Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

Thursday, October 6, 2016

September Favorites

I'm bringing back these posts because a) I love reading these and b) I think it'll be a great way to round off each month!

September was an okay month but I definitely enjoyed these bunch of things over the last 30 days - there's some beauty stuff, a book and weirdly, a car cleaning service (don't say that I never surprise you)


The Martian by Andy Weir
Haven't seen the film yet but love the book. Great read even though there are an insane amount of technical details in there. For those who haven't heard of either, the book follows Mark Watney, an astronaut who gets stuck in Mars after a storm separates him from his teammates who were heading back to Earth. He figures it might take a while for him to get help as they presume that he's dead and starts planning his survival on the planet.

Wet n Wild - MegaLength Mascara
An oldie but a goodie - if you're looking for a mascara to give you clump-free long lashes, this mascara is for you. I would recommend this one for days where you are wearing minimal or no makeup as it looks very natural and doesn't them weigh down through the day. Perfect for those no-makeup makeup looks and for those who have semi-decent natural lashes as these don't really add much volume. If you're doing a glam look, I would definitely recommend the Maybelline Lash Sensational, another great budget option.

Kiko Milano - Heatwave Vanilla Lip Oil
First of all, Kiko has finally made it here - super exciting! Lip oils are becoming quite popular these days and this one works very nicely - smells incredible and feels really nourishing on your lips. Recommend if you're looking to try out a reasonably priced lip oil.

Kathleen Lights x Makeup Geek Highlighter Palette
Beautiful, beautiful palette. The formula is based off of the MUG foiled eyeshadows which I've heard great things about - it's very smooth and easy to blend (recommend using a blending brush and not a fan brush). It gives you a nice subtle highlight but is totally buildable into a blinding one with ease. If you're on the pale-light side, you'll most likely be able to use the first two shades as highlighter and possibly the third as a bronzing shade or on the lids.

Lush - Angels on Bare Skin Cleanser
As with all Lush products, this smells amazing and has a wonderful mix of clay, almond, lavender and lots of other delicious things which makes for a very good cleanser. It provides a nice gentle exfoliation without irritating my sensitive skin and helps balance it out nicely without any redness. I use it every other day on my face but it can be used everyday and for the body as well (love products that have these bonuses). I would however recommend using this in the shower as it can get slightly messy due to its gritty clay texture. Their new Halloween and Christmas collections also in store and online now (squee!)

Tarte - Shape Tape Concealer
Believe the hype, this concealer is pretty incredible. I got it after hearing the 20th beauty guru recommending it on Youtube and it was totally worth it! It's super light weight with medium to full coverage, stays on all frikkin day and it really does not crease. Really hoping this launches with rest of the Tarte goodies at Sephora Middle East at the end of October (still yay!). This one does have a slight fragrance if that's of concern to you but otherwise, excellent product.

Lottie London - Powder Power Brush
I love this brush - it's so soft, is a great size for powdering your face and it doesn't shed! Bonus - cute as a button! Definitely want to try out rest of their brushes.

Mavala Stop
So if you go back to the beginning of the year and read my resolutions, getting a grip on my terrible nail-biting habit was one of them. Mavala Stop is slowly making this a reality - it's a clear nail polish that youapply on and the next time you bite on your nail, it tastes bloody disgusting. I've tried other products that have similar effects but thisone is by far the worst tasting and therefore the most effective. Highly recommend if you're struggling with this habit.

OCD.ae
OCD.ae is a car cleaning service based in Dubai - they come right to your doorstep and do a full clean of your car inside and out, as simple as that. I've spent, what feels like, a lifetime waiting at petrol stations to get my car cleaned and therefore, this is excellent. They have different packages depending on how intense a cleaning you want. I used them the other day and opted for the Gold Package - they did a nice deep clean of the interiors, got rid of all the different random stains and were very thorough with the exterior as well! Very impressed, definitely recommend if you've been putting this off for the same reasons as me.


And that brings us to the end of this post.. until next month. What were some of your favorites this month, comment below! Also, what kind of posts would you like to see from the Monalogues - beauty, lifestyle, personal or something else? Hit me up and let me know, would love to hear the answer to this one!

Mona xo

Thursday, September 8, 2016

3 TV shows and books for the long weekend

I am thoroughly prepared to veg so hard this long weekend. I've been in Dubai long enough to know not to venture into any sort of mall or outdoor space during these times and therefore, I'm going wrap my blanket around myself babushka style, binge-watch a ton of stuff and be unproductive AF. I've been feeling slightly out of it these past few weeks and think I need to switch off for a bit.

Everyone needs these days - to shut down, unwind (or just be plain horizontal) and resurface back to a hopefully fresher self. I've been saving Stranger Things and a few others bits for this laze fest of a long weekend (it better be good) but here are some shows/books I've enjoyed that can keep you company.



Shark Tank

If you haven't watched Shark Tank as yet, what have you been doing? Also, I'm sorry. You're about to go down a rabbit hole so deep but you're going to lurrrve it. The show is simple - budding entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to investors a.k.a the Sharks in hopes of a partnership. Sounds quite basic I know but it's a really interesting watch!

Superstore

One of those shows where you don't have to think too much - a comedy with a charming set of characters based in a supermarket setting. America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) is in it as well some other familiar TV faces. Good laughs, simple stuff.

Unreal

Unreal's lead is Shiri Appleby who I find so terribly annoying but I have somehow managed to pushed past that because I really enjoy the show's theme! She plays a producer of a dating reality TV show and it's a look into what lengths people to go to for drama and high ratings. A bit farfetched but definitely entertaining.




