Beauty/Fashion · Food/Recipes · Lifestyle · My Wedding · Travel

Here’s To a New Beginning

Hello my beautiful friends,

Welcome to my blog! My name is Mariya, and I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised in Chicago, Illinois, and now living in London, England. I am so excited to get to know you all as I embark on this new journey as a blogger and share tidbits of my life with you! So here’s a little bit about me for those of you who are wondering.  As a  little girl, I loved telling stories and sharing life’s precious moments with those around me. My Mom would jokingly say in Urdu “Iski toh khahania khatham nahi hongi (Her Stories will never end).” After living in Karachi for two short years my mom and I were finally able to to join my Dad in Chicago in 1996. I spent most of my childhood years (and a bit of my adult years) in Chicago–The Windy City.

I completed my undergraduate education at the  University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and graduated with a degree in Marketing in May 2016. While I was at UIC, my passion for creativity and content marketing began. I used to blog for the business college at UIC and then worked in a Marketing Research company down in the loop for some time after graduation. My blogging journey at UIC was really cool because that is when I realised how much I loved writing, sharing, and creating content that people would enjoy. Fast forward 7 months later, my childhood best friend, Abdul Latif, and I had big plans for a wedding, so I decided to change my life around by joining him in London right in the beginning of January 2017 (what a great way to start the new year right)?!

Moving from one vibrant city to another was a HUGE change, and with changes in life come new beginnings, so one day I decided to start something I have always wanted to do. My husband, Abdul Latif, told me that while I wait for my working visa in the UK, why not start a creative outlet for myself? I thought it was a great idea, I mean  I have always admired beauty bloggers, style bloggers, food bloggers ever since I learned about the world of the internet and social media. It would make me so happy to read about the things people were truly passionate about. So that, my friends, is when I decided  to take the plunge into the world of blogging so that maybe (just maybe) I could make someone’s day brighter by sharing things that I am passionate about –and voilà— Chicago Girl in London was born.

So friends, please come along  and join me on this ride as I try to find my place in  this new city as well as in the blogging world. I hope that my blog will be of fit to you and that you can find some inspiration within my daily life. This blog is aimed to fuel my creativity and share moments in life that cultivate happiness while creating an exciting space that welcomes all personal style as well as promoting self love, confidence, and happiness.

Thank you for reading!

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Beauty/Fashion · Lifestyle

A Little Self Care with Thai Square Spa

Hello Lovelies,

Last Monday I took a trip down to Central London for a little TLC spa day at the Thai Square Spa, located at a 3 minute walk from Embankment Station. The day was just so lovely and I was super excited for my Ritual Massage with So Sen Uplifting Jasmine Oil. The massage combined Oriental techniques that targeted the whole body and the Jasmine Oil had an instant energising and restorative effect on both mind and body.

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Upon Arrival, I was greeted at the receptionist and was taken to the locker rooms to change into my robe. The reception area was so welcoming and the locker rooms were so beautiful and clean.

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After changing, one if the lovely ladies took me down the steps to the massage rooms. The rooms were dark and the hallway to the massage rooms were lit with beautiful candles, giving a calm, relaxing feel.

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My sessions started off with a complimentary floral foot bath which set the lovely tone for the whole massage. The foot bath last for about 5 minutes and it was a great welcome and start to the Ritual Massage.

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After the floral bath, I was taken to the massage table to begin my Ritual massage. The ritual massage consisted of a whole body massage, but I had told my masseuse to focus on the back. In the beginning the pressure was a bit hard, however afterwards I had told my masseuse to apply light pressure.  It is important to speak to your masseuse so that they know what you like beforehand, and I was very happy with my light pressure massage.

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The ritual massage lasted for one hour and it was a great way to relax, recharge, and just calm the body. My therapist was extremely professional and I was able to completely relax listening to the quiet soothing music as she worked away every bit of tension in my body. I think it’s so important, especially this time of year to relax and recharge so that your body can get its much needed break. I left my treatment feeling 100% more relaxed and peaceful. After my massage was over, the masseuse took me Thai and Roman Relaxation areas where I was offered some tea. I spent a few minutes indulging in some warm soothing tea until my next stop, the Sen Space.

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At the Thai Square Spa, the Sen Space is complimentary after a massage, and it was just a lovely way to just stay in the zone and relax your senses. I had used the Sen Space for 1 hour and it included a Sauna, Steam Showers, Jacuzzi, and Salt Bath. This space really helped bring my body back into the perfect state of balance. I made sure to spend 30 minutes of my time between the hot zones (Sauna and steam room), and another 30 minutes of my time in the cold zones (Ice Fountain and Jacuzzi) to stimulate circulation and eliminate toxins. The ice fountain is one of the more unusual Scandinavian sauna bathing traditions and perfect invigorating tonic to the heat of the sauna and the steam room.

