Tableya | Cooking in Cairo {A blog review}

I came across Tableya completely by chance via twitter a couple of weeks ago and totally loved it. And then I followed Nevine blogger behind it, and she is just as sweet as her blog.  She cooks interesting meals, showcased with beautiful pictures with ingredients that are available and affordable in Cairo while trying to keep it all healthy.  I asked her if she would be so gracious and tell you all a little bit more about her blog and here it is.  All images below are from the blog and if you click on them will take you to the post that they come from.

In one sentence describe your blog

Egyptian food blogger with a special interest in health-ifying fun new dishes as well as old favourites.

In one sentence describe your own personal blogging style

I don’t stick to a schedule and only post recipes I’m super excited about.

What inspired you to first start a blog and what keeps you blogging?

I followed other food blogs for years before I realized that hey, I can do that too! I’ve always loved writing down random musings and more recently started trying to get in touch with my inner Martha Stewart, so blogging about food has been the perfect way for me to do both.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m usually inspired by other food blogs especially those with beautiful photography (Oh, how I envy those bloggers!). My other major source of inspiration is my grandmother, who is the one who got me interested in all things kitchen related in the first place.

What did you learn the hard way that you really wish someone had told you when you first started blogging?

I wish someone had told me how difficult it was to write down the specific measurements for a recipe. I usually work haphazardly in the kitchen and add a pinch of this and a dash of that. Dealing with how many tablespoons to add and what tenth of a cup equals in grams is driving me crazy.

Which of your posts is your absolute favorite and why?

I like my Moussaka post best because it was the first Egyptian dish I added to the blog.

What is your favorite Egyptian blog?

I like ‘Buttered Up‘ and have recently discovered ‘Chocolate Mints in a Jar’;)

Quirkology: The curious science of everyday life {Book Review}

Ooooh I haven’t really done a book review in ages and it is probably because I haven’t actually haven’t been reading like I used to. Life keeps getting in my way.  Anyhooo.

I recently read Quirkology by Richard Wiseman.

This was a funny and interesting book.  It is about the curious and quirky things we do all tested out by scientific (as scientifically as they could at least) experiments.  Things like how good people are at detecting liars and how.  Or why we believe in horoscopes. Or how they tried to find the world’s funniest joke.  And my personal favorite chapter was on lucky and if there are actually lucky people or not.

It is funny and interesting, oh I already said that. But that is exactly why I loved reading this book. It didn’t feel dry at all and it was chock full of really strange tidbits that might come in handy some time in the future when I think people are lying to me and I am trying to decide whether I believe them or not.

I have always found humans really interesting, we are very different and diverse but we are all basically very very similar.  Some of our quirks are really hard to prove or even spot, but Wiseman is a scientist who does just that, or knows other scientists who do that too.  You can also go off on tangents and delve deeper and read more about other research that has been done on the topics that he touches in the book.  I love books that are starting points for the pursuit of other books and things to read and find out.  I usually like to think about what I have read versus just putting down the book and completely forgetting about it totally.

You really should check this book out and the website.  It has some interesting videos like the one below and some experiments and their results.


Oh and have you noticed the site redesign?  I just decluttered a bit here and there.  I am on a  pseudo minimalist kick.

Sherlock – the TV series

My husband and I are boring stay at home on the weekend  kind of people, well that is not entirely true.  With a little child and no baby sitting options we have given up on date nights and since we are very resourceful people we usually watch movies back to back Thursday night (weekend starts on Friday where we live) until one of us falls asleep on the couch.  See how amazingly interesting we are?  The movies are usually action movies with lots of kicking, shooting, yelling, drug dealers, bad cops, good cops and that kind of thing (my husband picks them out).  To be honest I usually sit and knit next to him and occasionally look up to see what is going on.  And trust me, most of these action movies are pretty predictable that you can follow the storyline just by listening to the music and some of the dialog (not that there is a lot of it).