The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

If you're looking a short and sweet read (it's only about 150 pages), I cannot recommend this enough. The book is narrated by Enzo, a dog, who recounts his experiences and his life with his owner, Dennis Swift who is a race car driver. This book is absolutely precious and expect to have a nice long cry at the end - I don't think it's possible to avoid this. Thanks Ekta (Dollz in Dubai) for recommending this gem!

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

If you liked Girl on the Train, this book is on similar territory. A great thriller - follows the story of Claire and Lydia, estranged sisters who reunite when Claire discovers some horrible secrets of her recently killed husband. I finished this in one night!

God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This is one of my favorite books - probably will get around to re-reading this as I do every year. I know this is a super oldie but if you've been putting off reading this one until now, you really are missing out. The book has so many beautiful details - it is based in Kerala, India and follows of the story of fraternal twins growing up in a mess of a family combined with various political and emotional themes. Must warn you that it's an intense read!

Eid Mubarak everyone and have a lovely long weekend. Tweet me with who your favorite Shark is or if you have any recommendations for me - babushka out!

Mona xo

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Treat Yo Self - Budget Edition

This blog post is inspired by certain purchases I dwell on for, what feels like, years and years for absolutely no good reason.

You know those items that you don't really need but want? Let's say this is the budget version of that list. These items that are definitely NOT ones that you need to splurge and live in guilt for but more like really - do I really need these?

I rarely put in this much thought when you don't have to shell out as much but somehow, I've built up quite the list of what I like to call 'budget luxuries' - it's like when you have a Coke with ice and lemon or when you get a new screen guard, when you buy an app even - you get the gist.

Here's some that I finally went ahead and 'treated' myself to:

1. Pillow mist

I can hear the eye rolls going around on this one but trust me, it's deliciously wonderful. You spray this baby on after you lay out fresh sheets and BAM, relaxation central. I got this one from Bath and Body Works and I believe they have a range of scents for this - so go treat yo self.

2. Shower speaker

I listen to music during most activities - working, doing chores, in the car etc. Like most people, I usually use my iPhone for all of these which works okay but it was just not cutting it for my shower karaoke sessions. (yes, major first world problems)

After extended contemplation, I got myself a banging speaker off of Dubizzle for an extravagant AED 30 and I freaking love it - jamming out in my shower, all day err day now.

3. Popsocket

Do I really need this? Phone grips, I feel, fit right into this category. So, I spent many browsing minutes over Popsockets for a while before I bought it along with the PopClip which looked promising as a stand for the car.

And it is so freaking convenient. It makes for such a comfortable experience holding your phone and it doubles as a stand as well so +1. With the PopClip, it's perfect for the car because I always end up dropping my phone in all the possible crevasses and now it has its neat little spot.

Totally recommend, go treat yo self.

4. Magnetic weekly planner

As much as I want to be the person using all those cute planners you see everywhere for my schedule/to-dos (also, do I really need those?), I never end up using them. And the same goes for using my phone for this - just can't seem to get into the habit of it.

And so, it usually ends up on random post it notes, notebooks, magazines.. pretty much anything I can write on till it's lost/forgotten forever. When I found this little guy in Typo (this place is filled with budget luxuries, it's dangerous), I reminded myself that I MUST start using my planner/phone again for these things and then, shocker, I never did. On my millionth visit to Typo, I finally decided to 'treat ma self'.

It's magnetic so I put this onto a tiny whiteboard I already owned and hung it above my desk and now, I'm wonderfully organised - I can see my immediate schedule for the week as well as other little to-dos all together on this planner.

It worked out surprisingly well with these products but as you can imagine, this is almost never the case with my budget luxuries. There's tons more where that came from - mugs, novelty USB sticks.. anything novelty for that matter!

Comment below with one of your recent budget luxury purchases, would love to see what you've indulged in.

Mona xo

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Get to know me: 20 questions

I've been blogging for close to two years now and am surprised I haven't done one of these yet.

I've got a lot of new people come on here recently (welcome!) and so, this seemed like a perfect time to do a little 'get to know me' post with eclectic questions from the treasure trove that is the internet. Let's go!

What is..

Your biggest pet peeve? 
Rude people drive me up the wall.
 
Favorites:
- Animal - Dogs
- Color - Yellow
- Holiday - Christmas
- Ice cream flavour - Oreo
 
The latest photo taken on your phone? 
A blurry one, very representative of my general album I have to say.
 

What would you do if, at this current moment, your mirror self comes out from a mirror? 
I would probably pass out - don't see myself surviving this terrifying moment.
 
What was the last concert you were at? 
Adele and she was magical!
 
 

Would you rather

Holiday at the mountains or the beach? 
Beach bum all the way.

Sit at a window seat or aisle seat?
Window, so that I have something to sleep on. (most window people consider this reason a blasphemy)

Read on an e-book reader or a real book?
I would much rather read a real book but the reality is I read on an e-book reader. I find it easier to carry around and end up reading more. 10 of 52 books done btw, if any one is keeping track of my resolutions from this year - going horribly so far.


Be in a crowd or a small group?
Weirdly, both.

Be in sunshine or gloomy weather?
I <3 gloomy weather but it has to be chilly as well. Gloomy days in the summer are the worst!


Do you..

Take the shampoo and conditioner bottles from a hotel room? 
Hell yes, I take everything that I'm possibly allowed to take out a hotel room, especially the slippers!
 
Like to use Post-It notes? 
I love to but I can almost NEVER find one when I need it! Is this just me?

Sleep with your doors open or closed? 
Closed, the other option just gave me the shudders.

Have any pets?
Yes, a handsome little old man dog.

A photo posted by Mona | the monalogues (@monagir) on

Believe honesty is the best policy? 
Not always.

Can you..

Curl your tongue?
Nope, I try every single time someone asks me this question.
 
Play an instrument?
No.
 
Change a car tire?
Nope - would love to learn! Is there a life skills class I can take?
 
