Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Fashion: The Instagram Hat

I have secretly wanted an "Instagram hat" for a while but a trip to Forever 21 (while clinging on to being 29) only yielded hats proclaiming "beach sleep repeat" and "hello boys" - relatable and / or appropriate? Not really.

The next day an email from Joanie popped into my inbox, a brand that so far has never delivered me a dud or unflattering item, and I snapped up the appropriately-named Sonny sunhat. The hat is the perfect floppy sunhat that I pretty much need to wear on a daily basis in Dubai to keep my pale and interesting skin tone, the words are actually sewn into the hat rather than being "written" on and the slogan is hard to object to, really.

Paired with this Oasis dress and a Marc Jacobs clutch I premiered here. The hat may say "catch some rays" but I'm definitely seeking the shade until the temperature starts to drop (so...October?).

In case you were wondering, this isn't sponsored by Joanie - I bought the hat and my mother hand carried it on the plane from London so that it wouldn't get squashed in a suitcase. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Food: Four Brunches That Aren't Avocado On Toast

There's more to life than avocado on toast. Sometimes it isn't even on a menu. Here are four branching-out type brunches but if you want to see avocado on toast then look here, here or here.

1. Clinton Street Baking Company

I think I visited the original Clinton Street Baking Company in NYC long, long ago but pictorial evidence of this visit cannot be found so maybe it did not happen. The Dubai branch is at the bottom of a residential apartment block but inside looks spookily similar to the original, minus some rustic charm. I visited CSBC after a barre class at FlyBarre, the 8.15am Friday morning class (our weekend) is where its at when friends and gin are a seven hour flight away. The avocado on toast looked to be quite rocket-heavy and it was too early for anything bitter and leafy so I opted for the granola which turned out to be a ginormous American-sized portion for a Dubai-inflated price of just north of £10. I rarely have sweet breakfasts these days as I'm trying to make my sweet tooth become a savory tooth (or just not be dissolved by sugar and acidic diet soft drinks) but this was so good and the granola was really nutty and not overly sweet. I've started to occasionally eat eggs and dairy again due to lack of options here and what I think is an above average amount of hair blocking my shower plug hole.

2. Friends Avenue

A cute spot in JLT, I visited Friends Avenue on a day of bucketing rain and found it a great place to take shelter and dry off before getting thoroughly soaked again. It appears that all Dubai cafes have obtained their (tiny) coffee cups from the same supplier but being in a more residential area prices at Friends Avenue are reasonable compared with Downtown and the more touristy parts of town. I ordered the "tri color eggs benedict"which did contain avocado puree for my avocado fix (as well as sauteed kale, asparagus, spinach, red pepper hummus, dukkah and hollandaise). Sourdough might have been better taste-wise (although less indulgent looking) than the brioche bread which was a bit at-odds with the other flavours. Top marks for the red pepper hummus though and a bright, colourful plate on a (rare) grey day.

Google reliably informs me that there is not, in fact, a Leopold's in London but in this world of alternative facts and fake news I'm not too upset about this deception. Leopold's is located on The Beach near Jumeirah Beach Residences - the upstairs balcony is the best spot for a sea view. Pro-tip: if you sign up for The Breakfast Club here there is 20% off between 8am and 12pm - it'll also be much easier to get an outside table before midday. I had the "healthy breakfast" which may just be one of my favourite brunches dishes here so far - roasted tomato and chickpeas with grilled halloumi on sourdough toast. If I was slightly more skilled in the cooking department I would definitely try to re-create this at home. The coffee here is really good and there are some interesting specialty coffees as well as a coffee lab and in-house roastery.  

Another NYC institution, Sarabeth's is know for its breakfast offerings and old school New York upscale charm. The branch in City Walk was busy when I visited but service was swift and friendly, it's a cut above my usual brunch picks - not so much in price but the very chic, mostly local, crowd made me feel glad that I'd not turned up in my yoga kit. The servers wear the cutest outfits and I felt like the NYC influence was noticeable in the bright, airy dining space. I opted for the "Goldie Lox" - scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and cream cheese which was delicious. There are also egg white omlettes, scrambled eggs and beautiful granola bowls on the menu and coffees made with soy or coconut milks. While I was finishing the last few pages of Midnight's Children, the waiter surprised me with a chocolate and peanut butter cookie which was such a sweet gesture. Having not had much in the way of sweet food for weeks it tasted amazing and I didn't feel rushed to give back my table while lingering over the end of my book. 

More brunches soon as one, I like brunch and two, these mini reviews are my favourite thing to write.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Life: The Roaring Twenties

There are only four more months of my twenties left. Sometimes I feel un-fussed, even disinterested about my upcoming birthday and then I find myself idly browsing in Forever 21 and the realisation as I flick though a rail of denim mini-skirts: am I too old to be shopping in Forever 21? 

Hi. Here's an unrelated selfie to break up this essay. 
As I put the skirt down it the hits that I'm never going to be an Olympic athlete, never going to go into space and it doesn't matter that I've never wanted to do either because surely the first sign of old age is realising that not everything is possible. As a teenager, a medium told me that I would get "what I want but not when I want it", as a woman I am told that I "can't have it all" and these are the filters that I look at my twenties through.

I've written this blog for most of the past decade, longer than I have done anything else. The friends and the opportunities it has brought me have been some of the biggest joys. After not finding a girl gang in my teens and early twenties, the internet granted me a group of girls who, as well as being brunch buddies who didn't roll their eyes as I photographed my food, taught me about female friendship and since 2012 have been there to literally and figuratively cheer me on. Crossing Tower Bridge at mile 13 of the London Marathon and being greeted with a wall of screams and banners is something I'll never forget - both for the fact that my friends gave me their precious weekends and that I conquered my own over-achieving personality in the process: enjoying something I am not particularly "good" at.

Having a show-reel of highlights preserved online means that I can re-read an old post and remember exactly how I felt as I typed the words. The excitement before starting my first job (the corporate world just waiting to chew up and spit out my shy smile and pink dresses), an outlet for a love of fashion that felt misplaced in the "real world", a project that I started in secret and that now my real-life friends read (hi, there). I'm happy to remember just the good parts.

I have been to 25 countries in my twenties, the "travel bug" it seems cannot be cured by one gap yah trip to Japan.  I will never stop feeling incredibly grateful to be able to explore this world with my parents, my friends and by myself. I've visited places I probably couldn't have shown you on a map at 20, that I didn't know I wanted to go to until I went. I now live in one of them, miles from the small town I grew up in but a place where due to the aforementioned girl gang are only a Whatsapp away and my dual-culture upbringing already feels like home.

