Sunday, February 6, 2022

Home Sweet Home

I moved back to DC this past summer and we bought a house that is slowly but surely turning into a home. This corner of the living room is one of my favorite spaces at the moment- a blend of Europe, North Africa, and the Gulf that reflects my Foreign Service career to date. We have lots of projects we hope to do, and updates we hope to make, but for the moment I'm enjoying one calm and cozy space among the never-ending chaos of unpacking...

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Rabat Medina: A Shopper's Paradise

I moved to Rabat Morocco two years ago, and have been remiss in sharing details about its lovely medinas. Pottery, leather, carpets, metalwork, bespoke furniture- Morocco has a little bit of everything to offer. Though many tourists wax poetic about the wonders of Marrakech and Fez, I love the quieter pace of the Rabat medina. We park at The Dhow (waterfront bar and restaurant located on a boat) before wandering up the street to Rue Des Consuls - the start of the touristy part of the medina. 

We all have our favorite stores- Dar d'Art (House of Art in typically Moroccan mix of Darija and French) for ceramics and pierced metal lighting, Boutique Japonais for handcrafted leather poufs sold by the fedora-wearing Ayoub, and Rue de Babouches for handcrafted leather shoes. 

The Rabat medina is very chill compared to Marrakech and the prices reflect the low number of tourists who actually make their way here to shop. Best of all, if you are looking for something but don't see it, just ask- chances are that someone knows someone who has just what you need. 

The medina was closed for months because of the COVID-19 quarantine, but has reopened for business and is even in the midst of a renovation to spruce up the main streets and add some much needed shade to the main streets. If you are making your way to Rabat, I highly recommend you make the Rabat medina a stop on your itinerary!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The joys of shopping in Belgium

After three wonderful years, I'm getting ready to leave Belgium.  I will miss many things, but one of the things I will miss the most is the secondhand furniture shopping.  There are wonderful markets in Waterloo, at Jeu de Balle, in Tongeren.  There are stores they call trocs that are packed to the brim with vintage and antique furniture I would love to have filling my home.

Last but certainly not least, there is the local version of Goodwill called Les Petits Riens where it is possible to buy all manner of delightful things for bargain basement prices, including this chandelier I picked up for €9.50 and this china cabinet I found for €7.50!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

rebooting from Belgium

After a year of language training in DC, I am now enjoying the fruits of that labor in the delightful city of Brussels. I arrived at the end of the summer, just in time to enjoy some sun and a quiet transition. I was also able to catch the flower carpet at the Grand Place- approximately 750,000 begonias that this year formed a carpet celebrating the history of Turkish immigration in Belgium. It was a fantastic sight though sadly my photos are less than fantastic. The carpet is only created every other year, so in 2016 I will do better- apparently you can wait in line to go up into the surrounding buildings to get a better view of the floral magnificence.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

it seems every time I get a haircut...

I go a little shorter!  My regular stylist moved to San Diego just as I got comfortable with my shorter do, so now I'm essentially starting over.  The first time with my new stylist, I was conservative and it grew too long too fast.  Today I told her to go shorter and she did, so of course now I'm freaking out a little.  Still, it is just hair and it will grow.  The real challenge will be trying to make it look this smooth and good all by myself...

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Rub' al-Khali

The Rub' al-Khali (الربع الخالي‎) or Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world. It covers most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, including much of Saudi Arabia and areas of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen- some 250,000 sq miles in all.

I was there to visit Shaybah, a major crude oil producing site in Saudi Arabia located approximately 40 km from the northern edge of the Rub' al-Khali.  Shaybah is home to about 1000 permanent workers, with tens of thousands of contractors at any give time also working the site- all men of course.

The desert was just unbelievable though sadly since the day was hazy, the sands don't appear as red in many of the photos as they did in real life.  I've heard that on a clear day, when the sun starts to set, the dunes seem to catch fire with color- a magnificent sight I am sorry we missed (though moonrise was pretty cool).  Nevertheless, I am thrilled I was able to make it to the Rub' al-Khali before I leave Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A DIY Start to 2013!

I decided to being the year as I hope to continue- engaged in DIY and other projects to make my home the restful enjoyable space I want it to be.  I'll likely be moving in July, but I want to enjoy my space for the next seven months regardless!

I decided to spend the afternoon working on a long delayed project- staining the wicker furniture I got for free on the curb in last summer.  I bought the supplies for this project back in July and then shelved them when I thought about the unpleasant reality of restaining outdoor furniture in temperatures over 120 degrees with over 90% humidity to boot.  Yeah, not such a good plan!

Today was a balmy 80 degrees with very little breeze of blowing sand, and so once I sunscreened up, I made my move to the patio.

There is the new conversation area with the unstained furniture.  It might look OK here, but in reality the poor wicker looks dry, grey and desperate.  The great pine box I had built to hold the cushions also needs a darker color and some protection from the elements.

Because the wicker is so very dry and sunbleached, and the box is just naked wood, I started out by giving everything a coat of pre-stain wood conditioner.  Well, not everything as the can ran out before I got to the wicker couch or the back of the wicker armchairs.  Truth in blogging, y'all.

You can see how the wood conditioner slightly changes the color of the wood.  My box just sucked it up- it was dry to the touch before I finished all the sides.

The wicker chairs also sucked up the wood conditioner- you can see how much better they look on the left.

Here you can see the box (two coats) and the chairs (one coat front and back) contrasted to the couch and table (no coats of anything).

Here is where I stand at the end of the day.  I ran out of stain so the back of the couch has barely any coverage and the backside of that piece is completely untouched.  The table is also in its original state because I have no more stain.  Lesson learned- give everything one coat before you give anything a second coat!  Still, I think the box really needed the second coat and I can always pick up a little can of Dark Walnut to do the back of the couch and the table.

I am much happier with the darker color, and can't wait to see it with the cushions.  The can says the stain dries in 8 hours, but I think I'll keep the cushions off for at least 24 because I don't want any transfer onto the aqua pillows.  I have to say I think the coverage of the stain on the wicker was better where I used the wood conditioner- the backsides of the chairs are definitely more splotchy than the fronts.  Still, they could be drying at a different rate and so that could be part of the issue.

I plan to spray poly the box at least- unsure it that is a good idea for the wicker or not.  I did get some stain onto the concrete but I'm hoping I can scrub it off tomorrow to make it less obvious.  I am delighted that I finally found the motivation to do this project, and hope it bodes well for the rest of the year.

Happy 2013 everyone!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!

I have updates and holiday decorations to share, but that will likely happen after my visitors depart.

Happy Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

sneak peak at my evolving patio...

Here is a reminder of what my patio looked like for much of the last year.

My mom and sis are visiting for Christmas and have been helping me decorate and get a few small projects completed.  The maintenance guys hung my curtain rods yesterday and so today we rearranged the furniture and hung up the curtains.  This is how the far end of the patio looks now.

I love the new conversation nook on this side of the patio.  We are still working on the other side- stay tuned for more updates...

Monday, December 3, 2012

DVD cabinet makeover

remember how I was looking for ways to turn my cabinet (on left) into the inspiration cabinet (on right)?


Well, here is my new DVD cabinet:

I have to say that I love it.  My husband, who might not notice if I covered myself in Rub 'n Buff, not only picked up on the change, but expressed his unsolicited enthusiasm for the makeover- TWICE if you can believe that!  The fabric is Geisha (Black) by Robert Kaufman- thank you eBay.  I chose the Antique Gold Rub 'n Buff for the trim and it was super-easy to use; wipe on with a cloth, wait a few minutes, buff to a sheen.  The fabric is held in place with painter's tape (yes I was that eager to see if I liked it and then decided to roll that way and see how long it lasts), and in person has some gold accents that play off the newly colored trim.

Minus shipping time to Saudi, makeover took about an hour.  Costs were low too: the fabric was about $20 as was the Rub 'n Buff sampler which has twenty tubes of different colors and will likely last a lifetime given how little I used here.  All in all, I am delighted with this project and now on the lookout for other things to Rub 'n Buff!

want a closeup?  I know I do...