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Middle East

Life, Travel

How A Poem Cleared Up My Weird Travel Emotions

Did You Know?  1/3 of the world’s airports are located in the U.S. ( v i a )


I was looking through poetry the other day for National Poetry Day & the next thing I know 4 hours passed, I ordered 6 poetry books off Amazon, & I confessed to Wafiq that I’m going to become a song writer.

This too shall pass.

When You Don't Want To Travel

One poem really stood out.  Take a quick read:

Let me tell the tale
Of a girl who didn’t stop
Who climbed up every mountain
Without a pause upon the top
She’d dance until each blade of grass
Was clothed in drops of dew
And the sun knew her by name
But the silver moon did too
For a fear had setled in her bones
A fear of sitting still
That if you’re not moving forward
It must mean you never will
So in time her dance got slower
And she looked at all she’d seen
But found gaps inside the places
That she’d never fully been
For she was a human doing
Human moving, human seeing
But she’d never taken time
To simply be a human being
– e.h

When You Don't Want To Travel

When I came back from Dubai I couldn’t figure out why I hated the idea of traveling so much.  The biggest drag was talking travel.  I couldn’t get inspired or motivated to think about vacations, explorations, studying abroad, beaches, getaways, culture, language, hotels.  BLAH.

And this feeling stuck with me until about 3 months ago.  I spent at least a year in that feeling of travel = BLAH.   I wasn’t even the slight bit interested when I met someone with an international accent, or recently back from another country.  It was weird (…and now I’m realizing a little racist?)  I used to DIE to ask people thousands of questions about their recent vacations or country/state of origin, but I found myself completely uninterested.  (I wrote this post: here during that time, and I can tell, HA!)

I was pretty confused as to why.  After all, I’m the girl that moved across the country after high school, studied abroad by myself in a country that I didn’t know the language (at all), moved across the world with a suitcase & no clue what the hell I was going to do!  Travel gave me life & truly fulfilled my spirit…  I used to spend my life googling where to go & what to do. Who I could meet & where.  How I would get there & how I would convince my family I wasn’t crazy.

Why the fuck couldn’t I be amused by it now??!!  I felt really bad.  Not even a beach vacation?!  Boooooring.

Give-Yourself-A-Break(3)

When I read this poem it made sense to me.  I was always moving, moving, moving, & going, going, going… I swear even if other people didn’t see it, all they had to do was be in my mind.  FULL of plans & what’s next, constantly.  So afraid of stillness because it meant being stuck.

Without much intention, the past year I’ve gone to bed amazed with what I have & my routine.  I got way better at taking time to be present & patient, which I’ve never done before.  I literally look at the wall of the rooms where I live & am like “hot damn Katie, you’re fucking living. YES! YES!”. HA!

Although all of those moving, moving, moving choices gave me the best experiences of my life, this is a new kind of best experience – Like they have all been.  To be still for a quick minute & feel the stillness is a brand spanking new best experience.  Making sense?

When You Don't Want To Travel

Now, do I have plans to pick up my shit & move to Iceland tomorrow?  Maybe…  I’m getting back to feeling excited about travel & adventures, but it took some time.  This poem helped me feel excited about that time, like I’m not going to miss out on being a “human being”.  I want to be a human being too!  Not just a Human Moving OR a Human Doing!  A Human Being!

Anyways, because this particular poem helped me understand myself a little better I really wanted to share it.  I wish I read it when I was in the thick of “TRAVEL = BLAH” because it would’ve helped me feel comfortable with the feeling.

Thoughts?

As always, be thoughtful…

Xx

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Dating a Muslim Immigrant… during the “Muslim Ban”

Did You Know? As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity.

( v i a )


Heads up – Muslims come in all shapes/ forms/ colors/ backgrounds/ beliefs/ families/ countries/ parents/ lifestyles.

They do not all wear a hijab or thobe or a long beard.  They are not all brown.  They are not all from the Middle East.  They ALL have long, black, thick, curly, beautiful eyelashes.

