Rubbing Acetone On My Birkin | Patina Process | Part I

I’m showing you all my process for darkening my birkin in the vache naturelle leather. This is the first video in a series where you can follow me step by step as I attempt to speed up the patina process by striping the leather and then moisturizing with different oils and leather preservers. I’m not entirely sure how the bag will turn out since I’m an amateur at this, but it should be interesting to watch anyway.

In this video I start by striping the leather of it’s mysterious coating which has been preventing my previous oil applications from penetrating the leather. I’m using 100% pure acetone to strip the leather. Watch below:

My Recent Reads

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I wrote about books I’ve read so I thought I would share with you what I’ve been into this August and September.

 

     1. Elements of Etiquette by Craig Claiborne

This concise book on etiquette was written by famed restaurant critic, Craig Claiborne. What I liked about this book versus others that I have read is that it is relevant to today’s modern social situations. While it can be interesting to read about more obsolete social expectations from long ago, this practical and contemporary approach will give you the information you need to make the best decisions in today’s world.

     2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Don’t read this book with makeup on! It’s rare for a book to make me cry, but this one definitely did. Written by the late Randy Pausch, it encapsulates a lifetime of wisdom and lessons in a humorous tone despite the author’s knowledge that he will soon die due to cancer. This book is not emotional because of the author’s impending death — he has had way too much fun in his life to allow that too happen — but because of his acceptance and resiliency in spite of that. It’s a tear-jerker that teaches us to never forget our childish innocence and do whatever it takes to  live out our own fun and beautiful life.

3. Paris in Love by Eloisa James

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to live in Paris then all you have to do is read this book! This beautiful memoir captures the author’s Paris experience in a way that is both dream-like yet accurate. After living in France for two years myself, I can certainly say that I left my heart there and this novel brings back all of my own memories. It’s amazing how this book is so personal to the author and yet I find myself remembering my own experiences in her words.

4. What Islam Did For Us by Tim Wallace-Murphy

This book was not what I expected it to be. I was expecting to learn more about the inventions and discoveries in the field of medicine, mathematics and astronomy by Muslim scientists that I’ve heard so much about, but instead this book focuses heavily on the historical ties between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This is not necessarily a negative point, but based on the title it definitely wasn’t the subject matter I was expecting to read about. This is a great book for those who want to understand how each of the three religions have affected each other since ancient times until now.

That’s what I’ve read so far in the last two months. I’m open to recommendations for new books to read so feel free to comment. Watch my video to see what I’m currently reading and what I’m planning on reading soon!

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Cozy and Chic Fall Essentials

Fall is my favorite time of the year, although winter is a close second. Spring and summer seem to be received with much anticipation from nearly everybody, but personally, I can’t wait for fall – a time for contemplation, comfort and détente.

Take a look at what I like that puts me in that warm and cozy mood:

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1. CHANEL Rouge Double Intensité Ultra Wear Lip Color in Daring Red

Colder weather calls for deeper colors that warm up our color palette. What I love about this lip gloss is how long wearing it is. I can put it on at 7AM and it will keep lasting through meetings and lunches until around 4PM. My preferred way to wear it is as a stain by dabbing the color and spreading a thin layer all over my lips. That way I get the statement lip that I want but it is still appropriate for the workplace

2. ZARA Faux Suede Coat in Beige

The clean and minimalist look of this collarless coat is amplified by the soft ivory hue and gold button detail on the front and the sleeves. The material is ultra soft and provides just the right amount of warmth for the fall months without weighing you down.

3. ORIGINS Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask

Moisturizing the skin is important year around, but most definitely when temperatures start to drop. This mask has become part of my nightly routine due to its effectiveness at making my skin supple, soft and radiant.

4. Kabocha Squash

I purchase these at my local Korean market but I’ve been able to find them in any Asian market. Fall is the season for this squash and it’s my go-to breakfast and snack. It is a well-known Korean diet food due to its nutrient dense, low-calorie and low carbohydrate qualities. What I love is the taste of it – it is sweet and similar to a chestnut. I cut it in quarters, clean out the seeds and steam it over a colander for about 30 minutes until the entire squash is soft.

5. CHARLES by Charles David Shirley Herringbone Knit Booties

I purchased these during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and have been storing them until I could wear them in the appropriate weather. These are so comfortable and unique! They look so chic with any sort of cut of pant: skinny, straight leg, wide leg. The thick heel makes it easy for me to wear them on a daily basis too!

