Monday, 12 June 2017

LVL Lash Lift Review - Before & After

Confession: I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to personal care. 

I'm sure if my husband is reading this, he's shaking his head and tutting right about now, but in all honesty, I rarely get a salon-based manicure, I typically tame my own brows and trips to the spa are, more often than not, saved for special occasions. So, when I decided to treat my lashes to my first LVL lash lift, I was pretty darn excited. 

LVL Lash Lift Review - Before and After Photos, Life in Excess Blog

Hang on, what is LVL?

LVL is a revolutionary lash treatment developed by Nouveau Lashes and stands for 'Length Volume and Lift'. It is dubbed as a 'Natural' solution to longer-looking, more fabulous lashes without the need for extensions, adhesives and mascara. Lashes are lifted from the root and tinted to give a mascara-like effect for a natural-looking, 'my lashes but better' finish.

What does the treatment entail?

LVL lashes take approximately 45 minutes to complete and the process is completely pain-free. You need to arrive to the salon eye makeup-free and most places require a patch test to be completed 48 hours prior to your treatment.

The lower lashes are pressed down and covered with a shield to avoid any of the perming solutions getting onto them and then a silicone pad is applied to the upper lid, just above your lash line. The upper lashes are combed through and 'lifted' onto the upper pads, whilst various perming serums and the tint are applied. You need to keep your eyes closed throughout the entire process but once done, you're pretty much good to go. You'll need to avoid getting your lashes wet for the first 24 hours, but after that, you can shower as normal. 

Before and After

LVL Lash Lift Review - Before and After Photos, Life in Excess Blog, LVL Lashes Dubai

LVL Lash Lift Review - Before and After Photos, Life in Excess Blog, LVL Lashes Dubai
All photos are taken without makeup. Please forgive my hairy, pre threading brows. 

As you can see, my natural lashes are pretty uninspiring. They have little to no natural curl and are quite fair, considering my naturally dark hair colour. 

After LVL, my lashes are much more noticeable without makeup, and appear longer and more curled. The effect is even more dramatic with the addition on mascara, giving off an almost false lash look. It's safe to say, I'm officially an LVL lash convert! 

LVL lashes are designed to last between 6-8 weeks, depending on how well you take care of your lashes post-treatment and your lash type. The longer you can leave your lashes untouched after treatment, the better. I was right in with the mascara 24 hours after I had my lashes done because I was going out, but even so, almost 2 weeks on, they're still looking as good as new. 

For me, LVL lashes are a no-brainer. They're not as expensive as lash extensions, nor as time-consuming to have done. The effects are plain to see and relatively easy to achieve. I haven't noticed any damage to my natural lashes, which I'll admit, was a concern of mine when researching LVL. I've had zero breakage and no lash fallout, other than what you would typically expect to see from your usual lash cycle. 

I would highly recommend LVL to anyone wanting a quick, low-maintenance solution to longer-looking, more naturally enhanced lashes. 

Have you had an LVL Lash Lift done before or is this treatment something you would consider having done yourself? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Detox Delight - Real Food To Glow

Ever since I moved to Dubai, the diet has fallen rather dramatically by the way side and I'm currently on first name terms with my local 800 Pizza delivery guy. Sorry not sorry. So when Detox Delight offered to send me a trial of their Eat Clean Detox diet plan, I practically snapped their hands off. 

Detox Delight are a health foods delivery company that serve up nutritious plant-based meals and juices, specially developed by nutritional experts and gourmet food chefs, freshly handmade each day and delivered right to your doorstep. The ultimate convenience food for the health-conscious. There's a whole range of packages to suit each individual need and you can opt for both short term, quick detox plans as well as longer term plans to give your body a total overhaul.

Detox Delight Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog
Detox Delight Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

All meals, snacks and juices are free from additives and preservatives and are packed full of vitamins and minerals to fuel the body and leave you glowing from the inside out. 

How does it work?

I spoke to Detox Delight over the phone to arrange a time and location that was convenient for the drop off of my Eat Clean Box. It arrived on time and packed full of goodies to see me through the day. 

What's on the menu?

