Life, Personal

International Women’s Day: Journey of an Immigrant Feminist

March 8, 2017

On this International Women’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey as a woman and feminist, with thoughts and questions about how women are treated and raised in society in my mind…

  • What would women be like if we weren’t shaped and influenced by the society and culture of the place we were raised.
  • What would I be like if I didn’t see my mom cooking and cleaning after a long work day, but rather my mom and dad alternating their cooking and cleaning responsibilities?
  • What would I be like if I would never hear ‘that’s what good girls do‘ and ‘what would people say‘?
  • What would I be like if I wasn’t told that boys can’t cry like girls, and that girls would have to ‘be a man’ if they wanted to be strong?

I was born and raised in Armenia, and when I was born, my family was disappointed that I was a girl.

When I was 7…  I had to help mom in all her house chores. I didn’t think of asking my parents back then whether if I had a brother, would he have to do the same chores? 

When I was 13… I couldn’t dress in pants and edgy shirts, and wore knee length dresses instead.

When I was 17… I could not choose to study International Relations because no one would hire a girl for such a job.

When I was 23… I was married and had a child; and when I was twenty four, a brand new immigrant in the United States, standing at a crossroads, I decided not to study journalism because I thought I could never be louder than men and my questions would never be heard.

Finding True Freedom

Twenty three years past since then and I have come a long way. Natural instincts of the real me helped me find my path towards true freedom. The learning process was not easy, but it was very important for me to live my best life. Education gave me power and the confidence to make and trust my own decisions and earn my living. It also gave me the power to make a leap out of my community and explore the world where no-one knew me, where I would be free to be me, where I would not have to explain myself to anyone except to myself. You know, my mom was always fearful that society would reject me if I didn’t behave. I used to cry from my inability to fight it back then, but in the end, I rejected those notions to build a life for myself the way I liked it.

Having said that, I also want to say that a twenty three year journey towards my freedom was not enough to undo the social stigma instilled in me during my younger years. I still fight a voice in my head that tries to dictate how I ‘should’ do things and tries to stop me from moving forward. I still catch myself apologizing for things that are not my fault or refusing thanks I deserve. Undoing what was instilled in us as children is a tough task, but the awareness and daily practice, makes it better for me every day.

And here’s my final point. As difficult making changes can be, the quality of my life as a human has improved tremendously and not just for me. My husband is my friend and my equal partner, but also, I am his friend and his partner. Together we enjoyed each other’s company and friendship, together we raised and enjoyed our kids, together we bought our first cars and first house, and together we went through great times and tough times. And together we tell our kids to build a life they want and not the one we want for them. They are feminists too.

Today is an International Women’s Day, and I think of every woman who fights for the right to be herself and wish her the power and strength to be what she wants to be.

Have you ever felt restricted by your community rules and traditions? Share your stories, would so love to hear from you!! 

Lots of love, 

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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Life, Personal

How My Breakdown Turned Into a Breakthrough

March 1, 2017

Do you ever feel like you’ve depleted absolutely all your energy and are just so done with being an adult? This feeling has been brewing in me for weeks, and it finally broke out last Saturday morning. I was hanging out in the kitchen with V (my awesome hubby) drinking coffee, and suddenly, tears started rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably. 

I finally just had it.

Overwhelmed with frustration and exhaustion, in that moment, my life felt like an endless list of:

  • responsibilities
  • deadlines
  • and checking things off

My job is insanely stressful and more demanding than ever these days, and of course, being an autism mom can also be extremely energy-depleting and demanding.  AND THEN, there is the ‘life factor’ which I refuse to give up and try to do as many things as I can possibly fit into my day. 

As a result ~ there I was standing in the kitchen crying to V that I’m overwhelmed, exhausted, dissatisfied. Life is not supposed to feel like this! Where am I rushing to? Why do I intensify things with more unnecessary worries, doubts, guilt, overthinking, you name it?! It is as if I am sabotaging myself…

Am I sabotaging myself?

Because truly, most of the things I do in my life I chose myself, and many of those things I actually like, certainly enough to offset the things I don’t like, and if not for overthinking and over worrying, my life might feel so much better. 

So what now? Crying certainly felt cathartic, but after the tears subsided, some reflection started. I have to learn to do things in moderation, cool down on intensity, concentrate on things that inspire me, and focus on the quality of my experiences rather than quantity. 

With that being said, I want to share something with you. Lately, I’ve been so worried about writing just to write, that I’ve completely forgotten about WHY I started this blog in the first place. I started blogging to capture the beautiful little moments in each day, to express my heart’s desires, to share simple pleasures, to express myself, capture memories, and share happy moments. Not to cross a checklist off my chore list.

