Be your own stylist with Valenxe

Once upon a time on a late night train from France to Germany, two beautiful girls dreamed up a perfect wardrobe staple for all occasions all around the world. Joined by a third fashionista they designed a pair of truly desirable and versatile leggings with a slimming effect. That’s how Valenxe, the “intrinsic attractiveness” was born. Being hard to impress, I decided to sneak three pairs of Valenxe leggings into Dubai and put these babies to an ultimate style trial, breaking all possible fashion rules in between.

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Look One: Trophy Girl

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It was a sunny January Friday in Dubai, the perfect day to brunch, pool around and show off that hard to get beach body (did you try my insane workout?). So I grabbed my “la vie en rose” shades, a silky shiny tunic by Parker NYAntilla crop leggings in dream navy, and headed to the family friendly Waldorf Hotel on the Palm. Cropped leggings is a challenge to wear well. For me. I visually extend the look of my legs by balancing shorter leggings with either flats or sneakers. Voila:

Look 2: Nasty Woman

They say show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are. Woah-oh-oh-ah-ah-ah! Hanging out with these three unbreakable style gAnnstars: no.1, no.2 and no. 3 led to irreversible changes in my attitude. Armed with a truly Canadian maple syrup candy, a tee with me boyz Beavis and Butthead, I pulled on the leather-like Aspasia leggings in black and rolled away. Do mind the cool hat (this is Rella)

Look 3: Lady in Red

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When the time came to dress for a challenging shopping afternoon with a fellow fashion-addict, I opted for a bright red tight dress, Versace scarf and Bollea leggings in bella fiora brown. Not only did I have a fun time strolling down the new “must-see” district in Dubai, but found a solid number of followers thinking I was a celebrity in disguise.

Look 4: Walkaholic

It’s that time of the year in the UAE when the anticipation of rain is almost as enjoyable as the rain itself. Layered in Aritzia wool jacket and protected by a powerful red umbrella, I felt like Mary Poppins on a mission. Surprisingly my black  Aspasia leggings pulled off a classy as well as edgy look, making my lower body look “gym every day” thinner.

Look 5: Trouble Maker

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Inspired by the adventures of Indiana Jones, I decided to initiate my own treasure hunt and drove all the way to the capital, glorious Abu Dhabi. Dressed in a vintage cotton shirt from Austria, breathable Japanese sneakers, sweet Italian shades and Canadian leggings I was proud to communicate the spirit of a true globetrotter. I did discover a hidden Arabian quarter overlooking the blue water of a little creek and called my trip a total success!

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Update: While on a different style mission, I spotted another Dubai girl rocking Valenxe leggings. I think she wore them better than me! What do you think?

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El and An #LastExitDubai

Beside the thrill of extreme driving and promise of a great night out, there is a new exciting reason to take a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Food Truck Park! Just cross the nonexistent border between the emirates on E11 to dig in to a selection of street food, cool folks and eye popping design.

The only one of its kind in the Gulf,  Food Truck Park offers both drive through and dine-in options for foodies on the go, making it a must visit playground for kids and older. Well, I couldn’t resist! Could you?

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Together with my edgy style gangsta El in her sequence black hat by Rella paired with golden slate stone & wood shades from Propwood, we were ready to party.

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Overwhelmed by the number of choices including Chicks and Friends, Clinton Baking Company, The Brass, Poco Loco and My Karak (among others), we seriously considered Starbucks to reward their support of bloggers worldwide with free Wi-Fi and facilities. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Once I tricked El in trading her beanie for my awesome Dark Knight Snapback made of shiny black leather from the Nylon Shop, it was the right style moment to review the old school public dialing experience. Meanwhile my 6Plus was peacefully boosting its battery at phone charging station right around the corner.

Then a random brilliant idea entered my hungry mind (oh, boy). To determine who’s gonna pay for dinner, we engaged in a winner take all game of style. Best look rules!

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El moved quickly and with confidence knowing that except cats, nothing beats the “hot girl and a car” scene.

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Being a big fan of emerging brands and hipster-friendly designers, I was pretty happy in my “go back to black” outfit that contrasted with vivid industrial design and urban sand.

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Details from the head to toes: black wool beanie by Rella, Propwood shades, silky long-sleeved shirt under a golden see-through top by Trina Turk, track pants with leather elements by Alice & Olivia and super comfortable Sperry sneakers.

