August 30, 2009

My Mission, If I Choose To Accept It

So we were invited to our good friends' house for iftar today and it was really nice. Many many delicious dishes and desserts too. We don't have people over often but each year we both invite each other over for dinner in Ramadan. I don't know what day we're having them over yet but it will be soon and I gotta say, I'm nervous.

My friend has her Egyptian mother in law over so the food was on a whole other level. Now I know it's not a competition but this is how dinner parties are here. You have to be really "generous" and I don't know if I'm up to the challenge. I want to have them over, they are our closest friends and it's something I do once a year so it shouldn't be a big deal. But it is. There is so much work to do. This place needs to be cleaned. I need to plan a menu and start working on the prep. I have to get out the nice dishes and glasses wash them. I'll stop there to spare you the mental play by play.

Just to give you an idea how much food is involved here, this is what they served, Masha Allah.
Salad
Goulash Rolls
Kofta
Rice with nuts/raisins
Kabob Meat
Okra with meat
A big ol' Turkey
Mahshi, Stuffed aubergines, zucchini, peppers and grape leaves.
Chicken fried steak
Jello, (2 color on top of one another)
Fruit salad

I think that's it. I'll probably stick to foods I know I can make well. Tried and true. An American family would make a lasagna and some chicken and a salad and people would eat what's served but here, you need to make a buffet of foods.The good part is you have leftover for the good part of a week afterwards. It's just a different mindset I guess. I will do this. I want to do this, I'm just feeling nervous about pulling it all together, inshaAllah.

August 27, 2009

A Small Step Towards Being Green....In Egypt



Yesterday E brought our groceries home in these new cloth bags they started providing at the supermarket. I think it's great, and a big step. This makes the Red Sea the first plastic bag free Govornate in Egypt! It will take a while to really be free of plastic bags but it's a start. Plastic bags are a huge problem here, they fly all over the place and line the streets and go into the sea.
Typically plastic bags are used for only 20 minutes before being thrown out; but they will each take up to 1,000 years to rot away. During their long decay millions of bags litter and pollute our streets, the desert, and are blown out to sea where they become a toxic plastic soup that threatens the existence of marine and wild life. source

I've always saved and reused plastic shopping bags but now we have the cloth bags to bring stuff home in instead of more and more plastic! I hope people here follow through and use them. I will definitely encourage anyone I know to switch.

August 21, 2009

Decorations

Here are some pics of the living room after we decorated. I think we might have gone a little crazy but it makes the kids happy and feels festive!


We saw this huge lantern the other night.


We start fasting tomorrow, inshaAllah. We're going out to dinner today and then I need to get some groceries. I told the kids they can stay up till suhoor so they're exited. Happy fasting!

August 20, 2009

Blessed Ramadan


May Allah accept our efforts this holy month and may you have a happy and fulfilling Ramadan.

August 18, 2009

This And That

Like my new mugs?

Safiyah is supposed to start KG1 this year. There's KG1 and KG2 here, last year she was in "BabyClass", which is like preschool, because they said she was too young for KG1.Which was fine, I didn't think she was ready anyway. Now she's 9 days short of the cut off and they said she's on the waiting list. First one on the waiting list, mind you but, on the waiting list nonetheless. I'm not too worried, I'm pretty sure she'll get in. I mean why have a waiting list at all if the first one wouldn't get in, right? Anyway we're supposed to officially find out on the 20th. School is supposed to start for KGer's on Sept 14 but after Eid for the older kids which is kinda annoying but whatever. In a couple more years they'll all be in primary or secondary and have the same schedule. (Safiyah goes later and comes home earlier than the other 3) and that will be a lot easier.

I need to dig out the decorations, that is if I have any left from last year, I forgot how much got ripped and I threw out. Either way I'll buy a few new ones and decorate this week before Ramadan starts. The Fanoos or Latern we bought last year was plastic crap and if fell apart but I put it together with the trusty glue gun last night.


Today was the last day of swimming lessons for the kids, I'm really glad we did it this summer. I suppose we should have done it earlier but alhamdulillah, it was good for them to learn to swim and meet new people.

Yesterday I spent the day rearranging/organizing Dawood's room. You see one corner is full of stuff we don't use much and storage and it needed sorting. So we moved some stuff around and it takes up less space. There was so much trash and crap behind the bed it was a nightmare and I pulled pretty much every muscle in the human body so today I can't bend over and walking is painful. At least the room is clean. The girls want to rearrange their room next. Maybe in a few days.

I'm about to go get a watermelon out of the fridge and E will cut it up, I suck at that. Nothing better than cold watermelon in the summer!

August 16, 2009

Decor Dreams

I love looking at pretty interior design pictures. My dream home InshaAllah, will have this cute living room. My kids will be grown, so I'll have a white couch with nice throw pillows.


Touches of pink here and there, fresh flowers, and lots of light!
Pink & blue...makes me want to change my blog layout.

I'll need a desk area with a nice view. I love the drapes and the rug.
This pic reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw's apartment.

Teal/turquoise remind me of the sea, and this bedroom is so peaceful.
I just want to climb into those crisp cool sheets!

My bathroom will be spa-like and modern.
Check out this unique sink.

Sigh....A girl can dream. What does your dream home look like? Make a post about it!

August 15, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You



So, we did it. My BFF and I hatched up the plan and went to the movies, sans kids. It's been so long since I've done that! It was really great just to go and we were the only 2 in the cinema! Anyway so the movie, it was only OK. It was an ensemble cast and I like most of the actors but a few things annoyed me about the film. First of all, Ginnifer Goodwin, who played Gigi, was lovely but her character made me cringe. I felt sorry for her while wanting to smack her at the same time. She was so pathetic, desperate and needy. I know they needed a character like that to explain the "just not into you" theory but it was sooo overdone and made women out to be so vapid and just nuts. The married man, Ben, played by Bradly Cooper was such an ass. He got what he deserved in the end. I actually liked Jennifer Connelly's character, Janine, even if they made her seem a bit psycho, she was real and she cracked me up. I couldn't stomach Justin Long's Alex as a leading man as he seems like a boy to me. The story line with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston's characters, Neil and....Beth, that's it, Beth, was cute but they had no chemistry. The Realtor guy, I just didn't like him and I don't remember his name but, blah. All I could think of while watching Scarlett Johansson was how much upkeep her hair must be. Oh yea, and it's censored in the cinema here so thankfully we were spared the intimate scenes. I guess it was a light, kind of funny film, but I wish we'd chosen Slumdog Millionaire instead. ( Yes, I do realize these movies are old!)

I haven't seen a movie on the big screen in a while and you can really see people's skin and actors don't look so glamourous anymore on film. It's the first time I could see Drew Barrymore's forehead lines and the redness in Jennifer Aniston's eyes at times. It's good though, it's real.

August 14, 2009

Photos and Happenings

A few days ago we went one of the water parks here and it was great. The kid's had such a blast, it's amazing we've gone 5 years or so in Hurghada without going before. Of course it's mostly tourists but there are some local visitors too having fun.

Would you look at those slides? D & Z braved those 2 tall ones and man, do they come down fast.

It was really hard to capture a pic of the kids mid-slide but this was great fun for them. Their swimming skills came in handy too.
They were worn-out tired at the end of the day.
Dawood started soccer last week, he loves it.
Salwa lost her 2 front teeth and I think she looks so cute without them!

August 12, 2009

Ramadan Looming

Looming seems like the wrong word right? Ramadan should be a happy occasion for worship and purification, but sadly, it's the general feeling I get from women here.

Everyone is mostly dreading all the cooking. You see, it seems like, at least here in Egypt, Ramadan is all about the food. Well, that and the soap operas. More on that later. Don't get me wrong, I love food, but women are expected to make multi-course dinners each day of the holy month and leftovers are out of the question. It's wasteful and it seems crazy to spend hours in the hot kitchen cooking when we should spend more time in worship. The typical Egyptian Ramadan dinner consists of:
  • Khoshaf, something that you have as soon as you break the fast made of apricot juice and dried fruits.
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Some kind of rice or pasta dish
  • Some vegetable
  • Meat or chicken
  • Sides or hors d'oeuvres like samosas or something
  • Dessert
EVERY DAY.
Disgruntled, by me.

But let's not forget about suhoor. Some people just have to eat fried eggs and falafel etc. each day. Grocery bills go up as well as the scales. The whole thing is kind of gluttonous.

There's nothing wrong with making great food for your family to break the fast with. I too like to make a bit more of an effort in my culinary skills sometimes during Ramadan, but it doesn't need to be extravagant or a daily thing. We can have leftovers or take out or go out to dinner in Ramadan. Some people might find that just blasphemous here, but they are missing the point.

Another thing is dinner parties. It's a good tradition to have people over to break the fast together and these invites are often reciprocated but this also usually means a LOT of work for the people doing the inviting. Hospitality is fine but it can go too far. I will tell you that I have spent from Fajr (sunrise) to Magrib (sunset) preparing a huge meal for guests and maybe a 3rd of it gets eaten. Some people put loads on their plates and eat part of each of it, and of course the rest goes to waste. Last year I introduced a couple of friends to the idea of a pot luck dinner. They thought it was great. It makes sense. Everyone only has to prepare one dish and no one has the whole load on them. Plus we still get to enjoy each other's company over a meal.

Now about those soap operas. If you don't know, Ramadan is famous in Egypt for all the new dramas that show each day till the Eid or Feast. Thirty something shows premier on the first day of Ramadan on the many satellite channels. Maybe one is historical or Islamic in anyway. Can you believe it? Seriously it's almost as if there is a conspiracy to pull Muslims away from the real purpose of Ramadan. I'm not trying to be preachy or saying that TV is haram (forbidden) or something. Not at all. I love TV, but it's just odd to me how it's so concentrated in the holy month, don't you?

August 10, 2009

French Tips

I just learned how to do a french manicure, free hand. After struggling with the stupid stickers and tape and shaky hands, I found a way that is easy every time. This Girl on YouTube's technique was simple and even I can do it. It looks nice and clean and classic.



August 8, 2009

I'm In A Rambling Mood Tonight



Sooooo, They finally opened the new mall/hypermarket (Spinney's) here and it's great! The mall is not really open yet, maybe one or 2 shops open and the food courts not open either. There's a kids' arcade/play place and a movie theater. They have mostly Arabic movies and the new Terminator movie. Slumdog Millionaire and He's Just Not That Into You are "coming soon" so funny cause, they're kinda old, but new to me anyway. Spinney's is nice, not nearly as big as the one in Cairo but bigger than any supermarket we have here. They have some good deals, a good bakery dept. and yummy looking hot food.

The school has given the kids summer homework. Can you believe it? It sucks, really. No other school here has assigned HW over the summer. It's a lot too. The kids are doing a little each day and hope to be done before Ramadan starts inshaAllah.
seven pounds Pictures, Images and Photos
E and I watched a movie a few nights ago on TV, Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith. It was really good. Best movie I've seen in a long time. I was moved. I don't want to give anything away but it's beautiful and tragic and maybe confusing at first but stick with it. Wonderful performances by Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, smaller parts played beautifully by Barry Pepper and Woody Harrelson. You should watch it. If you're in the Middle East it's on Show Cinema this week. If you're not, rent it. Really, it's good. I don't recommenced movies unless they are really, very good. Like, this morning 27 Dresses was on, and eh, it was cute enough but pretty predictable. Would I recommend it to a friend? If they wanted something mindless and cute, sure...now I'm really rambling.

August 4, 2009

What's Up


The kids have gotten way better at swimming. They can all now swim in the deep end! Safiyah just mastered this and Zayneb is the fastest one in their group. I'm really glad we signed them up for it this summer.We have about 2 weeks left which works cause when Ramadan starts they're doing evening lesson, so we'll just stop after the 2 weeks.

We gave our cat Filfila to a friend last week. She started getting mean for some reason. She would scratch the kids in the face out of nowhere and we took a vote and she's gone but thankfully the people who have her now don't have kids but have a few other cats so she'll be happy.

School doesn't start here till after Eid el Fitr, thankfully. Safiyah is supposed to start KG1 and last we heard she's on the waiting list, well, first one on the waiting list cause she's 9 day's short of 5 on the cut off date, but I'm not too worried, I'm pretty sure she'll be in. I'm not looking forward to all the uniform buying and covering 45,084,036 books but I am looking forward to some time to myself.

I hope we can make a trip to Cairo soon, even for a couple of days soon, we need to get our passports renewed at the consulate and I want to visit Anisa!

Other than that, it's pretty much same old, same old here.

August 2, 2009

Top Ten Ways To Make People Hate Your Blog

blogging Pictures, Images and Photos
These are just few things that annoy me, and a lot of bloggers, I'm sure. I think some might not know that it's obnoxious or not realize they do it. This is just my opinion, of course everyone is free to do as they please. Let me bitch a little bit about this:

  1. Word varification, It sucks. Most blogs don't need it. You are probably not getting super spammed to the point where you need a captcha. Some bloggers don't realize they even have it on because when they comment on their own blog, they don't have to write the stupid jumble of letters. Disable it, please.
  2. Reply to your comments. It sucks when people don't reply to comments. I don't think each and every comment requires an individual reply, but if someone asks a question or something, you should follow up, it's rude not to. It defeats the purpose if you don't interact after the initial post, man.
  3. Paragraphs are your friend. I can't stand when people write a looong post all in one big paragraph. It hurts my eyes. Break it up.
  4. Spell check is your best friend. We can't all spell everything right all the time. That's why there is spell check. It's a great thing. Use it. You look stupid when you write that you're definately pregnate. It's just careless.
  5. A million widgets and images make your page slow loading and will probably make people not visit.
  6. Don't get mad if someone doesn't do your tag. I like them and usually do them but not everyone wants to nor has to. Same with Awards.
  7. Ads all over the blog and pop ups suck.
  8. We went to school to learn about Grammar right? Nothing wrong with using these skills on a regular basis now that you're in the real world and I don't care that you're not being graded on it. It's dumb and only takes a few minutes to correct.
  9. Posting urls without making them clickable. People are way less likely to visit the link you've provided when you haven't made it clickable. It's easy, just hightlight the text and click on the globe/link icon in your blog post editor. Oh yea, and make sure the link works.
  10. Auto Play Music. Yea I know you're super cool and have amazing taste in music but just keep that to yourself cause it's scared the crap out of me on many occasions that I didn't realize I had the speakers up.
I know I'm not alone on most of these. What annoys you about some blogs?

August 1, 2009

Honestly

I was tagged by UmmTravis and Ange for this and I thought it would be a good, easy way to get back in the swing of things. What don't you all know about me? That I'm willing to share that is...

Ok, ten honest things about me:

  1. I think sometimes I can be a little too honest. I hate sugar coating things but sometimes you have to.
  2. I don't like Mangos, Guavas, or Cantelope. Yes, I've tried them. No, I still don't like them.
  3. I baked pizza from scratch the other day for the first time ever. It was not bad nor great.
  4. They are supposed to open the first real mall here soon and I. Can. Not. Wait.
  5. The heat makes me procrastinate the laundry, more so than usual. (because we actually have to hang it out on the line here for you spoiled, dryer having people. No hate.)
  6. I have always had poor handwriting. I remember in 3rd grade still being on the cursive D when the rest of the class was on H. Now I can write neatly if I want to but it's a constant effort. I wish I could write beautifully effortlessly.
  7. I can't stand most Arabic, especially Egyptian music. It's nearly inescapable here and so damn whiny sounding.
  8. I was always really shy growing up and mostly didn't speak unless spoken to in school. I'm glad I got over that. Now I can introduce myself and strike up a conversation with people with ease.
  9. I know it's shallow but I got a little giddy when I hit 100 followers.
  10. I love flip flops?
This tag is harder than it seems and since I seem to be the last one in our little corner of the blogesphere to do it, I'm not tagging anyone, unless you really really want to do it.