Monday, September 7, 2015

The Monalogues Turns 1 + Jarful Giveaway

I'm excited to have a new day to celebrate - today is my blog's first birthday! Happy birthday to my little nook on the WWW! #TMTurns1

One year ago, I launched the Monalogues and I have to admit that this blog has grown beyond anything I had planned for. It's nice when you surprise yourself and that's exactly what's happened here. So, thank you to everyone who has taken a minute to visit this blog!

If you're new here (welcome), or if you'd like to reminisce with me, here are some highlights:

My first official post - Online Shopping - UAE Edition

My most popular post to-date - Subscription Box Roundup - UAE Edition

My personal favourite - Why road trips are the best

My first blog award nomination - Nominated for a Liebster Award!

So, in celebration, I have a couple of giveaways planned for this month starting off with a birthday staple, CAKE!

I've teamed up with the lovelies at Jarful to give away a set of 6 cupcakes!


Jarful is your quintessential cake in a jar. Apart from being painfully cute, they are delicious-o and perfect even as favors at parties/events. I love their classic cupcakes but they also have flavors with a local spin such as Nutty Baklava, Nutella Kunafa and Turkish Coffee Cardamom. You can find their full menu and all the other deets on their website, so head on over there or find them on Twitter & Instagram.

Now, I know you definitely want these! So here's the lowdown on how to enter:


The entries for this giveaway will close on 16 September 2015 and the winner will announced shortly after. The competition is for UAE residents only. Good luck!

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, August 2, 2015

So Spa at Sofitel Downtown

I don't care if every other blog post has begun with how hot it is BECAUSE IT IS REALLY VERY HOT. I’ve grown up in Dubai and thus have spent many summers romancing the Dubai heat (it’s complicated) but this summer has really got me closer to being medium rare.

So if you share these heat woes and don’t want to hide out in a mall, head down for a spot of relaxation to a good ol’ spa. Feel like that’s always a good idea in any situation.

I visited So SPA at Sofitel Dubai Downtown recently for an Oriental massage and first impression - their spa reception is absolutely gorg! Textured stone walls, candles, a mini shop of products lined on one side of the wall and a small couch seating area on the other. 


Not to mention - a lovely statement set of tear-drop lights! (don’t know if that’s a thing but that’s what they looked like to me) I’m very used to warm lighting at spas but as you can see from the picture below, it was quite different here. Overall, quite modern and elegant. 


I was served a green sweet beverage along with a cold towel and asked to fill in the usual spa questionnaire. I was then led to my wonderful massage room which was quite simplistic keeping in theme with the rest of the spa. After I changed into my robe, my therapist offered me a selection of oils to choose from for my massage. I chose one of my favourites - Rosemary - and we began with the massage.


So the main function of an Oriental massage is to relieve pain and tension in the muscles, so there was kneading and treading movements which my therapist really knew her way around. As always, the one time you wish time would go slow, it flies by! At the end of my 60 minutes, I felt absolutely energised yet relaxed. 

After the massage, I was served another sweet beverage and a bowl of mixed nuts to munch on. Overall, a great experience - it’s a lovely spa, not over the top. Honestly though, it’s not your typical indulgent spa IMO where you would spend the day getting pampered but it’s a good luxurious option to get your quick but relaxing massages, facials and so on.


However, I do wish I had planned to spend more time there as they have a jacuzzi, hammam, sauna and access to the hotel's infinity pool with a superb Burj K view… maybe next time as there will definitely be one! 

They have a 2-for-1 offer on spa treatments this month, so dare I say this is perfect timing!

Oriental Massage, AED 475 for 60 minutes, contact 04-5036666

Mona xo

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Current Favorite Face Masks

When it comes to face masks, I love that they serve a lot of purposes - they unclog your pores, clear out your face, help maintain healthy skin and the best part, it's a wonderful relaxing 20 minutes. And once they come off, it almost feels like you just shed skin, like you just got a new face - so clean and fresh!

My kind of masks are the ones with natural ingredients, like the DIY ones. But as I'm rubbish at DIY, I've managed to find the closest alternatives to those. So without further jibber jabber, here are some of my current favorite natural face masks! This list is constantly evolving as are all lists beauty related, amirite?

Balanced Guru - Spiced Up Berries Antioxidant Masque


What: Spiced Berries Antioxidant Masque by Balanced Guru. All their products are organic and 100% natural!

Has: Acai, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, amla, vitamin C and more goodies

How:  It comes in a powder form, so I recommend mixing it with yoghurt for a cooling effect (especially in this heat). You can expect a slight tingling sensation right when you put it on but it goes away after a few minutes.

Post-mask: Reduced redness, brighter skin

Bonus: Smells ah-mazing! Puts you straight into spa mode.

Where: The Farmers Garden, Greenheart Organic Farms and online at Youmah


Pharmaclay - Clayspray Red Clay


What: Clayspray Red Clay by Pharmaclay. It's a face mask in a can! Basically, it's emulsified clay that comes in a can which keeps it incredibly fresh and clean. This range has clay masks for all different skin types and is paraben-free among other wonderful things.

Has: Red Clay, Cacao

How: While I was totally up for spraying myself in the face with clay, that's not how this works. It's surprisingly fuss-free - there is a neat little pump which gives out a sizeable portion of fresh clay which has a mousse-like texture and is wonderfully easy to apply. It dries quite quickly once you have squeezed it out, so make sure to apply it onto your face quickly. It dries out almost as quickly on your face as well but it's recommended you leave it on for 15 minutes before you wash it off.

Warning: the clay does look (and sorta smells) like chocolate mousse so cravings might be activated.

Post-mask: Less sebum/oil, reduced breakouts and super soft skin

Bonus: So travel-friendly, no worries about explosions and all that.

Where: Bloomingdales, Dubai Mall


Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay


What: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. This little guy is no secret despite the title. The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is almost a cult favorite by now, I would think! If you looking to spring clean your face, then this is the mask you have been looking for. The back of this box says.. feel your face pulsate. Need I say more?

Has: Bentonite Clay. That's it - so it literally takes dirt to suck out all the dirt out of your pores.

How: This comes in a powder form and for mixing this, make sure to use only plastic/rubber utensils - no metals. I recommend mixing this with apple cider vinegar for best results. Once you have this on and it starts drying, your face will start 'pulsating' and tightening quite a bit but don't worry, it's not an unpleasant sensation. I usually put this on before I take a shower so that I can get my face completely wet before I slowly scrub it off, I've found that it's slightly painful doing it otherwise.

Warning: Don't plan to talk or eat during this time because it's actually not possible (I tried and failed miserably) 

Post-mask: You might experience some redness after but not for long. Apart from that, this will be one of those times that you wash off your mask and you have a new face - SO clean. Smaller pores and fading of acne scars/blemishes is what you can expect.

Bonus: Pocket friendly!

Where: Online at Souq


Herbline Essentials - Apricot and Honey Face Scrub


What: Apricot & Honey Face Scrub by Herbline Essentials. I know what you're thinking - this is a face scrub. But what you don't know is that this product works just as wonderfully as a face mask as well. This one is my go-to mask for when my face needs a pick-me-up.

Has: Apricot, maize, honey, walnut shell and some more things that sound edible

How: It's got a nice paste-like texture and so it's quite easy to apply it onto your face. Once it's, it has a lovely cooling effect. This is most relaxing of the four masks and it helps rejuvenate tired skin.

Post-mask: It's one of those masks where you can see a difference as you soon as you wash off - smooth, radiant skin. It has done wonders with evening out my skin tone as well as reducing my pigmentation.

Bonus: As you already know, it doubles as a scrub!

Where: All pharmacies across UAE and online at Herbline Essentials


Aaaand I'm done. Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below as always!

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
 
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