I spent the first four years of my twenties in bubble of full-time education, every day still I mourn the fact that I cannot go to Selfridges at 11am on a Tuesday and that staying up talking about everything under the sun until 4am happens maybe once a year these days and not (at least) once a week. The friends I was lucky to cross paths with (at twenty two conversations in a bar was enough for me to declare myself friends with people who now have held that dubious honour for almost a decade) taught me as much, if not more, than my law degree. Factually, that Bombay Sapphire gin does not come out of the bottle blue and that Merrill Lynch is not a business woman. Intangibly, so much more.

At times my confidence has failed me and I've felt self-doubt and something which I discovered through a Glamour magazine article is called "imposter syndrome" as well as a sometimes unshakeable feeling that I am yet to really find my place. There's been plenty of fun along the way though - I've watched the sun rise over Glastonbury, over New York City and from my east-facing balcony in London, wrapped in blankets and companionable silence. Christmas last year saw me receive a few too many links to gin-themed gifts. As bad as certain moments felt at the time, they are not the ones I remember or dwell on.

I became a homeowner and a tax payer and a qualified lawyer along the way but the intangible signs of adulthood have always felt more like "you are here" markers then the tick boxes that are set out for us or that we make of our own volition. Graduation, starting work and buying property are not the memories that flick up on my internal monitor when I'm daydreaming. Being asked for advice by a younger friend, being the first person to be told good or bad news, returning faulty items and (politely) complaining in restaurants make me feel like an adult far more.

My twenties have been packed with all the things. Things I didn't plan for, ask for or always even know that I wanted. But there have been some things that didn't come by way, things I thought would magically materialise with this decade - falling in love, meeting the parents, walking hand-in-hand, being introduced as "my girlfriend". The lack of what I used to think I wanted, what I used to think I needed to feel ok about myself doesn't really bother me now. I sometimes download a dating app only to delete it after five minutes. I'll get what I want but not when I want it. Or I can't "have it all" and I already have so much that I cannot reasonably complain about my lot. Until last June I somewhat smugly thought that I had never had my heart broken but how I felt after the 23rd of the month felt close to the all-consuming awfulness that friends had warned me about. My Brexit-grief confirming that I am still "young at heart" but thinking about the future that might have been already feels less painful.

Where to, now? I hope I still get ID-ed for a shopping basket of vodka, apples and magazines that I'm old enough to know will not enrich my life in any way. More seriously, I hope I keep my young heart but with an older mind, that I stay curious, that I can acknowledge the difference between "good luck" and "hard work" and that I start to believe that everything I want is (slowly, slowly) coming my way.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Food: Another Four Plates of Avocado On Toast

Did you know that a London restaurant has banned avocado from the menu? I'm going to let this news story shock and sadden me because the actual news is just too dire to think about these days. Anyway, back to brunch - four more plates of avocado on toast for your viewing pleasure and brunch inspiration:

1. The Coffee Club

the coffee club dubai

The Coffee Club is an Aussie chain - I actually remember going to one in Darwin, Australia and being scandalized that a coffee and panini was the equivalent of £10 and that was long before The Dramatic Decline Of The Pound.

There's a branch opposite City Walk and I shakily walked here after a barre class at Physique 57 on a very hot afternoon in need of air-conditioning and coffee. The Coffee Club is an upgrade from Starbucks type establishments as there's table service and a proper food menu but the interior does feel a little chain-y. The avocado on toast is actually poached eggs with avocado - avocado is not the star of the dish but it's there under the ciabatta toast. These poached eggs were actually perfect with bright runny yolks. I go through phases where I like eggs and phases where I think they are creepy but I'm eating them occasionally these days as a girl cannot only eat tabbouleh and hummus.

2. Common Grounds

common grounds dubai

Sister restaurant to Tom & Serg (aka OG Dubai Hipster Cafe), Common Grounds is located in the Mall of the Emirates but it really does its best to not feel like a restaurant-in-a-mall. Avocado on toast is on the all-day menu so there's no need to get up early to enjoy it. The poached eggs are an add-on and I'm glad I got them as it would be been quite a small meal otherwise - portions in Dubai are very variable, some are on the small side and then you order a wrap which turns out to be bigger than your forearm... Common Grounds is always busy but has a welcoming stay-as-long-as-you-like sort of atmosphere which I love.

In a city with so many dining options I'd rather find welcoming places to return to than always going somewhere new as it definitely helps with feeling settled. They also do matcha lattes which are hard(ish) to find here.

3. BookMunch Cafe

bookmunch cafe dubai

My book club appropriately meets here and it's the cutest spot. Located in a more residential area the prices are really reasonable (by Dubai standards) and it's the sort of place where you can happily order a full meal or just a coffee and feel welcome. Even though my book club meets at dinnertime, I still ordered the avocado on toast. A welcome two slices of rye toast topped with feta and basil leaves were a tasty accompaniment to a couple of hours of literary chat and it's definitely a spot I'll be back to between book club meetings as the breakfast menu looks great.

I'm currently refusing to buy a coffee maker for my apartment as the lack of caffeine at home means I can't stay indoors at the weekend and it's far more enjoyable to read in a cafe than at home with the distractions of wifi and wondering whether I should clean the kitchen.

4. Roseleaf Cafe, Dubai Garden Centre

roseleaf cafe dubai garden centre

I don't have a garden but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a garden centre. Dubai Garden Centre feels like a piece of my native Hertfordshire just off of the Sheikh Zayed Road. I actually came here for a cat adoption event but that's a story for another day (short version: commitment issues). The Roseleaf Cafe is like the cafes that my mother used to take me to as a child when I'd have a milkshake or a cookie but now I'm the grown-up and sugar is evil so I order a soy cappuccino and avocado on toast and sit in the sunny conservatory trying not to think about the kitties upstairs. The avocado on toast here tasted as good as it looked and the coffee, as you would expect from an Antipodean-inspired cafe, was strong but smooth and sipping it out of a vintage cup in a garden centre made me feel sort of ok about this being a grown up / making decisions lark.

I'll definitely be back for the coffee, and possibly for a kittie but that, my friends, is for another day.

What are you brunching on? And what item would you ban from your menu? 

