Thursday, 29 January 2015

To Brunch Or Not To Brunch..... That is the question!


Brunch in Dubai is a teeny tiny bit different from your average brunch in the rest of the world. 

The dictionary defines brunch as "A meal that serves as both breakfast and lunch"... which means that brunch in Dubai is nothing like the dictionary definition. 

Brunch in Dubai is an all out feast. Like Christmas on steroids. The food choices are mind boggling, and there will be so many things to try that you never really get fed up of the menu. Then there are the drinks. They are endless and there is so much choice it makes your head spin. In Dubai that really is something, because alcohol is expensive here. So an all you can eat and drink extravaganza is really something. 

As with all things in Dubai, brunch is the place to be seen. To dress to the nines and really enjoy yourselves. Brunch usually takes place on a Friday afternoon (Friday being part of the weekend in Dubai), although the popularity of brunch means that they are now spilling into Saturday and even Thursday evenings. 

I've listed my favourite brunches in Dubai below!

Brunches Without Children:

Personally, I have no patience for brunch with babies/children. For me, brunch is the escape, the time to be without the kids and to indulge in some adult only time. Although there are so many people who take their kids to brunch and love it, so I think it depends on the personality of the parents and the children. I can't relax at brunch if my kids are there, so I prefer to wait and do it as an adult only affair!

For those of you without children (or like me, prefer to leave them at home), here are my favourites:

Yalumba, Le Meridian:




Yalumba can only be described as a "messy" brunch, and children are definitely not catered for. I think this is my favourite brunch, simply because champagne is free flowing at this one. And not just one champagne, you can choose between four: Bollinger; Tattinger; Laurent Perrier and, if you want to upgrade your package Laurent Perrier Rose (My favourite favourite favourite!). 

There is absolutely no option to select a lower priced package which does not include alcohol, so this is not the brunch to go to if you are pregnant or if you don't drink. Firstly because you'll spend a lot of money for a lot of drinks that you won't be indulging in, and secondly because everyone around you is going to be merry. There is lots of singing and dancing by the end of brunch, so probably not much fun if you are the designated driver. 

I also love this brunch because it has both buffet and a la carte options. I find with brunch that I am too busy talking (who would have guessed) and as a result there is not a lot of time spent on my feet wandering the buffet selection (which is fabulous at Yalumba). So having menus on the table and being able to order food to be brought to you, mean't that I actually ate enough during brunch and did not end up over merry on the champagne. 

The food is as great as the drinks package and you'll come home feeling suitably full of both. While it's not a cheap brunch, it's also not the most expensive in Dubai, in fact most brunches seem to be on a par price wise these days. 


Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah:




Al Qasr is by far one of the biggest brunches in Dubai. Spread over the Madinat Jumeriah complex, if you are looking for a particular food here, you will find it. 

The Al Qasr brunch actually provide you with a map when you arrive, so that you can navigate all the food stations. I'm not joking.

Sparkling wine and soft drinks are served to your table and there is a multitude of drinks stations to choose from, so whether it's a classic gin and tonic or a bright cocktail, you'll find something to suit every whim at the Al Qasr. 

While the Al Qasr caters to children in some respects, for me, it's an adult only brunch unless your kids are older than mine and are happy to sit relatively still for four hours. 


Family Brunches: 

Bubbalicious, The Westin:



This is the ultimate family brunch. Three of The Westin's restaurants combine to provide the setting for their Friday brunch, so you have plenty of choices on where to sit to best suit your needs. Plus the dessert stations are something to see! 

There are loads of things here to keep the kids entertained, including a petting zoo, a magician and acrobats. The waiting staff are also great with kids and are happy to circle the dining room with the younger ones so that you can actually eat something. 

This brunch also gives you the option to purchase the soft drinks only package, so you are not entirely left out in the cold if family and friends are headed out for brunch while you are not drinking. 




Al Badia Picnic Brunch, Al Badia Golf Club: 




This is quite simply my favourite winter time brunch in Dubai. Al Badia's picnic brunch takes place on the lawn at the foot of the clubhouse near to the lake. 

There is an amazing children area for children of all ages, and you can sit and eat while they are not too far away. The food is just beautiful and the setting is divine! It's a perfect brunch when the weather breaks and the cooler winter sunshine makes it perfect outdoor weather. 