Swim?
Yes, glad my parents powered through my tantrums and made me learn.
 
Draw? 
Totally. If the below picture is not proof enough of my artistry, I don't know what is.


 
And there, you know a little bit more about me now - follow me over on Instagram and Snapchat for more sneak peeks into what I do on the daily!

Mona xo

Monday, May 16, 2016

7 Travel Tips for your next holiday

Disclaimer: I'm no Nomadic Matt. I've just spent the last two weeks submerged in prep for my upcoming holiday and these are my simple go-to resources for holiday planning.

I'm off in 3 days, eeek! Here's a little peek at where I'm headed:


Don't get me wrong - I'm a big info/planning-nerd and all about the YAY in holid-yay.

But the research, planning, itinerarizing, bookings, payments, cancellations, (shudder) last minute changes AND that too for an ENTIRE group is just about as fun as getting your teeth pulled. I wouldn't have it any other way :)

For now, I'm reaching the very end of this process and thought I'd share my go-to resources/tips that made my planning process infinitely easier! 

Flight search


Usually, I use Cleartrip for flight searches - it's easy, you can compare a bunch of flights and book with very few clicks - what's not to love? But on this trip, we stumbled upon some incredible rates using Google Flights. Google magically picked up (as they do) these awesome promotional fares that didn't show up elsewhere and boom, we got tickets almost half off the original price!

Start a spreadsheet


As soon as a holiday plan is in place, the next thing I do is make a Google spreadsheet (promise I'm not sponsored by Google, teehee) and share it with people I'm travelling with - it includes the basic info like a rough schedule, cities we're going to and things we want to see in these places, flight info etc.

This little guy is useful for so many different reasons - you have all the info you need in one place which helps especially if you have a long trip and lots of bookings, you have a clear overview of the schedule, costs and status of things and like I mentioned, you can share this and any updates you make will reflect for others also. It serves a nice little list for the future as well!

The Modern Tourist has done a great in-depth post on this, so head over there if you want more on this!

Finding a place to stay


My go-to is always Booking.com because (again) it's easy, you have free cancellation on most places, so you can book and then take your time to look around for some more options in the meanwhile. I do refer back to reviews on TripAdvisor because sometimes reviews are not that detailed on Booking and they only have the fancy shiny photos of the accommodations as opposed to regular life photos which TripAdvisor has in addition.

Airbnb is also a popular option if you're looking for a homely experience (or so I've heard), I'm yet to try it out myself.

Where to go, what to see


This is the fun but difficult part - I usually use TripAdvisor as a starting point for places to see and then work my way down the rabbit-hole to travel blogs, social media, friends, family etc.

During this process, make sure to look out for the little additional info that people usually share like this is not open on that day, buy these tickets in advance and don't bother waiting in line for this statue etc which will help save time (and heartache). There's tons of different itineraries online from different tour companies, just mix and match as you please.

Zomato collections also work as an good base guide as to where you can eat and drink your way through the city. Apart from this, do a general Google search for events possibly happening in that city while you're there, might stumble into something exciting! (Adele in Lisbon, Coldplay in Barcelona for me and a local festival in Cordoba for me!)

Internal travel


We're booking a lot of internal travel on this trip and it was quite the challenge to figure out what works best with distances, times and the different modes of transport. This website called Rome2Rio was super useful for this specific reason - it lists all options between two places (bus/flight/car/train) along with the relevant information and links to where you can book them as well. You can use this for international travel as well if you need.

Label your bookings in your inbox


While this is not a new trick, it's well worth adding in this list! I have a little more than 20 different bookings on this trip and I've done myself a favor and labelled every booking - Spain/Portugal 2016 - in my email, so that when it's time to print, everything is in place and I don't need to worry about missing an important printout to present at the airport or anywhere else I might need.

Get your International Driving Permit (IDP)


This is a no-brainer. If you're planning to drive where you're going (even if you're not, good to keep handy), get your IDP locally, they are valid for a year and so it'll also help for future travel within that time frame. They print it in a bunch of different languages so you're covered translation wise.

Here's a detailed post on how and where to get your license in Dubai by Globe Trotting Filipina!


And that about rounds up this post, hope it helps you on your next trip. You can follow me on Instagram and Snapchat for updates on my travels!

Mona xo

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 resolutions

Another year has come and gone. And also, yes, it has been a while since I've been on here - but hey, new year new me? (just threw up a little bit in my mouth)

This blogging stuff is hard (#firstworldpain) and I often find myself struggling to talk about something fresh, something that's not just another product or trend or whatever else. Don't get me wrong - it's interesting to share that content and I binge-read those blogs but to do that constantly is really not up my alley. 

So, back to the new year, 2016 has been just the same as 2015 so far which isn't necessarily a bad thing! But nevertheless, let's get this out the way. Presenting some damn resolutions:

1. #52booksin2016

So I've taken this on because I've been sorely disappointed with how many books I've read in the last few years and hopefully, this helps kick start something. On that note, please drop me some suggestions - I made a whole deal about making a full list for this and have a grand total of 12 books on there so far.

2. Lose some weight

I've struggled with my weight more or less all of my life and it's about time to try and get a hold on it. I feel like this is everyone and their mothers' resolution so you know how this goes.

3. Less stress

I've come to a not-so-crazy realization that I stress about the stupidest damn things and this needs to stop, preferably very soon.

4. No more nail biting 

I have a painfully chronic nail biting habit and I almost succeeded at kicking this end of last year until I didn't. So, here goes attempt no. 5687.

And that's it. My list is very short and sweet this year, hoping less is more. Let's kick some 2016 butt!

What are some of your resolutions? Share - would love to know what you guys are taking on!

