Tea love is a special kind of love. I find there are two types of tea lovers, the people who enjoy a good cup of tea, and the people who can’t live without their daily cup (or two, or three..) It’s my constant companion during good times and bad. Like a comfort blanket that is socially acceptable for adults.

It’s actually my obsessive love for tea that got me thinking about the possibility of planning a “tea-lovers getaway” to Victoria BC. Now this getaway is not be confused with a romantic getaway with your special someone. The special someone here is the tea.

high tea at the empress

Now that we’ve got that bit out of the way, let’s talk about the actual trip. I dreamt up this itinerary when Salma and I were in Victoria last year. We visited a number of tea places, but I also noticed a few others while we were walking around the city and thought how fun it would be to come back to Victoria just for the tea. If you are a fellow tea lover or want to plan a fun surprise for a tea lover in your life, check out my proposed itinerary/planning tips below.

*****************************************************

TEA LOVERS GETAWAY VICTORIA BC – ITINERARY SUGGESTION

GETTING THERE – 
Salma and I loved the experience of going to Victoria with Helijet, but for a tea lovers getaway, you’ll want to take BC Ferries. There’s something about a slow sailing start to the trip that feels perfect. Grab yourself a cup of tea at the on-board restaurant and head out to the exterior balcony or a viewing lounge, put your feet up and enjoy the view.

WHERE TO STAY –
The place to stay for your tea lovers trip is the Hotel Grand Pacific. They have a beautiful view of the Inner Harbour and the Parliament Buildings, and are walking distance from most of the tea experiences I’m going to suggest.

If you have little ones travelling with you, the Hotel Grand Pacific also offers a kids high-tea experience which I haven’t tried myself, but it looked pretty fun! Also if you need a palette cleanser between tea experiences, the coffee shop downstairs has a delicious hazelnut mocha (yes, I drink coffee too!)

***************************************************

the parliamentary dining room victoria 2

TEA EXPERIENCES
Too really soak in the city and enjoy your tea experiences, I would suggest choosing 2 maybe 3 places to visit each day. You’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to walk over to your next stop, and maybe do some window shopping along the way. The downtown core of Victoria is full of fun little places to poke around in.

EMPRESS HOTEL HIGH TEA
$75/pp (reservations required)

So this is the grand-daddy of high tea’s in Victoria, and there really is no comparison to the experience. If you can swing it, this is a must-do at least once in your life for tea lovers.  I wrote in-depth about my experience at the Empress in this post, but I do have to say – the tea to try here is the Earl Grey.

MURCHIE’S TEA
No set price, order off the menu

I absolutely love the tea, pastries, and ambiance of Murchie’s on Government Street. In my opinion, they make the best London Fog in BC. I ordered a lavender London Fog the last time I was there, and it was spectacular! They also have the most amazing collection of tea related knick-knacks, tea cups, and teapots. They sell loose leaf teas to go also.

THE BUTCHART GARDENS AFTERNOON TEA
$38.75/pp (reservations highly recommended, especially in peak season)

Full disclosure, I have not been to this tea myself, but I’ve only heard great things! The menu looks amazing, and I can’t imagine a better setting. Since The Butchart Gardens are outside of the central area of Victoria, you’ll need to arrange for transportation. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to walk around the actual gardens after tea. This could be a full day experience too.

TEA AT THE PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
No set price, order off the menu

This really was the best discovery that Salma and I made on our trip to Victoria. The Parliament Buildings have a little dining room where you can order the most amazing pastries, and they have a special blend of house tea – it was so good! This is a must-do for tea lovers. After you enjoy your pastries, be sure to visit the inside of the Parliament Buildings too, they are beautiful!

THE TEAHOUSE AT ABKHAZI GARDEN
$12-35 p/p depending on selection

I ducked into this beautiful garden setting for a cup of tea when I was in Victoria for work a few years ago. Although I never sampled the full high tea menu, I do remember loving the ambiance and location. (It’s just a few blocks from the Hotel Grand). If nothing else, you have to visit this tea house to get all the romantic feels – it is after all inspired by a true story of a prince and his princess. (#hopelessromantic, I know)

SILK ROAD TEA

There is no actual tea service at Silk Road, but I still think it is worth a visit for tea lovers. They carry and exceptional range of loose leaf teas, and the staff are so knowledgeable. I enjoyed learning about the correct brewing times and storage for many of my favourite teas. They also have so many different types of tea, you are sure to find something to take home with you!