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Frankly, it didn’t take El long to prove that timeless “lady in red” conquers hearts in seconds.

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Dinner is on me, girl!

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Hell’O Toronto

Warning: You are about to indulge in the most horrifying horrible horror story ever. Do not read before sleep. All characters and events are supernaturally real.

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It was a boring ordinary evening on October 31st (or 13th depending on how you look at it) in Toronto. The weather started falling apart. The clock was ticking towards midnight, but shadows outside were still growing longer and the last rays of sunshine were randomly twinkling in the glass windows. All seemed to be so totally normal.

Then I felt it happening. An inexplicable power of unknown source was dragging me out of the house to the cold deserted streets where enormous black birds and bright laughing pumpkins appeared to be the only living creatures.

“Aritzia” a crow’s cry echoed in my fuzzy coat when I stepped out dressed in a big hurry to face my destiny. “What the heck is going on?” My thoughts were in total chaos.

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“Hell’o baby… Trick or treat”, whispered a gloomy voice from above, but when I turned there was just a house staring at me with the emptiness of its framed windows.  I shivered and blamed the famous freezing Toronto breeze.

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Suddenly I heard a giggle. Shimmering with a variety of sounds like a million jingle-bells, it sparkled out of nowhere and disappeared almost immediately. A minute later a funny white face materialized from the underground, winked at me and laughed. There was another one at the corner, one on the sidewalk and one right by my side. They created an absolutely irresistible vibe! I started giggling along worrying that my shaky hands would fail me in capturing the surreal adventure.”Nighty-night my lady”, said the crisp air, and then there was the silence. I sighed.

“Pardon my interruption, but I’ve been admiring your hat”, said a friendly looking tall man from the garden across the street. There was something very familiar about his look as I’ve met him before, but his high soprano voice put my thoughts at ease. “Sorry, I usually don’t talk to strangers. Strangers scare me.” He confessed and then added: “Care for a walk, eh?”.

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I was happy to get some company to cheer me up on those empty streets and we walked. While I questioned my companion on where to find the best pumpkin pie in the neighbourhood, he was more interested in discussing American politics, so I waved good-bye and found myself on a crossroads.

“What’s next? Mmmmm… Did I get lost?” My recently charged iPhone had turned black and decided to die taking away the privilege of modern communication plus “I can’t live without you” Google maps. I starred at the surroundings, trying to figure out a game plan.

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“Meowellow”, purred a charming voice in my ear. “The sun is setting. You better find shelter. Streets belong to me after dark”. A black cat appeared behind me. “Real cats never get lost. Come along girl and hurry up”.

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I followed the Black Cat sharing the same enthusiasm and curiosity as Alice once showed following the White Rabbit. And what an amazing race it was!

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Houses, creepy sounds, streets decorated in a luxurious and decadent manner, faded facades and pale faces carved on them. I swear I saw a dragon who just played along!

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I couldn’t believe my luck! The Black Cat turned out to be the It Cat, knowing everyone and everything. After a glass of bubbly with local celebrities I realized that my friends were long gone and I was standing by myself in front of my house. It was the moon-faced pumpkin that smiled and sadly whispered: “‘Till the next year darling”!

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Autumn style, sugar coated

The calendar is a funny thing, it cannot be trusted! Take September for example. While the weather is staying baking hot in Dubai, Australians are cheering the beginning of Spring and somewhere in Siberia kids are building their first snowman. So, where on Earth do I go to show off my new cashmere coat? I decided to head to Eastern Europe for some serious sugar coated autumn style. Salut, St. Petersburg!

Secret: Read about my summer adventures in SPB here and here.

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Peterhof, St. Petersburg

It’s true, the autumn’s here! I feel its presence in cooler breeze and shorter days… September sky is getting heavier allowing the weather to rapidly switch from fatally gothic to dreamy rococo. Autumn is here to charm with the ever-changing palette of colours and forever steal our memories of sweet summer days… With no time to lose, I encourage you to assist me in embracing the change of season with the sounds of l’Autunno by Vivaldi accompanied by a skinny flute of sparkling rose. Let’s savor this moment as every day is unlike any other. Follow my ten steps to glam up!

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On the streets of St. Petersburg

1. Allure. There is nothing more stylish than a great hair or… a complete lack of it. Scented with long lasting perfume (I love Dior Addict on a windy September afternoon), your flirty locks lure attention, making you truly unforgettable. Go for it!

