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Abu Dhabi Woman

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  1. Last week
  2. Taxes – I like to think that our weekly blog is a tongue in cheek view of the everyday life in the UAE, and in the main we’re happy with our lot. We live in a nice villa on a compound with decent facilities, we can go swimming every day of the year, never have to wear a jumper in daylight hours and have met some lovely people and made some great friends. OK, the roads are, in general, a nightmare and friendships are more transient than at home, but these things are character building. One of the big perceived advantages of living in the Middle East is that income is tax free at source. But that’s not to say that your income is all ‘yours’. Housing in Abu Dhabi is still outrageously expensive (in the region of £800 a week to rent a villa or apartment for a family of four), electricity and water prices, though still subsidised, are creeping up and the latest tax is on cigarettes and sugary drinks. Cigarettes are ridiculously cheap here, I was behind someone in the supermarket last week who paid 10AED for 20 cigarettes. Can anyone remember when cigarettes on the UK were 10p each? I think I was still at school! But as of last weekend ‘The United Arab Emirates has instituted a hefty tax on sugary drinks and cigarettes: 50% on soda and 100% on energy drinks and tobacco products.’ But no one was quite sure what 50 (or 100)% will look like. Is it half the selling price? Half the manufacturer’s costs? Half the current level of tax (whatever that may be)? One article I read said that the cost of a can of Coke, an item on the Government’s set price list, will rise from 1.5AED to 2.25AED so it looks like it’s 50% of the selling price, or for cigarettes the cost to the consumer will double. How it’s going to affect prices in hotels and restaurants is anyone’s guess. Last week I paid 16AED for a can of Coke (with a glass and a straw) at the Golf Club. I’m not sure I’ll be buying it if the price goes up to 24AED, or a whopping £5!!! Driving – great news last week that Saudi Arabia has lifted the ban on women drivers and by this time next year woman will be allowed to drive on the roads. View the full article
  3. Pandora – a shout out for great customer service this week. I’d lost a crystal in one of the charms on my bracelet so took it to the Pandora shop in Yas Mall to be repaired. ‘Can you tell me roughly how much it will be?’ ‘Around 15 dirhams ma’am.’ ‘Fifteen, or fifty?’ ‘Fifteen ma’am, maybe 20.’ I wasn’t really convinced – £3.50? but it needed repairing so I left it. Last Friday we went to collect it and it was, indeed, 15AED. That can’t have covered the time it took to log the charm in and out of the system and transport it to the workshop. Bargain! Medical Insurance – Gary thinks I might have written about this one already, but I can’t find it. Apologies if you’ve heard it before. Whilst we were in Oman back in July, Gary had a text on his phone to say that a charge had been made against our medical insurance. He googled the company mentioned and it was a pharmacy. He emailed the insurer who said that yes, a prescription had been made in a pharmacy in Sharjah. Sharjah? Sharjah is on the other side of Dubai and besides, I was in Oman on that date. How could I possibly have cashed a prescription in Sharjah? Do not worry Mr Gary, came the reply, we have investigated and your wife made this transaction. We have closed this issue as the complaint is resolved. Now hang on a minute, this issue is far from resolved, and I quote Gary’s reply: ‘Hello, Please don’t close this My wife was with me in Oman at that time. It was a family holiday – 6th to 10th July as stated below It bothers me that someone is using my medical insurance to obtain items from a pharmacy. It most definitely wasn’t anyone on our policy. I’m not sure how we would have reason to go to a pharmacy in Sharjah anyway. We live in Abu Dhabi. Do you know what the prescription was for, who issued the prescription and what the drug is used to treat – is there a signed receipt for the drug. If we had a prescription issued by a doctor surely I would have been claiming the doctors’ fees as well. That would have been a larger value claim than a prescription. At the very least please remove this claim from my records. Regards’ The reply: Dear Mr Gary, We will investigate and revert with an update. Best regards,’ So Gary rang them. It would appear that a pharmacist in Sharjah ‘accidentally’ typed in the incorrect policy number, but cancelled the request later, after they realised it was incorrect. Would that be ‘later’, or ‘later after they’d been caught out’? Hmm. Gin – I’m delighted that last weekend we found 6 gin balloons in Home Centre for the princely sum of 79AED (£18). I’m sure the gin will taste even better, particularly as we’ve stocked up on Fever Tree tonic, which is only available from the bottle shop. Gary must have been the only customer that week who went to the ‘speak easy’ for 2 dozen bottles of tonic water. Warning – http://gulfnews.com/…/briton-questioned-for-flashing-middle… Any friends visiting Dubai in the near future had better watch out! Birthdays – happy birthday to my little brother Al who hits the ‘big’ one tomorrow. Love you. View the full article
  4. Drafted by Gary Kelly Happy New Year – as you may know, the UAE runs on the Gregorian calendar for business purposes, but for religious occasions uses the Islamic calendar. This week saw the start of the Islamic year and hence a national holiday. (Well we have been back at school for two weeks!) As always the actual day is dependent on the phase of the moon and the holiday is not usually declared until the moon is sighted the night before, so it leaves any plans hanging in the air (or in space, whichever way you want to look at it). There has been much consternation and debate, especially in the national press and school Facebook page, about when this day will be. Would it be Thursday (bonus holiday), or would it be Friday? The idea of Friday was filling people with dread as this would mean the ‘dry’ night (ie no alcohol) would be 6pm Thursday to 7.30pm Friday – no brunching. Imagine, New Year’s Eve with no alcohol and on Monday Abu Dhabi declared Wednesday asd the provisional ‘dry’ night. Dubai , not to be outdone, chose Thursday. Anyway we’re glad to say that in this case the national government took decisive action and late on Tuesday declared that Thursday would, indeed, be a holiday and the moon did, in fact, make a guest appearance on Wednesday night, so it just leaves me to say كل عام وانتم بخير Happy New Hijri Year and welcome to 1439. Abandoned house – as you drive in through the gate of our compound (or gated community darling as my mother insists in calling it when she speaks to the ladies at the golf club) there is a house that has had Municipality (Council) enforcement notices attached to the Jeep, the Porsche and Harley Davidson motor bike that are parked outside it. The house looks like it is still lived in; curtains at the windows and furniture in the house, but we haven’t seen anyone around it for weeks and the cars and bike, that were usually pristine, haven’t moved, are covered in dust, and look as though they haven’t been washed in ages (remember that it is offence to have a dirty car in the UAE). It seems the occupants of the house may have done a bunk. I’ve mentioned before about people leaving the UAE either of their own free will, because their contracts were finished, or because they were made redundant (as happened to a friend of Gary’s on Sunday – completely out of the blue and in the second week at school for the children) but everyone we know who has had to leave within a short time period has managed to execute their exit plan, planning shippers, selling cars and clearing any debts – I think if everyone in the UAE was totally honest with themselves they do have a plan in the back of their minds and 30 days to leave after visa cancellation is usually enough time, albeit stressful, to pack up and bugger off. I can’t even consider how bad your situation must be to just leave your house, furniture, cars and motorbike, and, potentially with only aircraft baggage allowance, get on a plane and not come back. There is no way we could do what used to be known in the UK as a ‘midnight flit’ as we moved out here lock, stock and barrel. 20 years of accumulated memories, cake making equipment, fabric, ukuleles and ‘stuff’ all came with us. Even, as you may remember, a Christmas pudding, a 3.5” floppy disc drive and the wellies. View the full article
  5. Hope for the best, plan for the worst

    This is a new post from Expat Child by Carole Hallett Mobbs Expat Child - Moving overseas with children. Relocation advice. The expat’s backup plan A cliché that’s been used, misused and oft repeated in various guises all over the world ... Read More The post Hope for the best, plan for the worst appeared first on Expat Child. View the full article
  6. Earlier
  7. How to find a job overseas

    This is a new post from Expat Child by Carole Hallett Mobbs Expat Child - Moving overseas with children. Relocation advice. Finding work abroad When your dream to move abroad becomes a reality, it’s time to take your head out of ... Read More The post How to find a job overseas appeared first on Expat Child. View the full article
  8. Indonesian Cooking in Africa

    Indonesian Cooking with Marina and Dewi Marina and I met back when we lived in Pau, France; but even though we both lived there for four years, we didn’t cross paths until just before she was moving to Congo. Yikes!… The post Indonesian Cooking in Africa appeared first on Canadian Expat Mom. View the full article
  9. Iherb haul – October 2017

    I place around two orders on Iherb every month: supplements, cosmetics, organic foods and hygienic products. There are so many products available that are either hard to get in Abu Dhabi and Dubai or extremely overpriced. I also enjoy being able to compare similar products instead of just buying what is available. By purchasing iHerb shipping savers I only pay around 7 dirhams for shipping. http://wp.me/p7ON39-2AU
  10. STRESS LESS

