weekend, friends & backflips

Happy weekend (to us)! Tonight we’re going to a get together at a friend’s apartment (in our building). We’re also having another friend, Dana, over for dinner. I met her when I was visiting Danielle in Scotland in 2007/8. We didn’t stay in touch, but she randomly contacted me earlier this week to ask about Kuwait because she had a job interview here! She got here yesterday and leaves tomorrow but is coming over to hang out tonight. SMALL WORLD!

I saw this video while browsing a Kuwaiti blog. I think it’s a pretty fun idea, plus you can see some of the things we see on a regular basis! The whole first part is at our resort & spa (read: gym), Al Corniche. He is also at the Avenues, the grocery store we frequent, and the place we found our first geo-cache. Enjoy!

Update: Just found another video you might enjoy with Kuwait as the back drop!

Food Lately

**This post has taken me countless hours to write because of many technical difficulties (among other things). The pictures still look funny when published for some reason. Sorry..you’re going to have to deal with it! I’m going to bed 🙂 I really, truly hope you enjoy!!

For being such lovers of food, we haven’t posted a lot about what we’ve been eating…so today I’m here to make you jealous! There are lots of American restaurants in Kuwait (McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, Applebee’s, P.F. Chang, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway…I could go on). We’ve only patronized two Western places so far…Starbucks and Shake Shack, both at The Avenues. Instead of eating at places we’re familiar with, we’ve been making our own food (comme toujours) and going to small, local ‘restaurants.’ Jeff has two rules for you when you come visit…one of them is that you eat whatever we tell you to eat! Enjoy!

First, some of the meals we’ve bought…

Swedish meatballs from one of our early Ikea excursions.

Once a week we pay 1.5 KD for a rotisserie chicken (chicken machine) from a Lebanese place between the school & our apt. It lasts us 2 meals and the first night is usually pulled chicken over salad. Sometimes we splurge and get a schawarma too!

A true staple in our diet. This particular bread we bought fresh out of the oven for pennies! It was so hot Jeff needed more than the newspaper to carry it home 🙂

The (literal) hole in the wall where our bread was made!

When we went to the Friday Market (on a Thursday), we ate at an Indian place there. We paid 800 Fils for all this yumminess…two chicken wraps of some sort, fried veggies, & a sambosa!

We love the two Lebanese restaurants between our apt and school! Bread & hummus from one, falafel wrap from the other…all for less than 1KD!

The Shack Shake in The Avenues is amazing…expensive, but my caramel shake was totally worth it!

Some friends introduced us to the soup place. We ask for 4 containers of green soup with onions & lemon and hand over 1.5KD. These 4 containers (with bread as spoons) will last 4 meals for both of us!

Our green soup came in the one with the towel. There’s other soup too…we were advised against trying them though 😉

And here are some of the meals we’ve made…

We found a Madras curry paste that we’ve fallen in love with! So far, we’ve had a curry stir-fry about once a week. We vary up the veggies and have added Kuwaiti shrimp a few times too!

This is one of the ways that we used pulled chicken machine…with green beans over couscous. More delicious that we thought it would be!

Yet another meal using pulled chicken machine…this time pasta! It started off as a creamy sauce and ended as a cheesy sauce. Basically spicy mac n’ cheese w/ artichokes, tomatoes & mushrooms…again better than expected!

Another weekly staple – pizza using Iranian bread (we can get 5 pieces for 100-250 Fils). We’ve been using sun-dried tomato pesto, whatever veggies we have and sliced mozzarella. We also make garlic cheese bread with the ‘fluffy garlic’ sauce that we get with our chicken machine.

We love us some Iranian bread! For wraps, Jeff roasted chickpeas in cumin and we ate them with moutabel, cucumbers & lettuce.

Another concoction with Egyptian bread 🙂 We were recently introduced to labneh – a cheesy sour cream yogurt spread. Delish!

Jeff had the amazing idea to make a Niçoise Salad. It was simple, filling and healthy…yum. We also found a new bread – Egyptian bread sold at the Sultan Center. Kind of like a thick pita and it comes in white or brown.

I found a pumpkin pancake & waffle mix at the Sultan Center! If you didn’t know, I ❤ pancakes…seriously. We’ve made these the last two Saturdays. We put out tons of toppings (butter, PB, almond butter, cocoa, honey, pecans, banana…) and eat up! This morning I added oatmeal to the batter for the last couple…tasty and SO filling!

We hope you’ve enjoyed a peak into our culinary lives! Are you ready to come visit yet?! We are loving the food here so far and have had a lot of fun being adventurous. We’ve heard that there are a lot of great restaurants so we are eager to find & try them! Enjoy the rest of your weekend 🙂

Al Corniche – worth it? You bet!

One of the options during our first week here was to tour Al Corniche Resort & Spa. We had heard that many teachers joined the ‘resort & spa’ for a variety of reasons including access to the gym and private beach. We were pretty confident we were going to join, but we were taken aback by the price. AND our athletic director got us a pretty good deal (I advice against doing the math, I about choked) – 950KD for a couple for a 1 year membership with the possibility to put it hold for up to 2 months. This price probably sounds exorbitant to you (and it did to me too after belonging to Gold’s for $30/month). I won’t even talk about all the extra services that you pay for (spa, restaurants, cabanas, premium membership, guest passes…). But…let me tell you about it and maybe I can change your mind like mine was 🙂

Al Corniche is a 15-20 minute walk from our apartment. On our way, we pass our favorite grocery store so we often hit the store on the way back if needed. When we get to the parking lot, we routinely walk past fabulous & beautiful cars – Porsche, Ferrari, Mazarati, Aston Martin (who needs BMW & Mercedes?). Going in the front doors, we walk on glass over water – their own private moat! I’ve never once touched the front door as there is always a security guard who holds it open for us. After scanning our membership cards, the lobby has shopping, restaurants (frozen yogurt, a cafe, sit-down), the entrance to the spa (Jeff received a free massage w/ membership and I’ll get a facial) and comfy couches where you can hang out in the AC and use the Wi-Fi. Last week Jeff signed up with Porsche to attend a test drive event coming up soon. You can go outside to the pool (31 C all year round with a lap pool), ‘cold’ tub (like a hot tub but cold water!), beach, green-space, cabanas and kiddy pool (did I mention there is wi-fi outside too?). From the lobby you can also go down to the squash & tennis courts (members can play anytime). The locker rooms are downstairs and can be accessed from the pool as well. There are lockers, showers, a sauna. Upstairs is the gym with 2 rooms for classes and a large space with all the equipment you could need. Although personal trainers are extra, you do get a ‘Meet the Trainer’ session with a fitness trainer to talk about your goals, do all your measurements and help create a plan. I’ve loved classes for the last couple of years, but this place takes it to a whole new level. There are multiple classes a day that I wish I had time to go to (including Les Mills classes!). In the bigger of the two rooms, both outside walls are floor to ceiling glass so you can look out over the Gulf and Kuwait city while you sweat. The outside walls of the main gym are also glass so you can look out over the pool, Gulf & City while you get your aerobic & weights on.

Jeff and I have been members for 16 days. Of those 16 days, we’ve gone to the gym 14 of them. Although there are quite a few teachers from AIS that belong, it’s also nice to see some different faces. We thought about joining a different gym, but there are no other gyms within walking distance (read: pay for taxi) and they aren’t much cheaper either. Al Corniche just went through some significant renovations (so don’t look at too many of the pictures on their website) and is beautiful!

Lastly, between working out, eating better and not drinking on a daily basis, Jeff and I have lost a combined 14lbs in the 3.5 weeks since we’ve moved here. We’ve really enjoyed having somewhere to go besides school and our (mostly) empty apartment. Here’s a quick video I took while walking on the treadmill the other day…


Update: Al Corniche posted some pictures on their Facebook page…thought you’d enjoy seeing where we spend a lot of our time 😉

Drumroll please…

We’d like to introduce you to the newest addition to our life in Kuwait…Nemr (نمر)! He is 4 weeks old and was rescued by some friends of ours here. Our friends couldn’t keep him and we decided there are already too many feral cats on the street here. We hope we can give him a great life here 🙂  His name is Arabic for tiger and a little hard to say, but we think Nemr is the best way  to spell the way it sounds. Hopefully we’ll be able to learn Arabic soon so we can say his name correctly! He loves to play and run around our apartment. He slides and jumps all over the place!  He also loves to be with us and on us…he follows us everywhere and usually wants us to be paying attention to him 🙂 High maintenance at night, but adorable all the same!


Little Kitten!

Orientation Week

I know this post is a little delayed…but it’s been sitting waiting to be finished for quite a while now. Today marks our 3 week anniversary of arriving in Kuwait 🙂 We have lots of ideas for fun posts to come so be on the lookout in the next couple weeks 🙂

By the time we made it to our apartment and got our luggage, it was about 3am on Saturday morning (August 25). Orientation started bright and early on Sunday morning at 8am! We quickly realized the school’s goal was to keep us busy all the time for the first several days we were in the country. Most likely they wanted us to get over jet-lag as quickly as possible and keep us out of our empty apartments. As I try and think back to those first 4 days in the country now, they are definitely a little blurry!

Here’s a quick snapshot of our first 4 days in the country before returning staff came back…

Saturday, August 25 ~ We headed to Jeans Grill on the Gulf for breakfast with all the new staff, their children and the admin team. It was a huge buffet and a great time to sit and talk with the other new teachers plus get a heads up for what was happening in the days ahead. After breakfast, we headed back to the school for tours and administrative stuff (we got our settling allowance, handed in our passports & got our pictures taken to get the work visa process going). After some lunch & computer time, we headed to the Sultan Center for our first shopping trip. It was quick and we were completely overwhelmed! So much stuff we weren’t used to seeing and we didn’t really have a good idea what we needed & didn’t need right away. Plus all the prices looked so funny! That evening, we returned to our apartment building to have dinner with at our building host (Deb has been great!). It was relaxing and we had a great time asking questions and getting to know the other new teachers in our building.

Sunday, August 26 ~ We walked to school for the first time with our building host (Deb). We had time for coffee & tea with the other new teachers and then headed to a cultural presentation by the middle school assistant principal. She’s been in Kuwait for 19+ years after meeting her Kuwaiti husband at college in Florida. Her husband is part of the royal family in Kuwait (Al Sabah) but he is not part of the ruling line. It was a great presentation! I’ve asked her if she would be willing to share it…so hopefully you’ll see it soon too! We also got to try dates (not as dried as I’ve had them before) and Arabic coffee (which doesn’t taste like coffee, so I liked it!). The rest of the day was spent in a Q&A session, getting to know our divisions (elementary, middle school, high school), and time to organize our apartment. That evening we went to the Avenues for the first time…I thought the Sultan Center was overwhelming! The Sultan Center has nothing on this mall (we went again today and I’m still overwhelmed!). On the way to the mall our bus had a fun little adventure…our bus blew a tire! We had to sit on the bus on a busy highway and then transfer to the new bus…all with crazy drivers whizzing by! But once we finally got shopping, it was great to finally get some things to make our apartment less empty!

Monday, August 27 ~At school in the morning we attended our divisional meeting before heading out to get fingerprints. We were told it could last 20 minutes or 4 hours. Let’s just say that our trip was anything but short & pleasant. Our appointment was at 1pm but when we got there they said it was supposed to be at 2pm. We didn’t actually get STARTED until 3:30pm. They wanted us (50 teachers) to be quiet…no one seemed to be able to. A young, short man was constantly yelling at us (we later found out he was a police officer). Once we finally started getting printed, one of the men was taking smoke breaks every couple of minutes. While I (lissa) was in the room with a few other girls waiting to be printed, a very official looking officer came in and started yelling at the ‘break’ man. Turns out he was a police office too and wasn’t in uniform. Some operation they had running there! I left about 5:30pm and none of the guys had even gone yet. Jeff got home just before 6:30. We rested for a few minutes and then met up with the group again to go to LuLu Hypermarket (think Walmart) way out of the city near the desert. We were again overwhelmed, but getting better at the whole shopping thing. I noticed that the grocery stores here are an interesting mix of ones I’ve seen in the US and France.

Tuesday, August 28 (last day before returning staff joined us) ~ Our last big hoop to jump through was our medical visits. Even though we had been medically cleared in the US (and paid LOTS of money for it unlike our Canadian colleagues), Kuwait still needed to make sure we were healthy in order to give us our work visas. Our first stop was to get our blood drawn. There were lots of immigrants at the public medical center (we were happy to hear our health insurance is for private care). One of the teachers who was here last year recognized the logos on the immigrant workers uniforms and told us that they worked for a large oil company. We also heard that it’s common for the company to keep the workers’ passports so that can’t leave. People come here to work because they can make ‘good money and send it back to their families. Then they realize how horribly they are treated…and can’t leave. Glad to know we’ll be getting our passports back as soon as our visas come through! After all the women in our group were done, we had to go to another medical facility to get our chest x-rays (all the men were able to complete the check-up at the first stop). We got to wear awesome orange dresses…which reminds me I need to get a picture from my friend so you can see how great I looked 😉 That afternoon we went back to the Avenues and also went to True Value Hardware (except it had everything, not just hardware). That evening we went to a traditional Arabic dinner…AMAZING! We got to try so many different types of food and drinks and it all just kept coming. YUM!

Lemon Mint - the drink we were told we had to drink at dinner!

Lemon Mint – the drink we were told we had to drink at dinner! Like a virgin sweet Mojito!

Obligatory current events post

First and foremost, we are safe. There was a peaceful demonstration at the US embassy Thursday night and when rumblings of escalation began the crowd immediately dispersed. Before we read about it in the paper this morning, we hadn’t heard anything about it. If we were oblivious to the news, nothing would seem any different. We are safe (mom, you reading this? 😉 ) Here’s another great article to read to understand the Arab point of view. Some blog posts to peruse (written by Americans in Kuwait) – MovingDesertGirl, Expat & the City.

Our official stance on the topic is something along the lines of this: in every population of people there are extremists (this includes the US, Christians and other populations around the world). They do not speak for the majority. We come from the majority and we live/work among the majority. If you want to “respond” to something, do so in a way that binds your culture with another, not in a way that may erode whatever is already in place.

Happy Friday to all of our western readers!


We have a new weekend saying…thank God/goodness it’s Thursday!

I’m especially happy because I just taught my last class as a temporary French teacher at AIS :) The new teacher arrived on Tuesday morning, shadowed me yesterday & today and will take over her full schedule (my 3 classes plus another French and a Spanish) on Sunday. It feels great to be done and I’m ready to be 100% committed to being a Technology Coach. I am, however, grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know some of the students at our school. In total, I now know 51 students in grade 9, 10 & 11. It was also nice to meet the Language B teachers and speak French. The head of department (HOD) also asked me if I would be willing to sub for her later in the year. This wasn’t the start I had envisioned for my school year, but overall I’m glad I had the opportunity to help the school :)

We got reimbursed for our visa & medical expenses…so we have some cash again! We’re headed to the Friday market with a group from school this afternoon. Happy weekend everyone!

Quick edit: it was incredibly interesting to be in a classroom in Kuwait as everything is going on near the US Embassy’s in our general vicinity. It was refreshing to have a conversation with students who can acknowledge that what the Americans did who made the movie was horribly wrong…but also that the response by some people in the Muslim states is juste as wrong. It’s not all Americans and it’s not all Muslims…and it’s too bad that a few people represent all of us.

Money, Money, Money…MONEY!

After 2.5 weeks, we’re still trying to wrap our heads around our new money…the Kuwaiti Dinar. AIS gave us a settling allowance…in cash! When we had it in our hands, it didn’t seem like very much. But then when we started doing the conversion, we realized it was a lot!

On our first trip to the grocery store during orientation (more to come soon), we were quite confused by the prices. We’re still in the process of adjusting and trying not to constantly convert to US dollars in our heads. The Sultan Center is one of the major grocery stores here. Other notable ones are Lulu Hypermarket and Carrefour. We’ve found a Sultan Center that is very close to our gym (again, more to come soon!) and we can easily stop on our walk home. It has quickly become our favorite place to grocery shop!

Receipt from our first trip to the grocery store (Sultan Center).

5 fils = $.02
10 fils = $.04
20 fils = $.07
50 fils = $.18
100 fils = $.35
1/4 dinar = $.89
1/2 dinar = $1.78
1 dinar = $3.55
5 dinar = $17.75
10 dinar = $35.50
20 dinar = $71

There are 1000 fils in 1 dinar (like there are 100 pennies in 1 dollar). One dinar is about 3.55 dollars. We’ve heard it doesn’t fluctuate much. The smallest bill is 1/4 dinar (250 fils); the biggest (that we’ve seen) is 20 dinars.

Arabic side of the dinar bills.

English side of the dinar bills.

Front side of coins (fils).

Back side of coins (fils).

The coins are incredibly small and range from 5 to 100. They also don’t have any numerals on them that we are used to seeing…so we’ve had to quickly learn some Arabic numerals!

After shopping for a couple weeks, we’ve noticed that many shops don’t have enough coins & small bills to make change and prefer you to have exact change. When you don’t have exact change, they usually round in your favor or take less money because they don’t have small coins in their drawers. We get our first paycheck in a couple weeks and we’re eager to start budgeting and figuring out what all this crazy money stuff actually means 🙂

High Class in Kuwait

This post is about bathrooms. Specifically toilets. Nothing gross…but you’ve been told.

In the US, you have to pay good money to get a toilet with a heated seat and a water sprayer attachment. I had quite the encounter with one such electric bidet this summer at Dark Horse Brewery. Too bad I didn’t watch this video before getting silly enough to try it out on one of our weekly family trips.

In Kuwait, heated toilet seats and water sprayers come standard with almost every toilet in the country. When it’s consistently over 40°C and most of the bathrooms I use aren’t air conditioned…believe me the toilet seats are pre-heated for you! I’ve already mentioned the water sprayers. I know they are more hygienic…but I’m still the American not used to such extravagance.  Maybe sometime soon 🙂


Hi family & friends! While we’re busy working, we thought you might like to find out a little more about living in Kuwait as an expat. We just found out about this site from one of the high school secretaries. We signed up for their monthly newsletter and you can too if you want! Just email them and sign up for the free subscription. You can also browse pictures on their site. Head to their YouTube channel to watch videos about “news & life in Kuwait from an expatriate point of view.”

In other news, we got internet at our apartment last night! We’re pretty excited to be able to communicate you guys from the comfort of our own home 🙂

Love to all! ❤