Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Christmas from Cairo. Yesterday (Friday, Dec. 12) saw a group of ex-pats heading to Cairo to take in the Maadi Women's Bazaar (not the exact name - but you get the idea). The bazaar was held outdoors at the Maadi Degla Sporting Centre - had not realized it would be out of doors - but it was a wonderful day for it - nary a cloud in the sky and certainly no snow. Only drawback was that it was held on the football pitch (soccer fields) and was quite sandy - so got sand in my Birks while wandering around. Could have spent a lot of money - lots of artisans and craftspeople had a lot of neat things for sale. Would have loved to have bought more but the following are pictures of what I 'allowed' myself to purchase. First thing was the funky 'Santa' hat - just could not resist - Sharon insisted on taking a pic to show Maurine - so she would not feel that I only embarras her - must admit I had a lot of fun with it - caused a lot of upraised eyebrows - muslim woman wearing infidel apparel - OMG - had a lot of them thar infidels commenting on it. One woman told me I was so cute she would like to rent me - should have taken her up on her offer - maybe then I could have bought more treasures.

Dont'cha just love my new mug - it was so cute - could not resist. Would have loved two of them but could only really afford one - they were 25LE each - about $5.00 CDN.

And then there are the alabaster candle holders - the look so cool with the tea lights inside showing off the 'design'. Took the pictures on my dining room table - hence the reflection off the glass top. They were really expensive - 10LE each (about $2.00 CDN) - so I splurged and bought two.

I just love the different view depending on which side you look at. Really glad that I splurged. At the same booth they had a wonderful alabaster 'plate' - rounded oblong - would have looked great as a centerpiece but could not afford it. At another booth Mr. Mohammed - he is a frequent seller at AWA - had a really great table runner for Christmas - again too rich for my blood at the moment. If I could have I would have dropped a sizable bundle - lots of things caught my eye. Will have to make plans to go next year (if I am still here) and stock up on 'treasures' - so many things that could have been taken back to Canada as unique gifts. SIGH. Isn't it always the way - when one has the money there is no time for 'shopping' and when one has time there is no money - God's little joke on us.
Must admit that it was a long day - had to be at the meeting point by 8:00 a.m. - so woke up at 5 so I could get breakfast before I headed out. Opted to take a cab as I did not want to have to try to extricate my car and then drive on a Friday night after dark. The meeting point was a popular mall in the area of Smoha - and it was jam packed when we got back - so I was very glad I had been a chicken. We arrived in Cairo and of course got lost - bus driver did not know where we were going and map reading is a definite lost art in this part of the world. We made it to the venue a bit after 12 (noon) which was not bad - and we headed back out by 4:15 p.m. Arrived back in Alex around 9 - got home around 9:30 and crashed by 10:00 - I was one tired puppy - a lot of walking and sitting on a bus. Amazing how tiring travel can be. Must admit that I do not notice being so tired when I do the driving myself - but that is just me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Today is the 2nd day of Eid - yesterday the streets ran red with blood - and I have the pictures to prove it. In the above pictures - if you look closely you can see them working on skinning a cow that has been slaughtered. Aymn was of course with his family. Margaret and Sharon spent the day with me. Margaret had been delivered the night before - she had not interest in being around while the animals were slaughtered by her husband and family - so she came here and brought her 'baby' a seven month old kitten named Tootoose - who is a very amiable and friendly kitty - who loved the opportunity to roam around a much larger abode and then to have the balcony as well - all with no leash - he was in heaven. We had a pleasant visit. Sunday evening our friend Penny came over and we enjoyed a warm drink and nice chat. Monday morning got up early - Margaret's kitty - Tootoose was intent on being up and about as soon as the noise started - at around 5:12 a.m. I managed to stay in bed until shortly after 7 then got up and made coffee for Margaret. We had a very leisurely morning - eventually made breakfast - Margaret does not like to wake up and eat - she has to wake up slowly. After breakfast I made more bread - this time with a bit of a difference. I remember making sun dried tomato bread in Canada and I decided to try to make it with the pocket break - sans the sun dried tomatoes - and they turned out quite nicely. I have included a picture of the pockets in the oven. I am always so pleased when they puff up - not that they taste any different - but ...