Now to the announcement. I’m restructuring my blog writings and musings. I will be posting on the blog every Wednesday moving forward, writing about beautiful things that I fall in love with, lifestyle hacks and tips, and the extraordinary experiences I enjoy. I hope only and always to inspire you to live your better life. PLUS, I will be sending out a completely redesigned, beautiful monthly newsletter to all of my lovely followers with more helpful lifestyle hacks and tips, healthy living tips, and fun and fashion inspirations. 

Make sure you subscribe here.

Now it’s your turn, can you please share with me ~ have you ever felt overwhelmed? Tell me your story for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blogpost. I really want to create an intimate, authentic community where we can all share our struggles, our triumphs, and be real with each other. Please comment below. 

I am so thankful to all of you for taking the time to read my posts and always being there for me. 

Lots of love, 

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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Autism Mom, Life

Weekend Inspiration: Spend a Day in a Farm Doing Nothing

February 17, 2017

 I admit, that ‘simple living’ state of mind doesn’t come naturally to me, and I need to make a conscious and constant effort to stay grounded and even learn to do nothing sometimes (I used to be good at it when I was a kid!).  Recently, during our weekend trip to Portland, I found that one of the best places and ways to recharge and do nothing is to spend a day in a farm. There is something incredibly therapeutic about spending time in nature, away from the fast-paced city vibes, free from modern electronics. Nature always does an amazing job clearing my mind from unnecessary thoughts and reminding me that life is not really complicated if I don’t complicate it with these thoughts myself. So we spent that day watching pigs, goats, and chickens roam around the farm looking for things to nibble on, tasting tomatoes and collecting raspberries, and laying down on a hammock staring at blue sky, chatting with Alex about stuff. And it felt so good.

When did you last do nothing? Leave your comments bellow, would so love to hear from you!!!

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Fashion

Florals: Incorporating Spring Trends Into Your Wardrobe

February 15, 2017

Here comes the sun! After six weeks of cold and rainy California weather, the sun is finally out! I missed the happy blue sky and am so ready for spring’s arrival. I even started putting some of my winter sweaters away to make room for a few new spring items. And with spring trends always come florals, so beautiful, romantic, and happy! During fall months I bought a bomber jacket and a black top with embroidered bold flowers which I will be enjoying wearing this spring. But I also look for more delicate and feminine garments with floral print, and this Topshop blouse is just that!

Florals, ruffles, plisse, and delicately embellished sleeves, all are this spring’s trends, and this blouse incorporates them so beautifully! While the weather is still cool, I pair this blouse with my flares and a trench coat. The look is modern and yet romantic, and as soon as days get warmer, I am thinking of wearing this top with something light and breezy.

What is your favorite spring trend this year? Leave your comments below, would so love to hear from you!!

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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spring trendsspring trends spring trends spring trends topshop floral top florals
Food, Life

Valentines Day Baking: Drunken Cherry Cake Truffles With Chocolate Frosting

February 10, 2017

Valentines day is almost here, and I am excited! It’s the perfect excuse to decorate my home with flowers, bake something delicious, and spend time with family. I usually make chocolate cupcakes for Valentines day, but this year I felt like making something different and baked cake truffles instead. I coated them with pink sprinkles I found at the Surfas Culinary District last week, to add a nice crunch to the soft cake and the silky buttercream. With these cakes, decoration possibilities are unlimited! Depending on the occasion, I can coat them with yellow sprinkles for Easter or create red-white-blue little flags for Independence day. The recipe (below) may seem long, but it actually is quite easy. Also, before I start baking, I always have the ingredients measured and ready. It cuts time almost in half!

If you give this recipe a try, please do send me a picture on Facebook @splashoftealInstagram, or comment below. I would so love to hear from you!! Also ~ don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get monthly recipes delivered direct to your inbox!

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

Ingredients:

For 24 Cake Truffles…

1/4 cup sour cherry

1/4 cup cognac or brandy

9 tbs unsalted butter

1 cup + 2 tbs sugar

1 3/4 cup + 2 tbs all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder 

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs 

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup milk 

1/4 cup dark chocolate pearls

For Chocolate buttercream…

1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

2 tbs cocoa powder

3 egg whites, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch salt

14 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

To Decorate…

1/2 cup pink sprinkles (or any color depending on the occasion – yellow for Easter, Red-White-Blue for July 4th, etc.)

Directions:

For Cake Truffles…

Preheat oven for 350F and line one 9-inch round cake pan with paper liner. Cover cherries in a jar with Rum or Cognac. 

