Monday, October 18, 2010

What lies beneath

Well, after a lovely trip I came home to find out my Google account had been hacked, which meant I couldn't post to the blog until it was resolved. Such a bummer! I was so excited to tell you about the week! Oh well, a little delayed, but here it is...

It was quite a contrast from the last time we were there 2 years ago. A little one changes the rhythm of a vacation! Thankfully, Ira would get up with her in the morning and they would have some daddy/daughter time and go for walks while Mama caught up on some sleep. Most days we had a family breakfast and then either headed for the pool or the beach, depending on the water. The first couple days, the sea was really choppy and not good for snorkeling. I was out at one point and actually felt a little panicked when a wave crashed over my snorkel. I swam for shore and cut my foot on some coral! But the last few days it was really calm, the last day it was almost like a lake. So we would hang out at Eel Garden where we could drink lemon juice and take turns going out to snorkel while the other one played with Ramona on shore. When you're snorkeling, if you've never been, it's a bit like taking a long walk by yourself. You have a lot of time to think. Since we've moved away from my beloved East Coast of the U.S., I have often complained (sometimes loudly) that there isn't any "nature" here. I was often met with "oh, but the desert is so beautiful!" or "the trees bloom here year round!" but I had a hard time appreciating it. I love color and life and things around me can sometimes feel sparse. Even as we were packing for our trip there was a part of me that was wishing I was folding up sweaters and jeans for a camping trip instead of tossing in my swimsuit and sunscreen. But as I was marveling at the periwinkle coral and the cobalt blue fish, and the crystal clear water, I realized that there is a lot of beauty and color in this country, most of it is just underwater! I'll spare you the obvious "sometimes you have to look under the surface to find what you're looking for" analogy, but let's just say I was able to relax and enjoy myself more once I was enjoying what was in front of me instead of missing what wasn't.

My birthday was glorious, and I truly have the best husband in the world. I woke up (or, Ramona woke me up, more accurately) to a brand new digital SLR camera, which I'm sure you'll be seeing the fruits of very soon. I did some yoga in the amazing yoga shala at the hotel. I went for a snorkel, of course. AND Ira set me up with a massage! It was awesome and she worked out all of my knots resulting from carrying around my little sack of potatoes all the time : ) I even got to talk to both of my parents, which they were very excited about. I don't think the day would have been the same if I didn't get to hear them sing to me.

So now that we're back, the days are filled with preparations for another birthday in the family! I've been making decorations, testing out icing ideas, makings lists, reworking recipes, and anticipating the 50 people we're having over on Saturday. I didn't know that we KNEW 50 people in Cairo! But all of them want to come and celebrate with our little girl, how exciting! I will be sure to post all of the details, complete with pictures from the new camera. Now if only I wasn't afraid to use it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm swamped

Hey there, sorry I've been missing lately. My yoga teacher, Bobbi, is coming tonight and staying for a few days while she teaches a workshop at The Breathing Room. I'm very excited for her to get here, but not at all prepared. It's hard to straighten up when there is a curly headed tornado following behind me! And then, after Bobbi leaves; Ira, Ramona and I are going to Dahab for the week (and to celebrate my birthday!) So chances are, you won't see me for a little bit. But I'll be back with Red Sea pictures, and stories of planning Ramona's birthday party...among other things. Have a great week!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Sewing Tutorial!

As a sewist who is constantly trolling the internet for free patterns, it's about time I give back! I once bought a pair of earrings in Doylestown and they came in a cute little fabric envelope. For a long time I wanted to make something similar, but on a larger scale. My friend Emily had a birthday the other day and it seemed like the perfect occasion to create it. Emily has flawless taste and has that "modern vintage" look down. I tried to choose fabric that she would like, but that would also match the only wide ribbon I have. Working from the same stash for 4 months can be a challenge. When working this pattern, it's best to not think about it. If you're like me, the folding and flipping will mess with your mind. Just follow directions, people.

Fabric Envelope
you will need...
  • one piece of fabric 6 1/2 x 20 inches (roughly. you could certainly go larger or smaller, but this is what I have pictured here)
  • one piece fusible webbing in corresponding dimensions
  • 5 inches of ribbon (or enough to span the width of the envelope) I used about an inch wide ribbon here, but that can also be adjusted to your liking
  • coordinating thread
  • straight pins
  • coordinating thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron

1. Fuse the webbing to the wrong side of the fabric (see the packaging on the webbing for instruction).
2. Sew the raw edges under on the short sides of the fabric. And don't make fun of my ironing board, I got it here!

3. Pin the ribbon about an inch or so from one of the short edges.

4. Fold the short edges in, leaving about an inch of space in the middle. Pin.

It should look like this after you sew it and turn it right side out...

And this when you fold it in half and flip the ribbon around both sides!

Then of course, I had to wrap it!

I know it kind of looks like a Valentine, but again, you work with what you have. I actually got the card stock here, surprisingly cheap. But the ribbon came from home. All I did here, was stitch 2 sheets together, trim about 3 inches off the top sheet (so the other one could fold down) Then, I stitched the top flap and tied it with ribbon.

And here's the birthday girl with her cake that her husband magically made appear at the end of dinner. This may be the cradle of civilization, but the cake situation is usually pretty dire. But this one was great! Happy Birthday, Emily!

Monday, September 27, 2010

~Maadi Moments~

So here is my other new feature of the week, a profile of my favorite places in Maadi. This week, I chose a new place to me. La Gourmandise!

I heard about it before we came back from the States last month. It's everything I dreamed it would be. Pink. Marble. Sweet...

The staff is helpful and competent, the treats are divine, and if I close my eyes I don't feel like I'm on Rd. 9 in Egypt, but on a Boulevard in Paris. My favorite items are the macrons (different from a macarOOn) these are less coconut and more a divine meringue sandwich in colors like green, pink, and yellow. The flavor I love at the moment? Earl Grey. Wow.

They also have ice cream! We don't get much ice cream here, at least not any that is worth mentioning. This is gelato quality. We had blueberry, yum! They package everything in pink and brown wrappings, which if you know me, delights me most of all. I am amassing a stash of pink and brown bags and boxes for who knows what. But I can't get rid of them! They're too pretty!

So now when I visit my favorite veggie guy on Rd 9, I can also pick up a sweet treat to enjoy with my afternoon tea. Heaven.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Snack Sunday

I'm hoping to make this a weekly post, my favorite snack of the week!

This week, crusty bread with cream cheese and a fresh fig all smooshed on top...

Stay tuned this week for a new "about town" feature AND my first pattern!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yoga and Cookies

Who says they don't go together? On thursday, I had some of friends/yoga students come over for some tea, cookies, and other assorted baked goods. We had a lovely chat about yoga, Cairo and travel, among other things. It was a wonderful morning spent on the semi renovated balcony. And after everyone had a belly full of sugar we decided to try some yoga tricks. Always a good idea...

I made some maple leaf cookies for the gathering. Still inspired by Fall, even though it was at least 90 degrees out on the balcony that morning.

They went a little some thing like this...

Maple Leaf Cookies with Maple Nutmeg Frosting


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough


Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape(like a maple leaf!), place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

After cookies have cooled, blend 1/2 cup of very soft butter with 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar and about 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons milk until icing spreads smoothly. After frosting the cookies, I sprinkled a combination of sugar and nutmeg over each cookie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

All hail the pomegranate

It's officially Autumn, and in some ways, the hardest time for me to be away from home. I am a Fall girl, I love it all, the sweaters, the cider, the leaves, the school supplies. Now that Ramona is here, I am trying incorporate Egyptian "Fall" things, as well as decorate and discuss what Fall means at home, too. This time of year, we are blessed with the pomegranate.

By the way, I can never spell that properly. It always ends up looking like pommegranite?, pomegranete? Anyway, thanks to spell check, I don't have to embarrass myself. The "poms" here are wonderful, giant and pink and juicy. A fairly decent substitute for apples, I think. We like to just eat the seeds, but I made a couscous salad with them that I thought I'd pass along.

PomPistach Couscous

2 Cups couscous
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare couscous according to box. Allow to cool slightly. Toss together with other ingredients. We enjoyed it just as it is, but it would also be lovely on a bed of lettuce.

Happy Autumn!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If you come to visit...

You will likely be sleeping on these!

They are Guest Room Pillows from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. At first I was scared, but they turned out to be easy.

Surely they are worth a plane ticket to Cairo, no?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What I've been making...

So I'll keep the words to a minimum and focus on some pictures for a change...

Ramona's birthday quilt (finished a month and a half early!) I'm calling it "Girl in Africa" for the animal theme fabric and well,
because she is a girl in Africa!

Spelt pizza

Throw pillows for the deck to go with our lovely new plants!!

I'm so excited about the Indian Jasmine!

I've also been testing recipes for Ramona's party, trying to spread the sugary treats across several weeks. So far, I've attempted Fleur de Sel Caramels, they were really good, but not firm enough. And I also made Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese frosting just for fun. And then, of course scones and chai for any friends or visitors.

And lastly, here's an "update" of sorts. Remember these pants?? Well, here they are being worn by the little legs they were made for! She's finally big enough to wear them, although, if I make them again, I'm going to leave much more room for the cloth diaper butt...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

jet lag and jet fuel

One of the major downsides to living abroad is the inevitable jet lag you have at least once a year when you go home. For those of you who are not world travelers (I myself was not one until I embarked on this crazy adventure!) it goes like this; traveling west, you just go to bed early and wake up early. Traveling east, you can try to go to bed at a normal/late-ish time, but you wake up at like 2 or 3 or 4am (notice the time on this post) and then you want to sleep and nap all day. Super. Now, that is all well and NOT good. But when you have an infant who is also jet lagged, it's pretty much the worst. I wouldn't be surprised if wars, divorces, and famines happened because of this very thing. So Ramona has been taking normal naps, going to bed at her normal time (maybe a little early) and then waking up ready to play at like 1am. I have been so tired and grouchy this week! I wish I had some advice, but I'm still working it out in my head. Time zone math, and all other math, is not my strong suit. It's like "if a train is traveling at 60 miles an hour..." kind of stuff and I can't do it. However, I will say, that it seems like keeping her up as late as possible is the way to go. And not letting her sleep too late during her afternoon nap, but that's kind of a no brainer. Tonight was pretty good, she went down around 8:30 and slept til midnight, was awake for maybe a half hour (big improvement over 2 or 3 hours) and then went back down. She's fussed a few times since then, but it seems that she's doing better. So how am I getting through the days on not enough sleep? Well. Let me tell you about a tragedy first. Right before we left, I broke the french press. My only link to good coffee, shattered on the kitchen floor. I brought back some yummy pumpkin spice and snickerdoodle, but alas, unless I want to eat it out of the bag (and I've thought about it) I have to wait until I have the energy to go shopping for a new one. So, I've been drinking this amazing tea instead. I love tea, but normally it doesn't give me the jolt I need. It's more of a relaxing, end of the night kind of thing for me. But Chai usually works. So, I've tried lots of different things, brewing it in the milk, brewing it water and adding milk, but it never has that, please forgive me, Starbucks kind of taste. It's never thick enough or something. I had read about this "chai concentrate" on a few different blogs last spring and I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't have access to some of the spices so I bookmarked it for another time. Well, before I left the U.S. I wisely looked up some recipes I had been wanting to try and gathered the ingredients I needed. So the stuff works like this, you make a batch of the concentrate, throw it in the fridge, and then it's good for 6 months. And it's enough for 28 cups! I had bought some cinnamon tea at One Good Woman and it seemed like the perfect match. Oh yes. It was. This is what has been getting me through the week people.

Chai Concentrate

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough for 28 cups of chai)


  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar*, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Store in refrigerator.

To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.

To give: Pour into small jars with lids and tie with an attractive bow, or wrap the jar first. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.

To keep: Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

*I thought it was pretty sweet and I think I'll leave out the sugar next time...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Round 3

I can't believe we're beginning our 3rd year in Cairo! The summer was fantastic of course, expensive, but fantastic. Ramona charmed her way from Harrisburg to Philly to Seattle to West Virginia. We had a bad health scare with her, and she was actually hospitalized, but she's ok now and hopefully that's the last time we ever have to deal with anything like that. The flight back the other day was pretty rough. The bigger she gets, the harder it is to hold her. She doesn't fit across our laps anymore and so we have to have her straddle us and lay against our chests when she's sleeping. And then when she's awake, she's a squirmy worm and it's also pretty difficult. I can't imagine what it'll be like in December when she can walk! Also, I have an undying respect for all my friends here who have more than one (sometimes more than 2!) children and do that trip. It's not easy, but it's worth it to see how happy she makes her grandparents...

So what do we have on tap for the fall?? Well, Ira is on a "pre-tenure leave" this semester, which means he'll be working on his next book and won't be teaching classes. We have high hopes that this will mean more family time, since he'll be writing all day and then be home with us in the evenings without having to do grading/class prep, etc. I will be teaching yoga 3 nights a week to start, depending on how things go, I may add more. My yoga teacher, Bobbi, is coming again in October to teach a workshop and we plan on going to Dahab for a few days while she's here. We also have a big FIRST birthday coming up! Baby Ramona will be Toddler Ramona in a couple months. VERY hard to believe. I wish there was some non-cliche way of saying "I can't believe how big she's getting/how time flies/it seems like yesterday that she was born" but there really isn't. Other than that, I'll just be cooking, baking, sewing, and crafting with all the fun books and supplies I brought back with me. Can't wait to see what the next few months have in store, I'm sure there will be new friends, adventures, and Egypt-ness as always. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


These few days, the days before leaving for the summer, can be the hardest for me here in Egypt. My mind is already in Pennsylvania and there is still so much to do here. Normally, Ira is done going to campus by now, but because he was Chair of the department this year, he is still tying up loose ends, and has to attend both the undergraduate and graduate graduations this week as well. This leaves me with a lot of Ramona time. Which I adore! However, it means that all the packing, gift/souvenir buying, preparing food/baby stuff/entertainment for a day's worth of travel, last minute get togethers, and prepping the flat for our 2 month absence are going to have to wait until the day before and the day we leave. Sigh. So I'm all geared up for these things, but I don't have the time or the chance to do them with a baby, 100 degree weather, and a broken (!) stroller. So I am trying to stay in the moment with my little girl and enjoy our last few days of "just the two of us" before the grandparents take over. Although, this mama will welcome the break!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Maadi Moments

Maadi, for those who don't know, is name the name of our neighborhood in Cairo. I often tell people it's like living in Brooklyn; tree lined, pretty, and there are a lot of strollers. Here are some photos from our weekend wanderings...

The Indian Jasmine trees on our street (my favorite in all of Egypt, I believe)

I love morning walks where you can still see the moon. It's there, very tiny in the middle.

I captured these on my way to grab coffee and meet Amanda and Gordana for a little "yard sailing"and breakfast at Cuba Cabana.

Ramona and Veli playing at a yoga garden party...


I think some of the kids call this a "fairy tree"

I love this villa

Where did you wander this weekend?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A yoga article, by me!

So here is the big announcement I alluded to the other day...
I have an article in the Rhythm of the Home Summer edition! It's on how to develop a home yoga practice that works for you. I won't share too much more because I want you to go over there and check it out. And all the other great stuff! I haven't even had a chance to look at everything yet because I'm too excited! haha And I have to give a shout out to my friend Pete who took all the pictures. Yay Pete!

Monday, May 31, 2010


Heather, Lauren, and Andi after watching the first Sex and the City movie...

I'm having a late night screening of the first "Sex and the City" movie. It came out 2 years ago, a few weeks after I got married, a few months before I left for Cairo. No matter how many times I watch it (read: a lot) all those emotions come to the surface for some reason. I know that most people feel that movies mirror their lives in some way, or that we can all say we're a "Carrie" or a "Charlotte," but man! This one rang true. I can still remember sitting in the theater watching it with my girlfriends, thinking about the broken heart they helped me mend, and how I would likely be breaking theirs when I left them at the end of the summer. Sigh. Of course, there are all the funny moments and the fashion moments to ease the pain a bit. But in some ways, those parts make it that much harder. Because those are the moments that you live your friendships. The day to day. The "guess what song is on the radio right now?" phone calls. While I have as much contact with my friends as I could ever hope to have considering that they are an ocean and a continent away, it's the day to day that I truly miss. And knowing that the sequel to this silly movie that somehow defined that time in my life came out this weekend, well, I think that just brings it all back up again.
But don't worry ladies, I'll be home in 19 days.
Love you.
p.s. My 100th post! Kind of lame that it took me almost 2 years to get to this point, but hey, it's still worth celebrating...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Whatcha makin'?

All sorts of things! I'm feeling very productive this weekend. Oh how I love when Ira turns in his grades! In the past 2 days I've made Peach Basil Cobbler, a headband, a skirt, chocolate peanut butter milkshakes, lentil burgers, mended a few things, worked on a summer sweater for Ramona (who else?) But my favorite are these...

Sorry about the blurry foot, but this shot was the best of the lot... I don't really have a pattern, I kind of just modeled them after some of her other pants. This is the 2nd pair I've made. I promise next time I'll pay more attention to yardage and such.

And just one more. Because those cheeks might be the best thing I've ever made from scratch.

What are you making this holiday weekend??

Friday, May 28, 2010

Miracle bottle

No, not THAT kind of miracle bottle. I'm talking about GSE, or Grapefruit Seed Extract. About a year and a half ago I went to Vermont to study with Christine Hoar at Bristol Yoga. While she has a wealth of yoga knowledge she is also an Ayurvedic practitioner and advises me on health issues. When I last saw her, I had only been living in Egypt for about 4 months so I hadn't really gotten a handle on how to treat "Mummy Tummy", as we delicately call it. Those that have traveled south of the border may refer to it as "Montezuma's Revenge"? You get the idea. Christine has traveled to India several times and she suggested GSE. I couldn't believe that no one was using it in Egypt! It's not that the water here is dirty, on the contrary, it's so heavily chlorinated and chemically treated to take OUT all the bad stuff, that it's bad for you in other ways, but it doesn't make you sick. So why do we get sick? Well, the fruits and vegetables are fertilized a little differently than they are in the States. They often times use human fertilizer instead of animal. I know, gross. Although, I have to say I'm kind of starting to get over it. I mean, poop is poop, right? Well, except that I guess this kind can make you a lot sicker. This is where the GSE comes in. This is what we use to wash all of our produce. It's highly concentrated and we just add several drops to a big bowlful of water and let things soak for about 20 minutes or so. It works really well and I think I can confidently say that we haven't gotten sick since we've used this method. So there's the fertilizer issue and then there's the 3rd world country issue. There isn't a board of health going around to inspect all the restaurants to make sure they're clean or that their workers are practicing proper hygiene while preparing and serving the food. I know you are all buying your tickets to Egypt right now, aren't you?! There's just no way to avoid the possibility that you might get sick. Eating at a "good" restaurant doesn't make you immune. There is a tragic story about the juice bar at the Four Seasons that infected dozens of innocent brunch goers. So we can either never go out to eat, or just accept that this is where we live and this sometimes happens. I had that attitude until the other day when I got so sick I was sure I'd never get better. I was worried about taking antibiotics, being a breastfeeding mama. What could I have eaten?! This is the game that you play, you think about everything you've eaten and everything you've come in contact with in the past 2 weeks. THEN I started thinking about all the kids MY kid has come in contact with and where THOSE kids have had their little fingers. Forget it. It's a germ spiral that never ends. So I made myself a little tummy tonic that did the trick.

Tummy Tonic

glass of sparkling water
1 tablespoon grated ginger
5 drops GSE

I had 2 glasses over a 4 or 5 hour time period and felt all better. No drugs! Yay! The armfuls of gladiolas that Ira brought me didn't hurt either...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Beginnings

I'm not even going to make excuses for my absence this time. I'm pretty sure this was my longest hiatus from the blog. Yes, there has been a lot going on, but there's always a lot going on. But it dawned on me the other day that if you are taking the time to read my blog, then I should be taking the time to write it.
So what HAS been going on??
Well. Since I last wrote, (I'm not going to mention the date, even though you can scroll down and look for yourself. Ouch.)
Ramona got 2 teeth and one sassy personality...
We went to Hurghada
One of my best friends came to visit
I've had lots of fun with friends
I taught a partner yoga workshop
We went to Ain Sukhna
I've done a good bit of sewingWe MOVED. Just up 2 floors, but it was kind of sad. Mostly because the reason the space became available was that our good friends Yasir and Sufia moved to Doha.
As sad as I was when we first moved into that place, so many happy things have happened since then. We've done a lot of living! We brought our baby girl home to that flat
And let's not forget the mural
It was sad to leave the mural
But Mama has already promised another one...
So the most exciting news came in the form of an "acceptance" email of sorts. More on that in a few days...
So I'm back. Although, we are leaving for home (yippie) in a few weeks so I can't promise for how long. But in the meantime, here's a sunset from our new porch...