Secret: I use Fountain Cosmetics moisture hair mask for extra softness and shine. Available here.

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Rooftop bar, W Hotel with the view on Admiralty building, Saint Petersburg

2. Red lipstick. Forget about pink, orange or purple. Forget about lighter or darker shades. Power play the upcoming autumn melancholy with a beauty statement. Red will make you irresistible in any circumstances and in any weather. Think red!

Secret: Red lips by Feral Cosmetics, semi-matt Envy. Available here.

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Feral instinct

3. Lace it. There is no bad weather! Whether it’s sunny or rainy, dry or muddy put your comfort first because heels are killers (in every context). Get a pair of funky laced sneakers and be a big city girl who values independency and time. Own that walk!

Secret: I love shoe hunting at Farfetch for their all-time discounts.

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St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg

4. Fashion forward. Splash your outfit with a little colour. Play with a scarf, long necklace or umbrella (your choice) or use your fantasy and creativity to enhance the “every day in a coat” look. Experiment with your individuality and you’ll never look back.

Secret: I love scarfs by the upcoming designer Kris Jane. Available here.

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Nevsky avenue, St. Petersburg

5. Trench that trend. They say elegance is attitude, but a classy trench coat on a rare sunny day will be as impressive. Plus it may save you from an unexpected rain and annoying paparazzi by softly camouflaging you in the 19th century architecture. A good trench coat gently wraps around your curves, hiding some of your secrets and keeping open what is needed to be seen. Add shady shades for a super cool spy look.

Secret: I’m wearing trench coat by Elementy Simple wear . Available here.

6. Candy it up. The fun of wearing layers is an opportunity to sneak in a fancy piece and shine it at the right moment. There is always that special dress that reminds you of sunshine, summer secret affairs or an exotic vacation. Be the eye candy, get noticed. You are awesome!

Secret: I’m wearing “Pink pearls for my girl” silk dress. Available here.

7. Polish it. For the rainy day at the museum (I ended up strolling through a spectacular art collection at Hermitage) opt for a “good-girl” look with focus on beige tones and natural fabrics. Play the cliche element of your outfit right and every photo you take can easily be a page from a glossy magazine.

Secret: I love Ruelala.com for style inspiration.

8. Warm coat. Never underestimate tricky autumn weather and invest in a comfy, yet warm cashmere coat. Apart from saving you from sneezing, it has all the opportunity to turn into a timeless and favorite forever piece. Choose a flirty cut and pay attention to the fabric. It has to be either cashmere, wool or a mix of those two. No compromises!

Secret: Aritzia offers awesome selection of coats (especially when they are on sale). Contact Canadian customer care for worldwide delivery.

9. Heavy military coat. Military design is as hot as ever. A heavy maxi coat tailored to compliment your curves or tiny waist is a must for those special nights out to the ballet or daytime downtown walking sprees. The best part – you can wear whatever underneath, including a naughty bodysuit, this coat will keep your warm!

Secret: A tiny purse with metallic details will add a little sparkle. I love DVF handbags (keep an eye for price cuts), not to mention her statement coats. Available here. 

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10. Stockings. This one is quite simple. Say no to nudes and instead welcome opaques with microfibre in brown, grey, black or maybe cosmic red. When the weather behaves show up in fishnet tights in all unimaginable shades.

That’s it! You’re ready.

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Feel Like a Soviet in Moscow, Top 10, Part 2

My shady mission that started one dangerously sunny afternoon in Moscow has so far led to KGB interferance and thousands of vivid photos of the Red Square from every possible angle (except space). Those who followed my walking map in the previous post (as ambitious as the USSR’s five-years national economy plans) have developed a strong immune response to discoveries and probably lost 4-10 pounds of precious western body fat. Those, who didn’t – shame on you! The real communist is always on the go and with a little help, you’ll soon become one, willingly or not.

No. 7 – Gorky Park + Garage art center

Entrance to the park is free!

All you Scorpions fans will certainly remember the visionary video and heartbreaking lyrics of Wind of Change : “Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park, listening to the wind of change… To the magic of this moment… Let your balalaika sing what my guitar has to say…”. Wait no more! I’m taking you to the place “where children of tomorrow share their dreams” 🙂

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Since its opening in 1928, Gorky Park was established by a young Soviet government (fun could be regimented too) as a place to feel the change. While the new state was growing through the ruins of the Empire, the site for the future park was chosen on a deserted area, a former dump 45 minutes away from the Kremlin. Named after a Soviet writer (“Untimely Thoughts”) it was here that in 1935 a two-headed herald eagle striped off the Kremlin towers spent their last hours on display outshined by the symbols of a brand new era, red stars encrusted by semi-precious stones. For the next 75 years propaganda and leisure co-existed here. Extraordinary, from 1929-1937 it was run by female manager, Betty Glan who was only 25yo when appointed.

