My Favorite Dainty Gold Earrings

My love of fine jewelry was genetically inherited from my mother. As a kid I remember going to visit her safe deposit box every time there was an event that called for jewelry, (and there were many!). I would drool over all of the shiny gold and sparkly baubles she owned. Each piece in her collection of vintage and new jewelry had a story behind it, each one special and unique. I even got my ears pierced as a baby and wore the same dainty gold hoop earrings for most of my childhood. That was the first piece in my growing collection that I hope to share with my Sophia one day.

The newest addition to my jewelry collection are these gorgeous gold earrings by New York based sustainable jewelry line AU-Rate. They are sophisticated, elegant, and truly unique. I love that you can style them a few ways by pulling the earring shorter or longer, creating multiple looks. The entire line is absolutely stunning, and if that weren’t enough, they are also ethically sourced and sustainably produced, with a strong emphasis put on both the quality and design.

I took my new bling out for a spin on a date night a few nights ago, and I think it really elevated my otherwise simple outfit – even Tom admired them and asked me how they keep from falling out of my ears! I think no outfit is truly complete without a little jewelry. It’s like the icing on the proverbial cake – which also just so happens to be my favorite part of cake!

Let me know in the comments below if you are more of a clothes, bags, shoes, or jewelry person (like me!)

Links to everything else I’m wearing can be found below the images.

Thank you for stopping by, as always! If you like this post, consider subscribing so you can receive updates every time a new post is live. (I’ll never spam you, promise!)You can also follow me on instagram for more!

Note: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Nakturnal 

Necklace | Pants: Iro (thrifted from Material World but here is a similar style) | Cami: Rebecca Taylor (Similar Style) | Shoes

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Our New Forever Home + 7 Moving Tips I Wish I Knew

I can’t even believe I am actually typing this but, as of now we have officially moved in to our new home! Moving an entire house is hard enough, but moving with kids is chaos. When we first started looking for homes, Tom and I had two completely different ideas of what we wanted. I wanted to live in the city or very close to it, and Tom is a complete suburban boy who hates to deal with city traffic and parking. I wanted an old home with tons of character and I was willing to give up on square footage for a piece of history, and Tom was set on having a spacious open concept home. Tom wanted lots of nature, a big yard, and a quiet street, something I liked too, but not enough to live far away from civilization (Chicago).

After we sold our home in less than a week, we were in a huge rush to find a place to move. We saw tons of homes and we didn’t agree on anything. We argued a ton, and there may have also been some silent treatment going on. We were packing up and looking at potential homes non-stop, all this going on while fasting during Ramadan. One day after a particularly long day of house hunting, I literally broke down and just cried out of frustration, and probably a little bit of hunger too. I cried and prayed to find something we both loved and that we could make our forever home. After all that crying, I felt a wave of relief and I decided I’m just not going to stress about it any more.

We found our dream home the next day. 

The place we ended up with wasn’t in the city but it is walking distance to a train station and a cute downtown area. It was built in 1916 but it was completely renovated (with historical accuracy) so we got additional space and the convenience of new windows, plumbing, and hvac. We are on a quiet street right next to a nature trail. I’m completely thrilled with the space, but it is going to be a while before we are fully unpacked and each room is personalized to our tastes. Since we don’t plan on moving ever again (if we can help it!) we are going to take our time and do it right. I’ll be sharing my room makeovers as we go – stay tuned!  For a tour of our new home, visit the ‘Home’ Highlight on my instagram page.

I learned a lot from this move, mostly what I could have done better to make the transition smoother. Read on for seven tips I have for your next move!

Moving Tips (that I learned the hard way):

  1. Pack a box of Kitchen Essentials with things you use daily and bring that with you, in your own car, on your move-in date. In a sea of moving boxes, that one box you desperately need will be impossible to find. Include a frying pan, a few glasses, bowls, plates, spoons, etc. Basically anything you’d find in an extended stay hotel kitchen. After a week of take out three times a day because we couldn’t find silverware or a frying pan, we couldn’t wait to be able to cook our own meals.
  2. Label everything clearly. This one is obvious but somehow we still had boxes that said ‘Master Bedroom’ without any hint of what was inside. When there are 20 boxes that say the same thing, you can imagine the frustration. Especially necessities like bedding, put an entire bed in one box so you aren’t looking for a sheet from one box and a pillow in another.
  3. Declutter as much as humanly possible before you even start to pack. I spent an entire *year* Marie Kondo’ing my place and I still have way too much junk I don’t need. I sold quite a bit of my stuff on Facebook Marketplace, and I even donated a lot of things. Yet I still have tubs of miscellaneous items from my old basement storage that is now in my new basement storage. Le sigh.
  4. For parents, plan ahead for childcare on moving day, and for at least the first few days in the new home while you get settled in. Unpacking and running errands like school registrations are much easier when you don’t have a toddler getting into unsafe boxes of tools, or trying to run outside all day long.
  5. Ask for a fixed bid. Most moving companies charge hourly, and we ended up paying significantly more than our quoted price. Note: You do have to have an idea of what your cost would be in order to go this route. If you are doing the hourly rate, save yourself some time and money by disassembling your beds and tables ahead of time and wrapping everything up together with stretch wrap.
  6. For packing materials, check facebook marketplace – where we ended up giving away all of ours. We didn’t realize we could do that and we bought everything ourselves. Facebook can be a hit or miss so if you are buying, we found we got the best deals from Amazon and Home Depot.
  7. Be sure to measure your new place and any furniture you are bringing with you to ensure it will fit. Do not ‘eyeball it’ or say you will ‘figure it out later’ like we did. Not only did the move take longer because of our error, we currently have a 4 piece sectional sofa that doesn’t fit, an extra sofa from our basement that didn’t fit through the stairs, and ANOTHER sofa that was in our den, something we don’t have here- so 3 sofas that we DO NOT WANT are currently in our living room. Don’t be like us.

What other moving tips do you swear by? Share below!

Ramadan Reflections

Top | Jeans | Shoes

For the approximately 1.6 Billion Muslims around the world, this is the Holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims abstain from food and drink from sun up to sun down for 30 days. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam – the others are Faith, Prayer, Charity, and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. This year I’ve been journaling a little every morning after Sehri (the morning meal) and I thought it would be fun to share with you some reflections I’ve made from fasting in Ramadan, now that we are finally in the home stretch.

 For me the hardest part about fasting isn’t the lack of food and water, but the mental challenges that go with it. First of all just waking up at the crack of dawn to eat before fasting all day shakes me out of my normal routine. I notice all of my mindless habits, like snacking to procrastinate dealing with something, or snacking out of boredom, or sadness, or happiness (I snack a lot). The point is I am forced to become much more aware and intentional in my actions.

On the same note, I’ve noticed my mental attitude has a direct effect on how easy or difficult fasting is for me. If I go about my day begrudgingly fasting, in victim mode thinking about how hard it is, I will really struggle. If I do it with positive intention, and a goal of getting stronger spiritually, it honestly becomes a pleasure. It has taken me years to get to this stage where I can actually enjoy and find pleasure in fasting. Knowing that ultimately I am the one in control of how I feel, is incredibly empowering. This mind over matter attitude could improve so many other aspects of my life – fitness, work, relationships, money, everything.

One of the things I struggle with most while fasting is trying not to lose my temper, and avoiding negativity and gossip. The other day my kids were driving me up the wall but I was so wiped out from fasting I didn’t even have the energy to yell at them so I took some deep breaths and turned on a podcast I liked and just immersed myself in other stuff. What happened after that was they eventually stopped doing whatever it was that made me crazy, (like they always do) and I didn’t have to go in to full on psycho mom mode, which is something that I always regret later. Gossip is also something that is so hard to avoid, but I’ve learned when I keep quiet and don’t add any fuel to the fire, the people gossiping with me usually lose interest and change the subject.

After the initial excitement of Ramadan wears off and it’s just day after day of sitting with myself, slightly weaker trying to be as productive as possible (and failing miserably), this is the hardest time for me. It forces me to humble myself and slow down, when my ego just wants to keep achieving. My ego is constantly being challenged this month, when I’m not able to distract myself with food and drink for long stretches, I find myself feeling uncomfortable, emotional, and vulnerable. Learning to sit with myself and feel all the feelings gives me the space to really work on myself and become more conscious.

I first heard the statement ‘you consume much more than food’ a while ago from Deepak Chopra but it really set in the other day while I was fasting. Eating is just one of the many things we consume. Everything you see, hear, touch, or smell, you are consuming. When I’m focusing on consuming things that will raise my spiritual vibration like laughing with my friends or family, praying, mediating, or taking a walk outside feeling the warm sunshine or smelling the flowers  – I feel way more ‘full’ in every sense of the word.

I’m definitely looking forward to going back to enjoying all of life’s indulgences again soon – but this month of Ramadan has given me a lot of gifts I will hold on to forever.

 

Living Room Makeover: Before + After

Sharing my living room makeover with you all today! I started this project a couple of months ago, with plans to make some serious changes – (read all about my original design plan in this post). But, as the saying goes – we make plans, God laughs… The fresh paint had barely even dried on the walls before we decided to move out of the house we’ve called home for the last eight years! At this point I had only painted the room in Dolphin Fin by Behr, and I had swapped out the (boring) old couches for this gorgeous luxe green chesterfield from Anthropologie.

I wanted to do minimal additional work in the room since I knew I’d have to leave it behind, so I just worked on staging the room for showings. It’s a good thing I did because the same week we listed our house, it sold!

I have to say, I think the new paint, gorgeous sofa, and pretty decor really made the room look much more fresh, elegant, and put together than before.

What do you think? Scroll all the way down for the before, and for links to paint and products!

Before:

After:

Wall Paint: Behr Dolphin Fin

Sofa: Anthropologie

Chairs: Thanks to The Room Place

Pillows: Kelly Wearstler Graffito in Salmon Cream (Purchased from Dekowe but I would NOT recommend buying from them – I had a horrible experience)

Rug: Villa Rug

Sconces: Thrifted

Wall Art: Z Gallerie

End Tables: Right West Elm (no longer available, but here is a similar style) Left: West Elm 

Candles & Table decor: HomeGoods

Life Lately…

Bralette  | Pants |(similar) Cardigan | Art | Pillows (L&R)

Hey guys, its been a minute. I almost didn’t write that because honestly I hate it when bloggers start a post by apologizing for being away so long, as if anyone even really noticed – haha. That being said, I feel I do owe it to those who have noticed, to let you know why its been a little quiet around here.

I started 2019 with the intention to take a step back from blogging – something I go into a little more detail on The Demureist podcast, called Of Woman Nature -which you can find anywhere you get your favorite podcasts. To sum it up, I was a bit burnt out, frustrated, and unsure of my future in this social media world because its such a new and ever-changing industry. I didn’t want to just keep doing it because I’ve been doing it for so long, especially if it was stressing me out. I started feeling this way a while back, at the beginning of 2018, and thats when I decided to branch out and take some comedy and photography classes, read more books, and just dabble in anything that interested me.

I’ve always had a competitive streak, and throughout my life I’ve usually been successful at anything I put my mind to – but for some reason my audience wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted and – to be quite honest I did feel like a failure. At one point I was editing a thrift haul Youtube video, and I noticed all I was doing in the video was complaining and making excuses for myself, which really put me off. That person isn’t me, I thought – and I knew I had to figure my shit out quickly or I was about to continue to be miserable. So, i took time off and spent the first quarter of the year really just taking it easy, focusing on family and having fun. We also took a couple of trips, and spending time in nature was just really, really good for me. I actually started missing all of the creative stuff I did with the blog, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

While on my break, I thought why not try another side hustle? So I started applying for some part-time jobs where I could work remote – but nothing panned out, which was a good thing because I wasn’t excited about any of them. But I figured I might as well build some skills in another industry if I’m going to be quitting blogging for good. Then something really amazing happened. A few weeks ago, I interviewed for an opportunity that is a *dream* career move – I can’t share what it is yet because I still don’t know if I got it or not (sorry!). The project-based job would require me to travel for a few weeks – and I would have to come up with a childcare solution and do all kinds of finagling to make it actually work. And I was/am willing to do all of that, just for the chance to have this dream career move.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – all this time, the seven years since starting Love Zahra, I realized I’ve been waiting for someone else to discover me and give me an opportunity to shine, before I would come out of my own comfort zone. I was willing to go way above and beyond for something I perceived as a great opportunity, but for myself I’ve been putting in the bare minimum. I’m not saying I didn’t put in a lot of effort in creating this space, but I know in my heart I could do so much more. I was focusing on things I couldn’t control, like how many followers I had, when I should have been focused on creating and doing the things that bring me joy. Realizing how much I actually do enjoy what I do here, and knowing that I’ve only just scratched the surface in what is possible – makes me so excited I could scream. So now if I get that dream job or not, I’m just fine because I’m going to be having a grand old time doing what I love already.

So here’s to believing in yourself, finding your joy, and makin’ moves!

xx

Zahra

 

 

 

Spring Refresh: What’s In My Cart…

Spring is here (finally!) and there are a few things I am planning on getting to freshen up my basics. These are the pieces I wear over and over with some of my more statement pieces in my wardrobe. Take a look at what is currently in my cart!

Most of these are a part of the current Shopbop Sale – where you get 20% off order under $500 and 25% off order over $500 using Promotion Code: EVENT19.

  1. High-waist white denim. For me, there is no Spring (or summer for that matter) without white jeans. This season I’m in the market for some super high-rise ones like these because I’ve decided I never want to *not* wear high-rise jeans and I need them in every wash. 
  2. Fresh T-shirts. I’m always either spilling something on my white tees or if I don’t, one of my kids definitely will. So replacing my old with fresh bright white tees is a must. One of my favorite classic outfits is a great blazer with a t-shirt and a few dainty necklaces, a pair of jeans, and flats. 
  3. Cute jewels. I’m a sucker for fashion jewelry, and I mix it easily with some of my fine pieces. I just bought this necklace and I can’t wait to wear it alone as a choker or layered with another longer necklace. 
  4. Updated basics. Like a basic tee, I love adding a few staples that have a little something extra. I love the exaggerated shoulders in this style, that would look perfect tucked in to anything from a wrap skirt to denim.5. Rayban Hexagon sunglasses. Confession – I’ve already bought these so they aren’t technically in my cart, but they are new and they are my favorite and they are on SALE so I just had to share.

My Beach Style: Jamaica

We escaped the polar vortex in Chicago for a quick getaway minus the kids – our first time alone on vacation in ten years! This week I’m planning on putting away the phone, swimming in the ocean, eating all of the gorgeous food and just soaking in the sun.

Ten years ago exactly Tom and I had planned a trip to Jamaica – we had a weekend snowmobiling in Wisconsin, then we had planned to trade our snow boots for swimsuits and hop on a plane to paradise – only that never happened because I crashed my snowmobile and was in a coma and almost died. After my traumatic accident, I felt very lost – eventually I broke up with Tom. I even thought maybe that accident was a sign from God that we weren’t supposed to be together. After about a year of absolute anguish, I followed my gut instinct and asked if we could get back together – and thankfully he wanted me back after all I put him through. So being here now, after being married and having two beautiful kids together, I’m just so thankful we made it through.

Scroll down to see some of my favorite swimsuits I wore on my trip.

Swimsuit  / Hat / Necklace 

  1. Leopard: If you’ve followed me for a while, you know leopard is my favorite color, and a one-piece swimsuit is a mom’s best friend. I’ve always loved Mara Hoffman swimwear, not only for the aesthetic, but also because of her commitment to sustainable fashion.

Swimsuit / High-Wasist Acid Washed Shorts – Levi’s (thrifted off of Poshmark)/ Sunglasses 

2. Assymetrical: This high waist bikini has side-ties which you can’t see in this pic, but I’m partial to details like that. I am also in love with the one shoulder strap – but just a warning you may end up with some fun tan lines.

Swimsuit (similar) I bought mine second hand on Poshmark

3. Retro: High-waist and ribbed fabric is the way to go for bikini’s – I’ve seriously never felt so comfortable on a beach before.

Living Room & Guest Room Makeover Plans…

It’s 3:00 a.m. and I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d share some things I’ve been working on! I love following along with bloggers on decor projects, so I’m hoping you will enjoy this too. I just realized it has been a long while since I’ve done anything home decor related on the blog – my Master Bedroom and my Basement Refresh were over two years ago. So its no wonder why I’ve had the itch to decorate!

Side note: We are planning on moving and for years I kept putting off projects in order to save all of my ideas (and money) for the next place, but we keep pushing back our move date and in the meantime my current home isn’t bringing me the Marie Kondo joy that it should be.

I’m focusing on two major rooms in my home that could use some help. First off, the Guest Room. We have guests stay with us often, especially my parents and Tom’s. For a while now our guest room was sort of a mish mash of leftover furniture. The room is a beautiful space overlooking the pond behind our house, but it is currently painted a really dark olive color. The bed is a dark wood and it is pretty bulky too, as is the glider/rocking chair. There is also a desk in the room which is pretty big – and style-wise it doesn’t have much to offer. Here’s what the room currently looks like:

Guest Room (Currently):

and here are my plans for the room:

Guest Room Inspiration

 

First of all I want to make this room as cozy and bright as possible. I will start by lightening up the space by painting the walls a neutral warm but still light grey tone. I am leaning towards Dolphin Fin by Behr or something similar. The bed also needs to be light and I want to go with an upholstered headboard because they are so comfortable to sit up in. As much as I love metal or wicker style beds, functionally they aren’t my favorite. The bed (also available in green and navy) and cantilever chair are both pretty modern, which can be a little cold- so I like to add some soft details to make it a little cozier, like the tufted bench and the gorgeous throw blanket also obsessed with this one.

I definitely want to add some gorgeous pillows and I love these printed ones, though I’m debating on if I want this color or the blush pink ones. For art, I want to keep it simple and I love hand drawn framed prints, but I also want to add some texture with crystals, geodes, and pearlized materials (like this lamp). I am also debating on whether or not I need a rug as we have carpeted berber flooring that is a nice light color – but if I do it will be something at the foot of the bed under the bench only.

Now on to my living room!

So I mentioned on instagram a while back that I have a love hate relationship with my living room wall color. It is a mustard-ish yellow which at times can look stunning, giving off a maximalist, colorful, almost Moroccan vibe. At other times, it just looks orange and I’m tired of it. I absolutely love bold color, and I want to incorporate it into every room in my home, but even for me this can be a bit much.

Here’s my living room now (or actually when I last took a picture of it during Christmas last year):

And here is my inspiration for it:

 

 

First off, the obvious HERO of the room is the sofa – the Anthropologie Lyre Chesterfield in this stunning green velvet. As much as I love a modern design aesthetic like my current mid-century modern sofas, I think a Chesterfield is so romantic and elegant and very ‘grown up’. (Tom thinks green is a horrible color choice, but I am slowly working on getting him on board. Creating this inspiration board was part of that process!) Note: My inspiration board was heavily influenced by this post by Alisa Bovino,  a design blogger I recently discovered when googling ‘room inspiration for a green velvet sofa’.

Because we are working with this luscious velvet fabric, I want to contrast with pops of pink  and animal print like these chairs which are sold out, but I may reupholster some chairs I already own, or add pillows in that fabric. I’m not sure exactly how, but there WILL be animal print in the mix somewhere. Wall color will probably be the same as the guest room, Dolphin Fin, and I will keep the rugs and curtains a light grey-ish tone. The coffee table will stay the same (see first pic), but I plan on styling it with peachy pink floral arrangements, some aesthetically pleasing design books, and a gold and marble tray.

So that is all I’ve got for you today! I am currently sourcing all of my furniture, art, and fabrics, and since I love to shop second-hand and vintage, the final product may take me some time, and it also may not look exactly like my inspiration board, but that is ok with me! I prefer rooms that have a vintage collected vibe to them over a shiny perfect new room any day. Stay tuned for more room updates over here and on my instagram account.

As always, thanks so much for visiting. Please consider subscribing so you never miss a post!

 

 

Of Woman Nature Podcast: Manifesting Purpose, Mindful Living, Conscious Fashion

I’m so excited to announce my very first podcast interview with Of Woman Nature! This is the brand new podcast by The Demureist – a blog that I have been a long time fan of – ever since I serendipitously met its founder Mariana during New York Fashion Week (back when I used to do that kind of thing).

Mariana Aguilera and Nazhah Khawaja host the podcast by the The Demureist, which is such a refreshing blog full of real insight and think pieces – which is so rare when you think about the majority of content we are inundated by daily through social media.

We discuss what my goals are for 2019, my journey to living a conscious lifestyle, and why exactly I quit ‘fashion blogging’.

You can listen to the whole episode wherever you get your podcast fix – I’ve included the link below.

I hope you enjoy!

January Favorites

What’s changing the game and inspiring me this month from the Internet, Books, Fashion, TV, and Beauty ~

Get Your Pet – A nationwide online marketplace for pet rescue and adoption. There are so many pets in need of a good home, and this site is making it easy for people to find their new best friend. Hoping this will mean the end of breeding farms in the near future!

A Place For Us – A beautifully weaved story about an Indian Muslim American family. Note: I read this book in a day an a half – ignored my husband and children because I just couldn’t put it down. I also cried multiple times. At the heart it is a universal story about the love of family, but it also gives the reader a unique perspective into the Muslim immigrant experience. Blue Tin Productions  – A Chicago-based clothing manufacturing co-op employing female refugees to produce clothing – providing brands and retailers an alternative to sweatshops. A radical concept challenging the fast fashion model by Activist/Blogger (and my friend) Hoda Katebi.

Diet Land – Currently streaming on Hulu – this show blew my mind. Exposing the dangers of ‘diet culture’ and also challenging the patriarchy. Really fun and lighthearted despite being dark with intense themes. Think Handmaids Tale meets The Devil Wears Prada.

Sahajan Balance Toner – Ok this one might not be a ‘disruptor’ per se, but I just LOVE the scent of this toner and how it makes my skin feel after – it is so beautiful and also makes me calm and happy.

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all images and content, unless otherwise noted, are property of zahra sandberg. Please request permission prior to use of any of my images. if you have further questions, email me at zahra{at}lovezahra{dot}com.