Mona xo

Monday, November 23, 2015

Festive Season Wishlist

The festive season is upon us! Yes, it's only November but I honestly can't wait any longer to partake in ALL them festivities and I'm sure most people would agree. I've been browsing online for some gift ideas (mostly for myself, ahem) and have now fallen in love with many new discoveries, thanks to this 'research'.

So, in the spirit of the holidays, here's my wishlist for the season:


1. YouBeauty advent calendar -  If I could, I would put all them damn beauty advent calendars on this list because each one of them looks incredible. My current favorite from this season is this YouBeauty one - it seems to have a great mix of skincare as well as beauty products from some brands I'm looking to try out such as Rodial, Philip Kingsley, Nuxe etc. Other favorite advent calendars include the Marks & Spencer and L'Occitane calendars.

2. Bakery Charms Pizza Ring - I don't know how you can go wrong with anything you buy from Bakery Charms. All their pieces are winners but have to say, this was my favorite - it was a very close call between this one and an equally realistic cake ring.

3. EstΓ©e Lauder Double Wear Foundation - Based on several reviews, this foundation seems to be a tough cookie which pretty much stays on no matter what. As someone who lives in Dubai where it's summer for most part of the year, this could be very useful!

4. Skinnydip London Milk iPhone case - I'm not usually one for these obnoxiously giant cases for your phone but this one is just so adorable! I must have it.

5. Diptyque Holiday Collection - Diptyque is no new addition to the candle party but I can honestly admit that I solely want to buy these candles just based on this packaging - SO festive and I'm sure they smell equally delicious! The three scents in the holiday collection are Sapin, Liquidambar and Oliban.

6. Glen Coco Holiday Pullover - Mean Girls + Christmas = shut up and take my money.

7. Clarisonic Mia 2 - I've been looking for something to take my skincare routine to the next level and this product has that's been making quite the difference for many people. It was between this one or the Foreo but after some careful review surfing, the Clarisonic seems to be it!

Apart from this list, I obviously also accept cake, Christmas ornaments and hot chocolate (pretty much all year around).

What's on your wishlist this season? Comment below, let me know!

Mona xo

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dirham Store Challenge

I'm always up for a good challenge and this post is inspired by the Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge by YHL. Since the thrift shop situation in Dubai is slim pickins, I decided to hit up the next best alternative for thrifty finds - Dubai's version of dollar stores a.k.a the 1 - 10 DIRHAM STORES! (dum dum dum).

It looks a little something like this, a familiar sight to those living in Old Dubai:


Armed with AED 20 ($5.45), I ventured out into the wild wild world of dirham and discount stores. While I was prepared for items that would possibly just serve comedic value, SPOILER ALERT/PLOT TWIST: I was pleasantly surprised!

So, boys & girls, presenting my whopping 20 Dirham haul:

1. Starting off with a classic (and my most expensive purchase), I scored a small notebook and bonus, it has a doggie on it - need I say more?

2. Up next is an ultra-cute camera pouch which is perfect for smaller cameras and can also be used store other items such as stationery etc.


3. My favourite find - the oh-so-popular mason jar which is surprisingly expensive in the UAE. I found this for a mere AED 3! I am now living my hipster life vicariously through this jar.

4. Keeping in line with the hipster theme, I also found me some mustache suction hooks for hanging some of my jewelry and so on. Fun right?


5. And last but but not the least, a find to trump all finds, this glorious popcorn tub! I'm always eating popcorn out of the bag and this has given my popcorn its rightful place (until I inhale it) + I feel like I'm at the movies!


Ringing up all my purchases, it brings us to the grand total of AED 20! I think I scored myself some pretty sweet deals, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @MonaGir.

If you'd like to take up this challenge (do it), the rules are pretty simple: your budget is AED 20 or its equivalent in your currency and that's it. Do tag me or comment below with what you find!

Also, The Monalogues is turning 1 very soon (eek!) and I have some surprises coming up in celebration - watch this space!

Mona xo

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Current Book & TV Recommendations

I've been trying to make more time to read and possibly watch some new shows this summer. This is a task and a half for me because I'm always going back to a TV show that I've already seen way too many times (read Friends) and continue re-watching it till my eyes bleed (and then some more). The same applies for books (HP is my weakness), movies and pretty much anything else.

But luckily, I found some good ones to break into so thought I'd share for those looking to do the same. Let's start with some of my recent reads!


Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Summary: In Modern Romance, popular comedian Aziz Ansari teams up with award-winning sociologist Eric Klinberg to better understand dating in the modern world. The book shares his findings from this research in a light-hearted, comedic manner that you wouldn't usually expect from a book that contains a number of academic references.

Thoughts: When I started reading this book, I honestly couldn't get past the first few chapters. It's not that I hated it - I had heard great reviews and from what I had read so far, I was underwhelmed. But for some reason, I decided to get the audiobook from Audible. And lo and behold, I really enjoyed the audio version of this book! The audiobook is read by Aziz himself - he's done such a great job and it  has a lot of heart. If you're interested in trying out the audiobook, Audible has a 30-day free trial and you can get a book free!


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Summary: The Girl on the Train follows Rachel who takes the train to work everyday and becomes quite obsessed with a couple she watches from the train when it halts at the stop in front of their house. Jason and Jess, she calls them, seem like the perfect couple and that's something Rachel never had. One day, Rachel sees something 'shocking' and there begins the real story.

Thoughts: This book! I made a huge mistake by starting this at 1 AM because I could not sleep until I finished it. Believe me, I tried. It is a psychological thriller alright, absolute page-turner. The book is told from different perspectives which I enjoy, characters are pretty interesting and the story definitely keeps you guessing. As most reviews say, it is reminiscent of 'Gone Girl'. So if you enjoyed GG, give this one a go.


Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Summary: Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the story of Eva Thorvald, a culinary prodigy and her journey to becoming a bad-ass famous sought after chef despite tragic times. Eva's story is told through perspectives of those around her and each of their chapters are named after the food they inspire in her life. Foodies, you'll love this one.

Thoughts: I have to admit - I'm yet to finish this book. But I am halfway through and like it so much - I had to include it! When I first read the summary, it sounded kinda serious but it's actually quite funny and light-hearted mixed in with some heartache. Again, love the different perspectives aspect of the book and the Midwestern setting is just lovely. Also, as mentioned - lots of food references, prepare to be hungry.


Now moving on to some of my new TV finds! 


Mr. Robot

Summary: Mr. Robot follows Elliott, a cyber security engineer day by day, hacker by night. He experiences severe social anxiety and so, he hacks people to get to know them better. Things get seriously interesting when one day, he gets recruited by a secret hacker society to take down one of the largest corporations in the world.

Thoughts: I started watching this because I'm a big fan of Rami Malek and I'm loving Mr. Robot so far, my favorite debut this TV season. The theme is intriguing and unique, recommend if you're looking something completely new to watch. It's only about 8 episodes in and has been renewed for a second season.


Humans

Summary: Humans is a remake of the Swedish sci-fi series 'Real Humans' which follows the story of Joe who gets a Synth named Anita, an android robot, in the hopes of helping out him and his wife Laura with their three kids and their housework. Soon after, things start to get complicated.

Thoughts: This series is creepy for sure but in a good way (I think). I love the almost dystopian setting of the show, hoping this one sticks. Scary how domestic robots are not way in the future, eh?


Younger

Summary: In Younger, recently divorced 40-year-old Liza Miller struggles to find a job in her line of work because of her age. But when she's reminded that she looks way younger than she is, she takes that idea, poses as a 26-year-old and soon lands a job as an assistant to an editor at a publishing firm. How long will this secret remain?

Thoughts: This show is so cute - Sutton Foster fits into the role of Liza perfectly. Take it as a TV show version of a chick flick. It's a good fun watch, nothing ground breaking or mind blowing. If you're looking for a break between serious stuff, this should do it.

I'm still on the lookout for more things to read/watch, so let me know your suggestions - tweet me @MonaGir! Meanwhile, let me know if you check out any of the above and enjoy them!

Mona xo

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nominated for a Liebster Award!

So, I've been nominated for my first ever Liebster Award (squee!). If you're like.. nominated for the who? Then read on!


The Liebster Award is a tag that's passed on by bloggers to bloggers who are up-and-coming. I was nominated by the lovely Arti over at Diva Beauty, so it's safe to say there is at least one more person who has read my blog. (just kidding, thanks Arti!)

While usually I'm the first to rain on a chain letter/post parade, I like the thought behind this one - supporting other bloggers! 

So, here's how it works

Step 1: I answer 11 questions that Arti has posed

Step 2: I, then, come up with 11 questions

Step 3: And I nominate 5-11 bloggers (with less than 1000 followers) to whom I pose these questions

My answers

1. How did you choose your blog name?
    I knew my blog was going to be about a bunch of things and so I wanted a name that was neutral.
    I honestly just stumbled onto the name it is now.

2. If you would have to give one tip to new bloggers, what would it be?
    Don't be scared to put yourself out there.

3. Which eyeliner do you prefer - liquid, gel, cake or pencil and which brands and what style?
    I definitely prefer liquid. I'm loving the Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner at the mo.

4. If in the future, you decide to move, would you sell your blog? If yes, then for how much?
    I wouldn't sell my blog.

5. Which is your favorite clothing store?
    New Look is my current favorite.

6. Your brands of makeup brushes are?
    MAC

7. How often do you clean your makeup brushes and with what?
    Every week or so with baby shampoo!

8. Which do you prefer - tinted moisturizer, BB cream or foundation? Which brand?
    I prefer foundation - I'm liking the Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation right now, great coverage and
    it's holding strong in this heat!

9. One makeup essential you can't live without?
    Eyeliner.

10. What tool do you use for blogging photography - mobile, DSLR? Which brand?
      A mix of mobile and my Canon Powershot (in desperate need of an upgrade)

11. What are the goals of your blog and how has your life changed being a beauty blogger?
      My blog goals are to be as resourceful as possible. Being a blogger has changed my life in
      terms of how I evaluate things - everything takes a lot more time and thought.

And the nominees are.. 

In no particular order:

Sadia at Nomsville
Daniel at The Modern Tourist
Anna at Lipstick Locker
Judy at Food She Blogged
Saloni at Taste Charades
Savannah at Easy as Pie in Dubai
Becky at Etched In Me
Cindy at Liloneoftheashes
Monica at Do In Dubai
Sharon at Pickle My Fancy

Nominees - of course, you are under no obligation to accept this award and carry it forward. Just know that this nomination means that I enjoy reading your blog!

And finally, here are my questions

  1. What is the story behind your blog name?
  2. What is your go-to comfort food?
  3. What's your one tip for other bloggers (seasoned/new)?
  4. What is your dream travel destination?
  5. How much time do you spend blogging in a week? What time of day?
  6. What is your favorite app at the moment?
  7. What platform do you blog on?
  8. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
  9. Books or movies?
  10. What's a life essential for you?
  11. If you had to recommend just one TV show, which one would it be?
And that's it for this post. Thanks again Arti for your nomination and nominees - if you do carry it forward, link me to your posts below so I can check them out!

