Theme 35: Fall in New York. Picnic in Central Park With Rueda Wines

Bloggers Central Park Fall Picnic with Rueda wines that you can order from wine.com

you can easily get a wide selection of Rueda wines on popular websites like wine.com (I have linked them for you!)

Rueda Verdejo wines are refreshing, a bit fruity and consistent in their taste. Every time I take a sip (and I am shamelessly drinking a Flor de Vetus while I write this post), I feel like I am tasting a summer day. A sunrise on a summer’s day to be exact.

The fruit notes in the wines are mild, concentrated in the sweet citrus spectrum with some bits of apricots and peaches, and envelope me into this warm feeling of endless hope. I might be overly poetic, but that’s how these wines make me feel: inspired, romantic and happy!

Oh, I almost forgot the best part! The majority of the delicious wines from Rueda are ridiculously affordable. Many of them are priced under $15 per bottle, which makes it a perfect wine for any party, picnic, or even for a relaxed evening at home. Please give it a try, you will love it! Here is a 10% off code for you: RUEDA to use on wine.com when purchasing Verdejo wines from Rueda!

 

Welcoming Fall has always been one of my traditions, and this year I have decided to throw a cozy picnic in Central Park with my girlfriends to celebrate the last warm days in NYC. I wanted everyone to feel the excitement for the upcoming pumpkin-colored festivities and those long nights with a wool blanket, great-tasting wine and movies that make you cry and smile at the same time.

Speaking of delicious wine, I have recently discovered Spanish white wine! I especially like Verdejo wines from the Rueda region, and had to bring them to our picnic! A good white wine is a classy choice that everyone loves and it certainly uplifted the mood and created a friendly, intimate atmosphere, which helped our friendships to grow even stronger. 

I am not a wine connoisseur, but I wasn’t surprised to find out that Verdejo – which is similar to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio – is apparently the most consumed Spanish white wine in the whole country and it has been its best-kept secret for decades. Luckily, the import of Spanish white wines has been increasing in the United States and

Rueda wines FAll Picnic. Best white wine
Best Spanish White Wine in Central Park, NYC. Ulia and Marilyn
Wine Afternoon with girls and Verdejo white wines from Rueda regions.
From left to right: Marilyn, Jordan, Ulia, Vivien, Gabriella.

From left to right: Marilyn, Jordan, Ulia, Vivien, Gabriella.

Pumpkin on my head
Fall Picnic Inspo with Rueda Verdejo Spanish White Wine. Cheers. Bloggers drink wine.
Rueda Spanish White Wine Review. Flor De Vetus. Verdejo. 2015
Picnic of bloggers in Central Park, near Belvedere Castle.
Fall Picnic Inspiration. Ulia Ali in NYC/
Fun picnic shoot with wine and food. Bloggers just want to have fun!
Best white Spanish wine in America. Verdejo

I guess you are all set with refreshments, so let me link some of my favorite beautiful fashions and decor elements to celebrate the beginning of Fall in style! Tag me on Instagram with your picnic and fall-inspired parties; I would love to see your unique ideas!

Theme 34: New York Fashion Week. Best Blogger NYFW Street Style Looks

NYFW bloggers streetstyle best looks SS 2018, September 2017. Influencers style during New York Fashion Week.

This was my second time attending NYFW (my first was in February 2017) and I can say the experience was drastically different from my first one. There is no doubt that even my first Fashion Week was quite amazing for a newcomer, but this September I really got to see a lot of amazing shows, and watched this weird, fascinating merge of Fashion, Bloggers, Envy, Brands, Celebrities and Egos. But let's don't get ahead of ourselves, because I will share my true Fashion Week story with its' own beauties and monsters later this week.

For now let's celebrate the BEST NYFW STREETSTYLE LOOKS. The list will be updated, so come back for more in a few days, and submit your looks via DM on Instagram to @uliaali.

Iconic blogger Aimee Song from @songofstyle somehow fashionably survived the hot September weather in a fur coat, a warm dress and booties.

Iconic blogger Aimee Song from @songofstyle somehow fashionably survived the hot September weather in a fur coat, a warm dress and booties.

Blogger and writer Ulia Ali from @uliali (ok ok, that's me!) wearing Layana Aguilar during NYFW. The outfit reminded people of Game of Thrones fashion! 

Blogger and writer Ulia Ali from @uliali (ok ok, that's me!) wearing Layana Aguilar during NYFW. The outfit reminded people of Game of Thrones fashion! 

Suarez sisters, Natalie and Dylan rocking interesting looks during NYFW. 

Suarez sisters, Natalie and Dylan rocking interesting looks during NYFW. 