Note: The Sen Space must be booked separately.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at the Thai Square Spa and would love to visit again to try out the other massage services. How do you all like to spend me time? 

Thank you to Thai Square Spa for hosting me! My massage was provided complimentary but as always, this would never affect my opinions, which are completely my own!

Thanks for reading!

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Lifestyle

Notting Hill: An Instagramer’s Dream

Hello Loves!

It has been some time since I have written up a blog post for you lovelies, and that is primarily because I have been working on some exciting projects. Now that I have had some down time, I decided it is time to curate a post on one of my favourite places in London that quite often pops up on my Instagram page–Notting Hill.

When my friends and family come to visit London they always ask “Mariya, what places should we definitely see while visiting London?”

And to that question, I always suggest

NOTTING HILL.

YOU MUST GO TO NOTTING HILL!

Because let’s face it, nothing beats colourful houses, the buzzing Portobello Road Market, Pembridge Mews and random tourists (and Instagrammers like myself) posing in front of resident houses.

Ah yes, do you like the sound of that? Well then read on to find out some of my favourite places in one of the most well known neighborhoods in London and for a cheeky outfit post in the end!
Portobello Road Market

When talking about Notting Hill, people usually mention the Portobello Road Market. I particularly love Portobello Road because it’s always buzzing with people and you can find some cool knick knacks. There are vintage shops like Alice’s, cute bakeries, bookshops, and of course some awesome souvenir items.

Wild At Heart Flower Shop

Another quite Instagrammable place in Notting Hill is this lovely flower shop. After exploring Portobello Road Market head down to Wild at Heart to pick some blooms, or simply strike a pose the way I did below!

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Colorful Houses

While walking around Notting Hill you will be sure to find to prettiest homes. There are rows of colorful houses on various streets, so be sure to have your cameras out to capture the beauty!

Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

Are you a marketing geek like me, or just someone into learning about how packages have evolved over time? If so, head to this quirky little museum on Lancaster Road. This museum examines the history of consumer culture from the Victorian era to present day, and can be a neat thing to do while at Notting Hill.

Holland Park

Just a fifteen minute walk from Notting Hill Station is Holland Park where you can go for a picnic, or just stroll along the various sights of the park. If you are lucky, you might spot some peacocks in Kyoto Garden.

Have you been to Notting Hill? If so comment below your favourite part.

Alright now let’s talk outfit.

Outfit Details
Ruffled blouse: Shein
Jeans: Shein
Shoes: Tory Burch
Sunglasses: Gucci

To match the colorful houses, I wore this blush pink sweater/jumper from Shein. They have provided me with a lovely code for you to use and you can get 13% off your purchase by using mariyaa13. I paired the top with a pair of jeans, also from Shein. For sandals, I wore my Tory Burch Sandals in white for a comfortable, Chic look.

And that, folks, wraps up our post for today.

Once again, thank you for reading.

Until next time,

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Beauty/Fashion · Lifestyle

A Modest Spring Lookbook with Couvert Clothing

Hello Loves!

A Spring wardrobe is definitely my favourite and I am getting super excited to ditch the winter jackets and bring out some gorgoeus pieces for Spring.

For this Blog post, I collaborated with Couvert Clothing, a one stop modest fashion brand for modest women. As a Muslim fashion blogger, it can be hard to find the perfect pieces that are cute, yet modest. I know we all have a different definition for what modesty means because this term can be different from person to person. For me, modest fashion means choosing to cover what I want to cover without giving up my personal morals and values. This is why I love brands like Couvert Clothing because they make fashion so much easier by providing trendy yet modest pieces.

I was gifted these gorgeous Olivia trousers and I was super excited to do a Spring look-book in honor of the warmer weather in London. Couvert Clothing was also kind enough to offer a Discount Code for my readers. You can use code MARI15 at checkout for 15% off. Enjoy!

Now let’s talk outfit.

I decided to pair the trousers with this gorgeous bright pink top that I purchased from a Khol’s in the States two years ago (find similar top here). I loved the print because it gave such fun summer vibes. The top was sleeveless, so I paired it with this long white cardigan (similar style here) and Nude heeled Sandals (find similar style here).

For accessories, I wanted to play with the colours of my top, so I wore the Karishma earrings from the jewellery line @diamantebymali. These earrings are gold plated made with real oyster pearl and the turquoise colour looked so pretty with the whole outfit. To complete the look I added my belt from New Look and these stunning green cat eye glasses (find similar ones here) from Aldo.

