My love-and-hate relationship with my new Apple Watch.

A gift for my birthday, I don’t know whether to love it or hate it. Yes I still have mixed emotions about my new Apple Watch. Why? For so many reasons. But let us start first things first.

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Undoubtedly the Apple Watch is beautiful. Personally I have a thing with oversized square-shaped watches and my dream watch is the Cartier Tank MC (did I just dare to compare the Watch with the Tank MC? Naahh..) So, big, check! Square, check!, Rose gold, check, check, check!

Notification reminders (can the Cartier Tank MC do that? I doubt..) It’s not like I didn’t have these before with my Misfit Shine but with the Watch notifications and reminders become a little more “personal” a little more “creative”. There are times though that I feel overwhelmed. You can certainly decide on the kind of notifications you want on your Apple Watch but when you have an iPhone then almost certainly you will choose all that apply to your phone. And if all these notifications and reminders cause you stress, then “Breathe” will remind you to take a break and bring your focus on your breathing so to relax. Which turns out to be a paradox… if you really needed to relax maybe you shouldn’t have all these notifications and reminders telling what to do in the first place. Does it make sense?

Apple Watch is waterproof and you can shower or swim with it and track your activity. It has a cool feature to remove any water that might have got in the speakers too. In this case you need to activate the “drop” icon and then turn the crown upwards to have sound vibrations push the water out. But however cool this feature may be, you might feel, just like me, that if water can penetrate the Watch, it doesn’t seem that safe to swim with, especially in windy conditions when fine sand and salt water mix. So last time I went to the beach determined to test my expensive gadget in the water, I finally didn’t dare and had to take it out before I plunged into the sea. Then, while in the water, I saw a guy next to me wearing his while trying to catch a wave with his boogie board. Yes I admit it, I was a chicken. I just couldn’t bear the thought of having Minnie Mouse telling me the time (yes! she does tell you the time when you tap on her!) with her voice distorted because of a sore throat after a swim…

Apple Watch can be used as a fitness tracker. Despite the initial puzzle with setting up the apps, when everything was set it still didn’t feel like I could use it as my strenuous exercise partner. It’s a lot more bulky and heavy compared to my Misfit Shine and I would have to make sure I had plenty of space around me while exercising so not to bang the Watch on some wall or hard surface. It is delicate and even if I have been very careful since the beginning I have already spotted a scratch on its ION-X glass out of nowhere, I can’t recall of even coming close to a hard object so it’s a total bummer. And then you look for all these reviews about how easily or not Apple Watch can get scratched and how scratches can (if they ever can) be fixed. And then you look for ways to actually protect the screen but at the same time keep the beautiful lean look. And then you realize good protection is costly but then again it doesn’t really offer much anyways. And then you decide to go for the Apple Care+ where you could eventually replace your Watch or have it fixed twice for accidental damage which the normal Apple Care doesn’t cover but you have to pay extra for that. And then you realize that if you didn’t have the Apple Watch you wouldn’t have all these issues and worries IN THE FIRST PLACE.

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So with all this time and money invested on the Apple Watch it seems that its aim is becoming your irreplaceable piece of jewellery. With all these notifications and charming little sounds it claims a place in your everyday life and becomes an absolute necessity so you’d forget about wearing your conventional watch ever again. But I love my other watches too. I want to wear my other watches too. I like alternating between my jewellery. At the end of the day I believe we already depend a lot on technology, I certainly didn’t need another mind organizer. Apple Watch seemed to take more of my freedom and independence than what it could offer me.  So I was ready not to fall for this technology trap (you could also replace t with c) and just send the Apple Watch back. My decision came also after Misfit Wearables offered, to my suprise, to replace my favorite lost Misfit Shine 2 with a brand new one, something I will be writing soon about. But then again Apple Watch “talked to me” and insisted I should keep it. It was hubby’s gift afterall. Plus I had an accident with hot soup exploding from my Nutri-bullet on my hands (don’t ask how I managed this, I’m a natural blonde) and if it wasn’t for my Apple Watch (and the miracle cream I have from Greece for burns) my wrists would have been totally burned. The Apple Watch strap prevented a large part of my wrist been exposed to the bursting hot soup. The Apple Watch strap survived the burning test.

So we made a deal. I will keep the Apple Watch. I will not stop wearing my other watches and I will mainly rely on Misfit Shine 2 for my swimming activities tracking. But I will certainly stay in charge and keep enjoying my Apple Watch and its features whenever I want. It’s actually simple: I will not let this relationship become one of a destructive interdependence…

I just want to cry…

It was around 7:30 in the evening when a big van of UPS drove up my driveway and stoped behind my parked car. I gave it a glance from my kitchen window while washing the dishes, feeling exhausted from the day’s chores and a nasty cold that has been draining my energy since the beginning of the week.”Oh, some order arrived” I thought passively and uninterested, unlike any other day when I anticipate receiving a package.

I was frustrated. That same day an incident had me questioning the intentions and the quality of some of the people I interact with. How “just typical” and superficial can human relationships be? Sometimes I feel as if  my code of honor is too heavy for some to digest… yet it is so light and simple. Has the world changed that much? Am I some kind of fossil of an era when sincerity, trust, selflessness or respect had an actual meaning?

I couldn’t get it out of my mind: How easily can one back down on his word, especially when the other party has run miles to keep his? And I ‘m not talking about silly things… I never worried myself over unimportant stuff even when these had left a bitter taste in my mouth or they – no matter how insignificant and small – gave me a big slap on the face. I have a special category for these kind of situations: Category BIG X. And life goes on. No hard feelings. No remorse, no regrets, no intention to avenge.. Besides, after coming twice close to death, you realize  life is too short, too little to deal with littleness.

I opened my door and got out in the driveway. The driver of the van scanned a long rectangular green box and handed over to me after I signed. “It’s a little late for Valentine’s day” he said and gave me an almost guilty smile for bringing the parcel two days after Valentine’s day. “It’s never too late to express love” I instinctively replied.

My kids came at the entrance curious to see what the package was. “It’s from dad for Valentine’s!” I heard my son saying when he inspected the box externally and didn’t find any clue with regards to the sender.. “Open it!” But since the moment I took the package in my hands I knew it wasn’t from my husband: He had already offered me roses in advance, knowing he was going to be away from home for Valentine’s. It wasn’t any of my,  typical for Maui, online orders either. “No, it’s not from your dad, I know who it is from…” I replied and started opening the box feeling tears coming down my face.

The minute I opened the package my son just grabbed the card out of the box: “Oh!  it’s from Dona and the kids! They are sooo sweet! I soooo miss them mom!”… My daughter took out the teddy destined for her and gave it a hug, her eyes smiling: “I so want to go and visit them!! Please mom! please! Promise we will go!”

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I took the flowers and arranged them in the vase that had been included in the box. I filled the vase with water and threw in the plant food following the instructions. And while the powder started dissolving in the fresh water so did my doubts, my worries, my questions on human relationships..

If I am a fossil of an era when sincerity, trust, selflessness or respect had an actual meaning, at least I know I’m not alone. You are godsend Dona. You are an angel. A real blessing. And our paths will cross again. And again.. And again..

I sincerely, selflessly and respectfully trust in you.

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You a million times.

Love You and Miss You…

 

 

 

Meet Arianna: your 8 y/o style coach

Take notes ladies!

 

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Hi. My name is Arianna and today I will be your style coach.

 

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Style is attitude. So wear it. Carry it everywhere. Be comfortable with it.
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Be creative. Is this just a scarf? Noooo!

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Shopping can be fun. Try on as many styles as possible!

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Don’t forget to strike a pose. Self-confidence is the key to being stylish.
Have in mind that keeping it simple makes you classy.
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Last but not least, ACCESSORIZE!
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You know there’s a limit to that, right?
Follow Arianna on instagram: @ariannabaroness

 

 

The month of LOVE

Not because it’s Valentine’s Day. I am an Anti-Valentine after all, remember? (check my “Postcards from an Anti-Valentine” post here).

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February is the month when my two sister souls celebrate their birthdays, two days apart. Two lovably crazy aquarians, two amazing women to whom I entrust my innermost thoughts and feelings and from whom I receive huge waves of love and strong doses of affection.
We all three are split in three different countries and spread miles apart though: USA – United Arab Emirates – Bahrain. I miss them. I soooo miss them.  I wish it was that easy to just grab a plane and go and celebrate with them. I wish they would just knock on my door in the mornings – just like that, without any prior notice – and join me for coffee when still in my pajamas and my hair a mess. I wish we skipped the yoga class and chit chat instead.. just because we have awesome bodies anyways and our conversations have the same value as meditation.
 I love you girls! May all your wishes come true and may we meet soon, very soon.. be it in Hawaii, in Athens, in Manama, in Cyprus, in Abu Dhabi… wherever.

 

Chasing Rainbows

Here I am after a long time. After a long journey. After lots of thinking. The beginning of a new adventure.

I said goodbye to Bahrain. I won’t miss the Kingdom as I am in Paradise. But I will certainly miss my friends there.  I already do.

And where exactly am I? What am I doing?

Far, far away. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But so close to the House of the Sun.

Living the life the way it should be. Simple.

Chasing Rainbows after the storm on Maui. Enjoying my every ride to and from home. Filling my lungs with oxygen and my heart with joy. Bathing in sun and salty water. Sipping sunsets and nature’s little wonders. Stargazing. Gulping the love of the Creator.

I’m settled but yet I’m not. I will be here to tell you all about it.

Love you all,

xxx

Evie

 

déjà vu

College sweethearts. Spring of 2000. Playing like kids in Orlando’s Universal Studios park.

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Parents. Summer of 2013. Playing with our kids in the same park.

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Our style and colors’ match is interesting, don’t you think?

Lessons Learned. A mum’s letter to her son’s examiner

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Dear Mr. Examiner, 
I didn’t know anything about you before you came to Bahrain as an examiner for the Rock and Pop examinations but I had to check out on your music, especially since you failed my son on his drums’ exams.
All I can say is I really admire your work, and in no way would I ever doubt your talent or question your qualifications as a drummer and an artist. While checking out for your works I really enjoyed your music and I declare myself a fan of jazz.
Unfortunately I don’t share all of my music preferences with my son. He’s much more into rock style. I believe you found out he’s more inclined to rock music if I can guess from your comment on his improvisation performance where you noted that “this was too much in rock style for the specific genre”.
I will put aside this comment although I would be interested to know from you, how wrong would it be for a 10 year old kid to play in “rock style” especially when taking a “Rock and Pop” examination, to result to a fail mark. I’m sorry but didn’t see any comments for this particular song on the technical aspects of his performance and I would say that such a comment pertains to the drummer’s personal style and the examiner’s own music preferences. But that’s just me, so please don’t take the words of an amateur drummer too seriously.
But to the point. My intention with this letter is to actually thank you. Thank you for failing my son. If anything, you have given him a valuable lesson. Not one in drums, but in life. You certainly have taught him that there is injustice in this world. That there are instances that even if we do everything right, something or someone might come along the way and turn things upside down. And this time, just this time, it happens and it won’t be our fault.
I know my son and I know he’s too harsh on judging himself. When I saw his report at first I was hesitant to let him know of his fail marks, afraid he would be deeply hurt and discouraged from picking up the sticks again, especially since he seemed so confident about his performance in the exams and very optimistic for his results, one of the very few times his perfectionist self was really satisfied since the day he embarked on his music learning journey.
Thank you for this slap. Oh, yeah, it did hurt at first. He did cry. He couldn’t understand why this happened. “Why”? “I KNOW I did well”. I knew it too. I was there. I listened. And with the poor sound isolation of the examination room and my tiny musical ear I knew he did great. He certainly didn’t deserve to fail.
So I had to tell him that out of a total of 14 candidates who sat the exams in Bahrain only 3 have passed. Which I guess it’s true. I had to remind him how irritated you seemed at the day of the exams and how we thought and commented on it to be your way of looking “cool” and “strict”. And believe it or not my son would want you to be strict. Very strict. With regards to his learning be it in music, history or science he demands from his tutors that they are strict with him, strict but fair too. He knows that only by challenging his boundaries he can be a better version of himself.
Anyways, as a last resort to console him I suggested we should watch one of his favorite movies, “Whiplash” for once more. That calmed him down and made him realize that whatever other people say about you, however they null your expectations and dreams, you have to “upbeat” them by trying harder and believing in yourself.
I can’t thank you enough for this lesson on injustice. Nevertheless, as a mum I also had to teach my son a lesson out of his experience. And my lesson had to do with people’s reaction to injustice. I had to show him that no injustice should remain in the dark. That when we see injustice we have to take all necessary steps to correct it and make sure it won’t happen again. That justice should at least be given a chance.
So I hope you don’t mind that I had to report to the examination center for an investigation on my son’s marks and inconsistent comments. Of course I had to put down all the details of the examination so I had to report that on that day you seemed a little “too” nervous. I didn’t mention that as per rumors you had some issues with your arrival or accommodation in Bahrain cause this would be simply gossip, but I had to mention that when it was my son’s turn to take the exam, and with a 30 mins delay, you sent him back out of the examination room and decided he would be examined last on the list on the grounds that he’s “left handed” and you needed to “save time”. I don’t know if being a left handed is considered an impairment to you, but then again in the next minute or so, you changed your mind and asked him back in, so luckily my son didn’t have to wait for another couple of hours for the 10 seconds he needed to place his floor tom and ride from right to left. That would be “unfair” for him waiting that long to simply fail, don’t you think?
I really felt obliged to return the favor back to you. So there you have it. My thank you and a lesson: Never underestimate a mum’s sense of justice.
Honestly wishing you the best of luck in your career,
A mum and (amateur) drummer.

