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Munching away on the sweet potato pancakes from Fusspot & Foodie
With the end of August fast approaching, it’s “back to school” season! I can’t believe that my older son is almost 5 and will be starting kindergarten! The start of the new school year is upon us, and I’m already in “mom preparation mode” for Krishnav’s daily school lunch box. As a working mom, I don’t have the time to necessarily cook everything, nor would I like to send him with too many processed, packaged foods. Like any mom, I fret about what my son will eat and whether he will eat enough in school. What food items are easy to prepare and uncomplicated to eat? Which snacks are healthy but still delicious for him? 

Fusspot & Foodie has been the convenient solution I was looking for. Probably the only meal kit and catering setup in Singapore designed specifically for kids, Fusspot & Foodie provides healthy, wholesome, kid-friendly meals and snack options. The food items are planned and cooked using fresh ingredients. As a parent, all I need to think about is going on the Fusspot & Foodie website and picking out what I’d like to order as and when I need it (food arrives 1 week from the time order is placed). I first learned about Fusspost & Foodie through their Instagram and fell in love with their fun food creations and recipe ideas. Since then, I have met and spoken to Founder and Head Chef Tanya Soman who is extremely passionate about her business and the idea of building a healthy and positive approach to eating in children. I’ve had the chance to order a few meal kits for Krishnav to try and he’s given it a thumbs-up (no mean feat for a “fusspot”!). As it turns out, even my 13-month old has enjoyed munching on the foods we’ve ordered.
The blackbean brownies are a favorite in our household!
So what have we tried and liked? We’ve ordered the blackbean brownie and sweet potato pancakes (both of which are a particular favorite among my boys!), fish patties, homemade hummus, pasta sauce, and falafel. I can’t wait to try their Superfood Chocolate Sauce next. Made with organic cacao (hello antioxidants!), organic cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil (healthy fats and naturally antibacterial) and organic Australian honey,it sounds divine! I know Krishnav would love it with his pancakes, added to his milk for flavoring, or drizzled over fruit kebobs!

I’m sure us moms can all find ways to make our lives a little more manageable. Having a few healthy options for snacks or meals ready in the fridge has been a lifesaver for us. Definitely recommend trying it out.

Fusspot & Foodie also provides catering for kids birthday parties. Says Tanya Soman, “Deep fried snacks, high sugar treats and empty calorie sweet beverages are the standard items at children's parties today. Fusspot & Foodie wants to change the way kids eat at parties. Our menu's are proof that 'party food' doesn't have to be 'junk food'. It can be made with fresh veggies, fruit & whole-grains while being creative and fun so kids truly enjoy it!”

You can use the discount code URBANMANTRA10 to get 10% off one item on www.FusspotandFoodie.com. Happy, healthy eating!

The two pictures above were provided courtesy of Fusspot & Foodie.
We're half-way through the middle of the year and I just can't believe where the time has flown by. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will know that I mentioned that I've had a hectic last few months with several work and personal things all going on at the same time - an upcoming apartment move, a school change for Krishnav, work travels, personal vacations, work on pending tasks which had been put off for too long, etc. I tell myself to take each day as it comes. And to look good while doing it! So here goes my June 2018 look book!

Look 1: This boho top with the flared sleeves adds a dramatic effect to what would otherwise be a boring black outfit. I paired it with a black pencil skirt and tied a bright belt and added a colorful clutch to add that needed pop of color. Voila! I can imagine wearing this top in a more casual setting with a pair of blue jeans and sandals too.
Boho blouse from ShopBop | Pencil skirt from H&M (old) | Juicy Couture belt | Shoes from VNC in Bangkok (old) | Georgio Armani sunglasses | Clutch from Mumbai

Look 2: I've always seen white on white look good on others but couldn't figure out how to make it work for me. Then I realized it's about combining different textures and shades of white. This gold polka dot, ruffled top paired with white jeans works and is complimented with the brown tones seen with the shoes and bag. Clean and simple look but still with a style factor to it.
SheIn Gold Dot Print Top | Espirit white stretch jeans | Charles & Keith shoes | Burberry purse

Look 3: I love this checked skirt from H&M. I bought it when I was on maternity leave last year but it wasn't fitting me then. Now that I've lost a bit of the postpartum weight (still a long way to go!), I'm able to fit into the skirt. I opted to keep things simple with a solid black top. What might also look good is print-mixing the checked skirt with another printed top. Something to try for next time! Throw in the tassel earrings for a fun addition to the look and you're good to go. This is an outfit I wore to work earlier this month. 
H&M checked skirt (no longer available) | Forever 21 black top (old) |
Staccato flats | Just Gaya's white tassel earrings | Miu Miu purse
 (similar here)

Look 4: It's okay to be matchy-matchy but sometimes I just like to throw in an unexpected element to a look. This floral dress is pretty and sweet. But the green bag, although it doesn't match at all, still adds something interesting and unexpected to the look. Some might say it works, some wouldn't. But hey, it's just a bag. So let's not overthink it, right?