One of my favorite bloggers Jourdan .

One of my favorite bloggers Jourdan .

Jourdan's looks were hard to miss on the streets of New York during this Fashion Week.

Jourdan's looks were hard to miss on the streets of New York during this Fashion Week.

Tezza looks amazing in Gucci. One of my favorite NYFW outfits that can also be worn during "normal life" days!

Tezza looks amazing in Gucci. One of my favorite NYFW outfits that can also be worn during "normal life" days!

Mary Gui is one of the rising blogging stars.

Mary Gui is one of the rising blogging stars.

Her outfits are always full of colors, and that earned her a lot of attention from press and followers.

Her outfits are always full of colors, and that earned her a lot of attention from press and followers.

Ulia Ali wearing Pablo Garibi, Chanel and Christian Louboutin. One of my favorite NYFW looks this year!

Ulia Ali wearing Pablo Garibi, Chanel and Christian Louboutin. One of my favorite NYFW looks this year!

Olivia Culpo is looking hot and stylish this Fashion Week!

Olivia Culpo is looking hot and stylish this Fashion Week!

Who knew that an oversized blazer can look so amazing? We believe that Kali Passiglia is a future fashion icon.

Who knew that an oversized blazer can look so amazing? We believe that Kali Passiglia is a future fashion icon.

We love her original looks that are so true to her unique personality,

We love her original looks that are so true to her unique personality,

Rosa Crespo looks are always interesting and want us to have her wardrobe!

Rosa Crespo looks are always interesting and want us to have her wardrobe!

One of the most beautiful fashion bloggers, Anabelle Fleur, looks amazing in this white Chloe dress during New York Fashion Week. Via @vivaluxuryblog

One of the most beautiful fashion bloggers, Anabelle Fleur, looks amazing in this white Chloe dress during New York Fashion Week. Via @vivaluxuryblog

Another USA based Azerbaijani blogger Ruslana Gee, and her friend, beautiful Maja Malnar, looked amazing at NYFW.

Another USA based Azerbaijani blogger Ruslana Gee, and her friend, beautiful Maja Malnar, looked amazing at NYFW.

Another one of Maja Malnar because we think she looked stunning in this all black look!

Another one of Maja Malnar because we think she looked stunning in this all black look!

Another fashionable and fierce blogger babe Adriana Naomi spotted before one of the NYFW shows.

Another fashionable and fierce blogger babe Adriana Naomi spotted before one of the NYFW shows.

How pretty this elegant look? As seen on Olga from @allbuenothingsoli

How pretty this elegant look? As seen on Olga from @allbuenothingsoli

Pastel perfection on Nathalie from @nata_allbuenothings during NYFW.

Pastel perfection on Nathalie from @nata_allbuenothings during NYFW.

We love Marilyn's beautiful face and her bold and stylish looks. Via @the_lunar_phase

We love Marilyn's beautiful face and her bold and stylish looks. Via @the_lunar_phase

Danielle Bernstein at New York Fashion Week.

Danielle Bernstein at New York Fashion Week.

Theme 33: CUBA DIARY. Cuban Vibes

Cuba Vibes Outfit. What to wear in Cuba?

Yes, at the end I want everything to be easily searchable and categorised, so everyone who visits my website can find ALL the information they need for their upcoming trip to a specific location, or find everything related to Star Wars, for example, with constantly updated looks, book lists and gifts ideas. You can already check some of my "themed issues" on the ARCHIVE page by the way!

I remember when I started this blog I didn't imagine my social platforms and the website will grow so rapidly. I always wanted to make Pastiche.today more like a themed magazine, however changing themes weekly has been a major struggle lately and I wasn't able to keep up with posting all the travels, events and amazing collaborations I was so privileged to experience. Then a light bulb went off in my head and I realised that I just should make Pastiche.today more organised, and while limiting the number of THEMES, I can update them like little magazine issues that NEVER get old!
 


But lets return to our Cuban dream trip. Everyone who knows me well, notices that I love choosing my wardrobe for the trips and my style changes and adapts depending on the destination (which is perfect for someone who loves doing THEMED posts, right?!)  I wore a lot of white and hues of blue in Hamptons, didn't bring a lot of accessories and opted for simplistic luxury bags (I will share my Hamptons weekend with you soon!)

For Cuba on the other hand I went overboard. As far as I could! I brought flower crowns, colourful dresses in 50s inspired silhouettes, sexy crop tops, flowy skirts, big eye-popping bright earrings, bracelets, sandals. Parrots! Feathers! Flowers! And I think I made it work. I tried to emphasise the beauty of Cuba with my style choices.

