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
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