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.
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. :-)
You’d think moving back to your own country would be a piece of cake, wouldn’t you? We nomads know better. Young people who travel to other countries to go to school know better. Military people know better. Missionaries know better. Diplomats know better. Anyone who has spent time living abroad know that it works both ways – you have an impact where you are living, and where you are living has an equal impact on you. You may go back, but you are never the same.
With this move, AdventureMan and I have been too busy trying to get settled and to take care of the incredible amount of bureaucratic detail it takes to relocate. Even with AdventureMan ‘retired’, the days are flying by, and we don’t know why we are so busy.
For one thing, I am doing my own housework, and I am finding I am not very good at it. Like I am good at getting laundry done, and even folded, but I haven’t ironed in a long time, and the things that need ironing are stacking up. I have bought a beautiful new ironing board, and a beautiful iron . . . and some starch, the liquid kind I like, not the spray kind. . . but I haven’t set it up, and I haven’t ironed, not a thing. I have discovered that all my packed things looked a lot better after hanging in the closets for a week, most of the wrinkles fell out, lucky me. But . . . the day of reckoning is coming.
The worst part, for me, is cleaning my floors. My floors are supposed to be beautiful; wood and tile floors. They actually ARE beautiful, maybe two days a week, the day I clean them and the next day, but five days a week, they need work. I wish I had asked my cleaning lady in Doha how she got my floors so beautifully clean. I wish I had paid more attention. I keep looking in the store for some miracle, a machine that will clean them in a heartbeat and make them all shiny. . .
The wonderful thing about moving into this culture – and it truly is a different culture from the one in which I was raised – is that we have our wonderful son and his wonderful wife to give us hints on what to do and not to do, and we have his wife’s wonderful family.
Mostly, I try to keep my eyes open. Southern women admire things extravagantly, and after living for so many years in the Middle East and Gulf, learning to admire extravagantly goes against all my instincts.
In the MIddle East, when you admire extravagantly, you can make people nervous. Some people worry about attracting “the evil eye” of jealousy, evil intentions, people who envy you and wish you harm. Some people, if you admire something, will give it to you! It’s true, those stories, it has happened to me. So now I have to un-learn my lessons in retraint and learn to appreciate, if not extravagantly, at least enough to be polite.
One of my wife’s relatives gave us a house-warming gift, an iced-tea maker, with a darling card that states Rule #1 is that every Southern Hostess knows that a pitcher of iced tea is a MUST for all occasions. I like iced tea, but I have never kept it on hand to serve, and I guess I need to start!
Her second rule was one that made me burst out laughing – “A Southern Lady, the most interesting ones anyway, know that rules are made to be broken.”
“Just be prepared for people to leave your home saying “Bless her heart, she must be getting forgetful. There was no iced tea!”
And then rule #3 – “The only correct and acceptable way to criticize anyone is to add ‘bless his/her heart!’ and then, anything goes!”
At a party at her house this weekend, I learned a couple more – the first rule being that when you are invited to a great big family dinner, bring dessert! Thank God, I did take a little guest gift, but now I know – bring dessert! And it had better be sweet!
The next rule is would make any Kuwaiti or Qattari feel right at home – spare nothing in making our guests comfortable. This Southern Hostess had seating areas inside the beautiful air conditioned home, and also seating outside for those who don’t mind a little heat. She had a big basket loaded with all kinds of insect repellents to keep her guests from being bitten. She took time with each guest, and although she was running her little bottom off getting everything organized, she made it all look easy, and as if she was having a good time. I have a sneaking suspicion the truly was enjoying having all the people around and that her great big heart loves taking care of the crowd. She was the essence of gracious hospitality. Did I mention she has also lived in Kuwait?
Dinner was “Perlow” an old Southern tradition, made in a huge old kettle from her husband’s mother, and hung from a tripod over a roaring fire to cook. The actual cooking was the men’s work as they sat outside drinking iced tea:
My Middle East / Gulf friends would be comfortable eating this meal – Perlow is a variation of Pilaf, and very similar to Biryani. No alcohol served. No pork. Lots and lots of fabulous sweet desserts.
It’s funny, I used to tell people in Kuwait and Qatar that it was a lot like Alaska; when the weather got too bad, you just stay inside most of the time. When the weather gets good, you go outside as much as you can. When it’s too hot/cold, you run from your air conditioned/heated car to your air conditioned / heated store or movie theater, or restaurant, and then back to your air conditioned / heated car and back to your air conditioned/ heated house.
In the same way, I am beginning to wonder if the South and the Middle East know how much they have in common? In Pensacola, on Saturdays, we have the religious people on the corners shouting at passing cars, not a whole lot different from the volunteer morality police in Saudi Arabia. In the South, as in the Middle East, ‘family’ isn’t just blood, it’s also who you’re married into, and there is a lot of emphasis on family getting together and spending time together. In the South, as in the Middle East, men tend to gather in one area, women in another.
In the South, they drink iced tea; in the Middle East, it’s hot tea. Both have passionate patriots, fundamental believers and a tradition of gracious hospitality. Both have a passion for hunting and fishing. Nobody much likes obeying the rules in either culture. Maybe I’m still in the MIddle East?
“My husband hates shopping and hates the souks” said one of my friends, and my friend Grammy and I just grinned – any excuse for a trip to the souks, especially to introduce someone to our own particular joys. Early breakfast at the Beirut, walking here and there, finding small treasures and great pleasures, and ending up with coffee at the Cafe Tasse, which has divine Cafe Mocha with real whipped cream. It’s OK, I don’t have real whipped cream every day, just . . . have a problem resisting on those wonderful sunny winter mornings in the souks.
I save space in my suitcases for special coffee blends I can’t get in Doha – like Gazebo blend. This Starbucks had TWO bags! As I was paying for all the coffee – after I had taken the photos – I still had my camera in my hand and the barista said “Oh! Starbucks has a strict no photo policy!”
I said “I did not know that!” and I did not take any more photos. No one has ever stopped me from taking photos in the Starbucks. Never! And no one has ever said anything!
Here is a blend from back when we used to go to the Starbucks – the only Starbucks – at the Pike Place Market. This was around the time the Seattle Champber of Commerce wanted to tear the market down to make way for downtown development. :-( Thank God, that was roundly defeated – it is such a draw to downtown Seattle, now.
When you buy this coffee, a dollar of your purchase for each bag goes directly to African charities:
Some specialty coffee displays:
New Seattle travel cups:
And – coming soon – one of my very favorite Starbucks drinks, Pumpkin Spice coffee. :-)
Whether you love Starbucks or hate Starbucks, you’ve got to admire their marketing genius.
Coffee ‘may reverse Alzheimer’s’
A possible treatment for dementia?
Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease, US scientists say.
The Florida research, carried out on mice, also suggested caffeine hampered the production of the protein plaques which are the hallmark of the disease.
Previous research has also suggested a protective effect from caffeine.
But British experts said the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease study did not mean that dementia patients should start using caffeine supplements.
The 55 mice used in the University of South Florida study had been bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
First the researchers used behavioural tests to confirm the mice were exhibiting signs of memory impairment when they were aged 18 to 19 months, the equivalent to humans being about 70.
Then they gave half the mice caffeine in their drinking water. The rest were given plain water.
The mice were given the equivalent of five 8 oz (227 grams) cups of coffee a day – about 500 milligrams of caffeine.
The researchers say this is the same as is found in two cups of “specialty” coffees such as lattes or cappuccinos from coffee shops, 14 cups of tea, or 20 soft drinks.
When the mice were tested again after two months, those who were given the caffeine performed much better on tests measuring their memory and thinking skills and performed as well as mice of the same age without dementia.
Those drinking plain water continued to do poorly on the tests.
In addition, the brains of the mice given caffeine showed nearly a 50% reduction in levels of the beta amyloid protein, which forms destructive clumps in the brains of dementia patients.
Further tests suggested caffeine affects the production of both the enzymes needed to produce beta amyloid.
The researchers also suggest that caffeine suppresses inflammatory changes in the brain that lead to an overabundance of the protein.
Earlier research by the same team had shown younger mice, who had also been bred to develop Alzheimer’s but who were given caffeine in their early adulthood, were protected against the onset of memory problems.
You can read the entire article at BBC Health News
New article from Real Age suggests we drink white tea to blast the fat cells and keep the weight off:
Drink This to Fight Fat
Have a little fat you’d like to lose? Maybe now is a good time to turn on the kettle and pour yourself a cup of this: white tea.
Made from the buds and early leaves of the same plants used to make green and black teas, white tea may have special fat-thwarting powers, a new study suggests.
Fat cells increase or decrease in size, according to your weight. And in a lab study, human fat cells treated with white tea extract accumulated significantly less fat. In fact, the white tea extract reduced the incorporation of fat by as much as 70 percent! The tea also seemed to stimulate the breakdown of fat from mature cells.
Several people have asked where the Fatayer Man is in Mubarakiyya.
Here is what the area looks like:
Here is a GoogleMap of the area (isn’t this amazing? Isn’t GoogleEarth amazing? I can’t believe such great technology is give to us for free. I wish I were smarter, I wish I could put arrows on the map, and stars, but I can’t figure out how to do that . . . yet!
You will see three lines of white running parallel – those are covers over the walkways in the main part of the souks. There are others, but this is the heart, where they sell vegetables, meat and fish. You walk straight down one of them until you get to the open court – you will see a mosque. In the GoogleEarth photo, you will see a round gold circle – that is the dome.
Just below the mosque, in the photo, you will see restaurant seating areas. The one closest to the entrance to the “food court” is the Malik al Saj, or King of (a particular type of) Bread; it is written on a great big blue Pepsi sign, and there are lots of waiters there eager to seat you. The food is fresh, and very good.
Now look at the map again. You will see more seating lower in the photo, over to the left. It is just around the corner from the other restaurant areas. This second area is where the fatayer man is. Just go down around that corner, peek into the restaurant areas until you see him hard at work, and then sit in the area just in front of where he is working. If you order tea, in this cold weather, they will bring you a pot with a charcoal heater, to savor while your fatayer is baking.
You can find these tea-heaters in the souks, too, but don’t use them inside, because they need charcoal, and using charcoal inside is a really bad (as in fatal) idea.
Words you need to know if you are not an Arabic speaker:
Chai – tea
fatayer – a breakfast bread filled with “jibn” (cheese), Halloumi (salty cheese) zatar (thyme-sumak spice mix) or jibn/halloumi wa zatar (cheese/salty cheese with thyme-sumak mix)
shish taouk – marinated, grilled chicken on a skewer
semak – fish (some of the fish served is amazing)
mixed grill – mixed grill :-)
Happy eating! Go while the weather is cool and wonderful!
I am a great believer that one way to stay well is to stay away from clinics and hospitals, where bad germs lurk, just waiting for the next victim. I am always looking for natural remedies, and science is finding that many times, old natural remedies work for a reason. Like chicken soup when you have a cold, like the benefits of drinking green tea.
I don’t know that green tea works in every way this article says it does, but there are enough benefits, and enough scientific research showing that it improves bodily functions, that I regularly imbibe.
Green tea has increasingly become a very popular drink worldwide because of its immensely powerful health benefits.
It is extraordinarily amazing what green tea can do for your health.
And if you’re not drinking 3 to 4 cups of green tea today, you’re definitely NOT doing your health a big favor.
Here Are The 25 Reasons Why You Should Start Drinking Green Tea Right Now:
1. Green Tea and Cancer
Green tea helps reduce the risk of cancer.
The antioxidant in green tea is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times better than vitamin E.
This helps your body at protecting cells from damage believed to be linked to cancer.
2. Green Tea and Heart Disease
Green tea helps prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol.
Even after the heart attack, it prevents cell deaths and speeds up the recovery of heart cells.
3. Green Tea and Anti-Aging
Green tea contains antioxidant known as polyphenols which fight against free radicals.
What this means it helps you fight against aging and promotes longevity.
4. Green Tea and Weight Loss
Green tea helps with your body weight loss. Green tea burns fat and boosts your metabolism rate naturally.
It can help you burn up to 70 calories in just one day.
That translates to 7 pounds in one year.
5. Green Tea and Skin
Antioxidant in green tea protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which cause wrinkling and skin aging.
Green tea also helps fight against skin cancer.
6. Green Tea and Arthritis
Green tea can help prevent and reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Green tea has benefit for your health as it protects the cartilage by blocking the enzyme that destroys cartilage.
7. Green Tea and Bones
The very key to this is high fluoride content found in green tea.
It helps keep your bones strong.
If you drink green tea every day, this will help you preserve your bone density.
8. Green Tea and Cholesterol
Green tea can help lower cholesterol level.
It also improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, by reducing bad cholesterol level.
9. Green Tea and Obesity
Green tea prevents obesity by stopping the movement of glucose in fat cells.
If you are on a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink green tea, it is unlikely you’ll be obese.
10. Green Tea and Diabetes
Green tea improves lipid and glucose metabolisms, prevents sharp increases in blood sugar level, and balances your metabolism rate.
11. Green Tea and Alzheimer’s
Green tea helps boost your memory.
And although there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, it helps slow the process of reduced acetylcholine in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer’s.
12. Green Tea and Parkinson’s
Antioxidants in green tea helps prevent against cell damage in the brain, which could cause Parkinson’s. People drinking green tea also are less likely to progress with Parkinson’s.
13. Green Tea and Liver Disease
Green tea helps prevent transplant failure in people with liver failure. Researches showed that green tea destroys harmful free radicals in fatty livers.
14. Green Tea and High Blood Pressure
Green tea helps prevent high blood pressure.
Drinking green tea helps keep your blood pressure down by repressing angiotensin, which leads to high blood pressure.
15. Green Tea and Food Poisoning
Catechin found in green tea can kill bacteria which causes food poisoning and kills the toxins produced by those bacteria.
16. Green Tea and Blood Sugar
Blood sugar tends to increase with age, but polyphenols and polysaccharides in green tea help lower your blood sugar level.
17. Green Tea and Immunity
Polyphenols and flavenoids found in green tea help boost your immune system, making your health stronger in fighting against infections.
18. Green Tea and Cold and Flu
Green tea prevents you from getting a cold or flu.
Vitamin C in green tea helps you treat the flu and the common cold.
19. Green Tea and Asthma
Theophylline in green tea relaxes the muscles which support the bronchial tubes, reducing the severity of asthma.
20. Green Tea and Ear Infection
Green tea helps with ear infection problem.
For natural ear cleaning, soak a cotton ball in green tea and clean the infected ear.
21. Green Tea and Herpes
Green tea increases the effectiveness of topical interferon treatment of herpes.
First green tea compress is applied, and then let the skin dry before the interferon treatment.
22. Green Tea and Tooth Decay
Green tea destroys bacteria and viruses that cause many dental diseases.
It also slows the growth of bacteria which leads to bad breath.
23. Green Tea and Stress
L-theanine, which is a kind of amino acids in green tea, can help relieve stress and anxiety.
24. Green Tea and Allergies
EGCG found in green tea relieves allergies.
So, if you have allergies, you should really consider drinking green tea.
25. Green Tea and HIV
Scientists in Japan have found that EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) in green tea can stop HIV from binding to healthy immune cells.
What this means is that green tea can help stop the HIV virus from spreading.
It is seven in the morning, and AdventureMan is sleeping in a little, giving me a chance to catch up with YOU.
We have always waited until morning to open our gifts. Last night, after our guests left, we said “No children! We could open our presents tonight!” and then . . . we laughed. It was late and we were tired and we needed our sleep. (I never thought I would see the day, so old that I would want to go to bed more than to open presents.)
Christmas Eve was so special, spent with dear friends, reminiscing over times together, past Christmases. There is one great thing about being an older adult, and that is you are no longer involved in the frenzy of school and church and after-school youth activities. At nine at night, I am not busy trying to get my son’s acolyte robe ironed, ready for the midnight service, I am not frantically putting together the last few plates of cookies that I am required to provide for a million events I don’t really even want to attend. Christmas is much more peaceful, more measured, less frantic now, and I love being able to enjoy the holiday at a more measured pace. Isn’t life full of delicious ironies, that I can enjoy Christmas more in a Moslem country?
One Christian friend told me years ago that Satan tries to distract us during the holiest days. (I would have imagined that to be true for my Moslem friends, too, but I think I remember that Satan is jailed during the month of Ramadan, and cannot tempt you; that if temptation comes, it is coming from your own heart and shows you where you need to work on your character.) Yesterday, as I was working on the Christmas Eve dinner, my kitchen faucet broke – simply would not shut off. Anytime I wanted to use water, I had to go under the sink and turn two knobs, or water would just continue to run.
My friend called and asked if she could use my oven, which, fortunately, I had just turned on, but wasn’t planning to use immediately, so she came for about half an hour and we had an unexpected and delightful visit while I worked on vegetables and she baked her Christmas cake.
If that was Satan, well, he inconvenienced us, but he certainly didn’t get in the way of our enjoying Christmas. Ha Ha on you, Satan!
I intended to take a bunch of photos showing you our Christmas Eve dinner, but it’s like you get on this track, and then the track takes over, and I only have a few images to show you, and nothing really from the meal.
This is my oldest cookbook, I think I even had it before I was married. The glue has started to fail, pages are falling out, there are drops and stains throughout the book, but I don’t want to replace it because it has so many memories. This is my go-to book when I need an overview on how things work, and a basic, tried and true recipe.
Yesterday was a relatively easy day, pulling things out and putting them together. The harder days were before – creating the menu, figuring out what I needed from the store and getting it (AdventureMan helped) and “prepping”, i.e. getting all the walnuts chopped, the onions, the parsley, the cheese grated, etc. That’s the really hard work, I think.
One thing required a little extra preparation – I wanted to make peppermint candy ice cream, something I have made before. but a long time ago. It requires peppermint candy. Once I saw peppermint candy here, but it was a long time ago, in like February – I guess it hadn’t gotten here in time for Christmas. I brought back some from my recent trip to the US.
The ingredients for peppermint candy ice cream are wonderfully easy:
3 cups cream
2 cups crushed peppermint candy
You add one cup to the cream, put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, you stir it, and put it in the ice cream making machine to process. When it is nearly finished (it is thickened and the machine starts to labor) you put the remaining one cup of crushed peppermint candy in through the tube where you can make additions, allow it to process maybe 30 seconds, then – it is finished.
No, there was no added sugar, there is enough in the candy to make it sweet enough. Because it is pure cream and no additives, it is very very fattening and very very delicious.
How will we spend Christmas Day? When AdventureMan gets up, I will heat him up a cup of Christmas punch and we will open the presents in our stockings:
Here is what the rule is – laid down in my family many many uncountable years ago – as long as you believe in Santa Claus, Santa Claus will come. To this day, we believe in Santa Claus, so when we wake up on Christmas morning, we have stockings with little gifts. (I think maybe one of mine sparkles ;-) )
We also open gifts from family – and the gifts from our son and his wife arrived just in time, yesterday, and are under the tree!
Then, we will get ready for church, and go and greet all our church friends – Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
That is . . . unless the plumber comes to fix the faucet. Yes, for my friends who do not live in Kuwait, for the rest of the world, this is just any old day, and plumbers come on Christmas day. They do NOT come on Fridays, the Moslem world Sunday, so if the plumber comes – and we just never know when that might be – I would have to miss church.
We will gather again tonight with friends for Christmas dinner. Unless the plumber comes.
(No, Satan, I can roll with this. You are NOT going to ruin my Christmas!)
I wish you all a great day, a wonderful, sweet day.
PS. The Qatteri Cat celebrated by eating three Kuwaiti shrimp. For some reason, they are not so good for him, so he only gets them on special occasions. He would live on only shrimp if he had his way.