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) – Moving, DesertGirl, 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!

Sample weekend

Lots of people are curious about what our weekends might look like. While chasing camels and fighting our way through sandstorms may sound glamorous, we have yet to do either. Here’s what Friday looked like:

10am – woke up
11am – willingly subjected ourselves to Bodypump at our new gym. Ouch.
12pm – staggered to some couches in the lobby and surfed the net for an hour.
2pm – met up with friends to taxi to one of the malls nearby.
5pm – geocached our first international hide
6pm – grabbed a few things from the grocery store on our way home
7pm – made and subsequently ate fantastic pizza on leftover Iranian bread.


8am – woke up
8:45am – hailed a cab and went to the Grand Mosque
9:15-11:30 – toured the Grand Mosque
12pm – cabbed back, had lunch w/ a friend (hummus w/ veggies & bread)
1pm-4:30 – spent the afternoon on the beach at the club.
5pm – grocery shopped.
6pm – made dinner.

It was an awesome weekend, one we hope to repeat many times over. I guess when you think about it, some of the things we did we couldn’t have done in the US, for better or worse. Either way, for those of you thinking we’re spending the next few years in some third-world country, rest assured we are not 🙂

Update (from Lissa): if you didn’t notice, our weekends in Kuwait are Friday & Saturday. Friday is the holy day in Muslim culture (like Sunday for Christians) so naturally they have the day off. After living in culture with Saturday/Sunday weekends for 27+ years, this change has completely screwed up my sense of time. I usually have no idea what day it is and how many more days til the weekend comes:)

Hussain and Ali’s

No pics on this one I’m afraid, just a short story.

[EDIT-J: I lied. We have pictures.]

Thursday night (our “Friday”) we went with 5 of our friends to the Old Souq. It’s a pretty standard thing to do if you’re ever in Kuwait, and we’re glad we went. We wandered around a bit and eventually sat down to eat dinner at one of the common food places there. Fun fact about eating in Kuwait: restaurants fight over you, so guys armed with menus try to recruit you to sit at their tables if you even pause anywhere near the food area. It makes you feel special.

Anyway we ended up ordering some saffron rice, hummus, some sort of small shrimp dish, some sort of small chicken dish and, because there were seven of us splitting it all, we ordered 1.5 skewer plates. What they brought out to us was a delicious mountain of food. We ate for an HOUR STRAIGHT. They served us fresh Iranian bread in giant baskets and brought us new baskets whenever ours got cold whether we had finished it or not. Iranian bread is amazing. Someone remind me to post a picture and blurb about our Iranian bakery that’s close by. We left with bags of food and plan on having a reunion feast on Saturday.

After dinner we rolled walked around a bit more and our friend brought us to a carpet place called Hussain and Ali’s. Hussain happens to be an Afghani carpet salesmen educated in Iranian literature and one hell of a storyteller. He brought us into the second floor of his shop and proceeded to tell us everything there is to know about carpets. For two hours. It was amazing. He taught us how to count threads, identify & define Muslim symbols within the carpet, and determine whether the weaver was left or right handed. How cool is that?

By the way, should any of you ever be in need of a carpet consultant, we may be of some  service.

As for the week ahead – we’ve got some blog posts simmering. Until then you can amuse yourself by price-checking authentic Qum (city in Iran) silk rugs of 1.5 million threads or more. Do it. It’s nuts.

An artsy shot of the store. Carpet for dayyyyys. Thanks to Lindsay for the picture!

Packing for 13 hours in an airplane.

13 hours in a plane, broken into an 8 hour and 5 hour segment. The goal is to sleep as much as possible during the first leg and stay up during the second. You have a 7 hour layover during which you plan to walk around a foreign city. What do you pack?

Here’s my personal item.

things arranged neatly.

I’ll list them by column:
1. Nalgene,  UberLarabar x2, Larabar x2 travel dopp kit.
2. Headphones in a tangled mess, iPod touch, headphone splitter, iPod charger, Pens, Sleep-mask with earplugs.
3. Passport wallet, sunglasses, zip lock bags.
4. GQ, Runner’s World (Running Times could not be found… what’s up with that, Battle Creek?), Backpack.
Not shown: long-sleeved sweatshirt.

It all fit pretty well. It was light enough to walk around Frankfurt with and small enough to easily stow underneath the seat. A few items I consider must-haves if you’re flying overnight: sleep-mask, earplugs, chamomille tea & and a pillow. Entertainment is secondary on a flight you need to sleep on. You want to limit your exposure to light/noise as much as possible to get your body to sleep, so the mask and earplugs are worthwhile investments. Chamomille tea packs fit easily in your dopp kit and flight attendants gladly bring you piping hot water. When you wake up, you can clean up with the facial wipes and it’s almost like you got a semi-decent nights sleep.

Here’s my carry-on:

must improve photography skills…

The focus for my carry-on was two-fold: clothes and food. I needed a change of clothes for Frankfurt (middle column), a change of clothes for the flight to Kuwait (right column – no shorts!) and some PJ’s that were easy to access when we got to Kuwait (left column). God Bless Sperry’s.

In the upper-right hand corner you’ll notice some food. Ritz makes these amazing cracker sandwiches we just discovered and are a handy snack for planes and German streets. Next is a cup of soup, which is something I’ll pack for every single flight I’m ever on ever again. It’s amazing to be able to ask for hot water and make something to eat if you’re on any length or flight over 3 hours where they don’t feed you. Do this next time, people around you will be jealous. Finishing out our stowed-away snacks was a can of cashews. Salty goodness.

How did you get the job?

We’ve been asked this a hundred times if we’ve been asked this once. After the initial shock wears off and people realize we aren’t joking when we say we’re moving to Kuwait, they always want to know how we got the job. Well, here’s a (rather lengthy) excerpt from an e-mail I sent to a former co-worker that’s also interested in doing what we’re doing.

Lissa and I used a 3rd party service called  Search Associates that specializes in matching International school openings with credible candidates. We had a fantastic experience and would recommend them to anybody interested in going abroad. You sign up individually and that gives you access to their database and also grants you entry to one job fair. You set up a profile that is pretty specific and every day Search Associates will alert you to any new jobs that have been posted in your field. Additionally, schools that have signed up through Search Associates will be able to see your profile and resume so they could potentially contact you without a job being open. I can’t remember if you pay by the year or not (as opposed to a 1-time fee), but the longer ahead of time you sign up the more you’ll get for your money.
Lissa and I signed up in late November-ish. In retrospect, that was pretty late. Based on our late entry into the game, we were limited in which job fair we could go to. We quickly decided on San Francisco (which took place in February) because the only other option was Toronto. If given the choice between SF and Toronto in February, it’s a no brainer 🙂 Once we had decided that, we spent our time combing through the jobs that came to us via the daily emails. With 2 weeks before the job fair, the American International School of Morocco contacted me and eventually offered me a job before the fair even started. Had we not bought tickets already, we’d be headed to Africa this August instead of the Middle East. This goes to show that you don’t NEED to go to a job fair to get a job, though I would say that our situation was not normal.
We went to San Francisco with little idea what to expect and were pretty surprised. Having never done it, I would compare it to speed dating. The job fair takes place over 3 days (fri-sun). You show up Friday morning and sign in. You go through some “training” in how the fair will run, etiquette, rules and some other housekeeping type stuff. In one of the conference rooms there are jobs posted all over the walls with butcher paper. It will have the country name, school name and the opening. You can go in that room whenever you want and check to see what’s open, what’s been filled, etc. The rest of the day Friday is spent going to 30 minute presentations on schools you’re interested in. It’s nice to have two of you because you can split up and cover more info. Friday night you go to a giant ballroom and sign up for interviews on Saturday/Sunday with the individual schools. It’s pretty intense, but hopefully by that time you have an idea on who you want to talk to so you can go straight to them. While all of this is going on, you have a “mailbox,” as does each school. Schools can contact you via your mailbox and ask to interview with them. You can reply to them via mailbox and also send them thank you’s after you interview. It’s oldschool but I can’t begin to explain the excitement when you open up your mailbox and see a letter waiting for you 🙂
Saturday you start your interviews. If you don’t have any you can spend your time researching schools, writing thank you’s, checking your mailbox, networking, etc. If you get a job offer, you have 24-48hrs to respond. It’s a very pressured situation and will require you to have your stuff figured out beforehand. If you’re lucky enough to get multiple job offers, it’s even harder. Saturday night you have a social. There is food, drinks and lots of networking opportuinities. People get job offers at the social. Don’t miss it.
A few insights and tips:
– Any IB experience will help you immensely. LOTS of PYP and MYP coordinator positions were open when we went.
– Kids can be hit or miss. Some really enjoy the family atmosphere. Others see it as an unneccessary expense.
– Work on your resumes. We re-designed ours so they would stand out and had multiple people identify us as “that couple with the resumes.” I’m positive it gave us a leg up on getting noticed.
– Do your research, do your research, do your research. It will prove to be invaluable.

In a nutshell, that’s what we went through while we were there. It was a maddening but worthwhile time, one I will gladly go through again should the need arise. I’ve probably left a good bit out that I can’t remember off-hand, so if you’ve got questions, please let us know 🙂

We’re cooking dinner in Holland!

Last night we had the priviledge of cooking for Jeff’s mom’s group of physicians while they were having a meeting. We decided to demonstrate how you can eat really healthy (thanks to Katie and Rooted Wellbeing) AND cheap! We made the following meal for 8 people, had lots of leftovers and only spent about $9 per person!

**If you can’t see the menu below, you can click here.You need flash to see it!

An Attempt at Gardening

We live in a 3rd floor apartment that only gets sun in the late afternoon/early evening. We have a cat that enjoys eating plants. We have limited amounts of time. We are going to Michigan for the summer. These are all fantastic reasons NOT to start a balcony garden. So that’s what we did.

Here are pictures after two weeks. We’ve got 3 containers of cherry tomatoes, 1 baby basil that doesn’t want to grow, 1 milk jug of oregano that does, 1 container of mint that threatens to become carnivorous and take over everything within reach, 1 milk jug of flat-leaf parsley, 2 2-liters of cilantro that finally started to sprout and 2 open 2-liters that I haven’t planted anything in yet (suggestions?). We’ll see how this goes!

Our CSA!

Our Spring Community Supported Agriculture share with City Roots started today! We are really excited to start cooking with even MORE local food. For our first CSA dinner (and my birthday dinner) we had salad with Rouge d’Iver lettuce and zesty microgreens 🙂 We already have plans for our arugula and beet greens, but you’ll have to come back to find out!

From nothing…to local!

WOW! We have been horrible at keeping our new year’s resolution to blog weekly! It appears that we aren’t motivated to do school work or blog 😦 We have, however, still been cooking! Most of these we can’t find the recipes for or we didn’t use recipes, but they are pretty simple but really tasty!

Steak & Bell Pepper Nachos
Mushroom & Ground Chicken Sauce over Grits

Pork Tenderloin with Avocado, Black Bean & Cilantro Salad
Spinach & Shrimp Pasta
Thai Curry Veggie & Tofu Soup

Asparagus & Chicken Stir-fry over Ramen Noodles

Some really fun things have also been happening around here. My Aunt Annie is trying to start a food business and we’re trying to help her on the internet/marketing end of it. She would cook meals for families and then freeze them. She is going to use local produce and wants to target busy families who care about their nutrition. We’ll let you know once we get it up and running!

Also, I (lissa) am starting a 7-day cleanse next weekend with Katie at Rooted Wellbeing. My mom is also going to be doing it with me and I can’t wait to get started! I’m sure it will influence how Jeff and I cook from now on.

Lastly, our CSA with City Roots starts this Wednesday! We’re really excited to start incorporating anything we get in our weekly boxes into our meals. It will be really fun to cook with whatever we happen to get. Maybe that will motivate us to start posting weekly! We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Cookin’ it old school.

Every once in a while Lissa and I “scrounge” for dinner. That is to say, we use the leftover ingredients of previous meals to make new ones. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes we make food that far exceeds our expectations. This was one of those times.

We started by cutting up a few chicken breasts and sauteing them in sesame oil. Then we cut up what veggies we had in the fridge (cucumber, red & green pepper) and put them over some romaine we had laying around. We topped the greens with unflavored Ramen, some wonton strips, the aforementioned chicken and then balsamic vinaigrette and sesame seeds. It was awesome. Next time you find yourself having those exact ingredients, I highly recommend it.