Each day offers something new and tasty, from soups and salads to quiches, burgers and pizza - all catering to a vegan, plant-based diet. My box contained the following:

Breakfast - Strawberry Field Bowl made with strawberry, peach, banana, almond milk, white almond butter, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut flakes, chia seeds, sesame seeds and pistachio.

Lunch - Horatiki Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing made with cucumber, black olives, red onion, red bell pepper, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, sea salt and microgreens.

Dinner - Oriental Detox Dhal made with chili, garlic, red onion, coconut oil, turmeric, garam masala, red lentil, coconut milk, himalaya salt, homemade coconut flakes and parsley. 

As well as my main meals, the box also contained my snacks and pressed juices for the day which were jars of Coconut Choc Crisps and Spicy Crackers, plus a 'Pink' juice containing apple, carrot, beetroot, grape, strawberry and lemon, and an 'Orange' juice containing orange, carrot, pink grapefruit, ginger and cayenne. 

Detox Delight Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog
Detox Delight Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

Detox Delight don't just offer meal plans, you can also opt for a wide range of juice cleanses too - with specially made plans to combat the flu or shed a few extra pounds before a special event. They also offer a range of Beauty Shots, superfood boosters that rejuvenate the skin and help to purify the body.

Each plan comes with instructions and information on what to expect from your detox and how to get the best results from your chosen plan. There's also a handy guide to detox symptoms to look out for and information on how to manage any cravings that arise during your cleanse. 

With Detox Delight, eating well doesn't have to be a chore and it puts a whole new spin on convenience foods. I don't think I'm ready to fully sever ties with my 800 Pizza guy just yet but when I'm looking to give my body an extra health boost, I know who to call. 

For more information, visit the Detox Delight website or you can email
*Products sent to me for review. All words and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review

Ahh, Huda Beauty. The Dubai-based beauty queen is at it again, this time dropping two stunning highlighter palettes to add to her ever increasing collection of beauty essentials - but are they any good?

I've waxed lyrical about her liquid lipsticks - in my opinion, they are some of the best formulas on the current market, comfortable and easy to reapply, the same goes for her lip liners or 'Lip Contours' as she dubs them. I'm also pretty die hard for her Samantha Lashes too, so I had high hopes for the launch of her 3D Highlighting Palette. I opted for the Pink Sands Edition

Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review
Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review

Now, I'll be honest. I wasn't entirely convinced of the 3D highlighting concept. As Huda herself demonstrated on her Insta Stories, she's developed the palettes around a four step highlighting principle:

1. First you PREP with a cream highlighting base

2. Next you SET with the lightest shade to really bring out the glow and lock the cream base in place

3. Then you SCULPT using a darker highlighting powder underneath the cheekbones to add dimension

4 Finally, you FLUSH with a pink-toned blusher shade

Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review

I wasn't sure if the whole concept was genius or a tad gimmicky. She's not the first beauty blogger to endorse using a powder highlighter over a luminous cream base to bring out a more intense glow so I was intrigued to see how her palette performed once all the steps were followed.

Here's my face without any highlighter or contour:

Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review

Here it is after using the Pink Sands Edition Palette... FYI, I have scary brows right now!

Huda Beauty 3D Highlighter Palette Review

So here's my thoughts:

Firstly, I think the powders are really pretty swatched. They're very finely milled and have a beautifully soft texture that blends out well. Applied with a natural fibre brush, the highlighters aren't as intense as I anticipated them to be, which I don't necessarily mind, but it's something to consider if you like your glow to bounce off Jupiter. Santorini is the lightest powder in the Pink Sands palette and it has a subtle gold shift to it which works really well with my skin tone. Ibiza, the blusher shade is also stunning. It reminds me a lot of one of my all-time favourite MAC blusher shades, New Romance and sparks all the same wonderful feelings of joy. 

Okay, so here's where it gets confusing. 

Capri, the cream highlighting shade. It's a champagne-beige-toned glossy highlight. I don't know if it's because I live in Duabi and well, it's hotter than hell outside currently but the formula itself is very 'wet'. You only need the slightest touch to pick up ample product on your fingertips. Now I don't know if it's just my usual aversion to cream highlighters speaking, but I don't love the way this sits on my skin. It heavily emphasises texture and pores and doesn't give the flawless finish that I'd like. Layering the powders over the top just leaves everything looking choppy and so I've been forgoing the cream step altogther. 

I also don't really understand the inclusion of the 'Sculpt' shade, Azores. Whilst yes, it's a gorgeous pale gold highlight, putting it underneath my cheekbones feels weird - and involves adding way more shimmer to my face than I currently feel comfortable doing. Maybe that's the reason why they're not as intense as I'd anticipated! And then on top of all that, I don't think this palette alone is enough to give me the sculpted cheeks of a Victoria's Secret Angel so I still have to go in with a contour powder to chisel out what my mamma never gave me... and five steps later I'm wondering what happened to the good old days when you didn't need an hour to fake what 10 minutes standing out in the Dubai sun can offer you for free?

Maybe I'm just being cynical but for me, it's four steps too many. I can't be bothered. Plus, at AED 250 or roughly £50 a palette, I honestly don't think it's all that necessary. Yes, the powders are nice and yes, the packaging makes my ovaries tingle but unless you're an absolute highlighting palette junkie or you don't have anything similar to the shades on offer, I'd give this one a miss. 

Sorry Huda... I'll just stick to stockpiling your lipsticks instead. 


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The White Room Spa, Dubai

On Sunday, I was very kindly invited along to The White Room Spa in Dubai's Motor City to indulge in a relaxing, pamper day and try out some of the spa's essential beauty treatments. 

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

Its clean, white aesthetic sets the tone and the spa's extensive treatment menu offers something for everyone at really affordable prices.  Whether you're looking for a massage, skincare treatments, nail enhancements, hair styling or more, The White Room has it all. They even offer a variety of 'pick and mix' menus (check them out here) that allow you to create a tailor-made pamper package to suit your specific needs and budget. Plus with branches across Dubai, they're well worth checking out!

I kicked off my morning with a relaxing Back Massage. The treatment lasts 30 minutes and is designed to relieve tension in the upper back muscles as well as soothe lower back aches and stimulate blood flow to the area. The treatment room was simple, yet contained everything you would need. A fluffy robe to change into, candles, aromatherapy oil burners and ambient background music to set the scene plus a large, comfortable bed to relax on whilst the therapist works her magic. It was a decent massage too. The therapist was attentive and made me feel at ease right away. She was adept at soothing away the tension in my shoulders (which I always seem to carry) ensuring that I was comfortable with the pressure whilst working out all of my knots. 

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

After the massage, it was time to get dressed, (thankfully the therapist conducting my massage had offered to remove any excess oil from my skin to save my clothes - brill!) and choose my polish for my mani/pedi. The White Room Spa has a HUGE selection of nail products to choose from and carry brands such as Opi, Essie, Gelish and more. I opted for a Gelish manicure/pedicure in the shade 'Passion' which is a gorgeous, hot coral/pink. I was absolutely thrilled with how the colour turned out. Two technicians worked on my hands and feet simultaneously for maximum efficiency whilst I relaxed in the spa's large, comfy seating area.

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

Once my hands and feet were looking fabulous, it was time to hop into the hairdressers chair for a shampoo and blow dry. The White Room Spa offers all blow drys for just AED 65, regardless of hair length or style which is an absolute bargain! After a discussion with the stylist over what type of look I wanted to go for, I opted for big, bouncy blow dried curls which the stylist delivered whilst I kicked back with a magazine. 

The White Room Spa Dubai Review / Life in Excess Blog

And my transformation was complete. After a couple of hours, I was ready to walk out of The White Room Spa a brand-spanking new woman and feeling like I'd just been given an entire beauty overhaul. 

Whether you're looking for an express treatment or something a little more indulgent, I couldn't recommend The White Room Spa more. The staff are welcoming and the service friendly - and with a price list that you really can't argue with, I know I'll be back for more. 

For more information, visit The White Room Spa website. Branches are available in JLT, Motor City, Marina Plaza and IBN Batutta Mall. 


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Trying Yankee Candles

My Mother. Creator of fine, human specimens and scented candle habit facilitator. 

As I never made it home for Christmas last year, we held a small Christmas celebration when my family came to visit the other week... in April... we played carols. It was glorious.

