It’s All Happening – Events in Dubai

Busy, bustling and bubbling with life, Dubai is a fun place to live, whether you’re just visiting or are one of the many expats that live in the Emirate. And with the bonus of tax-free living, you’ll have more cash to splurge on the fun things to do in Dubai. Various sporting events take place in Dubai and there’s also the Motor Show, but that doesn’t just make it a man’s world.

Here are a few things you might want to check with your friends or with the family:

Global Village 2014–2015

On now until 11th April 2015, the Global Village is a cultural phenomenon as Dubai opens itself up to 70 different countries, all looking to be a part of it with a shows and displays of their country’s heritage. There’s a variety of entertainments, so you won’t find yourself trying to stifle a yawn! One of the special attractions that you’ll enjoy is the Illumination World, which showcases the architecture and landscapes of different countries through the use of lanterns.


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I Quit Blogging To Save My Marriage

I quit blogging in 2013, a year that began with my husband and I both miserable. We were fighting constantly, yelling and screaming and slamming doors and stomping around the house with pissed-off looks on our faces. Our communication was just plain broken, and we knew we had to take drastic action or we weren’t going to make it.  We did it, we saved our marriage, and it’s a pretty great story I think :)

Chris and I have been together since summer of 1985, thirty years next year. We are two halves of a whole. Soulmates, if you believe in that. Neither of us believes in divorce, but when he told me that he didn’t know if we could stay married the way we were going, it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. This was serious. We weren’t going to hug and make up our way out of this. It was Chris who suggested that we start by spending more time together.

I was spending practically every waking minute online. I would barely put my laptop down to make and eat dinner before getting right back on. We didn’t go to bed at the same time ever. All I thought about was product reviews and giveaways and emails and where my next paying job was coming from, but at the expense of everything else. I wasn’t really listening to Chris because my mind was always elsewhere.  The house was always trashed with boxes and packing materials and piles of stuff to review, and it was causing everyone stress. I knew that the only way I was going to be able to concentrate on my marriage was by cutting back on blogging.

I started by closing down my food blog, then my review blog.  Finally, I just closed Gmail one day and didn’t log back in. I knew that every email I got was someone who wanted some of my time – and I no longer had any to give.  What I was doing instead was spending every evening after dinner downstairs in our basement office with Chris.  He taught me to play cribbage, and we would put our music on shuffle and spend hours listening to music, playing cards, and talking.

We explained what was happening to our kids at levels they could understand. We told them that Mom and Dad needed to spend time together to work out some issues, that we were sorry for the yelling and door-slamming and we were going to fix it.  We knew we weren’t modeling the kind of behavior we would want them to have with their significant others, and we wanted them to see us overcome this problem together. It also helped that Kaitlyn, who was 7 and then 8 in 2013,  was content to spend time after dinner playing a game on her laptop or reading, with at least one of her brothers around if she needed something.

Some of the conversations were definitely harder than others. We talked about parenting issues (we’ve had a long-time struggle over who is the ‘better’ parent in certain situations),  we talked about communication itself and what I wasn’t hearing him say and what he wasn’t hearing me say, we talked about our sex life (always very good but very infrequent at that point), we talked about money. We basically rebuilt our marriage from scratch, not because we hadn’t talked about those issues in the beginning, but because we had both changed as people and hadn’t gone over these topics with each other in such a long time.

Yes, we still had fights and slamming doors and stomping feet, but I wasn’t crying as much and the permanent scowl on his forehead was loosening. We came up with a word to say to each other that meant ‘we are lapsing into old behavior, let’s stop now and regroup’. Sometimes I had to listen to him tell me things I had done that had really hurt him, and I had to fight my natural urge to get all defensive and huffy and just listen. Because nothing either of us was saying was meant to do damage, but to help repair.

I’ve talked to a lot of my friends about this, and realize that it’s pretty rare for a couple to work out their own problems with no outside help, so yes, I feel incredibly lucky that it worked for us.  I have friends with relationship problems that say they could never talk things out with their spouse the way we did. Some couples work opposite shifts and have almost no time to do anything together let alone talk for hours every night. I’d love for it to be something simple that any couple could do, but the fact is, fixing a marriage takes time, energy, effort, and trust. There is NOTHING Chris cannot tell me, no topic that’s off limits. And believe me, the sex stuff was uncomfortable to talk about. It usually took some sort of, um, mood-altering material to help us get through those talks if you know what I mean ;)

So here it is almost the end of 2014. We still have flare-ups and fights, and still slam doors sometimes, because we are both stubborn and passionate and defensive and care so damn much that neither of us is going to walk away. But we also get over those fights a lot faster, and we know how to swallow our pride and say we are sorry when it’s called for. We even changed the way we sleep, which used to be back to back, but now I fall asleep with my head on his chest listening to him breathe. It’s the best place on Earth to be.