One of my favorite outfits to wear in Cuba was this sultry polka dot three-piece outfit from SHEIN. It is quite risque due to its high slit, but it is perfect for a tropical getaway! I have received so many compliments when wearing it (and I also wore it in Miami for my birthday dinner with my family btw!). While I wouldn't wear a flower crown anywhere BUT Cuba and countries with similar vibes, these burgundy flowers looked really good with my SHEIN ensamble, don't you think?

What To Wear in Cuba?

I have linked my outfit and similar items I love below. Can you imagine that this polka dot three-piece dress is $20?!

With my blogger babe Olga in Cuba!

Blogger outfits in Cuba, Havana.

Dress - Shein | Flower Crown - Forever 21 (similar here)  | Wedges - Saks Off 5th (NOW on huge SALE)

SHOP THE TREND:


Theme 33: CUBA DIARY. The Age of Decadence

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When the strict US travel ban was lifted and major airlines opened direct flights to Havana from American cities like New York and Miami in the fall of 2016, a lot of digital influencers, journalists and celebrities rushed to the “forbidden land”. Seen-it-all, been-everywhere voyagers were excited to explore a country famous for its rich history and slightly sinful indulgences. High quality delicious cigars accompanied by creamy, caffeine-heavy cortado shots, topped with delicious Mojitos, and of course Cuban rum, clouded dreams of all hedonists in America.

Havana has never really tickled my imagination the way it did that of Americans’. In fact, all I knew about Cuba was that it was a communist country with a pirate-y past. The other details of its history were conveniently obscured during my post-USSR education. As a citizen of Azerbaijan (which used to be a part of the Soviet Union until 1991!) I could always visit Cuba without any restrictions; it didn’t bear that forbidden-fruit-attractiveness to me. However, I am a curious little creature, and upon reading some great written pieces in travel journals, blogs and a couple of Wikipedia articles, I told my husband that maybe, one day we should add Cuba to our never-ending bucket list. Little that I knew that Ben, as many Americans, was immediately smitten with the idea of enjoying an unlimited supply of cigars and rum on a practically virgin beach with turquoise blue water. He booked the tickets the next day and we set sail into the [relatively] unknown.

Elated by stories of Cuba’s glory days and multiple Instagram photos filled with the colourful streets of Cuba, on the 1st of July, my squad, consisting of my irreplaceable husband, fellow blogger and friend Olga and her boyfriend Frank, was standing outside the very Communist Red José Martí International Airport. Strict passport control and an additional baggage scan was not something I am used to, but everything went smoothly. Be prepared, Cuban border control will ask you if you have recently been to Africa. To be honest, I am not sure WHAT they do when someone says yes (do they send you back, do they force a medical exam, do they just ask and don’t really care about your answer?), but just in case, make sure you don’t visit Africa a month prior your arrival to Cuba.

The first thing that hit us when we left the airport is how hot, loud and energetic Cuba is. Be prepared to be attacked by very friendly taxi drivers who will shout their prices as if it was the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. Bargaining in Cuba is practically a national sport, and if you don’t want to get fooled, try to politely haggle the prices down. The only time battling for a cheaper price is unnecessary is at the airport, as we all know how tired you are after a flight, and getting to the hotel is more important.

The ride to our hotel in Old Havana was fascinating in so many ways! Even though I had seen a lot of photographs of Havana, and heard my blogger friends’ impressions of their trips to Cuba (which were not always favourable), I walked into this country with an open mind and heart, and trust me, that is the best way to travel to ANY destination. Very specific expectations and unreasonable high-hopes can cause disappointment and ruin trips. If you are travelling to Havana and expecting to have all the luxuries of modern resorts, all the items and products that you assume are commodities, and don’t have anyone in your travelling group who speaks Spanish (or at least is very very good at humming Despasito and at meaningful hand gestures) don’t waste your time.

Why is that, you ask? Good question.

The USA imposed (and still imposing, although it eased up in recent years!) an embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years, which means a complete and harsh trade ban. Moreover, Cuba became a communist country in 1965, which didn’t help its economy growth either. To give you a few examples of what it means to the country and its citizens, please read further.

The people of Cuba were not allowed to buy or sell their property until just a few years ago; Cubans were not allowed to have cell phones, computers or DVDs until 2008, many still have never even used Internet, and the average salary is under $30. There is NO freedom of speech, and even those few lucky ones who get to “surf” the internet face severe online censorship.

So let me ask you again: Does a meaningful vacation for you translate into mornings at luxury spas, shopping sprees at Rodeo Drive-esque streets, 5-course meals by chef Lawrence Blah Blah Michelin Gordon Blah Ratatouille and such? Then, scroll to another page, forget about Cuba for a few years until globalisation ruins [i mean brings!] Starbucks, Forever 21 and KFC to the country.

But if your heart pumps faster when you think of discoveries, adventures and untold stories, congratulations! You are my friend forever. Let’s continue!

Where were we? Ah, yes, we just got into the cab at the airport. I greedily inhaled hot and heavy Havana air, and peered out of the window like a happy puppy on our way to the Saratoga Hotel where we were going to stay for a week. Our driver ended up being a singer at the popular new Cuban hangout Fabrica de Arte, and sang Rick James’s Superfreak surprisingly well, and put us in a dancing mood.

When we arrived at the The Saratoga Hotel, we were greeted with delicious cocktails and great service straight away. The hotel is one of the most luxurious ones in Havana, and it has hosted such celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

Ben and I had a beautiful suite with a balcony overlooking Havana’s Parque de la Fraternidad and the glorious El Capitolio, which is as much an iconic symbol of Havana as Tour d’Eiffel is to Paris! The Saratoga Hotel has a great rooftop pool with a little bar, a great view and perfect tanning spots. As I mentioned previously, I didn’t expect any lavishness from Havana, so everything at our hotel pleasantly surprised me.

Of course after we relaxed by the pool, we were itching to explore the city. There is no doubt that the first thing that catches everyone’s eyes are cars. Gorgeous classic cars from later 40s and 50s are everywhere! For a person who went to vintage cars shows in England for several years in a row (oh, how I hunted for tickets!), it was quite special. And we are allowed to ride in them?! And they cost as much as regular cabs?! My mind was blown, and I truly felt like I was immersed in the 50s when we got to drive around in convertible classic cars of all sorts of bright, pastel colors.

After my initial infatuation with vintage cars, I looked around and… couldn’t take my eyes off the impossibly beautiful architecture so wildly juxtaposed to poverty-ridden corners. I have never seen a place more decadent than Havana. The city is like a dusty jewelry box full of gems that shine as bright as ever, and are just waiting to be re-discovered. There are abandoned castles transformed into restaurants with grand chandeliers, half-destroyed walls and amazingly intricate doors. Untouched, decaying, but still glorious in its awareness of its former beauty.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Havana became arguably more fashionable than Monaco and Cannes combined. It was prosperous, flourishing, swimming in an abundance riches. Cuba was a country with a grand middle-class; it was filled with prosperous entrepreneurs, glamorous starlets and powerful gangsters. Cuba was the fifth country in the world to have a railroad, and had some of the most luxurious theatres, mansions and estates in the world. The fascination with “The Paris of the Antilles” seemed to be endless.

Until it ended. With the embargo and all that (read above). The last 50 years have been hard on Cuba, but I saw the raw beauty of Havana with all its deteriorating villas, classic sculptures, magnificent cultural monuments, and of course its people. Full of energy, chatter, and an eagerness to help, to work, to make a change.

I walked the streets of Havana that whispered passionate stories and screamed about historical occurrences, like they were pages of a book. A book so old, so rusty and yellowed, that not a lot of people would give it any time out of their day, but a book with a truly rare story that only those who seeks it can find.

P.S. This article might have ended being more poetic than I anticipated, but that is what fiction writing does to you (yes, I am still writing my novel!) My next post will have less nostalgia, and more of FACTS, LOCATIONS and USEFUL TIPS for those who plan to travel to CUBA.

For now, I bid you adieu, my friends, but already excited to see you in my next post!

Theme 32: Boho Chic. Festival Vibes in the City

California Moonrise review. Amazing clothes boho chic

For a while I wanted to get a long cardigan, but couldn't find what I really liked. Luckily I received this absolutely beautiful long knitted crochet cardigan from California Moonrise, and I am embarrassed to say that I wear it pretty much every day with everything now!

Pictures on their website doesn't even give it a justice. The cardigan is very comfy, but stylish and can be as easily worn with shorts and jeans as with a swimsuit or as a warm throw at home. Recently I have been writing in outdoors cafes a lot, and because it is still chilly in New York, I love throwing this cardigan over basic tops and tshirts. 

For this look, shot by my favorite NYC Photographer Dennis, I styled California Moonrise cardigan with white jeans, silky top with lacey details, added some black accessories and of course wore my cowboy hat that I seem to not take off since Coachella :)

Ulia ali wearing California Moonrise. Blogger collaboration.
Cardigan knitted crochet by California Moonrise. 2017
Crochet cardigan. Boho chic
Boho chic in Dumbo
Boho chic style

Get my Crochet Cardigan here! (on SALE NOW)