    As a wellness entrepreneur working from home, with kids and a household to care for life can be overwhelming and stressful. You may think that being on this journey of awakening that the word stress does not belong to my dictionary . You see just because I am an advocate for Self-leadership , Freedom and Peace , I absolutely still have my Stress, low and anxiety moments, and they definitely surfaced today. No, I do not live the life of Guru. I am a just human being still experiencing all kind of moments , but have become more resilient . I learned to snap out of my low victim moments faster and get back to showing up , serving my family and my clients in no time . I have trained this muscle for good time now and no longer (feed) the stress or un-manage for that matter ( Yeah it is not about managing stress or timetable …will elaborate below) You see, I used to feed on that stress and had the belief that when I was stressed it was a good sign because it meant that I was “busy” , "efficient", "productive " and I would perform better with the added pressure. I also believed the more busy-ness the bigger is my self-worthiness.(little I knew that I was feeding my ego with my BUSY-NESS-MESS ...) There was this myth of doing-doing more and more and then having this power to manage ways to do more with less time . There was the myth of utilizing every second , multi-task and cross everything on the list that declares me at the end of the day a ”super woman”. The truth is while stretching beyond comfort zone is beneficial, stressing about it and forcing it can be extremely detrimental to your health. Did you know that studies have linked stress to: increased appetite higher chance of picking up unhealthy habits (binge eating, ect.) risk of heart disease higher chance of fat around the abdomen weakened immune system Pretty crazy, right? and The reason you're not losing that belly fat... The reason you're not happy and can't sleep.. The reason you're constipated, lack energy, and are sick often… The reason you just can’t seem to reach your health and wellness goals may all be linked to…. S T R E S S . Now, of course, there could be some other factors at play, but if you can get to the bottom of your stress levels better then you will have more energy to focus on other areas of your health and wellness. So sharing this with you today brought more awareness to the stressful moments that I sometimes (today ) get trapped in. It reminded me of the following steps that helped me along the way to release my stress. I have come to a conclusion that for now they are my ways of releasing stress : CULTIVATE COURAGE CREATE DAILY HABITS COURAGE, ahhhh My favorite word in the whole world... Slow down and ask yourself: What is my motivation ? Where is this Piling more tasks coming from ? What is my intention, where is it coming from ? Is it from a place of fear of not doing or being enough? What Am I trying to prove? Who Am I trying to please? Sometimes our fear that people would judge us , or say something to us or about us is the reason behind overwhelming ourselves and carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. What if the overwhelming stressful thoughts that you are experiencing is just an indicator that your energy /heart is not in the right place? What is the cost of your well-being if you keep pressuring yourself with more in order to get praise ? What if this swamped overwhelmed feeling is a sign that you need to bring more courage ? What if you can bring 5% more courage , what do you need to release or negotiate ? CREATE DAILY HABITS Start Your Day Off Right Wake up a little before your kids, have a large glass of water with lemon and just have 5 min silence or read few pages from a book but stay away from media . Do a little morning yoga. It doesn’t have to be long, but when you start the day off feeling good and like you’ve taken care of yourself then you will have so much more energy to show up for your day. Meditate: It only takes 5 minutes (or more if you choose). Sit quietly, listen to music or a guided meditation and relax your mind. This could be a part of your morning or nighttime routine. It doesn’t matter when you do it as long as you do it consistently. Practice Gratitude Be thankful. Think of 5 things you are grateful for. Journal it or write a thank you card to someone. I love to do this in the morning and right before bed. Create Rhythms I used to feel like they would restrict me (yeah me the nomad free spirited , and its boring ) or feel suffocating and I fought it for a long time. I’ve learned that having rhythms or routines really sets a foundation for more grounding , and calm in my environment. A few of my favorite rhythms are having a morning journaling and scheduling , sunday grocery shopping, gym in the morning, cooking at least twice a week so we always have healthy food options available. What rhythms could you create for you and your family? Focus on Your Big 1 Pick only 1 task that will be your priority for the day , and have another list on important tasks. Focus on getting priority done. By setting only 1 main priority, it is more likely that you can move on to your important tasks with flow and less stress, and then you will feel satisfied and accomplished at the end of the day. Move Your Body You don't need an intense exercise regimen to release endorphins and increase your energy and happiness, you just simply need to move your body in a way that you enjoy. Dance in the kitchen, walk your dog, or ride a bike.I love to walk outside whether permitting, go to the gym and have variety of workout regimens. Breathe Deeply When you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, simply focus on slowing down your breath and change your breathing by taking tummy deep, long breaths. This can truly help you relax. Eat Mindfully It’s so important to sit down without distractions and eat mindfully. Ask yourself "Am I hungry?” before eating. Tune into your bodies fullness cues. Take your time eating and chew your food thoroughly. This is a great way to just take a break from the day and nourish your body with healthy, delicious food. Sleep Well I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but sleep really is SO important for your overall health and wellness. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep as often as possible, but also don’t stress if this current phase of life doesn’t allow for it. Finally, Remember NOT to stress because you are still stressing! View the full article
  11. International contact arrangements

    This is a new post from Expat Child by Carole Hallett Mobbs Expat Child - Moving overseas with children. Relocation advice. Help children keep in touch with family Preserving a high level of contact between families who are separated not just ... Read More The post International contact arrangements appeared first on Expat Child. View the full article
  12. Breast Cancer and Egg Freezing

    Breast Cancer can be sufficiently terrifying without thinking about whether it will prevent you from having babies. An ever-increasing number of American women are determined to have breast cancer in their childbearing years, and many need to know how the disease will affect their fertility. An unforeseen event, like breast cancer can jeopardize women’s fertility because of the chemotherapy or radiation. Due to this, women end up having an early menopause and ovarian failure. Women suffering from Breast Cancer now should not be worried about their chances of getting pregnant as they have an option of preserving their fertility so they can enjoy their parenthood in future. A study has found that freezing embryos created from eggs extracted before treatment allowed women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer treated with chemotherapy to become pregnant at rates similar to women not diagnosed with breast cancer who underwent in vitro fertilization. Treatment generally starts on the second or third day of menstruation and comprises of a regimen of fertility medications to stimulate a woman's ovaries to create eggs. The eggs are recovered from the patient in an indistinguishable way from is performed for in vitro preparation (IVF). The procedure takes around 15 minutes and is done under sedation. The collected eggs are then analyzed and frozen using the most recent flash - freeze method called "Vitrification", which is the best freezing technique until date. This procedure does next to no harm to the eggs and can keep the eggs in storage for a long time until the woman chooses to utilize them for conception. Once the woman is prepared to get pregnant, the eggs are defrosted and then fertilized with her husband's sperm and afterward moved into her uterus in order to achieve a pregnancy. Some women with breast cancer may risk some growth of their tumors during IVF cycles because of the high levels of estrogen that result from the hormone shots. In such cases, it is recommended to opt for "Natural Cycle IVF" in which ultrasound tests are used to follow the progress of normal ovulation, and one or sometimes two eggs can be collected. It is good to know that with the wonders of modern medicine, a positive attitude, and some divine intervention, women stricken with breast cancer now have a chance to shape their future. Let your Faith be Bigger than your Fear!!
  13. One Bowl Mayo Chocolate Cake

    Yield: 1 8-inch round cake Ingredients: Chocolate Cake 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 1/2 cup warm… Continue Reading → click the title to read more... View the full article
  14. Ever since our first dining experience at Catch, we can’t seem to get enough of this seafood restaurant perched on the edge of the Arabian Gulf. Catch in itself is a rarity and represents one the few restaurants in the capital that offers exceptional food and atmosphere while understanding the needs of the customer at a […] View the full article
  15. Easy peasy homemade Oat Cookies!

    Oat cookies so quick, they will be out of the oven and in your belly in under 30 minutes! View the full article
  16. What’s in My Name?

    The other day I was wondering, If I had to chose a name for my blog today, would the name still be the same? I’ve been a lot of things over my life-time. A daughter, sister, friend, neighbour, dancer, student,… The post What’s in My Name? appeared first on Canadian Expat Mom. View the full article
  17. Is Licorice Vegan? ANSWER: Most of the time, licorice is indeed vegan, but there are some exceptions. There are so many different types of licorice out there from the commonly known Twizzlers and Red Vines to more handcrafted candies meant to closely resemble the original flavors of the root of the liquorice plant. When checking for yourself, be on the look out for gelatin as some recipes use it as a base for the candy. Luckily, we've saved you the hassle and hand picked a bunch of vegan licorice brands below which contain absolutely zero gelatin! Quick Navigation Is Licorice Vegan? Vegan Licorice Brands Ice Chips Licorice Candy Panda All Natural Soft Licorice Simply Gum Fennel Licorice Yum Earth Organic Licorice Darrell Lea Original Black Liquorice Vegan Licorice Brands If you've got a hankering for some vegan licorice, we've selected a bunch of brands and products for you to try out. We picked a variety of different styles of licorice because as we mentioned above, there are just so many different kinds.​ As always, the potential exists for companies to change their formulation so be sure to double check before buying!​ Ice Chips Licorice Candy Let's be clear about something, original licorice is flavored with the licorice root itself, but for a very long time, companies have been using very similar flavorings such as anise as a replacement/alternative. Nothing wrong with this, it's probably just a bit cheaper/easier to source. Anyway, Ice Chips became a popular candy after they were on Shark Tank. They don't use any actual sugar, but rather xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol in candies is known for not promoting tooth decay, but NEVER give it to your pets. And don't worry, the trace amounts of "cream of tartar" ​isn't made from actual cream, it's typically a byproduct from wine making. ​This licorice candy is labeled vegan and only has 5 calories for every two pieces. Check Out This Licorice on Amazon... Panda All Natural Soft Licorice As per their tagline, the Panda brand has made it their mission to capture "the real taste of licorice". It actually only has five ingredients according to their website - four since they double count the molasses: Table molasses, wheat flour, cooking molasses, licorice extract, aniseed oil. They use both real licorice extract and aniseed oil as they have very similar flavor profiles. As you can see by the ingredient statement its free of animal products and even gluten. The holes within the candy itself​ make for an interesting bite as it creates a bit more give than if it were completely solid. Expect a soft bite with authentic flavor from this Finnish candy. ​ Check Out This Licorice on Amazon... Simply Gum Fennel Licorice OK, we realize that this isn't what you might consider traditional licorice candy, but we still felt it was worth including. Even though many licorice candies are vegan, they aren't something that you'd want to eat all the time. With all their processed sugar, and artificial stuff, it's a far cry from a whole plant food. However, if you have a licorice craving that you simply cannot quench , Simply Gum makes this gum which is great to have in a pinch with much less sugar and fewer calories. Plus, the flavor will last a lot longer than eating the actual candy! The company intentionally uses 100% vegan ingredients including vegetable glycerin (which is usually plant-based anyway - but nice that they specified it). We always like to be extra supportive of brands and companies that do this and also talked about them on our vegan gum article. Check Out This Licorice on Amazon... Yum Earth Organic Licorice As we mentioned in our article on sugar, there exists the potential for non-organic cane sugar to be processed with bone char. While we don't think its worth worrying about too much when picking up a candy, its nice to see when brands use specifically labeled vegan sugar like Yum Earth. This strawberry licorice from Yum Earth is probably going to be closer to the licorice candy you're used to than something like ice chips.​ It's a bit closer to Twizzlers or Red Vines, but obviously not exactly that either. More like smaller chews rather than twisted up strands. If you've got allergies, Yum Earth makes their licorice in a peanut-free facility as well. Probably a safe bet to keep on hand if you've got kids as you never know what types of allergies their friends may have!​ Check Out This Licorice on Amazon... Darrell Lea Original Black Liquorice If you're looking for a candy that is actually flavored with real licorice extract, this is the one to go for. Darrell and Lea is actually an Austrialian brand, but a big favorite among hardcore licorice fans in the Western world. It's got no labeled animal products, but one weird ingredient on the label named "treacle". We didn't know what that was, but upon looking it up it turns out that its simply a British term for molasses. Strange that they would separate it out on the label like that from the other molasses. This is truly a good pick up if you love black licorice. Expect a candy that's chewy, soft, and quite unique compared to some of the more conventional brands you've had in the past. Worth checking out for those who like experimenting with new flavors. Check Out This Licorice on Amazon... The post Is Licorice Vegan? Plus 5 Vegan Licorice Brands to Check Out! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine. View the full article
  18. What our moms-to-be should know about Migraine

    Migraine is a medical condition and is normally a serious throbbing on one or both sides of the head. They are a type of vascular headache that results from blood vessels expanding from the brain and is different from stress or tension headaches. If you were already prone to Migraine before getting pregnant, you may encounter more grounded migraines, or you may find that they lessen during pregnancy. Women experience migraine differently than men. Women report episodic pain (often for a longer duration) and chronic pain more frequently than men do. More than 25% of women encounter a headache during their lifetime in pregnancy, and hormone vacillations, particularly changes in estrogen levels, can highly affect the recurrence and force of a migraine attack. That is particularly valid for the hormonal changes that go with pregnancy. If you are pregnant or plan to wind up noticeably pregnant soon, what do you have to know? Symptoms of Migraine Attack: Migraine generally starts with a dull headache and sometimes followed by nausea and vomiting. Few women can also experience Aura as well. Aura is a wavy lines or dots of flashing lights. Some may likewise experience encounter limited focus or blind spots. What causes Migraine? Most often, migraine affects people between the ages of 15 and 55. Most people have a family history of migraine or of disabling headache. They are more common in women. Migraine often becomes less severe and less frequent with age. Common Head Triggers Include: Chocolates, Caffeine, Processed Foods No proper sleeps Dehydration: Especially when you are pregnant, your body needs more water Stress Hormones Weather Is medication for Migraine safe during your pregnancy? Some Migraine medicine should not be used, as there are possibilities of birth defects or other problems, which includes aspirin and ibuprofen. You should always consult your doctor if you are having migraine problem so that the medicine recommended by your doctor will help you and is safe during pregnancy. Home remedies can be also beneficial which is discussed below and the good news is that for most women migraines improves or stop from about the third month of pregnancy. Self-Care of Migraines: Avoid your known triggers, such as specific foods, as much as possible. Keep a predictable schedule of meals and snacks. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. Consider taking a class in biofeedback or other relaxation techniques. When pain strikes, try ice packs, massage, and resting in a quiet, darkened room. Note: Mostly, everybody treats migraine as not a serious problem and takes general painkillers to get instant relief but it is always important to let your health care provider know when you are experiencing any headaches and the details about them.
  19. Toro Toro | Jumeirah Etihad Towers

    2017 is the year that Pan-Latin cuisine finally exploded onto Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene. When Dubai was going ceviche crazy, diners in the capital were limited to only one option when it came to South American cuisine and that was BU. Fast forward a year and while the bubble for all things South American seems to […] View the full article
  20. It’s a funny old world – at the end of last term I was told that this year there wouldn’t be any cover work (supply to those in the UK) available as, well, there just wouldn’t. Because of ‘local regulations’ I can’t have a permanent job – primary teachers must have a BEd and middle/secondary teachers must have a degree in the subject they teach so my Engineering degree and Primary PGCE don’t fit either category – so I do supply. Pretty much on a permanent basis. Everyone looked at me as if I was mad; how were schools going to function without a pool of people like me to call upon? And what do you know? They were right. I’m back at school. Until Christmas. Teaching Maths to Years 6 to 8. It’s a funny old world. School – speaking of school Will’s got off to a good start. He’s already auditioned for the Prep School Orchestra – the Brass section is him on his horn and two trumpets – and tried out for the Swim Squad. I’m now trying to arrange a schedule to accommodate these activities as his golf lesson is on the same day as Swim Squad. Not that he’s too bothered about being in the actual Squad, I think it’s too much like hard work and one of the training sessions is at 6.30am, and really he wants to be in the Development Squad. Which is on the same day as Prep School Choir. You see the problem? Gin – after last week’s introduction to the various gins we bought in the holiday, this evening we will be moving to more exotic combinations. Mango and chilli for example. Watch this space! Hair – it’s still red, but it’s no longer straight. I’m considering buying a hairbrush and blowdrying it. Will’s still not convinced. View the full article
  21. Water – it never ceases to amaze me how much water some families use here. Our water bill is about 50AED (£10) a month and we use about 7000 litres. Other folks say that their bill is nearer 500AED a month, meaning they are using 70000 litres. Assuming a bath or shower uses 100litres, that’s the equivalent of 700 baths a month! Much of it seems to go on watering gardens, hence the popularity of astroturf, but that’s a ridiculous amount of water in a country where all water has to be manufactured. Mind, we had a near miss last week. The day we got back from the UK I was in the kitchen when I heard a hissing sound, as if the washing machine was filling up, followed by a pool of water coming from below the machine, then a spray of water coming from round the sides. Fortunately Gary was in and he came and pulled out the machine, and I had opened the drain in the floor allowing the water to drain away. The hose had split. It’s a good job we were in the house, imagine if this had happened the day after we’d left for the UK and the water had continued to flow for a fortnight! Deodorant – a bit of an odd topic I know, but disaster has struck and Gary’s favourite Body Shop deodorant has been discontinued. It’s happened once before and in the end the Body Shop saw sense and brought it back, so we live in hope. In the meantime, Gary had been stocking up every time there was a sale so he’s got two dozen bottles in stock and we’ve been into every Body Shop we’ve seen in the vague hope that they might have some stock left. No luck in the UK but we hit lucky in Jordan. Until we saw the price. It was £5 a bottle in the UK and an eye watering 45 AED (£10) in the UAE. But Jordan made the UAE price pale into insignificance. 12JD a bottle. £1 currently buys 0.93JD making a bottle of Body Shop deodorant £12.88. It’s no wonder they had stock left! Speaking of Jordan, it was amazing and definitely one to put on your bucket list. We really did float in the Dead Sea. As you walk in, you can feel the water pressing against you and it’s a bit like lying in a hammock. The strangest thing, though, was the security. The other side of the Dead Sea is Israel and the West Bank, and at one point I was connected to Israeli telecom on my UK sim, and Palestine on my UAE one. But every time we entered a hotel we had to walk through an airport style metal detector and have our bags scanned. Weird. I would recommend getting a large car if you visit. Our hire car was only 6 months old but was covered in so much damage it looked 6 years. The roads were, well, primitive is probably the best word and at one point the ‘King’s Highway’ was a single lane road. We were up hill and down dale, travelling on single track cart roads with no barrier on the outer edge. I’m only pleased it was a holiday weekend and not very busy as no one seemed to look before pulling out (at least in the UAE you know they’ve seen you, they just choose to ignore you) and the cars we did see were obviously designed like the Tardis as despite being saloons they seemed to be carrying seven or eight passengers. Hey ho, one of life’s experiences. Fame at last – as I write, Gary and Will are searching for music on Amazon. As a joke (I think!) Gary searched for Worcester Uke Club, and bizarrely, they are there. So there you are, Gary Kelly is freely available on Amazon. You heard it here first. View the full article
  22. The Bank – I have two bank books at my parents’ house, one for TSB and one for Northern Rock, and periodically my dad takes them to be updated. The last time he took the TSB one he was told that the account was dormant, no interest was being added and the best thing to do was for me to go, with ID, and close it. So last week, complete with brand new passport and a copy of our marriage certificate, off we went to the bank… ‘Hello, can I close this account please?’ ‘This account is for TSB, this is Lloyds, you will have to go TSB.’ ‘Oh? My dad always brings it here to be updated and was told I could come here to close it, it’s an old account from before TSB and Lloyds merged. It’s probably older than you.’ (At which point Gary and I couldn’t resist a wry grin as the account was from 1976 and the cashier was probably about 25.) ‘Could you have a look please?’ And she did, and the account was there. Great! But no. ‘There is no name on the account’. (I reached for my passport.) ‘No, there is no name on the account, I don’t know who it belongs to.’ ‘Is the balance the same as the passbook? And is the account number correct?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, it must be mine.’ ‘I will have to get someone to look at this.’ And off she went to consult with what appeared to be the entire staff. Eventually, and by this time the queue was out the door, she came back with someone else. Who appeared to know what to do. Great! ‘Do you have ID? ‘Yes.’ (I handed over passport and marriage certificate.) ‘I don’t need that,’ pushing the marriage certificate back. The cashier then had to recreate the account using the details from the passbook, my parents’ new address and the details from my passport. At which point she realised I’d changed my name. ‘Yes, I’ve brought you a copy of my marriage certificate’. (I’d even taken my husband as further proof.) ‘Hmm, it’s not the original. But it is a certified copy. That’ll be fine, can I keep it?’ ‘Yes, we brought that one for you.’ This was going well, though we had been in the bank for half an hour and the queue had gone. After some faffing between various systems, the money was in an account that could be accessed and she handed over my £27.81 cash. Result! Now, let’s imagine 1% of the population of the UK has an account like this, that’s 656,000 people. And let’s imagine each of those people have a dormant account holding £10. That’s £6.56 million, which is not to be sniffed at, and if everyone in the country has £10 in an account, that’s £656 million, which is definitely not to be sniffed at. And, according to MSE (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/r…/reclaim-lost-assets-free), is closer to the £850 million thought to be sitting in banks and building societies. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Heard on the bus – ‘Buying a coffee in a café is very expensive; you’re far better getting it in a paper cup to take away.’ ‘Oh yes, my granddaughter’s just graduated, from the University, you know. She’s working in Primark, but it’s not her proper job. No, it’s not her proper job.’ (Note: It’ll not be paying proper money either then.) Conversation between two women in their late 20s, early 30s. 1: So how many do you have? Two? 2: No, just the one. (Note: Will and I thought they were talking about children at this point.) 1: Oh that’s nice. 2: Yes, I keep her in a cage, covered over, when Dave’s not in. (A dog?) 1: Oh. 2: Mmm, she is very noisy. (By this point Will is giggling uncontrollably.) 1: Yes, I can see that. 2: Yes, and I don’t like her flying round the room when he’s not in. Do you have a parrot as well? Let’s face it, who would bother with a car when little gems like this are available free of charge on the bus? View the full article
  23. Are Gushers Vegan? Being that there are no blatantly labeled animal products in gushers we would consider them vegan. They also don't contain gelatin which is one of the most common animal-based ingredients that people miss. However, being that there are so many ingredients in these popular fruit snacks we will assess each ingredient in greater detail below. It is important to note that if you'd prefer to be on the safe side there are many alternative fruit snacks that are actually labeled as 100% vegan. Here are some of the top ones that we'd recommend. SunRype Fruit to Go Annie's Organic Fruit Bunnies Pure Organic Fruit Sandwiches *Click any of the links above to check out these gushers alternatives on Amazon. The healthiest alternative would be to simply eat some whole fruits, but that's neither here nor there! Gushers Ingredient Breakdown Here are all of the ingredients in gushers with a bit more detail about the vegan status of each one. This is from the Strawberry Splash flavor of gushers taken directly from the General Mills website. Always check store ingredient lists as manufacturer websites can sometimes be out of date. We've put an asterisks* next to the ingredients of particular importance.​ As you'll see below, the origins of some of these ingredients is quite dubious. However, we take the position that unless an ingredient is a specific driver to the animal agriculture industry, you're better off not stressing too hard about it as it doesn't do any good for stopping animal suffering. Corn Syrup Corn syrup is a sweetener made by using enzymes to break down the starch of corn into sugar molecules. No animals involved. Sugar* Sugar can be a tricky ingredient because some sugar is filtered using bone char. We did an entire article on the subject of sugar if you want more details. Many vegan organizations agree that sugar used in a food product shouldn't be fretted over. Avoiding these products would do little to nothing to prevent animal suffering and most likely the manufacturers don't even know the vegan status of the sugar they used. Pear Puree Self-explanatory! Pureed pears. Modified Corn Starch Corn treated with certain enzymes for different functionalities mainly for the purpose of modifying the viscosity of the final product. Fructose Sugar found in fruits. Not particularly great for you when its not part of the whole fruit, but vegan nonetheless. Maltodextrin Food additive used as a thickener derived from plant starches. Palm Oil* A controversial ingredient due to the nature of how it is harvested, many might consider it not to be vegan, but the subject is a bit nuanced and subjective. If we didn't use so much land for animal agriculture, there would be a lot more room to produce these types of ingredients ethically rather than having to deal with shrinking land availability. If you want to learn more, check out our articles on skittles and frosting where we go into greater detail about palm oil.​ Glycerin* Most glycerin is derived from plants although the potential exists for it to be animal derived. We go into greater detail about this in our article on vegan gum. Cottonseed Oil An oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants. Grape Juice Concentrate This is basically grape fruit juice that has had most of its water removed making it a "concentrated" form. Carrageenan* A thickener derived from seaweed, no animals involved. Citric Acid Naturally found in citrus, citric acid is used as a preservative and as a flavoring agent. You can actually make your own at home! Monoglycerides* Used as an emulsifier, this is another one of those controversial ingredients where it becomes difficult to identify the origins. It could be animal or plant derived. Unfortunately, calling the company won't even be helpful most of the time as they are unlikely to know the origins. Given that it is such a small ingredient that isn't a primary driver of animal agriculture, we recommend not to worry about it. PETA takes the same position.​ Sodium Citrate Can be made from citric acid and sodium bicarbonate - not animal derived. Malic Acid Extracted from plants - nothing to worry about in regards to its vegan status. ​Ascorbic Acid This is just vitamin C. Natural Flavor* A natural flavor can pretty much be anything that's approved for use in food that's used as a flavoring agent. Often times knowing its true origins is going to be impossible, even if you call the company. Much like our position on monoglycerides, we suggest you don't sweat it. The less people purchase blatantly labeled animal products in the first place, the less likely it will be to have these dubious ingredients derived from animals in the first place. Potassium Citrate Without getting too technical, its the potassium salt of citric acid. Don't worry about this one. Agar-Agar A gelatin alternative derived from algae. We love this ingredient and recommend it to make your own jello! Red 40* Commonly thought to be made from beetles, its actually made from coal. Wouldn't worry too much about this one. Xanthan Gum​ A thickener typically obtained by the fermentation of bacteria. Don't worry about its vegan status. Conclusion on Gushers Although some of their ingredient status may be a bit dubious, we don't recommend you worry about it. Stick to removing all labeled animal products to your diet (meat, eggs, dairy, fish, gelatin, etc) as it is the most impactful thing you can do for the planet and the animals. The post Are Gushers Vegan? What You Need To Know! appeared first on Thrive Cuisine. View the full article
  24. I want to move abroad… how?

    This is a new post from Expat Child by Carole Hallett Mobbs Expat Child - Moving overseas with children. Relocation advice. How to be an expat… It’s strange, but one of the most common questions I get asked is, “How can ... Read More The post I want to move abroad… how? appeared first on Expat Child. View the full article
  25. Barcelona 2.0

    The first time I went to Barcelona was in 2010 with my Mom and my Aunts. I had just moved to Paris and I joined them for the Barcelona and Tuscany portion of their European-vacation. That first time in Barcelona… The post Barcelona 2.0 appeared first on Canadian Expat Mom. View the full article
  26. It's time to get flu shots for your family before your house is full of fevers and dripping noses. Here are 10 things you need to know about the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine: 1. The flu vaccine is essential for children. The flu virus is common and unpredictable, and it can cause serious complications and death, even in healthy children. Immunization each year is the best way to protect children. Each year, on average, 5% to 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications. At least 101 children died from the flu in the 2016-2017 season, If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you not only endanger your own child but also others. Although influenza can be treated with antiviral medications, these drugs are less effective if not started early, can be expensive, and may have bothersome side effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends annual influenza immunization for all people ages 6 months and older, including children and adolescents. In addition, household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children with high risk conditions and all children under the age of 5 especially should be vaccinated. Young children, people with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at high risk for complications of influenza, such as pneumonia. About half of all Americans get vaccinated against the flu each year, including 50% of pregnant women. This number needs to get better. Ask your child's school, child care center, or sports coach, "How are we promoting the flu vaccine for these children?" 2. Now is the time to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccine shipments have already begun, and will continue through the fall and winter. Call your pediatrician to ask when the vaccine will be available. Infants and children up to 8 years of age receiving the flu shot for the first time may need two doses of the vaccine, administered four weeks apart. It is important that these children get their first dose as soon as possible to be sure they can complete both doses before the flu season begins. 3. This year's flu vaccine is only available as a shot. The inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) is given by intramuscular injection and is approved for children 6 months of age and older. Depending on the number of flu strains it contains, it is available in both trivalent (IIV3 – two A and one B virus) and quadrivalent (IIV4 – two A and two B viruses) forms. The intranasal influenza vaccine is not recommended in any setting in the US. 4. It doesn't matter which form of the vaccine you get. The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2017-2018 season contain the same three strains as the trivalent vaccine, plus an additional B strain. Although this may offer improved protection, the AAP does not give preference for one type of flu vaccine over another. Please don't delay vaccination in order to wait for a specific vaccine. Influenza virus is unpredictable. What's most important is that people receive the vaccine as soon as possible. 5. You can't get the flu from the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are made from killed viruses. Mild symptoms, such as nausea, sleepiness, headache, muscle aches, and chills, can occur. The side effects of the flu vaccine are mild (and nothing compared to having the flu). The most common side effects are pain and tenderness at the site of injection. Fever is also seen within 24 hours after immunization in approximately 10% to 35% of children younger than 2 years of age but rarely in older children and adults. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own in a couple of days. 6. If you catch the flu and are vaccinated, you will get a milder form of the disease. We know that flu vaccines are about 60% effective--yes, we all wish that number were higher. The good news is that vaccinated people who get the flu usually get a mild form of the disease, just the sniffles, according to a study. People who are not vaccinated will likely be in bed with fever and miserable and even develop a complication. 7. There should be plenty of vaccine for everyone this year. For the 2017-2018 season, manufacturers have projected that they will produce between up to 166 million doses of flu vaccine. 8. The influenza vaccine doesn't cause autism. A robust body of research continues to show that the influenza vaccine is safe and is not associated with autism. 9. The flu vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines. The flu vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, but at a different place on the body. It is also important to note that children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses spaced one month apart to be fully protected. These children should receive their first dose as soon as the vaccine is available in their community. Live vaccines (like the MMR and chickenpox vaccines) may be given together or at least 4 weeks apart. 10. Children with egg allergy can get the flu vaccine. Children with an egg allergy can safely get the flu shot from their pediatrician without going to an allergy specialist. Even those with a history of severe egg allergy don't have to treat getting the flu vaccine differently than getting any other vaccine. By Dr. Jessy Mouhayar Specialist Pediatrics and Neonatology Bareen Hospital
  27. Samsung Note 8: How it is going to dominate the market, note 7 debacle and how its website will play a key role in its inevitable success. Innovation in technology is a norm now as a gadget or smartphone touted as a pioneer today will be dethroned the next year and after 2 years no one will even remember the product’s name. Such is the speed of the new technology replacing old one. Smartphones are looking to dominate the market in the years to come as hand-held devices and other gadgets in the category are losing the battle. The two front-runners in the race for the supremacy are Samsung and Apple. The latest flagship from the South Korean tech giant is its much coveted Galaxy Note 8. The device has been launched in a 23rd August, 2017 event at New York, USA. It is one of the biggest devices, according to screen size, to be launched by Samsung in recent months and looks to dominate the market as its predecessors. But I will not get into the specs detail or it’s USPs like telling you in detail why it’s infinity screen is going to be a rage. Instead, my focus in this post will be about how Samsung use its website to the optimal use and woo the audiences all over the world. While Samsung and other tech giants spend millions of dollars on marketing, through a brilliant website they make sure half the battle is won. Let me offer you some insights about how the related website designs make such a huge difference in the success of their products. The Website Design Aspect The debacle of Note 7 was one of the biggest setbacks for Samsung in its entire history. The company, however, settled back to winning ways by launching S8 and S8+, two of the most selling smartphones in recent memory. The apt marketing is of course a reason for their insane success but there are other reasons too which makes these phones a success story. A brilliant website assisting customers in finalizing their decision is also a critical reason. An interactive website is the basis of how potential customers look at the product and make their choice of either buying it or not. The web design of Samsung’s portal is mesmerizing to say the least. Of course there is a lots of information about the product and its accessories, the manner in which it is displayed is awe-inspiring to say the least. The ability to present the smartphone in such an impeccable way is really commendable. How do they Achieve Such Perfection in the Design Aspect? I am sure that you are not thinking that Samsung hire an professional web design agency each year or for every new product. The creative team at Samsung is really capable of pulling up immaculate web designs for their products. Just within 2-3 clicks on their website will notice that it is a very extensive website which is a part of the Samsung network. The mobile section is also divided into further sections and the very first is about the galaxy series. Just a glance and you will notice why they are the preferred choice of millions of satisfied customers worldwide. The infinity screen is surely a marketing ploy that has worked big time but to present it in all its glory and give the visitors a perfect experience is exactly the work of an expert craftsman. The designers and developers of the website have done truly a laudable job that must be appreciated. Use of latest graphic designing tools is another plus point but the one aspect that tops all of the rest is the creativity of the designer. Final Word There are hundreds of companies worldwide which were making cell phones way before Samsung but once it entered into the cell phone and later on the smartphone market, it made sure to follow a distinct path. Use of a stellar website which make sure that all the best qualities of a smartphone, like the Galaxy S8 or Note 8 are highlighted aptly. To apply a deft touch in making a product stand tall amidst tough competition is no mean achievement and that’s why Samsung rules with the highest share of the smartphone market worldwide. That’s why I am have emphasized on the design aspect as products are glorified in such a way that visitors are compelled to buy them.
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