Friday, May 9, 2014

What We Like the Most

As we are rolling into the last part of our school year, we are reflecting on the positives from our first year in Abu Dhabi:

Here they are in no particular order (with the exception of the first one):
1. We have each other.
2. We are making money. More than we ever thought possible as teachers.
3. We have two, resort-style pools in our apartment complex.
4. We are living on the 13th floor of a huge apartment complex. Again, as teachers in Idaho, we never would've experienced high-rise living. And it's fun not having to mow the lawn. 
5. We walk across the street to the grocery store.
6. I walk across the street to get my nails and hair done.
7. We've been able to see a part of the world that, if truth be told, we could barely comprehend existed.
8. We've met some nice people from all over the world AND we can now place someone in their home country by their accent. We also have open invitations to visit Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, England, Ireland, and Canada.
9. We traveled to Italy, Germany, and France over spring break and didn't have to put it on a credit card. AWESOME!
10. The winter here is BEAUTIFUL: 70* and sunny. Every. Single. Day. 
Granted: we miss the snow and boots/sweater weather, but we are enjoying the sun while we can! 
11. Debt elimination. There is no greater feeling than paying off debt.

To be continued.


What We Miss the Most

Besides our families and friends and little dogs, of course!

In no particular order (except for the first one):
1. Taco Bell
2. Moxie Java
3. Being able to wear shorts and tank-tops in public (Faith)
4. Cheap golf
5. Being able to go for a run outside
6. Cool summer nights
7. Unloading groceries in the garage, straight from the car into the kitchen
8. Live sports
9. Cold tap water
10. A regular sized kitchen fridge and freezer
11. Our cars
12. An oven that isn't in Celsius. 
13. A weekend that is Saturday and Sunday.

To be continued.

-F & R

Roll With It

It's no secret that Rob and I have been a bit homesick since moving, across the world, to a GCC country (where I have to go into a back room to purchase things like bacon, ham, and pepperoni - not illegal, by the way, just a secret-ish back room where you have to press a button to gain access through the frosted glass doors. Actually, it kinda makes grocery shopping feel like a spy movie).

Lately, I've been trying to curb some of the homesickness by trying out good old fashioned recipes: mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade biscuits and gravy, really anything with gravy. On that note, do you have any good gravy recipes? I'd love to try them!

And I've come to this realization: my kitchen furnishings are greatly lacking. I haven't bought a cookie sheet yet, so everything gets baked in a 9x9 baking pan or a muffin tin. And I'm missing things like my cute red blender and mini-food processor from back home. You don't realize how much more time-consuming it is to make the breading for pretzel and honey mustard chicken fingers when you have to mash the the pretzels by hand!

So, I'm making this promise to myself, even though we aren't here for the long-term: I'm going to more fully furnish my kitchen. Especially since I refuse to buy wall art or decorations, I'm going to go crazy and buy a mini-food processor, a baking sheet, and maybe even a rolling pin (gasp!).


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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Apartment Living

A confession: I'm really good at starting blog posts and then never, EVER, finishing them.

This is one of those posts.

We've been in our 13th floor apartment since about the second week of November...and it is now officially May (side note: woot, woot!).

So it takes me six months to post about where we live. Sorry, I'm not that sorry. But, better late than never, right?

* * * * * * * * * *

We live on the 13th floor of a relatively new apartment building, Gate Towers.

We live in Tower #1, the one of the far left.
Gate Towers is located on the artificial or man-made Reem Island.

The whole island is under construction we never know what road we'll have to take to get to work or what detour we will have to wind through to get home. But, it's new, nice, and a lot of teachers live on Reem so it feels a bit more like home.

We've never lived in a sky scraper before, so there are some things that definitely take some getting used to. For instance, we've had to add "wait time" for the elevator to our morning commute (anywhere from 3-6 precious AM minutes). And our view would be much nicer if our windows would open and I could clean the outside.

But, who can complain about tennis courts and two pools? I mean, really, we got pretty lucky.

The inside of our apartment is pretty sterile and cold - all tile flooring and concrete walls. But again, because we are a married couple, we got a bigger apartment than the single teachers (theirs are quite a bit smaller).

Now for the tour.

Our first stop, the living room. Brought to you by IKEA.

Two people can sleep very comfortably on our couch -
that's a HINT, HINT for traveling friends.
Next stop, the bedroom (also brought to you by IKEA).

Side-note: we splurged on a king size bed and we are never going back. EVER.

This next view is still in the bedroom and yes, that is our dryer in the upper, right-hand corner. You would think that having the dryer in the bedroom would make it easier for us to get clothes put away. It doesn't. 

I had to buy a vanity table because, as you can see in the next picture, our bathroom literally has no counter space and no wall sockets to plug in a hair dryer, straightener, or curling iron. But, as one of my UK friends pointed out when I was complaining about it, "Well...we in the UK always thought water and electricity didn't mix." I guess they have a point.

Walk-in shower that had to be redone AFTER we
moved in because the water ran towards the door, not
the drain. 

Don't mind the suits - and yes,
we added the tension rod.
Sorry about not putting down the lid!

As far as toilets are concerned, there are two things that are hard to get used to:
1. The toilet seats are plastic and there is only a little bit of water in the bowl, so it feels like you are using an RV toilet.
2. There is a hand-held bidet next to EVERY toilet: in our apartment, in the mall, at school, EVERYWHERE.

So, that's enough about toilets.

Look at our cute dining room table and chairs!

Again, brought to you by IKEA and, as long as I'm being honest, the seat covers will probably get stuffed in my suitcase and come back to the ol' USA when we come home for good.

The last picture is of our very, small kitchen. And yes, there are dishes in the sink. Almost daily, Rob comments about how stupid it is to have a one-sided sink and I have to agree with him. It's obnoxious and stupid. Which is why we bought a dishwasher...and yet there are still dishes in the sink...

And that's basically it. 

I think one of the reasons that I waited so long to post pictures is because part of me wants to make our apartment feel and look more like a home, like it's actually being lived in by humans. But we aren't here for the long-term and it feels silly to spend money on pictures or other wall-hangings that we will just end of selling when we leave. 

We have some pretty huge financial goals to achieve while we are here in Abu Dhabi, so coming home to bare walls is a sacrifice that we are very willing to make.

Besides, as cheesy as it is:

So for now, our 13th bare-bones apartment is our castle for now!