Pink Floral Print Dress from Lulu's (no longer available) | Marc Jacobs cross body bag | Charles & Keith shoes | Ralph Lauren sunglasses (old)

Look 5: Living in a tropical place like Singapore means you're able to get away with wearing clothes which have a summery, beachy vibe to them. This smock dress with the watermelon-shaped straw clutch and pom-pom sandals looks like I could be vacationing somewhere in a tropical beach destination. But nope, it's just a regular chill day in Singapore. This dress is simple but the pop of bubblegum pink stands out. I threw in some accent accessories for fun. I love this look!
Vero Moda Tiered Off-Shoulder Midi Dress | Ammos Accessories Atalanta sandals |
Clutch from Zhai Eco Collection

Look 5: June was also the month that my little baby-boo turned ONE! Yes, what a milestone! I can't believe it's been a year since this little butterball entered our lives and enriched it with his dimpled smiles and mischievous laughter. We celebrated with our family in Bangkok with a party! I chose to wear this light yellow Indowestern outfit purchased from a boutique in Bangkok. Additional tailoring touches were thrown in for a better fit and look. I love the embroidered design on the dupatta stole and on the dress itself. 

Mallika's Boutique in Bangkok

Now your turn to talk: Which of these 6 looks did you like best? I'd love to know! 
How do you travel light and yet manage to create different looks and outfits while on vacation? The key is to bring articles of clothing or accessories that can be reworn in different permutations and combinations. It’s simple enough to do. All it requires is a bit of advance planning while packing instead of dumping everything into your suitcase!

If I had to break it down into 4 simple steps, I’d say:

1. Bring 1-2 purses that can go with almost all outfits. I like to bring one big handbag for the flights and for carrying lots of items when out and about during the day. Then I also bring a smaller one for the evening occasions/dinner when you don't need to carry everything under the sun. 

2. Bring up to 2 pairs of shoes that can go with almost all outfits - perhaps a pair of cute, trendy flats and a pair of comfy sneakers. Maybe one pair of heels if you expect to be dressing up for an evening out.

3. Bring bottoms (pants, shorts, etc) that can be mixed and matched with different tops. So basically, the ratio of tops to bottoms should generally be 3:1.

4. Bring one piece of accessory that can elevate your look. It can be anything, like a cute hat, a headscarf (which can be worn any number of ways!), or a cool pair of sunglasses! 

I’m sharing some of the outfits I wore on a recent trip to Bali. You’ll notice that I really only carried 2 pairs of shoes and 2 verstatile purses (one was more of a travel day bag, the other a clutch). Incidentally, I seem to be wearing yellows and blues a lot but that was entirely unplanned!

Look 1:
I love the idea of elevating a "shorts and tee" look with a slouchy blazer. You've seen me feature this Bershka yellow blazer on the blog before. This time, I wore it in a more casual setting and dressed it down with white sneakers. Comfy yet chic. 

Uniqlo eyelet shorts | Zara sleeveless blouse (old) | Bershka blazer | Calvin Klein handbag | Rubi shoes | Charles & Keith sunglasses 

Look 2:
While on vacation in a tropical clime, shorts are the way to go. I loved the Uniqlo eyelet shorts in black (worn above) so much that I bought a pair in white! I paired that with a gingham top purchased online a while ago (I can't even recall where, to be honest) and cute pom-pom sandals from Ammos Accessories. 
Uniqlo eyelet shorts | Gingham blouse (old) | Ammos Accessories Atalanta sandals |
Hat from Singapore street shopping 

Look 3:
Here I wore an old Club Monaco dress bought several seasons ago along the hat and sandals previously seen above along with my watermelon clutch 

Club Monaco dress (old) | Hat and sandals linked in pictures above |
Watermelon clutch from FoliAge Singapore

Look 4:
I fell in love with these harem pants from Baliza. Made of 100% organic cotton, the design and pattern of these pants is so sweet and pretty! Baliza is a store that makes comfortable and trendy beach and resortwear collections while working with and supporting women from disadvantaged communities. These pants were the perfect item to pack for this trip and I paired it with a casual top embroidered top from Uniqlo. Also, notice how those sandals made a reappearance? 

Uniqlo Cotton embroidered blouse | Harem pants pink flowers from Baliza 

Look 5:
Last but not least, you can never go wrong with a pair of jeans and a casual top. Pair it with white sneakers and a cute clutch and you're ready to go for a walk around the beach town or visiting temples.

ESP Jeans | Bow top from SheInside (old) | Watermelon clutch and sneakers mentioned above 

Another month, another lookbook! Let’s get to it…

A summer dress that can double as a beach cover-up…or a beach cover-up that can double as a summer dress? Either way, it works! I got this cute, tasseled dress from Edit Lifestyle, a store in Singapore which has an amazing collection of summery, beach outfits and resortwear. The straw bag is from the store too. The items in Edit Lifestyle are on the pricier side but if you really like something, it may be worth a splurge. Or better yet, wait for their sales or check out their in-store sales rack!

