?  It's rich in minerals, that boosts your immune system, lines your gut, has healing properties, and makes a great post exercise drink.  So many nutrients packed into a cup that tastes great, and smells great too.  Extra bonus…Barneys Bone Broth has add - ins like meatballs, and duck eggs.  Otherwise your bone broth gets served in a take out coffee cup with lid!



It is fairly easy to make a big pot for yourself at home.  It just takes a really long time to simmer for hours.  Us New Yorkers don't have time, or are just plainly lazy!  So we stock up on Barneys Bone Broth.  Only in New York do we have bone broth take out windows!  That's why I love this freaking city!!!  Reaping the benefits.

I SPY: Super Bowl LI

Feb 6, 2017

Tired?  Us too!  But still living the high from an epic night at Super Bowl LI.  Amazing come back the Patriots pulled off.  What an experience y'all!






Haters going to say this is photoshopped!  HA.  Thank you to Uncle Mike and Stella for making these brats dream come true.  There is perks to being the designated babysitter!
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.