I hope you all enjoyed the look. Now that I shared what modest fashion means to me, what does it mean to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

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Photography credit goes to @kiranvisuals.

Disclaimer: I was gifted the Olivia Trousers, however all opinions are my own

Beauty/Fashion · Lifestyle

Changing your Life with Positivity & Gratitude

Hello Loves,

Today I wanted to talk about a topic that we all can benefit from, and that my friends is how you can CHANGE your life with two things. One, positivity and two, gratitude.

Positivity is being optimistic and believing that anything YOU want can happen. While gratitude is that sweet spot of contentment that knows nothing of having more or having less. It is being happy in the present moment.

I learned gratitude not by what I had, but by what I did not have.

As a little girl growing up, my parents had always taught me to say Alhamdulilah–Thank you God. I remember I was chasing my little sister in our one bedroom apartment in Rogers Park, Chicago and I slipped and hit my head on the heater. I had split my head open and had to get stitches, and while I was in pain and complained about being hurt, my dad said “Alhamdulilah, you are well. It’s just a small little cut, it will get better soon.” As a six year old, hearing those words made everything better. Those words reminded me that I was strong. I could handle this. And after that, the pain wasn’t as painful and I had stopped crying and whispered, “Alhamdulilah.”

I have had many of these Alhamdulilah moments all throughout my life, because you know, each chapter of our lives come with countless of tests from God, but everything just seems to get better when I know that I am in control of the way I feel and that any negative situation can be changed if I have a positive outlook towards it. This is because If you program your subconscious and conscious mind to produce positive thoughts, then this will help you reach your goals. However, if you think negatively like “I’ll never be able to do this” or “I’ll never get that job” then that is exactly what will happen.

With that, the important part is to be grateful. Being grateful for things that have or haven’t happened can really help change life’s outlook. Always understand that if you don’t have something, then there is divine wisdom behind it, and that Allah knows best. Wake up each day with a positive outlook and watch how your life changes for the better.

One thing my husband and I try to do every week is to talk about the things we are grateful for, and this little exercise really helps us to reflect and see how far we have come. I also like to do personal reflections after prayers to just take time to thank God and that my way of expressing gratitude.

What do you all do to express gratitude? Let me know in the comments below!

Outfit Details
Ruffled blouse: In Love with Fashion
Trousers: Ann Taylor
Shoes: Zara
Sunglasses: Gucci
Bag: Micheal Kors
Blazer: In Love with Fashion
Necklace: Swarovski

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Beauty/Fashion · Food/Recipes · Lifestyle

Breakfast at Duck & Waffle+Floral Lookbook

Hello All!

Last weekend for the hubby’s birthday, I decided to treat him to breakfast at Duck & Waffle–the highest 24/7 restaurant in London just a 5 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station.

We got there for 7:30am becuase I kid you not all the other time slots were booked, so we had to go in quite early for breakfast–however we didn’t mind that. It was still super fun! (I would recommend booking a month in advance to get your preferred time slot and not do what I did which was booking a week before).

Upon arrival, we were seated by the window and had such pretty view of London’s financial district. It was quite foggy and rainy in the morning, but nonetheless we still enjoyed ourselves.

For breakfast, I ordered the Indian Spiced Chickpeas with the English Breakfast Tea while Abdul Latif got the Colombian Eggs with a Flat White. Both of us loved our food–the spiced chickpeas were absolutely AMAZING. I would totally recommended them if you are an Indian food lover like me!


All in all, I really enjoyed my experience at Duck and Waffle. The food is tasty, you get the full view of London, and the service is quick. Bear in mind that each table is booked for a one hour time slot during breakfast time and then you have to move to the bar area which is the only downside because 1 hour can seem a bit rushed. Also the meat is not halal, so we did have to opt for the vegetarian options.

Floral Lookbook

Now for my favorite part, outfit time!! 😉

Outfit Details
Top: Madam Rage
Trousers: Forever21 (similar)
Shoes: Newlook
Bag: Anne Klien
Necklace: Soulfeel Jewelry USE CODE Mariyaukg115 for 15% off

For my outfit, I was wore a floral blouse by Madam Rage paired with trousers from forever21 and my block heels from new look. To accessorise, I wore my name necklace from Soulfeel jewellery (use code Mariyaukg115 for 15% off) as well as my bag by Anne Klien.

That completes today’s blog post, and as always, thank you for tuning in!

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Beauty/Style · Food/Recipes · Lifestyle

Afternoon Tea at The Wallace Collection

Hello Loves,

Welcome back to Chicago Girl In London!

