Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in our hearts

It's been my seventh Cristmas away from my family and though it's kind of sad we make do with our own festivities here in the Abu Dhabi. We celebrate by having a mini party at work - complete with dressing up in Christmas colors, another party with flatmates during the weekend - that way everybody can stay up, eat drink and be merry till the wee hours of the morning and a simple some cooked Christmas dinner after mass on Christmas eve and Christmas day.
 
I wish everyone a Happy Christmas! rejoice for the child Jesus was born! keep Christmas in our hearts and not wrapped in fancy paper under the twinkling lights of a tree.
 
santa what will you bring me this Christmas??!

my first ever gingerbread house

 even my nails are festive

sweet treats for friends

 nativity

Thursday, December 20, 2012

snap happy - blue skies

... so the Mayan prediction of a 21.12.2012 doomsday was an epic failure, but I am not complaining! It's good to be alive and I thank God for waking up to clear blue skies!





 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sumo


When a friend suggested we try out Sumo Japanese restaurant in Masdar City, I quickly searched the net for its website hoping for a glimpse of their menu – I know I would be bombarded with choices so I wanted some time to contemplate, yeah I am mental like that.

 The menu looked promising. They have the usual appetizers, salads, bento meals, noodle and rice dishes but highlight if the menu would be the wide selection of hand rolled sushi, sashimi and nigiri. I was glad to have found an online menu to mull over my choices otherwise the wait staff would be rolling their eyes at me at my indecisiveness.

 So I decided that I would get myself a bowl of ramen and side orders of nigiri. I have never had ramen in any Japanese restaurant I have been to and I have ‘Sumo’ (big) expectations of this restaurant.

 When we got there I was surprised at how small it was, thank god for its outdoor seating otherwise it can get crowded. I don’t remember much of the interiors except that it looked contemporary with dark wood furnishing and that there was nothing Japanese or Oriental feel to it.
 
 
 

 So I ordered my Miso Ramen proudly but when it was served it fell short of my expectations. First the bowl it was served in was not the traditional Japanese big round bowl that I was expecting but a triangular one. What’s with the bowl obsession you might ask – well I just had this vision of me sipping the soup straight from the bowl with a satisfying slurp just like they do in animè. Second, the noodles were all clumped together and I had to ‘fluff’ it with my chopsticks otherwise I would be eating a noodle disk. The ramen’s saving grace was the broth – it was flavorful yes but then again it tasted like a souped-up version of the beef teriyaki.
 
 
 

 

 The bento meals were good and came in big servings but I did not care for the presentation. It was served piled up in bento boxes without dividers so you have to dig to get a portion of rice with your mains which can get a bit messy, also the bento meals did not come with a bowl of miso soup and other sidings like they do in other restaurants.
 
 
 

 

 As expected the best part of the meal was the sushi nigiri which we ordered a variety of.

 Overall Sumo is slightly above your average Japanese Restaurant. There is a variety of inexpensive items on the menu but I would stick to their sushi, sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls and signature dishes the next time. It is a great place to go to if you are within the area but there is nothing spectacular about it that would make me want to drive all the way up to Masdar City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 10, 2012

ride of the future

We drove all the way to Masdar city a few nights back for some bento and sushi. My friend had raved about the place and being someone who is always up for trying out new restaurants I happily/ reluctantly missed a night of yoga, but more on the food in the next post because I think the highlight of the trip was the novelty of getting to ride the Personal Rapid Transit or PRT.
 
 
 The PRT, also called a podcar is designed for individual or small group travel
 

 the podcar runs from point A to B via a network of magnets embedded in the ground, there are no visible cables or rails - quite amazing!


cozy interiors with leather upholstered seats
 

 all you need to do is tap the screen 'go' and off you go! Powered by rechargeable batteries - they are eco friendly
 
It really was quite an experience, I felt like a kid on her first carousel ride. I was all giddy and excited!

Monday, December 3, 2012

snap happy - bright ligts

Companies take part in the UAE National Day Celebration by adorning their company buildings with bright twinkling lights, they get more and more extravagant each year and I often wonder why there aren't any initiatives to make a competition out of it for fun.












 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

happy 41st UAE!

Happy 41st National Day UAE!!! at 41 you have accomplished big things.
 
What was once a sleepy Gulf village dependent on pearl fishing you have grown into a global cosmopolitan city that is a center for business and trade, luxury destination for travelers with world class hotels, shopping malls and theme parks; and an ideal work place for expats with competitive salary offers.
 
As one of the many expats who have made UAE my home for the past seven years I thank you for being a good host country and here's hoping I may be a part of your growth as a nation.
 
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

national pride

Emirati's are some of the most patriotic citizens I have seen. They go all out to show their love for their country be it by decorating their cars, homes, offices and with some artistic talent even their faces. I came across a Gulfnews article that show some of the coolest UAE National Day themed face painting, here are some of the designs:
 


 
 
 
disclaimer: photos are not mine

Thursday, November 22, 2012

kandura make-over

The Kandura or dishdasha is the traditional garment for male UAE nationals. The long white garment of ankle lenght and with long sleeves is usually worn with a head scarf called guthra which is kept in place by a black rope called egal. White is the most comon color though I have seen some people wear brown, gray and black.
 
I often see men wearing the traditional UAE garment kandora as intimidating, they just look so serious and stiff wearing the crisp white garment that I can not help but feel a little bit timid dealing with them. At times we do a double take and don't recognise our clients when they come in wearing jeans and shirt and this is when I feel I can joke with them a little.
 
While women can show their fashion sense with embelishing their abaya with beads and lace the kandura has remained basic and simple - that is until now. Seems like tradition has caught up with fashion in an article that I have read. It features the autumn/winter 2013 collection of Dubai based Saudi Arabian designer Hatem Al Akeel with the kandura 'getting a Bond (James Bond) make-over'.
 


 
I guess now when I see men wearing this, intimidating will be replaced by fashionable.


disclaimer:
pictures are not mine but taken from
 http://gulfnews.com/about-gulf-news/al-nisr-portfolio/tabloid/traditional-kandora-gets-bond-makeover-1.1104954

Monday, November 19, 2012

gimme some credit



I have been meaning to write something about the advantages of using credit cards for sometime now but had pushed it off until today when I saw Gulf News in Focus articles about credit cards.

Back then I was surprised at how easy it was to apply for a credit card here in the UAE– granted it was company provided still there was no need to wait until we finished that six months probationary period, most of my colleagues even signed the application just a few days after our orientation and was swiping away even before we got that confirmation letter

Even now with the stricter rules and criteria for eligibility, local banks ask for minimal requirements, specially if one is from a pre approved company i.e. government offices and big reputable companies.

Now people might argue – and I know a lot of them will, that credit cards are evil. People would argue that it is because of credit cards that they are in debt and I beg to disagree, they are in debt because they abused the use of credit cards and lived outside their means.

Credit cards are not to be treated as an unlimited supply of shopping funds but as something to help you get by until your salary comes.

I am no financial expert but the way I see it, if you use credits cards wisely, you get to enjoy the perks and might even ‘earn’ more shopping money.

Here are some useful tips on how to get more from your credit cards:

- Never be blinded by a high credit limit, free movie passes etc, this seemingly ‘free’ perks aren’t really free because you pay for it with your annual fee. Annual or membership fees can cost anywhere from 1000-2500 AED. It is better to choose a ‘free for life’ credit card. If you do the math, even if you watch a movie once a month, it still won’t cost you more than the lowest annual fee and that is with popcorn and soda too.

- Choose cards that offer cash back schemes or redeemable point system schemes

- Never spend beyond your credit limit because over limit fees can be from 300-500 AED

- Always pay in full to avoid late payment fees and interest charges

- If you can not pay in full, at least pay the minimum amount required

- Keep tract of your spending (most banks have sms alerts in any case) and keep in mind your due date so that even if you do not get your statement you more or less know how much and when you have to pay

- know how to control your spending, like I said credit cards are not free flowing invisible money but a tool to help you get by

I have just redeemed the points I have earned and I got 500 AED worth of shopping vouchers. It’s guilt free spending money and thus I was able to splurge and bough my self a ton of stuff!!!





 

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

scrub-a-dub-dub


Moroccan bath, known in Arabic simply as hammam is a tradition and a known as the must-do ritual before a girl gets married here in the Middle East. Like a modern body scrub it is done to clean, whiten and soften the skin.

I have been very intrigued about Moroccan Baths since a colleague of mine said it's her secret to super smooth skin. What puts me off from trying it is the idea of being naked in front of some stranger, but yesterday having an off day at work I decided to go to the spa and have some pampering with a moroccan bath and a massage. The massage was very relaxing and I swear I wanted to tell the masseuse to stop the small talk because I am ready to fall asleep, but like all good things it was over all too soon then it was bath time.
 
First was a quick warm shower, then lathering of the moroccan bath soap, it was during this process that I told the lady it was my first time to try the Moroccan bath and she said 'looks like it, you have a lot of 'dirt' on your body' - I was like 'what? I take a bath everyday!' then they let you sit in the steam room to open up your pores - this was my favorite part, my skin looked supple and felt smoother already and then the scrubbing begins. The loofah they used was kind of rough and I was scrubbed with tough love that I really thought my skin would be raw and bleeding after all the scrubbing but it wasn't, all I could see were dark specks kind of like wet dust bunnies - I guess those were my dead skin cells - I guess she was right! I really was 'dirty!, after that was a warm shower and then am done.
 
My skin did feel and looked a lot smoother. I might make it a regular thing now and as for the whole experience - it was not as humiliating as I imagined it would be, the lady was nice and motherly that I felt like a kid again being given a bath by mommy!
 
photo credit from http://www.silvitablanco.com.
 
 

happy diwali!

... In celebration for Diwali, female members of the family make Rangoli - a decorative design using rice powder, this is believed to bestow prosperity to the homes.

So this Diwali I lent a hand in making my first Rangoli!!... it was fun making it!!!.... even though we had to get ingineous and use turmeric powder and chili powder to color the (only) white rice powder that we had... my friend says its the first time he heard that being done! hehe!! that's Rangoli filipinized for you!! wahahaa!!!

artistic hands





 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

snap happy - flights of fancy

I have been neglecting this space for some time now but I am back and hopefully with something worth writing and reading about. Anyway I am on a mini stay-cation and of course what is one going to do with all the free time but to eat and shop.

here are just some snaps that I took of that chandelier type thing at Marina Mall that looks like birds, kind of reminds me of the scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wherein they try to get thru a locked door and they have to catch a flying key.