For me it would be spring onions / red onions / any sort of raw onion.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Baking: Blueberry Yoghurt Loaf with Kenwood

kenwood stand mixer

Home baking is a lot of fun but there are always excuses not to roll up your sleeves and get baking - the washing up, the time and the fact that you really need more arm strength then I possess to whip up a decent cake mix. Not anymore! Kenwood got in touch with the chance to try out one of their stand mixers and baking is now an absolute dream - the mixer not only looks the part in a vintage-inspired kitchen but it effortlessly mixes up ingredients and it's can be put to work making cakes, breads and batters.  It's also quick and easy to clean it after use which means that it won't lurk in the back of the cupboard like some other gadgets (shout out to the juicer that took ten times as long to clean as it did to drink a green juice). I'm already pestering my baking queen friends for more recipe ideas...watch this space. 

kenwood stand mixer

Starting with a simple but not run-of-the-mill bake, Ruby Tandoh's blueberry yoghurt loaf cake is a different take on a classic loaf - using yoghurt results in a moist cake with a slight tangy flavour and the almond oil is another surprise element, elevating this far above a humble sponge but it's just as easy to make. 

kenwood stand mixer

The mixer makes light work of mixing the "wet" ingredients followed by the "dry" ingredients into a smooth batter - stop mixing once the ingredients are combined to prevent a tough batter forming. 

kenwood stand mixer

After just under an hour in the oven, the tell-take crack along the top of the cake means it's done. 

kenwood stand mixer

Resist the urge to tuck in right away, the cake needs to cool fully on a wire rack before it can be sliced thickly (be suspicious of anyone who slices cake thinly).

kenwood stand mixer

Serve with a few extra blueberries and a steaming mug of coffee.

What are your favourite bakes?

Monday, 1 May 2017

Life: April Round-Up

A third of the way through 2017 already? Sometimes I want time to slow down just a little, to have more time, for certain memories and experiences to not now be five, six, ten years ago. The rest of the time? I'm waiting to tick things off my list, waiting for the weekend, waiting for future diary dates to be tomorrow, willing time forward, tutting in traffic jams and running across roads, too impatient to wait for the "green man". 

After listening to S-Town while walking along dusty roadsides, at the gym and as an inducement to finally fold away some laundry the mottos from the sundials stuck in my head: "life passes like this shadow", "use the hours, don't count them" and "it's later than you think". If you haven't already, go listen - it definitely gave me a lot to think about. Time for a look back at April...

1. Sunset on the beach at Talise Spa after beach yoga. Some days I feel insufferably smug (although no more so than today when I ordered Uber Eats while walking home and it arrived at my door at the same time I did).

2. Peacocks at Dubai Zoo. 

3. Madinat Jumeriah is one of my favourite spots here. I got very lost and ended up hopping on a boat to get to beach yoga on time. Casual. 

4. A beach day at The Kempinski on The Palm. I'm not much of a beach person but wanted to "treat myself" (ick) in a way that didn't involve buying material possessions or eating my entire day's sugar allowance.  (I must be slowly assimilating to Dubai life as I only half-blinked at the note on the website that you are permitted to bring one nanny with you, gratis). 

5. The views from La Ville Hotel's LookUp bar. There are not a shortage of rooftop bars here but in a city where I'm still trying to find bar-hopping buddies I very much enjoyed these views with a vodka-lime cocktail in hand.

6. Breakfast at Cereal Killer Cafe in Dubai Mall because I miss East London a little bit. Good coffee and a childish morning sugar rush for one, please.  Sweetened cardboard is a venerable treat as a grown-up.

7. One of my favourite chill-out spots, Comptoir 102. I'm much more of a "sit on a shady sofa with a coffee" kinda girl than a beach lover, which is fortunate as I'm very pale (still).

8. The Green Planet is an indoor rainforest in a glass tube. Take the lift to the top and walk down through the forest. I mostly went for the sloth but it was (unsurprisingly) having a post-breakfast snooze on the forest floor and the many competing captions for my Instragram picture that I wrote in my head went to waste.

9. A typical Dubai day. These photographs of miniature art at City Walk provide (cute) social commentary on Dubai life.

Happy 1st May and Bank Holiday in the UK, you lucky lot. It's getting hotter by the day here but that means that we are getting closer to my parents' visit (maybe they can show me how the dishwasher works?) and my "summer holiday" to London. 

How was your April?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Book Report: India Reading List

I'm visiting India for the first time later this year - its somewhere that has been on my travel list since I was a child but despite clocking up a few air miles, having a gap yah and a half and moving to the same continent I've still not visited. My parents and I will be doing the Golden Triangle in November, visiting Dehli, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur with an add-on to Amritsar near the Pakistan border. I'm already planning more trips as such a vast and varied country can't be distilled into a ten-day trip nor captured in a novel but my reading choices are currently focused on India and this is my non-exhaustive India reading list (so far!):

1. Shantaram - Gregory David Robers

This is a huge novel, coming in at around 900 pages but it's a fast, relatively easy read and I devoured it in less than two weeks. Ignoring the "is it based on real events or not" speculation and some less favourable reviews that I unfortunately read before delving in (lesson learned to not skimread Goodreads until I've finished a book and formed my own view), I loved Shantaram. In short, the book is written in the first person by "Lin" - an Australian escaped convict who finds his way to Bombay (Mumbai) in the 1980s, setting up a medical clinic in a slum and being inducted into the Bombay underworld along the way. The love affair between Lin and Bombay unfolds throughout the book and his love of the city shines through some slightly unrealistic dialogue and a few clunky metaphors. I was less convinced by Lin's love for Karla - a woman who is a Gone Girl "cool girl" if ever there was one. Shantaram would make a great holiday read where it can be consumed in uninterrupted chunks, preferably with a drink in hand and a large pinch of salt as to whether the events in the novel are based on truth or not (I'm pretty sure JK Rowling did not actually attend Hogwarts). We sometimes need a book that entertains, that gives us (mostly) easily likeable characters and that immerses us in another place and for me, Shantaram did just that while imparting a love for an Indian city and Indian culture through the eyes of an outsider. 

2. Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh

A finalist for the 2008 Man Booker prize, Sea of Poppies was the chosen book for my first Dubai book club meet and so, obviously, I immediately worried that I wouldn't grasp or enjoy it but I really needn't have (it was a great one to discuss!). Set in 1838, we are transported to Calcutta under British rule and the scene is set for the start of the opium wars. This being a period of history which I didn't have much previous knowledge of I felt like I learned a lot about colonialism, the opium trade and the Indian caste system but in a way that didn't feel like Ghosh was trying to lecture me or have his critique of colonialism eclipse his narrative. I'm not usually a historical fiction fan but this story isn't weighed down by the time period and although the first few chapters were heavy with "sailor-speak" dialect it soon became immensely readable. The cast of characters provide a microcosm of society during this period, with a ship, the Ibis, serving as the means of allowing their separate narratives to intertwine. This book is the first in a trilogy and the rather sudden ending had me immediately downloading the next two books, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire to find out where the story (and the ship) take the characters.

3. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

A book that had been on my reading list for too long. It's hard to approach anything by Rushdie without the man himself eclipsing his work (I am half-Iranian and can vividly remember not understanding much of an adult conversation about Mr Rushdie's issues in the early 1990s) but the forword reminded me that he wrote Midnight's Children while still in his twenties - something I can now never achieve - and that it won the Booker Prize of the year of its publication and The Best of The Booker twice. It's a long book that demands your time and commitment, save it for when you can give it both. Some paragraphs are a single sentence, the prose is dense and it sometimes feels like a test of your intellect and memory as the narrative jumps around you and while the main character (Saleem, born on the stroke of midnight as on the day India became an independent nation) recounts his tale in the present day and re-visits his past, addressing the reader directly and going off on lengthy tangents at will. Mostly set in Mumbai, it visits some of the landmarks of Shantaram albeit at an earlier stage of history. It took me a few frustrating hours to get into this book but I'm glad I persevered as it turned out to be an immensely enjoyable read (although I'm glad Murakami had already introduced me to magical realism) and a scathing look at Indian politics and cultural life that still feels relevant in 2017.

4. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

Winner of the 1997 Booker Prize and the only female author in my round-up, The God of Small Things is set in Kerala - the tropical climate and "immodest greenery" providing a backdrop for an intense tale of lost childhood innocence. Like my favourite novel, The Secret History, The God of Small Things reveals its hand early, the non-sequential narrative starting with the funeral of a child and forewarning us that the unfolding story will not be a happy one and that no one will come out of it unharmed. The third-person narrative is seen through the eyes of a child, seven year-old Rahel and her fraternal twin brother Estha who in 1969 are growing up amid the growth of communism in southern India, the still rigorous caste system and a dysfunctional family. The novel isn't always an easy read (parts are sad, parts uncomfortable) and I sometimes had to pause as single sentences conveyed so much meaning but that is the charm and the genius of Roy's writing, not a single word feels misplaced or unnecessary. A hard book to review or describe (there's nothing to easily compare it to) but one that will stay with me and remind me that "anything can happen to anyone" and "it is best to be prepared".

Have you read any of these? 


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fashion: Insta-Outfits - Workwear

Long, long time no outfit post. I used to share a lot of mirror outfit snaps on Instagram before it became all thematic and editorial. I guess I lost my nerve in sharing something as #basic as what I'm wearing and my love of clothes somewhere along the way. 

I went on a huge shopping trip for new work wear back in London and since moving here I've, for the first time in years, managed to dodge cakes, biscuits and chocolate with (almost) complete ease which has meant that a few dresses which had mercifully buried themselves in the back of my wardrobe have re-gained their place at the front. Also the light in my new bedroom is A+ and I bought this Ikea mirror even though there's an almost full length mirror in my bathroom.

It was a choice between getting my feet and head in these shots and I chose my shoes because my face (and hair) looks the same every day. My office style has not changed a lot since I started work but I'm starting to gravitate away from florals and bright colours and opting for a palette of blues and greys and cleaner lines - banishing bow details, skater dresses and accessories.

ASOS Wiggle Dress (similar) that I bought ages ago and then saw Kate Garaway wearing it on Good Morning Britain (that's unfair, seeing Piers Morgan ruined my morning far more). Shoes from Karen Millan which I wore to my undergrad graduation and then never again.

Dress from Joanie (now £20), shoes from Antoine and Lili - the cutest shop on the Canal St Martin in Paris and wearing these makes me want to do some kind of tap dance. Being in a hotter climate doesn't change my office attire much other than not even being able to think about black opaque tights and being able to wear shoes which would be ruined in 5 minutes in London.
My actual favourite dress but the worst to photograph (typical) - from the Oasis Prince's Trust line (similar) and shoes by Rupert Sanderson (a bargain in the Selfridges sale but with fragile leather soles). 

We have a sort of casual Thursday (our Friday) but I'm wary of wearing something too girly or vintage-y to a corporate office (lessons have been learned). Swing dress is from Phase 8 (similar) and Duo sandals.
Another Oasis dress (similar) and my low-heeled Louboutins (do not mention Theresa May). Oasis are one of my favourites for work wear - just on the right side of smart. 
Has your work styled changed? I'm still insanely jealous of all of you who work in more creative / relaxed environments and don't have to worry about weather something is "work appropriate" although I couldn't put it better than my own work dress code: If you are worried as to the appropriateness of attire it is probably not appropriate. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Life: Money Diary - Dubai Edition

So, I promised I'd write a Dubai money diary once I was settled and while I'm not yet 100% settled its soon going to get very hot here (like 45 Celsius hot) and I don't think a diary of staying in blasting the air-con will make for a good read. My London spend diaries are here and here if you want a nose at spending habits past. I am still addicted to the Refinery 29 Money Diaries (and NY Magazines "not money" diaries because maybe I'm really nosy all round?).

Before I delve in to the spending, ex-pat life isn't cheap and despite constantly hearing how expensive London is...well, it's pretty expensive here and that may not be exclusive to Dubai. The UAE's currency is pegged to the US Dollar so its taken a fall against the pound post-Brexit (depressing graph here) - I've converted the amounts to pounds to make it more relevant for my (mostly) UK readership and to anyone who might be considering a move out here but day-to-day I'm trying to compare the reasonableness of prices for here rather than converting back and just accept that things are expensive. 

I am paid in local currency and there is no income tax here - something to bear in mind if some of the amounts seem £££. Obviously I haven't included my earnings, rent, savings etc. because the Refinery 29 diarists have the benefit of anonymity. I guess I can never submit an anonymous diary now! 