I had heard about the Sherlock series a couple of times but never actually watched it until yesterday morning.  I watched half of the first episode of the first season and totally loved it and thought he would find it cool too.  After all it is still  technically a guy kind of series with murders, some action and doesn’t have any romance or chicks that cry over their boyfriends who dumped them.

Oh boy, oh boy, he loved it. We watched the first two episodes together and since it is a long weekend in Kuwait we hope to get through the rest of them.  I might even get him watching the Mentalist.  Basically they are really similar but Sherlock is definitely more British.  It is based on Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle’s famous protagonist Sherlock Holmes but is set in modern day London.  I love the character development, there is a lot of depth to the characters.  I also love all the shots of London. And all the London cabs they get to ride in.

What I find most interesting about it, is how he deduces the things he does. He takes in all the details and just puts two and two together and bam!  It is also interesting to think how much we miss while we go about life that a more focused person can see.  The little details about a person that tell so much about them that we just never really see or notice.  I recently read Quirckology ( which I thought I had posted about but apparently haven’t) it actually gives you a lot of examples of seemingly random things that can tell a lot about a person and can predict some behavior.  Really interesting stuff. Well I had better run off and look for more interesting stuff to watch or I will end up watching another action movie of the really bad kind.

Getting the little person out of my hair for a couple of minutes

Everyone knows that when there is a little person in the house they tend to get in mummy’s hair all the time.  And I mean literally get in my hair.  My daughter has no problem sitting on top of me all day long.  She thinks it is hilarious.  I came across the blog Confessions of a homeschooler a couple of days ago and I think it is absolutely genius.  Mind you I think any one who decides to home school their children and can actually do it without killing themselves or the kids must be super human anyways.

I found this Alphabet Tracing Sheet there.  I printed it on thick card stock and had it laminated and got a nice bright red whiteboard marker for it too.

And she loves it.

It is such a simple idea that keeps her entertained for a couple of minutes at a time ( 4 year olds have attention span issues ). I have read about busy bags before which are basically just bags or boxes filled with things to do, color, count or whatever; but after trying out this idea I think I need to put a couple of them together and keep one in the car and one at home and one in my handbag so there is always something fun for her to do when she gets bored.

4 years ago

4 years ago I became a mother to a little girl, whose name loosely translated would be Precious.

And she is precious, and messy and funny and noisy and talkative and has stinky feet ( well that’s what I tell her anyway)

4 year olds like birthday parties just as much as they look making a mess.

After last year’s Hello Kitty fiasco I decided not to make the favors, just the cupcakes. I did a bit of googling and found OrientalTrading and they have some really awesome party supplies. Every party needs a theme and I decided on Jungle Animals because I felt it was gender neutral and would appeal to both girls and boys. We had it at school because it is the most practical and the easiest option too.

Frosted Cupcakes

This was my first frosting experience.  It was really really messy but so much fun.
Monkey Cupcakes

I got these really cute cupcake toppers and the kids loved them, there were different animals and each kid got to keep the topper.

And what is a birthday party without a goody bag?
Goody Bags

Want to see what is in the goody bags?
Animal Pencil Toppers

Pencil toppers

Notepads with googly eyes




I also added a pencil.  I had also ordered some finger puppets, but sadly they never got shipped, but the friendly people at Oriental Trading, just refunded the money, no questions asked.  If I had more time to spare I would have asked for them to ship them anyway because they were the original inspiration for the whole theme.  Overall it was a sweet thing. Simple and easy

Lights out in 5 minutes

Every night at bedtime I to tell my daughter to sleep because if she doesn’t get enough sleep she won’t be able to function at school. Makes sense right? It is also very logical that if I just let her sleep late and spend the next day at school feeling groggy and tired she will go to bed earlier without arguing too much.

But for some reason I don’t stop telling her that she needs to sleep early.