This past week, a dear friend of mine was in town from Chicago, so we decided to do what Londoners do and indulge in an afternoon tea experience at the Wallace Collection.

The Wallace Collection is a national museum in a historic townhouse located at a 7 minute walk from Bond Street Underground Station. The museum houses a gorgeous collection of 18th century artworks, paintings, and furniture.

A grand staircase welcomes you as you enter through the doors of the Wallace collection. Of course I had to take a picture and strike a pose!

The museum is divided into several rooms, where one can simply walk in and view the works of art. There are a total of 25 galleries where each room has a different theme and walking through the rooms feels like your stepping back in time.

Toward the back of the building is where one will find the Wallace Restaurant. Inside, is a beautiful courtyard with pink walls, green trees, and an open ceiling with natural light supplying an organic aesthetic to the restaurant. The ambience is beautiful and the glass roof makes for a pleasant and peaceful place to sit while having afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea at the Wallace is £18.75 per person and it includes a selection of handmade finger sandwiches and teas including:

  • Cucumber and dill cream
  • Free range egg
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese
  • Coronation chicken (Not Halal, but can be substituted)
  • Freshly baked fruit or plain scones served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve
  • Assortment of Peyton and Byrne mini cakes and pastries
  • Choice of fine loose leaf tea or coffee

Since the meat was not halal, the restaurant was very accommodating to our needs and swapped the chicken sandwich for another vegetarian sandwich. I loved the little pastries and the sandwiches tasted lovely. Overall, I had a pleasant experience.

For my outfit, I wore this super cute ruffled jumper that was gifted to my by Trendy Hub UK, which is a hot new fashion brand in London. I paired this top with my navy blue polka dot skirt, and black heels. To accessorize, I wore my purple and green statement necklace from Charlotte Russe as well as my purple Kate Spade Bag.

Outfit Details
Top: Trendy Hub UK
Skirt: H & M
Shoes: Candies
Bag: Kate Spade
Necklace: Charlotte Rousse

I absolutely love dressing up and being all girly when it comes to afternoon teas. I don’t know, there is just something about dressing the part that makes me feel super confident and happy! Do you girls like dressing up? Let me know in the comments below.

And that concludes this post. I hope you enjoyed!

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Beauty/Fashion

My Top 3 Favorite Foundations

Hello loves,

I get many questions and messages about makeup and what products I use on my face. The most asked question I get regarding beauty is what foundation I use, so today’s post will talk about my top 3 favorite foundations.

1. L’oreal Lumi Foundation

I personally love this foundation because one, it is not too expensive (only $12.95), two, it gives me a beautiful dewy look without feeling sticky, and three because it is a great foundation for everyday wear. The shade I use is Natural Beige W4. Although the Lumi Foundation is not full coverage, I still think it does a great job covering up my acne marks and uneven skin tone. This foundation is definitely buildable and I usually use 1-2 pumps when I apply. I use this foundation ALL the time–especially for casual events, nights outs, and for normal everyday wear. On days that I am home, I try not to wear foundation, but when I do go out, I usually reach for this one.

What do I love about this foundation? I love that it does not feel too heavy on the skin, and it gives my face that healthy glow. It also does not sink into fine lines. I think this foundation is a great dupe to the NARS all day Luminous Weightless Foundation, which brings me to my next favorite foundation.

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2. NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

My second favorite foundation is the NARS All day Luminous Weightless Foundation. The shade I use is called Punjab. This foundation is super silky and a little goes a long way. I think the finish is very comparable to the L’Oreal Lumi Foundation, however, I don’t wear this on a day to day basis. I leave this foundation for special events, and occasions.

Estee Lauder

3. Estée Lauder ‑ Double Wear Stay in Place Makeup

The Estée Lauder foundation comes 3rd on my list. This foundation is full coverage, and I wear it only on special occasions or events. The shade I use is Tawny. I really like this foundation because it hides literally everything, however what I don’t like is how thick it feels on my skin. This is why I would not recommend it as an every day foundation, but rather for days where you need full coverage.

And that concludes today’s post. Have you tried any of these foundations? If so which one was your favorite? Let me know what your current favorite foundation is in the comments below!

XOXO

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Food/Recipes

Aubaine at Selfridges: Dessert Diaries

Aubaine is a French restaurant–a hidden gem on the 2nd floor of Selfridges. My friend Shumaila and I went there for desserts and we absolutely loved the cute wisteria decor, the cushioned furniture, mirrors on the walls, the delicious desserts, and the fact that it was the perfect spot for a quick meal!

