Life · Travel

Dubai

I learnt something about myself during this trip. I’ve always been someone who couldn’t do anything by myself. I couldn’t even eat alone. There have been times when I’ve stayed hungry rather than eat alone. Yep, I was that bad. Therefore, when I decided to do this solo trip, I wasn’t sure that I could go through with it. I just booked my tickets on an impulse. I didn’t spend all the days alone, but the ones that I did I was fine. I didn’t mind doing things on my own. In fact, I loved it. I had no itinerary planned. Just did things on the fly. Which is a very rare thing for me to do.

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Model of a Dhow at Dubai Museum

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Juxtaposition of the old and new

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I decided to do the touristy thing and try out the hop on hop off on the first day. Picked Big Bus tours. I bought the 1-day classic ticket priced at $70 online. It also included a Dhow cruise. Frankly, the cruise was a bit of a bore. However, it was a nice way to get a feel of the city. I thought I’d check the city out and come back on another day if anything caught my fancy. The tour had three lines. Red line – city tour. It takes you to the Dubai Museum and the various souks (Old, gold & spice). Green Line – beach tour. Covers the Jumeira beach, Burj Al Arab and Souk Madinat. Blue – Marina Tour. This was my favourite. It was a tour of the marina area along the walk, beach, and promenade. It also covered the Palm Jumeira. Loved the marina area. Thought I’d go back but couldn’t.

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Jumeira Beach

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Dhow Cruise

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The Marina

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The Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 2,722 ft and a roof height (excluding antenna) of 2,717 ft, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since 2008.

An outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, opened on 5 January 2010 on the 124th floor. At 1,483 ft, it was the highest outdoor observation deck in the world when it opened.  The Burj Khalifa Tower has the longest single running elevator, which is 140 floors. The elevators go 10 meters per second and are among the fastest in the world. It took us approximately only one minute to reach the observation deck on the 124th floor. What a sight it was! You could see most of the city from there. I could literally sit there for hours, crowds or not, and listen to the clatter of so many different languages being spoken while enjoying the view.

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To avoid the daily rush of sightseers, you can purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time. I bought tickets online but I reached early and was allowed to enter. The ticket price start at 135 AED. The price goes higher as it gets close to the sunset. When the tide is low and visibility is high, people can see the shores of Iran from the top of the skyscraper.

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Sunset from the Burj

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Had to rely on kind strangers to take pics!

The Dubai Fountain, located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, is illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors. It is 900 ft long and shoots water 500 ft into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and other music. It is the world’s second largest choreographed fountain. I reached it after the decent from the observation deck so couldn’t really get a good spot for pictures. But, the choreography and the music was amazing. Definitely one of the must see things in Dubai.

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The Dubai Dolphinarium is a fully air-conditioned indoor dolphinarium, providing habitat to dolphins and seals, allowing the public to watch and interact with them through live shows and photo sessions. Priced at AED 105 (The 11 AM show is priced at 75 AED, so picked that), the show runs for 45 minutes and is really worth the money spent. Located inside the huge Creek park, it is accessible by Dubai Healthcare city metro station (with a 10 minute walk). Only hiccup here was, although I had bought the tickets online, I had to buy an additional ticket to enter the creek park, which was priced at 25 AED.

It was my first experience seeing a dolphin show. You get to be really up close with the dolphins and the seals. Avoid the first three rows for seating unless you want to get splashed on. The highlight of the show for me, was seeing the Dolphins hold paintbrushes in their mouths and paint some abstract on waterproof paper. Some of the performances presented were excellent especially where the trainers floated in speed on the dolphin’s nose. It was a really good entertaining show and demonstrated the intelligence of the dolphins and seals as well as the dedication of their trainers.

Can’t talk about Dubai and not talk about the Malls. The Dubai mall & Mall of Emirates just defy words. The famous Dubai Mall is located on the base of Burj Khalifa and is one of the biggest malls you will visit. With everything from a food court to hundreds of stores there are few things you’ll miss that they don’t have here! You will need more than a day to go through everything this mall has to offer. It has something for everyone and it is easy to get lost if you aren’t well organized. I did. It was one of the points in my hop on hop off tour. I stepped in to grab a bite and it took forever to get out.

Another thing that you notice about Dubai is the heavy constructions that’s going on. Everything from roads to buildings. They are gearing up for the expo 2020. The hope is that it will contribute to economic opportunities like new business generation and job creation across the region.

