Sunday, August 25, 2013

A very relaxing weekend

Last week at work was very hectic and I also managed to complete two work out sessions so when Thursday arrived, I was knackered. I had the girls over for some wine on Thursday evening and on Friday we didn't do much, other than the weekly grocery run. Friend T and S went up to Umm Al Qwein Marine Club but I had to decline as I was just too tired. We spent the afternoon reading and relaxing and I prepared a nice piri piri chicken dish for dinner.
On Saturday morning, I and friend A got together for a lovely breakfast. Her sons brought home baked bread and scones and I think Elias felt the preassure so he put the alarm clock on 6 and went up and prepared creamy and delicious scrambled eggs! I was quite surprised as I never thought he was interested in cooking. Perhaps I should give him some more time in the kitchen?
The rest of the day was spent by the pool side in our compound and in the afternoon, friends from Luxembourg joined us for a BBQ. They were here for a two week vacation. It was three years since we first met (the husband in the family is a friend and colleague of my friend P) over dinner at their hotel. It was a very nice evening and the kids got on really well, despite the fact that they didn't really understand each other! The boys were clever though and communicated via google translate!! Anything works!
We grilled beef and served with the classic Hasselbacks potatoes, garlic butter and a salsa on the side.
Various cold cuts

Home made scones

Luxury breakfast!

Hasselbacks potatoes

Salsa romanesca and garlic butter

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer is coming to an end

Apparently, summer is coming to an end. However, the thermometer showed 47 degrees yesterday so I suspect it will last for at least another month. Maybe it is compensating for its late start?
Last night I was invited over to my friend and neighbor A. We enjoyed chilled rose wine and a salad while the kids feasted upon take away pizza. For dessert, A's son had made the most delicious chocolate cake ever, decorated with whipped cream, blue berries and strawberries. It was divine! We had a lovely evening, chatting away about the summer and what the new school year might bring etc etc.
I just realized that the school holiday is coming to its end and in a week and a half's time, kids are back to school. Joli is excited to start Grade 1, Elias semi- excited to start Grade 5...  And I am wondering there this summer went? It has all gone too fast.
Emirates is opening up a new destination from 4th of September, Stockholm! Needless to say, husband and I are very excited and I hope that he will get at least one trip to Sweden within the next month or so and I will try to tag along. Our supply of Swedish cheese is almost gone and needs a refill. And I'm craving for falu- sausage!
I have almost recovered from my Tabata class and just signed up for summer circuits today! I like circuits as it gives some variation with various exercises. If I can stick to two gym sessions per week, I'm quite happy.
Gorgeous chocolate cake!!! 
 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tabata

Two late nights in a row takes its toll and I was pretty tired on Saturday. The kids had some friends over the whole day so I was relaxing in my bedroom, reading a book. I have to say that the little desk adds perfectly to the bedroom and it makes me happy just looking at it.
In the afternoon, I took all the kids to the pool and even managed to nod off for a while. The evening was quiet, more reading and going to bed early to get ready for work.
I and friend S attended the Tabata class at the gym last night. She and friend T went last week and said it was fantastic. I was looking for an alternative to my spinning, so this will be perfect. The only downside is the timing, 6.30 which is rather late. However, as long as the kids have summer holiday and no homework in the afternoons, I will make an exception and do a late night class. It also means I can stay an hour longer at the office, which is more than necessary as I am drowning with work. Everyone has been on vacation and of course, when nobody is there, all work piles up!
Tabata training is something new to me and it is high- intensity interval training (HIIT), also called High- Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIE) or sprint interval training (SIT). It is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less- intense recovery periods. Usual HIIT sessions vary from 4- 30 minutes. These short, intense periods workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition. Well, that is what Wikipeda tells you about Tabata. The exercises come in pairs (i.e. push ups and sit ups or squats and burpees) where you perform one exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then do the second one for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and go back to the first one so all in all you do four repetitions of each exercise in 4 minutes. The rest between each set is slightly longer but it is intense and you barely have time to catch your breath until it is time for the next set. It was amazing, exhausting and tough but you feel alive and I felt great afterwards. Suspect I will feel less great today, my legs are already a bit sore. This is a class that suits me perfectly so I will definitely go back. The entire class lasted for 45 minutes, which was just about what I could manage!
So if you are looking for something different but very intense, I can definitely recommend Tabata!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Uniform shopping and West 14th

The first five- day work week after Ramadan and I have to admit I'm pretty exhausted. It has been hectic so I was truly looking forward to the upcoming weekend!
On Thursday, hubby took the kids uniform shopping. The uniform shop was previously located near the kid's school but it turned out they had moved to Motor City, which is actually even more convenient for us. Hubby dropped off Joli at my work and she spent the afternoon in the office. It was very quiet on Thursday, with senior management doing meetings in Sweden and many other colleagues still on vacation. Joli bonded quickly with my colleague R's son and they spent the afternoon playing on their ipads, chatting about various games.
Yesterday, I and hubby went to the restaurant West 14th on the Palm. This place was recommended by some of hubby's crew members and it was a fantastic place.  It is located by the Oceana apartments, with a stunning view over Dubai Marina, the ocean and with a gorgeous pool and a lazy river surrounding the restaurant. We started off with some drinks and hubby decided to go for a starter; Sticky Calamari, served with a spicy sweet chili sauce. For main course, we opted for the drunken ribs; beef ribs marinated in Jack Daniel's. It was divine, the meat melted in my mouth and it was served together with glaced green beans and sweet potato chips. After our dinner, we decided to have a drink outside before heading home. It was a very humid evening and slightly warm to sit outside but the view was stunning and we had a nice chat with some of the bartenders.
Today, Joli has some friends over and the plans are taking them to the pool at some stage and that's it. It will be a very quiet day before another work week starts off tomorrow.
The other day I was browsing through Dubizzle, the Dubai version of "Blocket" and found a cute little desk. It has a few wear and tear marks but nothing that can't be fixed so I bought in on the spot and even managed to fit in the back of my Toyota Yaris (which is a really small car). It is now placed in the master bed room and provides me with a quiet corner when the office space is occupied.
Walking towards West 14th on the Palm
You can never go wrong with a Cosmopolitan
Drunken ribs with sweet potatoes and green beans
Sticky calamari
Dubai Marina night view (mobile photo, hence the bad quality)
My new desk!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Re- decorating and sushi night out

Fall is the perfect time for changes. My entire body is itching for some kind of change upstairs. Again, I have vague plans for the kids room but not quite sure what I want to do and husband is holding me back (rightly so) since the kids rarely sleep in their room and they tend to do their homework either in the living room or the office. We have four bed rooms upstairs and one is occupied by Teresa (as her maids room downstairs is our storage room and I can't even imagine where to put all those things if Teresa is to move downstairs). So far, the kids are sharing room and it is fine, I am more wondering about the design, whether to get a bunk bed or a trundle bed just to save space. As we rarely have guests, we are using the kids room as guest room (it has an en suite bathroom too, so very convenient) and the kids sleep on an air mattress. The thought of today is now to turn the office into Elias room and he would have to share desk space with his Dad. Hubby sometimes needs to study, especially when he has his training courses and simulator sessions but that would be mostly during the day, when Elias is at school anyway. We would only need to put in a new bed in the office and some new shelves. Well, food for thought. That will keep my mind busy for some time, until I decide to leave it as it is.
I also looking for a dresser/drawer for the bedroom where I can put my jewellery boxes, perfumes and also use as a work space when the kids are taking over the office. I don't use my lap top very often while at home, it is enough to sit in front of a screen at work, but sometimes I edit photos, blog or do other stuff that requires a desk and a proper lap top instead of an ipad (and I am not a huge fan of my ipdad, I must admit. I think Joli uses it more frequently than I do).
This week is quiet as all the top managers are attending a meeting in Stockholm (my company is Swedish so their annual management meeting is always held there). I am trying to catch up on stuff since I got back from vacation. Last night, I and the girls headed off to Toshi's for a sushi buffet. I love their sushi buffet and I am a regular there since they started their sushi nights. Toshi's is located in the excellent Grand Millennium Hotel at Al Barsha. They also host the Belgian Beer Café, which is a popular bar/hang out with great food and an impressive beer list (of course). We were not disappointed this time either, gorgeous sushi displayed along with Asian salads, kimchi and sashimi and in a different section, teppanyaki, tempura and dim sum. We rounded off with some nice desserts before heading back home as it was getting late (and the restaurant staff had basically closed down everything).
Today I dropped off Joli at a friends' house as they are off to Kidzania. I have tons to do at work so will probably stay late.
And of course I forgot to take pics of our sushi buffet so here is another photo from Greece...!
The beach promenade in Nea Makri
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Movie time with the kids

It is truly luxurious with one extra day off and we are trying to make the most of it. I was still in my pyjamas until lunch time and the kids were watching TV. Hubby had a flight to Lagos so he was running around, collecting all his stuff before the car picked him up for work.
The weather is hot and humid outside so the kids declined my invitation the community pool. Instead we were off to the movies to see "The Despicable me 2". We rarely go to the movies, I don't know why but mostly because Joli and Elias have completely different taste in movies (and the age limit makes it tricky to go all of us). However, we managed to decide on one movie and it was ok. Quite funny here and there but nothing I would see again. We had a great time though, lots of popcorn and soda (as is required when one goes to the movies) and then we managed to do all the school shoe shopping. They need black shoes and white socks to go with their uniform and white PE shoes. Elias hates the more traditional school shoes so we have compromised on black sneakers. So far nobody has mentioned anything at school.
Yesterday was the last day before the new working week begins. No Ramadan hours (not that it matters, I stayed til late all of last week anyway) but now we can eat and drink in public. I took Joli to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel for some pool- and beach time. The weather was a bit cloudy but still very hot.  Luckily, the staff hand out free ice- lollies to everyone and it is perfect in this hot weather! I still feel a bit guilty if we are spending all the weekend indoors, it must be a Scandinavian thing (even if it is actually dangerous to spend too much time outside because of the heat).
We had very quiet evenings on Friday. I watched "The Intouchables" on Netflix ("En ovantad vanskap" in Swedish) and I loved it. Joli made a fruitsalad after dinner which we all enjoyed. Last night I went through some old favorites on Netflix. Netflix is a gold mine when it comes to old movies and series. There is an endless variety and you can all watch it at your own pace!


View over the Meat Co at Madinat Jumeirah

Joli made her own fruitsalad

Yesterday's pool view
 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eid Mubarak

The anticipation and excitement is high. Will the Moon Sighting Committee spot the new moon tonight and declare tomorrow as the beginning of Shawwal and the Eid celebrations? Apparently they are to meet up tonight at 7 pm. We are all crossing fingers and toes that tomorrow is a Public Holiday.
Update! The moon crescent was spotted last night and Eid started! That was a very welcomed announcement which meant that today is a Public Holiday and also, everything is back to normal with cafes and restaurants open during daytime.
We went to Mirdif City Centre, a large mall, to do our weekly grocery run but also enjoy a coffee and lunch. The day off was well needed, I slept in and have been reading and relaxing all day. Tonight we are having some friends over for a BBQ and tomorrow I promised to take Joli to the movies!
Eid Mubarak everyone!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Strange weather in the UAE

The weather has been unusually "cold" for the season, or "cold" is perhaps the wrong word. "Less hot" is more suitable. Normally we have temperatures between 45-50 during the summer months but this year it has been just above 40 (except for the first week of Ramadan, when the temps hit almost 50). Another unsual thing is the cloudy weather and this morning, there were actually a few rain drops on my wind shield as I drove to work. Highly unusual! It makes the day rather gloomy and it is quite windy. And hot (not unbareably hot, but still hot). Strange.
We have now reached the last week of Ramadan and the moon sighting committee are gathering on Wednesday to determine whether the first day of Shawwal will begin on Thursday or Friday. That would mean that Eid will fall on those first days. It has been announced that the private sector will be given the two first days of Shawwal off so we are all crossing our fingers and toes that Eid will fall on Thursday, which will at least give us one extra day off. It is always announced last minute (due to the whole moon- spotting thing) hence nobody can really make any plans for the long weekend. I don't mind staying at home though, or celebrating (as we normally do) but having a nice lunch or coffee somewhere in a mall as everything has been closed for the past month. It is definitely a psychological thing, when you can't eat or drink in public (and everything is closed) all you can think of is eating and drinking in public. But I do look forward to when all the cafes and restaurants open up again.
We had a very quiet weekend. I managed to finally move up from level 65 in Candy Crush (where I have been stuck for the past month or so), I read some new books and took late afternoon naps. Which was very pleasant. And well needed. And we also finished season 3 of "Game of Thrones".
To get the ultimate start of this week, I also managed to drag myself to a spinning class. It felt divine afterwards. I have missed spinning, I realized. So will definitely try to attend more classes, on a more frequent basis as my vacation has resulted in an expanded waistline.

Who can resist a gyro? Stuffed pita bread with salad, fries, tzatziki and meat! The perfect snack but not very figure- friendly!

 

Friday, August 2, 2013

First week completed

It is Thursday! Good old casual Thursday, when you can put your jeans on instead of a suit. And when we order something yummy for lunch instead of bringing our lunch boxes. Thursday, the day of expectations, joy and anticipation. We have some friends coming over for a BBQ tomorrow night. It is Joli's classmate's family. The have just finalized their rental agreement in the neighboring compound and will be moving in there shortly. Joli is very happy about this.
I had a night out with the office girls last night. We went to Trader Vic's again. My favourite place with awesome drinks and excellent nibbles. And maybe we will go to the beach tomorrow, if it is not too hot.
Spinning class on Wednesday turned out to be a great hit. I haven't done spinning in almost a year now so it was quite nice to get back into the familiar gym premises, the same instructor (she is fantastic) and some great music. Spinning always makes me exhausted in a re-energizing way, if that even makes sense... I felt great after! As I got home, Joli wanted to go swimming, so we took a quick stroll to the pool and enjoyed a swim just before sunset. We could hear the Iftar- prayers from our little community mosque. Elias had a friend over again for a sleep over and I enjoyed season three of "Game of Thrones". A very good evening indeed!