Category Archives: Holiday

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.

Happy Halloween; 7 terrifying haunted attractions around the world

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. Not sure if it’s the Fall weather, the changing of the leaves, or all the scary movies on television, but this time of year just feels like perfection.

It’s been years since I’ve been home for Halloween so this one is truly special. I’ve squealed at the sight of holiday decor in every store and restaurant, we’ve visited pumpkin patches, Fall Festivals, and even haunted houses. I’ve spent far too many hours in front of the television watching one horror movie after another (thank you AMC), and tonight… even more festivities.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

While seeking out things to do and places to go for Halloween I came across this amazing article highlighting 7 terrifying haunted attractions around the world. How awesome is that? This list inspires me to book a trip every October until we’ve seen every one of these attractions. What better way to celebrate Halloween?

We hope all of our readers have something super scary (or at least fun) planned for the evening. Be safe and enjoy!

Halloween is coming!

Just as Fall is my favorite weather, Halloween is my favorite holiday. And it’s great to be home for the entire ‘season’ to enjoy all the events and festivities. I love that we can drive to the local bakery and pass pumpkin patches along the way, and that every store and restaurant is displaying festive decor. Or that every costume imaginable is available from a variety of stores in our area. Even for the pets! Yes, I do plan to get at least one pet to wear a costume. I’m sure they’re going to love that.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

But aside from from the holiday visuals, we also have endless events! Everything from Haunted Houses (the best in the nation), to Halloween parties, and numerous Fall Festivals. Most of these affairs take place during September and October. Halloween isn’t just for children anymore!

Below is a list of a few ‘must do’ Halloween events. We’re super excited about visiting as many as we can before the 31st. For the evening of Halloween we have dinner reservations at Top Of the Hill which is an upscale restaurant overlooking Chapel Hill where we’ll have a great view of the infamous Franklin Street Halloween craziness.

I hope you all have a fabulous Halloween and get the opportunity to participate in some events in your area.

Spooky Woods – Spookywoods Haunted Attraction started by a dare of teenagers in 1985 to go into an abandon farm house when the founder Tony Wohlgemuth was 15 years old.  After getting a good scare from a family of bats they decided to make a haunted house that fall.  The haunted attraction now takes over the majority of the 60 acre farm after almost 3 decades of growth.  Kersey Valley has a year round team of artist and builders with a passion for creating fresh new experiences each fall.

Mountain of Terror – Randolph County’s Premier Haunted Attraction. Home of the original Maze of Mayhem and Underground Tunnels.

Nightmare on Scales Street – This haunt is inspired by the true story of madness and murder. Located within the walls of the legendary Klenner Clinic. You will travel through countless rooms of terror. You will confront your worst nightmares and come face-to-face with torture souls and endless screams. Definitely not for the weak of heart. Certified haunted by paranormal experts “Timestoppers Paranormal”.

Ragan and Holly’s Pumpkin Patch – Large selection of gourds and pumpkins, plus corn stalks and other fall decorating items.

Witches on Salem – Ladies Night Out! Wear a witches hat while shopping and dining to get special discounts at downtown Apex restaurants and businesses.

Cary’s Great Pumpkin Carve – Buy a pumpkin or bring your own, carve it, and light it up! Pumpkins will be judged in a variety of categories. After the pumpkin carving and lighting, gather on the Town Hall Campus grounds for your favorite Halloween TV specials!

Reel-ly Scary Cary Movie – Watch scary movies outdoors at Booth Amphitheater. New addition this year: A trail of terror at the outdoor amphitheater!

Harvest Festival — Enjoy the harvest by tasting a full course meal of the farmer’s favorite recipes of the season. Then, take home the recipes. Kids are invited to wear their Halloween costumes and join the parade at 10 a.m. There will also be free face painting and games.

Howl-O-Ween at the Conservators’ Center – Share the evening with the Center’s predators in their element, including trick-or-treat feeding with the nocturnal animals and howling with the wolves at moonrise.

Howl-O-Ween at the SPCA – Enjoy Halloween crafts, sweets, games, and a growlingly ghoulish fashion show put on by dogs currently available for adoption. Meet the winner of the SPCAs Best Black Shelter Cat contest and take part in a storytelling time.

Change of plans.

When first moving to the US back in January I had already planned our next visit to Kuwait. November 1. Of course I missed Kuwait initially as I worked towards overcoming culture shock and having a planned date gave me comfort… and something to look forward to.

Well, it didn’t take long before preparing for that day wasn’t quite as exciting as it once was. Before I knew it the only thing I was missing about Kuwait were my in-laws, but daily Skype calls filled much of that void. Except for today… we called the family and they were all at the beach, sitting with the Kuwait Towers in the background. I felt a moment of nostalgia but quickly snapped out of it as we discussed the upcoming plans.

As it turns out our November vacation plans have been cancelled and the visit will take place here in America instead. I’m so excited! The idea that we’ll be hosting here in our home makes me a little nervous but overall thrilled. I feel like I have so much to do in preparation yet when I start, I find myself running in circles (mentally) not sure where to start. Fortunately my husband is really good about stepping in when needed. Will my food be edible? Will my tea be prepared correctly? Will I overwhelm with my daily itineraries? Should I even bother with itineraries? Will I remember those little details which bring that sense of simple comfort to their visit?

Yes, I’m nervously ecstatic!

So when will we visit Kuwait? Eh, surely we’ll make a business run sooner or later but I don’t think we’re in any big hurry.