6. INGLOT O2M Breathable Nail Polish in 653

I always get compliments whenever I wear this color. While I’m not convinced that it’s “halal”, it’s still a great quality polish for that time of the month. I love how it brightens my skin up and makes  my hands look a bit more finished.

7. Sweet Potatoes

Along the same lines as the kabocha squash, sweet potatoes are in! I actually steam them at the same time to treat myself to a medley of fall flavors. I eat both of them without any accoutrements but popular toppings include butter with cinnamon and sugar, maple syrup, or even a bit of sea salt.

8. INAYAH High-Neck Jumpers

I have missed these warm and easy staples! I own five of them (black, mustard, charcoal, beige and navy blue) because they are so incredibly easy to wear and I can add layers such as a sleeveless trench to change up the look.

What fall staples do you look forward to using? Let me know!

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How I Stopped Shopping

I used to have a problem with purses.

I still absolutely love them and imagine that I always will, but at my worst, I was acquiring a new purse every month, feeling overwhelmed and guilty, and when I wasn’t spending every minute checking the delivery status of my online order, I was researching my next purchase. Suffice it to say, it was a giant waste of time, energy and money and I’m going to share with you what helped me break that cycle. Maybe this information will help you and although this information is specific to purses, I’m hoping that it can apply to other types of over-consumption of material goods.

1. Identify the why behind the action

This was the most challenging but most crucial step to overcoming my shopping addiction and it is vital that you take the time necessary to uncover and understand your own why. I knew that every addiction had a psychological compulsion to it and if I wanted any chance of changing my behavior, I had to figure out why I felt compelled to continually be in the cycle of obsessing and acquiring purses.

For about a week I didn’t focus on changing my behavior, but instead simply checked in with my emotions before I was engaging in the behavior I wanted to remove and wrote it down in a journal with the date and time.

I found that for the overwhelming majority of the time my primary emotion prior to engaging in the cycle was boredom. And evidently I was bored a lot of the time and purse shopping was my automatic reaction to snapping me out of that uncomfortable state.

2. Make it hard

After I understood that this was an easy distraction that I was getting sucked into, I made it not so easy by blocking all of the sites that I was stalking on my phone and laptop, unsubscribing from marketing emails, unsubscribing and unfollowing people on social media who promoted the type of lifestyle I was trying to eschew, and removing apps such as eBay from my phone. This forced me to get up and find something else to do when boredom hit.

3. Yield temptation

Everyone has certain things they like and that’s what makes us different and interesting. I love purses and I’ve come to accept that. I wasn’t attempting to completely remove them from my life and come out of this a one bag lady. I simply needed to find a more satisfying and sane way to engage with them.

There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde from “The Picture of Dorian Grey” that applies directly to this step, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”


If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I am all about allowing oneself the pleasure of what delights you and curating a life of elegance and style. Resisting and denying are very uncomfortable and exhausting states of mind that can only lead to  buckling under the burden and ultimately engaging with what you’ve attempted to resist in a way that is unpleasant and vulgar.

This is why I’ve allowed myself any bag purchase (in cash!) once a year. For me it was important that I give myself full reign to consider any bag I wanted because once I started putting limitations, I could start to feel the temptation beginning to pull me into make a decision that I may later regret. I can’t tell you how many times I would fall in lust with a bag because it was “exclusive” according to someone, purchase it and then turn around and sell it in the space of a couple of months. Giving myself the time to consider my purchase and make the right decision for me and not what is trendy was going to allow me to enjoy my purchase with only joy and excitement.

It’s so freeing to be able to see a beautiful bag and not feel that twinge of temptation gnawing at me. I can feel that admiration and love and then simply let it go either because I know I can eventually have it if I really want it (once a year!) or because I know that just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s for me. Now, when I purchase a handbag the experience is completely rewarding and fulfilling in a way that hundreds of my previous purses never could be. I hope that if you are struggling with a similar issue that some of these tips will help you see yourself out of that.

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Purse Rehab: Balenciaga Work Bag

There’s very few things in the world I love more than purses.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a full obsession with them. Despite my insatiable love for them, I don’t love the prices that come from buying them at retail. It is always much more satisfying to have a designer purse without the designer price. Not only is it more economical, but purchasing pre-loved goods is also environmentally friendly since you’re essentially recycling existing products.

Some of the best deals to get are ones that require a little more patience and elbow grease. I’m going to share my most recent purse rehab with you today: a black Balenciaga Work bag. I’ll show you what the damage was, how I fixed it and a before and after comparison.

The Damage

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Good leather but could use some conditioning and a fresh dye

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All 4 corners had the black rubbed off from normal wear
Resin was rubbed off from both handles
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More resin removed
 

The Materials

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Tarrago Black Leather Dye was used to touch up the corners and to dye the entire bag

I followed the instructions on the box and dyed the corners and the entire bag black. The good thing about repairing a black bag is that the dye is very easy to match. I dyed the bag in the evening and let it sit overnight to make sure it dried. The dye was not overly messy — it seemed to dry within a few minutes of the application, but I left it just to be safe.

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Fiebing’s Black Edge Kote was used to repair the resin

While the bag was drying from the dye I started touching up the handles. Again I followed the instructions on the box and let this dry overnight as well. This was probably the most time-consuming part of the process. The consistency is between glue and water so it would set into the crack where the leather met in the handle and I would have to apply more coats on top of it. I used a thin paintbrush to apply the Edge Kote and I lost count of how many coats I applied to get the right thickness, maybe 20 or so coats.

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Leather Honey was used to condition the leather as a final step

The next day once the Edge Kote and dye were dry I finished the job by applying Leather Honey to the entire bag. It really made a difference in the condition of the leather. It because much more supple and brought richness and depth to the color of the bag. I used a foam brush to apply the thick conditioner. Unlike others I’ve used that are very watery, this conditioner is truly the consistency of honey. Despite the thickness of the conditioner, my bag soaked it right up within a few minutes so I applied three coats all over and let it dry overnight.

The Final Product

The picture on the left is the after and the right is before. The pictures don’t show it very well, but the leather is more supple and moisturized and the color is richer and more pigmented.

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A larger after picture

Below is a picture that shows the difference better; I did not condition or dye the leather patch that is inside of the front pocket. Compared to the rest of the bag, the leather patch looks drier and faded.

The Edge Kote completely replaced the missing resin. Now the handles are properly protected from any further damage.

The dye worked perfectly on the corners.

The leather tassels often become bent and scraggly with time. I simply conditioned the tassels with the Leather Honey, let them dry overnight and then ironed them straight on the medium setting while protecting them between a hand towel. Worked like a charm!

And that’s it! I paid $275 on this pre-loved Balenciaga and invested about $25 into the leather dye, conditioner and Edge Kote to bring it back to great condition once again. For $300 I found myself a beautiful designer purse, saving a bundle and helping the environment by reusing what was already there. I hope this helped you see how these products work and maybe will encourage you to purchase a purse that you think is far too damaged but just simply needs a little repairing.

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Minimalist Maintenance: Jewelry

The second part of this series is dedicated to cleaning out my jewelry and keeping only those pieces that I love to wear. I was determined to give away anything that I didn’t wear or had lukewarm feeling about, so I actually ended up donating about 80% of my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Now my pieces are displayed in a pleasing manner that lets me truly enjoy and appreciate their beauty.

Take a look at the before and after:

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Not very appealing, is it?
Previously, I kept the bulk of my jewelry in this box. Everything from bracelets, anklets, necklaces, watches and earrings were tangled together which made it a headache to try and find what I wanted to wear. About 90% of everything here ended up being donated.

 

I found a lot of pieces that I hadn’t worn in about two or more years, so those definitely ended up going. The rest of them were no longer my style but were in perfect condition so I knew that someone else would get use out of them.

Now all of my jewelry is in my closet and put on display as if they are in a store. It’s so easy for me to see everything all at once and choosing my pieces for the day are so much more enjoyable!

 

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All of my jewelry in one spot and one glance!

 

This might have been the one of the more gratifying reorganizations that I completed. I just love how everything is easy to access, beautifully placed and of course, including the Hermes orange boxes and bags are a fun way to make use of them. One of these days I would like to upgrade the metal shelves to white wooden ones, but for the most part, I’m happy with my work. Now, getting ready in the morning is like going on a trip to the jewelry store and the best part is everything is already mine!

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