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Hi everyone, as promised in my previous post, I'm super excited to announce my collaboration with Linen & More. If you haven't heard of it, you should definitely visit this Singapore-based store in person. Think boho chic as well as trendy dresses, tunics, and summery kaftans that can be worn for everyday wear or dressy occasions (check out their website here).

The blue kaftan I'm wearing below is from the Beach collection - Love the pom-pom detailing, the bright blue color, and the comfy fit! It's actually not a maternity dress but you can see I've made it work for me! I've worn it as a casual summery dress but you could also wear use it as a cover-up over your bathing suit. There's a drawstring in the front which can make the kaftan more fitted on you ladies with more svelte figures. I find it a very flattering and versatile piece, and in the tropical Singapore weather, you won't lack for occasions to wear this.

This is the giveaway dress, and the winner would receive a new piece with the choice of this kaftan in blue or pink color from the store. To enter the giveaway, please do the following:
1. Follow my instagram handle: @urbanmantra1
2. Follow the sponsor on instagram: @linennmore
2. Tag 2 friends on my post about this giveaway on instagram

The winner of the giveaway will be announced on June 30, 2017.

 Blue kaftan from Linen & More | Purse from Nine West | Arm cuff from Accessory Concierge | Shades Raybans | Earrings from Lovisa | Shoes from Charles & Keith

Hello everyone! Isn't this pink turtle dress the cutest? It also perfectly embodies my current physical state. Now at 37 weeks, I'm literally moving around slowly like a turtle! This dress is actually a regular dress that I styled for my maternity look. The dress is from Linen & More, a Singapore-based store that houses a lovely collection of linen and cotton dresses, tunics, and kaftans. The owner, Manisha, sources high-quality linen and cotton material directly from India to create a very wearable collection of clothes with beautiful colors and embroidery. I'm really excited because I'll be sharing a collaboration with Linen & More really soon - so stay tuned for an awesome giveaway coming up!

Pink Turtle Dress from Linen & More | Rope bangles from Ammos Accessories |
Earrings from Lovisa | Sunglasses from Emporio Armani | Pink pumps from Charles & Keith

Do you ever feel like the more globalized we become in our world, the more distant we seem to get from our roots and culture? Growing up in Thailand, I have fond memories of reading Amar Chitra Katha (tales of Indian mythology) and listening with rapt attention to the epic stories of the Ramayan and Mahabharat as told by my mother. Our cultural stories, whether they were gleaned off books or recited verbally, were the key that transported me to another world and time. I may not have realized it at that age but these stories and mythologies cultivated in me an awareness and an appreciation of for rich cultural values, religion, and heritage.

Fast forward decades later...Living in Singapore now, I try to make a conscious effort to keep my own son in touch with his Indian language, culture and heritage. Among the many ways I do so is through the power and magic of books. I've acquired a mini-collection of storybooks by Indian authors who are attempting to bring the same stories that we grew up with in a fun, vibrant, and more relatable way for younger children. Below are some of my top picks of Indian cultural storybooks for kids (age range 3+).

1. Meet My Hindu Gods by Reena Puri and Mital Telhan: This book is among my faves! It serves as a great introductory book to the Hindu gods for the little ones (toddlers/preschoolers). I have to commend the book for its adorable illustrations of Hindu gods and its simplistic yet meaningful description of what each god represents. Krishna, Ganesh, Hanuman, Saraswati, Ram & Sita... they're all there! Do check out desibabiesonline.com to learn more about how to get the book along with other fun stuff, such as My First Indian Coloring Book (I have that too!). For all our Singapore readers and friends: The authors Reena and Mital were kind enough to offer a heavy discount shipping rate to Singapore so please do contact me if you're interested! 

2. Hurray for Diwali by Anita Raina Thapan: My 3.5 year old has made me read this book so many times that he can almost recite the book by heart. The book gives me nostalgia of my own childhood memories of Diwali, capturing the excitement of lighting firecrackers and receiving sweets and gifts on this special festival. At the same time, the book reminds us of the importance of family and of sharing & giving on this occasion. I would say this book is appropriate for ages 3 and up.

