Monday, February 29, 2016

HOUSE UPDATE: Windows are in, doors are on, and everything is swinging

So the house is doing well now (now that we have hired a second separate company to install our windows---other company will be sued via consumer protection). The doors and their frames are in place, the stone façade people can now correctly frame the exterior windows. It is starting to look like a house. Only the ground floors still require tiling/grouting. They've been plumbed and wired.
Design-wise, most decisions have already been made beyond paint color purchases, and the front wall....Got to get on that. We kind of like the idea of the wall of the above pictured villa. Although my husband wants the iron to be turquoise, and if he wants that I insist the shutter and door colours be a bit lighter.... also that the wall be lower in my front.
Before thinking of that, I was distracting myself with my 4 year old daughter's room. She envisions for herself, a room that is totally pink. Alas, not my favorite, but it is her room. As mentioned before, we bought her a used bedroom set in cream for just under 150 omr (King size bed, six door wardrobe). I didn't really budget much for her lighting. She had a budget of  60 omr, and everything we liked was 80 at least. It was frustrating.
I recently found a pair of used chandeliers for my daughter's bedroom. She really wanted these white chandeliers with pink porcelain roses she saw on our travels. So, for 6 omr for two chandeliers, and 1.5 omr for spray paint, and 1 day project DIY, she got her new room lights. I still need to drill some holes for the crystals, but that's a project for later... too much to do these days. But we did buy her new duvet (just got to remember she needs a quilt still and some shams, and a fitted sheet). With the money saved on the bedroom set and the lighting I intend to build her a doll house. I just need the time for that....
 The new bedding, with what will be a pink wall colour, and the cream of the bedroom set, it shall all be as princess-ey as she hopes, inshaAllah.
Another decision I can't seem to make is for the living room seating. I know I want a three-seater (with a console table arranged behind it which I already purchased)
and a two-seater that matches, and I was thinking, maybe, to do sofa in wicker or rattan or something? I am not sure yet... but I just haven't found the fabrics I desire or the designs I want in my price range and it is driving me nuts. I was thinking that option would give me a bit of a colonial vibe and, when I can afford or find the magical pieces, the wicker can go outside (where it belongs). The room will still be yellow, the flooring the same colour as the console... But I am so unsure... it is still early, but this is a conundrum I am currently facing. Not the worst of life's problems surely... but an issue. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SHOPPING: Western Women's Wear with an Arabian Touch for Spring 2016

These are my picks for Spring 2016 for looks any would-be-Omani princess would love, that have an Arabian flavor.

First off {above}, the 'Gazelle print' top from Zara for 17.90 OMR. I want it. I want it bad. I jumped around as excitedly as a little gazelle when I first saw it. My Omani husband was like, "stop that!". But I didn't care. It was just that perfect.
I love the 1940s style cut out on this tribal print dress. Makes me think of Zanzibar. It is from Mango and costs 17.900 OMR.
Now of course, in Oman, we don't usually need to pick up a Spring coat, but if we did, this short spring coat from H&M for 32.900 OMR would be perfect.
I could also see some Omani princess rockin' this Zara midi-skirt (I forget the price).... I probably like it with a black top and a tan and giant sun hat with an insanely wide brim...but that's just me.
And Promod has the perfect pair of trousers (you can get them dirty hiking up the side of a wadi, or you can wear them with heels to lunch). Okay, cargo pants are still the perfect pant to me, but they are way way out of style, and these are a more stylish compromise for a former cargo-pant addict.
And I so so so love this embroidered beach cover-up from Forever 21. Admittedly, I would probably wear it as a tank-top or tight tee cover up in Oman;) with a tonne of jewelry and jeans, but the blue and white always reminds me of Arabian, North African and Iranian Islamic-influenced tile motifs.
It'd look cute for instance (the Forever 21 beach cover-up) over this Mango tunic dress (that I'd wear over skinny-jean blue jeans of the darkest blue hue, or something more casual, and cuffed. I think this dress is super cheap at Mango right now (like 9 OMR or something like that) and I love tassels and pom-pom anything. My father jokes that in the U.K I like to match the curtains and upholstery. If he was in Oman, he'd probably say I like to match people's tents. Oh well! Who care about the fashion opinions of the man who wears new Lacoste  and Ralph Lauren shirts (that we had to lie and say came from the Work Warehouse sale section) to burn crap in the yard anyways? Tassels and pom poms rock.
Things that I have taken to? If my abaya (since you can't see what's under my abaya) is actually fashionable and not anything too Arabian or ethnic (because I don't want to look Bedu/Jebali at this particular stage in my hijab-wearing evolution) I have started to carry hand-woven Omani palm baskets when I shop. They are strong, they are environmentally sustainable, they fund local artisans and Omani craftspeople, and they're chic. I think French women look so chic with their baskets for shopping, and I used to love a wicker basket I had for shopping. I bought mine (palm frond ones) in Sohar, and my mother-in-law already has stolen one. I'm hoping to make this a trend, since something about the new coloured abayas, and a palm basket, reminds me of spring.
Inspiration (not period Kuwaiti-spice-merchant lost-his-ships-at-sea and now his daughter-must marry-her-evil-cousin dramas): French practicality (I know everyone loves Bridget Bardot and Jane Birkin and their wicker, but I am an Ines and Mimi Thorisson-especially girl):

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SAVE A LIFE: Blood Donation Drive This Upcoming Week at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital's Blood Bank

If you've ever had a relative who was in a serious car accident or had a child who suffered from an illness, you'll know how gravely low the blood bank supplies are in Oman. Donating in one blood bank, blood is often rushed from one hospital to another as supplies are that low.

The Oman Blood Bank are going to be doing a drive next week at the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital at the Blood Bank (you can tell security you are going to donate blood at the blood bank for directions). You can come and wait to donate, or you can phone 2414 4987 to make an appointment for a no-waiting donation.

Now I am one of those sad little persons who is almost never allowed to donate blood (darn anemia---darn underweight body!!!) but to do my part I'd like to publicize the event.

1.) Donation consists of giving whole blood which is extracted via a needle in one-go, and is pretty painless.
2.) All needles are clean and individual. All persons collecting blood are medical professionals.
3.) This blood is required for persons who will die without it. You can save a life just by taking 20-30 minutes out of your day to donate.
4.) Blood is not given out on a "wasta" basis, I assure you, and all donations will be fairly distributed in the public healthcare sector, and in private if required for a life-saving situation.
5.) Generally the body can re-produce the donated portion of blood very quickly, with no effect after 20 minutes on the donor,  however it is not medically recommended to donate whole blood sooner than every 56 days.

Blood donation generally has some conditions.

1.) That you, yourself, are in good health.
2.) You meet the age and weight requirements for a suitable donor.

A good guide to general eligibility can be found on this website (it has a weight and age calculator that is pretty useful in confirming your ability to donate):

With in depth information here . At the upcoming SQUH blood drive they will go over this checklist for you to confirm your eligibility.

1. Have an adequate amount of sleep and food before donating.

1. Expect to rest for 10-15 minutes before leaving the donation area. Most people aren't affected at all by blood donation but this will help the minority who might experience dizziness immediately after donation.
2. Drink plenty of fluids for the next 4-5 hours following your donation. (Back the couple of times I was allowed to donate I drank plenty of fresh orange juice and ate yummy digestive cookies!!!!)
3.) Keep the bandage on and clean for the 5 hours proceeding your donation appointment.
4.) Do not do exercise or heavy lifting for the next 12 hours proceeding your donation.
5.) Eat healthy meals including iron rich foods (spinach, steak, etc.).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

RESTAURANTS IN OMAN: Zeitoon Restaurant in Mawaleh for Moroccan, Mediterranean, and Omani food

Ever since I first saw those gigantic arched Moroccan doors I told my Omani husband we were going to have to try this restaurant in Al Mawaleh (the turn before the car dealerships before City Center Seeb Mall-same mall complex as Cake Gallery). I love Moroccan food. I was so sad when Meknes (in Kuwair) became a Shisha joint (it was once a decent Moroccan restaurant). This new restaurant, not willing to make the same mistakes as Meknes, cleverly forgoes any affinity to Morocco in title. It's name is Zeitoon, and it promises 'mediterranean and omani' cuisine. Omani women (hopefully not all) seem adverse to Moroccan women (harshly prejudiced sadly) so there are no female Moroccan waitresses, unlike at Meknes. A smiling Philipino hostess greeted us, and ushered us to our table. 90% of the waiters are, however, Moroccan;). This seemed to be a good business decision, because I saw Omani families downstairs, and Omani couples upstairs. They were enjoying Moroccan food and decor and weren't scared away by what they didn't know offhand. But I came for Moroccan.
The restaurant itself is quite large. There is a downstairs seating area best suited to families with kids to the right, upon entering. To the left, there is a tea lounge, and tea tables. Upstairs, there is indoor and outdoor seating, and the outdoor tables are primarily occupied by couples. It was a date night for me, so upstairs it was, to watch the sunset over the mountains, and linger with long conversations over mint Moroccan tea while purusing the menu (which are touch tablets rather than paper so you can see pictures of the food). I am a tad traditional. I hate technology in restaurants but my Omani husband liked it. Going through the central indoor seating one passes fountains, and an Italian pizza oven. My daughter will appreciate both. To me that's promising.
We chose the table farthest to the back, where the center opens up. Good sunset veiw. Helpful waiter.
When it came to the food, we started with Moroccan tea (enough for two) for 2 omr.
My husband had the 'mediterranean salad' I believe. He really liked it.
I had 'Moroccan harira' soup , which I believe was 3.4 omr (don't quote me). I'd classify it as a delicate rather than a hearty 'harira', but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
My husband and I both had the same main, the "Moroccan Lamb and Plum Tagine". The plums were delicious, the meat melted off the bone, and I sopped my sauce up quite easily. My husband also enjoyed his, although he did ask for some "harissa" sauce for spice. It was a very mild harissa, but I liked it with my rice. Our mains were 12 omr each.
For dessert we had a fruit plate. It was 4 omr. Strawberries, apples, canteloupe, kiwi, and some other fruit. My husband was a bit disapointed it didn't comprise "dragon fruit" as shown in the menu illustration of the dish, but it was fine to me. Do we EVER buy dragon fruit? No.
The food was good but higher priced, but then, the decor and atmosphere, are all very fine, and the hand-painted tiles, mosaics, and fountains are a feast for the eyes, so I could swallow the cost, cheapo that I am;). We'll be back again. It was a nice night. Thank-you husband;). P.S. The restaurant here reviewed did not know I am a blogger, and all food was paid for by my husband, so no bias on my part at all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SHOPPING: Zara Home, Arabian home stylings for Spring '16

 I always love pieces from Zara home's latest collection. These are the pieces I thought would most suit an Omani princess. These cushions would be perfect for a beach-front villa...
 And towels with pom-poms or tassels? I always love.
An adorable picture frame for a side-table?
 And what wannabe Arabian princess doesn't collect lanterns?
 And what Omani princess (who does have to do dishes) wouldn't want this cut-glass soap dispenser for her dish soap? Now find a dish soap that smells like Jasmine and Narcissus or sandalwood or something, and you've got a less ugly chore now don't you?
Like this one:

And dry up with these cute %100 linen  tea towels:
 Wouldn't hurt at all if you had a kitchen window that looked out into a garden like this;) :