Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes 2- A Game of Shadows

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The first Sherlock Holmes movie was so good that I went in with the same expectations for the second installment. Right after watching the movie, I felt it didn't match my expectations but thinking about it now I've come to realize it's an improvement from what we saw in 2009. The first part was more about the mystery and everything that fell in between of that- it was essential to define Sherlock Holmes on the big screen; the second part though, is quite different. It's a very Guy Ritchie movie with special effects and awesome fight sequences.


This time around Mr. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) meets his match in Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) who constructs an ingenious plan to create a rift among the European countries- we're talking bombs, surgeries and assassinations. Moriarty is one step ahead and we see the detective and his side kick Watson (Jude Law) embark on an adventurous journey to hamper the devious plans not to mention some interesting fight scenes taking place in the train, the lighthouse and a stag party to name a few.

What I loved is the fact that director Ritchie injects comedy when we least expect it; Downey Jr. and Law have impeccable comic timing. The movie also presents the fact that Holmes isn't too happy with Watson's new chapter in life (marriage) and tries to talk him out of it using bizzare and hilarious justifications because Holmes doesn't want to "die alone". At one point, Holmes throws Watson's wife from the train and into the river. We get to see the object of Holmes's affection Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) but that is pretty short lived. Downey Jr.s' character has definitely evolved in this installment and you see more layers of his personality come alive.

The movie is definitely entertaining and there are scenes which will make you question if there's a Sherlock Holmes 3 lined up in the near future. Oh, do keep a close eye on the objects that Holmes develops a penchant for. They come up when least expected.

Rating: 3 out 5 stars

Ben Breedlove's Story

Friday, December 30, 2011

18 year old Ben Breedlove died on Dec 25, 2011 from a cardiac arrest. He had a condition called HCM- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy where the heart's walls have abnormal thickening thereby leading to complications. In his two part videos, he explains his life and brush with death, thrice.

I cannot help but think how God was watching over him time and time again because His existence is explained in Ben's visions.

Part 1:


Part 2:

Sephora Luminizer

I picked this up while in Paris, France. The best thing about the Sephora store in Paris or any other stores in Paris/Germany/London when compared to the ones here in Dubai is that the sales associates do not follow you around while shopping. They ask you once if you need help and then they get out of your face. This is what shopping should be like! I don't want the salesperson hanging out with me around the damn store.


Anyway, the product is called Luminizer by Sephora. It's similar to Benefit's High Beam or Stila's Liquid Luminizer. They all serve the same purpose- they highlight certain areas on the face and add a subtle glow.

A small pump of the product goes a long way!

 The reason I bought this is because it's got a light pink color to it which means I could sweep it on my cheeks to give the illusion of naturally flushed cheeks.

The blended version

It's a lightweight liquid that easily blends and it's not too shimmery so it doesn't look like you've dusted a bottle of glitter on your face. On the bottle it says to use it as a foundation base (so apply before foundation but after moisturizer)- I do none. I only apply a few dots on the cheekbones and blend outwards. The product isn't waterproof which is a big plus for me. Waterproof makeup is usually a pain to remove (at least for me- think waterproof mascara). I'm glad I bought this- totally recommended! Unfortunately, it's not available in Dubai (but if you happen to visit Europe, you may just get it).

Dove: Ultimate Nourishment

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I love products by Dove. The first product I used was that of Dove moisturizing soap. You can immediately feel the difference after using it in the first go- your hands do not have a 'rough' feel after using the soap bar but more like you've applied baby cream; it's that good.

Since their products live up to their claims, I experimented with other Dove products including the hair care range; I wasn't left disappointed.

Here are three new products that I tried:


Dove Indulgent Nourishment Body Lotion (Deep Care Complex with shea butter): I like the consistency of the lotion. It is light weight and is immediately absorbed by the skin which I love. Because it's got shea butter in it, the fragrance is a bit too sweet- almost like a chocolate and sugar scrub but if you use a small amount of it, the fragrance is bearable.

Deeply Nourishing Beauty Shower Gel: Great fragrance and it leaves my skin smooth after a shower.

Visible Effects Nourishing Body Lotion (Multi Layer Complex): The lotion is light-weight just like the Indulgent Lotion and has a pleasant fragrance. My mom used this over a span of 1 week (not regular though) and she mentioned a noticeable improvement with regards to her hands.

I also noticed that the dry patches I had on my arms have reduced quite a lot since. Hurray!

 All in all, I'm pleased with the results of the new range of products and can vouch for the difference because I've witnessed it. If you have normal to dry skin and tend to have dry patches on your arms, shoulders or back or simply want to keep your skin moisturized 24/7, I suggest you try either of the lotions (or the one with Shea Butter for extra hydration).

Have you tried any of these? Got a favorite?

The Food Byte: Spicy Hummus

The place where I live is famous for hummus- every single Arab restaurant and even Western to some extent have hummus on their menu. For those who don't know what it is, hummus is a dip made out of mashed chick peas, tahina (or tahini) and olive oil. It's eaten with flatbread and an assortment of kebabs. It's awesome.

While scouring the net for reviews on the latest Blackberry, I happened to come upon this recipe by Martha Stewart. It's called Spiced Up Hummus. And it sounds delicious. It's a recipe that's not time consuming and you can whip it up when your friends are headed to your place.

Image and recipe from Martha Stewart.


Ingredients:

  • 15 (1 can) ounces chickpeas, drained, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 1 plum tomato, peeled, seeded, and very finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Method:

  1. In a food processor combine beans and reserved bean liquid, tahini, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, star anise (if using), ginger, and cumin; puree until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in cilantro, tomato, and scallions; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the top of the hummus. Before serving, garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

Designer Everything

Monday, December 26, 2011

Talk about fashionable coffee. This just takes coffee and fashion combined to another level. Jimmy Choo has designed coffee cup sleeves! They come in croc print.





It's not only Jimmy Choo but Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and a few others have jumped on the iPad sleeve bandwagon.
Louis Vuitton

Marc Jacobs

Oscar de la Renta



Gucci- this is my favorite!

Elemis Visible Brilliance Serum

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I have a handful of primers and skin illuminizers in my makeup case. I use the latter occasionally (parties included) but that's about it. Primers are usually handy when you want to create a smooth surface in order for your makeup to go on easily (think professional finish). Having said that, Elemis Visible Brilliance is quite a smart product.


 It's an extremely light weight serum that claims to give instant radiance and it's true because there are minute gold like/ sparse shimmer particles within the serum.


I've tried using this in two different ways; one is directly on my skin prior to moisturizer. I let it sink in for a minute or two and then follow with moisturizer. The second is mixing it with foundation- the end result is a subtle glow. I like this serum. It doesn't leave your skin looking greasy or like you have a light bulb for a face because of the shimmer particles.

The serum completely dissolves into the skin

Not sure if you can see the minute shimmer particles 

I've read in magazines that regular use will definitely show a difference on the skin. While at Bloomingdale's, I received three samples post my shopping spree (they usually don't give this but I guess because they were in a jolly mood, they decided to!).


The first is a Papaya Enzyme Peel which contains papaya and pineapple (hello, healthy mask!) which helps to improve the skin. The second sample is S.O.S Emergency Cream- this is one is a bit greasy in nature and states you should apply the cream only to problematic areas of the face. And the last one is an Exotic Cream Moisturizing Mask which on application feels exactly like a spa session at Cleopatra's Spa primarily because of the mask's fragrance. I really love this mask because due to winter, I've been experiencing dry patches of skin on my face and it's a pain to put on blush for example because it highlights the patches; this mask soothes the skin and doesn't irritate it.

Elemis reminds me of Body Shop because they use quite a few natural ingredients, don't test their products on animals (yay!) and encourage people to recycle the empty tubes/bottles (double yay!).

Elie Saab: Dresses Galore

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I don't think I talk enough about Elie Saab although my friends say otherwise. His designs are nothing short of a masterpiece. I love almost all his gowns and dresses. The first time I wore one of his creations was at Boutique 1- it was a red gown and it fit so well- it was love at first sight. No, I don't own a Saab gown or dress but I shall...one day.

Having said that, I want these two dresses. How beautiful are these? Total wishlist items! Emma Watson shines in both.


Elie Saab Fall 2011 Couture
 I LOVE how she (or her stylist) has put together the whole outfit with no accessories but a focus on the dress itself. And just to add a dash of bling, those Jimmy Choo heels seal the deal. Love Emma's slicked back hair and red lipstick. 

Elie Saab Spring 2011 Couture

 I love love love this so much! The sheer material, the color, the cut, style and design- gorgeous. And Emma paired it with Giuseppe Zanotti heels. Such a beautiful dress.

The Food Byte: Black Forest Cupcakes

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This was my first attempt to make Black Forest Cupcakes and it was a success! Of course, there were those moments where I walked impatiently in the kitchen looking into the microwave while it was still on to see if the concoction of flour, eggs, cherries, melted chocolate etc was rising up in each cupcake cover.
 
 I used Betty Crocker's ready made cake mix (chocolate) and baked the cupcakes as per the instructions. The only thing that I did different was the additional of a cherry in each cupcake prior to baking.  I used the soaked cherries in a tin for this rather than fresh ones because the former taste different and are usually used in black forest cakes.


The cakes, surprisingly turned out to be soft and fluffy. Not to boast, but they literally melted in the mouth. Not sure if cupcakes are supposed to be that way, but who cares!


I didn't go with the conventional icing and instead changed it to a very light version of cherry icing (mix with the whipped cream a little bit of the liquid you get from the soaked cherries). So there you have it, mission accomplished.

Gorgeous In Green

Friday, December 16, 2011

How absolutely pretty does Taylor Swift look? Flawless skin and amazing hair. But what stuck out for me are those amazing earrings! I love the color and the size; it's so beautiful.



This is similar to what Angelina Jolie was spotted wearing as well- her's is from Kenneth Jay Lane.
You can find a similar pair on Sophie's Closet. I want this- it's a total wishlist item!

ValleyDez Opens at Sunset Mall Jumeirah

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I love ValleyDez boutique because it's got some pretty good designer gowns (incl. Aiisha Ramadan), dresses, tops and accessories. I went a bit crazy at the store in Wafi Mall. Also, the interior decoration is pretty fab. You have to see it yourself (including the dresses). Now, there's another branch opening at Sunset Mall, Jumeirah on Dec 15th. Mark your calendars!

Nail Polish Stained My Nails

Did your nail polish stain your nails? Well, mine did! I usually don’t have this problem but last week after I removed the China Glaze polish, I got a faint green color on my nails. Of course, I went in a frenzy. I cannot bear to have crap on my nails. I immediately took half a lemon’s juice, mixed it with olive oil and dunk my nails in the concoction. I also rubbed half a lemon on my nails for 30 minutes. There was no visible difference. Panicked, I ran a search query and read a gazillion other girls with the same problem.

Image credits: Google Images
 On multiple forums, they all said the same thing- ‘use lemon juice’, ‘the stain will go away by itself’, ‘use 2 nail polish removers’ etc. None of these helped , then I read that you need to buff your nails. As a last resort and feeling rather dejected, I took a nail file and started to buff my nails. And what do you know? It worked! The faint green stain disappeared- no kidding! My nails were back to normal. So the next time you have such a problem, usually caused by darker nail colors because of the pigment- do what I did. I’m not sure if the application of lemon and olive oil helped to alleviate the buffing process.

Another tip (which I will follow now!) is to apply a clear coat of nail polish prior to colored polish

GlamBox Arrives In The Middle East

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GlamBox has finally arrived in the region. I'm so happy! GlamBox and similar brand concepts have made it big in the US, South Africa and a few other countries. I was pretty miffed that the US and SA versions didn't ship to the UAE (because there is no international site otherwise) and now I got news that they're opening for business here.



For those of you who don't know, GlamBox is a beauty bag filled with about 4-5 full sized beauty samples/ latest products delivered to your doorstep. It's the best way to try something before you go purchase a product. I've had issues with foundation color which looks perfect under store lighting and different at home.

The way GlamBox works is you subscribe either monthly/annually, you then receive the package every month with samples based on your skin profile. There's an element of surprise as you don't know which brands are going to be delivered to you- but you get a hint based on the sponsors/brands that are on board. Monthly subscriptions are charged at AED50. Check out the brands and subscription plans on the website.

Registrations are now open, so go ahead and fill out your details. I'll post up a review of what I think about my first box!

FashLink: A New Way To Shop

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When I first found out about this I went, "Oh my God. Thank you!" and then it hit me, thanks to this website I will be shopping even more. Oh well, a girl needs to shop- right?

So we have been introduced to a new concept in fashion. You know how we go around window shopping at the malls, then either step into the store (or not), explore the desired object and then contemplate whether to buy or not? Forget all that. There's a website called FashLink ME (Middle East) that converts the physical window shopping experience to that of an online window shopping concept!


So this means, you can just take a look at what you want, decide, drive to the store/mall and make an immediate purchase. It's so cool to view online the new collections by certain brands especially those that are available here. What's more is that there are details about the products in terms of price, location of branches etc.You can also put together looks and share with friends or view other people's looks. Helps with the purchase decision, don't you think?  And the best part- they have an iPhone/iPad app for this!

The website is in it's beta stage so there are a few klinks here and there but apart from that- this is a gem! I already bookmarked all the things I want to buy (and yes, there's definitely two or three leopard print items on that list).

Say No To Muscle Pain

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm a pretty sporty person and in the course of sessions, I have managed to pull quite a few muscles that have left me with sore arms and legs. There are times when I can't pick a glass of water off the table without wincing. Usually, I let the muscles heal by themselves but when the pain gets unbearable I reach out for a pack of ice. At times, my friends use painkillers.




I have another Elemis discovery to share with you and it's called the Aching Muscle Super Soak. It's not a spray or cream. It's liquid and smells amazing- like mint. It is said to relieve muscle/body ache. The other day I went to the mall for shopping. My legs took the brunt of it all as they always do and by the time I got home, I had feet that died (pretty sure women can relate to this). I made it a point to dunk my feet in the Super Soak. I mixed about 1-2 caps of it into the water . After about a minute or so, I felt a cooling, tingling sensation and it was pretty relaxing. The mint like fragrance helped as well. There's also chamomile in this apart from other ingredients- it's almost like a mask but for the feet (and body)!  My mom used this too and it has become her new favorite- I don't think she will be using that Deep Heat spray anymore.

I can see people who train, work out regularly and those that end up with sore muscles benefiting from this, not to forget people who sit all day on the laptops/computers and end up with aching shoulders because of the posture (me!). A friend of mine has been going for dragon-boat practice and I have a feeling she'd be quite happy with this. I also spotted this at Cleopatra's Spa the other day- so inquire for the  treatment they have using this product or just buy it either from the spa/ Bloomingdale's Dubai and use it in the luxury of your home. If you don't fancy this, then try out other similar products by Elemis (there's oil and gel based products).

Shoe Sundays: Charlotte Olympia

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes, my obsession with shoes doesn't end. Neither the obsession with black and gold. This week, it's Charlotte Olympia shoes. I want! Both of these.

Fashion Trend: Polka Dots

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Now that's one fashion trend I didn't see coming back. Polka dots have returned and they made their presence felt within the collections of Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney among others. I love how the dots have been revamped- they are either bigger in size or smaller and more spaced out as opposed to what we saw years and years ago. Polka dots are not only on clothes but also accessories. Would you rock this trend?




Sally Hansen Nail Polish Strips: Leopard Print

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I bought a few Sally Hansen Nail Strips since sitting in the salon and getting nails minxed demands time (atleast 45mins) and I don't have a lot of that element in my life right now (or will ever). The first polish strip design I applied to my nails was the leopard because I'm such a huge fan of that print. The application was pretty easy- there are instructions on the back of the box. You just take the strip and measure it against the size of your nail, cut off the extra, peel of the sticky part and press against your nail. With the Minx, it's a little different since you have to heat the stickers against a light bulb or hair dryer in order for them to stick on your nails. So once the Sally Hansen strips were on my nails, I used a clear top coat just to add the extra shine. But you do not need to do this as the strips already have the glaze to them. And that's it!

 
You don't have to sit and dry your nails- once you stick them on, you're done. The best part is the nails look awesome. I got quite a few a compliments including 2 from males (both of whom are straight btw), one of them commented, "Those are some fierce nails you got there". When it comes to durability, such stickers or minx nails can last only up to 2-4 days but mine lasted for well over a week- no chipping!


I had no complaints until I got to the part where I wanted to remove the stickers off my nails. When it comes to the minx, you just hold your nails against a heated appliance (like a hair dryer) and then peel them off without any problems. For the Sally Hansen strips, the instructions read "Apply nailpolish remover to take it off". So I did just that. Nothing happened except for a little bit of dullness that appeared on the strips because the alcohol/acetone took off the glitter/glaze. So I tried a second nailpolish remover and the same thing but the strips remained on my nails. Then I literally had to scrap off the design!!! It was a pain to remove these stickers and that's the only downside of this product. I will use the other designs since there are some good ones (there's one with gold and glitter!) but will research on how people take the stickers off as opposed to using nailpolish remover.
Other than that, the strips/ designs are great and you can get fierce to glamorous nails in the luxury of your home.

I know a few people who have trouble in stores finding this- I got mine from Carrefour (retails at AED60). Boots Pharmacy also stocks this. It is also available now at Iconic and Virgin Megastore.

Shopping Alert: ASOS

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Savvy Sunday on Asos.com is up and running i.e. 40% off selected items. I placed an order already (it's another story that half the things I wanted weren't available). Go shop!

Shoe Sundays: Muted Metallic Gold

This is the first series of shoe madness and you will see one every Sunday or whenever I see good looking shoes. I love shoes, in fact I bought so many this year (about 9 in total and some are still in their original packaging) I have taken it on myself not to buy any more shoes or flats or heels until Jan next year. Oh, I spotted an amazing pair of leopard print Tory Burch flats...

So, today's post features my friend, Nagham and her purchase from River Island. She wore these pretty cool pair of flats that had a metallic gold shine on them- it's not too much or too less of shine, it's about enough to make a pair of flats look gorgeous. And on the plus side, these flats can very much make your entire outfit look fab!

Available at River Island

The Food Byte: Banoffee Pie

Friday, November 25, 2011

Banoffee Pie may sound complicated but it is one of the easiest British desserts to make and also one that got me liking bananas. I don't quite like that fruit, I'm more of a berries, raisins, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, sultanas, pomegranates person. Did I mention strawberries?

So a banoffee pie is primarily made out of bananas, cream, caramel and to make it interesting- chocolate is used as topping. The only trouble I had was finding a jar of ready-made caramel. In Dubai, the brand Nestle does not stock its popular Carnation Caramel and I don't know how to make caramel at home although there are several instructions that came up when I researched a how-to.

So I scoured Dubai for ready-made caramel, spoke to friends, colleagues, even asked an SMS based service that answers all questions (The Question Company) but in vain. Yes, I tried Marks & Spencer as well and nothing. After days of searching and almost giving up, I *finally* located it at Carrefour Express. It was hiding among other jams bottles and ready-made spreads.


The caramel started to melt since it was kept out of the fridge for a long time :(
There are some recipes that ask for the baking of the crust of the pie etc etc. I found an alternative to that.

Ingredients:
*It really depends how big or small your tart tin is- I used a medium sized one so accordingly, the measurement is as follows:*

- 1 small pack of Digestive cookies
- 3/4th cup of solid butter
- 2 ripe bananas (throw in an additional one if you are a banana fan)
- 1 jar caramel
- 2 cups whipping cream (or heavy cream)
- Chocolate, for garnishing (I used Cadbury's Flake)

Method:
- Crush the cookies and mix with the butter. Press them into the base of the tart tin and keep it in the refrigerator for about 20mins or until it is set.
- Spread spoonfuls of caramel onto the base until it is covered (a thin to medium layer of caramel should do just fine). Place it in the fridge for about 45mins to an hour.
- Once the caramel has set, cut the banana and top the slices over the biscuit and caramel base. Spread the whipped cream over the banana slices.
- Top this with chocolate shavings.
And you are done!

P.S. Again- this was the only (blurred) pic I could take before chowing it down.

L.K. Bennett store opens in Dubai

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I've been looking for the perfect pair of nude heels forever. Whenever I spot a pair, either the color is not right (too beige-ish) or the size isn't available. It either that or the heel length is either too short or way too long. At times, it's all the options mentioned.

So when I heard that a.L.K. Bennett store opened in Dubai's Mirdif City Center recently, the first thing that came to my mind was- you guessed it- nude heels! The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton has been photographed wearing L.K. Bennett nude heels regularly called 'Sledge' (I have no idea why that name!) and I was on a lookout for such a pair!



The color is great, the heel is the right length, totally in love with this pair. I know where I'll be shopping over the weekend!

Elemis Maximum Moisture Day Cream

I buy quite a few products from time to time and because I live in Dubai, I experience an on and off session of patches of dry skin on my face. I have a normal to dry skin type and I can safely say that it's during winter I notice a few patches here and there. Annoying. The best thing to do is drink water, exfoliate and moisturize; the first one of which I hardly do- I know, terrible habit. Last month, I aimed to drink 5 bottles of water and by the end of the day I was on bottle # 2.  So I rely on moisturizers.

I've blogged about another moisturizer that works and guess what? I found another one! It's by a UK company called Elemis. I was a bit skeptical about trying out another moisturizing cream but this definitely shows the results the moment you put it on. It has a subtle fragrance and it's light weight, so it sinks right in. It doesn't leave your skin looking shiny like a lightbulb so hurray! Can I just say it one more time out of the 100 times that I absolutely love this cream? I would definitely buy this again.


In case you want to know which one you should get for your skin, I suggest you head to the Elemis section at Bloomingdale's in Dubai Mall. They do a free skin test and the system shows the problematic areas on your face. You are then suggested a set of products to use. 

Cleopatra's Spa at Wafi Mall uses Elemis products for facials and other spa treatments. I have to book an appointment them which has been pending for so long!

Fashion Gone Wrong

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What was going on with Chloe Moretz's D&G dress at the premiere of Martin Scorsese's Hugo? The dress looks weird! But hey, she's wearing shoes that are on trend but in my opinion, I don't think they do anything for her outfit.

 
 

Stationery Love

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I love fancy stationery. A lame notepad looks so much better and funkier when it's got a gold cover or blobs of colorful ink on it. Or when a pen has Louis Vuitton inscriptions on it.



I happened to stumble upon an interesting stationery store called Prints at Mirdiff City Centre. Apart from having notepads, albums, notebooks, telephone diaries all in different colors, they also had a few things that stood out of the ordinary like the bookmarks I purchased.

Aren't we all used to narrow long strips of hard paper called bookmarks? The ones I got can in different shapes! I bought 2 teddy bears, one snowflake and the other a glittered violet heart (yea, I know I sound like a teen). I also bought a pen that was twisted and had butterflies on it. Never leave me alone in a stationery store.
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