New Year, New Me?

How does this happen? How does a year move by so fast? I’m not sure if I can actually bring myself to believe we’re entering 2017. In the lead up to the New Year, I’ve been getting that feeling that hits your insides. A dull ache I’ve come to associate with fear. Not pain, and not necessarily sadness – more a muted fear, that I’ve not done enough. That this next year will bring much of the same. That I’ll feel like I failed in someway.

I haven’t achieved what I wanted, I didn’t share my feelings with that guy I sort of kind of but not really liked, or that in some paradoxically universe my life would feel more complete. I wouldn’t be that twenty-four-year-old living with her parents, going through a degree purely because I couldn’t get a job. The excitement of finishing in May tainted with the unknown. Do I leave the country I’m studying in, do I go home? And to what? To do what?

My friends all seem so successful – they have a plan. Or at least I think they do. And for some reason they all seem to be getting engaged, or having babies(!?) It’s amazing, I feel like I’m getting left behind.

I think we can all relate to those feelings. The feelings of shame, fear, disappointment. You’re not good enough for this, you regret not doing that, you hate yourself for making someone upset. If you’d only tried harder…

I guess I’m kind of sick of that now.

I’m sick of hating me, and in that process faking a different me who I hate even more but seems to be accepted by those around me. An ever-so-trying, always caring if slightly unhinged version of the person I should be.

I’m sick of it, and if a fake persona is what you put up too, my vote is now to stop it. I don’t want to be a half person for fear of upsetting someone, not saying something I believe because they might not believe it too. Generally I think I’m okay, but funnily enough it’s the people closest to me who probably don’t know me really, at all. I always just nod, say yes and smile.

Reality is something different.

I just want to scream at them.

So, I’m not making any resolutions, not the usual anyway, you know – be nicer, healthier, fitter.

Nope, none of them.

I guess the only resolution I’m going to make, if I have to call it a resolution, is to be me.

Unapologetically me,
because at the end of the day my happiness is all that counts and I’m a full on believer (even if I haven’t lived my own advice so far) that you have a choice to be happy.

At the end of the day, if friends and if family can’t accept you for you – do you need them anyway?

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be,” -Abraham Lincoln

Happy New Year,

-H

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Kanpai, Downtown Dubai – Food/Restaurant Review

Since I moved to Dubai, I’ve been really busy starting my postgraduate and settling into life. I haven’t done any blog posts since moving here and I know that really needs to change. So I decided to kick things off with a review about a Japanese/Asian Fusion Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Dubai, Kanpai.

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Located in Souk Al Bahar just beside the Burj Khalifa, this gem of an Asian restaurant can be found hiding on the second floor. I say hiding, but in reality as you walk towards it you get greeted by this handsome gentleman along the walls.

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It might seem a little strange to feel slightly intimidated as you enter Kanpai, but with those wonderful Samauri-esque greeting you, you might understand my fear. However in reality my family and I were met but some really warm and friendly front of house staff, who took us to our table, asked how the music was for us and really made us feel special about having booked our table with them.

Interestingly enough, whilst we were there Kanpai was having a photoshoot to help further their brand in Dubai. Even though there was this photoshoot going on in the background with the occasional flash of a flash gun or the fake laughter of models told to: “enjoy themselves,” in the next few pictures I didn’t feel like it hindered our visit at all. Perhaps, occasionally they was a longer wait time then we perhaps would’ve liked, particularly when it came to getting the bill, as there were more people dining then, but honestly I felt they dealt with the situation very professionally.

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We had a wonderful server, whose name I’m sure was Mignonne or something similar but in reality she looked just like my favourite Abbi Sciuto from NCIS. I literally couldn’t handle the similarities, she was gorgeous and was there when a glass needed refilling or to guide us through the menu, namely the cocktail menu helping us chose from the different varieties of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks which we could then make alcoholic. I have to say I was totally impressed with her as a waitress, as the restaurant seemed to fill she did seem to be serving everybody and she handled that pressure wonderfully. She looked as if she was enjoying herself, she was friendly, calm and helped sort out any issues we had at any given time alongside everybody else.

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You’ll probably want to hear about the food at some point. But very quickly, the setting.