Sunday (a working day):

9am: Arrive at the office after a half hour walk to work (it will soon be too hot for this). Morning coffee from the cafe in my office building, the barista already knows my usual order of a single shot soy cappuccino and I frequently feel like The Worst Person while ordering this and a fruit pot for breakfast. Today the girl behind me orders an espresso with "a teaspoon of hot water" and I feel like a child ordering a bambinochino. £7.93

1pm: Lunchtime and as I'm not manic with work today I walk to the financial district and go to Starbucks (I know I know but it's my home comfort over here like going to McDonalds in Spain as a kid was) - a veggie wrap, an iced soy latte and a read of my book club book (we are reading Chronicle In Stone by Ismail Kadare). £10.57

4pm: I'm trying to curb my 4pm snack habit. Work provide free fruit so I grab the greenest banana in the fruit bowl and fill up my water bottle.

7pm: Leave work and walk home via Dubai Mall where I try to alleviate the Sunday-as-a-working-day thing with sushi. I go to Yo Sushi which is exactly the same as it is in London - not terrible, not amazing but overpriced for what it is (I only had three plates). £15.11


6am: Apartment gym for my morning workout - whatever time of day I visit its always full of sweaty grunting men which I try to ignore by turning up my podcast. I partly chose my apartment because of the huge gym as memberships are (you've guessed it!) expensive. Eat a Quest bar while getting ready for work which I paid far too much for last week. 

9.15am: Soy cappuccino at the office after walking in. £4.41

12.30pm: My office is trialing a new lunch delivery service which has an introductory offer and a different restaurant each day. The vegetarian choices are variable but today it's a veggie quinoa salad which is a bargain with the offer. £4.19

7.15pm: Leave the office and go to the mall (again). I go to Waitrose (again a sweet reminder of home!) and buy a small chopping board, a small sharp knife, a plug extender thing and a salad and pot of hummus for dinner all for £26.63


9am: Soy cappuccino and fruit pot at desk. £7.93

1pm: walk to financial district for lunch, consider not going to Starbucks. Go to Starbucks and eat same lunch as Monday. Continue book reading. Lunch breaks are not really the norm in my line of work so enjoying the chance to take them while I can and while outside isn't a furnace. £10.57

7.30pm: a "twenty minute task" has taken me three hours and counting. Desk dinner it is. I still don't have a working phone here so can't use Uber Eats / Deliveroo (taking this as a blessing in disguise really) but there are cafes downstairs in my building so I get a veggie salad with slightly sad avocado. £8.81

9.30pm: walk home craving Diet Coke (I literally never drink it anymore) but luckily / unluckily there is no where directly en route to purchase it. 

Wednesday (remembered to take pictures of spending today):

9am: Coffee time! I have a loyalty card so every 6th coffee is free which slightly softens the blow of how pricey they are. Banana from work fruit bowl.

12.30pm: We have a lunchtime training session in the office on so work provide lunch - today the veggie option is a falafel wrap. We have these sessions maybe once a fortnight.

4pm: Sparkling water from vending machine in the office while smugly remembering the days when I drank between 2 and 5 cans of Diet Coke at my desk. 33p 

7.30pm: Dubai Mall again - I need to get a smart blazer in case of serious grown up work meetings but I hate suits with a passion. I end up in Topshop after rejecting all the black blazers and find a grey long-line one. In the sale. In the petite range. In my size. Chain stores are usually massively marked up here but this is a steal for £12.99

8.30pm: I remember my Diet Coke craving from yesterday and head to the mall food court for a large Diet Coke (fountain Diet Coke is the best). £1.10 Also realise that I am starving after enforced shopping and so I get a yaki soba with tofu from a Japanese counter in the food court, I judge myself for getting "mall food" but it's  (relatively) cheap and almost like Wagamamas. £8.91


6am: Gym in my building.

9am: Coffee at desk. £4.41

12pm: I have a dentist appointment at lunchtime which unlike in London is not a five minute walk from the office. I take a taxi there and the traffic is a nightmare so despite thinking I left myself loads of time I arrive at exactly the time of my appointment. As a type-A Virgo this is stressful. My new dentist here is super lovely though and hopefully this is my penultimate dentist trip before I get my "invisible braces" off (I wrote about them here) and can bite into crunchy food without fear. £4.41 for taxi (and £225 for dentist but as I've already budgeted for my appointments this doesn't count towards my weekly total).

1.30pm: The dentist's office is opposite Boxpark so I dash across the road for a zaa'tar wrap and mint lemonade before jumping in a taxi back to work. £3.31 for taxi and £8.73 for lunch.

5pm: Thursday afternoon life admin. I check that my electricity and water bill payment has gone through. Browse ASOS but feel glad that I don't know how to return items here.

6.45pm: Post-work drinks with a small group of female colleagues. We go to a bar in the financial district with outdoor seating and share some nibbles. I have three vodka sodas and decline (!) a fourth because I've barely drank since moving here and suddenly worry about stumbling through the door of my still not-familiar apartment. With no friends (yet!) drinking is not a regular occurrence (yet!). £48.46 

10pm: Share a taxi home with a colleague who lives opposite me. £1.10


9am: Every Friday I seek out a new brunch spot, preferably one serving avocado on toast, on the pretense of "finding somewhere nice for when visitors stay" but really I just love solo brunch (maybe being a sociopath is a pre-requisite to moving to a country where you don't know anyone). I take a taxi to the delightful Comptoir 102. There's not a huge tipping culture here but it's polite to round taxi fares to the nearest note which is why a lot of the amounts are the same. £4.41

11am: Pay for my avocado on toast and almond milk matcha latte. £24.23

12pm: Dubai Zoo is down the road so I pop in - it's not a huge zoo but there are peacocks and some monkeys which are fun to watch and entry was only 66p

12.30pm: Bottle of water from zoo shop - restaurants don't do tap water here and I refuse to pay the equivalent of £5 for bottled water in a restaurant. 44p

2pm: It's so so hot and I can't be in the sun for more than twenty seconds. Walk to the public beach, despair at lack of shade so walk to Mercato Mall instead and find a spot in Starbucks (again!) and flop in a comfy chair with an iced soya latte and my Kindle - I am getting through a lot of books here. £4.41

5pm: Living somewhere new is a steep, sometimes exhausting learning curve. Today's lesson: there are no taxis anywhere on a Friday afternoon. One finally appears (at the moment I start to call an Uber) and I head to Urban Yoga and learn that taxi drivers change shift between 4pm and 5pm. £7.70

6.15pm: Pay for my yoga class. Increasing my zen and flexibility doesn't come cheap but the class is 90 minutes and much more challenging than my home practice (pretentious alert!). £19.92

7.45pm: Walk home from yoga. Netflix (Sherlock and Tokyo Stories: Midnight Diner), blogging and a bowl of cereal for dinner (cereal and almond milk purchased in last week's shop).