And it is not because I don’t think she is smart enough to figure it out on her own, because she can.  I usually let her make her own mistakes so she can learn how to fix them or learn from them.  Like how she spent a week with permanent marker make up on her face so she could learn the fact that markers are for paper and no drawing on your face.  I am not really sure she learned that lesson because yesterday she painted her toe nails with her markers again.

But are human beings logical enough to learn from all of their mistakes?

I make that same mistake of not getting enough sleep nearly every day.  Logic tells me I need to be in bed by 10 because I am up at 5 am.  Yet I am consistently late to bed.  I am not stupid, I am quite sure of that.  But in my head I tell myself that an extra hour of work will do me good and I can function on one hour less of sleep, sadly I end up in bed by midnight and I don’t think 5 hours of sleep is enough, actually I am pretty sure it isn’t enough because I am cranky most days.  It would make more sense for me to get more sleep and be more productive during less hours of the day.

This is why parenting is so hard.  We mostly almost always know the right answers, but we don’t always do the right thing.  We also know that children see, children do and that the best way to teach a child something is by example, but we can’t always lead them in the right direction so we nag incessantly.

Every little thing we do, is something they will see and learn. For example, generally when my daughter is cranky, I have noticed that 9 out of 10 times I am too and she is just mirroring my own cranky behavior right back at me.  And no matter how many times I tell her to be nice when I am not being a nice person, it just doesn’t work.

So should I just give up on telling her the things she should be doing? Well, I thought about this one long and hard and my conclusion is no, I am going to keep telling her, because maybe just maybe I will actually listen to what I am telling her to do.  What I am going to do different is try to do more of the right thing so  I am also showing her what she should be doing.  And who knows, maybe I will eventually follow my own advice and actually go to bed early tonight.

** Coincidentally today she turns four.

The books and I

The books and I have a long history together.  When I was a child, I had friends and I was an upbeat outgoing kid. But something was always missing so I usually ended up in the library and ended up reading a ton of books.  Books were my friends, my safe haven and my outlet from the world.  They still are, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the books I want to read.

Today I took my daughter to Better Books for story time.  And if you are in Kuwait, you really ought to pay them a visit.  They have lots of amazing activities for all ages.  But basically they are a used book store, with an eclectic selection and good prices.

I spent the hour reading, knitting and then I got up and visited the books.  I stood in front of books that I had read as a child.  Every book held a different memory of a place.  The Dr Seuss books reminded me of my childhood in Kuwait, of reading them in the school library.  The Roald Dahl section transported me to a little city in Fife, Scotland called Kircaldy.  My memories of these books are vivid and real, maybe even more vivid than the actual stories that are in them.  And then I moved along and saw the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Sweet Valley High books on a bottom shelf.  I started reading Nancy Drew in Scotland and kept reading them in Egypt and added SVH to them too.  I remember my teen years, they were awkward. But not these books, they were an escape.  An alternate reality.

Harry Potter, mostly read in Egypt before I was married and the last one read here in Kuwait while I was expecting my daughter.  And then my mind wandered off to all of the different strange books that have been my friend for the duration I was reading them.  Books on magic tricks because for some time when I was 9 I wanted to be magician and a juggler.  I even had a set of juggling balls.  Books on yoyoing, origami and garden growing.  There was also that book about hypnosis that I borrowed from the adult section in the library when I was 10 and the librarian told me that I was too young to be able to understand it.  I remember how I thought that since I could read and use a dictionary then reading any book was not a problem.  I read that book and didn’t understand much, but I learned that you can always do things that people you can’t possibly do.  I still love books on the secrets of the mind, which I can thankfully understand now.

I went through a period of reading NLP books when I was in college because I thought I could change the world if only I could control what other people thought which was probably a result of reading The Evil Headmaster series when I was a child.  I learned that I could only change my mind and no one elses.

There is an old copy of ‘Kalila we Demna’ in my library.  It belonged to my father and he read the stories to us, or so I thought.  He told us the stories in his own way.  I tried reading from it a couple of time but it is very cumbersome, but I still cherish the book, because it is about the happy memory of my father.