You have the choice of sitting on blankets for your "picnic" (don't worry, you still get a table to eat off!) or to sit at a traditional table. This is great when you have little ones who need to be strapped to a highchair when they are eating, or risk everyone in sight getting covered in whatever sticky and brightly coloured food has taken their fancy. 

You receive your own picnic basket on arrival, filled with delicious food, but there are also live cooking stations to make sure your every desire is catered for! 

Again, there are drinks packages, so you can spend as little or as much as you like, depending on what your favourite tipple of the moment happens to be. You'll still feel spoiled if you are the designated driver on this brunch. 


Desert Chic:




Now, no blog post about brunch would be complete without a few ideas on perfect brunch ready outfits. And I have found a gem of a brand! Desert Chic is a Dubai based company who has an AMAZING clothing range, perfectly designed with brunch in mind. 

They only carried limited stock of each item, so you are less likely to have several clones wandering about at brunch, and if you live in Dubai Marina they will even bring the pieces to your door for you to try. They are also more than affordable, which is fantastic because shopping in Dubai can often get expensive, with designer labels at every turn. 

So if you are looking for the perfect outfit, please do take a peek at Desert Chic's Facebook page and see if there is a new outfit just waiting for you! 

Here is a sneaky peek at some of their current designs! Each of these gorgeous outfits are only 350 AED each! Perfect for a little Friday Brunch Magic. 










Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Recipe: Apple, bacon and Butternut Squash Hash



There is nothing more comforting that gorgeous fall flavours, and that hit of bacon! (Sorry to those that don't eat bacon, but I'm sure this recipe would also be gorgeous if you removed the bacon altogether). 

This recipe comes from The Urban Poser, and it's my favourite, go to side dish, with just about everything! I'd eat it every day if bacon wasn't so expensive in Dubai. 

Enjoy every mouthful, because it's completely amazing! 

Ingredients:

About 2 cups diced butternut squash (fresh not frozen)
1 cup diced tart apples (about 1 large apple, use Granny Smiths for  21 day Sugar Detox)
4-5 strips Bacon
1/4 cup or more chopped green onions/scallions
1/2 tsp coarse ground salt (or to taste)

fresh cracked pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to broil/grill (you can skip the broiling and cook everything in the pan too, but precook the butternut squash first)

After prepping the ingredients, heat a large skillet/frying pan over a medium heat.

While the skillet/frying pan is heating up, spread the diced butternut squash out evenly onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place under the broiler/grill. Broil/Grill the butternut squash till it just starts to brown in spots and develop a skin, takes about 10-15 minutes. Stir once half way through cooking. Watch that it doesn't burn to much though. 


Remove from the oven. 

While the butternut squash is baking, add the bacon to the preheated skillet. Cook till crispy, then set aside to drain and cool, then break into pieces. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet for frying the squash.


Add all the butternut squash and apples to the bacon fat (if it has cooled down too much reheat before adding these ingredients) Continue to cook and stir the hash over medium-medium  high heat until the apples just begin to soften. It helps to spread the hash evenly around the pan, then let it sit for a moment before continuing to flip/stir it around again. This will help it to 'brown' instead of steam itself, which could result in a soggy hash. 

Remove from the heat, add the bacon pieces, scallions, coarse salt and cracked pepper to taste.


Monday, 26 January 2015

Happy Birthday My Love!


For you, the one who makes this journey so much fun! 

Happy Birthday to my fantastic husband. I hope you have a fabulous day and that we've got some great surprises planned that you will love. 

I know I don't always acknowledge how lucky I am that I am married to you, or how lucky I am to have you as the father to our children. I get caught up in the hectic parts of life and I rarely take the time to tell you exactly how I feel, and exactly how much I love our life together. 

You have been an inspiration to me, and I am in awe at the things you accomplish, without even seeming to think about it very much. Your dedication and passion is infectious (only you could have convinced me to go to The Circuit Factory, and now I love it!). 

So today, I want to make sure that you know exactly how loved you are, and what an important part you play in my life, and in our lives. 

Here's to at least another 50 birthdays together! 

Lots of Love Always

Lora xxx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Essential Oils: My Five Favourite Essential Oils for Valentines Day


After a long, dark and quiet January, it's lovely to have something to look forward to! 

Valentines day is just around the corner. Whilst I don't buy too heavily into the commercialism of the whole thing, I do love having an extra day of the year where I can be reminded to take time to spend with Gary, and focus on just the two of us. 