Yankee Candle Votive Haul & Review - Life in Excess Blog

Anyway, my Mum came bearing gifts, which included a box stuffed with loads of Yankee Candle votive candles, in a whole range of scents so that, in her words, I could try them all and find out which ones are my favourites. 

Bless her. She's a good egg.

So that's just what I'm doing. Burning my way through Yankee Candles and giving them all the sniff test. Here's the scents that I'm loving so far:

Fluffy Towels - Smells like fresh laundry. A really clean, comforting scent that would work perfectly for the bedroom. I couldn't resist and lit this one straight away. 

Lavender - I'm not usually the biggest fan of lavender scents but this isn't too overpowering. It has a nice, spa-like feel about it which I think is really calming. 

Wedding Day - Again, a very fresh, floral scent with notes of citrus, mimosa, jasmine and rose to name but a few. 

Oud Oasis - This is a candle that I wouldn't typically pick out for myself but one that I actually really like. It's very apt, considering where I live and has a rich, warm scent with notes of oud, jasmine and amber. 

Champaca Blossom - This is another fragrance that has a spa-like vibe to it. It's a mix of fruity, floral scents with notes of orange, violet leaf, melon and cedarwood. 

Summer Scoop - This strawberry ice cream scented candle smells almost good enough to eat. It has a vanilla base with strawberry and pink cotton candy notes. 

I don't have a whole lot of experience with Yankee Candles but I have to say, I'm really impressed with the amount of fragrance these small votives give off when lit. They really do fill a room, despite their size, with each candle having a burn time of up to 15 hours; although you wouldn't need to have it going for that length of time in any one sitting. 

The votive size candles are such a great way to sample the various scents on offer from Yankee Candle, and I'd definitely like to try more in the near future. 

Well done Mum!

Let me know if you've tried the sample-size, votive candles from Yankee Candle and/or what your favourite scents are from the brand. I'd love some recommendations. 


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Moving On

Moving To Dubai - Life in Excess Blog

Yes, would you believe I'm back with another blog post?

As it stands, we're T-minus 9 days until moving day, (I'm not sure if I've used that phrase correctly but I'm going to run with it) and I'm blighted with a mixed bag of emotions. Let me backtrack. Scott started a new job in Dubai back in January, and for the last four months has been making the 3 hour round commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, everyday. It's been a long slog and copious amounts of caffeine have been consumed along the way but moving day is finally around the corner, and with it comes a drastically reduced commute and the fact that we're going to have a whole new city to explore! 

*Does happy dance*

On the flipside, I'm properly gutted to be leaving Abu Dhabi. I may even shed a tear. From the very first time we stepped foot in Abu Dhabi, way back in 2013 just after Scott and I were engaged, I've been head over heels in love with the place and always knew we'd end up living here one day. So now that we are set to leave, part of me wants to dig my heels in and say I'm staying put. I'm not ready. Not because I'm not looking forward to the opportunities and experiences that Dubai will no doubt offer us, but because it will be really hard to walk away from a place that I feel at home in. 

And so here I am feeling all weird about it. If I'd had it my way, I'd have treated the move like ripping off a plaster. Quick and relatively painless. However, the fact that we've had to stay put in our current apartment until our lease expires means that the whole process has been long and drawn out. I've swung between pure excitement to move and nerves over whether we're making the right decision like a contestant on Golden Balls, trying to decide whether to split or steal the prize money.

When it boils down to it, Scott can't continue with his current commute, and a move is the only realistic option we have, and as much as it may not seem it through my negative Nancy waffling on, I am genuinely really looking forward it. I guess I just wanted to vocalise my uncertainty, or rather put it down on paper so to speak and be open about the fact that moving is and will always be a big deal. 

Plus packing... Having lived in four different countries in the past four and a half years, I can't express enough how strongly I detest packing. Thankfully, this time we're hiring a company to do the majority of it for us. Let's see how that pans out. I feel it may be the safest option for our marriage. 

Anyway, I'm very much aware that this post, which I initially intended to be a light-hearted poke at my dog (a story I will need to save for another day) has turned into a bit of an emotional outpouring so I shall promptly crawl back in my shell and, seeing as it's Wednesday and we have Scott's sister and her friends over visiting, indulge myself in ladies night freebie wine and continue to remind myself that Abu Dhabi will always be just a drive away...

