Sunday, January 30, 2011

Netherwood Drive Reunion

Few numbers trigger as many pleasant memories as 45 Netherwood Drive.  From the ages of 5 to 14 this is the address of my formative years.  Just a simple subdivision of 30 houses, Netherwood Drive was a veritable kids paradise - to start there was almost 50 kids living there!  We had hills, cornfields, two cul-de-sacs, plenty of tree lines AND a not so secret trail to the YMCA where we used all the outdoor facilities for free.  I can still name every family who lived in each house while we were there.

So I was totally shocked and delighted to learn that one of the gals from the "old neighborhood" was moving to the Middle East and even more excited to find out she was coming to Dubai for the weekend!  Liz Sinapi was the youngest of three sisters who lived on the other side of the neighborhood.  If you think I was surprised to have a Coatesville teacher pass through, I was stunned to have someone from precisely my old 'hood touching down.

Liz and her husband Kris are living in Doha, Qatar and came for a quick weekend trip to Dubai.  We had a fantastic time taking them out for some yummy Thai while watching the Fountain (they've now added a Thriller song!) and hosting them afterwards on our balcony.

While Lisa, Liz and I enjoyed swapping stories about flashlight tag, the Y, the "teenagers" of Netherwood, and what everybody is up to these days, Kris and Matt fortified themselves inside with a few Heinekens and rode out the storm.

At 1:30am we finally had to let them go, but we can't wait until they come back to visit us!  (And hopefully we will make it to Doha sometime soon.  Liz has promised to teach me how to play golf..;)

Enjoying the terrace at Mango Tree
The girls and the Burj Khalifa
Everybody is comfy on the balcony.
This was taken before Kris needed to move because of vertigo issues! That glass wall does freak people out!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Australia Day!

January 26th marks the national day of one of our favorite gals in Dubai!  Lisa, Matt and I joined forces and arrived at the Barasti Beach Bar to help Fiona celebrate Australia Day.  After receiving our complimentary outback hats and grabbing a cider and a sausage sizzle we were ready to join in the festivities.

Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

2,000 revelers let loose dancing on the beach and enjoying their libations - Fosters was the drink of the day of course!  After more choruses of "Aussie Aussie Aussie - Oye Oye Oye!" and dancing to the "Land Down Under" more times than I can count, we completed our successful celebration!

Our favorite Aussie!
The girls at Australia Day - Oye Oye Oye!
There were fireworks on the beach in typical Dubai style!
Matt gets pulled into a shot with some friendly strangers and their fighin' 'roo!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Think Drano Needs a Facebook Group

Somehow, Facebook (a website started by college students, by the way) doesn't have a group mentioning the benefits of Drano.  I can almost understand this - how many people say "Hey, that plumbing solution was AWESOME, let me grab my laptop"?

Well, fortunately for Facebook and Drano, I'm a huge nerd with a recently unclogged sink.  But wait, there's more!

It turns out that Dubai plumbing isn't what it's all cracked up to be.  Apparently not having any sort of sewer system has finally taken it's revenge.  Which is how when Katie woke up to grab a glass of water in the early morning the sink decided to have it's moment.

A bad night, yes, but for me - disaster.  The backed up sink wouldn't budge.  Hot water?  Check.  Plunger?  Hilarious.  Coat hanger?  The clog is laughing at me.  So it's 3am, and I'm grabbing every chemical under the sink.  I pour half a bottle of Drano into the clogged gallon of water in the sink, and laugh to myself about the good that will do.

I have a quick chat, turn back around, and the pile of liquid waiting to drain for the past hour was gone - who knows what the clog was, but Drano took care of it.  Immediately, my mind turns to "I touched that stuff - will my fingers be eaten off too?"  Scary chemical thoughts aside, Drano - you've got yourself a lifetime client.

