Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A View from the Sunset Inn, Panama City Beach

We love this place, the Sunset Inn, a little Mom and Pop kind of motel, hard to find in over-developed Panama City Beach with its huge soulless condominiums towering over the white sands.

As we walk in the door, the view hits us and we breathe in the sea air and go “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” The minute we walk in the door, we start to feel relaxed.


We both have cooking to do, so we get busy, but busy with glances at the view, and trips to our balcony to breathe. It is COLD, with a cold wind, but so gorgeous, so breath-takingly gorgeous, and we are happy.

Soon, there are cranberries cooking for Mom’s Cranberry Salad and hot juice brewing for the punch, redolent of cinnamon and cloves and orange peel, wonderful smells filling our room – and that view. Life is sweet.



And then, just when you think it can’t get any better, the sun starts to set, the light goes all golden and soft and oh, life is sweet.


December 1, 2013 Posted by | Beauty, Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Holiday, Hot drinks, Hotels, Photos, Road Trips, Sunsets, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

“You’re Not Southern – You’re Arab!”

My mind works in quirky ways, and yesterday as I was setting up for the hands-on Heirloom Feathers workshop with Cindy Needham, one of the good local Pensacola quilters was telling her how you can tell a Southerner from a Northerner.

“If you go to a Southerner’s house, they’ll ask you first thing if you’d like a drink of water, or iced tea or something, but if you go into a Northerner’s house, you can sit there for five hours and they won’t offer you ANYTHING!”

I grinned to myself, no, I have learned to censor these thoughts. But I couldn’t help it.

“You’re not a Southerner,” I am thinking, “You’re ARAB!”

I thought about a long ago trip through Morocco, we have a rental car and on our way from Ouazazarte to Marrakesh, on an isolated stretch of the road, we see a car in trouble. We stop and ask if we can help, if the man would like a lift to the next town. He tells us no, he wants to stay with the car, but asks if we would go to such and such service station and tell his uncle he needs help, and where he is.

Of course.

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 4.47.18 PM

We drive into town, find the service station, and find the young man’s uncle, who is the owner. He sends help.

Did I mention it was Ramadan? No eating or drinking in public from dawn to dusk?

The owner insisted we come into his house, and seated us in his diwaniyya, and sent in mint tea and luscious almond-filled dates to refresh us. We said “No! No! It’s Ramadan!” but he told us it was his honor. He sat while we drank and ate.

Such enormous hospitality. Such grace. We only stayed a very short time; we still had a long drive, but I’ve never forgotten his hospitality.

Then again, it was Southern Morocco. 🙂 Maybe he was Southern.

March 30, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Character, Cold Drinks, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Hot drinks, Morocco, Pensacola, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Green Tea and Coffee Really Do Cut Stroke Risk!

I found the report of this newest survey on National Public Radio’s The Salt:

A Daily Habit Of Green Tea Or Coffee Cuts Stroke Risk
March 15, 2013

05 Coffee and Tea

Whether it’s green tea that warms you up, or coffee that gives you that morning lift, a new study finds both can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, included 82,369 men and women in Japan.

Researchers found that the more green tea a person drank, the more it reduced the risk of suffering a stroke.

“It’s almost a 20 percent lower risk of stroke in the green tea drinkers” who drank four cups a day, compared with those who rarely drank green tea, explains Dr. Ralph Sacco of the University of Miami. (He’s the past president of the American Heart Association, and we asked him to review the study for us.)

And with coffee, researchers found just one cup per day was also associated with about a 20 percent decreased risk of stroke during a 13-year follow-up period.

“I was still feeling rather surprised” about the findings, Dr. Yoshihiro Kokubo, the study’s lead author, tells The Salt in an email. Kokubo is a researcher at the Department of Preventive Cardiology, National Cerebra and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan.

Kokubo says that green tea contains compounds known as catechins, which help regulate blood pressure and help improve blood flow. The compounds also seem to promote an anti-inflammatory effect. Kokubo says coffee, which contains caffeine and compounds known as quinides, likely influences our health through different mechanisms.

It’s not just the Japanese who seem to benefit from drinking coffee and green tea. Over the past few years, researchers in the U.S. have documented similar reductions in heart disease risk among Americans.

“The accumulating evidence from a variety of studies is suggesting that green tea and coffee may be protective,” says Sacco.

And, in addition, recent studies have linked a regular coffee habit to a range of benefits — from a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes to a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease.

It’s interesting to note how much the thinking about caffeine and coffee has changed.

In the 1980s, surveys found that many Americans were trying to avoid it; caffeine was thought to be harmful, even at moderate doses.

One reason? Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health says back then, coffee drinkers also tended to be heavy smokers. And in early studies, it was very tough to disentangle the two habits.

“So it made coffee look bad in terms of health outcomes,” says Stampfer.

But as newer studies began to separate out the effects of coffee and tea, a new picture emerged suggesting benefits, not risks.

Researchers say there’s still a lot to learn here — they haven’t nailed down all the mechanisms by which coffee and tea influence our health. Nor have they ruled out that it may be other lifestyle habits among coffee and tea drinkers that’s leading to the reduced risk of disease.

And experts say when it comes to preventing strokes and heart attacks, no food or drink is a magic bullet. It’s our overall patterns of eating and exercise that are important.

“It’s a whole lifestyle approach, and we need to remember that,” says Sacco.

So if you are already in the habit of drinking coffee or green tea, this study is one more bit of evidence that you can go ahead and enjoy it.

March 16, 2013 Posted by | Experiment, Health Issues, Hot drinks, Statistics | Leave a comment

Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea


We were all working hard, in our little areas, each with our job to do. The youngest broke the silence:

“You guys want to try some tea? I just got it. It’s pretty good.”

We really needed the break more than we needed the tea, but we made ourselves cups of this new tea – and then, WOW.

“What is this?” I demanded in delight.

“It’s called Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride!” the young one called back.

“It tastes like the frosting on Sugar Cookies!” the third one of us called out. This tea is seriously good, it tasted like cookies, but it is tea, and NO CALORIES!

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Advent, Christmas, Community, Cultural, Hot drinks, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Sunsets at the Sunset Inn, Panama City Beach, Florida

“I love this place,” I sighed, as AdventureMan and I sat out on our balcony at the Sunset Inn, a little Mom and Pop motel hidden between the towering condos of Panama City Beach. We were watching the sun go down. Little does it matter that as I sat out on the balcony watching the sun go down, or watching the pelicans in the morning, I was probably increasing my quota of mosquito bites, mais tant pis.

“I know you do,” AdventureMan replied, sipping on a cup of hot Christmas punch and sharing the moment with me. We’ve always loved sunsets. Or sunrises. We think of them as one of those great gifts, so wonderful that it is hard to believe they are free.

For some reason, some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen have been from this motel. Here is the first sunset, the day we got there, Tuesday:

I am not kidding, I haven’t done a thing to that photo. I haven’t cropped it or enhanced it in any way. Who can improve on a sunset like that? I liked it so much I will show you another, again, untouched. This is using the telephoto, but no enhancements:

The next morning, we were greeted by pelicans. I adore pelicans, those throwbacks to prehistoric times, so primitive, and so dramatic, plunging beak first down into the waters and then flying back up with a fish in their beak. These ones aren’t plunging, just floating around letting breakfast come to them:

We missed one sunset, and here is what we caught on Thanksgiving after the feast:

Here in sunset on Friday night, our last night at the beach:

Drama drama drama!

All quiet at the Sunset Inn . . . .

November 25, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Florida, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Photos, Sunsets, Travel | | Leave a comment

Trial Run: Lessons Learned

We have most everything put away now, a real pain in the neck, but we keep in mind that it is not as much a pain in the neck as losing everything, or having to hack a hole in your own roof to escape a flood which completely ruins a house so you have to rebuild and live somewhere else while you are rebuilding. It’s even a lot easier than having a window or roof or garage breached, and the resulting damage from wind-driven rain, or just sheets of rain.

Today has had higher gusts of wind and frequent showers, and an occasional breakthrough of Pensacola sunshine.

We know how long it takes to put on our window protection – and take it off. We know how long it takes to clear all the potential flying objects out of our backyard. We know a couple vulnerable points, and that it’s going to be expensive to get a fix big enough to give us complete protection. It’s a gamble.

Here is something else I know, very valuable.

I know that I can keep hot coffee and hot water HOT for five days.

This great thermal jug from Qatar had coffee still warm after five days – not hot, but warm.

This little thermos from Starbucks kept coffee very warm, but not hot:

And this is a large thermos/ server I found in Kuwait and used for three years for large groups of ladies. Six years later, it is still working great. I poured boiling water into it on Sunday night, and on Thursday afternoon, it was still almost boiling hot. It was hot enough you can use it to make soup, which is just what you need to be able to do when you have no electricity and need to fix something that can warm you up.


August 31, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Hot drinks, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

Iran Raids Coffee Shops as Un-Islamic

(Starbucks in Dubai Mail)

I always thought coffee shops started in that part of the world – oh wait, right, those were just for men.

LOL, found this on AOL, from Huffpost, from a Reuters report:

DUBAI, July 15 (Reuters) – Iranian police shut down dozens of restaurants and coffee shops over the weekend, Iranian media reported, in a renewed crackdown on what the state sees as immoral and un-Islamic behaviour.

Regular officers and members of the “morality police” raided 87 cafes and restaurants in a single district of the capital Tehran on Saturday and arrested women for flouting the Islamic dress code, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“These places were shut for not following Islamic values, providing hookah to women, and lacking proper licenses,” said Tehran police official Alireza Mehrabi, according to ISNA. Women are not allowed to smoke hookah, water pipes, in public.

Mehrabi said the raid came as part of a plan to provide “neighbourhood-oriented” security, and would continue in other parts of Tehran.

Coffee shop culture has flourished in Iran in recent years, offering wireless Internet, snacks, hot drinks, and a place to hang out for Iranian youth in a country where there are no bars or Western chain restaurants or cafes.

But that trend has been criticised by conservative Iranians who consider it a cultural imposition from the West and incompatible with Islamic values. The government periodically cracks down on behaviour it considers un-Islamic, including mingling between the sexes outside of marriage.

In 2007, Tehran police closed down 24 Internet cafes and other coffee shops in as many hours, detaining 23 people. (Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Civility, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Hot drinks, Iran, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Another Broken Egg in Pensacola

AdventureMan and I often discuss why one restaurant succeeds and another fails. One restaurant with a high quality food was very successful, moved to a larger location, and soon after a popular Chinese buffet moved in close by and now, he complains the competition is killing him.

These are killing times, highly competitive times, when people have less money to spend on eating out. While we prefer non-chain, local owned places which prepare their own food, many of the success stories are parts of chains where they can maximize standardization and gain benefits from ordering supplies in large quantities.

Another Broken Egg is somewhere in between. It is part of a chain, but a very small, very high quality and successful local chain. The Pensacola owners visited a Broken Egg in Destin multiple times, loved its product, and decided to bring the chain to Pensacola.

We’re glad they did. First, they serve a really, noticeably GOOD cup of coffee.

Then, they have a menu with a lot of variety. My first time there, I ordered the Popeye, which had lots of spinach, and it was yummy. This time, I tried the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benny, another hit.

Umm . . . err . .. yes, it is half eaten. Sorry. One funny thing, I thought “oooh, that is too much whipped cream cheese” and scraped it off, only to realize that the fluffy white thing was the egg, beautifully and artistically poached. What is not to love, a beautiful poached egg, smoked salmon, an English muffin (hardly any fat)?

AdventureMan had the Greek Wrap; he loved it.

The wait-staff is well trained; they make easy conversation, pay attention to what you need, and the owners/managers come around to make sure you enjoyed your meal.

Another Broken Egg
721 East Gregory Street
(850) 912-8347

June 27, 2012 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | Leave a comment

Blood Sugar Solution

When I read the hype for these two books, I bought them – again. I bought them the first time when we were still in Kuwait, but gave them away in one of the moves. This time I actually read them. I stopped, however, when I came to the part where you give up caffein. Nope.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Health Issues, Hot drinks | Leave a comment

Short Day to Spokane

After breakfast, we hit the road early, stopping after a couple hours for a leg stretch and coffee. The weather is in the 50’s as we hit the road, and we are both ready for a warm-up. I was all set to order my normal ‘short non-fat Mocha, no whip cream,’ when I saw that they already have the fall specials on the menu, and oh, I love Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte . . .

While the roads are nearly empty, just us and an occasional truck, or pickup, the weather has turned ugly, rain coming down in drizzle, or torrents, or sheets, changing by the minute. By the time we stopped for lunch, I was ready to give up the driver’s seat.

Lunch was at the Fat Belly Deli, in Alberton, Montana, where we had Turkey Pastrami and Swiss sandwiches, oh, and ummm. . . . fries. They were having a little trouble getting the fryer hot enough to fry the fries, so I had time to take a couple photos:

On our way in, AdventureMan spotted a huge used book store – like catnip for cats, we could not resist. I found a copy of Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s book “A View of the Nile.” If you have never read Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (Guests of the Sheikh, A Street in Marrakesh) read her biography in the link above. She was an amazing woman, who shared her insights in a very readable way. A View of the Nile is hard to find. I want it for my lending library. AdventureMan and I both found books. . . Too many books. We had to drag ourselves away.

(Update: AdventureMan reminds me that HE found the Fernea book and asked me if I wanted it. I promised to correct this entry and give him proper credit. 🙂 )

Soon we left soggy Montana to enter an equally soggy Idaho, although the weather cleared by the time we got to Coeur d’Alene:

By the time we hit Spokane, the sun is out and we are starting to feel warm once again. We could go on; we have gained an hour, but we see another Mariott Residence Inn along the road and decide to hit the pool and kick back for the rest of the day, with another short day on the road tomorrow to get us to Seattle, where the hard work will begin. We have accounts to close, a storage locker to clear, rugs to gather and plastic carrier boxes to pack. We are hoping we can get everything into AdventureMan’s Barcelona Red (the name of his Rav4) for the long haul back to Pensacola.

Our reward for good behavior will be a few meals with friends and family before we depart. We are looking forward to that part. 🙂

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Books, ExPat Life, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Seattle, Shopping, Travel | 5 Comments