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Picks of the week #1

The second trailer for the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes' Me Before You is already out and I'm so excited to watch it with my girlfriends once it hits cinemas here in Dubai (June, please come closer). I cried major buckets for the book so I have high expectations for the movie. It doesn't hurt also that heartthrob Sam Claflin from Pirates of the Carribean and The Hunger Games fame is playing the main role. Oh, and mother of dragons Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke is there too playing the refreshing character of Louisa. Can't wait!

Speaking of movie adaptations, Gillian Flynn's book Sharp Objects deserves a movie version. It's so disgustingly good, and I was really unable to turn it down once I started reading.

Totally digging the items being sold at Charming Charlie. My favorites are their turquoise-anything line of accessories like these utterly cute watch and bracelet. The price tag's an even better story to tell. So inexpensive!

This Lipstuck in Oud rose shade from Wow by Woojooh has been a constant favorite after discovering it from the very first Glam Box I received last year. And a recent favorite? This Porefessional Face Primer from Benefit cosmetics which translates to instant lovely-looking skin minus the pores. It hasn't caused any breakouts yet, so definitely a win in my books. The powdery finish effect it leaves is amazing.

I got this funny statement tee from Pull and Bear for only 39 Dirhams and it has become a closet staple. Same as this unique heart-shaped bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs which came in this pretty shade of blue.

Can't wait to devour this best-selling book Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which I have to admit I bought purely because of the cover. Just looking at the picture makes me want to book a flight to Greece or Italy because this desert summer is starting to heat up and I want an escape.

What are your favorites this week?

Wishlist Wednesday

A trip to Yerevan in Armenia is definitely on top of my list. We were actually supposed to go last November for my pre-birthday celebration, but because of the limited flights not matching the dates of the public holiday announced, we've changed plans and decided to fly to Thailand instead. This year for sure!

Experiencing Darjeeling in India has been on my bucket list for almost two years now after I saw one random photo of the place online which totally blew me away. It's beautiful beyond words! Drinking Darjeeling tea while catching the sunrise in Tiger Hill sounds like my cup of tea (pun intended).

Ever since my husband and I talked about moving to a bigger two-bedroom apartment once our lease is up this May, I've been visualizing the many things we can have to fill up the future new space. Like this comfy Signature gray upholstered fabric sofa from Home Centre Dubai. He is almost convinced how amazing the 3 piece set-up would look like in our living room. #push
Speaking of gray sofas, I couldn't help but drool over the lovely living rooms regularly being featured on The Every Girl. I really wish I could pull off something like it (or maybe almost like it) once we get settled in our new apartment. Hey, a girl can dream!

I know this last one is quite silly and I'll probably tick this off this weekend already, but seriously I really need two cables for our phones in colors. We've managed to destroy atleast two cables and now we're always fighting over the one that's left. It's frustrating whenever my phone needs a recharge.

We are actually expecting quite a jampacked weekend and I can't wait. We're planning to see London Has Fallen with friends. Then we're off to a housewarming party in Abu Dhabi and a birthday party for another friend back in Dubai. Enjoy the rest of the week, guys! :)


Taste of Abu Dhabi

We've been living here in the UAE for almost five years and have always been curious about this annual food festival called Taste of Abu Dhabi, but would either be too busy or too lazy to actually come see it. Fortunately, we were given a couple of free VIP passes to the event at the du Arena last November, so no more excuses. The first night of the festival was on a Thursday so after work, my husband and I decided to go on a quick road trip to Yas Island just to finally experience it.

It was already quite late when we arrived at the venue because of the heavy weekend traffic. The line outside to claim the tickets was quite crazy, but inside the venue itself was even crazier (I mean the good kind of crazy). Jampacked, busy and also very much alive! Signs of the fun experience that awaited us inside.

They had quite an impressive selection of restaurants, drinks and desserts, including retail shops (more like fashion and art pieces) who participated in the festival.

We roamed a little bit to get a feel and know what our options are, and immediately tested a couple of servings from Boa Restaurant's booth, which included American beef corndogs and Wagyu beef slide with broccoli. Super yum!

