Sunday, January 24, 2016

KHALEEJI ABAYAS: Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2016

I have been mad about Dolce & G's latest fashion collections---so of course I love their abayas, especially the daisy and lemon prints inspired by their Sicily collection and the rose print from their love maman collection. While I would pair them  with less crazy glasses myself... I love them all. Bet I can't afford them all;)

MY STYLE: San Francisco, what I'd wear

One thing about being a born West Coast girl, is of course, California road trips. ...And San Francisco was always a stop for me. Golden gate cruise, riding the carousel at Pier 39, talking about the cost of rent on Russian row, jumping the trolley for Lombard street selfies, and just admiring the architecture in the Palace of Fine Arts... San Francisco is the perfect city to be a tourist. They also have a lot of halal schwarma joints;).

So when Fairmont hotels asked me if I'd like to blog about what I'd wear for a romantic weekend in San Francisco I was excited. To me San Francisco was always carefree blue jeans with beige blazers and vintage emerald earrings, or gingham shirts and white capris with wedges... with the glam of a vintage Chanel handbag. But I actually haven't been back since I became a Muslim... so I loved the idea of a challenge to make the perfect modest wardrobe for a San Francisco weekend. Afterall, it is a place on my list to one day show to my Omani husband. So if he and I went to San Fran for the weekend... and got to stay at the Fairmont hotel?
 Well, in a hotel room as lovely as those in the Fairmont, I wouldn't exactly wear an abaya;). To just stay in my hotel room, I'd either like to look super chic in a Christopher Kane dress, Isabel Marrant jewelry, and Manolo Blahnik heels...or relax in my silk pajamas and gingham slippers.
 If we had tea in the hotel's Laurel Court, I'd wear a Louis Vuitton pashmina as a hijab, an Inayah collection dress, Charlotte Olympia sandals, and wear a super cute vintage style box clutch, preferably something slightly deco in pattern. If tea in the Laurel Court is like tea in Victoria's Fairmont hotel (the Empress) I'll probably enjoy myself. Both cities were Gold Rush towns, and hotels like the Fairmont(s) have long and interesting histories.
Another thing I love about Fairmont hotels? They seem to attract oddly interesting people as guests. Or I do. I don't know. But if by some crazy chance I happened to befriend whoever is staying in the hotel penthouse (because I probably wouldn't be staying there on my budget;) ), I'd wear a dream wardrobe of an open front abaya (sheer) over 2014 Ramy Kadi couture gown, and carry my Sofia Al Asfoor handbag and Dolce and Gabanna tasselled clutch with vintage emeralds poking out of my black shayla, and vintage gold shoes on those lovely turquoise tiles....To play billiards (and lose stylishly) of course. A girl can daydream, when it comes to dream vacation wardrobes anyways. I suck at pool, so I know I'd lose.
And of course, I would wear a crazy ammount of jewels and over accessorize a mundanely simple get-up to visit my favourite painting in the Legion of Honor Museum, and enjoy my husband's first experience of the place. To me that would be the perfect romantic day... plus a trip to China town for some dim sum... and then this little Japanese restaurant I know for tea. Then back to my apparently luxe hotel room to relax and enjoy the view... San Francisco is spectacular at night (make sure you have a camera that can capture the lights).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

HOUSE UPDATE: window-fixer woes, Omani versus Western budget priorities, and other updates

So how is the house coming along? Okay, so it is officially late.  I actually expected that however. Contractor said beginning of January.  We said Feb. end....because everything in Oman is ALWAYS late, but now I think mid. March. InshaAllah;).

Wall edges and window edges were protected with metal then plastered. Everything is plastered. Bathrooms are waterproofed. Bathrooms are all tiled and plumbed I guess. Kitchen too. The façade is ready to be covered in wall stones... which is late. Windows should be in already...that's late. Copper piping is finally done for the ACs (that was pretty late because sand delivery was late... thus waterproofing the roof was late). Copper piping company is good. I'll list a recommendation for them later. Professional, on time, low cost, quality product. Delay was the sand company's fault, not theirs.

Tiling the floors has begun in both villas. Most wiring is done.  Gyps for villa 1 was done except in the living room. Villa 2----the gyps for the ceiling cornice molding is done (but the medallions and chair railing moldings and door frame moldings?---not done for no apparent reason---- so time to nag someone about that. Molding in villa 3----not to that stag yet, but that will be hellish and extensive to follow up on. Everything about villa 3 is late. Different contractor than villas 1 & 2.

So windows. Windows are driving me crazy. I wanted traditional sash windows with paned glass. However, as no one in Oman has a clue about these, in China (I went to China) I got some made that look like the ones I want. They are also set to be fixed on the outside of the façade, and this is very rare in Oman--- and apparently super hard to find anyone who wants the job. Also, the glass has to be removed and then put back into the frames once they're fixed. We found a company that originally quoted us 35 omr for each window (even tiny easy ones). Finally they agreed to 25 omr, and we told them they will only do the main façade windows on the villas, not like, bathroom windows, or the maid room windows. Then they were like, we'll come when the façade is ready.... which it was before we hired them to do the job. As my windows are outer fixed, actually, stone for the façade goes on after not before, unlike Oman construction 99% of the time. So we had to threaten to phone the consumer protection on them, but now they started at least. All the frames are in except in my living room. Glass panes not all in yet either. And the sliding glass doors.... Time to threaten them again probably. Although they have an excuse today (they are in court fighting other customers for work they didn't do right I guess). Awesome;). But they said Sunday they'll finish the job. InshaAllah they will. They're a new company, so maybe they just don't know how to manage time. I don't know.
Doors in general can go in once the floor tile is done so we checked around for the fixing prices. As most people buy their stuff in Oman fixing prices are usually included however, steel doors we found are 5 for fixing on average, 7-10 on UVPC and aluminum depending on your lock set (if pre-drilled or not---and the difficulty of the frame type), and 10-15 on wooden and MDF doors (depending on if locks are pre-drilled or not---any my locks are from Canada so of course they cost more;) ). We also found a company in Mabaila to do our iron and mahogany stair-railings/bannisters, and they charged like 50 omr, but I think we'll end up paying them more since the job is probably worth more than that quote if we want them to actually show up to work, like 30 omr more for both villas, I assume. I still need to order one window, and two doors. I wanted from Muscat these things, as the measurements weren't finalized when I was in China. Arches are hard to get right in buying ready-made in terms of measurements. Doors could go on earlier (easier for plastering since all our doors without arches are ready-made) but most companies will refuse to do this in Oman. No idea why but whatever. What do I, a woman, know about construction right? ;).

Both of the villa owners forced me to go with them to a crazy carpet sale in Khuwair? Crazy. Never again. I didn't buy anything. Omanis and carpets I tell you. They don't budget for like, paint, but they budget for carpets;). I'll buy mine later. Carpets aren't a priority in my own home;). I intend firmly to have couches and coffee and end tables... and a dining table. ...Before carpets. But people who I know don't have enough budget to cover their ACs have already got their carpets.... So that's one difference between having Omani clients and Western clients;). I've never actually designed for Indian clients besides helping them choose table lamps... so I don't know the other cultural differences that exist in budgeting priorities in Oman, but carpets sure are important for Omanis.

I think we bought our roof tiles. They take a week to make before delivery so I hope we did. I am not using them on my terrace/balconies however. I don't quite have the budget for it, but I want real stone there, and on my front steps.... Before carpets, I'll do this;).

The penthouse in Villa 2 is almost finished actually, so, if they did finish the wiring, and if and when they DO grout the tiles, I can get the electrician to install the lights and switches, and get them to paint the ceiling, and then get the wallpaper dudes to come, and voila!!!! Of course, the windows should have glass in their frames before all that can happen.....

When it is finished, I will move ALL the furniture we are storing in three locations there until the other rooms are done. I can't wait to get to the furniture putting-together and arrangement stage. Really. I am tired of seeing all these boxes in the ground floors perhaps getting water damage from the plaster phase and not knowing if they were what was ordered from China.... One sink that supposed to have roses on it has fishes... so you can understand my concern... If boys bedroom sets turn out to be pink... life will be hell in a handbag.

What else?....Listing in my head things to buy and what they cost all the time.... I randomly mention that in March we cannot go out to eat at any restaurants because I want to buy decent bed linens....;).

That's all for now folks.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Updates on plans for the future of this blog, and eye-candy until then

Dear Blog readers, I have totally been meaning to do a bunch of new and hopefully interesting posts. One on Omanization (although lol, my comments on Muscat Mutterings on the subject elicited an angry response so who knows how that will go---I'll try to spell-check and refrain from exaggerated emotional statements;) ). Another on the new public transit system (versus taxis who are apparently unhappy with it). Another overdue restaurant review on Shangri-la's moroccan restaurant. Also an update on the house building project and the progress of three different villas (that were supposed to be completed this month but probably won't be liveable for another month yet). I simply don't have time. It is work-construction-husband-kids-washing machine broke again so laundry is a big portion of my day lol. I have also been meaning to sit down and interview three different lovely anthropologists I know;) about their work in Oman. Also, the latest in cancer research emerging from Oman. And updates on FGM practices and studies in Oman. Also I was supposed to do a spa review but waffled out of that since who am I to review a spa? So if there is ever time, my Omani sister-in-law will do it for y'all, since she's really the Queen of spas (I think she goes every other day to some sort of spa or salon).
....Also I am trying to convince and make time to have tea with three lovely ladies from the royal family on what it means to be a real Omani princess (since us OPNO girls are not Omani ethnically---or culturally---and not directly descended from any royal family we are aware of;) ) in 2016. So stay tuned. If these very private ladies agree, that would be cool would it not? Can't promise they will, but I totally want to do interesting interview again. But again, blogging is a hobby I do when I am on hold on the phone at work or can't sleep at night because there's another bloody wedding going on, on my street that is cursed with weekly weddings.
Eye-candy until then.