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I’ve always been afraid of roller coasters, traffic, driving fast on the road so was really apprehensive about trying out the dune bashing. But, Oh my God, what an experience it was. We went on a 35 min drive and it was exhilarating. I wasn’t afraid. I don’t really know what it was… Confidence in the driver, no traffic or just high on life and just living my best life. The twists & turns, driving on the 45 degree angle.. All of it. I just loved the experience. It definitely is a must try in the desert. With this, I ended my trip. For some reason this was one of my best trips. I did not want to leave. I think this was the first time after a trip that I had this feeling.

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Food · Recipes

Lemon Pound Cake

It’s been a while since I have baked anything. Today being a holiday, I thought I’d give it a shot. To be honest, it was the 7UP in the recipe that caught my attention and made me want to try it out. I did make a few changes to the recipe that I found online to customise it to my liking and minimize some of the steps that I thought were unnecessary. Overall, it was an easy and tasty recipe.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups (345 gms) butter, softened

3 cups (500 gms) sugar

5 large eggs

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups (384 gms) all-purpose flour

1-cup (340 gms) lemon-lime soft drink (such as 7UP)

Lemon Glaze

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and extract.
  2. Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured pan.
  3. Bake at 180° C for ½ and hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cake from pan to wire rack.
  4. Spoon Lemon Glaze over warm or room temperature cake.

Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

2 cups(400 gms) powdered sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Method

Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, in a bowl until blended and smooth. (For a thinner glaze, stir in an additional 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, if desired.)

PS: People enjoyed it so much that I decided to sell this cake at a Mission Sunday event that my church conducted. Happy to report that it completely sold out!!

Thank you for reading! And have a good weekend

Life

Fitness Journey

I have always been on the thin side all my life. So, every time I spoke about exercising, I was always made fun of. It didn’t really bother me earlier, as I’ve been blessed with good metabolism. But, since I hit the big 3 O’s, my metabolism has slowed down considerably (Ah, the joys of aging..). I started getting a paunch that made me very conscious about my appearance. While I have never been conscious about body image issues before, the comments that I got really made an impact. I stopped wearing tight clothes. Started buying t-shirts a size or two bigger than my size. However, I didn’t really make any efforts to exercise. I have now joined cult in an effort to change that. I have made it to 3-4 classes a week for 3 weeks now.

On another note, It’s been a year since I started blogging but I still post very sporadically. The excuses that I mentioned in my previous post are still winning! Looks like that’s been the story of my life. While there are a lot of things that I want to do, somewhere down the line I lose focus. I procrastinate. This year I want to start again. Kick start my life so to speak. Starting with exercise & career. Eventually I’ll look at other areas. Will update my progress here to keep myself accountable.

What are your goals for the year? Do let me know in the comments…

Pictures by George Chiramal Davis

fashion

Monday Dressing!

The only rule is don’t be boring. Dress well wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.

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Dressing up for work can be a pain especially when you have to wake up early and force yourself to get out of bed. As a result, this can be tricky for your morning routine. Sometimes you just need some easy but stylish go to options for when your morning just seems to get away from you. Therefore, what I do is on Sundays I pick out a couple of clothes that I can mix & match, get it ironed and I’m set for the week. These were among the items that I had picked for the week.

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In one of my previous post’s I spoke about my love for solids. This Mustard top is one of my go to pieces. I just love the flow of the top. I hesitated a bit before I picked it up. Wasn’t sure of how versatile it could be or how would I mix and match it with the rest of my wardrobe. I’m happy to say that that hasn’t been a problem at all. I have worn it several times and in so many different ways, that I’m glad that I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it. It is one of those pieces that can go straight from the office to dinner, happy hour, or a date night.

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When it comes to flowy formal tops like this, Van Heusen is my go to place. Their pieces are sophisticated, classic, and polished, and most of all, they help me feel confident. I just love the fit of their tops & dresses. Unfortunately, the trousers don’t look too good on me!

Which is your go to brand when it comes to corporate wear? Do let me know in the comments….

Pictures edited by George Chiramal Davis

fashion · Life

My favourite Bloggers

I have been thinking about doing this post for a while now. In this age of Instagram, I still voraciously read blogs and have been reading them for years now. While I love fashion and the beautiful pictures, the way a blogger writes is what catches my fancy. In fact, there are times I just skip the pictures and go straight to the writing (hides my face in shame… Some fashion blogger I am!!). I have been thinking & procrastinating for years on how to start a blog myself. I had the ideas but still made many excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. No tech skills, no camera, no photographer were my excuses. Finally, one day just decided to do it. Had a friend click a few pictures on his phone and hit publish. Was such a great feeling of accomplishment.

