Friday, December 27, 2013

10 Favorite Things About Winter in the Desert:

1) It's 70* degrees instead of 120*. 

2) You can open the door without your glasses fogging up and feeling like you're trying to breathe under water. 

3) Ben gets a good December break. 

4) The irony of watching people native to the desert put on thick coats for 60-70 degree weather is humorous. 

5) Kids can play outside for more than an hour without the risk of heat stroke. 

6) It's easier to stay hydrated while pregnant. 

7) Butter doesn't melt between the store and home a block away.  

8)The air conditioner actually goes off sometimes and we can open the windows! 

9) It's the growing season for tomatoes! 

10) They take the umbrellas off of the baby palm trees because they don't need as much protection now and they're prettier that way.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dancing Fountains, Burj Khalifa and Friends in Dubai

Dubai Mall has some really cool things, including the dancing fountains in the videos below.
Of course, none of the things were as nice as spending time with my friend. This was the first time to get to see the fountains from the balcony of a restaurant instead of in a crowd of many people by the gate down below... which was relaxing. We arrived right before sunset and were able to see everything well before it merged into a light-studded silhouette of buildings and shop windows. It was nice that we were right across from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world currently, since our guest was interested in seeing that also.

Good food, good company and good entertainment makes this one of my favorite memories from this part of the world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elias Turns 2

Elias turned 2 this December, man that is hard to believe! Right now he is really interested in tools, trucks, airplanes, trains, babies and giraffes. Talia thought we should make him a giraffe themed cake, so we looked to see what we had in the pantry after Thanksgiving.

We decided to go with pineapple chunks for the "spots" and chocolate cake for the "skin" to make a giraffe print look... well, sort of.


I used Laura Vitale's chocolate cake recipe for the cake, but did a pineapple upside down thing first, to make a "2" with pineapple pieces. We had leftover cherry pie filling and whipping cream from Thanksgiving, so we decided to make a chocolate whipped cream filling and layer it with cherry and the rest of the fresh pineapple. This way, more of the sweetness came from the fruit than icing. The flavors balanced perfectly. Talia picked out a giraffe to print and tape on a skewer to help decorate and she made him a really nice birthday card.

For his birthday we found a jungle-themed lego set with a giraffe... that was his favorite piece to play with!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving in Abu Dhabi 2013

Since moving to Ruwais and not having as much contact with other Americans, celebrating American holidays has been a little different. Neither Ben nor I am very big on tradition, but I would at least like for our children to know what the traditional holidays from their culture are about. Especially Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. It doesn't have so much commercialization or controversial roots and has more focus on family and appreciating our blessings. So, for Thanksgiving this year, (now that Talia's writing well and Elias can color... sort of,) we made a Thanksgiving tree to think about things we are thankful for.


Our colors ended up more bright and, um, non-traditional for a fall tree this way, but it was fun to hear what Talia was thankful for and what she thought Elias was thankful for... (eggs, bananas, colors, oxygen, and all of our family's names all made it on the tree.)

I was excited when we were invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with some other families in Abu Dhabi city! With most of the main dishes taken care of, I searched my favorite recipe website for inspiration for vegetables and sides that I could make without canned things that are both hard to find and not something I prefer to use anyways. I ended up making green bean casserole with homemade fried onion topping, dinner rolls, tres leches cake, and a vegetable pot pie. My favorite (from these recipes,) and my husband's, was definitely the vegetable pot pie with the homemade pie crust... (and he really likes meat.) However, the tres leches cake was also another awesome recipe I will go back to.
We had a really nice time with friends who have become like family abroad. It was definitely a time surrounded by things and people we are thankful for.

Monday, December 2, 2013

U.A.E. 42nd National Day, City vs. Desert

Yesterday, a year ago, we were in our apartment on the Corniche. There were fireworks and an airshow visible from our balcony. Cars were gridlocked around the entire block for a full 12 hours trying to get to the Corniche to see the special decorations for the, then 41st, anniversary of the U.A.E. as a nation. We could hear people partying and see dancing and drumming in the parking lot waaaay into the night and next morning.

This year is different. In Ruwais, they have decorated with lights and the number 42 to celebrate, but the night was quiet and you could go without knowing anything different was going on. No airplanes have roared overhead spewing out colored smoke and no midnight fireworks were heard or visible from our villa. Except for the sound of construction during the day, everything is peaceful.

It's a big contrast, and for the most part, it leaves me thankful to be in a more country-like setting.

Some photos from the parade in the city can be seen here.
Here's a photo of the stunt planes shooting colored smoke with the Palm Jumeira in the background. (And here at a stadium and another in front of the Burj Khalifa.)




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Figuring out Transportation and Community in Ruwais

One of the hardest parts of moving every year or so is the adjustment to the loss of community and the need to rebuild it. This is easier in some places than in others. Abu Dhabi city had several easy transportation options: many taxis, buses, lots of things within walking distance.

Ruwais is different. Taxis are supposedly available, but the one time I called one he said he'd be here in 40 minutes and after 2 hours passed he said he'd be here in 15 minutes and after a few missed calls and another hour said he was lost and gave up. We will have to see if calling the main number gives better results next time. There are buses, but I still need to figure out where to get a map for them or figure out a good time to drag everyone out when Ben's available to see if I can get a driver's license. There are a few things within walking distance: park, little market and a recreation center; but mostly there are millions of villas that look identical to each other all tacked together in rows and rows of neighborhoods. Very few of the women I've met, (and I don't see many out during the day,)  have spoken English, except for the Filipino cashier at the market... so, we're still figuring out the whole community thing at the moment.

When a good friend visited from the States, we took the opportunity to get registered at the hospital (in case of an emergency so we don't have to fill out all of the paperwork before getting treatment) here and check out the beach a short drive away, since she could drive with a U.S. license as a tourist, but I can't legally as a resident.

Some issues this presents at the moment is a difficulty getting to the hospital if I were in labor, and a lack of people to leave the children with. Since Ben works an hour away, I should be able to labor pretty well at home until the last minute to avoid interventions at the hospital and give him time to get here.

Being here a month has brought up things like these that we are still figuring out. There's always a new type of challenge, everywhere we move.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wind/Sand/Rain/Hail Storm in the Western Region

Yesterday a really strong sandstorm had Ben's bus pulled over on the side of the road a few times on the way home from super-strong winds and super-low visibility. The wind was strong enough to blow sand in between the doors of the bus. They managed to outrun it for a little bit and then it overtook them again. He finally made it home an hour later than usual. Being a bus driver in these conditions must be really stressful!

Later that night very strong winds blew into Ruwais and following the sand storm was crazy rain and really strong lightning and thunder! I was surprised to hear hail following. Our electricity went out for a few hours, and this woke me up and I laid there remembering how Guatemala often had these drippy sounds running in the background of daily life during the rainy season.


Today it has continued to rain, at a much calmer pace and without as much wind, all day, but the destruction (mostly to the vegetation) from last night's wind is still visible.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kids Unscripted: Chapter 21

Talia: (Pointing at an advertisement) "Mama, what's that? Is it an alien or something?"
Me: "I think that's called a minion."
Talia: "It's very sad that it only has one eye! He can only blink, but never wink."
Me: "No?"
Talia: "No, you need two eyes to wink... except some people have two eyes and still can't wink. Maybe they're allergic to it or something."
---
Talia: "What if you were lonely and you didn't have any family or husband or kids so you bought a baby otter!?"
---
Elias crawls in my lap and says "back?" asking me to rub his back.
---
 Ben: "When I was little, octopus had 12 legs."
Talia: "Nooooooo.... they're made with only 8!"
Ben: "Yes, and they were called 'duo-deca-puses'"
--- 
Talia: "Mommy, sometimes I grow new favorite colors."
---
Talia: "These cookies are super yummy, but I couldn't eat a thousand... and, actually, we made less than a thousand anyway."
---
 Elias is learning new words every day. His recent additions are "Stop!" Especially "Stop, Talia!" and the letters "I, G, B" and "H." Talia has taught him "T says 'tttt'" also and that "Talia starts with T" so many times he says "T! tttttt! Talia!" He calls himself "Lee-us" and seems to be constantly yelling "cracker!" because it's so hard to keep him full! My favorite, though, is when he tries to sing: "ay yi yi, mi amor..."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pregnancy in Abu Dhabi

We have gotten moved to Ruwais and, in addition to unpacking and a figuring out where things are around here, I'm needing to learn about birthing options in Abu Dhabi. Birth with a medical professional or trained midwife at home is against the law here, so the only other legal option is to try to find a natural-birth friendly doctor (which sounds like a paradox, but I'm hoping it isn't) and hope for the best in a hospital. If one goes in with a doctor-signed birth plan stating some basic necessities of birth like: no IV, no epidural, freedom to move around, no episiotomy and no shots for the baby, I've heard that it is able to carry a lot of weight, but you definitely need someone to support you there so you don't have to fight for a natural birth at the same time you are in labor. 

Whatever your position on birth, the fact that an intervention-free, natural birth is greatly inhibited in a hospital surrounded by the medical mentality is something I find undeniable. The fact that it's not even a choice at home is a complicated issue: sex outside of marriage is illegal here, thus, birth without a proper marriage license can send both the mother and the baby to jail. Because hospitals are institutions where this sort of paperwork is checked out, and turned in to the police if necessary, a home birth would make the government assume that there were legal reasons for avoiding the hospital. If a baby is born before one could get to the hospital, the parents have to go through the court, or to the nearest hospital after the birth and prove that 1) the mother and father were married and 2) that the baby actually came out of the mother's body, sometimes meaning placenta testing.
A friend gave me this shirt which reads: "Pregnant is the new skinny" Ha.

There's a lot to think and pray about. If there was one thing I did not want to do in Abu Dhabi, it was to give birth surrounded by this mindset. I am hoping that my midwife can come anyways and, if not, that between Ben and a doula the hospital will leave me alone and just let me birth my baby they way a body was created to. Obviously, there's only a limited amount of this within my control, and the part that isn't I'm trying daily to leave in God's hands and to be excited about this new addition to our family in late April. I'd appreciate your prayers as well. :)

First trimester is closing this week! It's nice to have some energy back!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi: 18

Don't forget to get your:
I think these are toasted green wheat berries. Aside from stuffing inside of poultry that one would bake, I'm not sure what other things they can be used for... but the name makes me chuckle.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kids Unscripted: Chapter 20

Talia: "Mommy, I can reach the milk without even a chair! I'm getting taller! Yay!"
---
Talia: "Three hours?! That's even longer than two hours!!!"
---
Talia: "I don't ever want any sort of confection!"
Me: "I think you're meaning 'infection'."
---
Talia: (playing fire truck) "Here comes the person else seeing if there's a fire..."
(She meant 'another person'.)
---
Talia: (drawing a sea monster) "So if you ever find yourself in pretend water with these pretend creatures, be careful!"
---
Talia: (Running away from Elias who has a play syringe from a play Dr.'s kit)
"He's trying to 'shot' me!"
---
Talia: (presenting a plate of pretend truffles) "Be careful! That's a Caramel Wiggle truffle and it'll run away if you're not watching!"
---
Talia: "I'm building a church for birds (with blocks.) I'm leaving these holes so the bugs can get in because you need lunch at church!"
---
Me: "Your shirt says 'Park Ranger.'"
Elias: "Woof!"
Me: "Park, not 'bark.'"
---
Talia: "Mommy, all of my icktertaliens (ick-ter-tay-lee-uns) are sitting on the floor outside."
Me: "What's an icktertalien?"
Talia: [holds up a creation made from clothespins] "They fight bad! So if you ever want to fight an animal you should fight a monkey or something, not an icktertalien."
---

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hot Water or Hotter Water

In Abu Dhabi cold water is stored in tanks, usually on the roof. In the summer months this can make for some almost boiling "cold" water. So, there are a few ways people combat this problem. If they have their "hot" water stored in a tank underground or in the building, they then just switch off the hot water tank and it becomes the cold water and the sun-heated "cold" water is plenty warm!

In some places, like in the hotel in Ghayathi, they have a water cooling machine to re-cool the water before it enters the building. (Except it was broken, so between sunrise and sunset any shower you took might leave you boiled. Ben found this out the hard way.)

The benefit of this is that if you normally use gas to heat your water, you can now just use "cold" water for anything that requires hot and not use the gas for water during those months and save some money.

Or, you could just leave them both on and have a choice between hot or hotter water. (Particularly gross for brushing your teeth.)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kids Unscripted: Chapter 19

Talia: "All of our tigers are sweet ones that hug."
---
Talia: (after falling off of her bike) "one thing that doesn't need a friend is a scratch, those are better off lonely."
---
PawPaw: "Maybe we can save the shoes that are too small for Elias for a baby brother or sister."
Talia: "If there's another brother or sister, it's going to be mine. Elias will have to wait for another one."
---
Aunt Chel: "Turkeys don't say 'quack!'"
Talia: " They do in my pretendment."
---
PawPaw: "Who's this?" (Pointing to Talia)
Elias: "Talia!"
PawPaw: "Who's this?" (Pointing to me)
Elias: "Mama!"
PawPaw: "Who's this?" (Pointing to himself)
Elias: "PawPaw!"
PawPaw: "Who's this?" (Pointing to TeMaw)
Elias: (blank stare and then pointing to a Pepsi can.) "Pepiiii!"
---
Talia: "Mama, what do snails eat?"
Me: "Plants and things like bird poop."
Talia: "We should use them to clean cars!"
---
Talia: (to Elias) "You are funny! You are Elias and you are a boy and you are funny!"
---
Elias: (pointing at Talia's chocolate shake from PawPaw) "BIIIIIIIIIITE!"
Talia: "Elias, you can't always get what you want. Leave me alone, I am trying to ENJOY my shake."
---
Talia: "What do lions say when they yawn? 'Rawr or RAAAAAWWWWRRRRRR!'"
---
Me: "Look, Elias, there's a baby cow drinking its mama's milk."
Elias: "MMMMMMMMMM!"

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fig Preserves

I
My parent's neighbors received a fig tree start from my dad a few years ago. This summer it's a nice sized tree with more figs than they could handle, so I got an invitation to pick figs. I easily got over a gallon, but didn't know what to do with them. Google and YouTube gave me a fig preserves recipe and canning instructions. I only added lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and pectin. They turned out well, reminding me of an apple pie flavor.

And they made pretty good tarts too.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First 5k in the States

The first time I participated in a 5K was in Guatemala... and then a 10K and then another 5K, all in Guatemala. So it was a little weird to get to do one for the first time in the States!
It was fun to do with an aunt who doesn't act half as old as she is. (Not that I'm calling her old.) And the highlighter-yellow shirt was cool...

...but not as cool as receiving the medal for first place in my age. Which sounds really good...
 ...except we were walking. :) This was her first 5k and she couldn't run yet and didn't want to do it by herself, so we walked it. (So either everyone my age is a slow walker or was running.) Either way, it was interesting to compare how it was similar to races in Guatemala.
Next year we hope to run it together!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stuck in Desert Sands

Me: "So why'd you decide to go off of the road?"
Ben: "It looked like the road went to the top of the dune, there were lots of tire tracks... Soooo, I just wanted to see if the grass was greener over there. ;)"


Me: "Well maybe those tracks were made by a Toyota 4Runner not a Dodge Durango. ;) How'd you manage to get help? Did you pay them?"



Ben: "It was Saturday morning so they were all kind of lounging around anyway, a couple of them were nearby. I went to ask them if they had a number for tow truck because the regular mechanic I use is in Egypt now. They started helping and eventually workers from nearby houses came out. All working together they lifted the truck and put rocks and boards under the tires. I gave them enough to buy all 12 of them a drink. I was going to go get the drinks but they preferred the money."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kids Unscripted: Chapter 18

Talia: (throwing a blanket over Elias) "Look, Elias wants to be a poultry-geist!"
Elias: *laughing*
Ben: "I think you mean a poltergeist."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: (playing with some little plastic people) "...and he had a friend named Google..."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
J: "What kind of dinosaur is this?"
Talia: "A connoisseur-ous"
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Kanga-rooooo, Kanga-rooooo,' 
Mommy, do you like my song? I think it needs a few more words..."
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "If you have met your friend, your friend has met you..."
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "I want to see the blue blobster!"
(She meant lobster.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Kohlee and I just slipped into friendship!"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Can I make a flower-girl dance?"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "I just made a calm-spin-around-dance. It's better than the hyper-spin-around-dance."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Mommy, do rice-krispie treats have vitamins?"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi: 14

Strawberry tart dessert:

...at a nice restaurant that serves everything imaginable. Berries are one thing that are difficult to find (and expensive when found) in Abu Dhabi.
Blueberries were a big hit with Elias.

We had a great time with friends!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace; Outside

When you're touring the outside of a palace from a car because it's a good 110* F outside... you don't get very good pictures... just in case you didn't already know that.
There were buses behind us and swerving around us, but I tried anyways, because it's pretty impressive to see.
Just the fact that at that crazy temperature there was so much green foliage and flowers seemed to make a statement. I'd like to visit again in cooler weather and actually walk through some of the amazing park areas.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Arancini

YouTube is an introvert's multi-cultural training center... It's how I've learned to make things like from-scratch Mexican-style chicken tortilla soup, Italian pignolis, Indian samosas and a good fish curry while living within Abu Dhabi. One of our favorite new recipes is arancini, or, meat-and-vegetable-stuffed rice balls that are then battered and baked or fried. (I baked mine.) Laura Vitale's recipe here is my favorite so far.

Now, if I could just find someone local to teach me how to make camel-milk ice cream... or maybe not.

Do you have any favorite recipes you found online that were winners? I like to try new ones!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Moving from Abu Dhabi to Ruwais

Living in the bustling city of Abu Dhabi with around 200 nationalities surrounding us, the many different versions of English seem to be the default language. With less of an opportunity to learn Arabic and a thriving desire to do so, Ben looked around and spied a place away from the city... out in the western region... near camel farms and the desert version of country life, where most of the students and fellow teachers don't speak much English and found a place where he could probably learn Arabic with more immersion: Al Sila'a.
Nature colors Mix at the Port of Dalma Near Ruwais

We will be living about an hour from there in the community of Ruwais. (pronounced: "Roo-wayse") It is about two hours from Abu Dhabi. In the 1970-80's the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company built compounds in several areas with shopping areas, gyms, grocery stores, houses, parks, schools and hospitals within a 6km block. We are supposed to be placed in a villa inside one of these, which means all of the amenities like gym and beach passes, are free. Ruwais seems to have everything I liked about Abu Dhabi, and not the things I didn't, plus some extras like a free gym and more families with children. We will be able to visit Abu Dhabi once or twice a month, but, as with any move, I will still miss so many of our friends who live here.

Here are a few Facebook photo albums of Ruwais if you're interested in more pictures:
https://www.facebook.com/ruwais.pulse

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.583105298389709.1073741838.578389815527924&type=1

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.358156627611563.116106.358092837617942&type=1

http://ruwais.ae/

Ruwais Pulse 

I hope to learn about it first-hand soon and share my own pictures and experiences.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kids Unscripted; Chapter 17

Talia: (playing with some stuffed animals and making them talk to each other)
Elephant to the Rabbit: "Are you sure there's not an alligator between your toes?"
Rabbit to the Elephant: "Noooo!"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Elias just took some cucumber and then he threw it back up! Um, by that I mean with his hands..."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "I don't eat like a 'muncheroo'!"
Me: "What's a 'muncheroo'?"
Talia: "A kangaroo that eats really fast!"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Is 'clothing' just clothes?"
Me: "Yes..."
Talia: "So if you have a bunch of towels is it called 'towelthing?'"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Me: "Elias, what's in your hand?"
Elias: *holds up a wipe* "poo-poo bye-bye?"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Me: "Goodnight, Talia."
Talia: "I need to give you lots of hugs and kisses so you don't run out of lovin' in the middle of the night."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "If everyone in the world had blueberries, they would probably be happier."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Why are they called 'chipmunks' when they eat nuts instead of chips? Shouldn't they be called 'nutmunks?'"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Talia: "When your tummy hurts, is it because there's a storm in your tummy?"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Mommy, I turn my brain on but it keeps flipping back off!"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: (In a story she was making with her stuffed animals) "They went right, then left, then the other right, then left... and then they were exhausted." 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "If I call Elias 'little E,' would I be 'medium T'?"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi 13

The little green cucumber-like things on top are called "tindora" sometimes but lately I've seen "tindly" in the stores. Some English translations call them "ivy gourds." I found a recipe on YouTube (where they were called "Dhondakai" by the way...) that I think looks interesting enough to try. Who knows what name my family might come up with for them!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kids Unscripted; Chapter 16

Talia: (about random, faint doodles all over her math work) "I had to erase all of that... it was just from my forgotness."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Mama, I'm going to play you a song on the piano called 'God Makes Little Girls in His Creation.'"
Me: "How long is it?"
Talia: "About 20 inches tall."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Me: "Talia, be patient, hold your horses!"
Talia: "I don't have any horses, so I'll hold my ducks!"
Me: "You don't have ducks either..."
Talia: "Yes I do! They're sleeping in my bed!" *fit of crazy giggles...*
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Me: "You can either read, or go to bed"
Talia: "I only have enough energy to play!"
Me: "Then you will have to go play like you're sleeping..."
Ben: "That is my favorite game to play!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Why are nuts that are shaped like a butterfly called 'walnuts' instead of 'butterfly-shaped nuts'?"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Mama, Elias and I are just sitting here being friends."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "I make art because I love people and it makes their eyes happy."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "It doesn't matter how pretty the pencil is if it doesn't write..."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Mommy, you can call me 'lovely girl Talia' if you want..."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia: "Do people put sticks in a stick-grinder to make brown paint?"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Talia: "Some people make bird-chirpy sounds, but Elias BELLOWS!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Talia: "Mommy, why isn't 'Ponka-tonna-phillis' a name?"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi: 10



 The sign said "academia," a Guatemala friend called them "nispero" and I'm still not really sure what these are...


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lighting at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

There are many things to notice in the details of a palace, and I do not have the slightest clue about the basics of decorating or architecture. However, something that caught my eye the most at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi were the light fixtures.
The ones in this passageway were some of the more simple.


Several forms of lamps in an almost feathery or palm frond pattern were scattered throughout the decor of the building:
Some had more intricate bases or metal work:
 
And the sometimes muted and sometimes highly polished gold in every area accented by cut glass or jewels also appeared in the light fixtures.
It was as if the gold picked up the light and reflected it back with a more subtle glow.





Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Seen in Abu Dhabi 9




Asafoetida... yes, I had to look it up. Perhaps some interesting things about this ground up perennial herb resin are that it has a nickname of "devil's dung" and supposedly "reduces the growth of indigenous microflora in the gut, reducing flatulence."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Piroshki

Since almost every nationality in the world can be found in Abu Dhabi, I've learned just as much or more about other cultures as I have the Emirate one. Annnnd, since one of the best parts of any new culture is figuring out how they cook, I was very excited when my friend from Uzbekistan taught me how to make piroshki:

A simple mixture of either yogurt or cream with flour, is the base for the dough. Egg or baking powder can be used for leavening and a dash of salt for flavor... and that's it. Mix it until it isn't sticky, (we didn't even measure, just started with about two cups of yogurt and added flour until it was soft, but easy to handle without sticking to fingers.) If you'd like to see the recipe in Russian, check it out here... This is the one approved by my friend, anyhow. Some English ones in .pdf can be found here.

For the filling, anything can be used, but since meat can be very expensive, one traditional filling is pumpkin. We chopped onion very fine and cooked it in butter until transparent and then added grated pumpkin. To this mixture we added sugar to taste and let it cook down until very soft. Apple is another popular filling that I might have to try later. I had never tried savory onion and pumpkin also mixed with sugar, but it was a really nice flavor.

Stuffing the pumpkin inside of the circles of dough, pinching the seams closed and then frying them reminded me of making pupusas in Guatemala...

They were delicious!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cloud Seeding: Scientific Rainmakers in the Desert

If you've never heard of cloud seeding, it's basically shooting frozen air or chemicals into the atmosphere to enhance the weather conditions, like rain. This is practiced in Abu Dhabi leading to about a week of rainy days. I'm not so sure of the long-term effects from something like this, but since I can't control that, we just enjoyed having the rain while it lasted!
Look, there's actually water on the side of the road! This picture taken entering Dubai with Ibn Battuta Mall visible in the background.



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Visit to Ghayathi in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi

Ghayathi is about a 2.5 hour drive from Abu Dhabi, and further from the city in a more country, desert setting.
 We saw a tent outside of a big fancy home with a satellite on one side and water/sink hooked up on the other.
 Like all of Abu Dhabi, pictures of the leaders abound.

 There was quite a bit of structured green places in Ghayathi.

We've heard there are more camel and horse stables around here also... and Talia is really interested in finding those!