Mona xo

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Music Streaming with Deezer

We've come a long way! From good ol' cassettes to burning playlists on CDs to music on iPods and now, we've really arrived in the digital age with music streaming. (I swear I'm not that old)

Seriously though, I honestly can't remember the last time I downloaded a song! I haven't found the  need to - I usually listen to the radio in the car so I can hear some new tracks and when I'm on my laptop, I stream music on Youtube which is quite the pain but I've powered through. I survived and thrived on Spotify when I was living in NYC but unfortunately, it does not work in this region unless you have a Premium subscription.

BUT just recently, I discovered Deezer and I'm a happy camper once again! Deezer is a music streaming service available (yes, legally available) in the UAE (and other countries)! I've been using the service for about two weeks now and have to say - it's pretty great.


So here's the lowdown - I'm currently on the free plan which means ads and being able to play them on only one platform at a time, both of which are no biggie IMO. They do also have a paid Premium+ version ($9.99/month) which has no ads, unlimited plays across platforms and being able to access your music offline as well. It's available on web, PC/Mac, iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry.

They have some cool features like 'Flow' which suggests music based on your current favorites and 'Mixes' which are genre based playlists. You can also make your little playlists and here's my favorite part - you can choose to have people collaborate on your playlists! Fun right? I was even able to import my Spotify playlists quite easily using this website!


The library is quite impressive - I've been able to find all of the music that I listen to including the Bollywood tracks even. The interface is also quite easy to use which is definitely a bonus. So, I completely recommend giving Deezer a go if you're looking for a music streaming option - it's very similar to Spotify if you've used them before.

Here's a little summer playlist of songs I've had on loop for the last few weeks, you'll get a 30-sec preview if you're a not a Deezer member.



What are some of your favorite tracks right now? Let me know in the comments below! :)

Mona xo

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Staycation: Anantara the Palm

Who doesn't love a little break? I know what you're thinking - I was just in Turkey. BUT I feel like when you travel to a new place, you're constantly on the move trying to cover everything possible, planning everything to the T with a serious FOMO cloud over your head. Is this just me?

This is exactly why a staycation is my number one way to just RELAX followed very closely by a spa day. My most recent need to unwind led me to Anantara The Palm Resort and Spa for a weekend escape. Now, fair warning, this post is going to have way too many adjectives because this place was so god damn wonderful.


I jumpstarted my staycay by switching up my regular ride - I was packed off on a little tuk-tuk to check out the resort and man, just the tour had me straight into my holiday mode (I mean staycation mode). They have a whole bunch of things to do and places to eat which I'll get into in a bit - stay with me.

Once we entered the lane which led to my room, it really felt like I was transported to some part of Thailand (in my head, this is what Thailand looks like).



The cheese on my french fries was this gorgeous room! I had the premier room which had direct access to the simply divine lagoon that I spent so many (MANY) hours floating in. I was there around mid April and the weather just made this experience even more heavenly than it already was.


So after I managed to drag myself out of the lagoon, I went around exploring the resort. If you're the active kind at resorts, they have a gym, tennis courts, a watersports hut and even a kids club. While I didn't try out any of the activities (saying that I was lazing is an understatement), it's safe to say you're sorted if you feeling adventurous. More up my alley was the Anantara Spa but sadly they were closed for renovations at the time. They also have the resort staple - a lovely infinity pool along with a private beach.

And last but not the least, no staycay is complete without some good food - lazing can really bring out your appetite (teehee). I demolished the lovely breakfast at Crescendo but otherwise, sticking to my staycay theme, I thoroughly enjoyed some delish room service.

But if you feel like venturing out of your room and into the wilderness that is the resort, you're spoilt for choice between their Asian restaurant Mekong, Ozzie steakhouse Bushman's Restaurant and Bar (they even serve Kangaroo meat) and their Mediterranean option The Beach House


So if you're looking for your next mini getaway, I cannot recommend Anantara the Palm enough. I know I definitely did not want to leave and I absolutely can't wait to go back there.


This post is giving me serious staycation blues - any recommendations for my next one? Tweet me @MonaGir and leave a comment below :)

Mona xo

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pub Quiz Roundup

I'm a BIG BIG (BIG) fan of pub quizzes. What's not to love - it's the perfect marriage of fun + competition + food & drinks, all of which are totally up my alley.

If you're not familiar with the pub quiz concept - JUST GO TO ONE ALREADY! :) Okay alright, this is how it works - your willing friends/family and you head to one of these places on a quiz night, get some food & drinks, answer some trivia, get into some friendly competitive arguments (or more), have fun and if you're good - win some prizes!

I've been to my share of pub quizzes in Dubai and thought I'd share some of my favorites. For the love of quizzes, here we go!

Sundays - The Stables 

This has to be one of the harder quizzes I've been to but nevertheless, entertaining! They give out prizes each round such as dinner or a bottle of wine etc and a final cash prize as well. You also get to keep Winston LeQuiz (the dinosaur mascot) with you if you win any round. If that's not enough for you to try this quiz, I don't know what is.

The Stables, Sheikh Zayed Road
Free entry. 7.30 PM onwards. 

Other quizzes on Sunday night: Girders at JA Ocean View Hotel, 7.30 PM onwards.

Mondays - McGettigans DWTC

Fun quiz - you can win brunch vouchers every week and take part in the finale quiz every month to win an iPad. They have some interesting rounds which they keep switching up - we once had a 'where in the world' round in which we were presented with names of airports and had to guess the country to which it belonged, proved more challenging that you would imagine it to be!

McGettigans, Dubai World Trade Centre
Free entry. 8 PM onwards. 

Other quizzes on Monday night: Carters at Wafi Pyramids or UBK at Movenpick JLT, both 8 PM onwards

Tuesdays - Fibber Magee's

This is my favorite-st quiz of them all - great atmospherem the quiz itself is so much fun and one of the easier ones in town. Apart from the usual rounds such as general knowledge and music, they also have a round where you have to guess movie posters and a craft round where either you are presented with clay or some sort of art supplies and have to make something related to a theme.

Some of our 'interesting' attempts at the craft round - themes were St. Patricks and gifts for Obama
An all around good time and it's ladies night on Tuesday, so ladies get 3 drink coupons for the night! It gets quite busy, so it's a good idea to get there before 7.30 PM to get a table.

Fibber Magee's, Sheikh Zayed Road
Free entry. 8.30 PM onwards.

Other quizzes on Tuesday night: McGettigans JLT, 8 PM onwards

Wednesday - The Underground

Hosted by Danny C and Ross MacDonald from Radio 1, this quiz is a toughie. The time we were there, it was quite sports heavy and we ended up crashing and burning quite a bit. However, it is the quiz for those who like a challenge and some great prizes such as brunch and more up for grabs!

The Underground, Al Habtoor Grand
Free entry. 8 PM onwards.

Other quizzes on Wednesday: Double Decker at Al Murooj Rotana, 8 PM onwards

And that brings me to the end of this roundup. So if you're looking to do something different on a weekday than just go to the movies or the mall, head down to one of these and have some fun. If you are a fellow pub quizzer, let me know if there's any I should try out!

Mona xo

Monday, April 20, 2015

You know it's summer in the UAE when..

Tis' been a while! I spent the last few weeks working on a TV commercial and thus the unintentional blog hiatus. Anyway, I'm back and I come bearing bad news.. the summer has returned.

While the situation is not so painful as yet, we all know it's only the calm before the storm. So, as a follow up to my 'You know it's winter in the UAE when..' post, here's my take on when you know it's summer in the UAE (cringe)

1. You don't need to go to the beach to get a tan

 

2. You want to shower twice a day (with scalding hot water from cold water tap)

 

3. School's out! 

 

4. It's all melted errthing - lip balms, chocolate, face and more. 

 

5. Your car is a burn hazard - be it your door, steering wheel, gear or leather seats (good luck)

 

6. The need for H2o is so real, you even enjoy the occasional water sprinkler.

 

7. Guarantee you see lots of these.

 

8. And last but not the least, the humidity. Dubai becomes everyone's very own steam and sauna.

Enjoy the next few precious days till real summer gets here - stay hydrated, sunscreened and all that good stuff. What means summer in the UAE for you?

Leave a comment below or tweet me @MonaGir!

Mona xo

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ladies Night at Healey's

This weather, am I right? I decided to take full advantage of this not-so-long lasting winter and headed down to Healey's Bar and Terrace for their 'Pink Ladies Night' with my friend, Juhi. (wave to everyone)

First impression: Healey's has a cool, modern ambience and their resident DJ was matching this vibe with some seriously on point lounge music. Their menu featured a really good variety of food, light snacks, drinks and bonus - shisha.

Image provided by Healey's Bar and Terrace

Pink Ladies Night every Wednesday

We started off with some Chocolatinis (vanilla vodka + chocolate ice cream). My sweet tooth was purring - the cocktail was well-balanced and quite delicious really.

And to top off this sugar rush, we got a surprise strawberry vodka ice cream as a bonus ladies night treat! Overall, Healey's had a great relaxing atmosphere - just right especially for an after-work evening out.

*Pink Ladies Night is from 8 to 11 PM every Wednesday and offers three of either a featured cocktail or sparkling wine.

Photo credit: Juhi Roddam

How was the food, you ask?

Chicken satay, jalapeno poppers, chicken wings, corn and oh, we kept the light snacks coming. While these might not be ground-breaking choices for the menu, the snacks were tasty and I particularly enjoyed the chicken satay - very juicy with some great bursts of flavor. 

For the shisha fans - they have some wonderfully smooth shisha, we tried and loved the grape mint one. Most importantly, it stayed smooth through the evening.

After an enormous amount of snacking, we further indulged in a half-and-half pizza - one half was their Marco Polo Pizza (chicken, mushroom) and the other was their Frutti de Mare Pizza (shrimp, calamari, mussels). The crust was light and crispy, the pumpkin and onion puree on the Marco Polo pizza was divine and the seafood was paired perfectly with the pesto base in the Frutti de Mare pizza.

Photo credit: Juhi Roddam

I was very impressed by...

The terrace was pretty crowded and that's usually an excuse for bad service but Healey's was truly at the top of their game. The service was one of the best I've seen so far - the waiters were friendly, attentive and alert. As mentioned, we had shishas as well and not even once did we have to bug someone to change our coal because it was done in a timely fashion.

I definitely recommend the 'Pink Ladies Night' at Healey's to those looking for a chill night out to catch up with girlfriends over some delicious cocktails, food and shisha.

Healey's Bar and Terrace
Bonnington Jumeirah Lake Towers
Tel: +971 4 3560574
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bonningtontower

*This was a sponsored post but as always, all opinions are my own.

Mona xo

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Subscription Box Roundup - UAE edition

I absolutely love the idea of subscription boxes! What's not to love - they get delivered straight to your door, they serve as great gifts (both for yourself and others) and you get to try a whole new bunch of things every month. #win

There are quite a few subscription boxes that have popped up over the last year, so thought I'd do a little round up and share what's out here in the UAE across beauty, lifestyle, food, kids (plus moms) and pets.

Beauty

Glambox 

Glambox is easily the most popular of the subscription boxes in the UAE. For those who don't know, Glambox is a monthly beauty box that delivers a selection of beauty samples to your doorstep.

Subscription starts at AED 239 for three months.

I've used Glambox over the last year now and I am quite happy with it. They do have their off months - tiny samples, repetition of products etc but overall, I've discovered lots of good products through them.

Zanedo

Zanedo is another beauty box that's been around the block for a while. Their offering guarantees 2 full size products each month along with samples of other products.

Subscription starts at AED 189 for three months.

I did have a Zanedo subscription as well and was happy with the quality of the products that I received. I chose not to renew because I was not happy with the variety of samples.

Lifestyle

Box Therapy

Box Therapy is a fairly new monthly lifestyle box which aims to bring you products from across the board - beauty, decor, fashion, fitness, food and more. This is one is my favorite right now because there's just a little bit of everything.

Subscription starts at AED 396 for three months. They also have a promotional 1-month subscription option for right now for AED 162.

il.box

il.box is a bi-monthly box curated by the team at Khaleejesque, a lifestyle and culture magazine. Aimed to be the Gulf's first luxury subscription box, it will be delivered every two months along with the print issue of the magazine and will contain limited edition pieces as well as products from local Arab artists and businesses. Also included will be an exclusive invite to a special event and a luxury golden prize in one special box.

Subscription cost runs quite steep for this one, starts at AED 622/per box and AED 2484 for a yearly subscription (5 boxes). I took a peek at their January box on their website and I'm super tempted!

Food

Munchbox

Munchbox is a weekly snack box packed with nutritious, healthy snacks which are vegan, natural and free of artificial coloring. You can choose between their two boxes - Light for low-fat snacks or the Surprise Me box for if you're feeling adventurous. They have over 40 different snacks which they mix up for each delivery so you don't get bored.

Subscription starts from AED 49 per box per week. They also have a one-time delivery option if you just want to order them once in a while which starts at AED 59 per box.

Goodybox

Goodybox is a monthly snack box consisting of all natural and organic snacks. Each box contains a mix of 7 - 10 snacks and can be purchased on a one-time or a monthly subscription basis.

Subscription starts at AED 149/month and a one-time box is priced at AED 175.

Redcoffee24

Redcoffee24 has a monthly subscription for fresh coffee beans! They currently have four different varieties of coffee beans: Kenya AA, Nicaragua Maragogype , Rwanda AA and India Plantation AA.

Subscription starts at AED 40 per pack (227g) per month.

Kids + Moms

The Happy Box

The Happy Box is a monthly box which contains themed and educational projects for parents and kids to enjoy together. Great way to introduce new activities to kids every month!

Subscription starts at AED 705 for three months or AED 250 for a one-time box.

KenziBox

KenziBox is a monthly box which has four themed arts and crafts activities (including all the materials and instructions) for your kids to play around with.

Subscription starts at AED 525 for three months and a one-time box is priced at AED 185.

Mama's Box

Mama's Box is a monthly box for expecting mothers and mothers with kids up till the age of one. Each box is personalized with items corresponding to either your pregnancy stage or your baby's age. So, all your moms-to-be and new moms, they've got you covered.

Subscription starts at AED 705 for three months or AED 250 for a one-time box.

Pets

Petbox

Petbox is a monthly box for your furry little fellows. Based on your pet (dog/cat) and its size, Petbox will put together a box filled with treats and toys for them to enjoy every month.

Subscription starts from AED 564 for three months. You could also get a one-time box for AED 199.

Pet Pack

Pet Pack offers Pooch Packs and Purr Packs for your pets on a monthly basis. Each pack contains toys, treats and other surprises for your dog/cat!

Subscription starts at AED 537 for three months and a one-time box is priced at AED 199.

Waggiebox

Waggiebox is a monthly box for your dog which consists of healthy treats, dog products that are quality assured and even discounts to vets, daycare and grooming salons. I'm definitely looking to try this one for Illis!

Subscription starts at AED 189/month for tiny dogs, AED 199/month for small dogs, AED 209/month for medium dogs and AED 219/month for big dogs.

And that brings us to the end of my discoveries on this topic! Any that I missed? What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @monagir.

Mona xo

Thursday, February 5, 2015

January '15 Favorites


The Skimm
These days, we are exposed to a crazy amount of information which makes it quite difficult to sort through all the news (or even read any of) and get to the important stuff. The Skimm helps with just that. It's a daily email newsletter service that reads through all current topics/news, simplifies it and sends a daily update to your inbox in a fun, very easy-to-read format. Best of all, it's free!


Above
Sofitel Dubai Downtown

Love: Uninterrupted views of Burj Khalifa, fancy but with a no nonsense vibe
Place for: Date night, a chill evening out
Recommend: Falafel sliders and making a reservation (especially for the weekend)



Forest Essentials Advanced Soundarya Age Defying Facial Serum with 24K Gold
Forest Essentials is a luxury Ayurveda brand based in India. I bought this product on my recent trip to India and it's been working wonderfully for me. It's 100% natural, helps eliminate fine lines and pigmentation and the packaging is just gorgeous (I just had to say that, total sucker for packaging). I've seen a very noticeable reduction in pigmentation and my skin feels a lot more hydrated, so two thumbs up! Their products are not available in stores in UAE as yet but they do offer international shipping.


I'm a big fan of online shopping and Boohoo is my most recent haunt. They have a great selection of styles which are quite young and fresh and they have a plus-size section as well which runs up to size 24. The above two dresses are part of my January haul - I'm totally big on prints.


This game has ruined my life but I'm honestly hopelessly addicted. I'm not usually one to play games on my phone but this one sucked me right in. The basics of the game is joining dots as you can tell but oh, it's so much more than that. Give it a go and let me know how you get on, I've just made my way up to level 56!
Free, Available for iOS and Android


Scented candles are a no-brainer - they make the atmosphere so much more relaxed and calm, which everyone could use especially after a work day. My current favorite is the Ginger Lime candle from Pure Candles Dubai. All their candles are made of soy wax and are eco-friendly, made right here in Dubai. 


That's it for my favorites from January! Tweet me @MonaGir and let me know what some of your favorites are from last month! 

Mona xo
 
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