Archive for December 2010
It was love at first sight when I saw this bag in Charles & Keith. Despite having just chucked out a lot of High Street bags and vowed not to buy any more, it was mine before you could say “shopaholic”.
It’s done me proud, though. I use it a fair bit and people always comment on it; my only criticism is that it’s quite capacious but with no interior sections so everything just lands in a lump at the bottom and it’s difficult to find things inside it.
This cream Tod’s was an impulse buy while DH was in the bathroom. I was desperate to get the transaction finished before DH joined me at the till and found out just how much it cost.
I haven’t used it as much as I thought I would because it’s not that big and, with two children and a pushchair in tow, it’s difficult to use a bag that I can’t sling over my shoulder. I’m not worried, though – it’s a classic and I’ll probably keep it for decades. I LOVE the fact that my BlackBerry can fit in its own dinky pocket.
This Marc Jacobs ‘Sofia’ bag in Chalk was my biggest mistake of the year. I agonised between it and a larger, whiter MJ bag – should have bought the other. When I tried this in the shop, it was stuffed with crumpled paper: When I got it home, I realised that, without two copies of 7 Days shoved inside it, it flops over my arm like a strangled jellyfish.
I only used it once, and am currently seeking a new home for it.
This hot-pink, suede Coach number never really lived up to its promise. I imagined me, in jeans and a white shirt, skipping about town with nothing but my wallet and keys in it, the pink lifting my classic colours and maybe even matching my lips (and toenails). It never happened.
Soon to be seeking a new home, I think.
These shoes were a turning point in my life. I tried them on; I loved them; I bought them. I lived in them; they look amazing with jeans and with 3/4 cigarette pants.
‘Don’t they hurt your back?’ asked my mum, after I wore them for 12 hours one day. I realised they were to blame for the back- and knee-ache I had been suffering. I wore them for fewer hours each day. Then DH said he thought they looked silly and made me ‘walk funny’. I wore them a bit less. My best friend said (indirectly) that wearing heels on the school-run was a bit ‘try-hard’. I wore them even less.
But I still feel invincible in them: They’re comfy and take me to six feet tall.
I liked the tan ones so much I got them in black patent / bronze as well….
A rare flirtation with flats. These shoes from Dune are super-comfy. I ran around in them all summer, letting them give a flash of bronze from under a maxi-dress or skirt. I loved the idea of wearing them with a white shirt and denim shorts but never dared – legs aren’t good enough.
I saw this bag while I was in Dune buying the shoes. It grabbed me big-time. Every now and then I take it out and stroke it but I haven’t used it much, because I don’t have the sort of lifestyle right now that involves zebra-skin clutches. I know it’ll come into its own soon; it’s one of those classics that’ll go on and on and on…
Okay, so I feel the cold. These cowboy boots got me through the summer in London: I wore them everywhere, and sometimes even with socks. It was bloody freezing in London last August!
I bought this at Jones Bootmaker in London. At the time I was taken with the soft, buttery feel of the leather, and had been overdosing on London fashion magazines that said cross-the-body satchels were going to be all the rage this winter.
As it happened, the leather lost its lustre very soon, and it’s a bit pesky opening the catch and then an interior zip every time you want to get something out. I use it a bit, but I fear its life span is limited. You can’t deny it: Trendy or not, a satchel is an awkward shape.
I don’t remember where I bought these cork wedges, but they were cheap and cheerful ; they’re lightweight and really comfy. I wear them a lot, usually with jeans or linen trousers.
I haggled for this DKNY bag late at night and I’m kind of glad I did. Although it’s unusual for me to choose silver hardware, I like the soft blush-pink leather a lot, and use it frequently. It’s useful when I haven’t got the kids in tow, and need to store only my purse, my BB and my keys.
Stung by DH’s admission that he dislikes my usual towering platforms and wedges, and thinks flats are more classy, I splashed out on these ‘Queen Mother’ shoes at Uterque.
I’m surprised how comfy they are, and how lovely the suede inside feels on my feet. Whenever I wear them, DH sighs a loving sigh, says how beautiful I look and pinches my bum, and my best friend has even passed favourable judgement (apart from the heel, which she thinks could be lower). Even I have to admit, with a skinny-leg, ankle-length jean, or a legging, they look pretty amazing. I’m even thinking about getting them in grey/black, too.