Muslim-Immigrant-

As much as I would love to say I’m a scientist and am knowledgeable on this subject because of my time living in the U.A.E., I’m not.  This is basic common knowledge.

You probably have Muslim friends.  And you might not even know it.  Hello, my Muslim brother.

Some Muslims pray at every call to prayer.  Some don’t pray at all.  Some believe all words of the Quran. Some have never read the Quran.

I feel like the word Muslim is connected to an image of what that looks like to a lot of Americans & I wanted to paint a realistic picture, because even I wasn’t as aware as I am now.

Muslims are white skin, Muslims are from a small town in Poland, Muslims are your suburban neighbors, Muslims donated to your charity, Muslims work at Starbucks, Muslims drive toyota’s, Muslims are Canadian, Muslims have blogs where they talk about fashion & dessert, Muslims wear gold chains & Adidas, Muslims wear short sequin dresses & fake nails, Muslims listen to Eminem, Muslims listen to Beyonce, Muslims are blonde, Muslims go running at 5:00pm after they leave work.

Muslims are from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.  They’re also from Jamaica,  South Africa, Honduras, France, Canada, and The United States.

Muslim Ban

Yes. I made him pose like this.

Lucky me, I have my own little Muslim immigrant.  With everything going on last week having this immigrant has kept my anxiety at a steady level 5.  And, in order to keep the playing field fair, I’ve asked him a thousand terrifying questions, staring directly into his eyes, waiting for him to feel the same anxiety that I have.

The truth is, he doesn’t.

Visa’s and being allowed entry to the United States is not something new for him.  We’ve been struggling the past two years with ways to get into the immigration system.  I think we had enough moments to make the current situation feel  like a breeze?  That’s the reality of immigration, IF you’re trying to do it legally.   Wondering if we’ll get through customs (I say we’ll cuz I’m considering us same-same), is our normal.  Countless times I’d be waiting at the customs exit doors crossing all my fingers & toes that my precious Muslim immigrant would come through doors without being denied & sent back home. Two years ago, after a grueling customs process, we were told by an immigration lawyer that Visa’s get denied in the airport all the time and they don’t need to give a reason, so hello reality, American’s are finally meeting you.

Immigration is tough.  No matter what side you’re on.

So what I want people to know is that no matter what side you’re on, it’s ok.  You can still be compassionate.  You’re still a human being.  Some people/families are hurting, some are not.  It’s ok to push your opinions aside (trust me, we all know them) and be a human being to another human being. That’s it, simps.

For example, if you live next door to a Mexican family that’s being deported & the immigration officers come knock on the door & are stripping the parents from the house as the kids cry with screams for their parents – and you agree that illegal immigrants should be deported. There are two ways to act:  1. You sympathize, feel compassionate & act like a human being.  2. You scream out the door “GOOD! LEAVE YOU MEXICANS! GET OUT OF HERE!” Possibly with a huge sign.

Don’t be #2.

There’s opinions & loud noise flooding every outlet of social media, television & papers.  But you don’t have to do that. You can, but you don’t have to.  Why not have a conversation with your friends, ask the Muslims you know (because you know one, trust me) how they’re doing. What they think about everything.  Having that compassion, completely disregarding loud opinions, is so completely refreshing. Genuinely see what the fuck is up, salam aleikum my brother.  (I just like using the minimal Arabic that I know, forgive me.)

With everything so elevated, it’s wonderful to have a conversation.   And you DO NOT have to push anyone into feeling bad, scared, or anxious – like I did.

At this point my precious immigrant is milking it:

“Katie, please hand me the remotes, I need to watch TV all night to distract me from the problems” “Katie, please make me dinner, my stomach is hurting, it must be the stress”.  “Katie, if you go buy me a large Toblerone I’ll feel much better as it’ll remind me of home.” “Katie, Maybe playing video games all day will put me at ease”

(WTF have I done)

 Muslim-Immigrant-(3)

My point is, maybe you’ll talk to someone with a visa & they won’t be super bothered.  Figure out why.  Maybe they have a spin on things that you didn’t understand before.  Now is the time to be a human being, be kind, be thoughtful, and ask questions.  Keep an open mind & listen.