Well, unless we move again! 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

5 Things I'm Currently Enjoying

When you write out an entire blog post for the first time in weeks and the damn thing doesn't save... yea, that just happened!

I did originally have this post planned to go out whilst my family were over visiting; however my laptop decided to take things into its own hands and make life difficult for me. So here I am, angrily typing this out for the second time. Send chocolate.

Here's a list of 5 Things I'm Currently Enjoying:

Herbal Essentials Sunscreen Oil Review, Bashara Care

1. Herbal Essentials Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Oil SPF 30  - I received this sun oil a couple of weeks ago and I've been absolutely loving using it. It's a lightweight, non-greasy SPF 30 oil that absorbs into the skin, leaving you protected but not sticky or slippery. All of Herbal Essentials products are made using natural ingredients, which I love, and are chemical and cruelty free. The sunscreen oil contains jojoba and rosemary oil, aloe vera, coconut and sweet orange oil, and has firmly become my go-to sunscreen of choice now that bikini season has kicked off in the UAE. Herbal Essentials products, including this suncreen are available to order online for delivery in the Middle East via Bashara Care

2. The Body Coach TV - I've previously spoken on Instastories about my love for The Body Coach TV HIIT videos on You Tube and I finally felt it was time to stick my feelings down in a post. If you're an exercise noob (no shame), the videos are short routines with a series of high-intensity exercises broken up with short periods of rests, which are then often repeated. They're designed to be fast paced, cardio workouts that you can easily do in your home with minimal to no equipment. I love the fact that the instructor, Joe Wicks (Author of the Lean in 15 recipe books) does the workout with you throughout the video, giving helpful tips and encouragement as you go along, plus the fact that they're quick, yet effective, and there are videos to suit all levels and abilities. 

Jordans Raisin and Almond Granola Review

3. Jordans Raisin & Almond Crunchy Oat Granola - I'm typically not a granola/muesli/cereal kind of person but I've been loving this raisin and almond variety from Jordans - so much so that I've eaten my way through an entire bag in no time and am currently on my second packet. I've been pairing it with peach and mango flavoured soy yoghurt (and chopped strawberries if I'm being adventurous - which hardly ever happens first thing in the morning but there we go.) I don't like a lot of dried fruit in my breakfast cereal so the fact that this is super simple, yet still tasty means it gets a thumbs up from me. If you're looking to add some variety into your breakfast routine and haven't tried this, I highly recommend it. 

The Curated Closet Book Review

4. The Curated Closest by Anuschka Rees - Some of you may have noticed that I shared a picture of this book a while back on my Instagram. I've been slowly working my way through the chapters, and the tasks, in an effort to revamp my wardrobe, and my style. I feel like the bad shopping habits that Anuschka identifies, really resonate and I feel myself nodding along with her as she points out where so many of us are going wrong with our wardrobes. The book has helped me to look at my wardrobe with a more critical eye and when it comes to future purchases, I've adopted the mantra that if it doesn't, 'spark joy' it doesn't come home with me. I really recommend this book for anyone looking to overhaul their personal style and shopping habits. 

5. Little Mix Glory Days Album - Move over Ed Sheeran because the only album that's now blasting out on repeat is Little Mix's Glory Days - specifically 'Oops' which I find myself whistling along to at every available opportunity and 'Power' which makes me want to fist pump and wear a 'girl power' slogan tee... Okay, well not exactly but it's bloody good either way. 

What 5 things are you currently loving at the moment? 


Monday, 27 March 2017

The Untouchables - My Least Used Makeup Products

Not all beauty products are born equal and as someone who buys more than her fair share of makeup, there's always going to be products that just don't see any face action - the Untouchables as I like to call them, a bunch of products that for one reason or another are left to gather dust in the depths on my makeup drawer. 

I recently did a cull of unused beauty products but there are a few unused items remaining that I thought I would share with you today. 