The Wine Box in Athens

IMG_1107 (1)Some friendships are like good old wine. You keep your precious bottle hidden in some cellar, away from light, gathering dust but never forgotten. You know its production year, what is made of, where it’s coming from yet you anticipate for the time that you will finally blow the dust off the bottle and open it to pleasantly surprise you with its taste.
Being away from home for all these years, it wasn’t easy to maintain contact with all of my friends. The only means I had to get a glimpse into their lives was social media. From time to time I would see pictures of their holidays, weddings, celebrations, new starts, I would read their profile updates, political views, jokes and my reaction would be a “like” on their posts or a comment at best. But a “like” or a “comment” is a poor substitute to verbal and eye to eye communication and recently I found myself determined and committed to meet at least one of my old friends in every visit to Athens.
I had been promising Alexander that I would visit his wine store The Wine Box since the day I found out about it. And I finally did it! It all started with a call from my side changing my voice and asking him for the biggest and most expensive champagne bottle but I couldn’t hold myself for too long and burst into laughters… Eventually, over a glass of fine wine we made up for all this time each was “lost” in the adventure called life.
The Wine Box is an exceptional cellar for wine enthusiasts where they can find everything from rare selections from around the world to wine glasses and bottle openers or assortments for gift baskets like fine chocolates or extra virgin olive oil.
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Suggestion for a basket with cookies and “Lithino”cretan olive oil
I mostly like red wine so here are Alexander’s suggestions:
La Bernardine – Chateauneuf du Pape – M. Chapoutier 
OIKONOMOY – Sitia – Domaine Economou – Ziros Crete 
So when you are in Athens drop by The Wine Box at Xenokratous 25, Kolonaki or order your gifts or favorite wine online at www.wine-box.gr. Also make sure to follow their Facebook page as quite often they organize wine tasting evenings where varieties from all around the world are introduced by wine experts.
Until I open my “next bottle”… Cheers!

 

Why I don’t shop in Bahrain anymore

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It has been a long time since I visited any of the big shopping malls in Bahrain. And today I was reminded once again why I haven’t done so all this time. You see, I happen to travel a lot and get informed on the latest fashion, products and/or prices. I always look for the best quality and price and I value customer service relationships a great deal. I talk with shops’ representatives all around the world and I have gained their trust and respect as they have gained mine.
Unfortunately, except for a couple of businesses, this is not the case with Bahrain. The last few years the products’ selection is minimal and in fashion it happens that all you can find on the shelves is last year’s stock often with a “New Collection” price tag. Few months ago my friend bought a pair of Valentino pumps at 50% off, a 50% off that was actually the original price in any of the big online shops. I was surprised when once I went to Saks to buy a pair of jeans and they only had to show me TWO (yes only TWO!) brand codes. I have quit long time ago shopping clothes for my kids in Bahrain since the day I discovered the US prices were instantly transformed into BD, tripling them compared to the US: Bye Bye Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, GAP, see you online or when i visit the US.
Other times you may find newly released electronic gadgets are insanely expensive, like when the new iPhone 5s was introduced and the golden colored one cost 150 dinars more than its silver version in a non Apple-approved shop in City Center. Or you may find that the expensive watch (i.e. Cartier) you intend to buy as tax-free (supposedly there is no tax in Bahrain, right?) costs more than in any other decent jewelry shop in Europe where a generous tax is imposed…  And let us not talk about the prices in the supermarket or the trick of “.. oh sorry! the price has changed and the tag is still not updated” if you ever spot the difference.
So what’s going on?
Profiteering to the point of disgust.
Ok. I can understand that the market of Bahrain, being it small, cannot absorb the aftershock of a global financial crisis thus the limited variety in their imports. Businesses are afraid to be exposed and they have right. What I don’t understand is their obsession of profiteering even in such market conditions when their actions can only guarantee further loss in the long run. Let me explain.
This morning I went to i-Machines to look for an original iPad case for my son. My jaw dropped when I saw the price, especially since I had checked before with Apple Store in the US:
Bahrain price: 50 Dinars meaning approx. 133 dollars with today’s rate according to xe.com.
How much does the exact same case cost in Apple store?
US price: 79 Dollars. YES 79 Dollars.
Do the math yourself adding boldly the shipping cost to Bahrain (that’s what they always provide as an excuse for the high prices, they cannot blame “taxes”cause there is supposedly a free-trade agreement between US and Bahrain) and you see there’s still a big price difference. You don’t have to be a genius to figure it out. The same profit margin seems to apply for another couple of items I checked  with the store (mini iPad, earphones etc).
Needless to say I left the store empty handed. Then I thought I might check for a mascara. During my recent trip to Greece I forgot to buy my mascara from the beauty store and didn’t have the time to get it from Athens airport too so I thought I will get it in Bahrain. Ha. Wrong.
I went to Debenhams and asked for my usual Yves Saint Laurent one (Baby Doll). The lady told me it was 21 BD. I wasn’t sure how much I had paid for the exact same mascara in Athens before – certainly much less- but as I needed it now I thought ok, I will get it. So I took it to the cashier where I was asked 22 bd. I told the cashier that the sales lady told me 21 and then I showed her the tag on the mascara packaging clearly stating 21 bd. She told me she was sorry but in her system the price was 22 bd. Once again I left empty handed and my issue was certainly not the 1 bd increase from the sale point to the cashier…
By the way 22 BD = 58,3  USD, 53,48 Euros or 41,17 GBP with again today’s rates from xe.com.
Soon after I came back home I double checked the price of the mascara:  32 Dollars in the US, 25 Euros in Greece, 25 Pounds in the UK.
Honestly I can’t think of a reason why a mascara would cost DOUBLE its price in Bahrain.
What these local businesses don’t get is the fact that consumers in today’s world KNOW and if they don’t know, they certainly have the way to FIND OUT. Almost every consumer has access to the internet today. Big brands with international presence usually apply a universal price with small -if not tiny- fluctuations that reflect any taxes/dues or shipping costs. Anything way above this “universal” price is a rip-off and I certainly don’t want to be passed for a fool. So what can you do?
  1. Be an informed consumer rather than a compulsive one. If you find something you really like in a shop in Bahrain check its price online yourself or have someone else check for you.
  2. Except for items considered “dangerous”, most of your finds in Bahrain can be shipped from online shops abroad straight to your door. In fact there are few shops that offer free express shipping and shops that even deduct the VAT when shipping to Bahrain from Europe. Others include any dues in your total so you don’t have to pay anything for customs’ clearance in Bahrain.
  3. Shipping from US is tax free and there should be no import dues in Bahrain. Unfortunately this does not apply for shipments from Europe. There is a minimum amount set by the customs authorities and when exceeded there are dues based on the cargo type charged to the receiver. (I have tried to find what this minimum is with no success so far, it’s up to the customs’ officer interpretation of the law I guess – sorry for being sarcastic!)
  4. When the online shop doesn’t provide shipping outside of their country you can open an Aramex Shop and Ship account, have your items shipped to your mailbox in the US, UK or any of the big shopping hubs where Aramex provides service and then have your items shipped at a fee to your door. It’s not cheap but it can be proven cheaper than buying your find in Bahrain. Mind you that Aramex recently updated its policy to include the shipping of perfumes in their service. With regards to a mailbox service abroad I personally prefer Borderlinx mainly because of it’s association with DHL who are superfast but also because they offer free repacking of multiple shipments into one to cut-off the shipping cost. Additionally with their concierge service they can buy for you in shops that do not accept foreign credit cards.
  5. If you don’t feel like doing any of these yourself but still want to shop without being ripped off, appoint someone to do them for you. At a small fee a personal shopper can help you with all your needs however small or big and save you time and money. You can email your inquiries: idol@mail.com.
I’m all ears for your stories of shopping horror!
Update1: Please check my comment below as some people seem to have been annoyed by this article.
Update2: In my recent trip to Dubai I have checked the price for the mascara both in Bahrain airport and Sephora Dubai. The price is around 16 BD so Debenhams is more expensive by a whole 6 dinars (aprox. 15 USD/
EUR). Just for one mascara.