Edit Lifestyle Dress & Straw bag 
Yet another SheIn dress that's a winner in my book. This bright mustard yellow dress (only $17!) is great for dressing up with heels or down with flat sandals. I paired it with this embroidered clutch purchased from Ammos Accessories, an Australian-based online store which has a great collection of boho chic accessories.

SheIn Ruffled Hem Dress | Clutch from Ammos Accessories (this one is no longer available online but similar here) | Zara necklace (an old purchase) | Charles & Keith heels
I talked about this Kate Spade dress when I shared this photo on Instagram. I loved the dress when I saw it on a trip to Hong Kong but it was too expensive to buy. So instead, I waited out for a sale and bought it on eBay for a much lower price. I guess the dress has a gypsy, boho vibe to it. But the flowy, feminine look of the dress makes me feel great!

Kate Spade Marigold dress | Purse from Mumbai street shopping | Charles & Keith heels
Bimba Y Lola is a store I equate with bright colors and a mod, funky design aesthetic. Found on sale, I really liked this blouse for its colors and keyhole slit in the front. You can wear almost any color bottom with it because the top itself has many colors to play against. I usually like wearing it to work with black pants or with casual denims for a weekend outing.

Bimba Y Lola blouse (no longer available) | Zara denim jeans | YSL purse | Charles & Keith shoes
Make your closet work for you with styling the same piece in different ways. The top I’m wearing here is actually a dress (an old summer dress that I purchased online from Lulu's. Side note/FYI: this store has cute stuff and they do free international shipping for orders over $150 USD, otherwise $15 for economy shipping). I just wore a black midi skirt with it and threw on some pink heels to complete this look, which I work to work the day this picture was taken. The key to wearing dresses as tops is that the dress itself should not be too thick so as to avoid adding bulk to your look.
BB Dakota Pauline Black Shift Dress from Lulu's | Mango black midi skirt | 
Charles & Keith shoes | Michael Kors purse
FashMob is a nice online site for shopping for affordable, on-trend apparel. I was drawn to this magenta dress right away. The sash detail is really unique (you can tie it in the front as a bow or in the back – your choice) and the cut is very flattering. It makes for a great cocktail dress or for any dressy event. The tassle earrings and ikat cluth (made with Uzbekistan silk material) is from Just Gaya’s, another online store based in Singapore with an amazing collection of accessories. 

FashMob Akira Sash Dress | Just Gaya's clutch and tier tassel earrings |
Charles & Keith cuff and heels

I’ve received a lot of compliments on the Juicy Couture skirt that I posted on Instagram a couple weeks ago. I also talked about it on my March Look Book here. Indeed, this pleated maxi skirt is so pretty. I love how feminine and girly it makes me feel!

Polka dots are timeless and depending on how you dress it up, you can achieve a vintage mod look or a modern chic look. Here I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite polka dot bottoms (pants or skirt).

FashMob: I love this Singapore-based online store for its stylish and very affordable collection of clothes. I’m loving the Hamilton Polka Dot Pants for under $40. They are perfect for wearing to work with a blouse or for a casual weekend look.

Mango: This black and white polka dot skirt gets edgy with a fringe design. I’m totally loving the unexpectedness of the fringe to the whole look. Keep it simple with a plain white or black blouse. This skirt costs $89.90.

Zaful: This blue midi-skirt with white polka dots has a mod-look to it. I love the button-down design and pocket detail on it. I can imagine styling it with espadrilles, a hat, a cropped yellow tee or button down blouse with the front knotted up. You can see one type of styling of the skirt here. Being under $25, you can’t fight this price point! (P.S. – Zaful does free international deliveries, including in Asia, for orders over USD $49).

ASOS Bandeau Bow Front Dress: This online store is my go-to source for my closet essentials and on-trend clothes at prices that don't bust the budget. So this next item isn't a skirt or pants but I just found this bandeau polka dot dress super cute (under $50). So perfect for a summer vacation outfit or for a casual weekend look. For cooler temperatures or for modesty, you can throw on a denim jacket or a colored cardigan (basically using one of the colors of the polka dots - a red or pink cardigan would look great!)

ASOS Wrap Skirt: Go to any store these days and you'll notice a wrap skirt. They're trending right now and are quite flattering on most shapes. I quite liked this mini-wrap skirt with its polka dot design. You can opt to keep it monochromatic with a top that is gray, black, or white in color. Or go with a mustard yellow or red top for a more fun look! 

You'll notice from my picks that I prefer the smaller polka dot designs. It's just a pattern I'm drawn to more so than the large polka dots. Just a personal preference! What about you? Tell me which of these picks you liked best!

Photo credit via websites links provided