Weather has turned - yesterday was cloudy and cool - rained in the evening - enough that the streets are now cleaned up. Today was sunny - but not very warm. Aymn dropped over for a few hours - brought me my 'share' of the sheep that he slaughtered and butchered yesterday - thank goodness he did not do it here - although it would have been done on the balcony - but he had to do it in the bathroom in the tub - lucky person who got to clean up that mess and I will wager big money that it was not Aymn. Then he dragged me to mom's for a visit - would rather have stayed in - but he decided that I needed to get out of the house. Do not know when he will get it that I really do hate having to get dressed to go out - I usually just throw on my wrap dress - but he does not like it - why do you always wear the same thing -hmmm - because that is all I have and I like not having to change to go out and then change when I get back home - so nice just to throw on the dress over what I am wearing - one of our many differences - he is so worried about his looks and what people think - and I do not care - as long as I am decent and it is clean - who cares???? Answer to that is Aymn. Am hoping that after Eid I will be able to make a trip out to Mohmadeah and get the fabric made up - then I will have six wrap dresses - and he will like none of them - the fabric is bright and patterned - oh well - I will like them - and that is all that really matters to me. Aymn is heading back to Libya tomorrow - no idea when he will be back - told me that he will work at being here for Christmas - but will not hold my breath - he is really great at telling me what he thinks I want to here and then not following through - so I will not believe it until I see him - and will not bank on it at all. Will be a very quiet day - as I am unable to do much in the way of baking or cooking - money is too tight - cannot afford to purchase a turkey - they are sooooo expensive - and you can never find a decent sized chicken - biggest one might be 1.5 kg - not really worth stuffing. So will just work on forgetting that it is Christmas - treat it like any other day.

Did buy stamps - so will get to work on sending out Christmas cards - they will be late - but such is life. Have to 'find' my cards and get busy writing notes and addressing them. Will keep me busy for a few days likely. So much easier to just type up a Christmas letter - but no ink for my printer - so my handwriting will be sorely tested. My apologies in advance for my poor penmanship.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ta da - I rolled out of bed this morning - just a bit before seven and after eating two bananas (Egyptian bananas are not very large) I headed out for a walk - yes you read it right - I am endeavouring to get back on the workout schedule - walked for a total of 40 minutes - had a 10 minute break - sat and watched the sea - must admit my pace certainly slowed as I got closer to home - but hey I did it. Now I am going to work on getting some baking done for Christmas - not doing a whole lot - but want a few favourites around.

I think I may have briefly touched on my new bread making endeavour - pocket or pita bread. Now I have no problem making 'western' bread - but I do struggle with making pocket bread - Aymn very kindly brought me 50 kg of flour - so I have been playing around learning how to make it 'properly'. Must admit that the first few tries were not very successful. I brought back yeast from Canada - and it works really well. But still did not have a very great success rate with getting the pockets to puff up. Aymn asked a friend of his what the problem was - showed him a 'sample' of the bread I had made - this friend is a baker - and he gave me a couple of tips - so following those tips I made bread the other day - 25 pockets and out of 25 17 puffed up - YEAH. Of course the downer was that Aymn came along and criticized the ones that did not puff - I had done this wrong or that wrong and next time do not do this or do that - ARGH - managed to really take the wind out of my sails - so to speak - but I got over it - and am quite proud of my accomplishments - would have taken pictures by I did not have my camera at the time - next time I will take pics and post them. Must admit the bread I make is much better than the stuff Aymn made - it was tough as cardboard - at least mine is quite tender. The recipe is very easy - but the trick is to get it to puff up - and I am slowly getting it right. I feel quite tickled when I have a piece of bread and I can make pocket sandwiches now - WOO HOO. Such a life I lead.