Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ten more things I like about Saudi Arabia, and some that I don't liketoo....

Things I like....

1.My amazing mother-in-law and beautiful sister-in-law are taking care of the kids while Sohail and I are at work.

2.Sohail gets the kids ready in the morning, takes them and picks them up (my husband is awesome-right?!)

3.I get home from work at 5:15 and have up to 7:00 quiet time/me time by myself until Sohail arrives from work, after picking up the kids.

4.Most custom-made furniture assembly and delivery is free!

5. Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, for less than $1.00! Mmmmmm!!!

6. I have a coffee shop nearby where I work!

7. The beach is less than a 15 minute drive away.

8.I love the people I work with. Work is so much fun!

9. We have “watch guys” outside of our apartment (that’s what I named them). They stay outside of our building all day/night. If I forget my key-they let me in. They also wash our car each evening. Sometimes they take our garbage out too. That’s nice.

10. I am saving the best for last……my FAMILY! I am so blessed to be here with them. Omair, Rohail, Farwa, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law are all here. Soon, Shoaib will arrive and then all of Sohail’s brothers will be here. I love it. They helped clean the apartment before me and the kids arrived. They love the kids so much and play with them. The kids love them just as much and so do I!

Things that I don’t like….

1.When in line to order food, if a man walk up, he gets his food first-even if I already ordered. If two women are in line, the non-American woman gets her food after me, even if she ordered first. I don’t like either one. I think that whoever ordered first should get their food first, right?!

2. Cooking with a gas oven-yikes! I am scarred for life after I lit the stove and caused a minor explosion, causing the exhaust fan to fly off the wall. That oven scares me!

3.I haven’t unlocked my iphone yet, so I use an outdated cell phone. I know-I am spoiled, due to the iphone. It’s hard to go back, people. When I text, I have to push the number button, then use the arrow button to scroll down to the correct letter, then hit enter to choose that one letter. Do you remember those days? I am glad smartphones were created!

4. I miss my Keurig machine-so much! I should have just brought it over and had K-cups shipped here. There is a Nespresso machine, that is similar here, but is more than $300!!!

5. I REALLY miss not having the movie theaters here, to go to. That was always a fun family time for us, back in the US. (*sniff*sniff).
Things that don't bother me at all...

1. The heat -  I am used to it. Houston was actually hotter than Jeddah, yesterday!

2. Wearing an abaya - Out in public, it is required that women (not children) wear this black robe/cloak covering atop thier clothes. It's actually not very hot, protects my skin from the sun, and keeps me from having to worry about ironing my clothes and picking out what I will wear each day. I guess it is like wearing a uniform, kind of. I have 4 abaya's now. One goes over the head, like a dress and zips on the side. The others button up in the front. I just wear short and a tank top or a summer dress underneath.

3. Not driving - It is kind of nice to not have to be stressed out about finding directions to places I've never been. I don't mind being driven to and from work by a driver and having Sohail take me everywhere that I want to go (hehe!)

4. The dust and sand - It's out there, and I'm in here!

5. The language barrier - There really isn't one. Most foreigners and natives here speak English. If they don't, they understand my charade like gestures very well!

Well, thanks for reading my post (s). I hope that I have provided a little bit of Arabian enlightenment or entertainment to you, today!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beach trip to the Red Sea

Today (Thursday) is the beginning of the weekend here- so we visited the sea. First we stopped by Burger King and Starbucks, then went picnicking on the coast. The area we went to was the public beach, which once had sand, but now has pavement, parking, and a fence. (The sandy, swimming areas are at a different part of the coast). It was so nice having a picnic at sunset! We even saw crabs walking along! We left at prayer time-so I snuck a photo of the men praying across the street.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Red Sea Mall Theme Park!

On the third floor of this huge mall is a kids theme park. It was like a mini-Disney World (minus Mickey mouse). As we entered, we were greeted by kid sized motorized pets. For 10 Riyals (about $2) a guy put the kids on top and pushed the kids around for 5 minutes. They loved it!

Since we had to go grocery shopping, and it was already 11 pm, we let the kids choose 1 ride. They chose the 4-D movie, complete with 3-d glasses and motion seats. We lucked out that all 3 chose the same ride!

Here are some of the rides there:

-roller coaster
-water coaster
-haunted house
-rocking ship
-bumper cars
-mini train
-whale ride
-frog ride
-huge playground
-tons of arcade games
- 4-D motion theater

There is also a cafe and prize store there too.

So, after our 30 minutes here, we went shopping at the Danube grocery store and left at 12:30am. Then, I swung by "The Body Shop" on the way out. I love these late night shopping trips!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exotic Food!

Today me and Rayesa and Malik made homeade noodles for an exotic and comforting noodle soup dish. It is called "Aush" and originated from Afghanistan. I even found out that pasta originated from this region, not Italy. I found that on an afghani website.

This dish reminds me of a homeade noodle soup that I had more than 10 years ago in the mountains of Kazakhstan. Perhaps since these are neighboring countries-someone shared the recipe with another?!? Also, when I was pregnant with either Rayesa or Zayne, Sohail took me to a famous afghani restaurant in Houston. The next time I wanted it, the place had shut down. I was so sad!

I haven't had the dish in over 5 years, so I decided to make it. I found 5 online recipes and meshed them together to make Aush the way I remembered it! The hand rolled noodles (made with just flour and water) turned out nicely! I think I was successful! It looks beautiful and tastes great! And-most importantly, I made a new memory for me and my kids!


Flour and warm water (for homeade noodles) or buy Chinese, spaghetti or egg noodles, instead
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 can of tomato paste (1/4 cup)
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2-3 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
Chicken broth (this is the soup base-I used about 3-4 cups)
Fresh mint leaves
1-2 tsp Yogurt per bowl of soup

Andrea's Afghani Aush Soup Recipe:

Step 1 Noodles: make dough with flour and warm water ( to be consistency of pizza dough). Roll into a ball by sprinkling on flour (to take away the stickiness). Put in a ziplock bag-pressing out all the air, and put in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Take out and pull off a small quarter size ball of dough. Roll it in your hand like your making a play-dough snake. Lay it out on a tray. Let dry out for about 30 minutes.

Step 2- Sauté onion & garlic in olive oil, on low heat, until transparent. Then add ground beef and sauté. When cooked, add tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper and coriander. Set aside.

Step 3- bring chicken broth to a boil. Add 1/2 of the meat mixture and ginger. Get the noodles and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Let boil for about 5-10 minutes. Add remaining meat mixture, all the drained beans and mint leaves. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Turn off and cover. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Step 4- place soup in bowl. Add the yogurt on top and a mint leaf. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Interesting Women Rights & photos

In Saudi Arabia, the Haia ensure that the modesty of women is protected (encouraged). They do this by using a black sharpie marker to cover up a woman's skin on her arms, neck or legs. Sometimes, they don't use a marker- they just slap a white sticker over a "revealing" picture (like the Cheerios box that has a woman's hand on it).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our new Home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

So, we decided on getting an apartment instead of a villa or living in a compound. The main reason-it is more affordable.

Sohail's journey in finding us a home was quite eventful. More than three times, he found a place and went back either later that day, or the next day to give a deposit. and it had been rented out already! I fell in love with each one he chose-however-he had to find something that was available-especially since it was 2 weeks until our arrival date. I was so happy to hear that he successfully got us a place to live.

These are the things that I LOVE about our new home...
1. Tile floors throughout
2. Tile floors and walls in both bathrooms.
3. We have an elevator that takes us right outside of our front door.
4. 3 bedrooms (would have loved 4, but oh well-3 is better than 2)
5. We live on a quiet street.
6. It is well insulated (thanks to the tiles) so we are always nice and cool inside.
7. We have big windows in each room (some apartments here have no windows in the bedrooms and some are super small)
8. We are all here together!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Shopping in Jeddah - A Shoppers Paradise!

Although I am not one of those women who shop alot, I do enjoy the variety and size of malls and stores here. All the buildings in Jeddah are huge and each seem to make a statement.

HyperPanda is like a Super Wal-Mart. It has groceries, clothing, bikes, toys, a deli, fresh naan (bread), washing machines, dishes, hair dryers-everything! The Andalus Mall has a Panda store on the third floor. Flat escalators allow you to take your shopping cart all the way down to the first floor.

IKEA has been our most visited place since we first moved here. It reminds me so much of the IKEA store in Houston. It even has the drop off kids play area.

One of my favorite "low key" shopping centers is Shatte. It has alot of small stores, side by side, and has a central area with seats and tables for eating snacks. We had shawerma and curly fries. There were some small carnival rides, but they were not working (we were there at 6, so, maybe at night time they work,perhaps?)

*Updated 9/7/12 - The below "market" is not longer at this location. There is now a construction project there :(

View from an Indoor Mall in the Al-Balad area
A tent making shop in the Shate' market

The Red Sea Mall - This is just 1/3 of the mall! It is huge!

Shate' Market - This is a great place to buy abaya's. There are so many shops here that it is easy to get lost. 

This is right outside the Al-Balad shopping area

Another part of the Red Sea Mall

A local grocery store - Bin Dawood
Furniture display at "Home Centre"

Theme park inside the Mall of Arabia

The King is always near IKEA! It is also common to see his picture everywhere around Jeddah.

Shopping at Al-Balad

Water Rafting and Tubing at the Mall of Arabia

Aziz Mall - This is not one of my favorites, but it does have "The Children's Place" store.

American Eating in Jeddah with Updated Reviews

There is so much here that reminds me of my home back in the USA! Everytime I've lived abroad-it's the food that brings life to the phrase "comfort food." Here are some of the nearby food places in Jeddah: Fuddrucker's, On the Border Mexican, Applebee's, TGIF Friday's, Hardee's, McDonalds, Chinese food, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, Starbuck's, KFC, Subway, Quizno's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Marble Slab, and Tutti Frutti.


On the Border - Me with my "non-alcoholic" Strawberry Colada.

The outside of Fuddrucker's. I love the lights on it!

The outside of "On the Border." The food was ok and the service was great! However, the food was nowhere comparable to the authentic mexican food we are used to in Houston, TX.
The indoor kids play area at On the Border

Baskin Robbins - There are more ice cream shops here, compared to anywhere in the US!

One of my favorite places - Starbuck's. I have only come across 5 in the Jeddah area, nearby where we live. They seem to be the only coffee makers who make iced coffee.
Gulf Royal Chinese in the Rawdah area. The atmosphere was great but the food was not as good as what we were used to in the US. It was also not worth the money. But, the atmosphere and service was great. The kids play area was also a plus!

TGIF Friday's. The food here was ok, but double the price of what we paid in the US. It was nice to be in the American atmosphere, but not worth the money.

Inside the Chinese restaraunt

Fudrucker's again...can you tell I loved this place? The Burgers were great and the service also! 

Applebee's - The food was good, better than TGIFriday's. The service was also great! But, it was double the price we would pay in the US-so not worth the money to us.

Hardee's - The food quality here was not as good as the US. But, there are many locals and expats that like it and say the food it good.