My Least Used Makeup Products - Life in Excess Blog

My Least Used Makeup Products - Life in Excess Blog

My Least Used Makeup Products - Life in Excess Blog

My Least Used Makeup Products - Life in Excess Blog

Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm in shade 02 Robust Rhubarb - Remember when stick-form beauty products were all the rage? I jumped on the bandwagon with several chubby stick lip products and this cream blusher stick - sadly they've all been gathering dust in my drawer ever since. I love the peachy pink, 'Rhubarb' shade but on the whole, I don't find this an enjoyable product to use day-to-day and find myself reaching for powder blushes instead. The crayon style application means that it's easy to apply too much product and the cream formula requires more effort to blend out. 

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation in shade 10 Beige - As much as it pains me to say it, I really dislike this foundation. It does nothing to flatter my skin and actually clings to drier patches giving a flakey/powdery appearance. Sorry Chanel but it's a no from me. *Sobs into receipt*

NARS Amour Blusher - It's another blusher guys. This time, it's a product that I do actually really like, shade and formula, it's just that for one reason or another, I don't find myself reaching for it. Since moving to the UAE, I've been trapped in a glossy skin, peachy pink glow wormhole that I've yet to escape from and shades like Amour are sadly left on the shelf. 

MAC Mineralize Eye Shadow x4 in Party of Pastels - If truth be told, this palette was an ill thought out purchase. Yes, the shades are a very pretty collection of purple pastels but realistically, I'm just never going to wear these shades often enough to warrant buying this set. It's another dust gatherer and one that despite my best efforts, just doesn't get the love that it deserves. 

Revlon Ultra HD Lip Lacquer in shade 570 Smoky Topaz - This gloss is an all round, let down. Okay, the shade is a really pretty dusty nude, it swatches beautifully and is full of pigment but on the lips it's a gloopy, slippery mess. It settles into blobs around the corners and inner part of the mouth almost immediately and for me, is totally unwearable. 

Have you tired any of the products mentioned here? Do you have any 'Untouchables' sitting in your makeup stash? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My First Louis Vuitton Handbag Purchase

I did it. Not only did I make my first ever Louis Vuitton handbag purchase, but I also finally managed to coerce The Husband into taking some outfit shots for me - on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far in Abu Dhabi. It may not look it but I was pulling my, 'I'm glowing and not really sweating my arse off' face. 

Anyway, back to bags.

Some of you may recall that I shared this Instagram post a few weeks ago, in which I renounced my frivolous spending habits in favour of saving for larger, more meaningful purchases. I really wanted a statement, everyday bag so I did what doesn't come naturally to a born shopaholic and I saved up to buy my first ever Louis Vuitton handbag. 

Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots

I opted for the Speedy Bandouliere, Size 25 in Damier Ebene canvas and here it is in all its glory:

Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 25 Review & Outfit Shots
Outfit Details: Off Shoulder Shirt - Bershka / Jamie Jeans - Topshop / Prada PR25RS Cinema Sunglasses in Black

Now, the process at which I arrived on which bag to buy was a long and stressful one. It's not every day I'm in a position to spend such a large sum of money on a bag and I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision.

I knew I wanted a bag that could be worn cross body or over the shoulder - which is typically how I like to wear my everyday handbags. I also don't like to carry a lot of stuff - mostly because my back has the stamina of my house plant, 10 days without water and ready to wilt at even the most gentle of breezes. I blame years of hauling my school bag over one shoulder because I'd be damned if I'd been seen carrying my backpack like a normal person. Anyone else guilty of this?

The 25 size is perfect for me. It's by no means a 'mini' bag and actually fits quite a lot inside - my iPhone 6, a purse, keys, a camera, with plenty of room to spare. I briefly considered the 30 size but it was far too big for me to wear cross body comfortably as I have quite a small frame, (I'm 5ft 3) although I seriously adored the original, hand-held Speedy in this size. 

The straps on the Speedy Bandouliere are removable and adjustable, meaning that it does offer a variety of ways in which it can be worn. Although I typically wear this bag crossbody and love the casual vibe it gives off, I have occasionally carried it by hand with the straps removed, (which I never anticipated I would do) and I like how it feels a little more sophisticated. 

When it came to canvas choice, the Damier Ebene, checkered canvas was an easy decision for me as it was this that I always felt myself gravitating towards. I also couldn't trust myself not to 'dirty up' the lighter leather straps of the Monogram style and the cream/grey Damier Azur canvas, and I really wanted a bag that I didn't feel the need to be, precious with. It's also a pattern and style that works well with my wardrobe. I don't struggle to style it and find that it makes even the most casual of outfits look that little bit more, 'put together.' 