But that's not enough - I have to tell everyone about this miracle chemical!  So, like any huge nerd who has wifi, a laptop, and recovering woman on his hands, I hit facebook.  No drano group?  Really?  Nobody else has a late-night issue with a significant other that results in time to post hilarious Drano comments?  I find that hard to believe - especially since Drano's website has a blog called (I'm not making this up) ClogTalk.

Enjoy folks, because this has been your first episode of ClogTalk with Matt and Katie.  Tune into 980 AM every, err....just check back on the blog ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hangin' with Hollingsworth!

Remember when you were in school and you spotted one of your teachers at the mall, wearing jeans?!  It seemed so weird, so unnatural!  As students we all create a secret world in our head where teachers live - they only wear dress shirts, they never drink a beer and they certainly aren't cool enough to have a personal life or any fun.  (I'm looking at you here Dad.)

So when I received an email from Coatesville-student-favorite-teacher-of-all-time - Mr. Frank Hollingsworth - saying that he was spending the night in Dubai after concluding a cruise around the Middle East I was a) thrilled to have anyone from the 'Ville visiting and b) wondering if he was going to assign me homework?

Breaking News!  Teachers are apparently real people!  And in Mr. Hollingsworth's case they are really cool people.  As the messages on my Facebook would attest, he was much loved by his students and it's easy to see why.  He regaled us with stories of his trip so far: hiking the cliffs of Petra, riding camels in the Egyptian desert, going through the Suez Canal and even learning anti-pirating drills on his cruise ship as they prepared to sail around Somalia.

Matt and I were delighted to take them around our neighborhood and (gasp!) out for a drink (yep, they drink beer too...).  It was fun to reminisce about the Class of 2000 and get a little touch of home.  Although I don't envy the next step for him and Mariann - they've got a 14 hour flight in front of them and are leaving the 75 degree weather and returning to 0!  I'm sure Mr. H will use all his psych skills to deal with the adjustment!

Frank, Mariann, me, Matt at Bice Mare in Souk Al Bahar.
Mr. Hollingsworth tells me that the Burj Khalifa - tallest in the world - is Freudian manifestation.  A phallic symbol which is a clear sign of male insecurity.

Ok.  He didn't say any of that.
Hanging out in front of the Dubai Fountain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Vol IV: Black Magic Suspect Arrested at Abu Dhabi Airport

I'm the first person to stand up and say "Thanks!" when police uphold the rules of Four Square. No, not that one - the four square that involved a playground, a rubber ball, and definitely no smartphones. That's right - UAE rules include bus stops and unlimited bobbles, but definitely no black magic.

In this case, the Abu Dhabi police have laid down the law.  Since nobody tells a good story like the folks over at The National, I'll give them the floor:

Police charged a man today with practicing wizardry and to smuggle black magic devices and spells into the country.

Bl, 47, whose nationality was not given, was arrested at Abu Dhabi International Airport as he was entering on a work visa.

“The airport staff suspected the passenger, so they inspected his luggage and found books that contained spells, mostly in unknown languages, and some suspicious tools which seem to be used for black magic,” said Col Rashid Bursheed, head of organized crime at the Criminal Investigation Department.

The tools included water, pens, coloured ink, metallic rings, plastic and metallic needles, pieces of paper containing spells, threads of fabric, incense, perfume, glass and plastic plates, bottles and boxes, some of which contained liquids, herbs and oils.
The smuggler said the substances included saffron water to "treat" victims of black magic and to undo spells, according to police.

“He said he had been working in this profession for the past 30 years, since he was gaining huge sums of money and to help the needy,” Col Bursheed said.
“He said it was his first time to set foot in the UAE, claiming that he forgot the equipment in his luggage because he was in a hurry to travel.”

The colonel asked the public to report any similar activities to the authorities to help protect those who might not know better.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bon Voyage!

It's the end of an era here in Dubai as we say farewell to my sister Lisa and her boyfriend Basile.  They are moving to London in the next few weeks and we are sure going to miss them.  This weekend was the grand finale of goodbyes and culminated in us grabbing a table for 20 at our favorite brunch spot, Al Qasr, to send them off in style.  We are sad to see Lisa and Bas go, but are excited for the new opportunities they are going to have in London (and providing a free place to crash when we are in town)!

Even the skies were crying because they were leaving!  We were treated to a grey, rainy day (unheard of in DXB) courtesy of Mother Nature.  Or maybe she was giving them a taste of what they are in for!  Not to worry we totally outfitted Lisa with some adorable wet/cold weather wear so she will be styling in the UK.  Matt and I can't wait to visit - it's been too long since I've had a cottage pie and cider!  See ya soon guys!

Huge pretzel, salami, waffles, gazpacho, and a glass of saki (Matt's plate), there is no judgment at brunch!
An artistic send off.  Matt had a secret caricature of Basile drawn while he was sitting at the table.
The ladies giving Lisa some love.
Lisa saying bye to the smallest member of the crew, Charlie.
Matt decided a kick line was the best way to convey his emotions.
Basile shows us how the French do good byes.  A huge bottle of champagne.
Lisa says that this is their "I can't believe I am moving to London" look.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All Shook Up!

I was sitting on our chaise lounge, legs extended, laptop on lap, remote in hand killing time until Matt arrived from his midnight flight from Saudi.  Suddenly, the couch started vibrating and the laptop began bouncing up and down on my lap while I tried to steady my legs.  While I may have been giddy for Matt to get home I've never experienced involuntary leg shivers!

After about 20 seconds it stopped.  Now totally disturbed I looked out the window from our 28th floor.  Everything else seemed to be normal, construction vehicles were still mulling about and the lights were off in most other apartments.

Of course my mind naturally went to the occult.  Ever since we watched Paranormal Activity I've been sure that the apartment will become haunted while Matt was out on a business trip.  Now I just had to figure out if I was in danger, or if this was a friendly spirit?

Matt came home during my contemplation and I shared with him what happened.  He didn't have any answers, but just as we were about to go to bed the reports started popping up on CNN.  There had been a massive earthquake in Pakistan and it was indeed felt in Dubai!

Assured that I wasn't crazy, or haunted, I was shocked to find that I had felt an earthquake with an epicenter 500 miles away.  It registered at a 7.4.  If it was making my couch shake 500 miles away I can't imagine what it must of felt like in Pakistan!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Duking It Out In Front of the Duke

Both man and beast duked it out in front of the Duke for the Nations Cup 2011 polo match.  The guest of honor was His Grace the Duke of Argyll from the United Kingdom.  (I know what you are thinking, and yes, his family clan DID create the actual argyll print.  They originally wore it on their tartans.)

It was a fabulous day for the match and we were treated to afternoon tea on the marquee while we watched the the semi-final between Pakistan and Great Britain (Pakistan kicked butt).  The main event was the UAE (defending champions) versus the Hungarians.  While I've struggled to follow polo in the past this match was incredibly exciting.  I don't know who was working harder the players or the horses!  At the end of time things were all tied up 5-5 and each side was "hungry" (I had to) for the win.  The UAE took one final penalty shot and Rashid Al Bawadi won the game for the UAE!

While the polo was fun, the after party was even better!  Players from all four teams worked the crowd in riding boots with a Royal Salute whiskey in hand (sponsor of the event) while the Duke ran an auction to raise money for the chosen charity of the evening.  The dance floor was full and may I say if you think you walk funny after a few hours on a horse, imagine how you would dance! 

Fabulous Miss Fi and I on the way to the event!
The start of the UAE v. Hungary match with an escort from Range Rover (event sponsor)
The UAE team in action.
His grace the Duke of Argyll was entrusted to watch the cup during the match.  (He's number 2).
This beauty won the prize for best horse in the match.

The final awards ceremony.  We had a great sunset!
The Duke finally give the cup back and it's awarded to the captain of the UAE team Rashid Al Bawadi

Monday, January 10, 2011


It's great to have the chance to be a real tourist in your own country when you get the chance.  The journey from Dubai is always long and expensive and we like to take the time when we can to vacation in our own backyard.  The trip from Dubai is rarely worth it for less than a week so it takes a lot of vacation days to try to be home for the "big stuff".

This year the choice was obvious.  With an outbound flight from JFK we decided to spend the New Year's Eve weekend in New York City before heading back to Dubai.  It was fantastic!  The city was still in full swing from Christmas and gearing up for New Year's Eve.  You can never be bored playing tourist in New York!
First order of business - the theater.  We saw a matinee performance of Promises, Promises with Sean Hayes and Molly Shannon.  It was great!  Here I am equipped with the 'sippy cup' that you now get from the theater when you purchase a pre-show drink.  This way you don't spill and can take it into the theater.  Sippy cups for adult beverages - I think they are on to something.
Dinner.  Matt uses his iPhone to locate a full fledged mozzarella bar and promptly orders a 'tasting' of 5 mozzarellas for dinner.  I think he's had enough calcium for the year.
On to Le Meridien hotel who is hosting a gingerbread house competition with the theme 'Movies of New York'.  Our favorite (naturally) was Ghostbusters.  Who can say 'no' to a fondant Stay-Puff Marsh-mellow man and a gingerbread Ecto-1?
 We made our way to Central Park where there was plenty of snow to play with and great temperatures!
 I took my best shot at Matt...
 He returned the favor...
 We even caught a snow break dancing show...
 Ready for the festivities!  On our way out the door for New Year's Eve!
Matt adds some 2011 accoutrement to his outfit. 
Big sissy and little sissy meet in NYC.
Matt's the type of guy who wakes up every morning and thinks "why am I NOT flying in a helicopter today?".  He fixed this problem in the new year and on our final day we did an amazing helicopter tour over Manhattan.  (Grand finale pics at the end.)
I had the foresight to make a lunch reservation at Five Napkin Burger in Hell's Kitchen.  The line was around the block!  Decor: old meat hooks and Christmas bulbs, somehow it worked.
 The burger.  Yeah it was that good.  They know it too, and charge $14.
A walk down the Brooklyn bridge to say farewell to NYC. 

The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson.
Matt's panorama of Manhattan looking North.

Christmas Recap!

One of the best parts about living on the other side of the world is coming home!  Yes, it can be an emotional roller-coaster most of the time, all those 'hellos' and 'goodbyes' can get a bit taxing.  But nothing can really beat the anticipation of being home for the holidays.  We had the chance to spent time with all our friends and loved ones and actually enjoyed bundling up in the snow.  I know this comment is going to be groan-inducing for our kin in the US, but honestly wearing a sundress and flip-flops every day does get a little old.  So bring on the sweaters, boots, hot chocolate, Christmas cookies and fireplaces!  We love playing our part during the most wonderful time of the year.
 Mom cooked dinner and I got to see Kristen and Sarah my first hour home - time is of the essence!
 Sarah gets some love from Kristen's new puppy Maggie.
 The Christmas Eve family portrait.
 The tree and the decorations were fantastic!
 Ryan and his best friend friend Ali dressed for the occasion.
 Ryan receives some gear for Christmas and starts working it like Zoolander.
Everybody is all smiles on Christmas morning at the Shaver house.
The next morning in DC we traveled to National Harbor with Bonnie and Jim for the Ice experience.  On our way in we were greeted, much to Matt's delight by the world's largest Peep Christmas tree.  Yum. 
 It's only 9 degrees inside the Ice tent where the Grinch is waiting.
After you receive your standard-issue blue parka you enter Who-ville for scenes from the Grinch who stole Christmas!

A few of the beautiful sculptures:

Finally back on the streets of Georgetown - and it feels so good!  On our way to hit up Bistro Lepic before we leave town.
 We were treated to a fantastic sunset at the POV bar in the W Hotel downtown.
Matt works some magic with his new camera lens.  The Marine Corps monument can be seen in the distance.

Feeling extremely grateful and having our fill of Christmas cheer we head to New York City for New Year's Eve!