Monday, December 30, 2013

2013

I had the opportunity to visit beautiful Georgia in January, what an amazing country!

My dear Dad passed away in March. I miss you so much Daddy but you will always be in our hearts <3 p="">

We spent two weeks in Greece, in this amazing house

New York city in May with my friend M
Any reflections of 2013? Well, a few of course. It was an overwhelming year in many ways. My Dad passed away in March, it all happened very sudden and came as a shock to all of us. But how can you prepare for such a thing anyway? During this time I also learned the value of friendship and who I could trust, and also who I could not trust. I bit of a brutal and bitter awakening. But all in all good, now I know!
I was offered a new job and I remember one of the last conversations I had with Dad, he was so proud and excited for me. I truly enjoy the new job, I have learned a lot, still learning, I have great colleagues and the working environment is great.
In May, I had the opportunity to fly off to New York and meet up with my friend M! We spent the days in various shopping districts and the nights in different restaurants. The only bad thing that week was the weather!
I and the kids flew to Greece for our summer holiday, spending lazy days at the island of Poros and rented a beautiful house outside of Marathonas together with friends T and S with families. It was the perfect vacation, great company, food, relaxing days by the pool, swimming in the ocean, day time trips to Nea Makri and Marathonas and rounded off with two days in Athens.
The fall has been busy with work and school. Elias is doing his last year in Primary. My little first born will be starting Middle Year Program next year!! And my baby Joli started Grade 1 and she just loves it.
We celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with our near and dear ones and again it feel so truly blessed with our friends, our community and our life here.
I wish you all a very blessed and healthy 2014.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Family time- water parks and cup cakes

We had promised the children a visit to Wild Wadi water park a long time ago. But back then it was too hot so we decided to wait until later, which happened to be today. Wild Wadi is located next to Jumeirah Beach Hotel and in front of Burj Al Arab. The park offers 30 rides and attractions for all the family, including the "free fall" Jumeirah Sceirah, various water slides and is one of the main tourist attractions (something we noticed today...). Wild Wadi is themed around the tale of Juha, a known character from the Arabian folklore. I have to admit that it was a bit cold in the water and we had to stand in the sun and warm up between rides. The kids had a great time though, we tried all the rides, had lunch, went on more rides and finally gave up around 3, when the amount of people had increased significantly and hubby looked a bit panicked. The last time we visited Wild Wadi was in 2008 when we had just arrived in Dubai. Elias was 5, he barely passed the limit of 110 cm which is the requirement for being allowed on all rides. Joli was in her stroller, just a year and a half.
When you arrive, you recieve a plastic watch to carry around your arm wrist and to allow you in and out of the park. You can also add money for food and drinks to avoid the hazzle of carrying around money or running back and forth to the locker room whenever cash is required. The park has changing rooms and lockers to keep personal belongings, towels etc. They also rent out towels for the day and there are several sun beds spread all over the park whenever you need a rest between the rides.
As we got home, Joli and I started our baking project. Santa brought her a baking book for Christmas and she was very eager to try out a recipe. We decided to make chocolate cup cakes and as you can see, they did not quite look the same as in the book.... Joli took more interest in doing the dishes and I finished off the cup cakes and my decorating skills are not quite up to scratch....




My little chef

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in the desert

We have had a wonderful Christmas, lots of good food, drinks, great company and gifts. It started off on Sunday evening when we enjoyed glogg together with our Faroese friends and ended with the lovely Christmas brunch at the Poloclub yesterday. Our Swedish "julbord" (Christmas buffet) was delicious and then it continued with a grand turkey dinner on Christmas eve at friend T's house. The kids played Christmas carols and we all sang together. Husband had to leave early as he had a flight to Phuket the next day. Yesterday we went to the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club for a traditional brunch. The food was fantastic, lots of seafood (oysters, mussels, prawns) sushi, dim sum, salads, cheese, turkey, steak, a tortilla station, an Indian station, pasta, fried salmon, you name it. We sat overlooking the gorgeous polo villas and the polo field. The kids enjoyed the bouncy castle (although they are getting a bit too big for that now) and played football on the polo field. And suddenly Santa arrived in a horse sleigh with gifts.I was lucky enough to win a gift hamper at the lucky draw! The hamper was quite big, containing a perfume, a ginger bread house, chocolates, macarones, Arabic sweets, a dinner voucher for two at one of their restaurants and a confetti canon (excellent for new years' party). I rarely win anything, last time I won something was at Liseberg in 2005 (a massive bag of crisps, lucky me).
I'm back in the office for one day, it's Thursday. The weekend spirit is not quite here after three days off but still looking forward to it. We are eating turkey left overs and I made another Jansson's temptation yesterday. I love Jansson's temptation! It is a potato dish with onion and anchovies baked in the oven with cream and topped with breadcrumbs. It is a very traditional dish and I think it has its special place on all form of buffets in Sweden; Christmas, Easter, Midsummer....
This Christmas has been far the best in a long time. Last year husband was in the middle of his upgrade and it was very stressful in many ways. Lots of expectations and disappointments, although all went well in the end but an upgrade is stressful time, for everyone involved. This Christmas we are more relaxed. I hope you have all enjoyed a lovely Christmas holiday with near and dear ones!

What would I do without these two?!

I won a gift hamper

Joli focusing on her soda
 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas- God jul!

I have finally reached some kind of Christmas mood. The weekend was spent in Mirdif City Centre and Mall of the Emirates, frantically looking for gifts, especially for sweet Joli. Her biggest wish is a new computer so she can play Minecraft with the boys. Well, that will have to wait for a few more years. She is only 6. I found some new clothes, some underwear with My Little Pony, a book. The pile under our small tree is getting bigger. Funnily enough, as I swore last year that we should limit the amount of gifts. Didn't work this year either.
Last night we were hosting a small Swedish Christmas dinner with the classic "julbord". I took the day off and dedicated the entire day to making Jansson's Temptation, meatballs and beet root salad. It was lovely to spend the day in the kitchen, no stress, Christmas music on loud and kids running in and out with their friend. In the evening, my friend A came by with her boys and we enjoyed our Christmas dinner and rounded off outside by the fire.
Later today, we are celebrating with our friend T (as usual) with wonderful deep fried turkey, Southern style.
I wis you all a Merry Christmas! Från oss alla till er alla en riktigt god jul!
The tree, still going strong. We bought it in Singapore, the Christmas before Joli was born

Hubby's birhtday gift from my Mum, an orchid

The tree from another angle...

The beautiful orchid

 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy 39 years!

My birthday is in April, but I do have another "birthday" that my parents always have celebrated. It is the 19th of December, the day I arrived in Sweden from Korea (to the old airport of Torslanda, a cold December day in 1974). When I was younger, I used to get a small gift to mark this important day in our lives but these days, they usually send me a sweet text message.
It is Thursday today, the last weekend before Christmas and it will be a busy one. When I looked at the advent candle light holder last night, I realized we completely forgot to light the third candle! That we will have to do tonight.
Elias is off to a birthday party and Joli has her last swimming lesson tomorrow. And today is the last day of school, what a relief for the kids!
Hubby's garden is growing like crazy. We have string beans, chili fruits and lots of tomatoes. Hubby has become quite famous with his chili and mango chutney so he promised the neighbours he'll prepare a few bottles for Christmas.
As I was driving to work this morning, they played Christmas songs on the radio and for the first time, I felt a bit of Christmas spirit, which otherwise is difficult. All the malls are beautifully decorated (however slightly less than other years) but the sun is shining and it's 25 degrees outside.
Happy weekend all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Certificate of excellence

All the hard work paid off. Elias confessed to me that he was beyond nervous, his legs were shaking but he did good. The business panel asked him a few questions and he even managed to answer them. Afterwards they were rewarded with this certificate of excellence and they had their photo taken. Well done Elias! I am so proud of you!
I think this is exactly what Elias needed, a gentle push in the right direction, some encouragement for his  hard work. School is hard, sometimes he is struggling and I try to convince him that you can only do your best. His teacher has also giving him hints that he needs to put more focus and effort into his work, go that extra mile instead of finishing off as soon as possible so he can play football with the boys (well, he is only 10 years old, so who can blame him?).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Business projects- the LED.Wallet

Elias has just finished his summative assessment for this term. The assignment was to develop a product or a service and then write a business plan with your supply chain, funding, budget etc. and present it to the class. Everyone had to dress up in business attire, record a three minute long video sequence where they were presenting their proposal and submit that to the school drop box. Yesterday, the whole class was watching everyone's proposal and then voted for two students to go to the final. Elias and his friend K got selected and this morning, dressed in business suit (a pair of chinos, Hubby's tie and my blazer), they were presenting their products in front of the school principal and the PYP coordinator (and the entire Grade 5). Needless to say, my dear son was more than nervous and had a complete melt down yesterday before he went to bed. Parents were invited to the event but I was not even allowed to come near the school.
Elias had decided to develop an LED.Wallet which is a wallet with a small LED- light, the perfect solution if you are somewhere in the dark and cannot find your credit card or money. As soon as you open your wallet, the small LED- light goes off, similar to Christmas or birthday cards that sing a song as soon as you open them.
Sometimes I think the school projects are quite silly and not very well connected with either the kids age or ability, but this time I must admit they did a good job . The children were offered a chance to develop something themselves and present their ideas in front of an audience with arguments and facts to support their product. I am quite curious to find out how it went, will keep you all posted!

A slightly more relaxed Elias before recording his video
 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy birthday to Dear Husband!

Dear Husband celebrated his 50th birthday a few days ago.We had a quiet family dinner the same day and a bigger party with friends yesterday.
The weather is wonderful so we set up the tables in the garden and Tisa and Hubby prepared a grand BBQ- buffet with ribs, chicken, boerewors (South African sausages), potato gratin, tzatziki, various dips, oven roasted pita bread and veggies. I know I've said this before but words can't described how truly blessed we are, having these amazing people around us, sharing this special day! It turned out to a wonderful evening!
Hubby is quite well-known in the neighbourhood for his "tyre"exercise. Instead of going to the gym, which would be the more "normal" thing to do, he invented his own exercise; secure a rope around a normal car tyre, tie the rope around the waist so the tyre is dragged behind as you walk and then hit the desert! Very innovative and according to hubby, efficient! It was therefore quite easy when deciding on what kind of cake to order, a tyre shaped cake! I contacted our cake expert in the compound, the same lady who made Joli's fantastic Ariel cake and she again she delivered the most amazing (and delicious) cake!
Today will be a very quiet day as we are recovering from yesterday's party. I have a few meetings tomorrow I need to prepare for.
The birthday cake, in the shape of a tyre

Joli's amazing Ariel cake

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Maison Mathis Opening Party @ Arabian Ranches

On Monday evening, I and friend T were invited to the opening party of the Belgian restaurant Maison Mathis in Arabian Ranches. As we arrived, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly and guided to a nice table outside on the terrace, overlooking the golf course.
I have only been to the Ranches Restaurant and Bar before so this is a very nice addition to the golf club and especially living in Al Waha/Layan community, it is also very convenient location wise.
Gorgeous salmon bruschetta

The cake counter

The cheese station

Maison Mathis also has their own bakery


Cheese platter

Cold cuts

Me and friend T

Maison Mathis has a beautiful terrace overlooking the golf course


Plenty of space and a great ambience

Who could resist these?!

 
During the evening, lovely waiters and waitresses passed by with trays stuffed with salmon bruschetta, crab mousse, delicious pastries, fried fish sticks with tartar sauce, foie gras canapé to mention a few. Close to the bakery counter, two food stations were set up, one serving assorted cheese and the other various cold cuts such as Parma ham and salami. Needless to say, I found myself going back and forth, re-filling my plate with these delicacies!
All I can say is that everything was very delicious, the restaurant had a nice ambience so Maison Mathis is a place I will definitely visit again soon!
 
 
 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nordic Crown Bakery

I amongst a few other Dubai bloggers have been invited by Pinay Flying High to recommend a restaurant that makes us feel like home! There are no Swedish restaurants in Dubai, except for IKEA but I found this little gem in the Dubai Marina, Nordic Crown Bakery. NBC opened up almost a year ago in the Marina area, but I had not had a chance to pay them a visit until just recently. The cafe is located in Gulf National Building, by the Waterfront, Marina Walk (opposite of Choitrams). This is at the very "end" of the Marina towards Jebel Ali.
We took the stairs down to the wonderful Marina Walk and a small flag with "Lindvalls kaffe" pointed us in the right direction. The cafe has tables both inside and outside, but this lovely December day, we opted for a table outside. The selection of various cookies and cakes is impressive, all reminding me of home! A very sweet waiter greeted us and we decided to share a cinnamon bun and since it's the second of Advent tomorrow, I bought some saffron buns to take home for tomorrow's breakfast. What struck me was that it even smelled like the good old, Swedish cafes back home! They also served delicious shrimp sandwiches and meatball sandwiches. These type of sandwiches are almost a standard item on any Swedish cafe menu (at least a cafe with some form of dignity). It is a thin slice of bread, topped with either shrimps, egg and mayonnaise or sliced meatballs, cucumber and beet root salad. Needless to say, after you finish it, there is not much room left for cake... It is more like a proper lunch than "just" a sandwich!
Shrimp sandwich and meatball sandwich next to each other
The traditional meatball sandwich with beet root salad on top

Carrot cake

Strawberry cake

A "semla"

Princess cake


Even the interior reminded me of Sweden and Swedish cafes


So, if you are looking for a true, Swedish coffee- break experience, Nordic Crown Bakery is the place to go! Check out their Facebook page here or call them on + 971 4 453 11 23
 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Assignment deadline

My assignment is due in two days. Needless to say, I'm busy. I get flash backs from university were I would stay up all night, drinking lots of coffee and swear at myself for leaving it until last minute. This time I don't have much of a choice, work takes up most of my day (though I try to some research in between my work tasks as the assignment is somehow work related) and family takes up the evening. Submission date is tomorrow, I still have a few more questions to finalise and worrying enough, my answers change every
time I look at them... Not good.
See you all soon, post submission date!

Monday, December 2, 2013

First of Advent outing

We enjoyed a day off yesterday to celebrate the 42nd birthday of the UAE. I and friend T decided to go to Dubai Mall for lunch. I'm not a big fan of the Dubai Mall as I find it way too big but they do have some really nice lunch places, just by the dancing fountains and winter time it's nice to sit outside watching the fountains "dance" and enjoy the Downtown Burj Khalifa view.
After a quick stop at H&M, we decided to go to "Carluccio's" for lunch. I have previously written about Carluccio's and the place did not disappoint this time either. We both ordered the creamy seafood risotto it was indeed very creamy, with plenty of seafood and hints of garlic. Even though the portion looks small, I could not finish it but I was very happy with my choice and Carluccio's once again proved their quality when it comes to good food!  It is a pity you can't enjoy a nice glass of wine with your meal though.
Restaurants that are located inside hotels and/or hotel premises are allowed to serve alcohol but restaurants and cafes in the malls or out on the streets do not have permission to do so.
 
Creamy seafood risotto

It is getting closer to hubby's big day! On the 11th of December, dear hubby turns 50 and of course that needs to be celebrated. We are just trying to figure out the menu but I'm thinking a BBQ buffet with steaks, ribs, boerewors (a South African sausage) and some baked potatoes, salads etc. Hubby is not so thrilled over the fact that he is half a century old....
Yesterday, we also lit the first Advent candle and Joli opened her first little bag in her gift calendar. It turned out to be a little chocolate teddy bear. I'm not sure what is "wrong" with my daughter but she is not a big fan of sweet candy or chocolates (she loves salty stuff though, just like her Mum...). So the chocolate teddy accidentally went into my lunch bag and will be perfect company for my afternoon coffee break!
 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving

Moving to Dubai has meant that we have adopted lots of new traditions thanks to our international neighbourhood. We celebrated Halloween in October and now it's time for Thanksgiving, one of the biggest holidays in the United States.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal consist of the turkey of course and various side dishes, such as green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and sweet potatoes. Yesterday we had all of the above except for a green bean casserole. It was replaced by lots of steamed vegetables insteaed. For desert, we enjoyed ice cream and pecan pie!
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated mainly in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. The holiday has its roots in religious and cultural traditions.
In Sweden, we had a similar "harvest feast" a long time ago. It usually took place in August or September after the big harvest. However, I don't think people are celebrating anymore.
Friend T hosted this year's Thanksgiving.
During our first year in the compound, everyone got together and we set up lots of tables on the street and "food stations" with turkeys and side dishes. It was a great feast and nice initiative. The following years however, people have found their own Thanksgiving tradition and celebrate with their closest friends and family.

Beautifully set table



Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and turkey

Friend T's sweet potatoes with marsh mallows on top!

The delicious turkey

Turkey and Waldorf salad
Needless to say, we were rolling back home after a wonderful evening with friends. After dinner, we enjoyed a nice glass of wine outside. The temperature has definitely cooled down and it is almost a bit chilly (if one dares to say that) but still very pleasant.
Due to the upcoming UAE National Day, I have a day off on Sunday. We have not made any plans for the rest of the weekend. Hubby is coming back from Mauritius tomorrow and Joli has her first sleep over at a friends' house. Very exciting!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dubai wins Expo 2020

Yesterday was a big moment for Dubai it was announced that the city will host the Expo 2020. Dubai was competing against Sao Paolo, Brazil, Yekaterinburg, Russia and Izmir, Turkey. I have to admit that I have not followed this in my detail until yesterday, when it all of a sudden became very exciting and we were all anxiously waiting for the winner to be announced from Paris.
People started celebrating and Burj Khalifa exploded in a magnificent firework show.


Photo from Gulfnews
Not too long after, it was decided that all educational institutions are to be closed today, Thursday to celebrate the victory. Confused emails and messages were sent back and forth between the parents, are we supposed to send the kids to school or not? Later that evening, our school (among all the other schools) confirmed that they were closed today.
Since the kids already got Sunday and Monday off due to the national day celebrations, they were supposed to perform various Arabic songs and celebrate the UAE national day today, that will now be postponed until Tuesday when school resumes.

Well, this is Dubai. All of a sudden there is a public holiday announced to celebrate an important event. It is unpredictable but also fun, anything can happened. Sometimes it's annoying, most of the times it's quite fun. I am just hoping that they will give the private sector one more day off as well!

When announcing public holidays, they divide it into a public and a private sector. The public sector is governmental institutions, schools etc. and the private sector is regular companies. The public sector always gets a few more days off than the private. I guess it is due to the fact that most holidays here are religious and the governmental sector has a larger percentage of Emiratis rather than the private sector. The announcement is made in the newspaper (as it is most of the time depending on the moon sightings) and the public sector is announced a few days before the private sector. This arrangement makes is quite difficult to plan ahead, as you don't have a fixed date and you are not sure how many days will be given.

I am excited though to see what these coming seven years will bring in terms of preparations. Congratulations Dubai!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fiesta for a cause

Yesterday, I and Mitzie Mee met up at Rosso Amore restaurant at Downtown Burj Khalifa to enjoy some truly delicious Filipino food. As I have written before, PinayFlyingHigh organized a wonderful brunch to raise money for the Haiyan/Yolanda typhoon victims in the Philippines. Since I brought princess Joli along, there was not much time for photos, however, you can read more on Mitzie Mee's blog. I also met two other Dubai based bloggers, Undefined Declarations and Lil from What I just Love and again I realized how amazing the blog world is. We started chatting immediately and the idea of organising a blog mingle event for Dubai based bloggers soon materialised. Wouldn't it be fantastic to gather all these amazing bloggers in one place, exchange tips, ideas and share some wonderful food from our home countries? With the upcoming Christmas madness and other stuff, we have aimed for January next year.
It was really amazing to see how people gather for a good cause like this. Outside there were several boxes where you could donate clothes and other items. And of course we had the pleasure of meeting the fantastic person behind this event, Naemi!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gift calendars for the kids

My usual "shall I make a gift calendar or not" battle has already started and as I'm flicking through magazines, I feel the inspiration coming back to me again (and with that, soon will the despair and panic...) I picked up these really cute little paper bags from IKEA last week. They have three different patterns and there are 24 of them and with number stickers to be attached on each bag. Perfect. At least I don't have to wrap 48 gifts. I made a gift calendar for Elias in Singapore and I swear, after wrapping ten little gifts, it wasn't that fun anymore and all my Christmassy feelings went out the window. I also remember buying him a big pack of toy cars, 16 of them.... it was a very clever move but after the fifth car, he was kind of over them.
This year, thanks to friends advice, I will go for small things like erasers, pens, hair clips, and there will be some joint gifts (DVD, visit to the movies and one to the water park Wild Wadi). These "family oriented activities will be during weekends, preferably if hubby is off so we can all go together. There will be a few pieces of chocolates too, maybe some Christmas ornaments.
My Mum made a gift calendar for me but after 35 years, it is not in top condition and tends to fall over if you hang anything bigger than a match box. So we have put some fake gift boxes there, just so it can hang on the wall and look pretty!

Cute little paper bags from IKEA
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's raining in Dubai and school is closed due to bad weather....

The very first rain in a long time always comes like shock, pretty much like the first snow in Sweden.
It was quite windy this morning and turned into thunder and lightning and heavy rain, for about 30 minutes. Anyone who has experienced a tropical thunderstorm in South East Asia would just laugh if they saw this. (I still miss those amazing thunder storms in Singapore!). However, after some heavy rain, the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority) decided to close down the kids' school due to the "storm" (well, they have not seen a proper storm).Email are sent out to parents and there was a strange mix of panic and excitement at the school (panic from parents who have to leave work in order to collect their children and excitement amongst the students who get to go home, what a start to the weekend).
Rumour has it that another big storm is coming up but so far, it is still quiet. It has even stopped raining.
As usual, all the roads are flooded and the entrance up to Headquarters looks more like a small lake. I'm glad I decided to take our big car today, or else I would have been stuck in muddy water, that's for sure!
Tonight we are off to friend A for some wine and dinner (seafood salad for us and pizza for the kids). I'm quite happy to stay in the compound tonight, if the rain continues, it will be chaotic on the roads and one should just avoid it.
Happy Thursday!!!

Rain, rain