If you are planning a trip to Victoria soon, be sure to check out the site for Tourism Victoria for lots of great tips, itinerary suggestions, and loads of information on where to eat and play!

 

  

Follow:

The most stressful part of a 30 for 30 wardrobe challenge? Without a doubt it’s choosing your 30 pieces. These are the clothes that you are married to for the next 30 days, you are literally taking a vow to be together until death (or laundry) do you part. Dramatic yes, true, possibly.

moms 30 for 30 {Seriously old picture from my ‘fashion blogger’ days. One part DIY, two parts remix.}

I know, my humour could use some work, thankfully, I still have my fashion sense right? So on that note – I chose my 30 pieces for this round of the #Moms30for30. Before I share my not great photos, I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips on what to choose if you are joining us for this round.

TIPS ON CHOOSING YOUR 30 FOR 3O PIECES:

  1. Make sure it fits and you like it! There is nothing worse than adding white jean capris to your 30 for 30 choices and realizing on day 3 that they don’t fit anymore. (This happened to someone I know, not me.)
  2. Do not shop outside your closet. If you read my intro post, you already no the only rule to participate was owning 30 pieces of clothing. You must pick from what you own – no shopping for the challenge!
  3. Mix it up – a few easy to style pieces, and a few tough ones. As much as the wardrobe remix challenge is about creating new outfits, be sure to have a few easy pieces like jeans and a couple of tee shirts, for days when you’ve got serious mom brain.
  4. Choose more bottoms than tops. Just trust me on this one
  5. If you are choosing dresses don’t forget to add a few cardigans or blazers. Your arms will thank you on chilly evenings.
  6. Organize your accessories before the challenge starts. I find the #Moms30for30 is the perfect time to pull out my accessories and shoes and see if I can actually use them. I usually end up purging my accessories just before or after a wardrobe challenge.

MY THOUGHTS FOR THIS ROUND:

So it’s been a while since I completed a 30 for 30 challenge, and I’ve become pretty boring in the way I dress since I first started blogging. That’s partly because my work is busier and I don’t blog about fashion anymore, but it also has to do with not being happy about my weight at the moment. So  my goal for this round of the #Moms30for30 is start enjoying dressing up again. I used to love planning outfits and taking pictures, and I really want to get over my stress about looking hippy, and my newly acquired double chin and just enjoy the process.

I actually didn’t put too much thought into my choices this time and just grabbed some things that fit. I did take pictures of everything, but did a horrible job with laying them out and sizing them. I am sharing them below so you can keep me honest, but advance apologies about some of them being cut off!

***********************************************************

10 TOPS:

5 BOTTOMS:

4 SKIRTS:

5 DRESSES:

6 CARDIGANS/BLAZERS/JACKETS

 

Follow:

A few weeks ago Salma wrote a post about upcoming movies for The South Asian Buzz, and while doing some research she found a book suggestion for me – Karachi You Are Killing Me by Saba Imtiaz. The book was being adapted into a movie called Noor, featuring one of my current fav actresses Sonakshi Sinha. I was instantly interested. I’ve never read a desi novel, and then seen the movie, so I was excited!! (I’m a super geek and easily excitable).

noor movie review, noor, karachi you are killing me

KARACHI YOU ARE KILLING ME – THE BOOK

I tried to find the novel at local bookstores or libraries, but it was not available so I ended up ordering an e-copy for my Kindle. Reading on my Kindle is my least favourite way to consume books, but it comes in handy for times like this. The book started off kind of interesting. The heroine is this bad-ass, no-holds barred kind of girl. She’s a 20 year old journalist trying to prove herself in the media world of Karachi. I really wanted to like her, but I couldn’t. Maybe it was the smoking, drinking, and drugs (none of these things signal cool and independent to me), but I never really believed in her capabilities as a journalist.