The menu offered by Koi Abu Dhabi was definitely my favorite of the night. Their trio of chicken Yakitori, creamy rocky shrimp tempura, and steamed black angus beef bun was truly a winner on my books (plate, rather). We're planning to actually go to their restaurant and dine this weekend.

To be honest, I would have been a little bummed with the very small servings offered if I were a paying customer.

Of course I did not forget to treat my sweet tooth. For dessert, I chose Baklava and Pistachio ice cream from Dolmabahce, the so-called "home of authentic Turkish cuisine". And I have to say they didn't disappoint. It was a beautiful marriage inside my mouth.

I also had a little fangirl moment when I saw Celebrity Chef Siba Mtongana giving a live cooking demo at the OSN booth. She was just as bubbly and charming in person. Exactly how I imagined she would be and maybe even more. She was very refreshing to watch and her jokes were so on point.
We capped the experience dancing and singing along with The Wailers who performed that night. They came out around 9:30 in the evening and really pumped up the crowd. I can't believe I know most of the lyrics to every song! Everyone was smiling and was just having such a grand time reliving Bob Marley's music. Even the shuttle bus ride from the venue to the parking lot was hilarious. Just imagine random singing, high fives, and endless laughter (lots and lots of laughter) among strangers. The overall vibe was just festive. It was amazing.
That's my very happy husband enjoying unlimited drinks after a week of hard work. The smile says it all.

Australian author Gregory David Roberts said it best: "Food is music to the body, music is food to the heart". And that is exactly what Taste of Abu Dhabi was all about. I can't wait for next year!


Best Winter Reading List

If you're following me on Instagram, chances are that you have noticed a huge chunk of my posts are regularly dedicated to my reading list. Books I've read, currently reading, recently purchased, favorites  all those booknerd jazz. Like it's not obvious enough, yes, I joined the #bookstagram community, and the nerd in me has been having a ball. There's just so many creative readers all over the world who not only give out amazing book recommendations, but are sort of inspiring me to just keep on reading.

For the busy bookworms like me, here are five books (technically six since I count Jenny Han's books as one) that I've recently finished reading and enjoying, as we start welcoming the cooler season around these parts. Don't expect a bunch of literary masterpieces though. These are mostly light reads and some I even managed to devour just in one sitting. Enjoy!

Sometimes it really bugs me that Dubai is always one of the late places to snag copies of my favorite authors' latest works. Same was the case for Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey. I was almost thisclose to ordering a copy online, but good thing I waited. Just a bit bummed that the one I got wasn't a paperback though. I realized just how much I've missed reading Sophie Kinsella after reading this book. Weird characters coupled with her charming humor and incredibly heartwarming plot, I gotta say this is one of the better Kinsella books there is.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell did not disappoint and I seriously couldn't put it down once I started reading. I'm fangirling so hard because of this book! I was giggling like a teenager with a crush and squealing like a piglet all throughout. I swear I can read this book over and over again. My heart is screaming loudly for a sequel! Everything about this book is cute and adorable. Nothing new about the story's characters and plot, but there's something about Rowell's style that just nails it every single time. I enjoyed it so much and I bet you would too.

Oh Mindy, what did you do to me? To be quite honest, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling is all over the place, but it's hysterical enough to make it to this list. She's an awesome combo of smart and funny. Definitely the kind of friend you would love to hang out with. Not sure if this book would pass as an autobiography (they say it is), but the humor and wit of her life's observations, opinions, and anecdotes are just spot on. Absolutely adore her now. 

Sophia Amoruso's #Girlboss book is so in your face, I love it. Her writing style might seem a bit intimidating and Johnny Bravoish to others, but I really enjoyed her honest voice. How she's overcome challenges and her impressive success in business (being the founder of Nasty Gal) is something to be really admired. The book is inspiring, funny at times, and gives quite a handful of tips and tricks to unleash someone's potential in the world of business or just life in general. Pictured on top are two bookmarks I received as Egypt souvenirs from the living #girlboss I know, Ann.

I picked up Jenny Han's P.S. I Still Love You because I couldn't get over its pretty cover. It's already way too late when I realized that it's a sequel, so I ended up reading the e-book of To All The Boys I've Loved Before sent to me by my friend Marbz. But of course I just had to get the paperback version last week when I saw it in Borders because its cover looks pretty too (I know, I have a problem). To be honest, there were so many points in the books that I wanted to strangle the main character's neck because of her stupidity, but I got to admit that I still enjoyed Han's two novels a lot. A whole lot. It's light, sweet, somewhat relatable, and will make you remember how nice it is to be young again.

It's a Saturday night and I can't believe the weekend is almost over.  I was out with the husband last night watching the band Blue perform here in Dubai and spent the entire day today arranging furniture, setting up the Christmas tree, and cooking. How did you spend yours?


Shopping Guide in Hong Kong

A trip to the "fragrant harbour" wouldn't be complete without shopping. From high-end brands to bargain items, you can buy just about everything in beautiful Hong Kong. My meagre allowance seriously went a long way because everything was just affordable and super inexpensive.

It actually took me some time to book a hotel for our four-day stay in Hong Kong. My main concerns were location, cleanliness, and of course, free breakfast and wifi connection. Fortunately, I decided to choose Holiday Inn Express Mongkok, which is just a barely five-minute walk to the nearest metro station, Yau Ma Tei. Aside from the fact that it's a new hotel, it's also strategically located. I love that Holiday Inn is situated on the quiet and more laid-back side of Dundas Street, yet it's just across where all the shopping action is happening, with lots of dining options as neighbors too.

Our first night in Hong Kong was spent roaming the brightly lit and lively streets of Mongkok. I got lost inside a Sasa branch along Nelson Road, where I got so many beauty items. It's every kikay girl's makeup haven! I purchased so many products that are either not available or super expensive here in Dubai. I think I hoarded too much facial masks for my own good. Just couldn't help it.

Just two blocks from the MTR station was Ladies Market filled with all items imaginable: from clothes, bags, shoes, and souvenirs. There were also streets dedicated to selling different categories: electronics, shoes, home accessories, and jewellery.

I was actually planning to purchase a new Neo Blythe doll but C.C. Toys, which I've been researching since forever, was closed when we went to CTMA. There's another store that sells Blythe, but their selection was very limited and no dolls caught my fancy, so I was a bit heartbroken.
Although disappointed, I still ended up exploring the other stores inside CTMA. There were just so many shops selling toys and other collectibles, including specialty stores selling Korean and Japanese fashion, Mori girl inspired clothing and accessories. One tip: Go there between 3PM to 9PM to make sure that most shops are still open. We went there around 10PM after resting a little bit thinking that it would be open until midnight.

The entire stretch of Sai Yeung Choi is also brimming with so many Korean beauty brands stand alone stores such as Etude House, Innisfree, Laneige, Nature Republic and Tony Moly. The KPOP phenomenon is also apparently alive and well in Hong Kong. Even the coffee and milk tea shops were playing Big Bang and 2ne1 songs. It almost felt like I was in Seoul, not Mongkok.
After our day trip to Macau, we spent a good few hours along Tsim Sha Tsui. If Mongkok's the center of bargains and night markets, Tsim Sha Tsui was less congested with plenty of high-end brands stores and air-conditioned malls.

Another tip: Try to learn a bit of Chinese, Cantonese in particular. It would come in really handy when shopping in Hong Kong especially in street markets. Although a lot of them speak good English, conversing in their own language would make haggling a bit easier for you. Also, don't forget to be nice and smile sincerely. Some friends who've been to Hong Kong before told us that Chinese people are a bit aloof and intimidating, so I was really surprised that all of the ones (except that one taxi driver) we've encountered during our trip were pretty warm, friendly, and helpful too.

It was definitely a nice long Eid weekend and I felt so recharged. I'll be dedicating separate posts for some of the highlights of our Hong Kong and Macau trip in the coming days once my schedule permits. 

Where did you spend your Eid break?

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