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Expat wanderer

Al Shamal and Zubara – A Day Trip

A great day, temperatures down, a breeze blowing, a sky with clouds (Qatar sky is almost always flat blue), a perfect day for a trip to the north, Al Shamel and Fort Zubara:

I had no idea the highway was torn up all the way from Landmark Mall to Al Shamel.

Aarrgh.

The old camel crossing sign we used to stop and take photos of our guests at was down.

And a great day altogether, anyway.

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November 28, 2009 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Community, Doha, ExPat Life, Photos, Qatar | 11 Comments

Pink Glove Dance

I love this, the whole idea, I love it so much it made me cry to watch it. I’m shy about dancing, but these people – they were dancing for a cause. They didn’t care about making fools of themselves, they just let go and had a good time promoting breast cancer prevention awareness. You gotta love it:

When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community.

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Charity, Family Issues, Health Issues, Music, Women's Issues | 6 Comments

Turkey is Good For You

Last night, when I felt so bad, I wasn’t hungry. I know, go figure, surrounded by delicious food and the only thing that sounded good was a little turkey and gravy. Mostly, turkey is too dry for me, but the lady who cooked the turkey really knew what she was doing, and it was delicious. (I bet she used SALT!) And, actually, after eating a little turkey, I felt better.

So today, I know why. My health tip today – one of several, actually – from Real Age is about how good turkey is for you. Wooo HOO on me, patching up my DNA!

Who knew?

Feeling frazzled? Have another helping of the main course — if the main course is turkey.

Thankfully, skinless turkey is chock-full of B vitamins that help boost your energy and cinch stress — something many of us could probably use today. And every day.

Tallying the Talents
Think of the B vitamins in turkey — niacin, B6, and B12 — as your psyche’s little bodyguards. These nutrients also help patch up DNA and keep your cells in good repair. And best of all, with turkey, your B vitamins get served up in one of the leanest meat sources around. A 3-ounce portion of skinless turkey breast has just 0.2 grams of saturated fat. That’s nothing compared with the 4.5 grams found in the same amount of flank steak or the killer 5.5 grams found in 3 ounces of fresh ham.

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Doha, ExPat Life, Food, Thanksgiving | 3 Comments

How Good Normal Can Be

Oh no! Just when I need to be at my best, when I need to sparkle, I am struck low by a chest cold – the kind with a wracking tubercular cough accompanied by dizziness and sheer exhaustion. We have house guests, we have Thanksgiving – and I can barely drag myself out of bed. I am not myself! And I am so sick I don’t care!

Thanks be to God, AdventureMan to the rescue. He has taken time off to spend with our houseguests, and he takes over, allowing me to sleep the day away. I am up just in time to dress and head off to dinner, carrying dishes I had prepared days before, thank God. I try to keep a distance between me and anyone I might infect, and I leave early, heading back to bed.

Today I am a new woman. Not well, still coughing a little, but I know how good it feels not to feel rotten. I have some energy. My head is clear. Today, I am truly thankful.

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Health Issues, Thanksgiving | 8 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving, Eidhom Mubarak

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Eid, Thanksgiving | 5 Comments

Doha Sunset

When I lived in Kuwait, every day I was thrilled by the sun coming up over the horizon. I never got tired of it.

Today, thanks be to God, I was out when the sun started getting low in the sky, and the colors have added dimensions – what a treat.

Some views of Doha at sunset:

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Beauty, Doha, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Public Art, Qatar | | 5 Comments

1 in 4 US Mortgages “Under Water”

1 in 4 mortgages ‘underwater’
Report shows 10.7 million borrowers are stuck with homes that are worth less than the mortgages they owe.

By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com staff reporter
Last Updated: November 24, 2009: 12:19 PM ET

Foreclosure plague: It’s spreading

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — In a sign that more foreclosures could be on the horizon, 23% of people with mortgages owe more than their home is worth, according to a report released Tuesday.

Almost 10.7 million U.S. mortgages were “underwater” as of September, said research firm First American CoreLogic.

Another 2.3 million homeowners are within 5% of negative territory, the report said. The two figures combined comprise almost 28% of all residential properties with mortgages.

Negative equity, also called an “underwater” or “upside down” mortgage, has become more common as home values plummet. The report is closely watched because borrowers who are underwater are more likely to be foreclosed.

Would you walk away from your house?
Foreclosures have been rampant for some time, but lately the tide of decay had seemed to be slowing — so Tuesday’s report could dent optimism for the housing market over the next few months.

On the other hand, the trend that turned so many mortgages upside-down — falling home prices — has reversed the past six months. The S&P/Case-Shiller HomePrice Index has reported two consecutive quarters of increasing prices.

If home prices continue to go up or, at least stabilize, fewer mortgage borrowers will find themselves underwater in the coming months.

CoreLogic changed its methodology for the third quarter — now it accounts for payments that reduce principal, and it no longer assumes home equity credit lines have been maxed out. Using the old method, 33.8% of borrowers would have been underwater in the third quarter compared with 32.2% in the previous quarter, according to a CoreLogic spokeswoman.

State totals: The majority of underwater mortgages are heavily concentrated in five states that have particularly suffered from the housing bust: Nevada, at 65%; Arizona, at 48%; Florida, at 45%; Michigan, at 37%; and California, at 35%.

These five states have been especially beleaguered because of a high rate of prime loans that went bad. Many of those loans were option-adjustable rate mortgages, in which borrowers could choose to make minimum payments that were so low they did not even offset the interest being accumulated.

When that accumulated debt reaches a certain point — usually 10% to 25% more than the original principal — the option-ARMs loans are recast into fixed-rate mortgages. When that happens, many borrowers cannot afford the new payments.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Values | 1 Comment

When Two Big Holidays Collide

Thanksgiving is one of the BIG food holidays for Americans (and Canadians, but they celebrate it in a different month, on a different day) and the Eid is one of the big food holidays for Muslims, and can you see where I am going with this? We have houseguests coming tomorrow and I was out of what are called here “digestive biscuits” (horrible name!) and what we call graham crackers, which make for a very quick and easy pie crust.

As the jello mix was cooling before I could add the walnuts and pineapple and celery, I thought I would zip to the grocery. It’s still early in the morning, after nine but before ten, I can get in and out before the crowds hit.

Wrong. Oh so very wrong. If it were a normal day, yes, in and out in a flash, but when two big holidays are about to collide, no, there are other early birds like me, all jockying for spaces, for carts, to get their veggies and fruits weighed, to get their purchases rung up . . .

Fortunately for me, the first wave, the real eager beavers, was slipping out with their packages, and I got a parking place. No worrying about getting a space near the entry – any space will do. Besides, the weather has cooled and walking a little extra is nice this time of year.

I also lucked out on the produce lines – while everyone lined up near the citrus fruits, no one seemed to notice there was another weigh station near the Indian veggies. Lucky me! (For my stateside friends, when you pick out your produce here, you have to have it weighed and labled with the price before you get to the check-out stand.)

All in all – it wasn’t to bad. Not in and out in a flash, but in and out not too bad. The cars were streaming in as I departed, and I vow not to return until the Eid is over!

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Failproof Easy Pecan Pie From Quail Country

A long long time ago, in a country far away, we lived in one village and our friend lived in another, but we often visited back and forth. One day she called and said they were coming into town with her parents, and I said “oh, we won’t be here those dates, but I will leave the key with my friends down the street and you can stay here.”

Months later, a mysterious package arrived in the mail, from my friend’s parents, with a lovely, gracious note of thanks for letting us stay in our house, and one of the world’s greatest cookbooks, Quail Country, by the Junior League of Albany, Georgia. (Quail Country, Smith House Publications, 516 Flint Avenue, Albany, GA 31701)

One of my all time best recipes, Soused Apple Cake is from there.

Today, I am making pecan pies for Thanksgiving and giving thanks for the never fail Pecan Pie recipe, which I have printed before, but will print again because it is such a life saver.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 9-inch deep dish pastryt shell, unbaked

Beat eggs slightly; add sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Blend well, but do not overbeat; add butter. Stir in pecans. Pour into pastry shell. Bake in preheated 350 F (180 C) oven about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Six servings.

I actually cheat on pie crust. I use a Graham Cracker Crust, made with what are called digestive biscuits here in Qatar and in Kuwait. So a small package of digestive biscuits, crushed, add a little cinnamon and about 1/3 cup melted butter. Mix, and press into pie pan. Nothing could be easier. 🙂

And as I am making the pies, I also give thanks that our son found a wonderful woman to marry, and that his wife’s aunt has sent me some of the world’s best Texas pecans, which I hand carried when I moved from Kuwait to Qatar because I was NEVER going to leave them behind!

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Books, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Recipes, Thanksgiving | 2 Comments

Another Doha Perspective

Looking from the Diplomatic Club area (over on the left; you can no longer see the Diplomatic Club) toward the Sheraton/business center area of Doha.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Building, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Qatar | Leave a comment