Wednesday, July 16, 2014

[ boxes boxes everywhere! ]



IT'S moving day! And we're drowning in cardboard!

With 3 separate truck deliveries, checking off box numbers and directing boxes to the correct rooms has me wiped out, especially when some items won't be ending up in the same rooms they came from. It's tiring trying to decipher what the Dubai movers wrote on the boxes ~ lamp covers are lampshades, office side tables are filing cabinets, soft table is an ottoman... Luckily everything is in and tomorrow is reassembly/unpacking day ~ hopefully I can find a spot for everything! But when in doubt ~ into the basement it goes!

lisa

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[ house keys! ]





TODAY is the day! After spending a couple of months in hotels, we finally have the keys to our new home! Our container of furniture from Dubai will be delivered tomorrow along with everything we've had in storage for 3 years ~ gosh, I don't even remember what we've got! It's going to be a busy week but I'm so excited to start settling in to our new home and start decorating! Stay tuned!

lisa

Saturday, June 21, 2014

[ a new home! ]



WE'RE excited to say that our home inspection was successful and the sold sign is now up! Now we just have to wait until mid July to get the keys!

We love this home - an original tudor-style home built in the 20's with a couple of additions added on over the past 12 years. It has some really lovely details...


Older homes always have such lovely character that is difficult to replicate in new-build homes. And the current owners have done a great job of marrying the newer additions with the older home, making even the original red brick exterior and inlaid wood floors blend seamlessly. Their love for this home is evident.

I think it will be very easy to settle in and feel right at home. This truly feels like my dream home and I can't wait to get our things moved in and start decorating! 

lisa 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

[ oh canada! ]

SO WE landed safe and sound and pushed a bit of luggage through customs to last us until our shipment arrives...



It's been great being back to the old stompin' grounds we left in 2005. Of course one of the things on the must-do list was getting my guy a decent hotdog and we knew just where to go ~ to see Jimmy at his hotdog cart outside of the Canadian Tire store...


Jimmy hasn't changed a bit and neither have his hotdogs ~ still $2 and loaded with bonus pieces of sausage. No other hotdog cart can compare...



We've also been house hunting and my goodness, prices are just not what they were 9 years ago when we left this city! I called up the agent who sold our house back then and he toured us around to some really cute ones. There's one that really stood out amongst the rest...and....we already put in an offer!!

It's on a pretty tree-lined street...


Just a home inspection to do this week and then hopefully it will be ours! {well, in a month or so}. I didn't expect to find one that we loved so quickly ~ maybe it was meant to be? Fingers crossed it all goes well!

So that's what we've been up to the past few days ~ busy! So happy to be back!

Happy weekend! And Happy Father's Day!

lisa

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[ goodbye dubai ]


AND goodbye to expat life. It's been swell.

lisa

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

[ one week! ]


I CAN'T believe that we've only got one week left here in Dubai! Time is flying by and we'll be boarding the plane in no time. It's incredible how many odds and ends there are to wrap up ~ hours spent sitting in utility, municipal offices and banks to make sure that everything is closed off properly, money is wired home, letters obtained stating you owe nothing, etc. I thought arriving here was complicated but leaving is just as involved.


Amongst all this running around, it's given me plenty of time to dream about some of the little things I'm looking forward to back in Canada...

1. Normal street addresses ~ buildings with numbers, streets with names, giving and getting directions without having to think of a landmark

2. A decent hotdog, real bacon, good pizza with real pepperoni

3. No more bad B.O.

4. Walking through a mall without the heavy stench of incense burning through the corridor or people trying to spray you with perfume from every storefront

5. Target and Walmart ~ silly how you take these things for granted until you don't have them

6. Fresh fruit and vegetables that don't require a mortgage and stay fresh for longer than an hour

7. Shopping in a store without a clerk following 2 paces behind

8. No more converting dirhams to dollars in my head

9. A postal system that works and will actually deliver a package to me and not disappear

10. Customer service ~ whether in person or on the phone, someone who understands what I'm saying and can actually provide an answer  

11. Normal driving ~ no one riding your bumper and flashing their lights for you to move, or backing up on the highway because they've missed their exit, or driving in the middle of 2 lanes

12. Being in the same time zone as our friends and family

13. Nature ~ breathing fresh air, the smell of grass, trees, 4 seasons, even a thunderstorm

14. Friendly people ~ a smile from a stranger


It's certainly the little things that make all the difference. And in seven days, my dreams will all come true.

lisa
[via laurenconrad.com]


Friday, May 30, 2014

[ wanna buy a camel? ]

ONE THING I hadn't done in Dubai was get up close and personal to a camel. I knew that before I left, I would need to cross this off my list. I mean, you can't come to the Middle East and not see a camel. But I wasn't about to go on a camel ride {like the girls in Sex and the City did} so I thought I'd try to at least snap a pic of one somewhere.


We've passed by so many camel farms on our drives around the area...


There's a famous camel market in Al Ain where camels are sold with intense haggling for meat, racing or milking {the majority for meat ~ apparently serving a whole camel for a wedding feast is a long time tradition}. Anyone can own a camel in Dubai ~ though I'm assuming they expect you to have a farm and not keep it in your villa's backyard. 

Since I wasn't really in the market to buy myself a new pet, we didn't drive all the way to the Al Ain market but instead stopped at a tiny market on the outskirts of Dubai and I managed to snap a couple of pics. There was a small tent selling camel milk, etc...


and a small pen of camels waiting to be sold. The camel handler didn't seem to mind me stopping to take a peek...


I got mostly rear views, but a couple of them posed for their mugshot...


Another thing crossed off my Dubai bucket list! {And with the MERS virus floating out there right now, I thought it best to use the zoom on my camera and keep my distance ~ just in case!}

lisa

Sunday, May 25, 2014

[ room with a view ]

SO OUR temporary digs are working out quite well ~ we're in a hotel apartment until we fly back to Canada for good in June. We've got some good views...


...and conveniently located right on the metro line for me to get around...


Of course living in a hotel apartment has its quirks... living out of a couple of suitcases is a bit of a challenge for an extended period of time ~ I think I'll be pretty tired of the clothes I've got in rotation right now. Our room has a gas stove, but the oven has no temperature controls at all ~ it's just either on or off so cooking is a bit of a challenge, but I suppose it's better than only having a microwave ~ I just need to keep a close eye on things. We've got 2 English TV channels and 3 English movie channels {the rest are assorted Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, German, French, Iranian} so TV watching is limited but there is a huge gym so being able to exercise inside while temps are 40C outside is a nice bonus.

Thanks for all of your sweet comments on our move back. We are super excited and I can't wait to have some new home buying/decorating topics to blog about!

lisa


Monday, May 19, 2014

[ life's decisions ]


HOW OFTEN have we all had to weigh the pros and cons of a major decision ~ is it the right choice? Is it a mistake? What does our gut tell us? Sometimes that's all we can go by ~ our gut. Taking a huge leap of faith that everything will work out the way we hope.

Well, we've reached that time ~ time to close the chapter on our expat adventures. It's been 7 1/2 years since we first moved overseas, first to Ireland and then to Dubai. Making that first leap was the hardest and I still remember the knots I felt in my stomach as I boarded the plane to what would be my new home for 4 1/2 years. I was excited and terrified at the same time. Adapting to a new country, trying to fit in, learning the lingo and hoping to make a friend ~ leaving behind everything familiar, friends and family, my comfort zone. I think we all imagine at one time or another what life would be like living in a foreign country and we certainly wear rose-coloured glasses thinking of how incredibly glamorous it would be. But I think only fellow expats can ever truly understand what it's really like and how incredibly difficult, stressful and lonely things can be at the same time. Living somewhere as an expat isn't like being on a holiday and while you are trying to settle into your temporary digs, life goes on back home ~ parents get older, nieces and nephews get bigger, friends make new friends.

We don't regret the leap we took ~ we have been able to experience different things and meet some interesting people. We've seen places we may not have seen otherwise {I certainly don't think we would have ever visited Dubai if we hadn't lived here!}. But we've also been on the receiving end of emails informing us of medical emergencies back home and undergone major surgeries ourselves with no support system to help us through. Those are the ups and downs of this type of life. If nothing else, being an expat has given me an entirely new appreciation for where I'm from and I'm excited to go back.



This has been our weekend ~ getting packed up and our container loaded for the slow boat shipment back to Canada. In 6-8 weeks we'll see our things again, hopefully ready to set up into a home we'll have for a while. We've got 3 weeks or so left in Dubai to tie up loose ends, do those last few things we haven't done here yet and say good-bye to some friends. But my world traveller days are over and I can't wait to be a Canadian resident again {and to shop for a home!}.

lisa

[via weheartit.com]

Thursday, May 15, 2014

[ summer blues ]

I'VE BEEN loving all the light blues I'm seeing everywhere for summer. Such a soft, pretty blue leaning slightly towards periwinkle...



I don't really have much in this shade in my closet so I thought I'd add something new for summer. I decided to start with these most comfy GAP boyfriend roll-up shorts...


Oh my gosh! These fit so incredibly well - long enough to wear straight as Bermudas, but also cute when rolled up a bit ~ such a nice change from all the short shorts I've been seeing everywhere that simply feel too young for my age. I decided right then and there that I needed more than one pair so I added some new navy ones and olive ones too. 

Do you have any of this pretty light blue in your closet?

lisa

[via newenglandprepster.tumblr; meganpearl.polyvore.com; classygirlsdrinkchampagne.tumblr; chic-magnolia.tumblr; 
25.media.tumblr; GAP] 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

[ candied pecans ]



WHO DOESN'T love candied pecans? So yummy on ice-cream or just for munching on their own. I'm currently loving them sprinkled on salads ~ can't get enough of them! These are a cute gift to give as well, packed into a mason jar or cellophane bag.

what you need:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar, packed
1 egg white
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 cups raw pecans

how to:

1} Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2} In a medium bowl, combine sugars and cinnamon then set aside.
3} In a small bowl, whisk together egg white with 1 tbsp water until frothy then set aside.
4} In a large bowl, combine pecans with egg white mixture and toss to coat well. Stir in sugar mixture until evenly coated.



5} Spread pecans evenly onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through baking. Let cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

lisa

Saturday, May 10, 2014

[ road trip to al ain ]




I ALWAYS love a road trip and yesterday we decided to take a drive out to Al Ain, about 120 km south of Dubai. Also known as The Garden City for it's lush greenery, it's the birthplace of the first president of the UAE and has the highest number of Emirati nationals. Weather in Al Ain is less humid making it a popular destination for many people escaping the coastal cities in the summer.


With its tree-lined streets and many opulent villas, it's a very pretty place to visit...


It's always interesting to see the traditional bits...


and the new Tim Hortons was a welcome sight!


One of the main attractions of Al Ain is Jebel Hafeet mountain so we decided to drive up it to see what all the fuss was about...


It didn't seem very big from below but driving up the 8 degree winding road was quite fun...


There are a few lookout points along the way so you can stop and admire the view...


The mountain straddles part of the border with Oman. At the foothills is the Green Mubazarrah, where hot springs gush up in little streams and form a lake ~ a popular tourist attraction.

We continued our drive up past various signs ~ not sure if they were warnings or welcomes...


... and finally reached the top.

At the top is a hotel, a private palace, a snack bar and a parking area with 360 degree views...


There were a lot of people there and some got into the weekend spirit by cranking their car stereo and dancing in the parking lot...


After admiring the endless view, we grabbed some snacks and headed back down...


We had a great day and now that the temps are hovering around the 40C range, a road trip in air conditioned comfort is a great way to still enjoy the sights.

lisa

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