Honestly I don’t know what everybody’s problem is in Dubai, but for some reason and maybe it’s just me but the last few places I’ve been to the lights have been turned so low they might as well have been off, Nobu I’m literally pointing all fingers at you. Whilst Kanpai was a little dark for my liking actually being able to read the menu without asking for a nightlight, and being able to see the food in from of me as well as the people opposite me was an absolute bonus. The lighting was low enough to set an atmosphere but not low enough to destroy any chance of mood. in the same way the music, which when we entered was pretty loud (probably due to the photoshoot), was turned down to make sure we could all hear any person on our table. Honestly touches like that really make the evening so much more enjoyable. Whilst it was pretty classy inside I loved that I wouldn’t necessarily have felt out of place wearing some smart casual trousers and flat shoes, it just felt like there were no pretensions. For me that is amazing, there is nothing worse then going to an eatery, a club or whatever and feeling like you don’t deserve to be there.

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As for the food, well if telling you we had two lots of starters before our main course doesn’t speak volumes for the quality of the food I don’t know what does. There was plenty to go around, and everything from the Spicy Chilli Edamame Bean to the Vegetable Spring Rolls was a wonderful experience for your tastebuds.

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The chefs and management at Kanpai seriously outdid themselves with their starters, and achieved a succinct and beautiful matching Asian delight. I was impressed with the speed that the starters came out, and there was no problems with us ordering in our very awkward fashion: Starter, Starter, Main without given any time to prepare anything else. Really well done for the starters:

  • Spicy Edamame Beans
  • Crab Cakes
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • Some interesting, not to sure if I liked them/didn’t like them mango and vegetable parcels

Honestly, I can’t qualify if I like the last food item or not, I had one thought: “Not my thing,” and then went back for more because I’m sure it was.

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Main course, for me went a lot like the first course. I ordered:

  • Roast chicken in a spicy cream sauce with mushrooms and baby potatoes

It was delicious. But, and yes really this shouldn’t be a but, BUT: a) I wish the potatoes has been cooked a little longer and b) I felt like I could have had a much bigger portion. But then I’m a pig. Even after two loads of sharing platter starters I wanted more food, which does go to show how well prepared the food was.  We only had a slight problem with one dish, that thankfully wasn’t mine (evil laugh), that was slightly too cold but they rectified the situation immediately, and honestly it’s not even worth complaining about.

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As it was a birthday, they very kindly let me choose a desert for the birthday girl – my beautiful mum, and wrote: “Happy Birthday Veda” (surprisingly her name) on the plate. I chose the desert called Ka, or Fire which was some kind of cheesecake which was set on fire at the table. The photograph I have of it is not wonderful but you get the generally idea. I like they came out with a sparkler as well, and thankfully enough when I asked them not to sing happy birthday because my mum would have sunk under the table stayed true to their word and just brought it all out. Enough for her to be embarrassed, not enough for her to disappear – a good balance I think.

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If you want to book a table at Kanpai – which I strongly suggest visit their website or call them on 04-441-9262. Their opening times are 12pm – 2am.

A fabulous restaurant, with some amazing staff, food and just pure quality entertainment.

Nikita By Niki – Statement Jewellery Acasia Review

A few weeks ago I was struck down with what can only be described as awe-inspired lust. Lust doesn’t hit me very often, but when it does boy it hits me hard. So hard that I tend not to be able to think about much else until, I have either gotten over my craving for said object (which rarely happens) or have given myself over to it (99.9% of the time).

Simplistic, minimalistic jewellery take a step back, and embrace how Nikita by Niki (to see our short interview click here) is going to put you in your place.

If big, striking jewellery is not for you look at it anyway. These necklaces have been crafted into works of art, and they need to be seen and appreciated even if you never dare to wear one. I’ll be the first to admit, that the necklace Acasia from the Rhinestone Collection is probably the fanciest piece of jewellery that is currently gracing my jewellery box and for good reason.

Take a look at this.

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It’s wonderfully made, and feels totally secure which, seeing as there is lot of detailing and embellishments on the necklace and it’s not the lightest of object is fantastic. There is nothing worse then reaching for a necklace only for it to snap whilst you’re wearing it. Trust me, I’ve been there (a lot).

This style is called Acasia and cost me £22, which in my head is an absolute bargain. Topshop sell eeny-weeney necklaces for about the same price, so really rock on Niki. From the Rhinestone Collection it features (perhaps obviously) rhinestones. I was taught to beware the rhinestone in great quantities as rhinestone can often equal pure tack. Shudder. But with this carefully crafted piece around my neck I don’t feel the slightest bit cheap considering the price or the amount of rhinestone featured. For me to find a necklace with this many embellishments and like it, not in the least wear it is a small miracle in itself. This necklace is positively beautiful, it screams elegance and for being a relatively chunky piece feels and looks delicate. Each flower, each beaded link and each wonderful dangle dingle (my name for the hanging bits) create a mesmerising look, and really stand out when paired with a super simple outfit.

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It’s totally okay to be jealous of this piece. Even though I am the proud owner of this gem of a necklace I’m jealous of it. In some respects necklaces like this really worry me. How the heck can someone like me; pretty frumpy and plus size pull of a necklace like this? I see them wrapped round the necks of girls who I consider to be Twiggy-esque and think: “Nah, that would never work on me,”BUT and it has to be capitalised I think, now I own the necklace it’s less to do with what I look like and more to do with confidence.

I do think a person needs a certain amount of confidence to pull of a necklace of this sort. It’s a total standout piece and looks and feels beautiful on. The only issue I can really comment on is that I think I have a rather large neck, caused by a mixture of too much food and genes I would imagine and therefore I think the necklace is a little snug, but for 50p online you can buy a little extender so that really is not an issue at all.

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I really can’t give Niki enough praise when it comes to this piece as it well and truly has me astounded. It’s wonderful and so far has been a talking point when I wear it. Everybody wants to know where I got it from, clearly they have amazing taste. So I’ve had another look at Niki’s website and chosen my favourite two pieces which are going on my birthday wish list.

1. PARIS by NikitabyNiki

Paris

2. AZURE by NikitabyNiki

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For Niki’s beautiful website click here!

If you want to find out more about Niki, read our interview here.

To follow Niki on:

TUMBLR

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton – Review

IMG_0834This book has been well and truly hyped up. It seems to be everywhere since its publication. Hitting the bestselling list, week after week. Winning and being nominated for bits and bobs here and there. Translated into different languages across the globe it was sure to be an astonishing book.

Perhaps though, after having read so many wonderful and sometimes cryptic reviews I had my expectations a little too high, and this debut novel from Jessie Burton just couldn’t live up to it. That however, is categorically my fault and, although I was definitely swept away and found myself caught up in the Nella Oortman’s story I was left uninspired at the end. In fact, although Burton has this wonderful way of building suspense and creating hauntingly exquisite atmospheres I just wished I’d not read it to the end. Instead I would have settled for one chapter before it. But hey hindsight is a great thing.

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, 18-year-old Nella Oortman arrives to meet her new husband and begin a life as the wife of the wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. As Nella’s wedding life begins with her husband basically avoiding her at every possible moment, she starts to wonder if this is all life has to offer. But, as her husband produces a wedding gift of a cabinet-sized doll’s house that is identical to the house they live in, Nella begins to learn secrets about her husband, her sister-in-law and herself. Employing a mysterious woman to create pieces for her little house, Nella’s life soon turns into a circus of chaos and harsh realities that this miniaturist seems to know before she does.

In some respects this book is absolutely fantastic, like I’ve mentioned before, Burton has a real gift for descriptions and creating suspense which, kept pages turning almost frantically trying to figure out what the heck is going on. It is haunting in so much that, you really can’t figure out what will be on the next page. And whilst this was great you do start to wonder, if everything this family has had happen to them could really happen to one family. It almost seems too much, too overwhelming, the different sorts of plot twists Burton undertakes; race, sex and feminism to name but a few and the clarity of which she often leaves these twists leave you no closer to understanding anything about them.

Her writing is so stunning, but the clarity of the book to me, was just not there. I got confused so easily, perhaps though that’s how my brain is, but I just couldn’t sort all the information I needed. Whilst Burton literally leaves you on the edge of your seat the ending is pretty dull. All of sudden everything has become clear, but in a none clear way. Confused? Me too. Everything you thought you knew you don’t. Long conversations that Nella is remembering, you don’t even realised happened because they aren’t in the book as far as I’m aware. Love, that you didn’t even know about is suddenly out in the open. And the escalation of the consequences of one character’s actions is almost dismissed. At least, that’s how I read it.

Still, there is something about this book, and about the way Burton tries, quite confidently I would say to hold her own. She does have a way with words, she has researched Amsterdam and also the actual Petronella Oortman doll’s house that inspired her novel, and she can write. I just can’t make myself like this book, but having said that I literally can’t wait for her next one.

To purchase this book visit Amazon!