Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Secret in the Sauce

I like to make salsa.

I have a recipe from my mother that has stood the test of time, and we all love it.

However, occasionally, we run across one that has roasted tomatoes or a smoky flavor or something else that just stands out and Doug says, "Ooh.  This is good."

A friend of mine had some on her table for us, and this very scenario happened, so I asked about her recipe.  

It seemed the only ingredient different than mine was "cumin."

So I decided to try it with cumin...

I label my jars on top so I can see them easily as they sit in my drawer.

But, I guess my eyes aren't so good, because this is what I grabbed.

That says "CINN" for cinnamon.

Y'all!  I did not discover this until I had finished the batch and wondered why it tasted so "off."

When everyone tasted it, they all said, "It's okay.  It's different.  Maybe we should just go back to the original way."

I didn't say a word.  

I STILL haven't said a word...until now.

We have a lot of jars left to eat and I need my people on board!

However, three people in my family read this blog, so this is confession time.  

Sorry guys.  Forgive me.  I'm old.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Time to Cool Off

We were invited to go with a group of people to a water park outside of town.  We'd seen posters for it, but we had never been.

It worked out to go with a large group because we could get a discount.

The rules at this place were crazy, and the people they had watching us in the changing room to make sure we did everything to "code" was interesting.

The only one I'll go into was the dress code.  

Woman can wear whatever...preferably a LOT. 

Men can only wear a suit, no shirt.

Well, the guys in our group didn't like that rule, and convinced the man at the ticket counter that with fair skin, they would all burn if they weren't allowed to wear shirts.  

The man rebutted with how hard the rides would be to ride with shirts on, and of course, someone in our group said that the women seem to do just fine with their shirts on. in your group can wear shirts.

Many girls and mom's were dressed like this jeans and long sleeves, although some wore abayas (the long, black cloaks).

The ladies in our group wore t-shirts and tights or long shorts over their swimsuits.  

The biggest problem was blistering feet when walking around.  It was hard to find relief for feet outside of the water.

And there was the token no-eyed, scary mascot that awkwardly scooped Keira up in his arms.

I couldn't get pictures of some of the more interesting suits I saw that day, because I try to be discreet, y'all.

There were some too low, too high cut, and some not covering enough.

And I'm not talking about women.

This culture has no shortage on hair, so let me just leave you with this, and you can imagine the majority of our day.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

While You Were Sleeping

There was a "need" at our house four days after Ramadan ended, so I went to see if I could go buy said "need" in our neighborhood.

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I tried three little stores, and I came up empty.

So I kept walking.  I decided to go to a grocery store that's a little larger, about a mile from our house.

However, I was feeling strange, and I couldn't put my finger on the problem.

And then it hit me.

There were no people.


It was about 112 degrees.

When Ramadan began, temperatures during the day hadn't reached 100 degrees yet.

But while they were sleeping through their days, they missed this rising heat.

It seemed to me that even though their lives were supposed to start again during the day after Ramadan, they couldn't bring themselves to face this new reality of heat.

Of course, we hadn't been sleeping through our days, so this was nothing new, but all of a sudden, I felt hotter and more tired than usual because I was alone.

My thoughts were saying, "I'm the only idiot out here.  It's really hot.  I deserve a reward."

So, along with said "need," I bought myself ice cream on a stick and brought home 5 others for my family, which didn't even melt - scary to think what products are in it to keep it from melting 😟

AND I got a blister on my foot because I didn't know I'd be walking over two miles when I put on my flip flops.

Summer is not looking too promising.

Maybe I'll hunker down during the daylight hours, too.

I don't like what happened to the temperatures while they were sleeping.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Snapshots of Ramadan

 The sun was setting.  People were rushing to get home.
Then, while everyone was breaking fast, we went to the mall to the food court to see if anything was open.

Abandoned coffee shop.



Abandoned and very trusting, I might add.

I might also add, that it's not just this time when the streets are empty.  During the day, they are empty, too.  

After that 3ish am call to prayer, there is not a lot of activity in the streets until 4pm ish.

By the way, this is a GREAT time to learn to drive in a new country!

However, when the sun sets...

Party in the streets.  

This was taken at approximately 3am.  The kids were popping fireworks and making so much noise, that I went on the roof to see what all the excitement was about.

Nothing really.  Just another night of Ramadan.

Men, drinking tea and playing games down at the corner about 1am.

Kids were just sitting outside my gate as I walked up around midnight.

One night we invited a local friend to a restaurant for dinner.  She made a reservation for us and told us that they would allow us to start eating before the set time.

She misunderstood.

We were seated, but we had to wait 45 minutes before we could eat.  In the meantime, the waiters were filling up everyone's table with food and drink.

And when I say filling it up, I mean FILLING IT UP!

These were the appetizers.

Believe it or not, we never said a word about what we wanted.
We never even ordered.
This is the common fare for everyone who comes in during Ramadan.

Crazy, right?

Awesome crazy!

It was like being on a cruise and ordering every appetizer and entree they have on the menu and the waiters don't even bat an eye.

We made it through another Ramadan, and we were more prepared this year.
Last year, everything was new.

And participating in my first "end of Ramadan" party. 

Here are the kids dressed for Eid al-Fitr.  It's the first day after Ramadan is over, and we visit neighbors and friends. 

The conversations were better this year.  Our neighbors know us a little better, and we know how to say things a little better.

It's all a process.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Where are all the people?

The evening of May 27 was the beginning of Ramadan this year.

This is a type of calendar the people here follow to know when the 5 prayer times are scheduled and when they can eat.  

You will see on the first day (read right to left), they eat at 3:06am, then have prayers at 3:21am and so on.  
They broke their first day's fast at 7:17pm, right at sunset.

I have been in a home and a restaurant before, watching them count down the minutes.  It's a serious thing.

This is what my neighborhood looks like when everyone is inside breaking fast with their families.

This fruit stand owner just covered their fruit, left it outside, and went to eat.

In the background, you can see Doug and Caleb walking.  We were on our way to catch a taxi.  A few places cater to ex-pats, and so they remain open during this time.

A few people decided to break their fast at this restaurant, which is down the street from us.

Even the roads were empty.  

For a city of 2.2 million, during this time of the day during Ramadan, it can feel like a ghost town.

Shortly after this, the people that have been resting all day will start a LONG night of loud activities.  Shopping, visiting friends, hanging out, eating ice cream, driving name it.

THAT'S when you'll see all the people!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Murder Mystery Party

Since Karis' birthday was during finals, Kylie planned a party for her after summer started.  

You heard that right.

Kylie planned.  Not me.

On the day of her actual birthday, Doug made "Heavenly Hideous Doughnuts" for breakfast, upon Karis' request.

And the whole family went out to one of her favorite places to eat that night.

But Kylie investigated how to have a "murder mystery party," and then she and another girl designed their own, created around fairy tale characters for a later birthday party..

A few of the girls here have been reading the "Land of Stories" series, and the books put an interesting spin on original fairy tales.  Kylie and another girl assigned all the teenage girls a character and a back story, and then the invitations went out.

Here's a sample:

They arrived by red "carpet," welcomed by Princess Anna of Arendale.

And Kylie had added little touches all over the house.

"Wanted" Posters hung around the house in all the areas of "play."

And fairy tale toys were added here and there.


A "throw back" to our Queen of Hearts story last Halloween.

And the famous tulle skirt.

This carpet is where the poor demise of Belle would occur after dinner.

The characters from L to R:  Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Rapunzel, and Belle

Kylie bought a chair and spray painted it gold for Aladdin's throne, occupied by Caleb.  

At first he was a little embarrassed to play the role, but he quickly grew to love the attention.  Each girl, in turn, told him why he should choose them as his bride; however there were a couple who said he shouldn't choose anyone because it was too soon since Jasmine had gone missing.  

They all did well pleading their individual cases based on their back story.

We also had a "servant," Drizella, to take their orders and serve them; however she was part of the mystery game as well.

Each girl could choose 5 things off the menu, but they didn't know quite what they were getting.

For example, if you put, "8," Pinocchio's Nose, you would get string cheese.
If you put "9," Under the Sea, you would get a serving of goldfish crackers.
If you put, "11," Jack's Beanstalk, you would be served cucumber sticks.

The best option, in my opinion, was #14, "Dragon Scales," but of course no one knew that putting that number down would get them homemade pizza. 

Well, I take that back, the creator of the game knew.

Her menu choices are below.

One girl put down "Glass Slipper" twice, and she got two pieces of ice.   I don't know what she was hoping to get, but I doubt it was ice.  She should have chosen two "Olaf's."  It would have given her two bowls of ice cream!

Nevertheless, after they had been tortured enough, Drizella and I took in all the extra food.  Plus, I had made enough pizza for everyone.

After dinner, the "murder" occurred upstairs.

After finding the "body" of Belle, they found their first clue.  Belle then hopped up, joined in the game, and all the girls followed clues around the house to figure out who "killed" Belle and why.  

Kylie and her friend made the first few clues, but then I took over because they didn't want to know who the killer was.

It was Rapunzel, by the way.  She resented Belle for trying to stop Aladdin from marrying anyone AND she resented all the freedom that Belle had in her life.

I must have been either a really good clue writer or really awful, because it took them over an hour to deliberate and try to figure it out.

They had a really good time, and it was a great labor of love that Kylie put together for Karis.  She planned for over a month, and it all came together nicely.