Win an all weather Catalyst Case for iPhone!

catalyst case featured image

School has started again in Dubai and my kids are back from their long summer vacation spent in the tropical country where there are a lot of water action. Of course, I would want to take photos of them near or in the water but have you been to the beach or pool and feel so intimidated and scared to take photos or videos with your phone when you’re near the water? And have you wished you can take your phone in the water with you?

I hear you. I truly know the feeling.

My daughter loves to swim and she does so many underwater tactics that I’ve always longed to take a video of her underwater. So, I did a lot of Google search along the lines of “best waterproof cases” or “top all weather cases” and found the Catalyst brand always on the list. I know I need this in my life!

The Catalyst heavy-duty case for iPhone ($69.99) in spite of its slim profile, is one of the best protective, waterproof and impact resistant cases available on the market. I like most is that the case itself is pretty straightforward – not too bulky but still solidly built. Once you snap this case together, you’ll need a coin to pop it open. That’s how you know it doesn’t ‘accidentally’ open up underwater when you use it.


It’s designed to be waterproof (YAY!) to 5m (16.4 ft), meet military standards for drops up to 2m (6.6 ft) and is made of premium quality materials including impact resistant polycarbonate, a soft-touch rubber bumper, silicone seals and air and water tight acoustic membranes.

Assembling the case is pretty easy and I am amazed the home button use is very responsive that it can even detect my fingerprint even when wet. Sometimes I find the touch screen access less responsive than I’d like it to be the longer it’s wet. It’s easy enough to set up your camera app and start shooting, but your texting speed may suffer. But it’s not like you need to text a lot while swimming, right?

Thanks to my new Catalyst case, I am able to capture my daughter’s smiling swimming pics underwater!

underwater selfie collage

And I am never scared to take my phone to the beach or pool again.

at the beach

Here in Dubai where it’s (almost) always beach or pool time all throughout the year, this nifty, sturdy and very trusty gadget is a must. I’ve never been confident taking pictures while at the beach or pool without my iPhone inside the Catalyst Case.

All-in-all, the Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone is a solid, rugged waterproof case. Snap your iPhone into it and go outside for some new adventure because the case is well worth the peace of mind and having this case will help you capture great photos and videos that you might not get otherwise.

bellevue pool 1

Like, if I didn’t have this protective case, I won’t ever get this close to taking their pictures while in the pool! Or capture my brother’s volleyball action on the water.

bellevue pool 2

Catalyst’s whole product range are not only cases for iPhones but for iPad, iPad mini, Apple Watch and waterproof sleeves for tablets and laptops.


Ok by now you’re thinking: I need to get that for my iPhone, too! I’ve got you covered. You can win a Catalyst Case for your iPhone by entering this awesome giveaway via the below widget:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t wait to win? You can purchase the Catalyst Case online at or follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to check out their latest news and offers.

Where we stayed: Park Rotana Abu Dhabi

lobby 1

After living in Dubai for more than 8 years, we feel we’d like to explore the other Emirates more and spend some time there on some weekends. We previously explored Fujairah again and had a day trip to Ras Al Khaimah lately. We have found family friendly hotels during our stay. School’s out and it’s summer, Eid is also coming around soon. If you’re not going out of the country like most of the expat population, you might want to check out this hotel we stayed in Abu Dhabi: Park Rotana Abu Dhabi just off Maqta bridge, near Khalifa Park.

The drive took us about two hours from Dubai. The hotel is easily accessible from Dubai (with the help of Google maps) but it’s a bit far from Abu Dhabi city center. The hotel offers shuttle buses to the city center as well as there are plenty of taxis available right from the hotel entrance.

lobby 2

We were assigned at the 7th floor and excited to see the view outside. This is the chic hotel lobby.

hotel lobby

We had interconnecting rooms, perfect for families with children so there’s more space. Family rooms at Park Rotana features two rooms: one with king size bed and the other, with twin beds.

king size bed room

It is ideal for families or friends and could sleep up to 4 people. The rooms were clean, spacious and nicely decorated.

twin bed room

Look at this sweet welcome not just for me but for the kids too!

welcome sweets

It was the first day of Ramadan when we arrived at the hotel. We had our first Iftar at Ginger Restaurant, the hotel’s all day dining restaurant. I’m not only impressed by the variety of the dishes available (mostly Arabic, though) but also the taste. After indulging in so many iftar buffets in the past, I found that the more I dine ‘buffet style’, the harder it is to please my palates. Confession: I easily get bored or had become sensitive to bland food. But to be honest, the food we had here did not disappoint. Kebabs and Arabic mixed grill was really tasty.

iftar june 18

This was the view from our room. This is part of Khalifa Park, if it had not been too hot, we would have loved to go out and explore this very huge park with the kids.

khalifa park

After a good night’s sleep, (the bed was nice!), we look forward to breakfast. As I’ve said,  it has been difficult for me to appreciate buffet food because most of them are either too common or just don’t have anything special. These are just some of the food at the breakfast buffet. I think it could cater to anyone’s breakfast needs.

breakfast collage


Coopers Bar is open from 9pm during Ramadan while the Italian fare Teatro is closed till Eid holidays. Ginger all day dining restaurant is open all throughout the holy month.


The green space between Park Rotana and Park Arjaan by Rotana was wonderful with pool , lounges, a tennis court and mini playground for kids.

green spaces 2

green spaces 1

The best part of our staycation was definitely the pool! 


pool 2

There is a small shallow children’s pool which had shade so it’s perfect for the little ones!

childrens pool


  • Only 20 minutes drive to the airport so it’s convenient for travelers.
  • Very close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (a must see when you’re in Abu Dhabi!)
  • There is a shuttle to take you to the grand mosque
  • has Bodylines fitness and wellness club. The gym is very well equipped!
  • In-room WiFi is not free but according to their website and other reviews online, the hotel is regularly reviewing competitor’s services and assure that their rates for wireless internet is very competitive.
  • The bathroom has no tub. It wasn’t an issue for us as we really don’t have time to soak in the tub and spend most of our time in the outdoor pool
  • 20 minutes drive to Yas Island (Ferrari World, Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld, Yas Mall, Yas Beach)

It was a very pleasant staycation and I would highly recommend this hotel for families who want something different, a drive out of Dubai. We had a very chill time and the children really enjoyed the pool. Staff were very polite and very attentive to guests. I think this hotel can be a great staycation hotel in Abu Dhabi for this coming summer!

To learn more about Park Rotana Abu Dhabi hotel and their special offers, check out their main website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We were guests at Park Rotana Abu Dhabi but all opinions are my own.

Seville's wafi sangria

Valentine’s day at Seville’s

 Seville's wafi sangria

I’ll tell you a secret: we never celebrate Valentine’s day, even during the time when we were still dating. And now that we are married and have kids, Valentine’s day is just one of those normal days: we both have work, and one of us works really long hours. But my husband is sweet enough though to sometimes take me out to dinner when he is free and never fail to give me chocolates. He knows me too well – it’s always chocolates and not flowers.

It’s a gesture I appreciate because being Japanese, it should have been the other way around. Valentine’s Day in Japan has a weird tradition.

Anyway, this year, Valentine’s day fell on a Saturday so we both didn’t have work. We thought a night out would be great. We wanted to try something different, something new and something we don’t normally go to, location wise and cuisine wise.

We went to Spain. Without purchasing plane tickets. And came back to Dubai after 3 hours.

Seville's Wafi


If you love Spanish food, tapas and a good sangria, I would recommend you go to Seville’s Spanish Tapas and Bar at Wafi’s Rooftop Gardens. I was at Seville’s a couple of weeks back for their 14th anniversary. it’s been FOURTEEN years since they opened in Dubai and we all know, with the very competitive Dubai dining scene, to survive for fourteen long years and still going strong means they must be doing something right!

We started the night with a clink. Seville’s traditional Spanish sangria is the best sangria I’ve had so far in Dubai. Best tasting and that sangria that will make you temporarily forget you have work the next day. I call it my ‘happy juice’. But never underestimate the effect of sangria (it contains alcohol), especially if you have work the next day. I will not elaborate but take it from me.

sangria at Seville's

Happy (though a bit groggy..already?!), we moved on to tapas – Tapas are wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. These succulent starters are guaranteed to open up anyone’s appetite! There were plenty of tapas in the menu so we requested the friendly staff to recommend some of the restaurant’s most popular (can you tell we’re really clueless about Spanish food?).


Check this: Seville’s full menu.

tapas at Seville's

Upper left: Presa Iberica en Adobo (one of the best secret cuts of the Iberico pork, dressed with Spanish adobo and served as carpaccio) – I loved this from among these 4 tapas we ordered.  “Adobo” comes from the Spanish word adobar, which literally means “??to marinate”?. The meat is tender with the right rub of adobo spices with a distinct touch of garlic and paprika, my two favorite spices.

Upper right: Chicken Flamenquines (classic tapa from the south of Spain. Breaded chicken breast stuffed with turkey bacon and cheese) – No doubt this is very familiar among the Japanese diners as it is so similar with breaded chicken cutlets in Japan. The mustard dip seals the deal in this savory tapa.

Lower left: Spanish omellete –  we had the most common version, the one made only with eggs and potatoes, and possibly onion. 

Lower right: Esqueixada de Bacalao (traditional Catalan cold starter with roasted vegetable, codfish and freshly grated tomatoes) – Sorry, I didn’t like this. Maybe because I am not a huge fan of fish and seafood but we wanted to give fish a try. My husband finished this off and actually liked how the fish went well with the fresh tomatoes. 

As if we aren’t full with the tapas (the servings are generous and could make a full meal if you order many) and glasses (take note..plural) of sangria, we needed to order the main dish and we all know visiting a Spanish restaurant and NOT ordering Paella is a crime.

chicken paella

Normal people would order the traditional paella with beautiful open mussels and all sorts of seafood in it. Not us. We are allergic to shrimps (and other seafood creatures except fish) so chicken paella it is. There’s also a vegetarian version if you aren’t a meat eater. This chicken paella is a crowd pleaser, we suppose, it’s easy to like this: moist saffron flavored al dente rice (is there such thing as “al dente” in Spanish cuisine? The rice wasn’t soft as what we’re accustomed to eat at home, it was like it’s half cooked but I’ve read that that’s what a good Paella is all about). It’s all about the rice and Seville’s is a winner with this one.

beef cheek stew

My main dish is called Carillada de Ternera con patatas y pipparas, in English, beef cheek stew with baby potatoes, gherkins, green beans and Spanish sweet peppers. I am a huge meat eater. I don’t know how many times I have mentioned that when I talk about food in this blog. My finger automatically points to anything meat in the menu book. I liked this dish except that I wished all the parts were tender. There were some parts where I can’t cut the meat fibers but the flavor was very tasty. The gherkins? I am not sure why they’re there – it’s either you’ll love it, hate it or ignore it. Personally, I neither hated it nor liked it but it was a nice finish though this will be eaten together with the meat or potatoes? I don’t know.

grace and desserts

What is a Valentine’s day date without desserts? We ordered two. First one was called Torrija Caramelizada, the longer description would be…I’m trying hard here…think French toast made from brioche soaked in lemon and cinnamon infused milk, fried, then dusted in cinnamon sugar or sweet syrups. The shorter description would be, INTOXICATING. And the shortest description is YUM. I won’t lie, I was afraid to eat this because I am avoiding bread in my diet (I get migraines when I consume wheat) but I do make exceptions. I choose my battles and this one’s worth fighting for! Do not miss to order this when you are in Seville’s. Repeat, do NOT miss!

The other one is Seville’s Crema Catalana or Catalan Cream is the Catalan name and version of the French dessert, crème brulée. It has lovely hint of lemon and cinnamon, a delicious twist to the usual flan. I like this too.

I wrote so many things about the food, but have to share about the ambience as well. Seville’s has that rustic feel, romantic and very cozy especially if you are seated outside where you can dine under the stars. Perfect when Dubai’s weather is very pleasant during the ‘winter’ season.

We wanted to sit outside for a change but I was told there will be an event near the garden and music could be loud and distracting (for some diners). I, for one, would like to hear what my partner has to say especially on rare kid-free dates like this so we opted for the indoor seating. Little did I know that the “event” was an Abba Revival Tribute Concert! It seems that there will be the same event next year, so I have marked that in my calendar!

Speaking of events, Seville’s will be celebrating Feria de Abril, Spanish Flamenco Fiesta on 21st April to 25th April 2015.

We would like to go back with the kids and I see that this place can be family friendly too as you can request for a table next to play garden area so you can keep a watch on the kids and enjoy your meal in peace.

Our Valentine’s day date at Seville’s was very nice and by the end of the evening we were asking ourselves what took us so long to discover this place.

Review: SlimPerfect Capris

I have to admit, the tone of the word “shape wear” frightens me. I imagine corsets worn in the Medieval times. Those that restrict movement and breathing.

Slimperfect CaprisI got a gift from my friend Casey of SlimPerfect – a nice pair of shapewear ala capris she’d like me to try out. I put it on and yay, it’s perfect for my gym workouts. Her line of swimwear and activewear have been creating a buzz all over, including being listed as one of the “Best Brands” in O Magazine at I thought, it’s time to throw my frumpy sweatpants and switch to something “cooler”. I know no one is usually in the gym when I go there (I go at weird hours – early in the morning or lunch break) but I do look at myself in the mirror and my new SlimPerfect Capris actually made me look forward to going to the gym and make me feel good about myself every time I wear it!

Sorry for the bad yoga pose, I was just trying to illustrate how stretchy it can be – the capris, not me!

Slimperfect Capris

I like that the SlimPerfect Capris are lightweight, stretchy and provides maximum control and coverage in the tummy, buttock and thigh area without the usual tight feeling of a typical shape wear. You could say, they help with most women’s problem areas. It’s so comfortable to wear and do not restrict any of my movements in the gym, which is nice. I DO like to breathe while doing my exercise routines!

From the website:

SlimPerfect offers slimming, modest swimwear & activewear with more coverage. SlimPerfect Swimwear & Activewear helps solve poolside anxiety and creates a feeling of confidence in the gym or on the tennis courts for ALL BODY TYPES. High quality product made by a woman, for every woman.

And what’s more neat about it is that I can even wear it everyday, anywhere I want to. Even at home or on the beach or when going to the grocery store.

The capris are on sale at 50% off along with other items at There are ongoing campaigns announced by Casey, herself via Twitter so you should follow SlimPerfect on Twitter.