Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I've always taken great pleasure in going to the supermarket, especially Tesco. That might sound odd to some (and maybe it is!), but there is something very satisfying about knowing that you can walk in to the supermarket and you are pretty much guaranteed to always find what you want.

Today I went in for one item and came out with a few extras, as is always the way, so I thought I'd share todays purchases in a bit of a mini haul.

I have had my eye on a smoothie maker for a little while now, particularly after my brother was gifted a Nutribullet for his birthday and became addicted to knocking up healthy drinks for himself and my sister in law. At upwards of £70, I just wasn't sure if I could justify the price tag for the Nutribullet, so I conducted a little bit of research online and stumbled across the Breville Blend-Active. Very similar in terms of concept, but a fraction of the cost at just £30. I read a few comparisons between the two appliances online, and then put the feelers out on Facebook where more friends than I expected recommended the Blend-Active, so I took the plunge and made the purchase, along with ingredients to whizz up some delicious smoothies this week in a bid to balance out all of the naughty food I have been eating so far this holiday...

I was in the market for a new phone case - mine had huge chunks missing and would have been hopeless at protecting my beloved iPhone in the likely event that I should drop it on a hard surface - so when I spotted this cute silver polka dot phone case at the bargain price of £6, I had to add it to my basket. I remember once paying £20 for a phone case when I first bought my iPhone - what was I thinking?! It comes in gold too for those with the gold iPhone :)

I definitely wasn't in the market for a new candle but when I smelt this it practically jumped in to my shopping basket - it smells amazing! 

This final purchase was actually from Boots but I thought I'd add it in here - I'm actually so disappointed with this polish, so much so that I am going to have to take it back! The consistency is horrendous - thick, gloopy and sticky to the point where it makes application impossible, which is so unlike the Barry M Gelly paints which have always been my favourite polishes. Not only that, but the bristles are loose on the brush so for each application, a bristle would trail behind on my nail, streaking the polish. Back to Boots it goes!

Quite a refrained shopping trip so far this holiday, I think because I know that I will be moving back to England in September so I don't have my usual frantic need to buy anything and everything whilst I'm let loose in decent shops! 

I have a few makeup items left to purchase so I'll also do a mini beauty haul once I have these :)


Thursday, 18 June 2015

First and foremost, RAMADAN KAREEM! The Holy month of Ramadan is underway the world over so I wanted to extend my best wishes to all.

Secondly, it feels so good to be back in front of my laptop, typing up a blog post. I really do miss blogging when I am away from it for extended periods of time. I haven't really had too much time and energy for it as of late as I've been a bit of a busy bee. This post is a bit of a life update / Doha Diaries / catch up post combination to fill you in on what has been going on lately in the life of The Blonde...

Ps - please forgive the iPhone pictures!

Those of you who know me in person/follow me on social media will know that recently I made the decision to follow my head and my heart and put the motions in place to leave my adopted home of Doha and head back to the UK. I'll be touching down in London town on a permanent basis from September, so I still have a few months left to embrace life here in the sandpit. After a very rocky time here due to personal reasons, the lure of being closer to my family has been tugging at me for a very long time, so when my very talented boyfriend was offered a great job back in London, the decision to head home suddenly became very easy, as I would be heading home to all of my loved ones. That's not to say I won't be leaving behind people I am incredibly fond of - I really have made some very close friends for life here in Doha, but I know that once I leave I will be seeing them again!

We are covering the Copa America tournament at work until 4th July. We have two studios a day, and as a result the team are working every day with no days off. I'm on day 14 and already feel like I'm going a little stir crazy, but it has been fun looking after the guests that the producers have lined up for the Planet Chile lunchtime show - Chef Bojan, the executive chef from Toro Toro at the Kempinski Marsa Malaz came in and prepared some light dishes on air, a pair of Brazilian martial artists came in to demo their moves, a freestyle footballer taught the presenters some impressive ball skills, and an incredible Capoiera instructor wowed us with this graceful and strong martial arts/dance combination, all in our impressive Copa America studio.

I mentioned in one of my previous Doha Diaries posts that I was excited about getting my glasses - they finally arrived and I really like them, despite the fact that I can't decide if they suit me or not!

Matt and I had a really great dinner date at the newly opened Toro Toro restaurant at the Kempinski Marsa Malaz hotel. Everything we ordered was amazing, from the scallops to the prawns to the desserts, which were very kindly complimentary from Chef Bojan. I will do a review post on this restaurant next time I'm there and armed with my proper camera rather than the grainy iPhone!