I now own a Kindle Fire and I am in love with it. It is loaded with a bunch of books and I am finding that I have been reading more than I usually did.  It lives in my handbag and I whip it out and read when I am waiting in the car for my daughter to finish school, I read while I am waiting for my turn at Aramex, I read in bed and I also read to my daughter (I got a bunch of Dr. Seuss books for her). When people tell me that they dislike the ereaders because they love real books I have to agree and disagree.  I love books too, but I read them for their content and for the memories that are created by them.  While the experience of reading from paper is one that I love, it is not one that will make me ditch the gadget.

Yet, I am teaching my daughter to love books.  She has her own shelf in our modest bookshelf which has been filled with books (my mom buys her lots of books too, I guess my mom is the reason I love books too).  She will pick out her books all by her self and she will even take them to bed and to school in her little lunch bag.  She pretends to read them too making up the words as she looks at the pictures.  But then there are books that we have read so many time at bed time that she almost knows all the words by heart.

She understands that books are marvelous and are to be taken care of, loved and enjoyed.  But she also understands that the books are about the memories they leave behind, about story time at bed time, when she will turn on her little light, get into bed, plop up the pillow, pick out a book and ask me to read.  She doesn’t follow the story line, she asks a million questions, she looks at the pictures, she makes up a different plot.  One day she will stop asking me to read and she will sneak into bed and read under the bed cover like I did, and I will tell her to stop reading and to go to sleep and she will pretend to listen and will just keep on reading and I will pretend not to notice because I know how much fun she will be having.

Because after all, a reader will always be among friends when they are reading a book.

Fat Head, the movie

Two nights ago I managed to watch Fat Head after my sister recommended it.  It is an indie documentary which is sort of a rebuttal to SuperSize Me.  In Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days and gains weight (duh!) and tries to prove that McDonalds is the evil mastermind behind the weight gain ‘epidemic’ in the United States. Tom Naughton, the man behind Fat Head, thinks that Super Size Me is a load of bologna and goes out to prove it.  He also decides to eat fast food for 30 days but instead of eating anything and everything, he skips the fries and soda.  He doesn’t eat salads or tries to order ‘healthy’ stuff from the menu, he just eats smarter.

I enjoyed the movie, it was smart, clear and quite funny.  I have been thinking about what I eat and what I feed my family (yes I do cook and feed them) ever since I watched Food Inc.  I sometimes fall off the bandwagon and sometimes I don’t.  I need to find a style of eating that tastes good, healthy and is easy to cook too.

I am currently liking the idea of Paleo (AKA the paleolithic diet).  High in protein, low in carbs and fat basically while consciously eating cave man style, i.e. hunter/gatherer.  It makes sense.  I have only managed to lose weight when I cut down the carbs and sugar.  I have been doing it for a couple of weeks and I also feel that my energy levels are better than usual, and trust me I don’t get nearly enough sleep.

Having a daughter also makes me want to put her on the right eating habits track instead of creating a problem now and having to deal with it later.  I want her to be fit and healthy not just weigh a healthy weight.  I want her to be able to make the right decisions and understand why she is making them.  And trust me children do learn more than you think you are teaching them.  She now very firmly tells the cashier in supermarkets that she does not want our groceries to be bagged because we carry our own reusable bags.  I never talked to her about it, but after seeing me do the same thing a couple of times, she just mirrors what I do.

A couple of weeks ago they had a ‘healthy food’ theme and now asks if this food or that food is healthy, so I guess if I drill it into her she will eventually intrinsically know what food is healthy and what is not.

I also loved the part where he explains LDL and HDL, what I always thought was cholesterol, but really turned out to be cholesterol carrying proteins and how they affect our bodies.  A simple animation cleared my whole misconception of the issue.

With so much information available which is so readily and easily accessible, we sometimes get so overwhelmed with it and making the right decision becomes harder.

So seriously, go watch this movie now.

You can also follow Tom Naughton’s blog for more info.