Ciao! Here are seven things I loved this week…
Ciao! Here are seven things I loved this week…
Ushaiger is a little historic village in the Najd region of Saudi Arabia; about one and a half hours drive from Riyadh. We visited Ushaiger way back in the summer, during the blistering days of Ramadan. I wasn’t too enthused about my photos from that day. I uploaded them, filed them away and forgot about them. This week, I took another look at those photos and I was pleasantly surprised. I actually loved a fair number of them. Don’t you love it when you get distance from something, come back with fresh eyes and see something totally different?
The first inhabitants of Ushaiger Village settled there about 1500 years ago. In recent years, the community has organized without the assistance of government funding to restore and preserve the town. Walking around Ushaiger you will notice plaques naming the donors to certain buildings in the restoration project. Many of the buildings are still in complete shambles, but it is obvious by the construction materials laying about, that the restoration is still very much in progress. At one point we walked up a few flights of stairs only to find that whatever those stairs led to had completely disintegrated into a pile of dirt and rubble.
The village is a tightly wound maze of mud houses, many crowned with a bright white border. It also has a marketplace and a museum. Because we made the trip during Ramadan, neither of these attractions was open and the town was almost completely desolate. From what I’ve read, Ushaiger is usually quite lively with visitors and hospitable locals. We missed out on that element of the trip. But on the bright side, we were able to explore the buildings and study the architectural details undisturbed.
Ushaiger is also surrounded by an oasis, which seems to go on for a while. We ventured into it just a little before turning back. The perimeter of the oasis was peppered with signage. The graphics of these signs clearly indicated that they were warnings of some sort, but they were all in Arabic, which I do not read. I wasn’t really feeling the idea of going beyond those mysterious warning signs. On the other hand, my husband loves to find shortcuts and he’s always willing to explore unmarked territory. We had a friend with us and he, like me, was not a member of the exploratory team. So we headed back to the car. Around the oasis, I recall seeing lots of steampunk-looking, repurposing jobs, like the frame of a mattress turned into a fence. And there was some oddity that seemed to be car parts joined with a water tank or something. I’m sure it was completely functional, but we’d just seen Mad Max: Fury Road in Bahrain. The post-apocalyptic aesthetic (and the ghost of Immortal Joe) was jumping out everywhere for me on that trip.
I’m glad we made a visit to Ushaiger, as there are not many historical sites to visit in our part of Saudi Arabia. However, I think I’d have to stop short of saying I want to visit there again. I would, I’m not against it. But I also think one trip, and a trove of photos, is enough.
I had one more Marimekko fabric left from my trip to Dubai back in January. Wow, it really seems like January was a year ago already. Anyhow, back to April. I had this bright, bubbly, yellow Marimekko Unikko print, Unikko, which is the Finnish textile company’s signature print, comes in lots of variations. Small Unikko, huge Unikko, loud Unikko, subtle Unikko. It goes on and on. I initially picked up this version with making some type of home decor in mind. Then I thought, no I need clothing. I should make something to wear. Then after committing myself to that idea, I realized I do not want to wear this print…ever. A much bigger unikko print, yes. I’d wear that. Especially in the form of a sleeveless, flowing maxi dress. But this mini just does not jive with my wardrobe or wardrobe aspirations. Also, this fabric is a lightweight, 100% cotton that would be too sheer as a day dress. So back to decor I went.
I’ve been feeling a need to liven up my bedding, but I really don’t want to purchase anything new right now. My husband is in the process looking for jobs in the UAE. If something works out for the upcoming fall, it would mean finding a way to move and/or get rid of the many things we’ve already acquired. Despite the headache that thought can bring about, I truly welcome the idea. We could manage staying in Saudi Arabia another year if we had to, but we’ve both had our fill. Two years is plenty of time here.
Considering all that, I used this lively Unikko print to make a couple of simple envelope pillow covers. An envelope style pillow cover is definitely the simplest way to make one. It requires no additional notions, other than thread of course, and after just a couple stitches, you’re done. You can find an easy tutorial here. Do it once and you won’t need a tutorial or pattern ever again. I’m loving this new pop of color on our bed. I’ve read many, many times that the bedroom should have a cool palette, to create a tranquil, restful environment. Soft blues and greys. Cool whites. This stands to reason, but I love a pop of warm color in the bedroom. Right now I think I have a good balance of both.
1. Of course the monumentally, sad news of the last week is the sudden passing of Prince at 57. The Internet is understandably awash with content related to his death. I’m still sifting through the clickbait for the real gems. This article from Vanity Fair is an interesting one.
2. Because Prince was notoriously vigilant against Internet piracy, there aren’t many of his performances (considering the breadth of his career) available online. This link gives you a list of the best Prince performances on YouTube.
3. The trailer for Nate Parker’s upcoming film, Birth of Nation looks amazing.
4. Before Prince’s death, I thought the biggest news of the week would be Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
5. This weekend we listened to Louis C.K. on WTF with Marc Maron. I’ve been trying to convince my husband that we should watch Louis C.K.’s latest series, Horace and Pete and I think this interview finally sealed the deal for me.
6. After months of seeing bullet journal pins on my Pinterest feed and wondering, “What is that?” I found this Ultimate Guide to Bullet Journaling.
7. Architect, Zaha Hadid is another great creative we recently lost. Here’s a list of Zaha Hadid buildings that will open posthumously this year.
Getting your temporary, expat home feeling like a personalized domicile can be a tricky endeavor. It requires a happy medium between not giving a damn and doing way too much. If you are moving abroad and shipping your home goods along with you, this really isn’t an issue at all. But if you are moving with just a few suitcases like we did, it helps to begin with a strategy.
Act quickly on the functional stuff, then take your time with the details. It’s best to get things up and running as soon as possible in your expat home. It will help you feel like a normal human being after all the upheaval of a big move.
I think this one goes without saying.
Using your bed as your multi-purpose furniture will get old quickly. At best, it will slowly rob you of your dignity. At worst, it can erode the peaceful environment of your bed and disrupt your sleep.
Silverware, Plates & Glasses
Even if you are mostly eating take out, it will be nice to have a few inexpensive plates and glasses right away.
Pots & Pans
If you will be doing any cooking, at least a saucepan and skillet will get you started. The quicker you have your kitchen essentials, the more likely you are to eat a health home cooked meal.
If there is a shower curtain provided, replace it with a new one as soon as you can. Nothing will make you feel like a stranger in someone else’s home like using a random shower curtain.
Even if bedding is provided in your furnished apartment, you’ll be more comfortable on linens of your own choosing.
Acquiring hangers quickly will allow you to unpack and create some order from the start.
Towels are essential, but easy to forget. Pick up a couple on your first shopping trip.
Laundry Basket or Hamper
You’re going to have dirty clothes right away. Address this one pronto.
Dining Table & Chairs
If your dining furniture is not provided, eventually you may want to eat somewhere other than the couch. And if you plan on entertaining, a dining table in also a nice touch. It’s not essential. For example, it’s customary to eat on the floor here in Saudi. Still, you can have a well-considered dining area, with floor cushions, if you want to embrace this approach.
You will at least have overhead lighting of some sort. You can make do with that or add lamps for some softer light sources.
Whether you live abroad or in your home country, never rush buying a rug. Good rugs can be expensive and finding just the right one for your space can take some time. You may find the perfect rug went you least expect it. Also, though rugs can totally transform a room, they aren’t essential. If you’re going for minimalism and pure function, you can make do without the extra rugs.
Artwork & Accents
Just like a good rug, you don’t want to force it with nice artwork & accents. Keep your eyes open and sooner or later, the right things will find you. And be creative about what you can use as artwork. We have a zebra skull (a little morbid, I know) from a hike in Ethiopia hanging in our living room. It’s a nice organic touch and cost nothing.
End Tables, Trolleys & Storage
Live in your space a little while and pay attention to your habits. This will reveal to you where you need another table or where don’t have enough handy storage.
The addition of servingware will depend entirely on how much you entertain and how formal you want to get. These things can all be acquired slowly or not at all.
A couple of trays will help organize the chaos of knick-knacks and small items in any room. Do yourself a favor a pick up a few nice ones after you’re all settled. They’ll also pack away easily went you move to a new location.
This is another thing that requires some time in a space to figure out. Most people need a hook by the front door for jackets and bags and a hook in the bathroom for towels and robes. For other locations, pay attention to where your clutter piles up and add a hook there.
From experience, I can say this is a good way to get started, but I’m sure I’m missing some biggies. What would you add to the list?
Hi there! Starting today, every Sunday I’ll be posting links to seven highlights (or lowlights) in news and pop culture from the last week.
Personally, the last week began with me working on blog changes that are soon to come and ended with my husband and me getting in a fender bender, which thankfully was nothing more than that.
Here we go!
1. If you’re even remotely interested in basketball, Kobe Bryant’s final game before retiring from the NBA was one for the ages. He capped off his 20-year career as an L.A. Laker with a 60-point game at the Staples Center. That performance has me fired up going into this week, thinking a lot about ageing and greatness.
2. Season Two of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was release on Netflix this week and unfortunately I’m almost finished watching. I loved the “Kimono You Didn’t!” episode.
3. The Marimekko line at Target is available today. If you’re just finding out about it now, it may already be too late. I want that bike!
4. Malian photographer, Malick Sidibe passed away two days ago at 80 years old. His black and white photography captured Mali during the 50s, 60s, and 70s as the country transitioned from a French colony into independence. His cool, elegant images capturing, street life, nightclubs, and formal portraits, feel as contemporary and relevant as ever. RIP Malick Sidibe (1936-2016).
5. I received the May issue of Martha Stewart Living. Meh. The magazine used to be far and way my favorite, but it looks like severe budget cuts over the last few years are taking a toll on the quality of the issues. Something tells me the end of an era is coming soon.
6. Blog Society is running another round of Digital Bravery, a marketing e-course I took back in the winter. I highly recommend it for bloggers and entrepreneurs. And as an alumnus, you have lifetime access to the course material. I’ll be taking advantage of that this time around.
7. And finally, I listened to the Miss Manhattan episode of the 99% Invisible podcast (definitely one of the best out there) this weekend. It’s all about the career and life of Audrey Munson, the premier artist’s model during the Beaux Arts period. Her likeness is on numerous buildings across America and the basis of several sculptures, including 30 in the collection of the Met in New York. Did you ever wonder who sat for all these great sculptures? Well, there’s also a book out about her life.