Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sense of Time!

One of the most relaxing things about being in Lebanon is that I have yet to be in a hurry - and I am not complaining.

I am not sure if this is due to the fact that I am here with no job or house to take care of (ect. ect.). I tend to believe that this is just a way of life. I get the feeling that so far people are more relaxed about timelines in general.

Part of this theory is supported by a recent attempt to open a bank account, we also had to go to the US equivalent of homeland security to see if I needed a visa. Fun fact that was interesting to find out only after arriving.... In Lebanon, if you work for the government (or the bank) work days are 9-2!!!! Totally awesome for them, would've been nice to know when we set out for the bank :)~

The best way to describe our visit to the bank is that instead of a chore - it was like an event. You should be dressed decent, a guy opened my door when I arrived and greeted me then patted Joelle on the head (she gets this all the time from people and thinks it is so funny). They offered coffee, tea or water. We sat at the desk in front of our baker, who remembered us from the time before. She asked us how we were, was really cordial. She said hello to other bank customers that knew her very well. It was a nice encounter. Very laid back. There was no rush, what needed to get done was done in a timely manner. Sure, it was a little longer than I was used to, but the deed was done.

I am sort of a go-go-go person and at first I didn't find this difference to be the way of life for me. However, I am noticing myself enjoying the slower pace of life :) Taking some time to smell the flowers.



Of course, there were some things that I have been doing to help adjust to the difference of having everything to do to having not much to do.


Fireworks! Totally fun! These were like the big ones! Such a thrill! I'm addicted. Everyone does them. Everywhere! 


No need to bake and salt pistachios. They are ab.so.friggin.lutely divine raw (and great with beer). (I have been exploring food and experimenting with the new camera). Have you ever had raw pistachios just off a tree?  Did you know that raw pistachios are the most beautiful shade of red? My body was screaming 'EAT MORE EAT MORE'. I am not sure if you can get these in the states but if come across them.. get some! 

Then of course there are regularly attended Balls :) 

Joelle is the Prince and well you can guess who is the princess. I mean.. just LOOK at that curtsey!




My Husband leaves for Duabi in a few days. He will 'buy our purple castle' as our daughter puts it and get our paperwork sorted. In about a month Joelle and I will join him at our 'final destination'.



We are however, enjoying our 'pit stop'!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pomegranate Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you know me, you know that I am not the best baker. However, my focaccia was such a hit I figured the Lebanese kitchen mojo was working for me and there was a request for cookies.

I couldn't find brown sugar :/ I did some research and found that brown sugar is merely regular sugar mixed with molasses. Great! I'll just make it.

No molasses...hmmm..... pomegranate molasses??? I decided to be adventurous. How bad could it be?


It's actually quite simple to make. (One cup sugar mixed with one tablespoon molasses - add a little more if needed to get the same texture of brown sugar - you can do this with regular molasses or honey as well) This was the perfect project for my busy 2 year old.

It isn't that easy to bake without measuring cups. The only measuring cup I had was a bottle similar to a Nalgene water jug. I made due but was filled with anxiety the whole time hoping that I wouldn't be an utter failure to the hungry cookie monsters awaiting in the next room.

Through a great ordeal of running in and out checking the internet for conversions and good substitutes (I was 27g short of a cup of butter - and had grabbed baking powder not baking soda) I had something that resembled cookie dough.


The next step was to bake. As if nothing else could go wrong, I couldn't figure out how to turn on the stove and noticed there were no numbers on the dial.


My Brother-in-Law came to the rescue, he lit the stove and informed me that this is an old stove and you can only guesstimate where the temperature should be. :/

I figure somewhere not quite full blast. Why not?


I was wrong... but not that wrong :)




I had an impatient cookie monster/ballerina on my hands.













Very Impatient!












A little twitching of the stove, and against all odds, the next batch came out of the oven perfect.










Were they good you ask?





In a word, yes.

These are the types of cookies you add walnuts to. They tasted like chocolate chip cookies with an after hint of pomegranate. Amazing flavor.

Here is the recipe in case you want to try:


1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Mix 1 cup sugar and molasses together until resembles brown sugar
3. Cream butter and sugars until smooth
4. Beat in eggs then stir in vanilla
5. Mix salt, baking powder and flor together
6. Slowly mix flour and sugar mixture together then add chocolate and nuts
7. Drop on ungraded pan and bake 4-11 min until brown around the edges.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One Notable Difference

Since this blog is about my relocation, I suppose that I should comment on the differences of living in Lebanon.

I haven't Live-lived here. But I have spent long periods of time in Lebanon and I have a few differences that I have noticed. (By long visits I am talking 1-2 months on three separate occasions. This is enough to have seen most of the big touristy locations and to get onto the Lebanese life style)

I will only talk about one of the most notable differences in this post, it takes a while to explain...

Electricity

In the US you pay for the amount of electricty you use. You may feel it at the end of the month when you get your bill but you inevitably pay it. Maybe you even decide to be a little more careful and turn the ac off when it is a nice day. Easy. 

In Lebanon, there are two electric bills to pay. One for the government and then another for when the government electricity goes out. This second individually owned company owns huge generators which provide electricity to it's subscribers when the government electricity cuts out.

So imagine this: You are shopping and then suddenly it goes dark and silent. All you can hear are the customers and sales clerks carrying on business as usual. 10-15 seconds later a generator turns on in the distance and slowly the lights begin to turn back on. 

This is normal to people here, they don't even flinch. Firas, Juju and I are only starting to get used to this phenomenon. Juju comments each time 'Mama dont worry the lights will be right back!' and it's a dead give away that we are visitors. It's quite the experience.

Moving on.

At the moment I don't miss hot showers. I willfully subject my sweaty self to a freezing cold shower and love every second past the first. Still, hot water was a constant in my Minnesota life, and it would be nice to take the edge off a freezing cold shower, so I began to ask some questions.

The water heater takes up a lot of voltage and you are only allotted a certain amount when on generator electricity. So they keep the water heater off to save voltage when in generator mode since there is no schedule to when government electricity will be running or not.

I accept that. Makes sense. Seems environmentally and fiscally conservative.. I'm listening.

If you want a hot shower you must first, be on government electricity, since it is not as restrictive on voltage and second, turn on the water heater before you shower. Basically you plan your hot shower around when it is available.

There is always the old school option of boiling some water and taking a bath.

OR

There is my option, and in this heat without central air I never regret a freezing shower. It makes me feel alive and incredibly clean.

Thats it for this episode of #differencesoflivinginlebanon

PS. You guessed it. Works that way for washing machines, dishwashers ect...


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Progress and Filler

My husband has finally heard from Dubai.

He is leaving the first week of September. Hopefully once he is there it will only take about two weeks for J and my visa to be approved. I am manifesting a speedy process as I would prefer our family stay apart as little time as possible. It's easier on all of us!

That being said. I still have lots of family fun time in Lebanon & lots of time to fill.

Yesterday I made a fresh batch of focaccia from scratch. I used the rosemary from the tree downstairs.

MAN! Do I miss my KitchenAid! I roughed it and hand kneaded it. It took up a significant amount of time and it was delicious! We ate it before I took a picture.... oops!

This morning J and I sat on the balcony and soaked up the breeze and sun. 86F and breezy - the temperature has risin since the AM so I am glad that we did that.


What lovely food did YOU make this week!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

My New Favorite Adventure

Grocery shopping in another country is AWESOME!

There are all these new items to look at, languages to decipher, different brands to discover, ingredients to read, types of food I never knew existed - the list goes on and on. Let's not forget to mention the prices! I'll just say that food is priced the way it should be; the veggies are cheap while the processed food is expensive.

Then there are the items that you think are one thing only to discover they are another.
(Looks like I'll be adding French to the languages that I need to learn. No problem! Easy ;)

I went in to get the ingredients for a lasagna and it took an hour just to search through all the stuff. I'm not much of a shopper but I was in absolute awe of everything.

Who would have thought that grocery shopping could be so much fun?!

Check out the link to the grocery store I am referring to :)



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How's Little Narch?

"What do you tell your almost 3 Year old about this... and how is she doing?"
(This is a long post broken up into sections for your reading convenience)

I started talking to Juju a long time ago about moving. She has been to 'Levanon' before and we regularily spoke with our fellow 'Narchians' on Skype.

I told her that we were going on a plane to live in 'Levanon', that we were going to find her a school (which she is very motivated by), buy her a princess bed, new toys, and new books. This new move would involve lots of fun and playing with Teta, Jido, Nabil and Petra more often and that we would make lots of new friends.

I made her a cut out card board 'map' of Lebanon. Complete with dots where the two houses would be and reminded her of the Mediterranean Sea was because my girl is a fish!


She was really pumped about the move to Lebanon and her eyes would light up every time we had trivia about our new adventure.

When Dubai jumped out at us I just left it. My thought process was two months in Lebanon to her... IS moving to Lebanon. I also started cluing her in the the process of looking for an apartment in Dubai. Showing her pictures of the area. When she would ask I would tell her the truth "This is Dubai we are going to have a house there as well."

PURGE AND PACK

When it came time to purge and pack I asked her what she wanted to take with to Lebanon. I put a big suitcase on the floor and told her it had to fit into the suitcase. (Looking back at it... She really could care less about the toys. She hasn't asked about any particular item - I brought the baby the barbies and the my little ponies - but that is it) She had a fit when I sold her crib (that she NEVER slept in) and she asked inquisitively where her drumset was when she deemed it drumming time.  However, for the most part... her attachment to things ???? all in my head.

One bitter-sweet realization was that people did not fit into suitcases. I told her she was right and congratulated her on her great observation. That seemed to be good enough for her. For the moment.

Once We Got Here

There was a period of adjustment. With the 28 hour transit time and the 8 hour time difference you can imagine that we were all extremely tired. At bed time Juju would complain that she wanted her bed, her stuff and her house. Firas and I would lay in bed with her and acknowledge that everything was still where we left it in Minnesota - that we would visit all the things and people we loved again.

That was particularly hard considering my grief and loss period didn't hit until we left.

But that was the first week....

She doesn't have those types of fits anymore - unless we have just video chatted with people. This episode usually interrupts the chat because it becomes very apparent to her that these people are far away and she starts asking about them, where they are, when she will see them - how she doesn't want them to be in Minnesota she wants them here with her.

These fits are harder than my own personal episodes because it reminds me of the child inside me throwing a tantrum for the comforts of home.

That Being Said

We are all doing well. Our sleep schedule is mostly normal - the new normal - I've decided to just let that be what it is.

Joelle has ditched diapers in the night after only a couple days. No potty training devices (ie toilet toppers, reminders to go) I was really nervous about not bringing all the famcy aids I had grown accustomed to. In fact it caused me anxiety thinking I would have to go back to potty training. She is doing impeccable.

She isn't so upset abut 'home' and starting to realize that home is relative to where you are and who you are with. We are talking about all the houses we will have and how cool that is. (1 in Minnesota. 1 in Baakaata. 1 in Adonis. 1 in Dubai)

My favorite exchange.....


"We are on a big adbenture"

"I couldn't have said it better myself darling"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fully Alive

We are living life with our hearts WIDE open - MAN are they filled!






Pictures pretty much say it all!

Friday, August 3, 2012

So How Are You Adjusting?

After getting over sickness I feel a lot more like myself. It takes longer than just adjusting to the sleep schedule to really feel rested; I'll let you know when that occurs.

I'm not sure if you could say I'm adjusted. I'm still off. Part of me writes this off because we are not at our final destination.

Once we are in Dubai there will be more adjustments: finding a home, car, setting up utilities, furniture, cleaning, unpacking ect ect ect.

I feel like until then.. All the adjustments won't be made - Until I'm in my new home.

Right now, I'm on a beautiful vacation with no end date. Eating delicious food, seeing beautiful sights, with the best company I could imagine!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First Day August 2012


I'm starting a new thing where I photo journal the first day of each month with one of my high school blogger friends.  I think this should be fun! This is what we did on the first day of August 2012!









Wanna participate in first day posts? Link up Here