As much as I am really enjoying this bag, there are a couple of bugbears I have with it. 

Firstly, the structure. When I carry this bag crossbody, I like the slouchy look it adopts as it sits against the body but when I carry this bag hand-held, I find myself wishing it was more structured. I have considered buying a bag-shaper to place inside so that the Speedy holds its shape when carried this way. What do you think? 

Also, every now and again, the hardware on the shoulder strap squeaks, which is annoying. I'm hoping that this is something that eases off over time. 

Niggles aside, I'm really pleased with my purchase and over the last few weeks I have been getting a serious amount of wear from my new bag. I never had myself down as a Louis Vuitton girl, I know the brand and style can be quite divisive; however I can see myself really getting my money's worth out of this piece. 

What are your thoughts on Louis Vuitton? Do you have an everyday bag that has been a great investment or is there a bag out there that you currently have your eye on? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Library Is Open

The Drag Race reference was just too tempting to not use. 

The shade of it all...

Okay, I'm done. 

With my bookshelf currently brimming with recently read books, and a massive Book Depository order en route, I thought I would share with you the last few books that I've read, let you know my thoughts on whether they were a hit or a miss, as well as fill you in on what I'm currently reading.

Book Reviews / Life in Excess Blog

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 'For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth. In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.'

Historical, war-time novels are not usually my first choice when it comes to books to read; however All The Light We Cannot See is so much more than that. It's instantly gripping and beautifully told, choosing to focus on the intertwining paths of the main characters, rather than allowing itself to become too bogged down with historical facts. Anthony Doerr offers an interesting and at times, moving glimpse into the lives of those affected by the Second World War. It's one of those real page-turners and I absolutely loved every minute of it. 

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey - 'Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.'

One of the taglines on the book states that The Girl With All The Gifts is, 'The most original thriller you will read this year' and whilst to some extent, I do agree that it has quite a unique storyline, this book definitely lost me along the way. Without wanting to give away too much detail, this novel ventures quite far into the Sc-Fi realm and although it has great potential and an interesting point of view, I found myself willing it to be over towards the end. That being said, it has been made into a film, (you can watch the trailer here) and on the face of it, it looks like it could be one of those that works much better on screen that it does on paper. Time will tell, I'm sure. 

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue - 'Lib Wright, a young English nurse, arrives in an impoverished Irish village on a strange mission. Eleven-year-old Anna O' Donnell is said to have eaten nothing for months but appears to be thriving miraculously. With tourists thronging to see the child, and the press sowing doubt, the baffled community looks to an outsider to bring the facts to light. Lib's job is simple: to watch the girl and uncover the truth. An educated sceptic, trained by the legendary Florence Nightingale and repelled by what she sees as ignorance and superstition, Lib expects to expose the fast as a hoax right away. But as she gets to know the girl, over the long days they spend together, Lib becomes more and more unsure. Is Anna a fraud, or a 'living wonder'? Or is something more sinister unfolding right before Lib's eyes, a tragedy in which she herself is playing a part?'

Right from the start, this book has a heavy religious theme and reads quite dated down to the era in which it's set - not a negative but just something to bear in mind. Although not rich with striking events or characters, I did still find myself being compelled to turn the page and wondering as to how the story would unfold. Right up until the end, I wasn't sure how this one was going to turn out, it kept me guessing; however the ending wasn't entirely what I'd hoped for. Not that I had a particular feeling as to how I wanted The Wonder to conclude, I just knew I wanted something a little more than what was offered. That being said, it's still an intriguing, and at times quite eerie read. 

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - 'Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. 

Curious, she opens it - and time stops. 

John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others. Cecelia wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most.'

This book read like a middle aged woman's Wednesday night, book club feature. Too scathing? As a serious read, I found this to be predictable and packed with cliches, although not necessarily bad, I could see this being an easy book to take away and read on holiday, it's neither memorable nor left me feeling anything when it had reached its conclusion. I like a book to inspire/shock/sadden me, make me feel happy, make me feel something and this did none of the above. 