We’re choosing to be patient through this process, like we have been.  I don’t believe the end of big change is near, so taking it day by day while eating Toblerone’s & watching American Crime Story, is how we’re handling current events for now.  It’s good to be alive.

 

Xx

Interested?
1 Year Living in Dubai: Here
Myth Busting Dubai: Here

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Life

Oui Please, No More Culture Shock

There are pro’s and con’s to being busy.  I’ve noticed the busier I am the quicker time goes by & I can’t stand when time goes too fast.  When I’m not busy, aka Netflix and chilling, time goes pretty slow.  How did I finish an entire series in one day?!  But that’s the laziest form of survival, so it’s a toss!

 minnesota-blog

If you’ve been watching my Snapchat or following my Instagram you’ll have noticed I was in Minnesota last week.  I had to get my hair cut & my favorite stylist is in Minnesota so I made the trip.

(Not really.  My cousin got married so I went up for the wedding… and conveniently got my hair done.)

I’ll recap the trip next week w/suggestions for your Minneapolis itinerary.

Being in Minnesota this time around was actually a relief.  Last time I was home I had major culture shock.  I had a hard time communicating my feelings & expressing what I was going through.  I reacted to people’s comments defensively & craved some sort of debriefing conversation.  Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have spoken to other human beings.

This time, being around family, felt normal again! I could talk in complete sentences.  Think realistically. Respond responsibly.

I felt like I got to redeem myself.

It’s not that Dubai was super tragic, or anything extraordinary that caused my culture shock issues, it was the change.  There were different circumstances abroad that created a huge amount of change & development in such a short amount of time.  Constantly living on level 10.  When I came back, it was another huge wave of change on a Level 3.   The adjustment took time.

I have a new appreciation & understanding for people coming to America from abroad.   Or anyone going through dramatic life changes.

Now that I’ve recovered, I get excited remembering ALL the changes & happenings.  OUI! And where I am now, how much I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, the weird feelings I had throughout.  Even the emotional differences between moving away when I was 18, a semester in the Dominican Republic, and living in Dubai. Each so different & challenging in their own ways.   But pretty happy to have them behind me, as to now only have to reflect 😉

 

Anyways, I wanted to fill you in a little!  How’s everyone else doing? Excited for fall?

 

Have an extra excited day, don’t worry, and be thoughtful!

 

Xx

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Life

A Trip Down Memory Lane – MissBassmaster Favs

One of the coolest parts about blogging, especially travel blogging, is being able to look back at your own writing & experiences.  Recently, I’ve been trying to clean up my old posts to make a more cohesive MissBassmaster.  In doing so I’ve stumbled upon some awesome posts.  Damnnnnnnnnnnnn Katie, round of applause!   I keep trying to remember where I was writing, what I was thinking & how I was really feeling.  I must have done a good job of conveying my emotion at the time because re reading particular posts brings me right back to the same feelings I had.

At the time I remember genuinely believing no one reads blogs so I was writing to the air – but I’m glad I did!

For anyone new to MissBassmaster, or looking for a good trip down memory lane, here are a few of my personal favs:

Olive Oil + Hair

Ha!  What you’ll do when you have no money & nowhere to be.  This particular post was still in the beginning stages of Dubai when I had major self esteem issues, hense the drama.  I remember it like it was yesterday… Feeling so proud to have a head full of grease and smelling like a frying pan. Aww.

I’m Here. Hi. / BOOM It’s My Birthday

I’m Here. Hi.  Is probably my shortest post but it’s the sweetest.  I can tell the hard times are finally behind me & I was myself again, reading this simple post put a huge smile on my face. I finally made it!  And BOOM It’s My Birthday?  Ummmm hello happiness, good to see you again!