As usual, there are oils that can help make your Valentines day even more special, no matter how you are celebrating. Here are my top five favourites! 






Elevation is dōTERRA's joyful blend. It contains Lavandin, Lavender, Melissa, Ylang Ylang, and Osmanthus with Tangerine, Elemi, and Lemon Myrtle. This blend of essential oils re-energises the body and a positive frame of mind. 

I love this blend all year round, but I always make sure that I am diffusing Elevation for special occasions. It is so easy to get distracted by the one hundred and one things I have to do, and to forget to focus and concentrate on spending time with my loved ones, rather than worrying about everything else. 

So whether you have had a stressful day (week) at the office, the kids have been driving you nuts, or that you have a million household chores still to do, Elevation can help you to let go of all that negative energy and to restore your energy, so that you can enjoy your evening. 



Ylang Ylang is an extremely powerful aphrodisiac, for both men and women. It also helps to lessen anxiety. 

Only a tiny amount of Ylang Ylang is needed for you to feel it's full effects, so take it easy! Ylang Ylang is also extremely effective when a few drops are added to a lovely warm bath. So get the candles out and have a long soak! 



Patchouli is a great essential oil to soothe emotions. So it's a great oil to have on hand after an argument, or to help you to move on from a disagreement! 

Patchouli also helps to bring out emotional responses, so it's a perfect essential oil for valentines day. Patchouli is amazing when combined with Wild Orange, and used as a massage oil. 

So add three drops of Patchouli and four drops of Wild Orange to two tablespoons of massage lotion and massage away those niggles and get back in tune with your partner. 


Sandalwood is a really great essential oil to boost libido in men. It also smells delicious! It would be great combined with Patchouli as part of a couples massage. 





Clary Sage helps to balance and regulate hormones and keep you nice and grounded. Plus it's a great aphrodisiac for women, so make sure to apply it liberally this Valentines day! It can be applied to the soles of your feet and your ankles, to target the right reflexology points, and also used as part of a massage. 


I hope these essential oils help make Valentines day even more memorable! 

If you are interested in doTERRA essential oils, click here for details on how to get started!

Please join my Facebook group on essential oils and like my Facebook page to be kept up to date on my latest blog posts. 

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem, or a disability that requires medical attention, then you should consult your licensed medical doctor or appropriate health care provider. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, how it changed my mind upside down!


As part of my transition into healthy living, I started hearing about juicing. Obviously juicing as a health kick has been around for years and years now, I remember juice bars being open in the shopping centres in Liverpool when I would go shopping as a teenager. They would sell wheatgrass shots and various other green concoctions which I never bought and frankly thought looked hideous. 

But, as you will know if you've started your own health journey, opening one door onto healthy living means you move into a place where there are so many doors, and they are all open just a tiny bit, allowing you to have a peek at what is inside and what is on offer. 

Those half open doors are full of so much more information, and the more you look, the more you see. It's those half open doors that lead me to clean eating, gluten free, Paleo diet, essential oils, juicing and so much more. 

The truth is that although we all know what we should eat to be healthy; lots of fruit and vegetables; protein from meat and eggs; carbohydrates in various forms depending on our own bodies and what they can handle, the world of food has changed so much that it is unrecognisable from the world our parents inhabited.

Convenience food is everywhere. It is in convenient packages and it lasts forever. You can keep it in the cupboard and it's always there when you need it. It lives in your freezer, ready to the chucked into the microwave when you get home from work.

So the foods that would be a treat, because they were time consuming to make, or the ingredients were expensive, are so much easier to get hold of now. I wonder how much bread we'd all eat if you had to make it yourself. Mix it, knead it, let it rise and then bake it.... that's a lot of work for a loaf of bread, but that's what used to have to happen before you could have bread.

Juicing seemed like a weird concept. Drinking cabbage and carrots and lettuce. It seems like some random, new age, hippie type experiment that has no basis in reality and isn't going to make that much difference. Well, it shows how much I knew.

Gary was trying to convince me to try the juice that he was making, and I refused. I didn't want to drink unsweetened blended cabbage and kale and broccoli. I thought I ate loads of fruit and vegetables, and so I didn't really need it.

Until I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It was a light bulb moment to me, because it was demonstrated so simply, and explained so neatly, that it was impossible to ignore the message. Our bodies need nutrients, more than they ever have, because of all the pollution around us and all of the times when it's impossible to stay on the clean eating wagon.

It made me realise that juicing is pretty much the only way to get all of the micronutrients into your body so that your body can work properly. In a modern world, when we are all racing from one thing to another, sitting down and eating plate after plate of vegetables just isn't feasible, or appealing.

And so we juice. It's not fancy, we don't create elaborate concoctions that taste divine. We make green juice, that is packed as full of all the best vegetables as it is possible to be. We avoid fruit because of the natural sugars (we have our juice at night) and so we're not winning any prizes for the complexity of the taste or the subtle layers. We drink it fast and ice cold.

I feel the difference. My body feels stronger, and better able to cope with the demands I place upon it. I feel like I get sick less, and that it balances my body. It is not rocket science, I'm giving my body what it needs for it to function properly. And it's about time I really paid attention to what my body needs, rather than what my brain wants.

For those of you who are interested in juicing, but actually want it to taste great, I really recommend this book, The Funky Fresh Juice Book by Jason Vale:





If I could make watching this video compulsory, I would. I think it's one of the most informative and impressive videos I've ever seen for making you really see the world that we live in, and the challenges we face in being healthy, and staying healthy.

So, task for the day, watch it, and really watch it. See what it's saying, and see how explosive this information really can be.


Super Busy Mum

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Our favourite children's books for toddlers




I love books. There is nothing better than sailing away on a ship of words which swirl around you and reel you into this imaginary world and carry you away with it.

I don't get much time to read anymore, fitting everything into life is almost impossible and the reading has had to be put on the back burner for now. I'm not someone who can read a chapter a night, and when the chapter is over, put the book down and go to sleep.

I have, more times than I would like to admit, slipped out of bed once Gary is asleep and sat in the living room reading, for hours, until the book was finished. I cannot put books down, and I don't want to. Finding 8 hours in a day to read a really good book just isn't possible when you have a toddler and a baby. I'd rather wait until I have the time, than try to read a book chapter by chapter.

I have always loved reading, when I was little, my mum used to have to get me dressed for school around whatever book I was reading. I wasn't told off at school that often, but I often had reading books confiscated because I was reading under the table rather than listening to the lessons.

I'm so excited to read with my kids, especially when we get to some of my favourites, like The Faraway Tree and all or Roald Dahl's books. Winnie the Pooh and the Wind in the Willows, and all the other classics that I have loved since I was small.

We have a huge amount of books already, and our favourites change by the week. I know that there are so many books out there, and it's so difficult for parents to choose which ones their kids will love. So I've put together our current favourites (This is for my 2 year old, my baby couldn't really care less what we are reading, he'd listen to me read the weather report).


Each Peach Pear Plum:


Each Peach Pear Plum is a book from my own childhood and it's still just as good as I remember. We love reading it, and our daughter loved finding all of the characters as we went through the book. It's definitely one of our favourites, and I know it off by heart. I often recite it to our baby when he's crying and it helps to calm him right down, I think it is the rhythm, rather than my speaking skills! (Buy here)


Dear Zoo:


I'm really pleased that so many of the books that I read as a child are still around and still favourites today. Obviously they are classics that have stood the test of time. 

Dear Zoo is short and sweet but it's a great book for engaging toddlers, ours loves making all the animal noises. (Buy here)


The Very Hungry Caterpillar:


I usually have to read this book about eight times because it is so short, and our toddler loves counting out the different fruits. We also have the puppet version but it's not the full book, so we keep going back to this one! (Buy here)


Hairy Maclary and Zachery Quack:


I think we need to expand our collection of Hairy Maclary books because this one is a firm favourite. The rhythm and rhyming never fails to make our toddler giggle and she loves listening to me trying to keep up with the pace of the adventure. (Buy here)


Room on the Broom:


Julia Donaldson is our current favourite author, as you will see. Room on the Broom is the first Julia Donaldson book we read, and it's another one I can recite without even opening the pages. We also have the TV show and the audio cd in the car. We cannot get enough of this book. (Buy here)


The Gruffalo:


The Gruffalo is a book that swings in and out of the favourite category, because I think our toddler sometimes finds it too scary, even though the Gruffalo actually looks very cute and cuddly. It's a daytime book, rather than a bedtime book for her, but I know so many other toddlers who have this read to them at least twice a week at bedtime. (Buy here)


Peppa Pig Goes Swimming:

There is a serious Peppa Pig obsession going on in our house, both the TV version and the books. This is her current favourite and it's another one that I need to read eight times in a row before she'll move onto something else. (Buy here)


Monkey Puzzle:


I love Monkey Puzzle, I think even more than our toddler. I love doing the voice for the increasingly exasperated monkey as the butterfly keeps introducing random animals as his mummy. Our toddler loves it when everyone is reunited at the end, and loves to point out the family members in the grouping. (Buy here)


Tabby McTat:

The rhyming and rhythm in this book make it an ideal one for bedtime. The action happens in the beginning of the book and it's a nice tidy story to wind down for bed. (Buy here)


Tales from Acorn Wood: Rabbit's Nap:


We have three books from the Acorn Wood series, but we always seem to be reading this one. Our toddler loves lifting the flaps and looking for the animals, and as Rabbit gets to nap in the end, it's a great lead into getting our toddler into her own bed! (Buy here)


Peepo:


You forget how old this book is until you sit down to read it all over again. It's vert quaint and old fashioned, but that's why I love it so much. If you aren't British, this book might not make any sense whatsoever as it's full of references to the UK back in the 1950's (at a guess). (Buy here)


Five Minutes Peace:


While this is not the only book about The Large Family, it's the only one we really seem to read over and over again. Poor Mrs Large and her quest for five minutes peace is rather reminiscent of mornings in our household. (Buy here)


That's Not My Snowman:


Another series that our toddler loves. We have quite a few of them, but this is the current favourite. I'm sure next week we'll be back to That's Not My Fairy, but in the meantime the Snowman reigns supreme. Our baby loves this too as he likes to touch all the texture bits and he can have a go at turning the pages himself as they are really chunky. (Buy here)


So that's my round up of our favourite books for our 2 year old and our 10 month old. What are the favourites in your house? 

What Katy Said
what katy said

Monday, 12 January 2015

Photography: Naming Ceremony by Chapter Photography



I don't think it's any secret that Gary and I love a good celebration. There's nothing we love more than having something to celebrate, and wanting to celebrate in style. 

When we got engaged, we had an engagement party; when we got married we had a wedding (3000 miles away from home); when we emigrated to the Middle East, we had a leaving party. 

So when our two babies were born, we saw another opportunity to celebrate the amazing life experience that was becoming parents. We wanted to celebrate the teeny tiny little bundles of joy and laughter (and massive complexity and confusion) that was our newest addition to the family. 

When you live abroad, the chances to get your family and friends together get fewer and further in-between. Without a gathering to bring everyone together, there were going to be family members and even some close friends who might never get to meet our children. 

Time is limited on this earth, and the earth only seems to turn faster and faster as the years go on. Who knows when, and if, we'll meet again, and who we'll be by that stage. Becoming parents really reinforced to us the meaning of family, those near and far, whether by blood or by marriage, or even those who have become family through our friendships. 

Introducing our children to the people who were part of our extended family was extremely important to us. My grandmother is in her eighties, and is the only great grand parent that our children have left. I have no idea whether she will be around at an age when my children will actively remember her, and so it's important that we make (and capture) as many memories as we can, while we can. Maybe they won't remember her, but we can show them pictures, and tell them stories, so that the people they do not remember still have a place in their hearts and are a part of their make up, a part of their childhood. 

As I've said before and will probably say countless times over the course of the life of this blog, I love photographs. They really do say a thousand words, and capture the essence of a time that will soon be long since passed. They become more and more treasured possessions as time ticks by, and they help me to remember when my mind does not. They evoke stories, memories, feelings, laughter and a few tears. They call out, echoes of my childhood; my wedding day; my babies before they started to grow. Those echoes of my past are my only real link to it, the only way to really know that those days happened. 

So when it came to our children's naming ceremonies, there was really only one person we wanted to capture those memories. Evie Wroe at Chapter Photography is a sensational photographer who really captures the feelings and the flow of a day. I treasure all of the photographs Evie took for us, and each one reminds me of a different moment, a different emotion, and different past. 

I feel a little self conscious using photographs of my daughter's naming ceremony as part of my photography feature, but I'm going to anyway. They are beautiful, heartfelt pictures that really bring to life a lovely day that meant so much to us. 

I had a really difficult time narrowing down the photographs, there are so many I treasure. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 

You can find more of Evie's work on the Chapter Photography Website, Blog and Facebook Page