Sift and mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Set aside. Pour into a mixing bowl the butter and sugar. Mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes, add the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 additions, alternating with the milk in 2-3 additions. Beat on low until just combined for 15-20 seconds, do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until golden on top and the center bring back to the touch, for 35-40 minutes. Let to cool completely.

In a large bowl, use hands to crumble the cake into small pieces, add 1/4 cup icing and 2 tsp cherry-rum juice, and mix with fingers until well combined. Using an ice-cream spatula, scoop out a ball of cake mixture, place a cherry inside, and lightly press a small handful of chocolate pearls into the bottom of the ball.

For Chocolate buttercream…

Heat the chocolate on low heat until completely melted, and stir in the cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan (not touching, though) and heat the mixture. Whisk periodically until the sugar is dissolved (the mixture should be warm to the touch).
Remove the bowl from the saucepan, and beat the egg white mixture on high speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled to room temperature, holds stiff peaks, and is white and fluffy. Add the salt and butter, one small piece at a time. When everything is incorporated, switch the mixer to high speed and beat until the cream thickens for about 5 minutes. Add 2 tbs chocolate syrup, beat for 30 seconds. 

To Decorate…

Frost the cake truffles and cover with sprinkles. 

Enjoy!

Fashion

Embracing My Body: Making High Waisted Pants Work

February 8, 2017

Some say that high waisted pants can elongate the silhouette, narrow the waist, and mask ‘flaws’. Not me. I have always felt that the high-wasted style accentuates my curves, when I feel more comfortable hiding them. I also don’t pay my dues to crunches, so you will barely ever see me wearing a shirt tucked into my pants. But this season, stores are carrying a great selection of high-waisted pants, and they look so fun and stylish, that I wanted to give them a try and make them work.

These Topshop pants are my first high-waisted purchase this season. I loved them for their neutral color and polished details. These pants are perfect for elevating my work look. To get the most slimming effect possible, I wore the pants with my nude leg-elongating pumps (high heels are perfect for this look) and a simple tieneck blouse. The look is very feminine and elegant, and I like it.

Having said that, liking it doesn’t make me feel super comfortable wearing it. I find myself thinking about sucking in my stomach, and that is not the way to live. So for now, to embrace this style, I have to work on embracing my body even, whether or not I work out. Challenge is on!

Do you wear high-waisted pants? How do you style them? Leave your comments below!!

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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high waisted pantshigh waisted pantshigh waisted pants

Health, Life

Proactive Ways to Clock In 10000 Steps Daily

February 3, 2017

During my late 30s I discovered and fell in love with Pilates classes and created a well balanced weekly exercise routine that included one weekly class, a 20-minute bike ride, and 10000 steps daily. Then last year, I had the idea to up my exercise routine a bit, and made it my new year’s resolution. And I so wish I didn’t! The moment I thought about it, it became the beginning of a complete abandonment of my fitness regimen. All but one of two pilates classes bundles I bought last February have not been used! And while I managed to keep the same clothing size, I felt a big difference in my energy level and then my mood level (which is the worst!).

So this year I decided not to make anything drastic and to ease myself back into my old exercise routine and slowly build it up. So I started clocking in 10000 steps each day. Having no shortage of step counters, from an apple watch, a fit bit, and 3 good old steppers (remember those?!), my first day was an absolute failure, 250 steps. While I have a somewhat active lifestyle, from downtown court appearances to extensive travels, on the days I stay in my office or work from home, I have to have a proactive approach to clock in the necessary steps. So, besides parking far away or taking stairs, here are three proactive ways to clock in your daily steps, rain or shine:

1. Find a scenic spot near your home or office to make your walk enjoyable, so you can concentrate on breathing fresh air and clearing your mind. 

2. Instead of scheduling a lunch date with a friend, meet her for a walk instead.

3. If short on time, make the outdoors your office. Take a conference call or take time to catch up with mom.

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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10000 steps 10000 steps 10000 steps10000 steps

Life

Journaling: Figuring Out The Road Ahead

February 1, 2017

A few days back, as I was organizing a drawer dedicated to greeting cards, calendars, and notepads, I stumbled upon a true treasure, my old journal! I’d forgotten that during my twenties and thirties, I used to keep this journal by my bed and write about some special events, thoughts, feelings, and breakthroughs. Like many, I would start journaling at some point, but never kept it up when things got better. And I wish it wasn’t like that. Reading my own journal 20 some years later felt like reading a novel, except that the main character was me!  On the first pages, there were pieces of my life when I met my baby boy for the first time (he is twenty five now!), my first impressions of immigrating to the U.S., and the struggles of having a career and being an autism mom. This journal was both my therapist and a good friend that helped me figure out my way forward. I am forty seven now, and the process of thinking, feeling, and growing is certainly not over and never will be. So I want to get back to the habit of writing whenever I get a chance. 

