New Blog!

Hello!

I have been lacking in my writing for this blog and I hope to eventually get back to it. I think with everything that happened this summer, I wasn’t feeling it.

But this past winter holiday, my sister inspired me to really focus on my passion for cooking and culture, so I created a new blog!

Cooking with Your Eyes – cookingwithyoureyes.wordpress.com

If you’re into reading more about food and what I’m cooking, check it out! It’d be great to have the support!

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Last Day in the Middle East

I have many posts in draft currently that I plan on posting later – as you all should know (see previous post), but since today is my last day in the Middle East, I thought I’d post something quick.

Even though this trip was bittersweet with everything that happened, I still had an amazing time.

I always love seeing my family and I wish these reunions could happen more often – makes me want to get married just to see them. (Not ready yet!)

I LOVE being in Ramallah and seeing and hearing where my family grew up and meeting the people that knew my grandfather and family. Though I’m terrible at Arabic and am not as accustom to the little things in the culture there, I still feel a sense of belonging and a sense of comfort. Not sure how else to describe it.

All in all, there were good and bad times, but I’ll always remember how amazing this trip was – mainly because it brought me closer to my family.

I’ll be back in the states by tomorrow night, inshallah. I’ll share more of my stories later.

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The City of Ramallah

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Sad News…

I’ve been meaning to post more about my trip this week, but my family and I have been caught up with a lot of things…

My uncle – father of the groom – passed away yesterday. It’s been a bit hard on our family and though we’re not cutting our trip short, but we are relaxing more and just aren’t in the mood to do as much.

I won’t be posting as much for the next few weeks just to respect him and my family.

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Rest in Peace Amo George. You were a great man and we are all so sorry to see you go.

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Made it to Ramallah!

To quickly give a live update (even though I just posted), I’ve made it to Ramallah and am staying with my uncle and his family in their upstairs house. Though the trip took longer than expected, we made it safely and soundly.

I’ll hopefully have some down time tomorrow to do some REAL blogging.

🙂

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Amman – Not as a Tourist

I thought I would have a bit more time while being in Jordan to do some blogging…but I have no idea why I thought that when all my days have been jam packed!

This time around, I’m seeing Amman in a different light than last time – more of experiencing the locals life instead of the tourists. Its interesting, exciting, but exhausting! They stay up late, eat super late, wake up late and take their time to do everything – similar to what college in the states can be like, but with Aaraak (like Greek oozo), hooka, and Arab dancing.

We arrived after a 14 hour flight from Chicago to Amman and waited in line to get our visa’s, which took a bit of time. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Jordan, it’s that time means nothing to people.  If a friend comes by while someone is working, he’ll take a 2 hour break just to talk to him. If there is luggage to be sent from the plane to the airport, they’ll take a cigarette break between a few pieces of luggage. It’s a bit ridiculous, but their life style.

Either way, we got to our hotel, met with everyone and prepared for all the parties.

I had to do some paperwork with my mom that lead us to the Jordanian courthouse and the Arab Bank. Made me feel like I was living a day in the life of a Jordanian…sorta I guess.

I’ll leave this post at that and talk about the parties in a separate post – which was mainly what I did in Amman. I’ll also post pictures later when I’m not writing in bed. It’s 12:30am here and it’s the earliest I’ve slept since I got here.

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4 more hours

I’m heading to Amman today…I’ve been traveling since Sunday, June 30 starting from 7:30am…was on a plane for 4 hours, had a lay over in Chicago for 4 hours and have been on this flight to Amman for 10 hours…4 more to go!

Though I’m typing while I’m on the plane, this post will be published after I’m well off the plane.

I just felt like writing since I can’t sleep. I’ve already watched Lincoln amd Wreck it Ralph on our tv screens – loved them both! Lincoln was so well done and Joseph Gordon Levitt was in it as well as Adam from Girls! Whaatt?!?!?! I loved how Adam delivered the 2 lines he had. Wreck it Ralph was adorable and so perfect. Man, Pixar and Disney just do a great job at touching your heart.

Now I’m debating watching the hobbit or a different movie.

Well, we’re almost there. Inshallah it seems faster than 4 hours…

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Mid East Trip Part Tinaen (Two in Arabic)

Tomorrow morning, my family and I embark on our second Middle East trip in the past 3 years.

 

I am getting anxious, excited, nervous…all kinds of feelings right now. I can’t wait to see my family, see more of the place my family and ancestors are from, and just experience more new things.

 

My Arabic speaking skills are poor, so that will suck…and it’ll be hot. Buuuttt I’ll be fine. I’ll make it through and probably love every moment – well mostly.

It’s an odd time for my family though. I won’t get into details because it’s rather private, but I really hope this trip turns out for the better.

 

Well – I’m all packed, sandwiches have been made (my mom is anti-buy airport food, with good reason), showers have been taken and I need to sleep! I’ll post as much as I can while I’m in Amman, Ramallah, and where ever we go – but it won’t be too consistent.

Wish me safe travels and see you all on the other side!

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Twas Memorial Day Weekend…

Twas Memorial Day weekend and all was calm. All was quiet and all was relaxed.

Honestly, it was! And first, I understand Memorial Day is about so much more than relaxing and I am thankful for having people sacrifice their lives for our country. But as a busy, stressed out, trying to figure out life woman, it was nice to have a few days off.

My guy and I spent Saturday in Capitola, CA. What a lovely little beach town! It is super cute, very family-friendly, and doesn’t have as many tourists as Southern California beach towns.

We found a great Mexican restaurant called Taqueria Agave, where I had some of the best chile verde and carne asada I have ever had. It looks small, but it’s a hidden gem that all the locals seem to love.

Then we headed closer to the water for some drinks. Margartiaville was the place of choice and… I sorta regretted it. Though we only got drinks, the place was pretty janky, our waitress was barely attentive, and though you got a nice view of some water and the cute hotel villas across the way, it was filled with garbage.

It was nice to have a drink, but we left once we finished our drinks–which was hella quick.

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Him and Her drinks at Margaritaville in Capitola. At least the drinks were decent…

We did a bit of walking around their pier, close to the beach, and by the cliff side. It was lovely! After that, we left and headed toward the South Bay, where we had some of the best sushi ever– Gokaku: Japanese Tapas and Sushi.

A few quick things about this place:
1) Do not be deceived by it’s quiet, unflattering exterior. It is busy with locals inside and is quite a cute little sushi place.

2) ZIG ZAG ROLL! Order it there and you will thank me later

3) The servers are absolutely the nicest! They told us their recommendations, their most popular dishes, and were very attentive.

4) A lot of what they serve is fusion food done well, as well as Japanese street food–which was cool to learn and try!

5) Zig Zag Roll!!!!!!  Soooo Goooodd!

I highly recommend people try this place. It was a really great experience, a little pricey, but worth it. Did I mention the Zig Zag roll?

Sunday, I celebrated my friends birthday with her at Homeroom and some other friends. It’s in Oakland, it’s the best thing ever, great great great mac and cheese. If you’re in the area, just stop what you’re doing and go to this place. Everything on the menu is amazing, including their greens and dessert.  It’s just… this amazing…  I can’t even… IT’S SO GOOD!

Below is their cookbook, which I will get one day! I mean, I have my own mac and cheese recipe, but it’s always good to have a reference–especially something that is this glorious.

Homeroom Cookbook. I will get my hands on this!!

Monday I just sat around. A relaxing weekend with good company, good food, and exciting places. Travel and food really go together. Now I just need to visit more places that have food and music combined and I’d be set!

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The Summers of Trips

In my last post, I mentioned that I will be heading to the Middle East this summer. I figured it was time to give a few details/background info on the trip!

In 2010, my family and I went to the Middle East for a relative’s wedding. It was my first time ever in the Middle East, especially the place where my family grew up– Ramallah, Palestine. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! We went all around Ramallah,  Sea of Galilee, Nazareth (where we had the best shwarma), the old city Jerusalem, Petra, and Amman Jordan.

Qubbat As-Sakhrah aka Dome of the Rock Mosque

The experience is something I will never forget and keep safe in my heart. So much happened and so many things were seen–good and bad. It made me proud to be Palestinian and see where my family grew up. And then to relate it to all the events that have happened in the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan was so interesting.

We are going back again for numerous family parties/gatherings and I am just as excited! We were going to try and visit different places, like Turkey or Egypt, but we decided to go back to Ramallah since other relative got engaged. Pack as many parties in while EVERYONE is here.

Did I mention that these are basically family reunions too? Yeah, aunts, uncles, cousins that I haven’t seen in awhile are coming too! And we are all soooo excited! I honestly cannot wait! I’m trying to work on speaking Arabic more (I’m so bad at it though. At least I’m trying, right?), getting all my outfits and clothes ready. Ah!! Just can’t wait!

The Beautiful Sea of Galilee

I truly hope I am able to post here a few times on the trip. Imma be busy with the family–aka no private/alone time, so we’ll see what I can do. But a relative owns a nice cafe in Ramallah that has wifi, so maybe it’ll be quick posts from my phone, with some pics…well LOTS of pics.

Speaking of pics, My guy and I did Bay to Breakers this past weekend. If you don’t know, Bay to Breakers is a 12k from the Embarcadero in SF to Ocean Beach on the end of Golden Gate Park. There are costumes, serious runners, naked people, and so much energy! It was the longest run I’ve ever done and the most fun!

I’m so glad I got to take part something as amazing as this and was able to run at least 5 miles of the 7 (it’s a 12k). Let’s hope I can improve even more on my next run!

Here is a pick of people on the famous Hayes Street Hill and a random waterfall in Golden Gate park.

Wait, a waterfall in San Francisco?

So many people on Hayes Street Hill on Bay to Breakers

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One Row Down…

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My hair from this weekend in Santana Row.

Super cute, right? I loved it and I loved getting pampered. 🙂

Santana Row was great this weekend! The weather was great, the area was nice and fancy, and the company was fabulous. Hehehe. We went to 2 places at Santana Row: El Jardin Tequila Bar and Restaurant and Sino.

El Jardin was in the middle of the actual Santana Row and was an open restaurant– it wasn’t in a building, just outside. I liked that, since the day was so nice. You could people watch, check around the area for stores that might be interesting, while listening to their Latin inspired music. There were also some TVs showing basketball games and a random movie that I couldn’t recognize.

El Jardin’s outside restaurant in Santana Row.

We got to sit at the bar area, which were basically just high tables around the place. The Bottomless chips and salsa were our snack of choice. We would have gotten the guacamole, but it was $11. Yes, this is Santana Row, where everything is expensive and fabulous! I guess we weren’t down to have fabulously expensive guacamole that I could have made just as easily for a lot cheaper.

None the less, I got a lovely Chambord Margarita- a take on sweet and salty flavors and the boy had Negra Modelo beer. The margarita was interesting and I really enjoyed the salty-sweet flavors, much different than any other margarita I’ve tried before. I’m not a huge sweet person, so it was nice to get a drink that wasn’t too sweet but still captured all the flavors.

My last comment about El Jardin, the salsa’s were not very spicy, a little disappointing, but not unexpected.

Sino

For dinner, we went to Sino, a Chinese fusion restaurant that turns into a night club in the evening. We made reservations online and they had all our information. The ambiance of the place was of a typical Asian Fusion restaurant: intimate lighting, wooden tables that looked ancient (in a classy way), and red being the dominant color. The chopsticks were red, the curtains were red, and lots of other red accents around the place.

Our first table we were seated at was close to the bar and a little lower than most restaurant tables. We decided to ask to be moved to a booth, though the hostess wasn’t as keen to our move. It ended up working out a lot better because it was toward the back of the restaurant and away from the bar. It was playing loud music and the boy and I wanted to be able to hear ourselves talk without yelling.

Our waiter was great and very attentive, checking up on us numerous times and always giving advice when we had questions. One of his best advice was the White Lychee Sangria. We got a carafe of that, which had apples, pineapples, oranges, lemons, and lychee with white wine. Tons of fruit, tons of sweet, tons of flavor, and dangerous if you drank too much–my favorite!

We got Shanghai Dumplings as an appetizer, which were dumplings in a silver cupcake holder of sorts. Inside was pork, garlic, black vinegar and ginger, with the sauce being soy sauce with ginger slices. I loved the flavor, though with them being cooked in the silver cupcake holders, they were a bit soggy, making it messy to eat. Lucky for me, I never mind a little mess when eating. And it didn’t get on my dress! 🙂

We then shared Hong Kong Crispy noodles (scallops, shrimp, crab, shiitake mushrooms, and bok choy) and Szechuan chicken (chicken, golden peas, squash, and a chili garlic sauce). Both were very tasty and the portions were perfect for us not to get too full. Again the chili garlic sauce was not as spicy as we would have liked, but everything had good flavor and was cooked perfectly. Nothing dry and nothing undercooked.

Over all, it was a good weekend. We walked around the row a bit more before we headed out, which was nice. Santana Row may be a bit too pricy for me right now, but it still had a nice laid-back feel to it. And there is never anything wrong to splurge a little and celebrate life (or a belated birthday. :p)

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