Onto what I'm currently reading...

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - 'They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.

This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt).'

From the get go, this book reads unlike anything else I've ever read. It's beautifully written, poetic almost, with incredibly vivid descriptions and a unique writing style that really grabs you and reels you in. The plot itself is complex, with many facets; however it works to tell a powerfully enthralling story. I'm currently just over half way through but The God Of Small Things is proving itself to be a stunningly compelling read.

Book Reviews / Life in Excess Blog

Have you read a good book lately or have you read any of the books mentioned here in this post? Let me know your thoughts and also leave me your recommendations for books to try in the future. I have quite a few to work through but I love to hear suggestions. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch

I'm back today with a post that is going to be rammed full of delicious food snaps so if you're not prepared to mouth water all over your computer/phone screens or you have yet to eat lunch, then I suggest you look away now!

Still here? 

Okay, let's get cracking.

Last weekend, Scott and I decided to visit one of our favourite, laid-back, Friday brunch spots in Abu Dhabi - Market Kitchen in Le Royal Meridien Hotel. It had been a while since our last visit and with word that they'd revamped the menu, we were eager to see if it still maintained the casual, yet sophisticated atmosphere that we knew and loved. 

The old, set menu has been replaced with several new and exciting menus that offer up more variety each week. There's some old favourites that appear as well as some fresh and innovative new dishes to try. Market Kitchen have stuck with their traditional serving style, where food is brought to the table over four separate courses - drinks are also served to the table, which makes a welcome change from the usual buffet style of service offered at most Friday brunches. 

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review
Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review
Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review

We started with bread and our first cocktail of the day, a mouth-wateringly delicious Kumquat Mojito. Our first course arrived promptly and we were served an assortment of starters to tuck into. On the menu were Fresh Oysters, Salmon Tartare with Apple and Hazelnut, Fishcakes with Rocket Mayonnaise and Tuna Sashimi As someone who isn't the biggest lover of seafood, the chef was more than happy to whip up some alternative dishes for me to enjoy instead which included Burrata served with Roasted Peppers and Crusty Bread which was absolutely divine, Avocado Sashimi which along with the Tuna Sashimi was prepared at the table, and french fries. 

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review

Our next course consisted of Black Truffle Pizza with Fontina Cheese - an old favourite from the previous brunch menu, Parmesan Flaked Rocket Salad and a shot-sized serving of White Bean Soup - and of course, another cocktail. This time I opted for the Ginger Margarita which was spiced to perfection. 

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review
Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review

A well-deserved break was needed before we were able to tackle the main courses. On the menu was Roasted Meager Fish in a spicy Malaysian Chili Sauce and Masterstock Chicken with Orange Salt. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the chicken is life-changing. The sticky honey, orange glaze lends the chicken an Asian flavour which I'd have happily stuffed my face with until my trouser buttons burst. Incredible. The mains were also served with side dishes of Mini Mac & Cheese and Creamed Spinach, and washed down with fruity Passion Fruit Sangrias. 

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review
Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review

By the time desserts rolled around, I was close to bursting; however I ensured I had enough space to sample the two dishes on offer - Cheesecake with Fig Jam and Raspberry Sorbet and Toffee Crisp with Salted Caramel. Both pleasant options, although my heart secretly yearned for a Chocolate Fondant and my stomach yearned for a rest. 

One of the most distinguishing features that sets Market Kitchen apart from other brunches is the 5 star service that they provide. Not only are the staff attentive and knowledgeable, they're exceptionally friendly and go above and beyond to ensure that all who dine there are having the most enjoyable experience possible. This was our third time brunching here and never has the service we've received faltered. Serious kudos guys. 

Abu Dhabi Eats - Market Kitchen De'Vine' Brunch Review

The De'Vine' Brunch runs every Friday from 12:30pm until 4pm at Le Royal Meridien Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Live entertainment is provided by former Australian X Factor contestant, Jaymie Deboucherville (who is fantastic!) and packages start at AED 199+++ including mocktails, AED 299+++ inclusive of cocktails, house wines and beer, and AED 399+++ for the champagne package. For more information or to make a reservation call:  +971800101101 or visit the Market Kitchen Website
© Life in Excess | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig