Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blogging from a new address

In case anyone happens to fancy a blog that I am posting on (more than this one) that is currently in no way related to Oman (but in future it will be), please check out...

...which is thus far, a look at my background and inspirations concerning Interior Design and Architecture, pre-Oman.
Tonight I am supposed to present my "Dreams for Plans" manifesto, and convince investors to partner me in launching my own home and lifestyle collection, based on GCC and Omani Heritage and Culture, that, but grounded in my more formal English/Colonial design background. I will work on building that blog (or bridging it into another more polished and more aptly named website in the future---where I will actually research and edit posts before they are posted;) ) on Middle Eastern and GCC related interior design and architecture.
It isn't polished, it isn't fancy, it isn't proof-read or thought out, but it is eye-candy, and will one day, inshaAllah, I hope, be something more substantial, based on friends and other bloggers I admire in the world of Interiors set, and their example contexts other than the Middle East.
This will probably be my adieu from the Omani Princess blog for the most part, but we have one other blogger left, to leave you entertained, whenever she schedules the time to actually blog.
All my best,
-this OPNO

Saturday, September 24, 2016

24 hours with...OPNO

I had a goal to be more organized with my time this year. ...And to take better care of my health. ...And to spend more time with my kids. 

...and I've failed. 
So many things to do and still no washing machine, housemaid or nanny...I want to keep it that way but my husband is trying to convince me that I won't manage my personal and career aspirations if I don't. ***I am opposed to having any household employees, but not terribly adverse to modern appliances;). However, I am waiting for a used washing machine in the make and brand I adore to go up on Dubizzle--- because I am cheap***

I had previously been content with failing and being stressed and frazzled because I had learnt to accept my limitations, however, to spell one's time and hours into a list of what is to be done and how to do it, and possibilities do open up. .

..Afterall, as lame memos on makeup instagram accounts do serve: "You have just as many hours in your day as Beyonce". Which means, if you wanna get it all done, be a boss babe and just do it.

...However, Beyonce, being Texan and all, and pretty darn rich, has a staff, and only one kid if memory serves. She hardly has a normal career 9-5, and thus, that quote makes me role my eyes as far back in my head as I do when I hear someone say to me "you can learn anything or be good at anything if you want to do to so bad enough".

That simply isn't true. While remaining a lovely sentiment as a premise, realistic applications of that philosophy render up no methodology for successfully applying the hypothesis of "you can make your life as full and successful as, say Beyonce, if only you work for it". Women are already pressured enough on the home and career fronts without adding a bombardment of that kind of false-positive (excuse my langauge) naive BS.

However, I happen to enjoy reading the "24 hrs" posts in Harper's Bazaar Arabia fashion magazines{probably the only article in them I usually do find worth reading;} nonetheless, and realized that I have quite a lot in common with Victoria Beckham {excluding her wardrobe, figure, celebrity persona, income, and football of course!;) }. She was quoted therein: "Tom Ford takes 3 baths a day? How nice for him! But he doesn't have 3 kids."  I found reading, her schedule was a lot like mine, only she gets more done, probably because she doesn't have to fit cleaning and cooking into her schedule anywhere. So I decided to make a "day in the life of OPNO" rendering, using V. Beckham's day as a guide for mine, and fit all that annoying cooking and cleaning in there somewhere.

This is what I came up withh...

Fajr: Pray
5:30 am: Wake up. If it is a weekday, get dressed. If it is a weekend, eat breakfast.
6:00 am: If it is a weekday, start getting the kids ready and make the beds. If it is a weekend, catch up on news, pinterest, and my own writing/or painting.
6:30 am: If it is a weekday, leave the house if it is a go to work day, and take the kids to schools/daycare. If it is a weekend, continue to enjoy sleeping children and husband, and follow 6:00 am schedule blissfully. If it is a work at home day, make the beds.
7:30 am: If it is a weekday office day, arrive at work, check email, phone people for the day's schedule, and eat breakfast {*prepared the night before}---steal boss's coffee. Do research, drafting, editing, writing as required, or attend meetings/interviews and/or make site visits. If it is a weekday stay at home to work day, eat breakfast, do dishes, and sweep kitchen and living room floors. If it is a weekend make breakfast and do dishes and ask husband to do the sweeping.
8:00 am: If it is a weekend, get the kids dressed, and get self dressed. If it is a work day or a work at home day update this blog with pre-prepared posts or continue with set tasks list, and if it is a work at home day, reply to work related emails and turn phone off from its silent setting.
8:30 am: If it is a weekend, make all the beds, and sweep all the floors. Ask kids to help with dusting and tidying chores. Remind husband he has time use goals as well, and he should a. pick up a paintbrush and mix his watercolours, b. work on the garden, or c. fix stuff around the house rather than reading chat threads or playing games on his mobile phone. If it is a work at the office day, I am already working on what I am supposed to be doing. If it is a work at home day, avoid the internet as much as possible and read and write or draft/design whatever I stayed home to get done.
9:00 am: If it is a weekend, if chores are done, play with the kids for an hour. Working at the office or at home continue working;).
10:00 am: If it is a weekend, go out if that is what is planned. If staying home is planned, do laundry. If working at home take a break to sweep or do laundry while drinking coffee or tea {tea is better for you!).
10:40 am: Continue with previous unless working at home...working at home means get back to work!
11:00 am: If it is a weekend and staying at home teach kids something for a half hour or so.
11:30 am: If it is a weekend and  staying home spend time with my husband or do something that I enjoy for 30 minutes to an hour or so.
12:00 pm: Pray Dhur somewhere between here and 1pm usually. If it is a weekend, make and eat lunch. If it is a work day, eat something---anything---at desk or site.
1:00 pm: If working at home and finished work, do laundry and tidy or mop, and start to make lunch.
2:00 pm: If working, make the work task list for the next day of work. Check emails and phone and reply to all before finishing up.
2:30 pm: If a work day, pick up kids. If a weekend, nap, or better, have a bath then work on one's own writing and painting or hang out with husband if he is not going to sleep.
3:00 pm: If it is a work day, eat lunch and then nap or bathe and then do what I would do if it was the same time of day on a weekend and I wasn't tired enough to sleep.
4:30 pm: Pray Asr. Wake everybody up, make beds, and get everybody, including self, dressed.
5:00-5:30ish pm: Go out or stay home. If staying home have guests over or visit, or relax as a family.
7:00-7:30ish pm: Come home and make and eat dinner.
8:00pm: do dishes (ask husband to help), and get kids bathed, into pajamas, and teeth brushed.
8:40 pm: Workday evening, read kids a bedtime story and put them to bed. Weekend, play with them until 9pm. Pray Isha.
9:00pm: Weekend, put kids to bed. Workday, hang out with husband or do anything on the personal aspirations list of to-do.
10:00pm: Workday evening, go to bed.
11:00pm-1am-ish: Weekend, go to bed.

History of Boats, Copper, Pottery, and Warfare in Oman, and Book Reviews ...InshaAllah

mutrah by Alan Villiers
There are a lot of posts in draft for our blog right now. Several book reviews, and historical posts on boat building and warfare in Oman, as well as a bit on Islamic art in the way of Omani pottery and copper crafts, and architecture in the way of wood types in the region.

...Because of the book reviews, we should probably write a series of  "Arabian explorers" posts to do with Oman... but haven't;).

Also, there are some interviews I personally meant to get on doing, like "what it means to be royal in Arabia" and in response to Thesiger's thoughts:

"I went to southern Arabia only just in time. Others will go there to study geology and archaeology...even to study the Arabs themselves, but they will move about in cars and will keep in touch with the outside world by wireless. They will bring back results far more interesting than mine, but they will never know the spirit of the land nor the greatness of the Arabs."

...Interviews with a few anthropologists who came to study Omani culture these days, if they'll still have me run my questions. I also meant to highlight research in Oman (Cancer research, inventions, archeological discoveries, etc...), and the latest abaya trends, but I never have time it seems. Or I'd rather post eye-candy. Apologies.
Omani Dhow in mombassa by Alan Villiers

Photos in this post by Alan Villiers, taken from the website of the Royal Greenwich museum

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Where do typos come from

I know I don't take the time to read over my posts before I post them or care to use proper grammer. I have enough of grammer and proof-reading in my real life. But really, I do most of my blogging from this horrible lap top since I don't like to post from my family one or work one;).

I always wanted to do one of those stylish blogger photos where I take a picture of my blogging place;) lol. This is why I haven't.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Being Anonymous + Husbands + Romance Novels= weird conversation

"Did you see why I thought you'd like it?" M asked me.

"Because reading any terribly written romance novel is going to make me confident that my own writing is not total crap?" I coyly wink, knowing that to be the only reason someone as intelligent as M (a woman who reads Plato and Socrates and Herodotus for fun, in Greek) reads such drivel herself...

{...Besides finding the majorly female readership's of romance novels inexplicable penchant for a controlling or distant destructive (but reformable) male literary figure in the romance genre to be psychologically fascinating disturbing}. 

"...Or because anything set in the 1800s reminds me of life in Arab countries in terms of social customs?"

I have blogged before [ ] , about, at times, feeling I am stuck in a Jane Austen novel, in circa 2000AD Oman, no less.

...Then M and I go off on a tangent ,discussing the endless similarilties there.

-And in a way, when we do go back to the original subject, we are still discussing that concept, for you see, in the plot of the romance novel she thought I would enjoy, the feminine heroine is an anonymous gossip columnist writing about 19th century high society.

{I.E, M thought I would be able to feel kinship for a woman and be able to roll my eyes at her husband}.

"I just thought it ideal, to be able to point out to you, that you are living your life set in a terrible romance novel." I can almost hear her smirk behind her keyboard (as we are using FB chat to enable this conversation).
...Of all the literary genres I would love to hear myself likened to be living in, romance is the last. If I had to be in some easily downloadable drivel,  I could be a Michael Crichton kind-of-girl. I could do Timeline.

In the book she sent me, one could liken a blogger to a columnist. I write anonymously. ...So does the character. Character starts writing before she marries, tens years or so, like me;). We are both too old (or in my case, too divorced) to marry well in the societies we are living in (her, 1900s, me, modern-day Arabia), supposedly, but protagonist-romance-novel-chick and I marry well and happily despite.
...But diverging from the main subject as we are wont to, M and I conclude, that, contrary to a romance genre heroine, I see myself as neither plain nor socially awkward or overly poor or in need of rescue, in no period of my existence. No man could stoop, or swoop, or condescend, to have me, so thus, disipates the general literary plot device  used in romance novels, as ruled by the authority that is us, the device is flawed in reality. M insists, however, that it is the low percentile chance fantasy element that our gender likes to entertain  torture themselves with.

In the book, the protagonist's husband learns of his wife's column and literary identity and fears for her reputation should society and their relations learn of her identity. He begs her to stop writing, insists, rages, points out all the pitfalls...

{Same thing happened to me of course, with my Omani husband, which M knows.}.

She doesn't stop of course, let's slip something slip so that one of her haters threatens to blackmail her or oust her real name (and that's of course, happened to me also;). In the romance novel version the husband announces he loves his wife too much and would leave his name, and where he lives (and loves to live), and his counry even, to be with his wife to get away from the scandal (not that this blog should require such an overreaction unless I'd figure to be more brutally journalistic than I have yet dared go;p). Of course, scandal never is the result, more like, a rise in popularity, and that's that. I won't diverge how the reality turned out, but I am not divorced, nor did we run away;p.

...So, we discuss love, what it is worth, blogging, what it is worth, relations, what they are worth, society's value to the individual, and identity, how we two women value it ultimately with conviction.

... Quite impressive for a mini book club discussing themes imbedded in drivel, actually.

...Blogging is something I wouldn't give up for marriage, because it is something inherently me. It isn't as important as my marriage of course, and maybe this is the hard part to explain, but it is part of my identity, even being anonymous, with other anonymouses at times, and my identity is far more important than my marriage, if that makes sense. It makes my marriage. It make my marriage, at least %50 of it, because identity is what composes me. It is more important than society, surely;).

Identity is easily lost, in love, in life, in society most of all, and most tragically, in love.

That's what the two of us concluded from our conversation anyways.

"You should write a novel. Semi-auto-biohraphical, like Penelope;p" M advises.

{Penelope is the character in the stupid story}.

"And you should never become a therapist," I admonish her, "because that is a terrible idea!"

"Not a bad idea. I am certain then, I would be duly entertained," she replies wickedly, before signing off.

...I wish she were a more avid blogger;)... you guys would love her stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Inlaid Furniture fits both Arabian and European Decor, and I want a bookcase jib door! but heaven knows what for...

Now my bedroom is drastically more feminine than Shane Smith's (as featured in the re-blog on Habitually Chic®) but his gives me inspiration for what I'd really love to do for my husband's dressing room (let's face it, I stole the entire wardrobe so I owe him a dresser). Since Arabian design I have not been allowed, I'd still love some pieces that would travel if we ever moved (and we will one day, I am sure). So something inlaid would be wonderful wouldn't it? Of course, the dressing area for my husband also has to double as a reading nook for me.... currently it is a store... for a sliding glass door we thought we had lost and thus never installed, regrettably, nicer than any found in Oman... do any of my readers NEED a sliding glass door? lol.
 I also love the tile in Shane Smith's yard...
...And coolest thing ever... he has a bookcase door. I have so always wanted one of those. I lived in an old Tudor house once and tried to convince my father that we needed a jib door disguised as a bookcase...

...Sadly, he did not think it the most integral feature for flipping the house.

...Of course, I also have no reason for a hidden bookcase door... and since I am muslim the last thing I'd hide with it would be a bar... but Shane Smith also has a hidden staircase there (not photographed)... and I've also always wanted one of those;).

Some inlaid dressers I love....

...And put into a non-arabian decor setting:
 All above pics from, and pic below, from .

Sunday, September 11, 2016

How to experience Omani culture during Eid days, just a note

In my advice about How to Experience Omani Culture During Eid Days I forgot to mention one little note... if your goal is to catch the traditional omani "al azwah" dances and music, and contests, if any, what day you do go may be of little consequence if there was a recent death in a given village...

Traditionally, rifle shows, and music, and dancing, are for happy occasions. Out of respect for a lost member of village society, these things are forgone for Eids sometimes....just so, if you went to a village famous for its traditions... and you saw nothing even it was the right day I told you to go on, you'll understand why;).

Happy Eid, all

Quiet Eid for me this year, just staying home in muscat, no village trip until after everyone else from village starts to head to muscat. I hear my neighbors firing rifles nonetheless;) to celebrate. my kids will wake up soon and we will go for a walk on a farm, and me, I am just enjoying my tea, with no meat to cut, or anyone to dress up for... which I am liking today.

The rush of eid errands is over... so now I can go to tailor shops in peace, after the weekend. I need a new non-maternity wardrobe, and abaya styles have changed so I should write a post about that....

Take care everyone, and hope you have a blessed and happy Eid long weekend.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

THE HOUSE UPDATE: DIY project, paint the fireplace_done

So... if you've been following our house building project, you'll know that painting this brand new electric faux-fireplace's mantle was on my to-do list. ...And as rarely as I'd advocate painting new wooden furniture in Oman (where it is disasterously overpriced) when you can't buy the colour you need, I make the exception.
This piece of furniture was from Pan Emirates. I loved the size and height of it for my faux-English living room. (Omani husband voted for European design so forgive---I wanted a chance to flex my Arabian decor muscle too). ...And I am a Canadian girl just a little bit still...
...A home is just not a home without a fireplace for friends and seating to be arranged about. What else do you sit by to have a tea, or make polite conversation around? (Having the TV on is still rude to me but flames give something for people with nothing to say to stare at).
While I haven't had the budget required to go truly 100% architecturally correct for English style (I need stair runners, and more art, and built-in bookcases, and more gyps---but less than Arabs generally believe they need for a European look) I wouldn't forgo the fireplace.
...But it had to fit into/with our moulding/gypsum chair-railing, so it became a painting project.
1.) I wiped the fireplace down from dust before painting with baby wipes. You can use a wet sponge and dish towel too then let it dry but I was lazy.
2.) I used National Paint brand wood primer, which I was very careful to apply in smooth one-directional brush strokes. I used 1 paint brush for each coat, because I love National's lack of long lasting scent but hate their difficulty to stir-ness;). I find changing brushes makes smoother  coats. ...And Jotun primer just seems to take forever to dry on wood or mdf paint projects. I can do 2 coats National primer in one evening and be done with it.
3.) Before applying the second coat of primer I checked to make sure the first coat was 100% dry (it was after 2 hours). I also picked off and smoothed (sand if you must) lightly any drips I'd missed. Then, using the same method in step 2.) I added the second coat.
4.) The next day I did one coat of Jotun classic white matte interior paint (the same paint I used for all our villa's mouldings/gyps and ceilings). I used a wider brush for the paint to reduce strokes required, and did details with a stiffer bristled smaller brush. I let this dry 24 hours. muscat is humid.
5.)  The next day I did the second coat, same method a step #4. Then it was done.
National wood primer is much cheaper than Jotun, and works better for my purposes. For brushes I spent 4 omr. For primer I think less than 5 omr (I bought other paints that day so it was less but how much so I cannot recall). I already had the Jotun (non-oil) matte interior paint (cheapest kind) in Classic White. I am happy with how it turned out, and it blends with the rest of the room. People in general assume we spent way more money on the living room than we did. It was one of the cheaper rooms decor-wise, beyond furniture, and I think I still did buy less furniture than Omanis do for their guest-sitting room. I have 4 side chairs however, that require painting and re-upholstery, and I am still waiting for a curtain to be delivered, before this room's look to be finished off enough to show it off to y'all, so stay tuned.
...Chairs were used, 4-6 omr each. Awesome yes?
However, I have a new baby and I am back to work, so you may be waiting more than a month or two for that;).

Monday, September 5, 2016

The national museum of Oman and its hours of operation

I need to go... I've obviously driven by, trying to visit a closed Bait muzna (art gallery), but with 3 kids en tow, and strollers forgotten, I decided on another day. Eid holidays are long this round, so maybe I will get a chance. Although I still have to go to Rustaq, and Nizwa, and village.