My first attempt at true ‘flat pumps’ since I was 12, I bought these just before Christmas. They’re not great quality, but I think they’re going to be a go-er if you know what I mean. I wear them with skinny jeans, dark brown skinny cargo pants or leggings. Personally, I think I walk like a duck in them but I guess it’s all subjective.
And so ends my year in shoe and handbags. Lessons I’ve learned:
1) Flat shoes are not so terrible.
2) Jones Bootmaker is rubbish.
3) If you want cheap and cheerful, you can’t beat Charles & Keith.
4) Take the stuffing out of the bag before you buy it, or you may end up with a jellyfish over your arm.
My mother-in-law (MIL) is a fabulous cook – and nothing makes her happier, I think, than whipping up feasts for her family. I know it sounds like a dream come true for a Housewife to have half her work done for her when MIL’s staying, but it’s actually something I’ve had to get used to.
For, in cooking, my MIL takes over the kitchen. When she arrives from the airport, her business-class luggage allowance bulging not with saris but with fresh avocados, Kenyan mangos, homemade biscuits, vadas , theplas and industrial-size packets of chevro, I have to kiss my surfaces and my cupboards, not to mention my diet and my right to actually BE in the kitchen goodbye, and walk away with my hands in the air.
To fight it would be pointless.
When MIL is in residence, the fridge is stuffed with mysterious bags and packages; the counters laden with boxes and bags; the cupboards packed with ancient Lyons ice cream containers in the depths of which lurk who knows what treats.
All my saucepans bubble and hiss on our six-burner stove; the smell of onion, garlic and spices fills the house. Gerlie’s not allowed out of the kitchen: she’s on a constant roll of washing and wiping.
I’ve never SEEN so much food. For breakfast there’ll be a smorgasbord of Indian snacks served with tea and toast. For lunch, there are 15 delicious dishes whizzing around on the lazy Susan; for dinner there’ll be four different shaks, irio, rotlis, rice, dahl.
“Lay-lé,” she says. Take it, take it, more, eat more, pushing rotlis and dhal bhat (lentil dhal and rice) my way (need I mention that she thinks I’m too thin?).
It used to bug me, this take-over of my space and this insistence on feeding me up. But, somewhere along the way, I realised how lucky I was. Having my MIL in the house is like having access to the best Indian vegetarian restaurant in the world, on 24/7 room service.
Now, when MIL’s flight’s due in, I buy what she needs to cook her favourite dishes, plonk her in the kitchen and wait. Speaking of which… I smell something yummy… yalla… bye!
You know around Christmas many people have their in-laws over. It’s part and parcel of the festive season, really, isn’t it? So I wasn’t surprised back in October when my parents-in-law said they were going to India in January and would like to break their journey from Kenya in Dubai for a few days to spend some time with their gorgeous grandchildren.
And then my sister-in-law said she, too, would like to come over from Australia with her husband and two children, to spend time with her parents (and us, I presume). And then my other sister-in-law thought that, as the party was clearly here, she and her husband may as well pop in, too, on their way from London to Thailand.
So now I have eight in-laws with me for the Christmas week. That’s a total of 13 people (including the indispensible Gerlie) in the house. For a week.
This, sweet readers, is the price you pay for living in a travel hub like Dubai. You may not hear a lot from me this week.
It’s been a good few years coming: 13 years five homes since we got married, DH and I finally threw a party. A Christmas drinks party.
I think it was rather good.
“Mmm, these are delicious!” people exclaimed (a bit too surprised if you ask me) as I passed around trays of oven-hot canapés. “Are they homemade?”
“Of course!” I trilled, “Just not by me.”
That was probably half the success. I mean, I know I’m a Housewife, but do you think I could churn out 300 mini baked potatoes stuffed with rare roast beef, pea purée and horseradish sauce? Or even the same filled with roasted pumpkin and mint pesto? Mini milk chocolate tarts with an espresso crust? I wasn’t even going to try.
But while I didn’t create the food, I did create the evening – with the help, of course, of my talented DH who strung curtains of twinkling fairy lights all around the garden, ensured that chilled lounge music was playing at all times and placed candles all around the swimming pool.
But a party is not a success without its guests. Thanks, too, goes to my fabulous friends, who played along nicely by getting on with each other, laughing more than enough, and leaving just before I opened the very last bottle of champagne.
Two sleeps to go and Santa’s elves have really let me down. The stockings aren’t ready, and I’ve still a mound of family presents to wrap. I can’t believe it’s come to this; usually I’m so organised. But, this year, for the first time ever, I had a five-and-a-half-year-old to contend with.
In years gone by, I’ve managed both to shop and wrap presents under DD’s nose without her realising. A little sleight of hand; a “Look over there!”; bags left in the car; and a carefully considered “Why don’t you play in your room?” has always got me through it.But this year, DD is watching me like a hawk. She wants to help with the wrapping; she wants to help with the shopping; she wants to know WHAT’S IN THAT BAG.
“DS would love that!” she says about dinky little toys and board books we see, and I think: yes, he would, but in his stocking from Santa – so I can’t buy it with you here. I’ve had to make double trips to every shop, sneaking back after dark to buy the things I couldn’t get under the watchful gaze of Bright Eyes, and wrapping late into the night.
But there were only so many late-night shopping trips I could make, so we shopped for DH’s present together one morning.
“Don’t tell daddy what we bought,” I said, as DD wrote gift tags that said, ‘Dear Daddy, Merry Krismas, love from Dorta.’
“Can I tell him we got five presents?” she asked.
“I suppose so. Just don’t mention what they are.”
When DH got home that night, she ran up to him.
“Daddy! You’re going to LOVE the DVD we bought you!” she squealed.
“What?” she demanded as I looked at her in horror. “I didn’t tell him WHAT DVD it is.”
Last week I tried a new hairdresser. I had no choice: my regular stylists let me down: The snipper disappeared off to Europe for Christmas, while the colourist – my lovely “Hani” – left his job and hasn’t yet resurfaced in a new five-star palace masquerading as a hair salon.
So I took the advice of a friend and booked into a new-ish place in Media City. Due to my lack of time (nursery pick-up at 12), I had to make two trips to get the cut and colour done. The cut was first. It was okay. It looked nice for a few days but never hung right and started to look grown-out within days. I doubt I’ll go back there for another cut.
Then I had the colour done. I was a little disconcerted from the start when the chap doing it mixed up the colour before even saying hello to me, let alone discussing what I wanted. Even a perfunctory “Highlights? Blonde?” would have helped me think he cared in some way.
So I took it upon myself to explain about chunky highlights and breaking up my fine hair with some texture and wanting to look a bit vibrant for Christmas, while he looked disinterested and carried on slapping on this single colour with a comb (I think Hani uses three colours), and I sat there feeling increasingly tense and irritable.
It didn’t help when the lady next to me saw her new highlights and said how disappointingly dark they looked while the colourist shoved my head down the sink and pasted some block-dye onto the roots.
When I emerged from what could have been the longest head massage ever, all I saw in the mirror was uniform, biscuit-coloured hair. No blonde streaks (they always stand out when it’s wet) – just some sad-looking orange worms in a sea of Digestive. I wanted to cry. What a waste of two precious hours.
But then he dried it and something happened: the colour looked nice, and the last-minute root touch-up had hidden the greys. It’s slightly more muted than I’m used to but then I thought: I’m about to turn 40. Maybe muted isn’t such a bad thing.
So DH took me Christmas shopping for my present. The whole outing was shrouded in mystery and, to be honest, I was quite nervous. We started with a quick coffee and a bun at Malaysian bakery Pappa Rotis – have you ever tried them? Warm, fresh, light as air, a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, with a crispy coffee-cream crust and melting butter inside; try one and you’ll never eat a muffin again.
Then DH got a mall map and we started walking towards the mystery shop. As we headed along, I looked hopefully at the gold souk, but DH didn’t break his stride, so we continued along in what I gradually realised was the direction of the posh handbag shops. Finally we stopped outside Coach.
“Happy shopping,” said DH, ushering me through the door.
He’d remembered that last year I was lusting after a Coach Madison “Keira” bag, but he wasn’t sure if I still liked it, or if my tastes had moved on. So he thought he’d just take me to my favourite shop and let me loose. Who said marriage was boring? As it happened, I didn’t find anything I wanted that badly, so we went to Bloomingdales, to mooch about in the bag section. I enjoyed a bit of touchie-feelie with the Guccis, the YSLs and the Balenciagas, but ultimately drew a blank.
To be honest, though, it was more than enough of a gift to me to spend the morning trotting around with DH and no cares in the world. Every time I suggested we look at something for him, he said, “No, darling, this morning is all about you.” Really, could any woman ask for anything more? A bit of shaped leather with some gold studs and a couple of handles actually seemed irrelevant.
Still, as we walked back to the car, we nipped into the Nike shop where I ended up buying some cycling gear: a Dri-Weave top; some incredibly comfy lycra cycling shorts and a sports bra.
“Merry Christmas,” said DH. “I thought I’d be buying you a handbag, but that’ll do nicely.” Ho ho ho.
There used to be a time in my life when I had more touristy “dhow cruise” dinners than I did suppers at home, all in the name of work, of course. Needless to say, as a Housewife living a long way from Dubai Creek, there’s been a dearth of them over the past few years – until last weekend, when DH and I were invited by his rather large, extended family, to celebrate a senior member of the family’s 50th wedding anniversary on a dhow dinner cruise.
So, with it being a family “do”, I have to confess I wasn’t sure whether or not there would be alcohol available on the boat. Sad, I know, but a Friday night out with no wine…
So we get on the boat and immediately I start looking at the bar area. I can’t see any bottles, but I can see loads of wine glasses. I start to feel hopeful – in fact, I’m beaming with relief as I point them out to DH.
Then the waiter starts filling the wine glasses with fruit cocktail. DH bites his lip so as not to laugh out loud.
An hour into the cruise, I head down to the bar to get some water.
“Nothing else?” asks the barman, who’s clearly skilled in picking out the alcoholics on board. He raises an eyebrow in the direction of a line of glasses ready-filled with red wine.
“Oh, well… why not?” I giggle, like I haven’t been gagging for a drink for the past hour. “If you insist.”
I take a glass, walk back to our table, smile at DH and take a long, measured sip.
It’s Coke. That’s just cruel.
DH is taking the day off work tomorrow. That’s about as common as waking up to find snow in the desert.
“I’m taking you to choose your Christmas present,” he said tonight, just as I was about to go to bed. I wanted to know which mall we would be visiting – logistics of school pick-ups and all that.
“Dubai Mall,” he said in a voice that intended it to be the end of the conversation. Of course, being a woman, I need to know more. I begged for a clue.
“The shop begins with ‘h’ and ends with ‘s’,” he said. Harvey Nicks? I thought. Not in Dubai Mall. I was stumped. I needed another clue.
“Okay,” he said. “The first syllable is a type of meat.”
Running through all the meats I could think of, I came up with horse, ham and hamburger.
“What noise does the ‘meat’ make before you eat it?” I asked.
“Oink,” he said.
I suggested “Hamas” as a version of local jeweller Damas, but DH just laughed, and then I finally twigged he meant Hamleys. HAMLEYS?
“Just kidding,” he said. “You’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
I hope the present’s as good as the build-up.
Okay, so when I ordered our custom-made sofa back in September (“21 days,” said Rashid optimistically. “Inshallah,” I added)I joked that I might be lucky to get it by Christmas and… drum-roll please… I have it by Christmas.
To be fair, we got it about three weeks ago but I’ve been too busy to write about it. Also, my meticulous measurements were thrown into confusion when the lovely production guy overstuffed the back cushions, subtracting 10 crucial centimetres from the width of the seats. I took one cushion back to be “minimised” much to the production guy’s annoyance.“It’s a lot of work,” he said, “and we’re so busy.”
“But we decided the back cushions would be 15cm wide, “I said. “And they’re now 25cm at their widest!”
In effect, it means only the top of DH’s long thighs are supported on the seat as he is tall man with long legs. I pointed out that if we wanted a narrow seat, we would have gone to Ikea.
Anyway, I hadn’t told you about the sofa as I was waiting for the cushions to be sorted, but it looks like that won’t be till the New Year, so…. here it is.