During WWII it was used to exhibit German war trophies, feeding anticipation for victory, and in post war years, the victory of communism. Following a recent restoration in 2012, Gorky Park was overrun with evil hipsters who enjoyed the 24/7 schedule of free wi-fi, all sorts of “ball” activities, lush lawns to sunbath on, access to Moscow’s river embarkment, never ending supply of kvas (a cold local drink which apparently is super hot) and street food. Beware, it’s easy to loose your sense of time and spend the whole day over here.

Not on my watch! Whatever you will be tricked in doing (local enthusiasm is contagious), find an hour or two for Garage, the museum of contemporary art opened by Darya Zhukova. Apart from a selection of peculiar installations, you’ll be surprised by the modern hybrid of minimalistic soviet architecture and modern urbanism. More here.

N0. 8 – Patriarch Ponds

Free!

Dive into the Moscow metro for a rapid ride from Oktyabrskay to Tverskay station, and for a quick meal at the first McDonald’s to open in the USSR. You may find this idea quite awful at first (especially if you are Vegan or allergic to fast food), however at the end of January 1990, around 30,000 Soviets arrived to queue for the taste of freedom. For many following months, a trip to McDonald’s became a dream stop on a sightseeing tour of Moscow (here is a video proof). Looks convincing, eh?

Our next mission is to explore the Patriarch’s neighborhood, the area loved by former party leaders, expats, spies, poets, ministers, the nouveau riche and readers of Master and Margaret (soviet satire novel by M. Bulgakov if you skipped my previous post). It was here at the Patriarch Ponds (actually there is just one) where the Devil allegedly appeared on May 1st, 1929. It was here that a phrase “don’t talk to strangers” turned into the meme and a dark fate for the two participants. Lounge on one of wooden benches to watch a very well dressed crowd pass by or have a drink at many nearby bars.

No. 9 – VDNKH

Entrance is free!

VDNKH is one of my favorite places in Moscow recognized for its authentic feel and magnificent architectural structures. It’s a Soviet version of Disneyland with rides, candies, glitter, performances and a promise of the Brighter Future for every working comrade. Many call it “Versailles stormed by Bolsheviks”. VDNKH or vystavka (fair) of Soviet realism with pavilions exhibiting new exciting gadgets, machinery and produce (anything from apples to spacecrafts). Here, feel the vibe!

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Glittering with gold, VDNKH isn’t just eye-candy, but it radiates the famous Russian spontaneity when one never knows where the day ends and is ready for all sort of scenarios. I was treated to a random glass of prosecco on board an empty stationery soviet plane.

Take a good look around. Back in 60s you may be walking alongside Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Today you may spot parkour enthusiasts rolling head-breaking tricks, brainy youth on scooters or special forces officers splashing in the fountains. A must-see are the space pavilions and the nominee of Stalin’s prize, sculpture “Worker and a kolkhoz woman (farmer girl)” by Mukhina. Just like Hollywood’s roaring lion it was chosen as the opener to Soviet films.

Once you watch the setting sun in the Communist themed park, it’s time to use the privileges of the capitalist’s world and jump into a comfortable Uber for the long drive through the center of Moscow to a place best described as temptation.

No. 10 – Chinese Grammar or Kitayskay Gramota, the restaurant

Reserve a table a day in advance. Arrive hungry. Be ready to throw cash to settle the bill. Tip: impress staff and audience by making it rain thousand ruble notes “Bad Grandpa”  style. Explore their food, drinks and mind-blowing menu here.

Owned by Mr. Rappoport (remember Dr. Zhivago), a lawyer known in his circle as a foodie and a talented chef with obviously good sense of humor and taste (in art for example), Chinese Grammar wins your interest at the front door. In the best traditions of the communist era, the statue of the greeting comrade is cheerful, green and screwed to the wall (for its own good they say). March in and be stunned by the atmosphere of a post-Imperial selected members only bunker loaded with artifacts. Strikingly good looking staff dressed in Mao’s soldiers uniforms are quite entertaining to watch with their trained posture and detailed knowledge of the menu. Believe me, my reader, it’s not just the decor that this place is loved for, but the Cantonese cuisine delicious in its simplicity and long selection of tempting cocktails. I couldn’t stop looking for a hidden door leading to gambling, opium tastings and happy patrons puffing the magic dragons so well described in Sherlock Holmes, but I failed. Maybe you’ll get luckier…

The end!

Stalk me on Instagram or Facebook, comment or reach me at antrestain.com. I love to hear from you and take you on a new adventure somewhere in this world. For now 🙂

 

 

 

Operation “Kremlin’s Shadow”

Raised on memories of the Cold War and fears of Bolsheviks emptying the bars of Rockefeller Center with the vigour they demonstrated storming the cellars of the Winter Palace, I sacrificed purchasing the newest Chanel Boy to save for a trip to the nest of former-Soviet culture, Moscow.

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Red Square

Set on a mission to investigate the progress and success of the working class, I first had some time in Toronto to master the complicated art of “maskirovka” and dress in camouflage. Visual aids were sent to me by my contact in Moscow.

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Serebryakova, “Bleaching the cloth” displayed at Tretyakov’s Gallery

Well, being a cheeky City Chick and a big fan of Versace silk scarves, nostalgic Etro garments and bright fabrics in general, I always follow one impeccable life motto: “when in a doubt – wear Italian”. So fashion decisions were not a challenge! To top it off, I invested in a decent chapeau and Google Glass (a must-have this spying season). The process of turning me into a comrade had begun!

Once the dress code was successfully deciphered, a rendez-vous with group activists was scheduled to practice the “Na Zdorovie” drinking ritual, another important aspect of every day Soviet interactions. After an intensive briefing by the group leader (not present on this photo for obvious reasons) on the dangers and fun of cocktail consumption, I was cool and ready to pursue the operation “Kremlin’s Shadow”. Well, I called it “tourism” and boarded a flight as a true communist with “a cold head, flaming heart and clean hands”.

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Na Zdorovie

I arrived in Moscow on a beautiful sunny afternoon and as instructed headed to Red Square without delay to take photographs and collect information. My maskirovka worked perfectly, allowing me to sneak unnoticed a few steps from the Kremlin. What a great start!

However, unexpectedly and sadly, suspicious activity around my hotel made me realize my cover was blown and my room was potentially bugged. As someone brilliant once said: “You find party in the West. In Russia, party finds you”. Well, I knew from the start what I was up against and at least they revealed a good sense of humor.

So I sat by candle light, armed with American technology, Chinese stationery and a printed map, to experience and share with you the best 10 “feel like a Soviet” attractions in Moscow.

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To be continued…

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City Chick gone Wild

Good girls go to Pataya. City girls go to the Wild Wild North.

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Beginning of June, +14C, partly cloudy and windy. I love Canadian summers!

Or – just a girl, me. Like a survival reality show, I’m competing with the grumpy Canadian weather, bears, beavers, and lovely deer-flies for food, entertainment and decent photographs. Set in isolation with minimum outfit options and… (say what!) – limited WiFi, I’m challenging my wits, biceps and questionable sense of fashion to prove that a city chick is the best type of a chick.

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One learns very quickly that country living is about hard rough work – chopping, lifting, splitting, fixing (you name it). Equipped with a basic tool – Mr. Axe, I’m armed and dangerous to any dead tree in the way.

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Being a fitness freak is paying off. A quick warm-up, stretches and chop, chop, chop… My personal trainer ( Leo ) loves to repeat: today’s pain – tomorrow’s gain.

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Have you ever wondered how Thai-Chi was invented?

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Thinking of what was going through Geppetto’s head when he created Pinocchio, I generated a super swing that any country boy would envy:

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Like in business, it seems that behind every successful project stands a pair of well-trained and qualified individuals.

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Where the iron rusted and broke, I pushed further and further and further. If only those awesome shades could reveal the tears of joy sparkling in my eyes.

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As the day progressed my KPI’s were booming. I attacked every milestone of country living and successfully carried out every bit of it. My biggest accomplishment was laundering bed sheets in a boiling hot water using nothing but a stone, a piece of soap and bare hands.

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The country wisdom says: it takes a craftsman to carve a beautiful canoe.

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But it takes a fearless City Chick to sail it.

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A bientôt!

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