Fresh Air

One thing that I absolutely love about working at an all women’s university is being able to enjoy time outside. Once we are inside the campus walls we can go out without having to cover. We don’t have to wear our abayas or headscarves or face coverings. It’s something that we don’t really have the opportunity to do anywhere else here or in our home countries. Most of us here at work make it a point to go out everyday to enjoy the weather and fresh air simply because we can.

There have been a handful of afternoons spent outside on the grass with coffee and a few snacks.

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The beautiful blue sky and scattered clouds.
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Amongst the greenery of the campus gardens.Snapchat-20141111023918
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lassic Ray Ban shades.
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Arabic Coffee
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Tiny chocolate brownie cupcakes.

الحمد لله‎

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When life happens..?

Well…I just kind of stopped posting all of a sudden and it’s not because I haven’t thought about writing. I just haven’t made time to sit down and do it. There is always something else to do (i.e. go to work or go to sleep). I think most people feel that way, but last week I finally made the decision that I wasn’t willing to live like that. I need to enjoy myself even if it means being tired at work in the morning or not writing a 100% complete lesson plan every day. I feel it has taken me a bit of time to realize that time management doesn’t mean that everything is going to fit into my day, but that I’ve got to make compromises in order to make at least pieces of them fit.

Here is a peak into my recent phone image gallery:

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Sweet roses from a sweet friend.
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Hand made Ferrero Rocher
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Coffee break with the students
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Mid-term exam time
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The usual spread
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At the hospital
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Red grapefruit
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Chocolove…the name definitely fits
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Rain in Riyadh
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Junk food junkies in the office
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No students
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Coffee and Anoosh cookies
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Chocolate covered oreo

Now we’re into final exams, which means in a couple of weeks I will have a few days to just relax between the semesters. God willing my posts will be more frequent from now on. I’ve really missed sharing here and I actually do have a lot to tell you. I still haven’t finished posting about my trip to Turkey, last week I went camping outside of Riyadh for the first time and this Friday my best friend has a party for her engagement.

You’ll hear from me again real soon, ان شاء الله.


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Last September Weekend

Thursday was the last day of work for a short break due to Hajj and Eid Al Adha. A day of teaching, workshops and meetings ended with a nap on the bus and snacks with friends in my apartment.

Friday I went to Riyadh Gallery with a few of the girls. We shopped, sat for coffee at a cafe and enjoyed wandering around. Once arriving home I put on my sweats, had a cup of tea and dumped myself into bed.

Saturday was my 24th birthday.
I spent the morning relaxing. Some of the girls came by that afternoon. One brought me this adorable little sorbet sundae. Another stopped by with a box of mini cupcakes and chocolate caramels. The last visitor made a cute little Instagram video and sang to me in Spanish and Chinese. How lovely and thoughtful are my new found friends?

Later that night Y came back from visiting his family. We planned to go have sushi at Benihana, but it was so packed that we got a take-away and enjoyed dinner at home instead.

I had a really lovely and simple weekend.
A big thanks to everyone who visited me, wrote me a message, sent me a picture or passed along positive thoughts. Love you all and thanks for making life so sweet.

Here is a short video to sum it all up.


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Thank God for each year of life that I have been given, the people who have been with me and I pray for even better years to come.

الحمد لله‎


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Last Days of Vacation

I’m back in Riyadh and doing my best to enjoy the last days of vacation before going back to work.

Unfortunately, the day after I arrived here in KSA I started feeling really ill. It started out as really nasty post nasal drip (to the point where I had to sleep sitting up), to having itchy eyes, a runny nose and that extremely irritating endless sneezing feeling, to massive sinus congestion, headaches and coughing, to extreme fatigue and aches behind my eyes…and finally back to feeling human. I woke up today without the worst of those symptoms and just a simple cough that I suspect will stick around until all the gunk is cleared out of my chest.

Despite feeling like poo I have still been able to relax and enjoy not having to wake up and leave for work.

Here is a short video of the past relatively uneventful days.
August 11 to August 17

الحمد لله‎


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First Iftar Invitation

First Iftar (Breakfast) Invitation

I recently went to visit my friend B’s family here in Riyadh. I spend some time with her younger sister, mother and aunt. All who are very kind and welcoming. I regret not going to visit them sooner and I promised that I would visit more often after I return from my upcoming trip.
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When I arrived it was near to the time for the Maghrib Athan (when we break our fast) and they began bringing out sweets, dates, coffee, tea, water and juices.

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I was served endless cups of arabic coffee while having conversation with her sister in English and her aunt in Arabic. Well, she spoke Arabic and I understood, haha.
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After a while we went to the dining room to sit for the meal. There were soups, a potato dish, sambas, french fries, fish, foul and bread. Everything was delicious.

I know I usually say this, but it is not the delicious food or hot coffee that makes these times beautiful memories, it is the conversation and sitting with truly kind and inviting individuals.

الحمد لله‎


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Chat and Suhoor with K

Meeting K ☺

Sometimes you just need to meet up with a friend that speaks the same language and shares the same culture.
I’m blessed to have a friend here that shares these things (and more), not to mention she is a really lovely person with a great personality, intelligent mind and kind heart.

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I wore one of the dresses that Y’s mom bought for me while we were in Makkah. It was blue with white and grey patterns and embroidery along the neckline. I think it is Moroccan style as it has a hood.

After iftar (breakfast) Y went to visit some friends and I put out some snacks to share with K. Of course there was Arabic coffee and dates. There was also mini twix, mini galaxy, these delicious wafer squares, chocolate covered dates, chips, biscuits and tea.
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I waited and she arrived as she always does with a big smile and a hug.
We spent the night/morning (10pm to 4:30 am) talking, telling stories & giving advice.
We didn’t even notice the time and ended up cooking a quick suhoor of oatmeal and eggs with only about 20 minutes to go before the adhan (when fasting begins).

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الحمد لله‎


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Evening Visit

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the past I wrote about my visit with my friend’s family. Her mom was the first one to contact me when I arrived here in Riyadh. I had a chance to spend the day with her family at their home and not long after they took me a long to my first Saudi wedding.

I think it is a common thing here to invite or be invited to visit with others after alMagrib prayer. Two days ago I received a message from my friend’s sister “S” asking me to come for coffee/tea. “S” doesn’t speak a lot of English and I don’t speak much Arabic at all, but we actually managed just fine. We communicated in a mixture of the two languages and I would say we only had to translate a handful of words in the three hours that we spent together.

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When I arrived she brought a custard dish and poured me cups upon cups of Arabic coffee. After a while she uncovered a dish of breads: mini pizzas, cheese filled mini croissants and meat sambusa. Pouring me cups of tea, we chatted, showed each other pictures on our phones and enjoyed the snacks. After a bit she brought out a couple of sodas in glass bottles and we continued talking until I got a call from “Y” to leave.

I really enjoyed her company. It is amazing to me how fast time passes and how easy it is to enjoy the simple moments like this here. In sha Allah (God willing) I have the chance to visit her again very soon.

الحمد لله‎


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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“For I have known them all already, known them all–
Have know the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
~T.S. Eliot

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Morning coffee

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Afternoon coffee

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Evening tea

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”
~Abraham Lincoln

الحمد لله‎


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Beautiful “B”

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

I have had such great experiences with the people that I have met since I got here in January, but I recently met someone who I felt instantly connected to.

A couple of weeks ago I received a message on whatsapp from Y’s friend’s wife. She introduced herself and started a chatting with me. After about a half hour she invited me to come to her home to meet her. Around 7pm she sent a driver to come pick me up. When I arrived she met me at the door with a big smile. She welcomed me into the house and we went to sit for coffee and sweets.

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I had made this dessert. It was basically a thin crust covered with Nutella, M&M’s and chopped Kit Kat.

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As is customary, I was offered a cup of Arabic coffee. This time it was served in this delicious little chocolate cup. All while the tables around me were covered with little snacks like cakes, candies, chips and popcorn. B’s mom came in and sat with us for a few minutes and soon after her younger sister did the same.

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After we had quite a bit of time to sit and talk, we went to the dining room to enjoy the dinner that my new friend B’s mom had prepared. She had made a salad, kebsah and jareesh. It was my first time to try Jareesh and I can’t forget how delicious it was. It is a kind of rice that is very wet and creamy with the taste of chicken.

I felt so comfortable with them that when they asked me to stay the night in their home I accepted almost immediately. I felt so welcomed.

The next weekend B invited me again. She said that she was going to her friend’s house and that she wanted me to come.

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Her friend’s house was absolutely beautiful. The table in the sitting room was filled with amazing snacks. Of course there was Arabic coffee, small cakes and chocolates. After that there were sparkling juices, chips with dips, and small breads with cheeses or zaatar. We talked, danced and laughed. At around 2:30 am they brought chicken sandwiches, french fries, mini pizzas and more. Everything was so delicious.

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I stayed the night at B’s house again and the next day when we woke up her mom had prepared a gorgeous lunch. There was a bechamel pasta, salad, kebsa and a dish called gurson (I am not sure about the spelling). They also served fresh fruits and watermelon. After the lunch B asked me if I wanted to go with them to visit their Aunt.

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I was enjoying my time with B and her friends and family so much that there was no way I could say no. B’s aunt is a teacher at a school for Al Quran. She was kind and lovely with me, as were the other members of her family that I met there. Of course I enjoyed more coffee, dates, sweets and snacks and went back to B’s home so full that I almost felt like I needed someone to roll me out the door.

2 weekends with my new friend and I can honestly consider her one of the people that I feel most comfortable with and close to. This is a gift from God and I am more than grateful for this new friendship.

The food is always fantastic, but the company is what makes life beautiful here.

 الحمد لله


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قهوة عربية – Arabic Coffee

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

قهوة عربية
Arabic Coffee

Arabic coffee is typically made from lightly roasted coffee beans and هال cardamom. It is also common to add زعفران saffron for color and I’ve heard of some using a bit of ماء الورد rose water.

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I’ve noticed that the taste of Arabic coffee can be quite different depending on who has made it simply because people prefer different amounts of cardamom or ever different roasts of the actual coffee beans.

I remember the first time that I tried Arabic coffee I really wasn’t fond of it, but I think that it grew on me quickly and became this sort of ritual that I love. I associate having Arabic coffee with conversation, with sharing and with enjoying the company of others. It is not typically something that I would have while I am on my own.IMG-20140314-WA0006
Arabic coffee is made in the taller metal pots that you see here in this picture. The red and yellow pots are for tea. The smaller metal pots that you see in the middle are called دله dallah.

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After the coffee is made, it is poured into the دله dallah to be served.

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Often the دله dallah is kept near the fire or on hot coals.

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The coffee may also be poured into a thermos to be served and also to be kept warm.

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(This is a picture that one of my students sent to me.)

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Arabic coffee is served in a tiny cup called فنجال finjal. The cup is usually filled less than half full. This is so that it cools quickly.

I’m very sure that you will see another post in the future about Arabic coffee, but this is a little introduction. ان شاء الله God willing next time we meet we will share some Arabic coffee together.

الحمد لله


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