Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

This week started off with two days of Module 2 of my Diploma course. It is quite nice with a break from a regular work day so I had been looking forward to connect with my fellow course mates again, not to mention the nibbles and the buffet lunch! This Module only lasted for two days and ended with an assignment. We have one month to complete the assignment though.
Hubby and I went to parent teacher conferences for both kids and all in all, it was good. Elias' teacher said he wasn't motivated enough and wanted to finish things as fast as possible so he could go outside and play. Well, he is a 10 year old boy, what does he expect? Otherwise he had made progress with his reading and he is doing good in both French and Arabic. Joli is also doing well, her reading is improving and she is very good at maths. So I guess we will have to be satisfied with that and continue to encourage them with their school work.
Yesterday, I and friend T and Mitziemee went to the Belgian Beer Café at Madinat Jumeirah. We enjoyed a few beers and an excellent fish gratin; salmon, mussels all covered in a creamy white sauce and topped with mashed potatoes. It was so delicious but quite filling with all that mashed potatoes, so neither of us could finish the large portions.
Today it's Halloween and the kids have for the first time carved a pumpkin which will sit on the porch later today when the trick or treat event stars. We have bought tons of candy as it gets quite busy in the compound with all the kids. Joli is going as a vampire (inspired by Mavis from the movie "Hotel Transylvania") and Elias got himself a scary mask. I am putting on hubby's clothes to become pilot for one night at the neighbours' Halloween party.
Grandma is on her way to Dubai and is scheduled to arrive past midnight. So we have a very exciting day and night ahead of us!

Vampire Joli

Fish gratin with mussels and salmon
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse @ The Address Dubai Marina

Hubby and I recently celebrated our 11th anniversary but since I was on a plane to Sweden with the kids and he was on his way back from Clarke, we didn't have a chance to celebrate on that particular day.
However, last Thursday, we decided to have our belated anniversary dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse at The Address Dubai Marina Mall. I have seen many good reviews but never had the opportunity to go there. As we entered the restaurant, we were greated by very friendly staff  and escorted to our table where the menu was presented by a very attentive waiter. Hubby ordered a T- bone steak and I selected a rib eye. "An outstanding example of USDA Prime at its best. Well marbled for peak flavor, and deliciously juicy" as per the description in the menu. And it did not disappoint! It was amazing! Hubby was also lyrical over his T- bone. Both steaks were served on sizzling hot plates (we were repeatedly advised not to touch the plates!). For side orders, we chose fresh broccoli steamed au gratin and served in a cheese sauce topped with melted sharp cheddar and potatoe shoestring, which looked like very thin, Spaghetti like french fries. It was amazingly golden and crispy but a bit tricky to catch on the fork...
The place quickly filled up and by the time we left, it was almost packed and a band was about to start playing. We decided to round off the evening with a drink at the pool bar, which offers a stunning view over Dubai Marina.
I must say I was very impressed with Ruth's Chris and will definitely return and try out some other items on their menu. The food was excellent and so was the service.


Broccoli au gratin

Potato shoestring

The Rib eye!!
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Official launch of The Story Rooftop Lounge

Lucky me who gets to be friends with Mitzie Mee and her + 1 to all these exciting events! On Wednesday, she was invited to the official launch of The Story Rooftop Lounge and I was her chosen partner in crime!


 

The indoor bar design

Mitzie Mee in action

The indoor lounge with large windows facing Dubai Marina

This is your perfect after work hang out, conveniently located in Dubai Media City
 We arrived around 7 and were greated by the door and escorted upstairs. There, a quite large indoor lounge revealed itself with along with an impressive bar. Another set of doors opened up and suddenly we were outside on the terrace, overlooking the Dubai Marina by night. We were both captured by the stunning view.
Attentive and extremely nice staff greated us again and made sure we had all we needed for the rest of the evening. A bit later, delicious nibbles were served and despite me having a huge dinner at home, I could not resist the temptation.
With its convenient location in Dubai Media City, the place where it all happends, this is the perfet after work spot and especially with the "cooler" season just around the corner when you can sit outside. I would definitely recommend The Story Rooftop Lounge and hope to be back there soon!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

1762, your own delishop around the corner (Jebel Ali branch)

Thursdays are the days when I and the girls at work order in from the gourmet deli shop 1762. 1762 was established by a bunch of foodies in Dubai who wanted to cater to fellow food lovers in the UAE. They have a wide selection of quiches, soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches. I have so far tasted the zucchini quiche, salmon quiche, chicken & jalapeno wrap, falafel wrap and the prawn sandwich and it has all been very satisfactory. The only negative thing is the deliver. Even if we place an order first thing in the morning, asking for a delivery at 12, we sometimes have to wait up to 45 minutes to receive our order. One of the main reasons for this is probably all the road works that is going on around Jebel Ali Freezone at the moment. It is mad, especially with all the heavy trucks going back and forth. However, I am sure the delivery service could perhaps plan ahead a bit better to accommodate any delays as it obviously takes double the time to get your way around the area.
1762 also has an outlet in DIFC (Dubai International Finance Centre).
 
Toasted ciabatta

Creamy mushroom soup with baguette

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Uppsala in my heart

Uppsala, the city where it all started, was our last stop on this journey. This is the city where I arrived as a new student in August 1993 to study Arabic and orientalism. My dream was to study Arabic and Hebrew and then work with security related issues in the Middle East. Well, my not so ambitious studies of Arabic and Orientalism only lasted for a year and I decided to dedicate myself to East European Studies, Russian language, Political, Science, Security Policy and later on, law school.
I haven't been back to Uppsala since we left it in March 2006 for Singapore. It was definitely about time. When stepping out of the Uppsala commuter train (the train I would take every day to work in Stockholm), I immediately noticed some changes. The central station was a lot bigger and on the other side, where I used to park my bike in the old days, is now a big galleria.
The town centre looks the same and I caught a quick glimpse of Carolina Rediviva, the university library where I spent many hours preparing for exams. We walked through town to our hotel and I had all these emotions running around my chest; the restaurants where we went for lunch after classes, the shops I used to frequent to avoid studying, the book shop where I spent all my student allowance on litterature, the hospital where Elias was born, the central station where I commuted to Stockholm everyday once I got a job, the grass area where I used to park my bike (which is now a gigantic complex with various shops etc!)... Lots of positive memories. We also passed the city hall where I and hubby got married, the little flower shop where I picked up my wedding bouquet on may way home from an early law school class, the buses out to familiar places like Eriksberg, Flogsta, Salabackar, Årsta...
After leaving our suitcase at the hotel, we walked back into town and met up with hubby's sister and her daughter at the Svava Galleria for lunch. It was great to see them and I realized that I haven't actually met them since cousin E was born 8 years ago... We moved on to the classic cafe Storken after our lunch for coffee and dessert. This also happened to be the cafe where I and hubby had our first date in 2001!

Cup cakes from Espresso House

Joli waiting for the bus to Arlanda

A luxury shrimp sandwich at Arlanda while waiting for our flight to board


A new week has just begun, kids are back to school after the Eid Break and I'm back in the office. Fun activities are on the upcoming agenda though: Grandma and her friend is coming to visit next week and next Thursday, it's Halloween, which means traditional celebration in the compound when all the kids walk around trick or treating.
 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

First Hotel Linne Uppsala

We stayed at First hotel Linne while in Uppsala. I don't how many times I have passed that hotel when I lived in Uppsala, either by bike or by walking and it had the cute look of a small town hotel which always appealed to me. It was therefore a simple choice when we had to stay overnight in Uppsala.
I can imagine in the summer, with the garden open and its immediate vicinity to the beautiful Linne Garden makes a big difference. Uppsala is not that big, so walking from the Central Station to our hotel took around 20 min with two slightly bored kids and one suitcase!
The reception area is modern and quite inviting and the bistro and bar area looks very new and modern. The rooms were a bit more disappointin and I'm not sure what it was missing. From a comfort point of view, it fulfilled its purpose with two single beds and one extra bed and we also had two windows facing Skolgatan to bring in lots of light. It was just very dull and unpersonal. The room reminded me more of some sort of institution, almost a hospital. The bathroom was big and clean but lacked every trace of personal touch.
Since we were invited for dinner that night, we didn't get the chance to try out the bistro.
The breakfast was good, but again, the breakfast room reminded me more of a hospital or a retirement home than an actual hotel. The staff were very friendly and made "plättar" for the kids and I enjoyed eggs, yoghurt, cold cuts and juice.
All in all, we had a good stay at First Hotel Linne and I would also recommend this hotel if you are in Uppsala for a couple of nights.
This amazing goodie bag awaited us in the room from aunt K and cousin E, so sweet!

First Hotel Linne
Skolgatan 45
750 02 Uppsala
Tel: + 46 18 10 20 00
www.firsthotels.com
 
 

Skansen Stockholm

It would be a shame not to visit Skansen while in Stockholm, so on Sunday afternoon, we met up with friend C and her adorable little daughter H! The weather was again gorgeous and the entire island of Djurgården was packed with people. Skansen was founded in 1891 and it is the world’s oldest open-air museum and is situated on the island of Djurgården within the city limits of Stockholm. Visitors to Skansen meet a miniature historical Sweden reflected both in the buildings and their surroundings, from the Skåne farmstead in the south to the Sami camp in the north. The venues illustrate the different social conditions in which people lived in Sweden between the 16th centure and the first half of the 20th century. The majority of houses and farmsteads are from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. At Skansen there are both domestic and wild Nordic animals such as bears, wolves and lynx. Skansen also hold traditional celebrations to mark occasions such as Walpurgis Night, Christmas and Midsummer. Skansen is open all year round.
We started off with a coffee before taking the escalator up to the animal area. The kids enjoyed running around the cute little cottages and I have to say that the view from up there is stunning.

Elias was playing around with my camera and captured this!



Stockholm in my heart!


Skansen is a fantastic place to visit, regardless of season. It is very child friendly with beautiful little walking paths, children's zoo and plenty of cafes and restaurants.

Skansen
Djurgårdsslätten 49- 51
115 21 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 844 28 000
Email: info@skansen.se
www.skansen.se
 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hotel Hansson Stockholm

Hotel Hansson is located in Vasastan in an old building from the 19th century. This gives the entire hotel a very classic touch and is reflected in the design and lay out.
Their restaurant "Hanssons Bistro" is well known for their West Coast inspired menu, Afternoon Tea and Sunday brunches. They also offer oyster tasting with champagne.
All their rooms have different designs which gives the hotel a very personal touch. There are three different styles to chose from: classic, design or executive. We stayed in a classic room with old furniture, beautiful paitings on the walls and wooden floors. All rooms are equipped with private bathroom, a desk, TV, windows, phone and wifi.
Despite its location, it was very quiet and yet, only a five minute walk down to Sveavägen and 10 minutes to the metro station Rådmansgatan.
The breakfast buffet was more than sufficient, offering different kinds of bread, yoghurt, musli, cereal, egg, scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, pate, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, juice, tea and coffee. The only down side was that the hotel seemed to be full so the breakfast area was very crowded (the same area where the bistro is) and the staff didnt' seem to keep up with cleaning off tables. Hence there were piles of dirty dishes on the bar counter as people left and new guests arrive to enjoy their breakfast.
Other than that, the atmosphere at the hotel was truly friendly and I can definitely recommend this hotel for your weekend stay in Stockholm!
Home made chocolate treats

Hotel Hansson
Surbrunnsgatan 38
113 48 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 15 04 20
Email: welcome@hotelhansson.se
www.hotelhansson.se
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweden




 I know I promised to update the blog from Sweden but the truth is, I have been so busy! We have had the most amazing weekend! A very hectic schedule were every minute was filled with some form of activity but true quality time with friends and family! And Sweden greeted us with the most beautiful weather. The leaves were all brigh yellow and red, the sun was shining and the air was crisp.
We arrived at noon in Stockholm and started the stay with lunch at the central station, Swedish sausage and mashed potatoes! It was divine, this is what I miss the most! After our delicious but not so healthy lunch, we met up with friend P, who was on her way to Luxembourg. We managed to have a quick catch up at the central station before she headed off to the airport and we took the metro to our hotel.
The ticket system has changed completely since I left Stockholm  in 2006.... I bought a 3 day metro card which worked great and apparently kids are riding for free during weekends! Three stops later, we jumped off at Rådmansgatan and walked to our hotel "Hotel Hansson", located at Surbrunnsgatan. I will write more about the hotel in a separate post.
After a quick check in, we headed up to Odenplan for a stroll. The weather was just amazing and I didn't want to miss a minute of it. Kids were less enthusiastic but were bribed with crisps and coke on the way back...
In the evening, a friend from law school came by and we enjoyed a few glasses of wine in the hotel bar while the kids shared a coke and ice cream and Joli was stalking the poor waiter all over the place. After a few drinks, we walked to restaurant Arirang for a Korean meal with more friends. I have been to Arirang before but I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. The food is gorgeous but quite expensive and the amount of side dishes (banchan) is very limited. There is no refill of side dishes either. In other restaurants, this is normally included in the price). The services was also a bit unfriendly. The place was packed though so this is definitely a popular place, but I would probably go somewhere else next time for my Kimchi fix. Despite this, we had a great evening and I met up with friend B that I haven't seen since we left Sweden in 2006.
Since the kids were tired, we decided to go for a night cap at the hotel and the kids could hang out in the hotel room. I think I fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow, I was so tired.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eid al Adha holidays announced

As I have mentioned before, the public holidays are being regulated by the moon sightings. So even if the Eid Al Adha holidays were announced already in August, it was only confirmed a few days ago. Eid Al Adha means "festival of the sacrifice" and it is an important holiday to honour the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first born son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to God's command.
This year, the private sector will get three days off, starting Monday to Wednesday and the public sector (schools and governmental offices) will get the whole week off. After a quick check on how the flights look, we decided to go home to Stockholm for a few days, leaving early Friday morning. Plans have already been made and we have a full social schedule starting as soon as we land and ends the day we leave. Hotels are booked (one night in Stockholm and one night in Uppsala) and in between, we are staying with friends.
We'll get some see some autumn colours




 Today is the last working day of the week, time goes really fast! Elias, who is now part of the school football team, is playing a match against Repton this afternoon. The rest of the evening will be dedicated to packing and then it is off to bed early as our flight departs at 7.15 tomorrow morning.
Hopefully my next blog post will be from Stockholm, Sweden!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Acer Blogger's Night @ Jumeirah Emirates Towers

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Acer Blogger's night at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Again, it is thanks to Mitzie Mee and her amazing blog that I get to frequent these events and I am very grateful!
The evening started off with canapes and drinks and after an hour or so, we were all invited to a short but very informative presentation about the latest Acer products. I am far from a technical person (anyone who knows me can vouch for that) but I do appreciate practical solutions where you don't have to bring too many gadget in order to blog, keep up with work mails, edit photos etc.
There was one product in particular that I liked, just because it had all the functions that I am looking for, without being big, heavy or clumpsy. It was the Iconia W511. It is the size of a thin Macbook but you can easily detach the screen and use it separately as a tablet. This is genious! I can still use it as a tablet and carry it around in my purse for simple stuff like reading news, blogs and searching information but as soon as I re-attach the screen/tablet, it turns into a regular laptop with a usb- port, a keyboard and other clever features.
To me this is the ultimate solution as I am always carrying around my ipad and my laptop to satisfy my needs of easy access to information but also a device that can edit photos, update the blog, check workmails, work on presentations etc.
After the presentation we had the chance to walk around and check out the new products in more detail and it was all rounded off with a short 90 second presentation where each blogger had the opportunity to "sell" their product of choice. I and Mitzie Mee did our presentation together, talking about the advantages of the Iconia W5 and why it was our number one choice!
Afterwards, we were invited to stay for a lovely buffet dinner with the rest of the blogger audience.

Delicious canapes



Interesting presentation

The Iconia W511

We were all invited to a gorgeous dinner buffet

Blog mingle

No dinner buffet without dessert!



Thank you Acer for a great event and for giving us the opportunity to check out your new products! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My new haven

The new desk

My collection of mini perfumes

Lolita Lempicka, one of my favourites in the middle



Bracelets
Glass bowl from IKEA
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I purchased a new desk. Or, it 's not new, but new to me. And I love it. This is my blog haven, where I can sit and peacefully write my blog posts.
I found the cutest glass bowl at IKEA. It reminds me of one of those old bowls that my Grandma used to have, filled with candy.
The little silver tray was a bargain at Home Centre and fitted all my mini perfume bottles perfectly.