11am: I head to a barre class at Physique 57 - the first class is free! The class is really fun in an I'll-ache-for-days sort of way (usual price £28.63).

12.15pm: Head to The Coffee Club opposite for brunch - avocado on toast with poached eggs and a soy cappuccino. I start to read Midnight's Children but the first few chapters are a struggle. Order a second cappuccino. Go on Instagram where a friend is drinking Bloody Marys. Decide that I hate this friend. Back to book. £26.43

3pm: Wander in and and out of Sephora.

4pm: Taxi to Dubai Mall. £3.30

5pm: Waxing appointment - grooming is cheaper here as a consolation prize for constantly feeling like a sweaty mess maybe. I politely decline eyebrow threading, top lip waxing and eye-lash extensions. £49.56 (including tip to my waxer because she's great)

7pm: Dinner from Waitrose (constantly going in to Waitrose and only buying food for the next meal was something I did in London too) is a salad bar salad (too much time spent considering the order of veggies to cram as much into the bowl as possible), Vitamin Water Zero and a copy of Time Out Dubai which promises Dubai's best free activities. £10.57

8pm: I do an online order for some groceries to be delivered during the week - I never did online grocery shopping in the UK so simple delight in being able to schedule a delivery for 9pm on a weeknight. I order bottled water (a must when de-salinated tap water comes out unappealingly lukewarm but is technically drinkable), a bulk pack of light soya milk (which turns out to be tiny child-sized cartons with straws), what I think is a large quantity of apples (five tiny child-sized apples), bananas to make vegan ice cream with, honey in a bear-shaped container, lemon juice in a lemon-shaped container, laundry powder and 20 toilet rolls. £27.22

Total damage: £364.65

Ok, so most of my spending was on food - that hasn't changed from London at least! I should maybe go to Starbucks less often but Raj the barista is practically my friend. The exchange rate definitely makes my spending look "worse" than it is - maybe the hotter days and getting settled into my job more (I don't think the above really represents what my typical working schedule will be somehow...) will result in a little less spending... That said I didn't move to a new city to stay inside and would like more G&Ts back in my life. I'll do another one of these once the "cooler" weather is back to check-in with how my spending habits change once I'm less new.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Shopping: 4 Pairs of ASOS Sandals To Buy This Weekend

Minimalism. Cost-per-wear analysis. Work suitable attire. Saved for later. Sometimes you just need something silly, frivolous and impractical. The impulse buy. The item for the life you want to lead and not the one you do. The possibilities of a new purchase and the girl you will be with that item in your possession. The promise that you'll break to "definitely send it back"

Here are four shoes to make you smile, all available on ASOS, all of which I would be impulsively adding to my basket if I could work out how to get things delivered to my apartment. 

* Not sponsored by ASOS, just some shoes that made me smile because it's been a long week (but a long weekend is coming!). 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Food: Four More Plates of Avocado on Toast

Other brunch dishes are available.

Four more avocado on toast reviews today, either to bookmark for future visits to Dubai or just for your viewing pleasure if you're reading this on packed public transport to or from the office. If you're wanting a break from that, you know where I am. 

1. Baker and Spice

Baker and Spice has previously won the title of Time Out's "Best Cafe" and Deliciously Ella visited for breakfast on her trip to Dubai. Located in Souk Al Bahar the outside seating area by Dubai Fountain is really lovely and for a moment I felt like I was in Venice (or maybe I was remembering the Venetian in Vegas as I've never actually been to Venice) and not somewhere that didn't even exist on my first visit to Dubai. The avocado on toast here is touted as being organic and locally produced. The plate which arrived almost looked to perfect to eat with its swirl of balsamic and a sprinkling of seeds and spices. The bread was so delicious here, maybe there's something to this organic business after all. The coffee was very good too despite not having chocolate sprinkles on top of the cappuccino which is maybe passe now anyway (but I like it).

2. By Parker's

Those of you who knew me back in 2012 (collect your medal from me next time you see me) when the world was a nicer and simpler place know that I love a treasure hunt. When I heard about By Parker's hiding keys to their restaurant I actually did stop what I was doing (I had a day off so no one objected) and headed to Dubai Mall to hunt down a key using the restaurant's Instastories to help. A metaphor that describes how happy I was doing this features an animal beginning with "P" that can't be mentioned in the Middle East. Key in hand I headed to the second floor of the mall and made it just in time for the brunch menu. The avocado on toast at By Parker's comes with an egg cooked to your liking (the brunch menu is very egg-centric). Staff are super-friendly and the vibe is very chilled, orders are placed and paid for at the serving counter and the interior of the restaurant really could be a park-side cafe rather than a corner of the world's largest mall. At the time of my visit there were no barista-style coffees on offer but there now is which means I must go back - once you've found a key it's yours for the keeping! 

3. Circle Cafe

Tucked away next to the Waterfall in Dubai Mall, Circle Cafe wouldn't look out of place in Paris with it's white decor and understated chic. The outside seating by the Waterfall is bright and airy despite giving me a disconcerting feeling in the way that loud rushing water is prone to do. The avocado on toast here is served with rocket and chilli making for a very green plate. It comes on either sourdough or a toasted bagel. I wanted the bagel but part of being an adult is choosing what you think will be the better for you option while wondering whether all bread is evil regardless. The sourdough was very nice actually and I liked the large chunks of avocado which I'm sure tastes nicer here than it did back home. I will definitely be back to Circle for a chilled out lunch as it's a little oasis away from the crowds of Dubai Fountain and the busyness of the mall and the backstory of two friends founding the cafe gives a nice personal touch amid the (mostly American) chains in the mall.  

4. Comptoir 102

Another Dubai cafe featured on Deliciously Ella's Instagram, Comptoir 102 is located on Beach Road so it's a short taxi hop away. A five minute walk from the beach, Comptoir 102 has such a lovely chilled out vibe - there's a store selling all those things that you don't need but suddenly want when you see them and a healthy cafe. The whole venue is beautiful and my brunch here was the start to the first day when I actually felt like I was fully enjoying Dubai life and managed to switch my brain off from the whirring of "new job, new apartment, new city" thoughts. Comptoir 102's avocado toast is from the lunch menu but it's available for order all day, I can totally eat salad at 10am after finally shaking off my sweet tooth but I'm already planning a return visit for the actual breakfast dishes. The macadamia sauce hiding underneath the avocado makes this dish so delicious and unique, despite already eating seven other plates of avocado on toast they have all felt like totally different meals. I paired it with a matcha latte made with almond milk for the necessary morning caffeine as I can't get on board with almond milk in coffee. I didn't feel at all rushed to leave or pressured to order more to justify my spot and when you're solo in a new country that is exactly what you want from a cafe.