The book itself was a little young for me too. It was like The Shopaholic meets Nancy Drew, but set in this gritty, corrupt backdrop of Karachi, very confusing. In fact, I thought maybe I just didn’t get Karachi so I reached out to my friend Sarah who grew up in the city. I had to ask – was this really what Karachi was like, all sex, drugs, and chain smokers? Sarah’s take on the book was it represents about 2% of the population who has the money to live this lifestyle. Apparently the lifestyle does exist there, but the average Joe will never come across it. This got me even more confused, because the main character in the book is from a middle class family and cribbing about finding 200 rupees for a rickshaw – how did she become a wine drinking, party goer on that budget, and those sensibilities?

In short, the book was not for me, however, if you are from the city or grew up in Pakistan, there maybe some nostalgia and nuances I couldn’t connect with.

NOOR – THE MOVIE

Guys, this is the first time I’ve ever said this in my life; the movie was better than the book! Where I couldn’t connect with Ayesha at all, I instantly felt Noor’s struggle to be something, achieve more in life (kudos to Sonakshi’s acting, and the dialogues for this).

Where the book fell short in building up the characters around Ayesha, the movie gave Noor a strong willed boss, a silent but supportive father, and damn hot and intriguing boyfriend (versus some random white guy thrown into the mix). The movie also took out a lot of the unnecessary filler copy that the first half of the book was peppered with (weird fashion shows, religious protests, baby lion cubs etc).

If you are going to see the movie, I will give you this caveat, it’s still a “girl movie”. It’s very endearing, funny, and has a strong message – Sonakshi killed it in her Mumbai You Are Killing Me Speech, but it is a chick flick. Grab a group of girlfriends, head to the theatre and support girl bosses like Sonakshi and Saba Imtiaz for bringing these types of movies to the masses!

Follow:

I know what you are thinking – life is challenging enough, why would I add the stress of a wardrobe challenge? Trust me though, if you’ve never done a 30 for 30 challenge it’s something you need to try. I can’t tell you how much this challenge helps me with understanding my personal style, the best looks for my body shape, and keeping my closet clutter under control. I’m not a capsule wardrobe girl, and I’m never going on a shopping ban again, but I do enjoy testing my fashion props for 30 days, and figuring out which pieces of clothing are no longer serving a purpose in my closet.

moms 30 for 30, 30 for 30 remix, 30 for 30 challenge

So know that I’ve got you interested, I know you are dying to ask; WHAT THE HECK IS A 30 FOR 30 CHALLENGE RAJ? Not to worry, I’ve got that covered for you, I promise. Read on for a background on the original 30 for 30, the inspiration for our Moms 30 for 30, and seven reasons you should participate in the next round which starts on May 1st. Here we go.

****************************************************************

WHAT IS A 30 FOR 3O CHALLENGE?

The original 3o for 3o challenge was started by Kendi of Kendi Everyday. She started a fashion blog years ago, and quickly found that she was shopping way too often and buying too many clothes that looked good on the blog but she didn’t need. She challenged herself to go on a shopping ban for 30 days. During the same month, she worked with 30 pre-selected items from her wardrobe (including shoes) and created 30 outfits – genius! This experiment sparked a movement of sorts, and fashion bloggers all around the world have participated in these challenges. I actually did my first challenge with Kendi back in 2011!

http://www.kendieveryday.com/

WHAT IS THE MOMS 30 FOR 30?

It’s pretty much the exact same thing as above except it’s hosted by a couple of moms who are out to prove that mom style is pretty cool too. A few years ago Shawna from Simple on Purpose convinced a few mom bloggers to give the 30 for 30 challenge a try, and the #Moms30for30 was born.

30 FOR 30 RULES:

? You must own at least 30 pieces of clothes. (We don’t count shoes our accessories in our 30 pieces)

? You don’t have to be a mom

? It’s more fun if you post pics of your outfits on Instagram or your blog and use the tag #moms30for30 so we can all cheer you on, but it’s perfectly acceptable to do in private for yourself.

****************************************************************

moms 30 for 30, 30 for 30 remix

moms 30 for 30

WHY SHOULD I DO A 3O FOR 3O CHALLENGE?

Let me give you seven reasons – I bet you didn’t see some of these coming!