My Dumb Idea to Try the Master Cleanse

Because this is freaking hilarious.  I will forever remember this cleanse & my conversations w/Wafiq during this time.  Since doing the cleanse & writing those posts I’ve heard a tooooooooon of negativity towards juice cleanses & restricting diets.  I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear – I was doing the cleanse as an experiment.  I didn’t know if it was good, bad, or ugly – I was bored & wanted to see if a cleanse like this was survivable, shoot me.

Myth Busting Dubai

Awwwww finally learning to defend Dubai.  This is one of my favorites because it’s so true to Dubai!!  I always say, I’m totally open to talking negatively about Dubai or really anywhere else in the world, as long as you know what you’re saying.  Facts & education, or I might as well be talking to a fucking wall.  If you want to answer some questions about life in Dubai, or the Middle East – read this.

My Fellow American’s in Dubai

I never write posts like this anymore!  Truly one of a kind – a story on MissBassmaster.  How hilarious are my fellow American’s in Dubai, and I remember working so hard at portraying each character in the pictures.  HA!

Finally Back in Austin, Texas!

I forgot how hard this was – culture shock in general was super heavy for me.  And it took almost a full year to get over it.  Only NOW am I comfortable talking and explaining Dubai to people.  That took forever! This post was written so perfectly to reflect my feelings.  Anyone struggled with culture shock?  I wasn’t ready…


EEEEEEEE!! That’s my trip down memory lane!  I haven’t gone through ALL my old posts, those are the ones that stuck out & I found to be a good read going back.  If you really pay attention you’ll see my ups and downs were a little roller coaster-y.    Any other bloggers notice that in their writing?   I’m going to try to maintain a more “up” feeling going forward, jeeeeez Katie.

I know I always say it, but I’m so so so super grateful for where I am now 🙂

Have a light day & remember to be thoughtful!!

Xx

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Places: Middle East, Style, Travel, What I Wore

What To Wear – In Dubai

Welcome back to real life everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I managed to spend all of my money on Memorial Day sales.  That was a bit irresponsible of me…  But, I’m confident.

In between all the sales & barbecues I hope people took a minute to remember what Memorial Day is all about – Men & women who lost their lives defending our country.

Whether you believe in the war that’s being fought or not, there’s still people out there fighting it…

(I really can’t imagine… helloooo BRAVERY!)

Changing gears –> What to wear when you visit Dubai.

I get asked this question all the time – Traveling to the Middle East & figuring out what’s appropriate for women.

I’ve previously written about women in the Middle East, and what it was like to live there as a woman… But this post is more for your vacation plans.  No need to get down in the nitty gritty of women’s clothing in the Middle East when you’re there on vacation.

I’ll start with saying, you can wear pretty close to anything you want, especially if you stick to the tourist locations. (<– which you should)

Dubai was created for tourism – locals know you’ll be wearing clothes you’re comfortable in & completely expect you to.

The only time I ever HAD to wear clothing that covered my body was going into a government center to process paperwork.  You likely won’t be going anywhere like that while on vacation and if you do, wear pants and a shirt with sleeves. That’s it.

The one place on my list that will require you to wear an Abaya, is the Grand Mosque. This is Muslim’s place of worship – OF COURSE you will be required to dress accordingly.

You can borrow an Abaya when you arrive, they’re very accommodating.  (You might even be able to borrow an abaya from your hotel – which would be awesome, then you can style it before you leave.  Sounds like an amenity that would be likely in Dubai hotels LOL!)

As far as The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Beach, your hotel, the desert safari, or any other items on my list.. You’ll be able to wear whatever you want.

I was watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills when they went to Dubai and noticed those ladies LOVED wearing the bright, colorful, kaftans…

You can do that if you want to, but none of the locals will be wearing them.  That style would be more for fun than anything else.  You might find an Arab woman wearing those extravagant kaftan’s at an engagement party, but absolutely not walking around the city.

{And did you know Muslims wear the black abaya because it’s discrete and doesn’t draw attention to themselves?  I wanted to point that out because I wasn’t sure if the housewives thought they were fitting in with their flashy robes, instead they managed to do quite the opposite… hehehehe}

Obviously, a little more conservative than normal, is the way to go.  More to be respectful than anything else.  I always did my best to play the conservative side, even though I didn’t necessarily have to.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of while you’re in Dubai.  WORST case scenario, a mall cop will ask you to change into pants.. LOL!  (Imagine?)

One time I saw this girl walking around Dubai Marina Mall and her entire ass was on full display (I’m not sure if it was shorts or a thong she was wearing).  I don’t think the mall cop told her to put pants on, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Below is a list with a few options I would wear in Dubai today:

What to wear in Dubai

1. Express Cami Bodysuit

You will do no wrong with a shirt & jeans <—  A perfect go-to outfit while you’re in Dubai.  With a bodysuit, jeans, and a shawl – you’re outfit will look perfectly tied together.

2. Topshop Skinny Jeans

I loooooove white jeans!! But any jeans will do the job, perfect for any Dubai adventure.

3. Waterfall Cardigan 

Complete the jeans and bodysuit with a cardigan or shawl.  The cardigan will also help you feel covered up but still comfortable.

4. Crop Top and Wide Leg Trousers

If you don’t want to ride the Housewives train for your evening outfit – I think this would be an elegant twist!  White is eeeeverything in Dubai (and life) – it totally pops against the orange palette of the desert & sky.  This outfit would slay an evening dinner.

5. Cashmere Travel Wrap

A large scarf is kind of my travel advice for any destination, especially Dubai.  I carried a large scarf with me everywhere in case I went somewhere that I needed to cover my shoulders.  The scarf also comes in handy when you’re in a super air conditioned building OR during travel on planes. (Everyone needs one.)

6. Ruffle Front Maxi Dress

To get your Kaftan cravings in! Isn’t this dress gooooorgeous?! Major wish list item.  Even comes in Nude, which would also look extra stunning with your jewelry.

7. Embellished Caftan Dress

I thought this caftan or this shirt would look great over a pair of white jeans for the desert safari day… Like I said, white looks so pretty in pictures against the orange of the desert, and a flowy top in the wind? <— You’ll nail all your photo ops while out in the sand dunes.

8. Fallon Shalom Choker and Tory Burch Fitbit-Case Double Wrap Bracelet 

Don’t worry about over glamorous outfits, Dubai goes hard on the jewelry.  If you every wanted to experiment with your accessories, give it a try in Dubai.  Watches, necklaces, purses, bracelets —> That’s where you want to shine.  Dress up your average outfit with some shiny pieces.

9. Christian Louboutin So Kate Pump 

Similar to jewelry, shoes are what people watchers look for.  If you ever needed a reason to go for the fancy shoes, now is the time! (You can blame me)

 

I also included several options below (I just couldn’t decide)…

Remember, it’s hot! White & neutrals shine for your photo ops. Play up an average outfit with accessories AND conservative is always safest.

 

Xx

 

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Dubai Tips & Tricks – To Pull Off A Perfect Trip

Take notes ladies & gentlemen –

Last week I shared your MUST DO bucket list for Dubai & in order to keep that list as short as possible I left out a lot of tips, tricks, & notes to keep.

Here are your 10 Vacation Notes to get through a trip to Dubai in the best way possible!  Enjoy!

Your Perfect Dubai Vacation

Burj Al Arab

10 Dubai Vacation Notes:

1. Buy alcohol in Duty Free at the airport.  This is an absolute must.  Buy as much as you think you’ll drink… & then some. There’s a limit to the amount of alcohol you can buy in Duty Free and bring into the country. The person at the counter will know the amount, so ask them.

 

2. Have at least one person in your group get a SIM card so you have a phone.  It’s pretty affordable & worth it.  Google maps is your best friend while in Dubai, so having a phone is super helpful.  The two major carriers to look out for while you’re in the airport are Du & Etisalat.  I suggest Etisalat, Du had this weird Data or Voice option that really screwed me out of $$$$ while I was there.  And I suggest getting the SIM card at the airport before you do anything else.

 

3. DON’T go to Dubai for a party.  Dubai is not a place to go drinking, dancing & partying.  It just isn’t.  You cannnnn party if you want to, but it’s not going to be nearly as good of an experience as it would be somewhere else – you’ll spend WAY more money than it’s worth.  Remember, Dubai is a Muslim country, it wasn’t created for alcohol <– Go with that mindset.  You go to Dubai for shopping, the desert & jaw dropping buildings — not parties.

 

4. I HIGHLY recommend doing everything on this list, and for any spare time you have – stay in your hotel… LOL! I say that because the hotels in Dubai are G R A N D and G O R G E O U S.  Dubai puts a ton of pride in their hotels – by you simply staying in one, you’re already on a vacation.  Stick to the list, and stick to exploring your hotel.

 

5. Dubai has rules, but you don’t need to freak out about them.  Just don’t do cocaine, don’t rape anyone, don’t talk about their King, don’t have sex in The Dubai Mall and don’t walk around naked.  In America, when I see people talking about Dubai on TV, they’re always mentioning the “rules”.  There IS rules, and they are super strict IF you break them. But act conservatively and respect everyone – there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of.  Like I’ve said over and over again, living in Dubai was the safest I’ve ever felt.  I absolutely love that they have major rules AND follow them.  Well done Dubai, well done. (America gets their panties in a bundle over spilled milk *eye roll*).

 

6. Don’t go in the summer.  It’s fucking hot.  I’d say May – August are probably off limits.  December – March are the best.

 

7. Check for Religious holidays!  If you make the mistake of going to Dubai in the summer, you’ll probably also be there during Ramadan.  I loved experiencing Ramadan, however – No eating, no drinking, no touching, no music, no restaurants.  Unless you want to become “one” with the Muslim community, avoid going during this time.  ALSO, they have holidays spread throughout the year that are “dry”.  Make sure you know those dates too. (I saw on the Real Housewives they went during a dry time and were trying to act like it’s all cool, but that would be a total bummer if it’s your vacation… or at least I think so).

 

8. Plan ahead.  There’s nothing wrong with making all your plans ahead of time, and when vacationing in Dubai –> that’s a fantastic idea.  Listen, Dubai is confused.  There are a ton of people that don’t know what the hell their doing – so if you casually “wing it” for a day and don’t know what you’re doing.. You’ll end up EXTREMELY frustrated. (Trust me.)  Even after living there for a year, I would rarely leave the house without an exact plan.  Know your locations so you can specifically tell a cab driver, even better: know large landmarks NEAR your destination, or the exact hotel the restaurant you’re going to is in.  Also, know your timing, have your tickets, book your excursions… Basically – know your shit inside & out.  Don’t assume you can ask someone something and they’ll tell you accurate information, that just doesn’t happen.

 

9. If you rent a car (which you should for Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque day),  prepare to get lost.  Their roads are easy to drive & I feel pretty safe, BUT there are no U-Turns.  If you miss a turn – you’ll have a long detour.  Use Google Maps. And take your time.  Watch out for those expensive speeding cameras too!  (FYI – the Mosque is actually pretty easy to get to…)

 

10. Expect to pay more than you budget.  Sometimes, you can breathe air and spend $500.  If you stick to my list of things to do, you should be safe… But wander off, and may the money God’s watch over you!

 

Dubai Marina

@ Dubai Marina

Have fun! Dubai is built for tourism, stick to the tourist things and you’ll have an awesome time.  Next time I go, I’ll follow my own advice & act like I’ve never been before – I think that would bring out an entirely different perspective.

So0o0o adventurous people,  I’m seeing holidays are in full throttle this summer… Lot’s of travel happening on the Instagram pages. Where’s everyone headed?

I’m always brainstorming the next destination on my travel agenda…

As always, let me know if you have any questions for traveling in the Middle East, I’d be happy to answer!

Talk soon!

 

>> PS. I knooooow I said I would write about women clothing options for Dubai, coming next week!  I promise.