What's your brunch dish of choice? 


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Working It: Yoga in Dubai

For the first time in my adult life, I do not have gym membership. There's a gym in my apartment building which I scrabble out of bed at 6am to use (due to putting my phone to charge out of reach of my bed) and I do some Yoga With Adriene almost daily but I was always a classes person and my routine used to be shaped around Tuesday morning yoga and Wednesday morning spinning and my beloved Fierce Grace hot yoga.

Dubai is not a cheap city to live in and the inflated prices hit hard when it comes to pursuits aimed at ex-pats. A yoga class is typically around £20 so I mostly stick to doing Yoga With Adriene, my own home practice (I did train as a yoga teacher after all) and "treating myself" to a studio class once a fortnight or so. These are the classes and studios I've tried so far:

1. Urban Yoga

Located in Business Bay, Urban Yoga's studio is on the 37th floor of an office tower. Once I'd found my way in it had definite ~New York loft~ vibes and the studio is spacious and high-ceilinged with great views over the bay. I did a 90 minute Ashtanga class which was quite fast paced and definitely required some previous yoga experience as the instructor didn't demonstrate all of the poses and the transitions were fast and flowing. I don't usually do Ashtanga and a new class at a new studio can be daunting as its easy to get used to your favourite teacher's style but once I'd silenced the negative voices I loved this class, it definitely highlighted which poses I omit from my own practice *cough cough all arm balances* and the next day I could feel that my muscles had been pushed out of their comfort zone. The studio has showers, towels are provided, there are hairbands and toiletries for post-class and a chill out area with snacks which can be purchased - I really love little touches like this at a studio.

2. Zoga Yoga Cafe

Also in Business Bay, Zoga Yoga Cafe is literally a cafe offering coffees, juices and healthy food and two yoga studios. Located at street level the studio is very easy to find and feels really inviting with a delicious looking spread of healthy treats and yoga wear to purchase. There's a full range of yoga classes and also hot yoga (although I'm earmarking this for the return of the cooler months). I did a workshop session at Zoga - a two-hour session which focused on explorations of the heart through yin and yoga nidra. Yin yoga is a very slow, controlled form of yoga which is restorative (this does not necessarily mean "easy") making use of props like bolsters, blocks and blankets and yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation.

This wasn't a "typical" yoga class that you'd find at a gym but its sometimes nice to take a step back from forcing our heels do the ground in a downward dog and view yoga as a form of self care and a way to bring ourselves back to our true selves. I absolutely loved this session, it was so relaxing and while I tried to remember snippets of teacher Jess's wisdom I left feeling like it had all been a dream but also that the heart opening focus had helped me to work through some things and that my head felt calmer and clearer than it had for a while. I'm still very much a beginner in all things meditation but I feel like its one of those things that if you can open your heat and mind to it it will work wonders whereas if you dismiss it as hippie twaddle then yeah, it probably won't work for you.

3. Talise Spa Sunset Yoga

I love "experiential" yoga classes as it's great to get out of the yoga studio but they can be variable when it comes to the actual yoga. At AED90, the sunset yoga at Talise Spa at the beautiful Al Qasr hotel is at the lower end of the price spectrum here, mats and water are provided and it includes use of the spa changing rooms. Doing yoga on the beach was amazing, the sounds of the waves and the views out to sea made it feel like a really special experience even if you do have to block out the noise from the hotel beach and the occasional tourist who thinks its cool to walk right through a yoga class talking loudly...annnnnd breathe! Most participants at the class are hotel guests, some of whom may never have done yoga before so the teaching has to accommodate this and holiday-makers looking for something to fill the pre-dinner time slot probably don't want a crazily challenging class but on the day I took part everyone clearly had some yoga experience and the instructor was able to make it a little more challenging. Having been out and about in the heat all day my muscles felt so flexible and poses which feel cranky in the morning feel so easy with already warm muscles. I'd definitely do this class again as the setting was so lovely - a taste of the luxury Dubai life after getting to grips with bills and flatpack furniture. If I have a yoga loving visiter then I'm taking you here.

How often do you do classes? Are there any Dubai studios I need to visit?


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Life: March Round-Up

My blogging output has been slower of late but a week waiting for the internet to be connected and the never-ending to do list that life in a new city, a new country and a new job creates are to blame. I've been taking time away from the screen (some twelve hour days in the office have meant that my MacBook has been literally gathering sandy dust as I learn not to open the windows in my apartment) and I'm all too aware that the early days in a new city, at a new job and within any new experience are the ones that get lodged into long-term memory.

Almost ten years later my first term at university feels like it only happened a few months ago and I hope that I'm viewing my new city with some of the same sense of optimism and opportunity as I did back then. A little older, a little wiser and on the other side of the intrusion of social media in our lives I've become (I hope) a better self-editor, thinking more carefully what opinions, snippets of my life and pieces of who I am I share in the virtual world and in the real one.

Every day I am learning new things: tweezers are not a substitute for screwdrivers when tackling flat-pack furniture and the Metro doesn't start running until 10.30am on Fridays (our Saturday). Aside from a deluge of rain onto streets which don't have gutters, the temperature has been rising a little everyday and I'm appreciating every moment of being able to run, walk and spend time in the great outdoors before it becomes too hot for my still-pale complexion. I still want to share a bit more about my move and offer a bit more of an insight into my new city beyond where to eat avocado on toast but for now, this was March:

1. Finding a key to Parker's - there's no shortage of restaurants here so Parker's daily key hunts are a fun novelty and once you have a key, it's yours to keep. Food review coming soon.

2. The view from the roof of the Dusit Thani hotel, the constant traffic along the Sheikh Zayed Road sounds more soothing to me than the silence of the countryside. 

3. A perfect cappuccino at Baker and Spice. Soy milk may now be the devil to some of the #eatclean brigade, but it makes a much better cappuccino than almond milk ever has or will. 

4. Sephora hauling as my London skincare regime is absolutely no use here. I also picked up some candles from Bath and Body Works as despite living opposite the world's largest shopping mall it took over a month for me to purchase anything beyond essentials.

5. Yoga on the 37th floor at Urban Yoga. As much as I'm happy to do my own daily practice, there's nothing like a class to make you realise which poses you accidentally-on-purpose skip over (that'll be any and every arm balance).

6. One of my favourite restaurants in the world has a branch at Mall of the Emirates - I can't not visit a Din Tai Fung if there's one in the country and a long-standing rumour says that there may be a London opening soon.

7. A nightly spectacle, I can't help but stop and watch the Dubai Fountain when walking home and the view from the back row is even better as its seen multiple times through the screens of smart phones, tablets and on the ends of selfie-sticks. 

8. Dubai Marina was always a favourite spot on family holidays, we watched the twisty building being built over the years and its still as impressive.

9. I walked past Walter's in Dubai Mall twice before realising that it's a Breaking Bad themed coffee shop. The irony is not lost given that the UAE has some of the world's strictest drug laws but all novelty aside (the baristas wear bright yellow hazard suits) the coffee is very good. 

Plans for April include finally going to the beach (I'm not really a beach person but maybe I can become one), a sunset yoga class and going to my first Dubai book club meet so I'd better get a few chapters of Sea of Poppies read now I've finished this post.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Life: Podcasts I'm Enjoying

I've been very late to the game with podcasts (if my mother is reading its like radio that you listen to on your phone) but a new daily routine here in Dubai has made plenty of time for all things audio. My commute to work is a half-hour walk each way, I've finally rediscovered my love of running as a way to explore my new neighbourhood and my apartment has a shared gym which has all the equipment you could want but lacks the soundtrack of my beloved Boom Cycle (there goes my last remaining connection to new music).

These are the podcasts that have brightened up my walk to work (not literally as its really sunny here), made me laugh or made me learn something new. The current limbo period of ex-pat life where I've furnished a flat and discerned the difference between a 10 and 100 Dirham note, where I don't quite have a settled daily routine and where evenings are not spent going for "one drink" and returning home at 1am mean that some days I feel the novelty of having a bit of free time to fill. Listening to one of these while running, pouring over a book in a coffee shop  - after my London existence it feels quite indulgent to have this time to cram my brain with new information (otherwise I just listen to Conor Oberst's new album on repeat).

1. Intrigue: Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel

This BBC Radio 4 podcast definitely has strains of Serial (the one podcast I had previously listed to). Narrated by Carrie Gracie it tells the story of a British businessman who died in mysterious circumstances in the city of Chongqing. I had to continually remind myself that these events happened in 2011 and not in the 1960s - it's a truly surreal chain of events encompassing politics, power, sex and money and, the surviving protagonists aside, no one will ever really know what happened. The six episode series is served up in 20 minute bites so it's perfect for the commute and the slick production combined with Carrie's experience as the BBC's China Editor makes it a compelling listen.

2. My Dad Wrote A

You've definitely heard of this and don't need me to explain it. I held off downloading this one as I was convinced that I wouldn't find it funny but when a friend mentioned that she was listening, I tentatively downloaded episode one and ended up snorting water out of my nose while on the Stairmaster. Elegant. Serendipitously, Elijah Wood (the subject of my first foray into internet life with a fansite) is a huge fan and has a spin-off "footnotes" episode (there's also a great one with Bake Off's Tamal Ray). I met co-presenter Alice Levine at a food blogging event a couple of years ago - she hosts supper clubs, has an excellent vintage-inspired wardrobe and is hilariously scathing about basic masculinity, I like to kid myself that I'm cool enough that we could be friends.

3. Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History

I read "Outlier's" a few years ago and Malcolm Gladwell's podcast, while covering a totally different subject matter takes a similar approach in turning familiar thinking on its head and looking at events which have been misunderstood or wrongly interpreted. Each episode takes on a free standing event, I started with "Saigon, 1965" after visiting Vietnam last year and trying ever since to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the all too recent history of this country. It feels like everyday at the moment an event is referred to as "historical" but this podcast affirms that history isn't something that just happened but how we are made to perceive and understand past events. Definitely one for making those brain cells work.

4. Sword and Scale

I studied law and I can still remember the first time I read a murder case report. It felt truly awful, like I'd read something I shouldn't have, a detailed account of a complete stranger's last moments - had I really signed up for three years of this? An hour later, a chat with a friend and with half the case list ticked off I felt completely fine. It's hard to describe but true crime feels similar - it's horrifying but we quickly become desensitized to it. This podcast delves deep into the very of humanity but it's sensitively and slickly produced making it as compelling as it is dark and deeply disturbing. Florida-based host, Mike Boudet, is a great presenter,the work that he puts into each show is insane and his very American enthusiasm prevents it all getting a bit too dark. The round-ups of bizarre American news stories are a nice interlude and (aside from a few two-part-ers) each episode is a free standing story.

What else would I enjoy? Do you listen to any of these?


Monday, 20 March 2017

Food: Recipe - Spring Smoothie Bowl

Long time, no recipes but Florette have recently brought out a range of smoothie mixes to make mornings a little easier. All you need is a blender and some fruit, fruit juice or milk of your choice and five minutes to throw everything together for a nutrient-packed breakfast that you can take with you - much better for you and your wallet than a coffee grabbed on the way into the office.

The packs contain a mix of salad leaves and a sachet of seeds so rather than just adding in a handful of baby spinach you're getting a whole mix of nutrients and no chopping, washing or fuss first thing in the morning. The smoothie mixes are high in Vitamin A and Folic Acid and using just half a pack will have you on your way to however-many-a-day we are meant to be getting and that's before you've added the fruits and toppings. 

On the weekend, making a smoothie bowl is just as easy but ultimately more Instagram-worthy and the toppings are definitely the best bit - I find adding a bit of crunch and different textures makes a smoothie so much more satisfying and its a great way of sneaking in even more nutrients. With spring coming it's maybe time to take a break from avocado on toast and go for a cool, creamy smoothie eaten with a spoon from a cafe au lait bowl.

florette salad smoothie mix recipe
Bowl: West Elm
For my pink smoothie just blend together:

Half a pack of Florette Superfood Smoothie Mix
Half a frozen banana (makes the end smoothie so much creamier)
A handful each of frozen strawberries and raspberries
One cup of non-dairy milk (almond is my favourite for smoothies)

Once blended, swirl in your bowl with some non-dairy yogurt and add your toppings. I added baby figs, a superfood nut and fruit mix and a swirl of chocolate sauce (cacao powder blended with melted coconut oil).

florette salad smoothie mix recipe

What are your favourite smoothie creations?

In need of dinner inspiration? Check out last's month's vegan salad recipes.

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