  1. It forces you try on everything in your closet and choose your favourite 30 pieces. Trust me, this is an eye-opening experience and really shows you how much excess you own.
  2. Less laundry for one month. Or you will be forced to do your laundry more frequently because you really want to wear jeans and you only chose one pair for the challenge. (This has literally never happened to me)
  3. It stretches your creativity. You’ll understand this one around day 21 when you are looking at the same jeans mentioned above.
  4. It’s really fun, and you get to connect with a community of moms that are playing along!
  5. It builds your confidence. Spending an entire month creating outfits and taking pictures of yourself in them is a great experience. You will definitely have a little more pep in your step by the end of the month.
  6. Increased blog traffic/Instagram interaction. If you are a blogger, this really is a great challenge to get involved in.
  7. A deeper understanding of your personal style. Jokes apart, this is the real and best reason to participate in the Moms 30 for 30 challenge. You’ll start to see patterns in the type of outfits you like yourself in, and this will make future shopping sessions so much easier. You’ll also see some pictures of yourself and realize those outfits don’t look that great – and that’s okay, we all love you no matter how many times you wear that crazy baggy cardigan lady. (That last line was kind of self-talk).moms 30 for 30, 30 for 30 wardrobe remix

So there you have it, all the rules, and all the reasons you should participate. If you want to get on board, please leave a link to your Instagram profile so that I can follow along! Not sure what pieces to choose? Swing by tomorrow to see my picks … I’m just waiting for my jeans to dry already!!

 


Follow:

diy payal, jhanjra, jhanranPayal (or jhanjran as they were called in my traditional Punjabi home), are anklets worn by Indian women, and usually have ghungroo  attached to them. Ghungroo are little bell shaped baubles that make noise as you walk. Depending on the number and size of ghungroo your payal could give off a demure romantic chime, or announce loud and clear that you are on your way into the room!

I’ve loved payal since I was a little girl and wore them pretty much religiously until I was about 17 years old. That summer I went to visit some family in London and one of my older ‘cooler’ cousins told me they sound like cowbells. I was young and impressionable, so from that point on I only wore them to Indian parties where the sound of the blaring music would drown out the ‘cham- cham’ of my payal. 

Earlier this year I was showing off my city to a few girlfriends, and while shopping I spotted a pair of beautiful pink and gold stone payal, and my love affair was rekindled. I probably haven’t gone a day since then without wearing a pair, and have been itching to buy more. Of course this leads us to today’s project: DIY payal. 

Th ese are the simplest type of payal you can make, and it took me about 15 minutes to make this set! Honestly, the hardest part of this diy was finding an Indian store that would sell me these ghungroo. diy payal pink chai living

DIY Payal

Supplies
Gold chain
Jump rings
Lobster clasp
Individual ghungroo (try your local Indian shops, if that doesn’t work you can order online)
Jewellery pliers

If you are new to jewelry making projects you can always check out the dollar store before investing in a lot of supplies. I’ve seen a lot of tools there recently, and it’s a great way to test out a hobby before committing.

Stepsdiy payal pink chai livingStart by cutting your gold chain to the length you want you payal to be. I used a pair I already had to measure, If you don’t have a pair, just wrap the chain around your ankle and size it. 

Next, decide how much space you want between each of your ghungroo. I went this 1.25″. I decided to eyeball the spacing all the way around. If you want a more precise look, use a Sharpie to mark the exact spacing.

Now we start adding the individual ghungroo…diy payalStart by opening the jump ring with your plier and slip it through the ghungroo.diy payalInsert the jump ring through the chain at your pre-determined intervals and squeeze the ring closed. Don’t apply too much pressure when closing or the jump ring will loose it’s shape or break.  Continue adding ghungroo until you get to the end of the chain, then add a lobster clasp.diy payalThe lobster clasp finishes the payal on the ends. I would suggest buying a better quality lobster clasp from your local bead store or Michael’s. The dollar store version doesn’t cut it. 

Just like that you are ready to hit the road and rock your new payal with a pair of cute mojris {Punjabi shoes}diy payal

 

Images by: Aziz Dhamani

PS: I also pair my payal with high heels which I think is a perfect evening look!

Follow: