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.)