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

 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What happened to 2013?

Is it just me or has this year just flown by?? Not that it is over yet, but I can't believe we are already past mid- November and Christmas is literally just around the corner.
Yesterday I dropped Joli off at a birthday party and managed to get some IKEA- errands done while she was at the party. It was insane so I tried to get whatever I need to be done as fast as possible and get out of there. I found a set of 24 cute little paper bags with number stickers, perfect to use as an advent calendar (or gift calendar). As always, I am tempted to create a gift calendar for the kids but it usually ends with a disaster, or best case, with a chocolate calendar. These cute little bags save me the time of gift wrapping, now I only have to figure out what to put inside them..hm!!
The Christmas decorations were up (all malls seem to have exchanged all the Halloween decorations for Christmas ornaments and trees over the last week) and I was almost expecting some Christmas music coming out of the speakers, fortunately, it didn't. Call me a Grinch, but I think it is a bit early.
Husband arrived late Friday from his vacation week in Sweden. He brought lots of nice magazines, all with a Christmas theme, so I have to admit that the Christmas spirit is slowly getting its grip on me.
The next festive event to look forward to is Thanksgiving, an American tradition we have embraced completely and celebrated all American style with our neighbours. Friends T and S will prepare the turkey and I will do my best  to contribute with potatoes and something else.
Being married to a pilot means that you can never plan so hubby will get his schedule end of this month and only then will we find out whether he is home for Christmas or not. Last year he was, the first Christmas we celebrated together since we moved to Dubai in 2008, so I suspect we will not get that lucky this year.
Weather wise, this is definitely the best time of the year. Mornings and evenings are wonderful and give it a few more weeks, and the ocean will be too cold for a thin blooded expat!

Happy Joli at a school excursion to Bastakiya
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Help the Philippines- attend a brunch in Dubai to raise money!

The tragedy in the Philippines cannot be described with words. Our Teresa's family is from Cebu and they were severely affected by the typhoon. Luckily, all her relatives are alive but they have lost everything. Many of the maids in our compounds have not heard anything from their families yet. Everyone is trying their best to help with money donations and boxes that will be sent to various aid organisations.

I also would like to advertise this event, taking place in Dubai next Friday the 22 November at the Rosso Amore Restaurant. It is arranged by the Dubai blogger Pinay Flying High. The price of the ticket is AED60 where AED30 will be donated to this cause while the other half is to pay for all the  food.

You can read more on the Pinay Flying High Blog or the event's Facebook page!

FIESTA FOR A CAUSE, #YOLANDAPH     


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I woke up today and saw a lot of devastating photos and videos on my Facebook feed about the recent calamity to hit my beloved Philippines. I got tired of seeing the shared posts of people on Facebook about ways how to help #YolandaPH victims. I realized that I wanted to take action and actually do something and not just share the information on how to help in the hopes of having someone else do it. So I am going to host my own charity event

Monday, November 11, 2013

My PE superstar


Joli came home with this trophy yesterday. She had apparently made an excellent performance in her PE class. She got to keep it for one day, to show her parents, and then bring it back today.
Yesterday I drove Mum and her friend to the airport. I can't believe how fast these 10 days have gone but it feels like we managed to do quite a lot. The house felt a bit empty this morning though.

Teresa has been following the disaster in the Philippines. The area where she comes from, Cebu, was hit really bad by the typhoon and her family's houses were all ruined in the strong winds. The problem now is to find food. Luckily though, there were no casualties in her family but now the difficult part starts to re-build everything and start anew. The sugar canes are all destroyed so the little income they anticipated from the harvest is now gone. We are of course trying to help her and her family the best we can.
At work, my Filipino colleagues have been circulating an envelope for donations and again it amazes me how supportive the Filipino community is and how willing they are to help each other. That is fantastic.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sightseeing, shopping and fine dining

The Ladies were relaxing at home while I spent two days at the office to catch up with some work. On Monday, hubby was kind enough to take them to Gold & Diamond  Park for some jewelry shopping. They were both impressed with the service and hospitality and Mum's friend came home with a gold chain. I prefer the Gold & Diamond Park when it comes to jewelry shopping rather than the more commercial Gold Souk in Deira, where the prices are higher and the shop keepers are more pushy, all to get the tourists attention. The Gold & Diamond Park is located on Sheikh Zayed Road, near the Bur Dubai Police Station. It is a large mall with a selection of 90 leading retailers.

On Wednesday, I took the day off and we headed off to Jumeirah Beach Hotel for some beach time. The hotel was quite busy with a majority of Russian speaking tourists. We got a nice spot near the ocean though and enjoyed a few hours in the sun. The sea was quite rough with high waves but it was still warm enough even for me (as my blood has become significantly thinner after 7 years abroad).
We had a lovely lunch by the pool bar and went back home in the afternoon as we had a dinner reservation at the Meat Company, Madinat later that evening.
Since this was my Mum's friends first visit to Dubai, we decided to stroll around the souk for a while and look around the shops. We even had time for a Cosmopolitan at Left Bank before our dinner reservation. Dinner was superb as always, the Meat Company never disappoints and we had excellent service and food! After our delicious steaks (I couldn't even finish mine so was offered a doggy bag which I carried around for the rest of the evening...) we headed off to Trader Vic's (my usual spot) for some drinks before it was time to call it a night, all happy and full.
Unfortunately, Mum caught a cold and spent the last days in bed resting but I took her friend out for the mandatory shopping tour in Karama and Bur Dubai. We started off at Karama Shopping Complex where I found a nice pair of shorts to Elias before we continued our shopping spree in Bur Dubai and the Textile Souk. I love the Textile Souk with its vicinity to the Dubai Creek, the friendly (and slightly annoying) Afghani vendors and the cheap but delicious food.
Tonight I'm taking the Ladies to the airport and they will depart for Sweden early tomorrow morning. I would like to think they had a great time here and on Thursday, Elias and Grandma spent some quality time together, playing Monopoly and cards (Elias apparently beat her in both games....)
    Burj Al Arab

    Beef sandwich

    Chicken pita
Husband is in Sweden again on his November vacation and spent a night out with his old friends last night. A new week is ahead of us and soon it's Christmas.... Happy Sunday all!



 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween party and weekend fun!

I managed to leave work an hour early on Thursday to get the kids ready for their trick or treat. The door bell started ringing around 5 and the candy bowl emptied quickly! We were visited by Spiderman, Ironman, ghosts, fairies, princessses, pumpkin princesses, knights, witches and you name it! It is amazing to see how creative people get at these events!
Later on, I managed to put my own costume on; the pilot attire (all fake from the party store!) to attend our Halloween party at friend T's house. We had a fantastic evening with good food and great company!
My Mum and her friend also arrived that evening (or just after midnight) so it was a long day/night and I think we all went to bed around 4 in the morning!
Yesterday, we went to Mirdif City Centre to do the weekly grocery and the ladies had time to look around in various shops. We also had time for a delicious lunch at Carluccio's.
Today, Sunday, is a public holiday due to the Islamic New Year so I brought Mum and her friend to Le Meridien Mina Seyahi for a nice day at the beach!
Me at the Halloween party, dressed as a pilot!
 
Excellent ravioli at Carluccio's

Lasagna

Goggles on!

Posing

Funny faces when Mummy wants to take a picture