Welcome to the Kitchen!

It is appropriate but entirely coincidental that this post is happening on New Year’s Day. I am not a resolution maker, or a goal maker, although I often think I should be. Maybe it would help me to focus more and stay aware of my accomplishments. I frequently feel like I float through my days without much sense of what I have done; I feel it more acutely now that Lulu is in preschool five days a week and I have these huge blocks of “free” time that get wasted on Facebook and Pinterest and puttering around the apartment not knowing what to do with myself.

So, I made myself a weekly schedule, and Wednesdays are “Blog Day.” Meaning that each Wednesday you will be treated to a new musing on expat life, or parenting, or a recipe for some delectable but not-too-complicated-or-crazy dish. Because I am still, and will always be, a simple home cook using whatever ingredients I can find easily and cheaply in my neighborhood.

Also, this:

IMG_0197

is the kitchen in which I cook. While it provides all my basic culinary needs,

Cupboards, counter and sink

Cupboards, counter and sink

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Stove

Stove

it is no one’s idea of gourmet. It is, however, up-to-date with what Pinterest tells me is a current kitchen decorating trend: cupboards without doors. And as a bonus feature, we have the option of hot water from the sink—a luxury I have never had in the Middle East.

Without a doubt, this

Coffee and tea station

Coffee and tea station

is the part of the kitchen that gets the most action. I cannot even express how much I love my hot water kettle, and the nearly constant flow of tea and coffee is an important source of warmth these cold winter days.

 

P.S. I realize this is being posted on January 2, but I did write it on the 1st. As usual, life intervened before I could get this up 🙂

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Moving…with Children

Details are falling into place and it looks like we are on track to head to Amman at the end of October. It’s coming up fast! One thing I think about constantly is how to prepare my two-year-old (we’ll call her Lulu–her Arabic nickname–for this blog) for the move. She is at an age where she is very attached to her routines and places; she is very curious and likes to explore, but she can also become very shy and overwhelmed in new places. She’s done pretty well when we’ve traveled out to visit my family in the Northwest, but I don’t think that is a very good measure by which to predict her reaction to Amman. This is going to be a huge transition for her, and she’s too young to be helped much by talking about it.
I’ve started focusing on making changes in our lifestyle to make it more similar to how we will live in Amman. Little things, like phasing out flavored yoghurt and replacing it with plain, rotating in more beans and legumes instead of meat for meals. This week I plan on putting away a lot of her toys and books, and probably some of her clothes, too. Since we are going to a country that struggles with water shortages, I’m contemplating doing away with the nighttime bath, although often she really needs it (she loves digging in the flower beds). Lately, she’s been watching a lot of camel races on YouTube, and we’re trying to have her watch more ‘Alam Simsim or nature documentaries instead of Blue’s Clues (her favorite) or Yo Gabba Gabba.
Anybody have other ideas of what to do now? I know that in the end, we’re just going to have to get there and start adjusting. Lulu and Hungry Husband and I will have have to go through our own process of culture shock, and while I know generally what to expect from myself and Hungry Husband, I feel really uncertain of what to expect from Lulu.

HANGING PICTURES

It’s not the most logical thing I’ve done lately, but last week I finally put together photos in two collage frames I’ve had sitting around for over a year. Photos of beautiful tile, ornate doorknockers, and colorful heaps of spices from the market in the Old City of Damascus now hang in my kitchen.
Decorating the house that we are leaving in less than a month seems a little silly, but I find myself grasping at these last moments of “home” before we enter into another period of upheaval. It’s also most likely that we will rent a furnished apartment in Amman, so I will have little say over the appearance, which has always been difficult for me in the past. I really like putting together a household and arranging furniture and finding just the right place for things. When I was a little girl, I had two dollhouse, and all I ever did with them was rearrange the furniture. Often I would take it out and then put it all back in exactly the same spot!
Knowing that we will be coming back to this house next summer diminishes the sense of futility that I felt in the past when setting up house. I have a list of projects to complete before we head to the Middle East, including a few decorating projects but mostly consisting of fixing all the little things we’ve ignored for too long. (Anyone want to clean our gutters?) It seems counter-intuitive, but now that we are leaving I want to make sure everything is in tip top shape, so that there won’t be any big problems needing our attention when we return.
Preparing for this move is like living in three different time zones: present, future in Amman, and future in America post-Amman.

Luggage

Over two and a half years ago, we left a suitcase with some friends in Jordan. It was only supposed to be there for a few weeks, and then someone was going to bring it to us in Yemen. But circumstances happened…
And yesterday we got the suitcase back, with barely any idea of what was in it. Clearly, it was stuff we could live without. Opening it I discovered vacation clothes I’d worn on a scuba diving trip in the Red Sea and floating in the Dead Sea, Arabic books and dictionaries in three different dialects, an engraved brass plate Hungry Husband had made for me our first Christmas in Cairo, and the Tennessee plates (featured in the cover photo of this blog) which we so randomly found in a small alleyway store in Damascus. The assorted items brought back pleasant memories of so many different places.
It is mildly humorous that we just received this suitcase, as in a month or so we will be repacking it to go back to the Middle East, but I feel encouraged by remembering people and places in the region that have been an important part of my life in the past, and will be important again in my future.