The Arts&Life deputy editor Hala Khalaf's favourites this week: organic baby food to make life easier, a conveniently located beauty salon to add a touch of luxury to the everyday, a great read to bury your nose in and a site that helps you create the perfect website, for free
Organic baby food
I'd heard a lot about Ella's Kitchen baby food from friends who lived abroad. It's packaged in convenient pouches rather than the heavy glass jars that always seem to crack in your nappy bag and 100 per cent organic, and I dreamt of finding this product in Abu Dhabi. It is free of any added sugar, water, salt or additives, made of 100 per cent organic fruits, vegetables and proteins (chicken, beef, fish, lentils and more), and is gently pasteurised and sold in resealable pouches, which contain aluminium sandwiched between two layers of plastic, which eliminates the need for preservatives and means that the food can be minimally processed.
I found this extremely versatile product at Waitrose in a variety of interesting combinations: my baby loves the butternut, carrots, apples and prunes pouch as well as the sweet potatoes and blueberries pouch. The vegetable bake with lentils is good enough for adults. Such a product eliminates the guilt of feeding my eight-month-old ready food when we're travelling or out and about, and it's such a relief to have found it readily available in the capital. Check out the products at www.ellaskitchen.co.uk.
Boudoir Beauty Lounge
Real luxury is not simply being able to afford the weekly manicure or the monthly hair cut. It's being able to book those pampering sessions and then take less than two minutes to get to the beauty salon once you leave your front door. As I awaited the opening of the Boudoir Beauty Lounge in the Boutik Mall on Reem Island, which happens to be where I live, I prayed that the salon would not make me a customer solely because of its convenient location, but more for its exemplary service, and I was not disappointed. From the chic glamour of the interiors to the varied array of beauty services on offer, Boudoir is a dream come true. You can get your hair and nails done, get a gold facial, get a massage. Simply put, get pampered from head to toe, all in one location. And it's a delight to walk in and smell the fresh, organic soap it has on display, part of the Fresh Line products from Greece.
If you're looking for a salon that uses, on request, the Inglot O2M breathable nail polish that is allegedly ablution friendly, then look no further. I no longer have an excuse to let myself go: that place offers make up application and anti-stress body treatments using chocolate. It's like living in a hotel. Open Saturdays to Thursdays from 10am to 10pm, and Fridays from 4pm to 10pm, located on Level 1 of the Boutik Mall, call 02 674 4428.
Create a free website
There must be hundreds of websites out there that offer the service to create your own site, and for free to boot. Then there are the sites to create blogs, from Blogger all the way to Wordpress. However, they're not all created equal, especially when it comes to ease of use.
I've recently stumbled across www.wix.com after noticing it has more than one million followers on Facebook and more than 50,00 followers on Twitter. It requires no prior knowledge of HTML or coding, no prerequisite that you have special design skills or understandings of font - and it allows you to pick from an endless database of varying templates to create exactly what you need. It's all free, from the apps you can use on the site you want to create to the templates designed by interested people around the world. Best of all, it comes together with a "drag n' drop" mechanism that is user-friendly from every aspect. Whether you're looking to set up a site to sell your cast-offs, interested in creating a site for your child or eager to begin blogging on a niche subject, Wix has the advice to guide you. Visit www.wix.com.
Room by Emma Donoghue
It's not a recent release; Emma Donoghue's award-winning novel, Room, was published in 2010. I grabbed a copy when I saw it on a shelf at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in March, then left it gathering dust on my bedside table until I found a free moment to crack open the cover. Less than 48 hours later, I had finished one of the most absorbing, riveting novels I have ever read; it was absolutely impossible to put down and I readily confess that I may have neglected my eight-month-old daughter that day. The story is narrated by a 5-year-old boy whose entire world is the room he was born in and has never ventured out of. He lives there with his Ma - to her, the room is a prison, but for Jack, it's home. Telling the story from Jack's perspective is effective, raw and vulnerable, and the novel is an emotional read. Donoghue's ability to maintain the voice of a 5-year-old with such believable authenticity is commendable. Pick this book up for a fast read. I cannot recommend it enough. Reading it was a horrifying, joyful source of wonder that I won't soon forget.
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