These are a few of the bloggers who have inspired me and whose posts I never miss.

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Krystal: The inspiration behind my blog. Love her stories. The way she followed her passion. Right from Reno to SF to NY. Made me finally sit up and just go ahead and start. Have been following her blog for years now. I just love the way she writes.

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Tanvi: The first blog that I came across years ago and fell in love with the world of bloggers. I started reading blogs after I found hers and some others through her. I like the way she thinks, her attitude towards life and her love for travel. She also is a huge inspiration. I have even tried her recipes.

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Wendy: Love her sense of humour, quirky dressing and darling dogs. Inspired me to do a post with my dog. Even when she uses few words something about the way she writes resonates within me.

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Alicia: Her styling is amazing. The party ideas, DIYs, home makeovers. All of these are so classy. Waiting to incorporate some of her ideas in party planning. To me she epitomises Bohemian Chic.

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Devyani: A friend who has ventured into this journey around the same time that I started. Reading her blog inspired me to start again after I stopped in between. Her make-up posts also made me venture into the world of make-up. Till now all I used is a compact, some eye liner and on rare occasions some lipstick. I have now started investing and experimenting with make-up. May do a post when I’m confident :).

Who are your favourite bloggers? Do let me know in the comments…

Food · Recipes

Chicken in Creamy Sauce

I had a lot of Chicken breasts left over and have been looking for recipes to use them up. I like cooking but try to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. Therefore, I look for recipes with either fewer ingredients or shorter cooking time. By mixing and matching recipes & ingredients came up with this recipe. There was a bit left over. Thinking about chopping it up & making a pasta with cream sauce for another night’s no fuss dinner.

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Ingredients

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 6 Chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper , to taste

FOR THE CREAM SAUCE:

  • 4 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 200 grams diced bacon
  • 400 grams sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (I use half a maggi cube mixed with half cup of warm water)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper , to taste
  • Fresh shaved or grated parmesan , to garnish

Method

  1. Arrange chicken on a plate. Combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a jug. Rub the oil mixture over the chicken to completely coat.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry breasts on both sides until golden browned and completely cooked through (about 5-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets). Once cooked, transfer to a plate.
  3. Once the chicken is done, remove from skillet; set aside. Pour out HALF of the chicken juices left in the pan.
  4. Using the same skillet the chicken was in; fry the garlic in the reserved chicken juices over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the bacon and fry until just beginning to crisp. Add in the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to soften.
  5. Pour in the cream, chicken broth and Parmesan; allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Season with pepper. Taste first before adding in any extra salt, as the bacon will add the salt.
  7. Add the chicken back into the pan; allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes in the cream to take on the flavours.
  8. Garnish with shaved or grated parmesan, if desired. Serve over rice, pasta, or steamed/grilled vegetables.

Note: The bacon I had was very fatty (From Bangalore Ham shop), so I cut off the fat & used it instead of oil. It made the dish even more tasty..

Do let me know in the comments section if you try any of these recipes.

Thank you for reading

fashion

Polka Dots at work!

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If I was asked what three things do I love right now when it comes to fashion, it is definitely animal print, bold solids and polka dots. Polka dots especially is having it’s moment lately, and I for one am very glad about it. I have been trying to find new ways to incorporate it more in my work wardrobe.

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When I think about my personal style, I don’t follow any particular rules at all. I wear what makes me happy. Nevertheless, what I do often love wearing is a statement piece that elevates the outfit a little, either with accessories or in this case the polka dots pencil skirt. I usually wear it to work with a white shirt or blouse. Decided to experiment a bit here.

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Mixing prints is something that I’m not very good at. But, something about this combination called out to me. Did not think that this top could be so versatile. I liked the result. Will try to do it more. Especially to work.

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I last wore this top here. It was an impulse H&M purchase. Will try to incorporate it more in the corporate look. With high waist skirts of course!

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Also, Look who joined me in this shoot. She was very curious about what was happening and I decided to just let her be. Love the way she has been captured in these pictures.

Until the next time!

XOXO

Photos edited by George Chiramal Davis