That’s what’s been happening with me. I know I said in July that I was coming back to blogging, and why it took me until today, I have no idea. All I know is, I took the plunge and wrote. HASHTAG GO ME.  Thanks for reading, leave a comment to let me know you were here!!

Moving Companies: To Hire Or Not To Hire?

As exciting as a move can be, it’s also fraught with tough decisions and emotional strain. On top of wondering if your kids will like their new school and if you will be able to make new friends yourself, you’re also deciding about painting a new home, finding a good doctor, and a multitude of other chores. Add that to a career change and it’s overwhelming.

Of course, many of these decisions are things you’ve been through before, even if you’ve never experienced a major move. You found your current pediatrician with research and contacts; you’ll just duplicate the process in your new city. You’ve also painted the house before, identified a favorite grocery store, and assembled lots of other routines.

But if this is your first adulthood move (after marriage), you’ve never had to make the decisions that are unique to moving. And that means your decisions about the actual process are new territory for you. The most obvious thing is the move itself. You have the choice between hiring a moving company and improvising on your own. Evaluating whether the added expense is worthwhile is a difficult decision, so here is a depiction of one possible thought process to follow as you work your way through the situation.

What Are Your Other Options? Apart from hiring a moving company, you have two other basic choices: Rent a van or use the vehicles you own or can borrow. How do these options compare?

The first thing to remember is the size of the load you’ll be able to manage. The money saved by moving with pickups and minivans is quickly gobbled up with the added fuel consumption of making extra trips.

Consider protection from the elements for your belongings. An open pickup, perhaps pulling a trailer, can in fact transport quite a few items. But the wind and rain they may be exposed to, as well as water and dirt kicked up by tires, can damage your boxes and goods.

So perhaps that compels you to rent a moving van. Your protection and space are comparable to professional movers, of course, but you must have access to a competent driver who can negotiate the tough parking of loading and unloading, and who is capable of driving through unfamiliar streets in a large vehicle.

Will Your Belongings Be Protected? Even if you safely ensconce each box in a true moving van, then drive it yourself, you still have the risk of broken items. With a professional moving company, you can get full-value upfront insurance for items that may be damaged in transit. With a self-move, the loss is all yours.

And speaking of boxes, consider whether your heirlooms and fragile items can be properly packed in empty diaper boxes and beer cartons that you’ve gleaned from neighborhood businesses and dumpsters. Professional moving companies will also have packing goods–and the experience to use them–to protect what’s important to you.

It Isn’t Just The Hauling It’s the loading and unloading. The clock is ticking with every borrowed or rented vehicle. If you fail to assemble enough willing hands to get those boxes into and out of your chosen transportation, you could run into overtime on rentals or create great inconvenience for those who were kind enough to volunteer their wheels.

Professional movers bring a crew that is task-oriented, strong, and experienced. They will get items into and out of the two homes quickly and efficiently. There are things worth spending money on and things that are not. Movers will fall into one of those categories for you; just do a proper assessment to be accurate in how you choose.

This post is written by Alex Summer.

The Return of Table for Five

Not like it’s newsworthy or anything, but after almost a 2-year hiatus (with just a few randomly dropped posts since then), I’ve decided to take a deep breath and stick my toe back in the waters of blogging.

I got really burned out, you guys. I was running three blogs with accompanying Twitters and Facebook pages, trying to keep up with social networking, never ever caught up on email and constantly stressed out about it, severely neglecting my real life i.e. my marriage and children, had entirely stopped sleeping on a normal schedule, and it just swallowed me up.

At the beginning of 2012, my life changed in a huge way but in order for that to happen, I had to stop living online so much. I had to stop giving my time and energy away. And I had to save my marriage. Chris and I spent almost every single day of 2012 not getting divorced. That’s just the truth of the matter.  I knew that in order to give our marriage the focus and energy it needed, something else had to give.

