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susan smitten

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Just Tokyo Things [Oct. 26th, 2015|09:55 pm]
susan smitten

I had a brief layover in Tokyo earlier this month. Here are some quirky things I picked up when I went out shopping.

Banana flavored chu-hi. I never knew the world had a need for alcoholic banana soda, but I have seen the light.

Collagen treatment masks with faces drawn on them are a thing. This one makes the user resemble a daruma.

I needed some cotton buds, and I also needed my fortune told. So I picked up these o-mikuji cotton buds. O-mikuji are blessings and curses you draw from a box. Or in my bathroom, from a container of cotton buds.

Like so. Chotto shock ya omahen ga!? (I'm not totally sure what that means, but I think it may be right.)
link1 footstep|mind the misty sea

How to Make a Cold Couscous Salad (Really Slow) [Oct. 17th, 2015|03:06 pm]
susan smitten

Want to know how I made this couscous? I've written about it before, but this time, I'll show you.

Start by chopping a cucumber and a cup of tomatoes. Put them in a container. Or a baggie... I used to use a container, but at some point in history, it became a baggie.

Jog over to the window to cut down some mint. Avoid stepping on a piece of glass broken by cats that might be nestled in the carpet. If you require supervision, ask a ginger cat to observe.

You'll also need some olive oil, lemons, oregano, and a cup of dry couscous. And salt and pepper ~ these are crucial.

Toss everything together, and refrigerate for around 24 hours. You'll want the mixture to be wet enough for the couscous to absorb the liquid, so add maybe a half a cup of water if the lemon juice doesn't cover it. The tomatoes and cucumbers will provide some liquid, too.

The result is delightful. The couscous is perfectly seasoned, and not too soft or mushy. I usually add more salt and pepper at the end. In the first picture, avocado has been added. I tossed a creamy, ripe avocado in lemon juice before tossing it with the couscous salad. Because I really, really, really like lemons. Enjoy!

This entry has been dedicated to mrputter, mcgillianaire, beaglebot, et al.
link5 footsteps|mind the misty sea

So how is Dubai? [Sep. 11th, 2015|06:39 pm]
susan smitten

Well, Dubai is hot, and it's under construction. As per usual!

And it truly is hot. Earlier this summer we saw temperatures of 47-48ºC nearly every day. That's about 117-118ºF.

That never stops me from going outside.

My weather app informs me that today was a cool 39ºC (102ºF) but Thursday shall take us back up to 43ºC (roughly 109ºF). These temperatures sound like a pleasant spring day to me.

As I said, Dubai is still a work in progress. The latest madness being built here is the Dubai Water Canal, named so as not to confuse it with other kinds of canals. It was announced years ago, before the credit crunch, and then I heard nothing about it for a while. It is fully underway now.

See, there's this creek in the old part of Dubai. (Photo not mine.)

And at the start of the new part of Dubai, around the Burj Khalifa (world's tallest building), there is a development called "Business Bay," which I've always felt was a terrible name for a "bay," which is located at the top left of this picture. (Photo is mine, but from 5+ years ago.) The creek will connect to the "bay," which will then flow through the Jumeirah neighborhood and reconnect with the Gulf.

Here's a picture I took on the 8th of this month. The giant, 14 lane highway is Sheikh Zayed Road. Observe how they have sneaked over and building a diversion, then opened the diversion, and built a series of elevated platforms where the old road was. The new road will be elevated.

I took this one, too. See what's happening to the right side of the diversion? Immediately above it is Safa Park. (I can post that entry without the spoiler cut now, in light of this construction, though it looks like much of the park will remain intact; I'd heard they were demolishing the park.)

Here's a map showing the canal passing next to Safa Park, and through Jumeirah Beach Park. These two parks are among the most vintage of cheap-and-cheerful outdoor spots in Dubai, and if the city manages not to ruin either, I'll rest easier. I drive through that area a lot, though, and it's chaos at the moment. I wish I could get pictures, but that just isn't practical when I'm navigating my car through it.

I suppose this is what it should look like. Renders of future Dubai always look rather lush and green.

Here are a few news articles:
Dubai Canal project at halfway stage - 2015/03/13
Bridges rise from iconic roads as Dubai Canal project flows - 2015/08/16
Roadwork in Jumeirah starts for $545m Dubai Canal - 2015/08/23
link3 footsteps|mind the misty sea

India for a Wedding [Sep. 10th, 2015|12:16 am]
susan smitten
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Hello! Certain family members are reminding me that I haven't updated lately. Hello, family members! How are you? I hope you're very well. Miss you lots and look forward to seeing you again. :)

These days, I'm trying to do my best to keep up with my social life, all the while trying to keep up with my busy work schedule. LJ suffers as a result... the old blogger's dilemma. The more I have going on in my life, the less time I get to spend documenting it.

And I like documenting it.

Two weeks ago, I went to India for a few days, to see some beloved friends become united as one. The number of pictures taken by myself and others is overwhelming; I'll just post a few grabs from my fon and my X100, so you can hopefully see how pretty it was.

I wore a sari. I thought I was dressing up. Then I saw how swanky everybody else's clothes were!

Weddings are a good excuse to look pretty. Here are Sheryn, Simon, and Brian, looking pretty.

At least I wore makeup. I'm terrible with hair, though. I'm between Emi and Danielle, with Brian and Tarek in front of us, and Jenny next to Danielle.

We received strings of jasmine flowers, which we could use to dress up our hair.

Jenny wanted a nice picture of her in her sari.

No event is complete without a picture of Hind looking mysterious.

Matt enters...

And so do the women of Namitha's family...

And then Namitha. This is where all the girls start crying, except for Nami, who had the biggest smile on her face all week.

Husband and Wife!

Gathering for lunch.

Lunch looked like this.

Happy for their happiness!

Later we greeted the bride with a fire hazard.
link3 footsteps|mind the misty sea

Real Diving Over Eid [Jul. 21st, 2015|11:08 pm]
susan smitten
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This weekend was Eid al-Fitr (the Eid that follows Ramadan), and it's a holiday for most normal people. I am not a normal person, but I had the weekend off by pure chance.

So I went diving with a group. It was my first REAL dive. I drove to the east coast of this peninsula, which takes two hours, and met my group of 13 divers at a petrol station. From there we passed through the Oman border and boarded a speedboat that took us thirty or forty-five minutes away from the dive center, to some pristine and untouched coastline.

We explored three dive sites. These were walls teeming with color and life, and it was one of the most miraculous things I've seen. It is a glorious planet we live on. The ocean is magnificent.

This was the first dive site. The organizer of the excursion (my dive instructor, Tim) referred to another location as 'The Wonderwall,' but that descriptor could apply to the entire section of the coastline that we explored. 'Because there are many wonders,' Tim explained.

I took this picture from the boat. The girl in the pink wetsuit was on her first real dive, also.

This coastline might be one of the prettiest shapes in the natural universe. I know oonh would approve.

I wanted a picture of how clear and blue the water is, but it was too spectacular to capture. And I was taking pictures on my phone.

Which means that's the last picture here that was taken by me. The next few underwater pictures were taken by Tim.

This is how close I was to two cuttlefish. They were adorbs. Photograph by Tim.

Adorable cuttlefish. Photograph by Tim.

There were more colors than I think I'd ever seen in my life. (Photograph by Tim.)

Tim likes anemones and clown fish, and photographed every occurrence he could find.

I'm going to boast a little and tell you I was the first person to spot this zebra moray! (Photograph by Tim.)

And I was the first to find this leopard eel. (Photograph by Tim.) Later, Tim told me I had "laser vision." He also made repeated references to my enthusiasm. Who wouldn't be enthusiastic?

That's me in the middle, looking a bit like a mermaid with my huge fins. You can't tell, but the visibility went on and on. And there was so much to look at.

I implore you, look at this picture of my new friend Gisela, taken on the same dive. She was with her husband and son, so I don't know which of them took this picture. She took this picture, and this one, and this one, and this one. (Yes, on the same dive!) Turns out we're connected through mutual friends.

I like this planet.
link19 footsteps|mind the misty sea

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