As a final date night before we go our separate ways for Summer (Matt's off exploring the US and I am heading home to the UK before we join each other in London to head back to Doha), we decided to opt for Mykonos as our date night dining destination. Situated in the Intercontinental Doha, it is a stones throw from our apartments and one of my favourite restaurants largely due to how beautiful the setting is (in addition to the good food, of course). I have some very fond memories of dining here, such as the night my mum and Matt met properly for the first time, and also one of my favourite impromptu date nights. When the weather is cooler, dining on the terrace of Mykonos overlooking the beautiful pool, you could forgive yourself for thinking you had been transported to a Greek island.

As I mentioned, I'm jetting off to the UK to spend a few weeks with my family and friends before my final stretch of time in Doha. I'm currently in the process of packing for the trip as well as packing up as many of my belongings as possible to transport back to the UK this time around, so that I won't have quite as much to ship home come September. It really is amazing how many things one girl can accumulate in two years living abroad!!

I can't really say what my blogging habits will be once I'm home in England over the coming weeks, but I hope to post again soon. Thanks for continuing to support my blog even though I've been very irregular with posting!

As always, I hope you've had a fantastic couple of weeks, wherever in the world you are reading from.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Every now and then, you stumble across a product that really throws you when it comes to making a decision on whether you like it or not.

Usually you can get a feel one way or another from a product (with the exception of skincare) after one or a few uses, but Big Easy from Benefit has been sitting in my makeup bag for the best part of a year, dividing my opinion every time I reach for it.

I didn't set out with the intention of buying this product, and it was never really on my radar until I was accosted by a Benefit sales assistant in Boots who had sat me down in a chair and whipped out her makeup brushes before I really knew what was happening. She introduced me to Big Easy, which at the time was a relatively newly released product. I was immediately taken in by two things: the oil-free formula and the SPF 35 content. Living in the desert, where the sun melts your face the second you step out of the sanctuary of the A/C, these are two things that really up-sell a product to me.

Those, the lightweight formula, and how lovely the sales assistant was meant that I left Boots almost £30 lighter, when I probably only went in for dry shampoo.

So this product claims to be a 'balancing complexion perfector known to help balance skin and oil control' - this is where I fall in to my biggest divide with this product. 

Upon initial application, I love it. It stays true to its claim to 'even out skin tone and conceal imperfections'. It doesn't claim to be a full coverage product, which I quite like about it, as I would reach for this on a day where I don't want to go heavy on my makeup but need to have 'something' on my skin. As promised, the liquid to powder formulation finishes 'lightweight and smooth' on the skin. 

Let's all forgive my big spam forehead - it is necessary to subject you to this to show the finish in natural light!

As you can see, a light coverage with a natural finish.

Now my gripe with this product is, that come the afternoon, my face is ludicrously shiny. No matter if I set it with powder, the shine strikes with full force at around lunchtime, so for me personally the claim that Big Easy 'balances skin & controls oil' is nonsense - it doesn't.

To give it the Benefit of the doubt (Benefit, get it?!), I will take into consideration that I live in a country where the sun shines almost every single day, thus making shine more likely. I just feel like whenever I wear this product, it is almost worse than usual.

But I persevere! I really like the initial application, and it almost feels worth the constant powder application to maintain a 'no makeup' look throughout the day.

Would I repurchase? I'm not too sure. The fact that I have been so divided on this product for so long suggests that I probably shouldn't, and that instead I should search for a better (and cheaper!) alternative for those 'minimal makeup' kind of days.

Have you tried Big Easy from Benefit?


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Another very quiet week in the sandpit this week! I was out of action for a good three days with one of the worst migraines I have had in a long time. In total it lasted for four days, and I was totally wiped out for two of them, so the beginning of my week basically consisted of me laying in bed with cold flannels on my head. Obviously not photo worthy! The rest of the week looked a little something like this...

I seem to be doing a lot of this lately. Trying to get on track with everything - I've started using my Filofax again to help to get myself organised (although very, very tempted to purchase an Erin Condren Rose Gold Life Planner when they are back in stock as they are so pretty) Very much looking forward to getting fixed plans in the diary with friends and family when I go back to England...only two weeks to go!

I took myself off to Landmark Mall once I had started to feel more human again towards the middle of the week. I like Landmark a lot - it's close by and as Doha goes it has a decent selection of shops. There was a sale on in Mango so I ended up buying a couple of cute oversized but really lightweight jumpers, perfect for the too hot outside / too cold inside scenario that I find myself in on a daily basis in this country! I spent ages browsing round the new Marks and Spencers, and it made me feel right at home. They even stock the stunning Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for Autograph range which is very good to know! I was having such a lovely shopping trip until I noticed that I was being followed around the whole of Marks and Spencers by a guy in a baseball cap, throughout each department I looked over and there he was. I clocked him again outside the shop, so I ducked in to Warehouse and really took my time in there, taking a few pieces into the changing rooms to try on. I must have been in there for a good ten minutes or so, and when I came outside there he was again, waiting. I moved on down to Bershka, had a look around and realised he had sat himself down on a bench outside the store. I quickly hurried down to the other exit and left that way, and made my way along to another shop. As I was coming out of the next shop, he walked past and looked in, saw me and stopped. By this point I was a bit freaked out so I hurried as fast as I could past him and didn't stop until I was way round the other side of the mall - luckily by this point I lost him. Not a nice experience at all and it made me so anxious that I was in a bit of a state for the rest of the day!

Jemma and I headed off for dinner on Friday night to a restaurant we haven't tried before - Antica Pesa at the beautiful Kempinski Marsa Malaz hotel. I liked that this restaurant was in an entirely different part of the hotel to El Faro, where Matt and I have had dinner before. Antica Pesa is off to the left of the hotel, alongside Toro Toro (which I can't wait to try!) The restaurant is lovely and beautifully decorated, with a gorgeous view out over the water. If I was going to live anywhere else in Doha I would want to live in one of the apartments overlooking the Kempinski. We both opted for the gnocchi (surprise, surprise) and were both pretty disappointed with it to be honest. It was baked, which neither of us expected, and quite bland. Not a dish I would have again, but maybe it serves me right for not exploring a different pasta option for once! I would go back to Antica Pesa purely for the dessert alone - I opted for the Hazelnut Parfait and it was amazing! It was essentially Nutella icecream, with chocolate mousse on the side. Heaven! Jemma opted for the Rice Panna Cotta which she also enjoyed. After the meal, we were taken on a tour of the restaurant as we hadn't realised there was a bar upstairs, and back downstairs we waited for our driver beneath the celebrity photo wall - rows upon rows of photographs of the celebrity clientele who dine at the branches of Antica Pesa in Rome and New York.

Please forgive my blurry photographs - the humidity got to my camera lense when I stupidly decided to try and take some photos outside the restaurant and ruined my snapping abilities for the rest of the evening!
Afterwards, we poked our heads into Toro Toro, a Pan Latin restaurant that quite simply looks amazing. The restaurant was yet to open officially to the public (but it is now, so make yourselves a reservation!) and was open only for 'friends and family', but we were very kindly taken on a tour. The decor is stunning, and the atmosphere is buzzing. So excited to dine here!

This club night is nothing new and has been running for ages, but this was the first time Jemma and I had been there. By day, the Grill restaurant in the Grand Hyatt plays host to brunch on a Friday, and by night it is entirely transformed into a very decent night club! We arrived at around 22:30, and there were hardly any people there. We headed to the bar for a drink and were joined by the very lovely Moufdi, the man behind A1 Nights. We had met Moufdi way back at the start of our time in Doha, at the Four Seasons beach party. He is such a lovely guy, and arranged complimentary drinks for us for the evening, regularly checking in on us to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. Within the hour, the club was absolutely packed from front to back! If R&B is your music of choice, this is the night out in Doha for you.

As always, I hope you've had a great week, wherever in the world you are reading from :)


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

When I say 'collection', my perfume stash is more of an 'accumulation' - I didn't set out to specifically purchase all of the perfumes that currently take up every available surface in my bathroom.

Over time, they just gradually multiplied. A bit like what shoes do, you know? And handbags, for that matter.

I realised as well after I had taken the photos of my hoard, that there were some that I hadn't included, so this isn't even all of them. It is safe to say that I am overrun!

Introducing, my perfume collection:
Calvin Klein Into You / Hugo Boss Orange / Paco Rabanne Lady Million / Michael Kors Sexy Amber / Chloe by Chloe / Giorgio Armani Armani Mania

Yves Saint Laurent Elle / Juicy Couture Peace Love & Juicy Couture / Mont Blanc Femme Individuelle / Prada Candy / Victorias Secret Angel / Calvin Klein Euphoria / Givenchy Play

I'd love to say that I have my 'signature scent', the one scent that identifies and defines me, but there are so many amazing perfumes out there that I love and enjoy wearing, that it would be impossible to narrow it down to just one.

That being said, I do have my favourites. Some have been relegated to an 'overflow' bag under the sink, and these I dip in and out of occasionally. Others take pride of place on the shelf in my bathroom, and these are the scents I tend to reach for on a daily basis.

I tend to alternate between Calvin Klein Into You, Paco Rabanne Lady Million and Giorgio Armani Armani Mania for my day time scents, which I'll spritz before I leave the apartment in the morning.

At the moment, Michael Kors Sexy Amber is my handbag fragrance, and comes to work with me every day. As a result, I end up layering this on top of one of the scents I spritz in the morning which is illogical but never mind! It's tiny and handbag friendly - some of the others are epic beasts of bottles that just aren't practical to carry around on a daily basis.

YSL Elle is probably my favourite evening or going out scent and the one I wear the most. I couldn't describe this fragrance if I tried, it just smells amazing. I was at a friends house one evening years ago and his uber glamorous model sister walked past wearing this and I knew immediately that I needed it in my life. Hugo Boss Orange is another favourite evening scent. Both are relatively clutch-bag friendly in terms of size so I can bring them with me on a night out.

For some reason I tend to spritz Chloe by Chloe when I go to the gym...I don't know why, it's just the one I always reach for!

The rest I tend to spritz randomly when I'm in the mood for something different. Lately I have been rekindling my love of Victorias Secret Angel - it is super sweet but I really like it and the bottle is stunning.

Do you have a signature scent? Altneratively, what is your favourite fragrance?


Monday, 1 June 2015

I have to admit that this has been one really quiet week.

I've barely left the house except to go to work, so my evenings have mainly been spent...

I have been saying it for so long and it was on my list of New Years resolutions, but I really want to learn French so I have been getting home from work and launching myself into this. I have been using the 'Collins French with Paul Noble - Learn French the Natural Way, Part 1' audiobook that I downloaded from the app store onto my iPad. For me, his method of learning really works. He doesn't start off with the basics of hi, how are you, my name is, etc. He launches straight in to teaching you how to construct sentences with easy rules for adapting these sentences into different tenses. By teaching me to say 'I have prepared the coffee', I can also say 'I have decorated the house', as he explains that English words that end in 'ation' (preparation, decoration for example), are spelt the same in French, and can easily be changed to the past tense. As this is an audio book, I am also supporting my learning with '15 Minute French - Learn in just 12 weeks' which is a handy book that I picked up from the airport. This book covers a vast range of topics and has an English to French and French to English dictionary in the back so that I can always look up how to spell the words that I am learning from the audio book. I've actually loved spending my evenings this way and am really enjoying my language learning experience so far.

Matt and I went to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I think this is the first Marvel film that I have seen and I really enjoyed it! Really want to see the rest of them now. It was just an easy going action film so it was easy for someone like me, who hasn't seen any others, to follow the storyline.

Matt hated my RayBans (and maybe he's right, maybe they didn't suit my face but not many glasses do!) so he took me off to the mall to scout out a new pair. There was a Buy One Get One Free sale at one of the stores in the City Centre - he spotted a pair he wanted so encouraged me to also look for some, and I ended up walking away with these beauties from Gucci...
I have also ordered some glasses to use whilst I am on the computer at work, and on the laptop at home, as lately I am really feeling the strain on my eyes from staring at screens. These just help to take the glare away and give my eyes a little extra protection, so I am looking forward to picking these up next week.

My health and fitness has never been the best, but I am trying to keep on top of my diet and eat as healthily as I can. Mainly, this is being aware of not repeating my food groups too much (if I have a carb heavy lunch, go lighter for dinner and vice versa). It would not be realistic of me to say that I will cut out chocolate, that will never happen (especially because my boyfriend keeps sneaking bars of my favourite Lindt Cookies & Cream chocolate bars into the shopping bag!!) but a little treat every day can't hurt, surely. I have also been enjoying getting back into the gym. As you may remember from my post about anxiety, I don't always find it that easy to pluck up the courage to go, which is daft as it's two minutes downstairs in the lift. Lately, however, I have been trying to beat the fear and go, even if it does mean going after 9:30pm. It is my favourite time to be there, as it usually looks a little something like this...

Perfect for antisocial little old me!

As I say a pretty quiet week. I am trying to save my pennies as there is lots coming up over the coming months - various trips to save for, and a big old lifestyle change on it's way that I need to be financially stable for (that totally sounds like I am expecting a child, I assure you it isn't that!!!), but of course I'll update you all when the time is right :)

As always, I hope you had a great week, wherever in the world you are reading from!