Dubai Dining with SquareMeal.ae

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Squaremeal.ae

It feels like an absolute lifetime since we were allowed to get out and about, and really enjoy a bit of travel, and if I’m being completely honest, I really miss it. I’ve got a case of perpetual itchy feet, and I love planning where we’re off to next, whether that’s a staycation, or something which is a little more far-flung. 

One of the destinations occupying the top spots in my wish list is Dubai. I actually lived there after I graduated from university, and worked on a magazine out there, and before that, we used to head there pretty much every year on a summer holiday. I can’t count how many times we’ve been, but it’s a bit of a favourite thanks to the guaranteed sunshine, seriously luxe hotels and incredible shopping. It’s pretty much the ideal destination, no matter what sort of holiday you might be in the mood for.

We started visiting Dubai back in 2001, and honestly, it feels like a complete lifetime ago. It was before The Palm, the Dubai Mall or even the Mall of the Emirates were even an option, and a big night out consisted of a movie at the Mercato Mall, or window shopping at Chanel in the Wafi Centre. Over the years, the food scene in Dubai has seriously blossomed, and if you’re headed out there soon, I’d recommend sitting down and deciding on a few destinations for special evenings out. Since it’s a city which can feel a touch overwhelming, it’s good to know a couple of shortcuts, which will let you enjoy everything you want to do without getting too stressed out, which is where Squaremeal.ae comes in.

Their website is a one stop shop for booking your dining option whilst in Dubai. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual lunch, a fancy date-night, or even one of the city’s infamous brunches, you simply pop in the name of the restaurant you want to head to, click ‘book more’ and you’re good to go. The site gives you an overview of the restaurant, contact details, and even similar options if you’re just having a browse.

All of my favourites are included on the site – I lived at The Address Dubai Marina, and it’s so lovely to see Shades – their poolside bar be included on the site. If you’re looking for a chilled evening spot, it’s a great one to enjoy. Being able to book your table a few weeks before you go is such a luxury. The site even organizes Dubai’s restaurants and bars by regions, so no matter if you’re staying in the Marina, on Jumeriah or on even on the Palm, it couldn’t be easier to find some incredible options.

Having a look through at all the places which have opened up since I’ve been has made me a bit homesick for the place, and I’m not going to lie – I’ve already started looking at holidays for next year!  

Sustainable laundry with EcoEgg*

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to add as many eco-friendly ideas into my daily routine as possible. I’ve got a cupboard full of reusable bottles and cups which I tote everywhere from the coffee shop to the gym, and I can’t remember the last time I went shopping without a bunch of cotton totes in my pocket. I’ve even filled the cutlery drawer at home with silicon straws and have invested in string bags to tote my fruit and veg home from the supermarket. One room of the house which I’d not really been able to ‘eco’ was the utility room. I buy my detergents and softeners in bulk to try and cut down on plastics, they obviously go straight into the recycling once they’re finished, but it felt a little half hearted, so, when HomeStore and More sent over an EcoEgg, it felt like perfect timing.

An alternative to your regular softeners and detergent, the EcoEgg is filled with two types of mineral pellets which work to wash and soften your clothes without the chemicals and plastics normally associated with washing. Since the EcoEgg uses mineral pellets, it’s great for those with sensitive skin types, and can even work to help eczema-sufferers. Using the EcoEgg couldn’t be simpler – just tip the pre-portioned pellets into the egg, screw shut, then throw into the washing machine. You’ve then got 50-70 washes before you need to update your pellets. Rather than counting each load, I averaged how many I do a week, then added a calendar reminder in my phone when it needs renewed. I’ve found the EcoEgg works best on cottons which need a quick wash – sheets, towels, t-shirts are all perfect. By switching to the EcoEgg, it’s estimated that you’ll save 40 plastic bottles a year – an insane amount when you think about it.

EcoEggs are priced from £7.47 and are available from HomeStore and More here

Getting Creative with DesignBundles

This is a sponsored post Created in collaboration with DesignBundles

So it’s fair to say that 2020 has been the most stressful year I can remember. From dealing with lockdown to trying to figure out what we’re up to now, it’s been hard not to get wrapped up in my own head. As a way of coping, not to mention as a way to use up some of the (many) hours I had to fill, during lockdown I managed to incorporate a few creative habits into my daily routines, and it was amazing how much of a stress reliever they became. In fact, I enjoyed some of them so much, that I’ve decided I’m going to make time for them to be enjoyed, even when life gets back to normal – and hopefully that’s a whole lot sooner than later!

One of the easiest, and most satisfying habits I got into during the very long weeks of lockdown was to spend an hour or so colouring-in each evening. As a result of some serious cupboard clean outs, I stumbled across a few colouring books from my childhood, and it felt like such a treat to be able to make a delicious hot drink, and switch off for an hour or two and truly relax. Some of my absolute favourites we’re colouring books I’d picked up during museum trips – colouring in Monet and Manet pictures almost felt like we were taking a trip back to the Louvre, without leaving the sitting room! It’s been scientifically proven that colouring  an really help with mindfulness, and as someone who can get a bit stressed, it’s definitely an area I need to work on!

Another area which I worked on during the (very) long weeks of lockdown was my website – I have to admit, that sometimes, when work is busy, it can take a bit of a back seat. If I’ve been spending hours and hours working on a business’ social media, website, or even writing press releases, the last thing I want to do is turn around and do even more of it on my own behalf! But, when faced with what felt like endless afternoons, it was actually a bit of a treat to charge up the laptop and spend hours outside in the sunshine, fiddling around with all the admin I had been putting off dealing with. As well as updating media packs, taking a bank of images to use, and editing the photographs which I’d already taken, I discovered the rather incredible world of Design Bundles. 

DesignBundles.net is a one-stop-shop for all things personalisation on the web.  If you’ve got a site of your own, you have to check them out. Offering everything from fonts to templates, it’s a fabulous option for making your website feel like a really true reflection of yourself. Whether you want to add a paw print svg To your header, or perhaps you’d rather go for a horse svg, the options are limitless. I have spent hours scrolling through all the options and colours, debating which font looks best with which images. It’s so much fun to have a real think about what I want my blog to look like, and see which imagery best suits. It’s also let me have a bit of a play about when it comes to designing print-outs which help me stay organised. If you’re looking for a bit of a space for a brain dump each morning, why not try out the below:

All the gorgeous imagery from DesignBundles also inspired me to get my sewing box out. Since I was about seven or eight, I’ve loved cross-stitching as a way to switch off. There’s something so calming about concentrating on getting the number of stitches right, not to mention that creating samplers and little stitched bits makes to feel like you’ve really accomplished something – with all the lovely svg imagery which is available on DesignBundles, I was really inspired to copy a few in stitches. It’s probably the first time in three of four years that I’ve had enough time to sit down and complete projects from start to finish. There is just something so lovely about picking out all my threads and canvas, and watching it transform into something completely new which is so satisfying. In the past, when I’ve started projects, I’ve had to leave them half finished, as work has taken up so much time, but over the summer I finally got the chance to finish them off too, which felt lovely. 

Getting creative is such an important and effective way to de-stress, I’m definitely going to make sure to take time to incorporate it into my routine as we edge back to normal. Whether it’s updating the look of my website, having fun with my camera for Instagram, or even just taking an hour out of my day to colour or cross-stitch, I’m going to make sure I do!

Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil

Now that we’re headed into Autumn (seriously, where is this year going?!), I’ve been on the hunt for some hydrating products to combat the drying effects of central heating and low temps, and I’ve stumbled on an absolute gem in the form of Almonds’ Facial Oil. It’s a brand I’d never come across before, and despite feeling relatively wallet-friendly, I’ve been loving the oil’s silky texture and serious hydrating properties.

Designed to nourish dry, sensitive skin, I feel like the Intensive Facial Oil could have been designed for me. The formula blends together Rosehip Oil, Calendula, Palmarosa Oil, Lavender essential oil, Roman Chamomile essential oil and Grapeseed Oil, and it’s 100% natural, so if you’ve got skin which can be temperamental when the seasons change, this is gloriously soothing. After cleansing, I smooth a few drops of the oil onto skin, then use a gua sha to enjoy a bit of facial massage. The oil has a rich enough texture to provide a good amount of ‘slip’, and I love how much tension I can get rid of with a few minutes work.

Once I’m done with the facial massage it’s time for bed. I only need to tap a little eye cream in, and my evening routine is done. I love how simple it is, and my skin really responds to the purity of the ingredients. For days when I need to add a little hydration, or I want to sheer-out a heavier foundation, I love adding a couple of drops of the oil to my beauty blender before using it with my base. It’s so silky, and it really feels like a treat to be able to use it during the day too!

Balmonds’ Intensive Facial Oil is priced at £22 and is available here.

Innersense – I Create Waves*

Innersense - I Create Waves*

Innersense – I Create Waves review

GHDs were released right around the time of my thirteenth birthday, and since receiving a pair of them, I’ve used them pretty much daily. Naturally my hair isn’t too much for anything – not quite wavy, not quite straight and when left to it’s own devices, it just settles in a messy thatch which just gets fuzzier as the day goes on. Not exactly what I’m aiming for!

As you can imagine, nearly two decades of constant straightening took a bit of a toll on my ends, and when lockdown happened back in March, I seized it as something of a re-set period. Not only was every cupboard and drawer emptied, but my hair tools were cleaned, tidied and put away. Since then I’ve used them a few times when I’ve had work meetings or needed to look more pulled together, but on a daily basis, I’ve not touched them. The result? Hair which feels so much healthier, and I’m so happy I’ve had a bit of time to let it get back to feeling healthy!

Innersense - I Create Waves review 1

Innersense – I Create Waves review

Rather than letting my hair do whatever it wants though, I’ve been using Innersense’s I Create Waves daily each morning to coax out the waves, and leave my hair looking beachy rather than messy. After washing and conditioning, I brush my hair through, then spritz it on the lengths and ends. It’s got a gorgeous light lavender scent, and it’s lightweight, so doesn’t weigh waves down. The formula has pink Himalayan salt to add body and texture, whilst aloe vera means it’s not too drying either. After using the spray, I leave my hair to air dry. The result is effortless and looks like I’ve spent hours coaxing out loose waves – and the effect lasts all day too! It’s so lovely to be able to let my hair air-dry, and not look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards! The brand is cruelty free, and it’s really taken care to design a product which makes you look as well as feel good – the scent it designed to leave you feeling relaxed, whilst amethyst crystals in the spray help to strengthen your imagination and intuition, and promises to refine the thinking processes!

Innersense I Create Waves is priced at £24 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

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