I ordered the warm chocolate and pecan brownie and my friend Shumaila ordered the sticky toffee pudding. Both desserts we’re £6 each, not the best bang for your buck since the desserts we’re quite small, but they still made a nice little treat. We also got sweet potato fries to share–and they were absolutely delicious. My dessert was really good–can’t go wrong with brownies and ice cream now. 😉

Overall, the ambience was really nice and we got some stunning pictures with the decor in the back (can we all take a moment to appreciate how perfect everything looks). So I’ll be honest, this was probably one of THE cutest places I have been in London. Although on the pricier side, Aubaine is hands down the perfect place to escape to from our hectic lives and indulge in a little piece of French luxury.

Outfit Details
Blouse/Dress: Zara
Jeans: New Look
Shoes: Zara
Scarf: Hijab Vault

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to subscribe to my email list so you never miss a post.

XOXO

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Beauty/Fashion · Lifestyle

Let’s Talk Hair Care: SNI Hair Care Review + Oiling DIY 

Hair care is something that is super important to me. To ensure that my hair stays nourished and hydrated, I like to oil my hair ever 2-3 times per month. In today’s post I will talk about two DIY oils that I like to make as an overnight mask for my hair, as well as my SNI Natural Hair Care Oil for my girls who aren’t so much into DIYS.
Coconut Oil + Honey Mask
For this mask, take 1 cup of coconut oil, and 1 teaspoon of honey. Mix the two extremely well and massage into the scalp and leave it in overnight. The fatty acids and vitamins found in coconut oil help nourish the scalp and aids in hair growth. Honey helps to strengthen the hair follicles and helps with retaining moisture in the hair. I love this mask because after I wash my hair, my hair feels shinier, smoother, and frizz free.
                     
Olive Oil+Coconut Oil 
For this mask, take 1 cup of olive oil and mix it with 2 cups of coconut oil. Mix well, and massage into scalp as well as the ends. Leave overnight and wash the next day. Olive oil is good for your hair as it acts as a natural conditioner. Oiling with olive oil can help smooth broken ends. Massaging the olive oil and coconut oil into your scalp will allow blood circulation to increase, which allows hair follicles to produce thicker hair strands. I love this simple hair mask DIY, so if you do try it out, let me know how it worked for you! 
                       
SNI Natural Hair Care
If you girls do not have time for the DIYs I mentioned above, then I would highly recommend purchasing the SNI Natural Hair Care Oil. This oil is literally a lifesaver, and has so many wonderful ingredients that are packed into this bottle. Unlike the DIY oil masks above, the SNI formula is non-greasy, and smells really good. I also really like that packaging of the oil because it does come with a pump, making it super easy to use, and mess free.
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Some of the key ingredients in this product are: Almond Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Jojoba, Pomegranate, and  Lavender.

screenshot_20171110-214236_01102054378.pngI have been using this oil now once a week, and can see a significant difference in the way my hair feels. To use this product, all I do is pump 6-8 pumps on the palm of my hands, and then I like to massage this oil in my scalp, my ends, and even my eyelashes. I do wear mascara occasionally, so this oil really does help to strengthen my lashes, as well as to get rid of any leftover product. I usually leave the oil in my hair for one night or even a couple hours, and then wash it off in the shower normally. I shampoo twice whenever I do oil my hair to ensure all product has been removed.I love how this oil makes my hair shiner, re-hydrated, and frizz fee. The SNI Hair Care is known to help repair damaged hair, helps with hair loss, allows the hair to grow longer and thicker, and it also helps to tame frizz. The oil can also be used during the day time to help straighten fly away hairs.Below is a picture of my hair before using the oil, as well as after:

Week 1

The picture on the Left is my before picture, I had styled my hair the day before using a curling wand. I had applied my SNI Natural Hair Oil in the morning, left it on the entire day, and then showered at night. After my shower, I did brush my hair to get rid of any tangles, and let my hair air dry. My hair was less frizzy, and I noticed it to be shiner.

 

 

 

Week 2

In week 2, I had not washed my hair for 4 days and had previously styled it with a curling wand again. Again, I had left my hair oil for the whole day and washed it at night. After the oil application, my hair was softer, smoother, and frizz free.

 

 

Week 3

By week three, I was repeating the same process. I had not washed my hair again for 4 days and had previously styled it with a curling wand. The SNI hair oil worked really well for me.

 

 

And that wraps up today’s hair care post, I hope you enjoyed reading! Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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To purchase the SNI Hair Care, simply click on the pictures and it will re-direct you to the site. Each bottle is 100 ml and is £28.50. Be sure to also follow the brand’s Instagram page @sninaturalhairoil.

Until next time,

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