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever? Are you planning to pick up journaling again? Leave your comments below, would so love to hear from you!

♡ Zuma Ayriyan

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journaling journaling

Fashion

Cold Weather Report: Wearing a Parka To Work

January 30, 2017

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are ready to take on another week! I’ve been battling a cold for almost two weeks now and spent most of my weekend in bed. Sometimes it feels unfair that we have to miss out on weekend fun just so we can regain strength to go back to work! But it is what it is, and I made the best of it and look forward to getting better. Meanwhile, I have a few trips up north coming up, and I am happy that I got this parka to keep me warm. I bought it back in October for our family’s annual ski trip, which didn’t end up happening.

While wearing parka has never been a very fashion forward stylish garment, the metallic blue fabric coupled with a detachable faux fur around the hood makes it cozy and, at the same time, modern. To create an elegant work-appropriate look, I decided on an all-blue monochromatic look and paired the parka with my Zara faux leather skirt and Topshop turtleneck, no statement accessories.

Do you live in a cold climate? What do you wear to stay warm and stylish?

♡ Zuma A.

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parkaparka topshop topwork outfit topshop turtleneck topshop turtleneckzara faux leather skirt zara faux leather skirt 

Books, Life

Good Reads Monday: Winter Reading List

January 23, 2017

Happy Monday darlings! I hope you were able to stay warm and dry this weekend! It’s been raining cats and dogs here for several days, making it hard for us to go outside. So what better time to curl up and catch up on some reading! I read to Alex daily, and his book selection is pretty awesome. But I miss having my own time with a book and the exciting anticipation to find out what’s going to happen next. Given that I never have time to do anything without planning in advance, I’ve now put reading on my list! Here are a few books I put on my winter reading list. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read any of them or if you have any other recommendations!

♡ Zuma A.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi ~ A  36-year old neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer confronts his own mortality and attempts to answer difficult questions about mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015 while working on this unforgettable and profoundly moving memoir.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris ~ I haven’t read Sedaris’ books yet, but heard from so many about his funny and unique ability to tell his story. His move to Paris inspired this collection of stories, where he writes about his attempts to learn French. I very much look forward to read Me Talk Pretty One Day.  

The Career Code by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power ~ running a start-up business is not an easy task, and this book promises to be an inspiration, insightful, and pragmatic guide for creating a professional success!

Career, Life

Tips to Succeed When Working From Home

January 20, 2017

Slowing down my law practice and working from home as much as possible was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This brought more balance to my work and family life and ended up being crucial for Alex’s growth and development. Having said that, having a career and being responsible for all the cases I was taking on was very important to me. I knew that working from home would not slow my ambitions down. There are increasingly more women who do that and succeed without sacrificing morning sleep and home made lunch breaks. But while working from home is a different experience from working in the office, it is not necessarily easier. Whether you work from home like me or are a stay at home mom and thinking of starting a business from home, planning plenty of things to do each day is essential. The drawback of working from home is that sometimes I fall into trap of getting little too comfortable. So here are three most important things that help me get back on track and do the millions things I do.

1. Set up an alarm every morning:  

When I have morning court hearings, I get up at 5AM. I take about an hour to get dressed, grab breakfast, walk Lucy, and leave the house so I can be in court by 7:30. Yes, it takes me an hour and a half to get to work!! But when I work from home, I allow myself to sleep in and set up the alarm to 6:30 AM. I feel more positive, much less distracted, and productive! Tons of work gets done before the clock hits noon.

2. Plan plan plan:

I am one of those people who multitasks a lot and often have tons of little things to attend to. If I don’t plan, I will forget half of them and get seriously overwhelmed. A planner helps me pioritize and organize what needs to be done and when. It keeps me on track and I seriously can’t go without it.  

3. Dress for success:

Even if I am home, with a rare exception, I dress up to feel better and boost my productivity. Sometimes it’s jeans, a sweater, and sneakers, and other days it’s trousers with a blouse and flats. I also try to always put on simple makeup, like foundation and blush to brighten up my complexion. This feels just so much better, and if I have to run errands at some point during the day, there is no need to dress up any more hehe.

So here are my three must have habits on the days I work from home. Are you a stay-home mom or do you work from home? What are your must have tips to succeed? Leave your comments bellow, would so love to hear from you!!

♡ Zuma A.

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working from home