The end result of a year of incredibly hard work was that we started 2013 on solid ground. We then spent a large part of that year putting what we had learned in 2012 into practice. We continued to make our relationship a priority and I continued to not blog or reply to emails because I didn’t want to get sucked back in to something I wasn’t controlling well. I place no blame on any person or anything, the Internet didn’t make me run 3 blogs and not know how to say no, I did.

Anyway, by the end of 2013, Chris and I had basically redesigned our relationship. We go on dates, run errands together, make an effort to get together with friends, smooch like teenagers, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We came so close, you guys. So close to letting years of misunderstandings and hurt feelings and miscommunication end our almost 30-year (next year!) relationship. We fought like hell and we won :)

We’ve also been working harder to connect with our kids, who are 17, 15, and 8 now.  They had been the unwilling and undeserving witnesses to some pretty epic fights between Chris and I, and they needed us to just be around for them to talk to. It hasn’t been easy and we aren’t there yet, but we keep working on making them feel heard and understood.

So that’s the main reason I’m blogging again, because I finally have my head clear and feel like I can begin to express myself online. But the other reason I decided to return to blogging is because I’m going to BlogHer 2014 next month in San Jose! I couldn’t miss the chance to celebrate the Conference’s 10th Anniversary, I know they are pulling out all the stops for this one. Plus a friend hooked me up with her friend that had a ticket to sell, cheap, and Chris had enough frequent flyer miles from all his trips to Europe over the last 2 years to cover the round-trip tickets. Then I asked on a BlogHer 14 Facebook page if anyone needed a roommate, and will be staying with two lovely ladies who are also sponsors. I just hope my old, tired body can handle the airports and all the walking at the conference :)

As for what this blog is now, I’ll just have to take it as it goes. I still love discovering new products and writing about them,  I’ll get the products from a PR rep running a brand campaign, and  I’ll be clear about what I received and what I did in return. I’ll publish guest posts on approved topics and yes, get paid for my time.  I won’t write a positive-only review or be disingenuous about my experience. I’ll post photos and stuff I think is funny and write about my actual life and just see where that takes me. Thanks for reading this if you got this far, and if you feel so inclined to leave a comment, they are open.  I’d love to know how all of you are doing!


Belgian Beers Are My New Favorite!

When Chris got home from Belgium in November, he raved about Belgian beer.  He’s always been more adventurous than me when it comes to tasting new beers, so I took his word for it and we set off to a local merchant to see what Belgian beers we could find.  Much to my surprise, not only is a lot of Belgian beer available for sale in my town, but it’s sold by individual bottles, so we could fill a 6-pack with different styles to try at home.

I think what gets in the way of my enjoying more types of beer is my sweet tooth, because of all the beers we’ve sampled from Belgium, my favorite one by far is Kasteel Rouge, which is a creamy dark ale blended with cherry liqueur. It is DELICIOUS!  It’s the first beer I’ve seen described as ‘fruity’ that actually was fruity enough for me.

I also like Stella Artois, which I’ve learned should be consumed just like it shows in the commercials, with a big head of foam on top. In fact foam is a big thing in Belgium, beer glasses sometimes have a mark on them to show where the foam should be after the pour. Chris’ favorite is a golden ale called Duvel.

Oh, and speaking of glasses – get this!  There is a different kind of glass for each type of Belgian beer. At the bars Chris went to in Belgium, each beer they tasted came in a branded glass just for that beer – can you imagine having to stock that many kinds of glasses?? But it makes a difference apparently, how the bubbles dissipate and how much foam there is, so guess what we own now? We went to TJ Maxx and found beer glasses in a couple of different sizes and shapes, Chris was happy :)

Be careful with Belgian beers though, the alcohol content is MUCH higher. Like, 8-10% alcohol by volume instead of 4-6%, and one whole bottle of beer is usually plenty for me :)

If you don’t have a merchant near you that sells Belgian beers individually, check for online sites like Jim’s Cellars, where you can find wine, beer, spirits, sparkling wines and champagnes and more,  and can mix and match up to 24 bottles (the 750 ml) size to have delivered right to your door.  Jim’s is an Australian site, so for my Australian readers, go have some fun choosing some new beers to try for the New Year! 

Do you like Belgian Beers? What’s your favorite?


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