I spy with my little eye... French Madeleines.

A few days ago I was discussing madeleines and I realise I never shared my recipe with you! The funny thing with these French pastries is that they are special for their shape more than their taste really. They can be lemon flavoured, orange flavoured, vanilla flavoured... but a madeleine isn't a madeleine without this typical little bump on the top and shell shape on the back... Took me three years (and countless skype dates with my mother) to get that bump right, there is a trick: the oven needs to be very hot (200°C hot) because it's the temperature shock that creates it.

For vanilla madeleines you will need:
- a madeleine tin
- 50g of all-purpose flour
- 50g of caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 25g of melted unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1,5 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven at 200°C.
Start by mixing the sugar and the egg and beat the mix until the sugar has completely melted and you have a pale and fluffy mixture, that should take a good 20minutes (I usually take turns with whoever is around... want madeleines? gotta work for them).
Then add the melted butter. Then the flour, little by little.
Lastly, add the baking soda, the milk and the vanilla extract.
Pour into your tin (don't forget to butter them if needed) and put in the oven.
Don't walk away, stick around: when the bump on the madeleines is formed (usually takes 10min) for an other 10min, lower the temperature to 160°C.
When all soft and golden, take the tray out of the oven, let the madeleines cool down and enjoy with a coffee!

I spy with my little eye... midwifery in the 1950's.

Since I introduce you to the mini BBC series "Dancing on the edge" a few months ago, I thought I'd write a post on an other BBC series that swept me off my feet: "Call the midwife". Please note that as much as I like babies, I'd like to think I am not obsessed with them, and even if I was, the fact of seeing at least 2 or 3 women going through the pain of giving birth (without epidural obviously) each episode would probably calm me down. What I'm trying to say is that it is not a series about babies and toddler but rather a social painting of Eastern London in the 1950's and was created after Jennifer Worth's (1935-2011) memoirs. 

The series follow the life of a nunnery and the midwives working there, delivering babies in a rather poor community, daily challenged by insalubrity, prejudices and the absence of contraception. My generation was born with contraception, having a child is a choice, not a fatality (that's if you know how to set an alarm clock on your mobile ladies), so we tend to forget it wasn't always like that and seeing women managing their 12 children is somehow, I felt, rather brutal. 

The characters are all very endearing and full of compassion. I have a thing for Chummy's clumsiness and naivety, and the nuns remind me of the one year I spent in a nunnery back in Paris (not that I was planning on joining the Church, I was just renting a room). I can easily relate to these midwives sneaking whiskey in their rooms!

No need to say I highly recommend it (the series, not sneaking whiskey in your room), two seasons are out already (yes, this post is a little bit belated, what can I say, it's a vintage blog, not all about novelty), and the third season has started.

I spy with my little eye... the 100th birthday of the bra!

Wednesday will be the 100th birthday of the bra! After centuries of corsets, it isn't a comfort matter that pushed 19 year old New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob to research alternatives, it is aesthetics. She simply couldn't find undergarments discreet enough for her sheer evening gown, but she was crafty and imaginative and improvised what would become the first version of a bra with 2 silk handkerchiefs and a pink ribbon. As much as I admire corsets, I am grateful of her inspiration that day, I'm not sure how bearable a corset would be in the desert by 45°C...

The modern version of the bra as we know it appeared around the 1930's.
If you've been following me for a while, you will remember this post about the mechanics of undergarments and how they are a fantastic testimony of aesthetics changes, but also how they molded our bodies.

1950's French Brassière

I spy with my little eye... Mariyah's eye.

Yesterday I shared some of the behind the scenes shot, time to show you a little bit of Mariyah's magic.

She did try to get a sultry look from me but I definitively need to practice that since I would literally burst out laughing every 30s. Guess that's just not me.

I spy with my little eye... Valentines day behind the scenes.

While the world was celebrating the cheesiest day of the year, Maryska, Jen and Kate from Dubai Desert Twins and I met for a beauty photoshoot. Mariyah had been thinking about this project for nearly a year, she wanted a black and white classic shoot. I had already collaborated with her (remember this post?) and I love her simple classy style but also the way she shoots. She knows exactly what she wants so she is able to help you. Tinayums told me I was a natural in front of the camera, I actually feel pretty awkward and find it sometimes difficult to stop laughing (which explains why I can't recognise myself on serious photos). I find it easier to work with a photographer who directs me, and Mariyah is really great for that. 

I also got to meet the sweet Jen and Kate, the lovely and stylish Dubai Twins. I admire their sharp sense of style and patience while waiting for their make-up and hair to be done. I cannot wait to see their pictures, twins are so special!

So what happens when bloggers, photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists get together? Music, food, singing, dancing, inspiration, ideas, unexpected shots, a lot of fun!

And eventually, even the photographer gets photographed, hello mise-en-abyme!

I spy with my little eye... my funny Valentine.

People say that the Frenchs are romantic. I don't want to be a cynical Parisian here but there must be an other France somewhere on the planet because where I come from, no respectable couple would even consider buying a box of chocolate. No card, no expensive restaurant, no hearts (seriously, no hearts), no red lingerie, no flowers, no candles we just don't buy that marketing buzz. Why would you need an international love day to remind you to say "je t'aime"? Home cooked dinners, little attentions and sweet words, you should be able to think about these things on your own, and hopefully more often than once a year!
... Wait, I might be romantic after all? Just not on Valentines day.

I spy with my little eye... Human+Kind goodness.

When it comes to cosmetics and skincare, I tend to keep it as simple as possible because:
1- I don't have the patience to apply 5 lotions everyday.
2- I don't like my bathroom to be clattered, I need to breathe.
3- my skin doesn't need elaborate potions.
4- I believe that the more natural the better.
5- I don't believe half of the marketing bla-bla. Just go for whatever works for you.
So when I received 2012/2013 winner of Irish Tatler beauty awards Human + Kind petrochemicals free, paraben free, SLS free products I was looking forward to trying them. 

I've been using them for 3 weeks now so here's my feedback.
I liked the idea of a shampoo and a bodywash combined (keep it simple) but it doesn't really work for my curly and dry hair. It is too strong and tends to entangle my hair instead of nourishing it, so I can use it as bodywash but it doesn't work as a shampoo for me. 
The conditioner on the other hands works wonders. As soon as I apply it, my hair gets smoother, so I'm happy to keep using it, but I need to alternate with masks and oils.
If you have normal or oily hair, these product might be perfect.
More information here.

I spy with my little eye... bubbles at Royal China.

Sorry for the belated post, I haven't had time to post these pics yet. A few days ago I was invited to Royal China who just opened a karaoke room. Fun! Except for the fact that you seriously don't want to hear me sing. Thankfully for everybody's ears, food and drinks were the main and only thing on the program that evening. I love Dim Sum and Royal China is usually my to-go place when I have a craving so it was nice to try something else for a change. I hadn't had pecking duck for ages, that was a nice surprise, along with the new people I met: the lovely Liouaa from Jam the Glam and the sweet Rayan from The Bohemian Chronicles, such good vibes!
More info about Royal China here.

Dim sum + champagne = happy HOB.

Pecking duck, had forgotten how much I like it!

I have a thing for wallpapers, and this one is right down my alley.

My Peter Pan collar hanging out with the super fun and lively M.

I spy with my little eye... United bloggers of Dubai.

Last but not least, I'd like to introduce you to my 3 Doha partners in crime if you don't know them already.

Laura from Buy Now Blog Later is British and an absolute sweetheart. She is calm and down-to-earth, used to the whole blogging thing since she was doing videos before she opened her blog. She focuses on beauty, skincare and cosmetics, and is as pretty as witty, have a look at her blog, I love reading her.

Imaan from The Hijab Blog is a young lady who's had already 3 lives and is currently based in Michigan. Don't be fooled by her elegance and sweet smile, this girl has brains. She's a fashion blogger, PHd student and teacher, she's beautiful and very good banter. She's witty and full of stories and surprises, she is a lot of fun to be around!

Najla Kaddour is a make-up artist and a beauty blogger here in Dubai... oh, and a shisha addict! She will look at you and imagine something right away, make-up is in her blood, she is passionate and I love that about her. She is also a good listener and reliable, definitively someone you'd want to work with.

Stay tuned since you will hear from them and me soon in Glam Qatar.

Interview + Photoshoot... "Please, look away", that shouldn't be a problem!

United bloggers of Dubai!

I spy with my little eye... the red dress.

When I was little, my mother kept on buying me red sweaters telling me the colour suited me. For some reason I didn't like it. At all. I guess it was too flashy and I felt uncomfortable being so noticeable. Twenty years later, matte bright red is pretty much the only lipstick shade I wear, and  I probably got over my initial shyness since I have no problem wearing red from head to toe as you can see. 
Moral of the story: Mothers know best.

Ahoy Scarlett!

Love those Miu Miu shades!

I spy with my little eye... I eat, you eat, he/she eat.

The W Doha spoilt us in many ways and food was definitively one of them. Between the restaurants, the brunch, the room service, there was so much to taste it was difficult to stop. 

Bonjour, I am never leaving again!

Out of the 3 restaurants I got to try, my favourite was La Spiga: I loved the classic interior, elegant ambiance and they won me over with their truffle and cheese raviolis (double order, check!). 
The Spice Market was a good option for dining, I would recommend it for a night out, it's vibrant, lively, loud, happening, and the concept of sharing Asian food is perfect when you are out with friends. The dishes were full of colours and surprised, a very elaborate menu. Although it's so easy to pick from every plate I got out of the table with a bellyache, in french we have a saying: "carefull not to have eye bigger than your stomach", that's exactly what happened.

Chef Peter Lloyd's Spice Market by Jean-Georges. Voilà!

We had brunch at Market, it's a cosy space, quite bright compared to La Spiga and the Spice Market so a good place to start the day. I loved the live jazz band: I like my coffee with a side of saxophone. And I had a lot of fun adding up the colours in my plate: green ceviche, purple potatoes, pink macaroons, such a joyous place to wake up!

What do you mean? Of course raspberry macaroon counts as a fruit!

I would have loved to show you a bit more of the pop W Café but the place was always packed! I will have to come back for that!

W Café cuteness!

A big thank you to the W Team for their warm welcoming and fun company. Loved your energy!

I spy with my little eye... Polka Dots!

It's difficult to find vintage in Dubai but an easy way to get the 1950's blitz vibe is to go for polka dots. That's usually a good start and if you can't find dots in the stores (when will this 80's revival trend fade away?!), you can always head to Satwa, pick your fabric and ask a tailor to work on a high waist pattern. Add a red lipstick and half of the work is done! Now if you really want to perfect the look, styling your hair will be essential: pin curls or victory rolls, your choice, you will find lots of tutorials online.

Rocking the boss chair pinup style.

Pin curls and polka dots visiting the beautiful Qela boutique on the Pearl in Doha.

I spy with my little eye... one flew over a cuckoo's Bliss spa.

While at the W Doha the girls and I got to try the Bliss spa. I can't say that I am a spa bunny but I'm always happy to try something new so when they asked me what I wanted to book, instead of going for the popular Oxygen Facial, I chose the Ginger Scrub. I had never been wrapped before so I figured it why not?
Boy I was in for a treat! First of all the room scared me a little, the horizontal shower looked a bit medical... See for yourself: 

Relaxing isn't really the term.

But the therapist was very sweet so we had a good laugh together, then she started by rubbing me with a dry brush. At 9am, let me confirm the energising benefits: it clearly woke up the few cells of my body that were still sleepy. On a more therapeutic level, it stimulated my blood circulation and massaged the deeper layers of my skin? Then she switched to a ginger and sea salt scrub that focused on the superficial layers of my skin and moisturised at the same time. At that stage, I felt like I was at the sea, with sand everywhere and I started struggling not to slide from the table (moisturising oil + plastic covered table = hazard), fun times! The finale was the horizontal shower, aka "let's drown the room!". I was laughing so hard I was worried I would disturb the poor Imaan who was trying to relax and enjoy her facial in the next room (not to worry, she apparently didn't hear a thing).

In conclusion, since I like a good scrub, I enjoyed it. I had fun and my skin felt amazing, so I would recommend it, just avoid the 9am appointment and don't pick this treatment if you want to relax.
More information here.

I spy with my little eye... the whatever/whenever Hotel.

Up until they invited me, I was not familiar with the W Hotels so I was curious to discover them. Boy, it was a nice surprise! First of all, you need to get used to their language: when I arrived "Insiders" kept greeting me... What is an Insider? They seemed to have a lot of them but I had no idea what they were in charge of. All I knew is that they were very nice, quick and efficient. I finally asked and understood that an Insider is in charge of guest relations. Made sense. They will also talk about B&F (as opposed to F&B), because cocktails are key at W Hotels. They have a whole culture and it starts with a young and very reactive team (A special thank you to Gonca and Hina!). One thing to know: they do not wear any badge, so if a stranger starts talking to you for no reason, don't be scared. He might know your name, yes, that's normal. That's also how I found myself explaining to a guest that no, I did not work for W Doha and I couldn't help him with his TV, pretty hilarious! They are on top of social media, on top of everything that happens in the city (and on top of cleaning, I had to gently ask them to come back later since I was still in my robe when the cleaner came knocking on my door), they have happenings on a regular basis: music, fashion, culture, food, the place is always buzzing. One thing I have to share is their Whatever/Whenever philosophy: you can ask them anything, anytime, they will do their best to fulfill your desire. A shawerma at 4am? Yes they can. Candy cotton for the kids snack? Yes they can? A bathtub filled with yellow M&Ms? Yes they can! How cool is that? Feel free to test them, they love a good challenge!

For now let's get into the rooms. I am not a big fan of the uber futuristic style but I like a clear interior and light colours, so the combination of black and gold worked well for me. And as you can see... I clearly enjoyed the bed...
More information on the W Doha here.

W Doha was very generous with us and booked us suites... Happy (and grateful) lady!

Now the hotel is 30min away from the airport, 20min away from the centre, it offers 3 restaurants, 1 café, 1 bar, pool, gym (obviously I can't say a lot about the pool and the gym: too cold for the pool, too Parisian for the gym), and Bliss spa. I will report back about the food and the spa later (these 2 things I can definitively tell you about!). The place is clearly buzzing and coming back from a night out, I did feel like coming back to a night club since Doha's golden youth loves to come to W for a drink. Not necessarily my scene but it was a good validation that we were in the place to be seen.

Hello, I live here now.

Cosy living room.

For now let's get into the rooms. I am not a big fan of the uber futuristic style but I like a clear interior and light colours, so the combination of black and gold worked well for me. And as you can see... I clearly enjoyed the bed...
More information on the W Doha here.

Retro phones in the corridor. Love it!

I spy with my little eye... a postcard from Doha.

As you know, I was in Doha this week-end with 3 other bloggers: Imaan from The Hijab Blog, Najla from Najlakaddour.com, and Laura from Buy now, blog later. The lovely W Doha welcomed us and showed us a little bit of their city. I'll give you a tour of the hotel tomorrow, for now, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of the city. 
Qatar is a country I was used to transit in, which means, all I had seen of it so far was it's airport. Not very glamorous but very realistic: a lot of us go to Doha for business or to transit but unless you have someone to visit there, you wouldn't really stop in what is known as Dubai's little sister. W Doha's invite was the perfect excuse to see a little bit more. I will admit I am a bit frustrated since we didn't have time to visit the Islamic Museum of Arts, it is supposed to be a beautiful piece of architecture and to host a great collection, so I will definitively have to come back for that! 
As expected, I am not a huge fan of the Pearl, that neighbourhood dedicated to luxury stores. I love fashion and lifestyle, I love a bit of luxury but what I love about it is the history, the quality and the craftsmanship, I am not a good public when it comes to shiny, over-the-top, unnecessarily expensive items. I'm sure it's a nice place to get a drink but it doesn't really appeal to me.
But I was happy to wander in the soukh, I was surprised to see that it is a place where people  actually go and mix. It was packed and very lively, not necessarily old but at least pretty genuine so that was a good surprise, it was a great place for a shisha.

United bloggers of Dubai: Najla, Imaan, yours truly and Laura.

Balloons is Doha's sky, loved it!

Kohl, the regional make-up best seller... which I could never master...

Middle Eastern sunset will never cease to amaze me.

I did find something interesting on the Pearl: lingerie and the perfect wardrobe at Qela.

... yes we do!
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