3. Ganesha's Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes: Bright, eye-catching colors leap off the page in this zany book that relates the story of how Ganesha broke his tusk and eventually came to write the epic story of the Mahabharat. The book isn't entirely based on the original mythology as the authors lend their own twist to the story. Funny and entertaining for sure! This book is suitable for preschoolers up to those in grade 3.

4. Little Hanuman by Anita Raina Thapan: Another book by the same author as Hurray for Diwali, this one retells the story of little Hanuman. As the son of the Wind God Vayu, he used his might and powers for playful and naughty tricks as a child (remember the story about how he ate the sun thinking it was a juicy mango?). My son thoroughly enjoys listening to the funny antics of little Hanuman described in the book. Ultimately, the book connects the story back to how little Hanuman eventually grew up to become the greatest devotee of Ram. Appropriate for ages 3 and up.

5. Amma Tell Me series by Bhakti Mathur: The author decided to create this book series when she struggled to find books on Hindu mythology and festivals for her own children. While I only have one of the books from the series (on Hanuman), there are several more on the different Hindu festivals and Hindu gods. The book is suitable for children ages 3-9.

What are your favorite Indian storybooks for your children? Please do share, I would love to know!
It's not often that we get to be up close to nature and animals in the urban cities we live in. Mother's Day already passed two weeks ago but I'm still fondly remembering the family brunch we had at Rider's Cafe. The cafe is located in a unique spot, removed from the urban city area and amidst lush greenery. Located right next to the Bukit Timah Saddle Club, Rider's Cafe is a fantastic place to have a weekend brunch while overlooking the green slopes and open spaces. I also love coming here because there's something to keep kids entertained. They can get free pony rides, walk around the stables and feed the horses standing lazily about. The horses have the cutest names too, like Muffin, Soldier, and Frosty!

Dress from India | Purse from Calvin Klein | Earrings from Lovisa | Sunglasses from Ralph Lauren
Smiling away as he enjoys his ride on Lily the Pony
All smiles after his delicious brunch and pony ride!
You guys, maxi dresses are the best when you're preggers! I got this Island Shop dress (not maternity, mind you) during my first trimester when my bump was barely showing. But I bought the dress in a bigger size, knowing well that it'll be handy later down the road when all other clothing will refuse to fit me! Sure enough, during the final stages of my third trimester, this dress has become a closet staple. It's made of a light fabric which is super breathable and comfy - an important distinction in this humid, tropical weather in Singapore! Island Shop (locations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand) has a nice collection of casual and beach wear that embodies the tropical, island style. I've been able to get mileage out of this maxi dress at work by pairing it with a structured denim jacket, for evening dinners with heels and a nice clutch, and for casual weekend wear with cute sandals. The best part? Since it isn't a maternity dress, I can still wear it after the baby arrives! Win-win.

By the way, this dress isn't the only non-maternity item of clothing that I've been making work for me. I have 2 pairs of regular jeans from Zara that I purchased at bigger sizes and I wear them with a belly band (see here and here).  I got a white top from Forever 21 which I wear often for work (paired with a blazer) or casually outside of work (see post here). Then the pink embroidered dress from Mogra Designs is another example (see post here). They are still wearable and comfortable even at this late stage in my pregnancy.

So bottom line for making non-maternity clothes work for you? Pick items that you foresee as being closet staples. Then buy them at a size bigger than your current state. A-line or roomy dresses, blazers, jeans, and loose tops are articles of clothing you will potentially wear throughout your pregnancy...so you don't always need to specifically shop from a maternity store for them. Just make sure they suit your body shape and don't make you appear like you're wearing a tent. Pregnancy is no excuse for looking frumpy! Lastly, these clothes can always be adjusted post-pregnancy with tailoring, as needed.

Thank you Kamana from SocialandStyle for patiently taking these pictures for me! :)

Dress, belt, and bracelet by Island Shop | Shoes by Charles & Keith |
Crossbody purse by Coach | Sunglasses by Emporio Armani | Watch by Kate Spade