Friday, 30 January 2015

All your home cooking needs

This week thanks to a special offer we have tried something new, the service 'DinnerTime'. DinnerTime gives you a box of fresh ingredients and cooking instructions for 4 meals for four persons, all delivered to your doorstep. Each week there is a new set menu including one meat dish, one chicken dish, one fish dish and one vegetarian, pasta our soup dish.

For my Swedish readers, you probably know this concept already as there are many different variations of this idea in Sweden, 'Linas Matkasse' probably being the most popular one. This UAE version - DinnerTime - was actually founded by three Swedish women!

So what was the verdict?
Well, firstly I'm glad we had the 50% off because I think it's rather expensive. The normal price is Dhs 420, for a box with four dinners for four people. (To compare, the 'Linas Matkasse' cost the equivalent of Dhs 250 - for FIVE dinners for four people.) I know groceries are expensive here in the UAE, because everything is imported, but still.

The price aside, it was GREAT! All the dinners were easy to prepare, even for me. It was really fun to cook some new dishes and try some new tastes. Each dinner was well received by everyone in the family, some more than others, but all still finished. We had Moroccan Meatball Soup, Penne Pasta Pesto with chicken and Fish Tacos. (We still have to cook the tofu dish, which I'm actually a bit hesitant about myself...)

It was so nice not to have the stress of planning a menu, which is actually the hardest part of cooking for me. I liked getting everything I needed for the week delivered in one go. I just had to go do a quick shop during the week to get breakfast food and stuff for the lunchboxes for the kids.
The recipes made big portions too, so Nathan and I had for a couple of lunches as well, and I liked that there is no waste, everything gets used.

We will probably still get it again, every once in a while, on particularly crazy booked up weeks when all of us are home. It'll be good to learn how to cook a few new easy, tasty meals to add to our usual rolling menu.

Seven hours at 7he Sevens

Today (on our "Sunday"), we were up earlier than a normal school day! I was in the kitchen packing a huge cool box with snacks and food at 6.15, and we were already on the road by 7am! Going where? To Dubai and the famous Sevens Stadium, for the kids to participate in the HSBC Rugby Festival.

Both kids played, Lucas in one of the two U11 teams, and Linnea in one, out of the three, Girls U12 teams. This event had over 4000 players participating, from Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE, making it the largest grassroots rugby tournament gathering in the Middle East.

The kids played in two different areas, with a long walk in between. Hence not easy to manage, as I was on my own. Luckily Lucas played first and since his team didn't win any games, they were done after the pool play - so then we could move over to Linnea's pitch.
Lucas is in a grey helmet, standing in the far behind the scrum:

He is on the wing, so he didn't get into the heat of the play a lot today (either...), but he said in the car on the way home that even though he didn't get to touch the ball much, he had had a great day.

He probably had the best time while he was waiting for Linnea. He found some other friends who had finished their play, and they found lots of stuff to do. Besides the action on the pitches, there was plenty of activities to keep spectators and players in waiting busy. 7he Sevens is a great place for a rugby tournament as they also have a good selection of food stalls and there was live music pumping all over the area, to keep the atmosphere vibrant.

Linnea and her team:

And in action:

They played four games, and also lost all, although, a couple of them were chillingly close! I watched all the games and I must say that Linnea, and her whole team, got better and better for each game. They did some basic and silly mistakes (hence their losses), but they also managed to learn from their mistakes, and strengthen their defense and develop a nice flow in their passes - and, Linnea even scored a try!

Above all I think both of the kids had such a nice time, because they really got to bond with their team mates. We spent seven (!) hours at this tournament today, and there was a lot of waiting/playing around going on, which is kind of all part of the fun. Also, I think they both grow immensely with each experience of competition in these tournaments.

Luckily, we didn't have to come home empty handed, even though there was no wins, as everybody got a medal! Yay!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Horrid homework

I'm not sure who dreads the homework sessions most in this family, the kids or the parents...
Linnea's homework is still fairly light. She usually gets through her homework on her own, in one afternoon or two, with minimal assistance from us. Lucas' homework is a different story...

He has so much homework, and it takes so much time! It's also rather comprehensive, and sometimes quite complicated and demanding. Luckily this week Nathan was home to help with the maths, because I don't understand even Grade 5 maths assignments!

The IB system seems to work well with our kids, but the homework is a pain. I don't think we even had homework at all at this age when we were kids??
I really don't agree that homework takes up to 2 hours a day sometimes. We struggle to fit in any  sport sessions and have had to cut back on the kids' after-school activities. There just isn't time to pursue much sport, fitness or music; actually there isn't much time left in the day at all after homework and dinner etc, to just be kids.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A magical last night

We have a tradition when we visit Mormor and Morfar in Sweden during the summer holidays, that on the last evening before our departure, Morfar does a magic show for us. (My Dad is a magician by trade). The kids love it and really look forward to it, and it's always a hit.
For Christmas and his birthday Lucas got a few magic tricks of his own; and on their last night here this time, Morfar revealed some of his magic secrets and taught Lucas (well, and Linnea, nothing escapes her!) how to do these tricks.

Now, Lucas needs to practice, practice, practice and practice... to be able to perform them seamlessly. Practice and practice again, something that might require a bit more time and effort than he is prepared to put in... He just wants it to work - now! Hm, I don't know where our son has got this impatient personality from?!? :o

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Last day

It's been Mormor and Morfar's last day for this time today, and we wanted to do something special.
First we went to visit the Qasr Al Hosn Fort, the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. We were right in our suspicions though that it was closed for renovations, so we couldn't see much of it.
They are preparing for a cultural festival centered around this fort, from the 11th February, so I guess we will have to come back then.

We also took them to see the Emirates Palace, something we didn't do last time. Very impressive.
The had all the flags at half mast in respect for the King of Saudi Arabia, who passed away yesterday.

We took a stroll inside, and saw the gold ATM machine:

And then back outside, for some more photos:

The Great Vegas Circus in Abu Dhabi

I don't know how I had missed that there has been a circus in town since the end of last month! I only read in the magazine 'Abu Dhabi Week' the other day that the Great Vegas Circus is here, next to the Dalma Mall, until end of February.
So of course we decided to go, not really being sure what to expect, other than that they here are allowed beasts of prey - so I was looking forward to their five white lions!

There was quite a few people at the 6.30 pm show last night, being Friday and all. Their big top takes 1500 people, and it was a good bit over half full I would say.

The show started on the dot 6.30 pm, just as advertised. The program was splendid, many excellent performers. Most of the artists were latinos, a bit different to in Scandinavia where most of them come from eastern Europe.

We got to see amongst other things a hand balancing act, a magician, a single trapeze act, a cross bow act, a perch act and some clowns. My favourite acts were the boys in the 'Globe of Death' - who rode one, two, three and finally four riders at the same time in the globe!

Another favourite act was the five white lions, of course! Mostly because their handler was having such a soft touch with them, it was a beautiful number...:

And the most impressive act of them all, the tight rope group. They were amazing!

 What a great night at the circus!

Abu Dhabi friends, if you haven't been, it's well worth a visit!! Show is on 6.30 and 9.30 pm, and ticket prices are from Dhs 75.

Dubai Miracle Garden

Today we drove to Dubai to visit the 'Dubai Miracle Garden'.
It's a one of a kind in the region, and in the world, a unique display of flowers. It has more than 45 million blooming flowers in stunning designs, awesome shapes and structures, and over 45 different flower varieties and colours.

Dubai Miracle Garden was first opened in February 2013, and closed again in May the same year for expansion. The new phase opened in November 2013, and it's currently the first phase of development, providing facilities including amongst other things free parking, sitting areas, restaurants, toilets etc. The second phase will later include a butterfly garden, an aromatic garden and an international garden.

It was absolutely beautiful, such colour! So many flowers, and so many innovative ways of displaying them! Even though it was difficult getting photos without too many other people in them (weekend here today), we took hundreds! Prepare for a photo bomb, I couldn't choose..!

Covering an area of 72,000 sqm, and with a total of 4 km pathways - we had a lot to see and admire! Flower pyramids, water bodies, flower-decked cars; flowers in the shape of hearts, stars, layers, flower tunnels, floral arch pathways, flower lamps, flower boats etc. Marigold, calendula and petunia flowers, all new to the region, to mention a few.

This floral clock measures 13 meters in diameter, all made out of real plants and flowers:

We had lunch at the garden too. This is the roof over the food court area:

Apparently they change the design of the garden twice a year, so I can see we will have to go back again next time Mormor and Morfar come over, too see what's new! 
If you are keen on seeing more from this amazing place, check out this video: