Lebanese Plums

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This is my favorite fruit of all time! I never actually knew what it was called until recently, when I straight up asked a Lebanese friend of mine, and after searching online for upwards of an hour, he just just asked his mom and she replied all nonchalant “Lebanese Plums“.

I first tried this when I was very young and instantly loved it! First of all, it looked appealing, like tiny green apples or large green grapes. Even the color was more of a bright vivid green. Second, it had a satisfying crunch to it, like biting into an apple. Best of all, was the taste. It was delightfully sour!

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I love Lebanese Plums but like I said I didn’t know what they were called, so I didn’t get to have them as often as I wanted. I had to resort to describing them to whomever was going grocery shopping that day. Once my mom knew how much I loved them (like I could legit polish off an entire box by myself), she’d always get some for me (whenever they were in season). Now that I go grocery shopping regularly, I’ve learned to keep an eye out for them as well and much to my delight, I found them at Sultan Center. Sorry for the blurry picture but people were looking so I tried to speed it up. It didn’t occur to me to take pics at home until later but by then I’d already tossed the box, washed the fruit, and polished off more than half of it.

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Just like how Chinese Food isn’t called that in China, these aren’t called Lebanese Plums in Lebanon. Over there, they are called Janarik (kinda’ like how you pronounce generic). It costs KD 4/150 for a little box of Lebanese Plums but they’re so crisp and tangy that I’d gladly pay more. When I was sharing the story with my uncle’s wife (who happens to be Lebanese), she recommended sprinkling a little salt on them. Apparently, that’s another way Lebanese people like to enjoy Lebanese Plums. Unfortunately, no one from my immediate family shares my love for Lebanese Plums because they find them too sour. Even my friends don’t like them. Whatevs. More for me.

Euphytos Silver Anti-Yellow Shampoo

Silver Shampoo is a treatment designed to reduce the yellow tones of keratin, typical in white and grey hair. The Azulene and Amino Acids derived from Wheat Protein reduce the yellow tones in white and grey hair, as well as copper tones in light blonde, bleached or highlighted hair. Its formula is enriched with olive oil lipoprotein to give your hair extra shine and body.

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As I was on my way home from my mani-pedi at a salon in Jabriya, I decided to stop buy a Boots store. That’s when I found Silver Shampoo. My first instinct was to buy their entire stock (they only had three) so I grabbed all three at KD9/000 a piece, pleased as punch with myself. Now keep in mind that I’m no longer a blonde and don’t plan on going blonde again anytime soon. So why oh why did I purchase not one, not two, but three of these 300ml bottles? Instinct.

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Ever since I was a blonde, I was on the search for a purple shampoo (to get rid of brassiness in blonde hair). I never found any, so I had to do it the hard way – go to a salon, sit in the chair for a decade or so, endure the smell (and the itchiness) and all that good stuff. Seeing how I’ve been searching for this stuff for years and years, I couldn’t help but snatch these up. Funny how now I’m not longer looking for it because I no longer need it, I manage to randomly find it. I’m sure I’ll put it to good use, eventually.

I love that I find the most random things at Boots. I mean I’ve never even heard of the brand Euphytos but apparently it’s an Italian Hair Care brand and their tagline is “Made in Nature” so that’s pretty cool.

Mr Brown Iced Coffee

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Mr Brown Iced Coffee is awesome! First of all it complimented Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips beautifully (which was pretty much all I used to eat for a long time). Second, whenever I was drinking Mr Brown Iced Coffee, I felt like I was part of those Korean Dramas (I absolutely love those shows!). I’d never experienced the novelty of drinking coffee from a steel can until Mr Brown. It struck me as an “Asian thing” and I’ve always been obsessed with all things Asian. I’d never been much of a coffee drinker. Turkish coffee, Espresso, etc… they all made me gag. Mr Brown was the only thing I could stomach. I discovered that I liked my coffee cold and sweet (this was pre-Starbucks in Kuwait). Despite the fact that I didn’t like coffee, I adored the scent of it. Mr Brown Iced Coffee had that gorgeous coffee scent that I love. It also had that rich coffee flavor making it somewhat bitter but sufficiently sweet. I’ve since moved on to other forms of pseudo-coffee drinks but I’m always stoked when I find Mr Brown at Sultan Center or our local supermarket or a random baqala (because for the longest time, I could only find it in Europe) and usually pick up a couple cans of the stuff. If you ever come across this stuff, I suggest you pick up a can and try it out for yourself.

IT Cosmetics Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer

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An award-winning game-changer in mascara and eyeliner technology. It is your mascara, mascara primer and eyeliner in one. If you have sparse or missing lashes, the Tightline™ brush lays down black pigment along your entire lash line, filling in spare spots, giving you a full beautiful lash line and the look of an eyeliner! This creates instant definition without taking up extra eye lid space.

  • First Ever Primer + Mascara + Tightline™ Liner All in One
  • Gets to the “root” of the eyelashes
  • Ultra black formula lengthens and thickens
  • No clumping formula
  • Protects and conditions eyelashes
  • Maximizes the results of your favorite mascara
  • Paraben-free, Fragrance-free and Sulfate-free

The skinny wand also allows the conditioning serum to infuse a blend of lash-enhancing ingredients including Peptides, Collagen, Proteins, Biotin, Nettle Extract, Green Tea, Jojoba, and Vitamins all the way down to the root of your lashes. Paraben-free, fragrance-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free, and it is great for even the most sensitive eyes.

I love me some mascara and I’m a sucker for gimmicky products so as soon as this came out I just had to snag one for myself. Honestly, I was hoping Tightline would be somewhat similar to my beloved Rimmel Extreme Volume Comb Mascara (reviewed here) but it wasn’t. Remember my little How To: Tightline (For Beginners) and How To: Tightline (Intermediate/Advanced Level) posts? Supposedly, with this mascara you don’t even have use an eyeliner or kohl to get the same effect. I mentioned using mascara as a liner (here) and went more in depth (here) but lining and tightlining is not the same thing.

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First of all, Tightline is almost the size of a deluxe-size sample mascara and costs $24 at It Cosmetics. It is a bit pricey for such a small product but then again, they do claim it’s a “Primer + Mascara + Tightline Liner” It boasts a lot of great ingredients which is always a plus, especially if you’ve got wimpy lashes like me. It’s got beautiful reflective packaging (which was a pain to photograph – note how my camera is clearly visible in one of the above photos) which I think makes it look quite luxe. No obnoxious scent either.

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That wand though is ridiculously skinny! It’s too skinny to be of any practical use as a mascara (at least for me). It did not curl nor add volume or even length to my lashes but it did darken them. If you want some subtle definition for your lashes, then It Cosmetics Tightline is for you. Personally, if I’m going to bother with wearing mascara, I’d like the mascara to at least add some volume to my sad little lashes. Just like Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes Mascara, you could use It Cosmetics Tightline Mascara to coax stray lashes into the positions you want them to hold. It truly does get to the root of every lash actually making it better than Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes Mascara when it comes to fixing errant lashes. The mascara wand is so tiny making it super easy to maneuver!

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Tightline does not play well with other mascaras… or maybe I just didn’t find the right combo yet but my lashes refused to curl when I used Tightline before using another mascara. In that aspect, it did not work for me as a primer. As a mascara, on it’s own, it’s too “natural” for my taste. Also, more often than not, I’d end up with lashes mismatched in length a la MAC In Extreme Dimension Lash Mascara. While I was experimenting with Tightline as a liner (which btw was a bust) I found the best way (in my humble opinion) of using Tightline mascara. I’m not sure if this falls into the liner, primer, or mascara category but basically, I’ll use any other mascara that sufficiently volumizes and curls my lashes. Then when my lashes are semi-dry, I’ll go in with Tightline mascara and push them upwards so they fan out beautifully almost touching my eyebrows. Honestly, you can get the same effect using a pencil, a q-tip, or even your finger but this way was just easier and I wanted to use up Tightline (rather than trashing it or just tossing it somewhere and never using again it until it expired). This would be great for someone who is just getting into makeup (mistakes are less obvious) or for someone who is more into a natural look but for me when it comes to mascara, more is more. I will not be repurchasing Tightline, unfortunately.

My Story: Hair Cut, Color, and Style Journey (with pictures)

I decided to include these pictures to show you my transition from blonde to brunette. Yes, these are all pictures of me (LuLu). No, you will not be seeing my face (as I’ve explained my reasoning here). If the fact that I’ve cropped my face out of these pictures bothers you, please feel free to skip reading this blog post. If not, I hope you enjoy reading this post and maybe even find it useful or would like to share your own experience in the comments section. Thank you!

Ever since I was 17, I’ve had my hair dyed blonde. I assure you, I went to great lengths and took great pains to make sure it was an ash-y blonde. It might look yellow in the photo but that’s only because I’m doing the whole duck-face selfie in the bathroom mirror thing (don’t judge me). This was taken in 2012.

If I’m not letting my hair air-dry into messy waves, I always use a hot-air brush (which isn’t that hot) to dry my hair. One because it’s faster. Two, it gives amazing volume! Three, I like the way it makes my hair look (like I’m not trying too hard… because let’s face it, I’m honestly not). In the photos above, you can see what a few minutes of running a hot-air brush haphazardly through my hair can do. The ends might look a bit unhealthy but that’s because I’m well over-due for a trim.

I always use a hot-air brush to straighten my hair, before going in with extreme heat to properly straighten, wave, crimp or curl my hair. I always curl one section inwards (towards my face) and the next outwards (away from my face). Also, I never separate my hair equally, always making sure the sections are disproportionate. The reason I do that is because it creates messier curls and adds volume, and I’m all about that life!

Here’s another photo of me with curled hair in natural sunlight. My hair might look shorter, but that’s just because I always part it to the side. I find that a side-part is so much more flattering than a middle-part.

My hair is quite long naturally because I don’t get it trimmed regularly. I keep putting off cutting my hair mainly because once I get it cut, I’ll have to take better care of my hair (using heat protections sprays, deep conditioning treatments, and easing up on the hot tools). So whenever I’m due for a hair cut, I figure I might as well make the most out of it (swimming everyday, going ham with my hair-styling products, curling the life out of my hair using hot tools, etc…) since I’m going to get the unhealthy ends cut off soon anyway. Basically, in anticipation of all the extra effort I’d have to put in after getting my hair trimmed, I keep putting off said trim, and that is why my hair is so long. I don’t want my hair to just look effortless, I want it to be effortless.

Then I dyed my hair for my wedding because I didn’t want to regret having blonde hair in the wedding pictures. Keep in mind that I’d been dying my hair blonde for more than 10 years so it was kind of a big deal. Everything (clothes, jewelry, makeup) looked so different on me! Things that used look great on me as a blonde, now looked awful on me as a brunette. By that same token, things that used to look awful on me as a blonde, now looked great on me as a brunette.

Case in point, this yellow gown I came upon while out looking for a wedding dress (yeah, I get side-tracked easily because I have the attention span of a goldfish). Even though I was on a mission, I couldn’t resist trying it on. When I first got engaged, I was all “Yeah, I’m totally ‘gonna get Vera Wang to design a wedding dress for me.” Then I got distracted until eventually I forgot. A few months later, I was like “I’d like to go with someone a little more closer to home, like Elie Saab“. Years ago, he had custom-designed an absolutely beautiful wedding dress (with gorgeous intricate hand-stitched detailing to match the theme of the wedding) for my sister. Of course I got distracted again until I eventually forgot. A few months later, my wedding was days (not weeks, days) away and I was still wedding-dress-less. I couldn’t afford to be picky at this point. I needed to find something (anything) to wear on my wedding day and I needed it to find it soon. Me in the yellow gown (that had nothing at all to do with my upcoming wedding, I was just trying it on for fun) was me in hustle-mode.

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Five months later, my husband and I were on a plane to Thailand for our 30 day Honeymoon. Notice how much lighter my hair had gotten after only five months? I’d gotten my hair styled at a salon closer to my new home because I didn’t have enough time to leisurely style it on my own. I was unhappy with the result because it looked too prissy and perfect for my taste and I prefer my hair to look a bit undone or messy if you will. Worst of all, it didn’t have enough volume.

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This photo was taken at Patong Beach about a week or so into our trip. I’d styled my hair using only a single product (a magical product but more on that in another post) and my hot-air brush making my hair perfectly undone with sufficient volume, just the way I like it.

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Which was pointless because at night while we were having dinner at a sea-side restaurant at Surin Beach the humidity played havoc with my hair (as you can clearly see).

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This was taken about half-way into our vacation. This is what my hair looks like (tangles and all) after dipping in and out of the water about half a dozen times. Note how it looks lighter in natural sunlight.

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Even though my hair might look shorter in some photos, it’s actually quite long which is why I will always love scrunchies no matter how unfashionable the rest of the world deems them because they keep my hair out of my face. Normally, I prefer having my hair tied up in a super-high ponytail but only if I’m not out in public. If I’m going out I’ll opt for lowering it (by a lot) as you can see in the photo. However, I don’t mind going out with a super-high bun.

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By the end of our trip, not only had I gotten a tan but my hair had lightened up considerably after hours of being in the sun. This photo was taken in Bangkok.

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A year later, back in Kuwait, my sister-in-law had an appointment at a certain salon so I decided to tag along and once I was there I decided to get ash-y highlights and a sorely over-due trim. This was the result.

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It might not look it but my hair was quite short after that “trim”.

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I had such a hard time trying to style it that unless there was a certain event coming up, I just let it do it’s own thing.

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Thankfully it grew back pretty quick. So what do I do?

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I chop it ALL off… by myself… just because. The hair I chopped off was a lot more and a lot longer than what’s in my hands but I only thought of snapping a pic for posterity towards the end.

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Everyone was shocked because normally when people decide to go shorter, they tend to do it gradually, not go from super-long to super-short. I couldn’t stop shaking my head slowly from side to side – like a kid – because it made my hair swing.

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Strangely enough, I loved it. My hair took less than five minutes to style. It took even less to dry it. The epitome of easy-breezy!

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Aside from my father (who is pretty old-school and thinks all women should have long hair) everyone said short hair looked cute on me. Plus, Lobs (long bobs) were having a moment.

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One day, I was like “I know what will make this look even better! Bangs!” so I proceeded to cut bangs for myself (with no prior experience). Obviously, I messed it up so I had to clip my “bangs” up while I grew them out.

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At the behest of everyone who “cared” for me, I went to get my hair cut (read: fixed) professionally. The stylist felt the need to point out that whoever cut my hair had made a mess of it. She said she couldn’t fix it but she could cut it so it would look better as it grew. The end result was I straight up looked like a boy.

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I still loved that I could shower and my hair would be completely dry only minutes after. Somehow that made me even more lax when it came to “styling” my hair. I’d just shower and go out, letting it air-dry along the way to my destination. No hair products, no hot tools, no nothing.

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As it grew and grew, I got more and more annoyed with the ash-y highlights in my hair. Somehow, I’d gotten tired of having lighter-colored hair and all the fuss that came with it (regular appointments to dye the roots, sitting in a chair for an eternity, the smell of the hair dye).

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I was glad when my hair was long enough for me to start messing with it again. I actually missed spending upwards of an hour curling my hair or straightening it or just styling it. It could be annoying but it could also be pretty fun too!

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So I decided to make the most of it and play around with my short hair to get it out of my system, which is where the whole slew of new hair-care products and hot-tools come in, (for example in this photo, I had used my beloved Garnier Fructis Style Curl Construct Mousse). Since my hair was short, it was easier to experiment with. I believe it was around this time (when this photo was taken) that I decided to get a divorce.

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I also decided to get the ends trimmed regularly (by a pro, lesson learned) until I’d gotten all the blonde/ash-y highlights out of my hair. I was done with lighter-colored hair.

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The longer my hair got the happier I got. It’s nowhere near long as it was before and I’m still getting it trimmed regularly to cut all the lighter ends off (no more blonde, no more highlights, because I want my hair to be one shade, my natural hair color) but I’m happy with it for now.

Avène Very High Protection Cream SPF50+

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Efficient, high quality and reliable suncare. Effective against both UVB and UVA rays. Paraben-free – Certified UVA-compliant – VERY water-resistant – 100% photostable Benefits from exclusive SunSitive Protection®, a product of Pierre Fabre Group Research: Pre-tocopheryl, a photostable Vitamin E precursor, gives additional cell protection. Avène Thermal Spring Water with natural soothing and anti-irritating properties. With an invisible, non-oily texture and a specially designed tube for particularly pleasant application.

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As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more wary of the effect the sun can have on the skin which is why I was on the lookout for some decent protection. I read somewhere that the Sun Protection Factor should be at least 50 to do any good. Any higher is overkill and any lower and it won’t do much. I came across a 2-pack at Boots of this stuff so I figured it was a good deal and decided to purchase it.

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Even though I went into this pretty much blind (no research beforehand on said product) I’m actually enjoying using it (so far). I mean it’s not a “fun” product like makeup or perfume or whatever but when it comes to sunblocks and such, this stuff is pretty good. The main reason why I love this stuff is it does not leave a white cast on my olive skin, as opposed to other sunblocks. That means I don’t have to reserve this solely for swimming at the beach or pool. I can actually use this stuff during my normal every day life (work, when I’m out and about, etc…) and not worry about looking like a geisha. Also, when I happen to sweat (read: glow) it doesn’t collect in the corner of my eyes and start to sting as this stuff is not runny. It stays put. In the interest of full disclosure, aside from lipbalm (if that even counts), I do not wear makeup over the Avene Protection Cream because it skeeves me out. I’ve never tried it and don’t ever plan on trying it. I’m just weird that way. The point is, I can’t attest to how well this performs under makeup. Another thing is this stuff has a slightly strange scent. It doesn’t bother me because I wear perfume, and always have scented something or other (candles, wallflowers, etc…) around me at all times which makes the scent less noticeable. Lastly, I tend to not re-apply because it starts pilling on me which I hate so I only apply this stuff once. The packaging might not be the prettiest but Orange signifies Suncare which makes the color-scheme appropriate and I like the pump dispenser because it’s less messy. Even though it is sold at Boots, it is a bit pricey (just like the other skincare brands like Vichy, Leirac, Nuxe, etc…) but well worth the money. Overall this is a great product solely based on its excellent protection!

Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips

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Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips was the one thing I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a matter of fact, whenever my family and I traveled for our summer vacation to Cyprus, that was pretty much all I ate. I’ve always love salty-sour snacks but this was different…

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Not only was it the perfect ratio of vinegar to salt in a potato chip but it also had texture! These chips were crinkle-cut yet wafer-thin. I’d polish off a large bag of Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips in lieu of a meal and wash it all down with a can of Mr Brown Iced Coffee.

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Unfortunately in Kuwait, we only had Kitco Nice Salt and Vinegar Chips which was a poor substitute for my favorite snack. They didn’t taste nearly as good as Lay’s. Not to mention the bags were usually half empty and they were always a few potato chips that were in the process of rotting (regardless of all the preservatives).

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I switched over to Pringles Salt and Vinegar Chips and although it can satisfy my cravings for salt, it’s just not the same. Let’s put it this way, my lips were a full shade lighter after. You know, that thing that happens when you’ve had too much salt… no? Just me then? Ok. Well, in any case, Pringles is too salty and I’m not a fan.

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The closest to Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips is Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Chips (shocking, no?) however it’s still not exactly the same. Texture aside, I’ve noticed that the taste of Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Chips differs from country to country. The one in Lebanon tastes almost as good as the one in Cyprus. I’m not sure if it’s because those two are neighboring countries or if it’s the ingredients. Sadly, in Kuwait, the taste differs from bag to bag. One will taste somehow “fresher” than the next. I mean, these bags are sealed and everything so I don’t know how they go stale but it happens, a lot. Maybe, it’s the heat? Also, like I said, they’re usually half empty, and as always some of the chips seem to be rotting.

That’s why Lay’s Salt and Vinegar Wavy Chips is, was, and always will be my favorite… even though I can’t seem to find it anymore (even online, hence the watermarked pic, soz).