Category Archives: Holiday

Happy Birthday, America! [2014]

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays and I look forward to creating some kind of little celebration every year; whether it be with friends, family, or just partaking in some public event. This year has required a bit of creativity since it’s Ramadan — a futoor cook-out.

*All rights reserved

*All rights reserved

Last night we experienced the first hurricane of the season (another one of my favorite things during the year) but today the weather is absolute perfection. Even a bit chilly with no humidity. Perfect for the evening’s fireworks events.

Remember, if you have pets, keep them safe tonight! Fireworks are very scary for animals and more pets get lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. Best to keep them indoors.

Wishing you all a fabulous holiday with loved ones. Enjoy! Stay safe, be smart, and don’t drink and drive.

Ramadan TV schedule [Jacqui -- CouchAvenue re-post]

Every year one of the things I really look forward to during Ramadan are the fabulous (that’s debatable) television shows. I prefer the ones that are filmed locally in Kuwait so I can say, “Hey! Look! I lived there.” or “Look, honey! There’s our favorite restaurant”. They feel more personal to me. And though I don’t fully understand everything they’re saying, I understand enough to get a solid grip on what’s taking place. The acting is often mediocre, the story lines are sometimes silly, and the production isn’t Hollywood standards by any means… but they’re awesome!

A few weeks ago I asked my husband if he could start Googling what programming we could expect this year (especially since the titles are sometimes written in Arabic), and I had planned on asking my sisters in law if they could give me some insight as well. Then it dawned on me… Jacqui!!

Each year Jacqui invests a great deal of time and effort into creating these incredible programming guides for the Ramadan shows. She even separates them into Khaleeji and Arabic categories. She makes similar lists for American programming, new shows, cancellations, etc. It must be quite time consuming but she clearly does it because she enjoys sharing this information and she’s great at it.

Below is 1 page of the Khaleeji Ramadan program guide she’s prepared, however, there are many more listed on her blog which can be found here. Definitely worth checking out!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this list and how I’ve obviously come to depend on it. Thanks, Jacqui, for your time, effort, and making my Ramadan in America feel a little more like home.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

Ramadan Mubarak [2014]

Wishing you all a wonderful Ramadan with family and loved ones.

Remember, Kuwait is an Islamic country and eating, drinking, chewing gum, or public displays of affection could result in a month in jail, a 100 KD fine, or both. Be respectful of the law and those who are fasting.

We’ll be celebrating the Holy month in America and I’m already looking forward to preparing fu6oor for my wonderful husband 5 days a week (we’ll be eating out the other 2 days). We just had a fabulous graish together while discussing some things we plan to focus on this month. I’m so blessed to be spending my life with one of the kindest, most compassionate, generous, empathetic people I know.

Ramadan-Mubarak-2014-B

Happy Liberation and National Day! [Kuwait - 2014]

Wishing you all a fabulous celebration, vacation, and safe travels!

For the past several years it seems all the locals travel out of Kuwait during the holiday, making room for those from surrounding countries. It’s always nice to see others join in the celebration but sad that many Kuwaitis leave and don’t participate.

Hopefully this year will be different. It appears as though there are a number of events scheduled throughout the week and perhaps it’s enough to keep the locals… local.

Enjoy your holiday!

Grove Park Inn [Asheville, NC]

Before coming to the US I had a mental list of the places and things I really wanted to show my husband. Some were as simple as the local Walmart and others were a bit more ‘destination’. That really is one of the greatest things about America… every state has something truly awesome to offer and something amazing to see,

My mother was born and raised in Asheville, NC and much of her family is still there. My early childhood was spent there and I’ve always had such fond memories of our life there and many visits back for holidays and reuinions. So getting my husband to Asheville was definitely on the list. What to do and where to stay were no-brainers.

The Grove Park Inn is one of the finest hotels in the world. It’s been used as location for several movies and frequented by some of the world’s VIPs. Yet it manages to maintain such a sense of intimacy. As a guest of the Grove Park Inn you feel as if you’re the only person staying there. Their service is unmatched and everyone is made to feel like their need is the highest of priority.

Grove Park Inn

Grove Park Inn

 

Their Spa (with a variety of services for singles and couples) is voted one of the top 20 resort spas in the US by Condé Nast Traveler, while their golf course is said to be one of the finest in the world.

“Pamper yourself in our $50 million 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa featuring cavernous rock walls, arches, tunnels and 20 water features. The main pool area features two therapeutic waterfall pools, a warm mineral pool and lap pool with 6,500 fiber-optic stars embedded in the ceiling and constant underwater music. Enjoy exhilarating contrast pools, an inhalation room and eucalyptus-infused steam room. The 10 pools are mineral-based and chlorine-free, containing trace minerals of sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Three fireside lounges await you with overstuffed chairs, warm blankets, light snacks, hot organic teas and herbal infused waters. And step outside to enjoy fireplaces, whirlpool, and a tiered outdoor terrace with panoramic mountain views.”

“Our historic course was designed by Donald Ross and has played host to numerous PGA Tour events. Golf legends like Harry Vardon and PGA stars, including Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus, have played here. Even President Obama played a round in 2010. “

The interior and exterior of the hotel is breathtaking. Every detail is attended to. And nothing gets missed. Fresh flowers, roaring fires, and someone always willing to make sure your needs are met. To me this is the Emirates Palace of North Carolina but with a much more welcoming feel.

For the perfect romantic getaway the Grove Park Inn is still the place to go. It really is the epitome of classic elegance.

You can find all of their contact information on their website found here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! [2014]

Every year men all over the world (or at least in countries that celebrate Valentine’s day) are running around, making plans, ordering flowers, picking up the chocolates, and purchasing jewelry. All in the name of Valentine’s Day.

My husband is no exception.

*Google Images

*Google Images

Our first V-Day together was still ‘honeymoon’ phase of our marriage so it was quite traditional; flowers, chocolate, diamonds, dinner at our favorite restaurant, and the ever so romantic card with the handwritten love letter. The next two years consisted of pretty much the same thing with the addition of a new car each year. This year we’ve been snowed in for several days but my husband still managed to make this yet another special day. And though I certainly didn’t need another car this year, I have become a huge Harry Winston fan. Classy, exquisite, elegant.

There are times when I find myself stressed, upset, bothered, or just outright confused and I immediately get a sense of relief knowing I have my husband to lean on. I often think of how my life would be so different without him. How he really is my knight in shining armor, He’s the calm in my storm so to speak. There’s no gift he could give me that could even compare to the value of his unconditional love.

Wishing you all a day of romance, happiness, and fulfillment.

‘Tis the season for new traditions

For the past several years, especially since getting married, I couldn’t wait to be home for Christmas. Holiday parties, tree decorating, huge meals, and of course, endless shopping for gifts. And though I’m still excited about those things, it’s on a completely different level than I could have ever imagined.

As life has taken on a deeper meaning for us we find the things which once brought us happiness don’t quite cut it anymore. I can no longer find genuine serenity in a day at the mall followed by a meal at some overpriced franchise restaurant. Just as the idea of purchasing a lot of ‘stuff’ for the man who has everything doesn’t feel like the way Christmas should be spent. Yes, of course we’ll exchange gifts, but it certainly won’t be our priority.

After Sultana (the rescue dog from Kuwait) came to us in late October, it was a stark reminder that some things are far more important than material items. She’s certainly come a long way from where she must have been a year ago, but we still see signs of senseless abuse. Cowering her head when we reach to pet her, the obvious break in her tail, and the worn broken teeth. Yet with all of that she’s the most kind, soft, loving dog ever. The look in her eyes is that of a dog whose spirit has been broken over and over. Yet her ability to show us such unconditional love and trust is a true lesson. She keeps us grounded. And, well, she’s given me a totally unexpected Christmas present. Puppies!

Cuteness

Cuteness

So, this year around our house won’t look like a picture on a postcard. No extensive decorations, no tree with hundreds of gifts, and maybe not even a big turkey dinner (trying to convince hubby to do a movie and Chinese food). Instead we’ve decided to attend charity galas and dinners, purchase gifts for those in need (from local small businesses), and donate time and items to our local animal shelter. It actually feels like Christmas is supposed to feel. We’ve even encouraged the family and some friends to get involved so we’ll be doing what we love with those we love.

Yeah, it sounds a bit crazy, even to me. I couldn’t wait to get home for Christmas! I was so excited for my husband to experience a typical American Christmas. But as the months have passed and we’ve embraced the more simple (yet more valuable) things in life I knew that idea of a ‘typical Christmas’ was slowly changing. Eventually you get to a point where you realize there’s not much else your spouse can buy for you (though I am hinting at another house built on our land), and there’s really nothing material that your spouse needs. Love becomes deeper and more meaningful than a wrapped box. And what better year to start new traditions than our first one living in America together? So here’s to a great year of giving while managing to incorporate a little commercial style Christmas in the mix!

I haven’t uploaded any holiday appropriate photos for this post, so… puppies!

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

This Thanksgiving is really special for us since it’s the first time we’re spending it in America together. I put a lot of effort into planning the menu and hubby has agreed to help out in the kitchen (he’s a great cook). We did all the pies, cakes, cookies, and brownies yesterday and the turkey has been in the oven since 5am this morning. I already need a nap!

*Google Images

*Google Images

Wishing you all a safe, happy, healthy holiday!

Order Thanksgiving Dinner Online

Don’t feel like cooking this year? Want to indulge in a little early shopping? Or just can’t cook but want to plan a gathering? No need to stress! We have numerous options for ordering a Thanksgiving meal but you have to hurry, deadlines are fast approaching.

Whole Foods is offering a fabulous variety of meals to choose from and even have a vegan option.

Foster’s Market has a nice set menu or the à la carte alternative. They also have a goat cheese pepper ball appetizer that sounds delicious.

Weaver Street Market, known for their fresh local ingredients and amazing recipes, has a number of options as well. Full meals, à la carte, add-ons, sides, breads, and desserts.

Lowes Foods has a traditional holiday meal with the necessities for a great price for those on a budget or serving a small family.

Harris Teeter, another local market, has a great looking traditional meal for a reasonable price as well.

If it weren’t our first year back home for the holidays, or my guest list was a bit smaller, I would seriously consider ordering our meal. As much as I love Thanksgiving, those last 2 hours of cooking are quite stressful. “Is everything finished? Is everything still hot? Did I forget anything?”

I’ll update the list should I come across any other places offering to cook Thanksgiving dinner for you. But keep in mind, you must get your orders in soon! Deadlines are early next week.

Intercultural marriage and the holiday season

It’s been 10 months since we’ve moved to America and sometimes I’m still in awe. Especially now with the holiday season upon us. Our small town has been transformed into a winter wonderland overnight. Lights and wreaths on every street corner, a snow slide (with real snow), and families popping into the locally owned shoppes looking for that perfect gift. It really is quite Norman Rockwell’esque.

During our daily outings it’s inevitable that we’ll see something new which always causes me to squeal like a child. “Look, honey! Look! Santa and his sled!” My husband smiles, gently holds my hand, and lets out a few ooooh’s and ahhhh’s. Surely more for my benefit than his excitement. Don’t get me wrong, he’s loving the holiday season and watching everyone behave as if they’re starring in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, but he’s not one to verbally express a lot of over the top emotion. There’s really only room for one drama queen. I win.

Several of our acquaintances have asked what we do to celebrate the holidays since my husband is from Kuwait, and how we handle the ‘differences’.  We don’t discuss religion but I assume they think I’m Christian because I’m American. And, well, I’ve never been Christian. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household and I don’t recall Christmas ever having a religious meaning in our family. No offense to anyone who celebrates it for religious reasons. But in our home Christmas was a commercial holiday much like Halloween and Thanksgiving. It was more about giving, volunteering, discovering ways to help others, and of course Santa and gifts.

Since my husband and I have been together we’ve spent Christmas in Kuwait. Each year he went above and beyond to make me comfortable as he was well aware of how I struggled through the holiday months. With every Christmas came gifts, social functions, and holiday dinners. He even suggested I put up a tree to ease my holiday blues, but I already stood out like a sore thumb in our neighborhood, I didn’t necessarily want a target on my back. I opted to be patient. I knew I would be home soon enough.

Holiday

This is our first year celebrating the holidays together in America and so far we’ve not faced any cultural differences. Though I am certain Thanksgiving is going to bring some challenges. Those bags which come out of the turkey body contain things I would only ever feed to the pets. Unless my husband gets them first. Livers, hearts, etc. are a meal for him and he just doesn’t understand how I can view them as ‘non-edible’. I cringe at some of the things he can eat and have even reserved a small part of our freezer for his ‘special’ food.

I’m sure marrying a man with such an open mind has allowed our lives to be so ‘normal’. He doesn’t make a big deal out of anything and feels everything can be simple as long as we communicate. I had no doubt this holiday season would be magical because he’s educated, intelligent, Westernized, well traveled, and overall cultured. He doesn’t allow a difference in culture to determine who we are as a couple. Nor do I. When I’m a stressed out mess he’s the calm in the middle of my storm. And when something as important (to me) as holiday season comes along he’s going to do everything in his power to make it perfect.

I’m sure some couples struggle through the holiday season and not because they don’t love one another the same way my husband and I do. But probably because of religious differences. Intercultural marriages don’t face near the challenges interfaith marriages do. Christmas to some is the most religious holiday of the year and their form of celebrating involves lots of church activities (I’m clueless here). There’s always a risk such behaviors could be offensive to a spouse of another religion.

As for us, we’ll continue to indulge in performing arts, road trips, pets with Santa photos (uh-huh), baking cookies together, and local volunteer opportunities. After all, it is the season for giving.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones! And if you’re away from home, throw on a red scarf, grab a peppermint mocha, and bake cookies while listening to Christmas music. It’s what always got me through the rough times.