Xx

 

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Sell Your Clothes & Buy A Camera

I’ll go ahead and say this first: Real cameras are expensive.

Real camera = Not a phone

We’re already spending near millions on our miniature computers, aka mobile phones, so spending even more on a real camera sounds like some kind of sick joke.

 Buying a new camera, sony a6000

I’ve been following several blogs for years now and I always scratch my eyeballs out reading about the cameras they’re using or promoting.

{$3,000+?!?! Fucking how? Not to mention, I have nooo idea how to use one}

BUT. I’m here to confirm: a real camera is worth the expense. Womp womp.

Here’s why:

+ You adjust the photo to your preferred settings

+ Other people will actually enjoy having their picture taken

+ You’ll forever have pictures you actually love!

+ And pictures for other people to love!

+ It’s fun to learn the different settings

+ Always on the hunt to find good photography opportunities

+ You are shockingly WAY hotter.

 Buying a new camera, sony a6000

Wafiq recently bought this Sony camera, honestly with very little thought.

We looked online briefly, Wafiq wanted a camera too, sold all our belongings, then were okay with the price tag, went to the store –> proud camera owners.

NOT disappointed.  For a novice camera user, I feel professional with this badass piece of equipment.

AND when you look at the price tag of many others, this one appears to be near free.

Buying a new camera, sony a6000

I should also mention, I bought Wafiq a GoPro for Christmas two years ago –> life changer r r !

Dubai grows up, rather than out. Having a camera that could capture the ground to sky was unknowingly necessary and GoPro worked miracles.

Buying a new camera, sony a6000

I can’t imagine traveling anywhere without that little baby now. I THANK GOD I HAD THIS CAMERA IN DUBAI (<— every day) ! ! !

 Buying a new camera, sony a6000

Pictures a r e important. And as I get older I realize, in most moments you don’t stop and think a picture will mean anything – what are you even taking a picture of?  But it’s those pictures that are special.  Looking back at seemingly average, candid times – are the best, most memorable.

A picture is truly worth a thousand words.

 Buying a new camera, sony a6000

Now that Wafiq and I have an actual camera – not running around with solely iPhones – I’m TOTALLY kicking myself for shopping at Top Shop and River Island so freaking much while living in Dubai.  Idiot.

Not saving that money and investing it into a camera? (Katie! WHY?!?!)

Buying a new camera, sony a6000

So – if you were ever on the fence of buying a real camera – 100% buy one. [For the love of God sell your TopShop clothes and buy one (<–bitter).]

Then start snapping photos of EVERYTHING.  You’ll thank yourself later.

Camera pro’s weigh in! What’s the first camera you ever bought?

Off to sift through and organize all my pictures. {Note to self – organize after every photo session. }

Night friends!

Xx

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The Date Shake Recipe

If I haven’t convinced you to find your perfect date yet, I grant you this recipe.

The Date Shake Recipe_Healthy and Easy

The Date Shake <– EASY! DELICIOUS! HEALTHY! DESSERT! All with one simple recipe.

I’m a huge vanilla shake person, and this recipe is a compromising alternative.  Give it a try and let me know!

The Date Shake Recipe_Healthy and Easy

The Date Shake Recipe:

+ 2-3 Pitted Dates

+ Handful of Walnuts

+ Handful of Ice Cubes

+ 1 Ripe Banana

+ 1 Large scoop of Plain Yogurt

>>Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend well!

The Date Shake Recipe_Healthy and Easy

P.S. You can find my FAVORITE blender right here! So easy to clean, perfectly small for storing & it gets the job done.

Xx

 

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The Best Sweet Treat in the World! Promise.

Dates!!!! AHHHH Dates! I love them so much (and you will too. Promise).

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I didn’t think it would be possible to find yummy dates in America but I’m here to confirm it is!  You may have to do a little hunting, but the hunt is worth the catch.

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

Basics:  Dates come from Date Palms.  Date Palms look like a stubby version of the palm trees we’re used to seeing near beaches.

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I’ll admit – Dates look baaaad.  They do NOT look like the tasty treat that they absolutely are. They look more like a shriveled up, overly large raisin.  I don’t like raisins. So don’t be turned off by their appearance. (<–Life lessons today on MissBassmaster)

Ok ok ok, the key with dates is finding the perfect one for your taste buds.  There are A TON of varieties, so do not, I repeat: DO NOT taste one date and conclude you don’t like them…

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I tried ’em all.  I even tried them straight off the tree. (<–bragging?) OMGOMGOMG so good. Trying them off the tree, so super fresh, is what makes me want to explore all parts of the world and taste their straight up, from the earth – foods. I mean, yes mother earth, YASSS!

Types of Dates: Medjool, Thoory, Nour, Barhi, and the list goes on and on..

Differences you’ll notice is the softness, stickiness, and sweetness of the dates.   My FAVORITE are Medjool Dates. Soft, perfectly sweet, and big & yummy.

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I only assumed after seeing dates picked off the tree that there were health benefits to these tasty treats {mother earth has our back like that}, and after getting lost in the world wide web for far too long I learned these baby’s are packed with minerals and nutrients.

 Benefits include: (via | via | via)

+ Energy Booster: natural sugars help get you up and moving

+ Bone Health: significant amount of minerals to help strengthen bones

+ Brain Function:  Potassium + other minerals help boost your nervous system

+ Allergy Reducer

+ Weight Loss:  Junk food replacement + fiber

+ Healthy Digestion: All the fiber helps things stay movin and cruizin

+ Healthy Heart:  Can decrease cholesterol & reduce build up in artery walls – which lowers risks of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

My way to eat them is plain with a side of walnuts.  That’s my go-to snack and I have a feeling it will be… forever.

Wafiq’s mom used to eat them chopped up, already pitted, drizzled with Tahini (sesame seed oil) –  also super delicious.

Dates are a go-to dessert or mid-day treat in the middle east. They’re always around the house, served with coffee or tea.    I was one lucky lady to have them at my disposal, but I’m glad to see I still can!

Dates_The best snack in the world_Healthy

If you don’t already have Dates in your refrigerator,  you have no idea what you’re missing!  Get out there and try a few until you find your favorite! Spice up your diet, make the effort, and thank me later…

When/if you find your favorite dates, SHARE! I know they’re hard to find unless you have a date palm outside your front door, so sharing the secret spots is an important duty bestowed on to you  🙂

Start Here:

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The First Thing I Look For When I’m Overseas

Well this is fun.

I was in the process of creating my Must Have Trader Joe’s Grocery List and experienced a little flashback –>  I was getting off the plane in Bahrain and immediately asked to go to the grocery store.  A friend overheard my request and the look on his face will forever be imprinted in my memory. (… no.)

 

In my naïve brain I thought the grocery store was going to be some cute little corner shop filled with pounds and pounds of spices, piled high with fresh fruits, and I wanted to check it out!

Reality: Grocery stores in Bahrain and Dubai, are located inside the shopping malls. They look like a huge HEB, Cub Foods or your typical large chain grocer. With a Top Shop across the isle…  Not too much glory in that.

However, I stand by my suggestion:  Stop in the local grocery store of the country you’re visiting or living in.

From there, you can learn what locals use to cook. What they grow up eating. If there’s any no-no’s. Or any must-eats.  You can find real, local, fresh foods.  Or you can find items you’re used to seeing fresh.. now imported and barely surviving.

 Dates

In Dubai – there were huge spice barrels, a nut and olive counter, and aisles packed with fresh dates.  There was also as scary dark dungeon in the back of the store where you could try to score some pork.

In Portugal – I was ecstatic to see mounds of salami and wine, and a butcher who would very excitedly try to communicate the best option for me, giving me taste tests along the way.  (I spent a lot of time at the salami counter, 6 months into living in a pork-free country had me like heeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy)

In the Dominican Republic – there were mostly smaller markets. Some larger… All of which lacked peanut butter, and I craved it like a fish craves water. (I think I eventually found PB near a resort and ended up paying $30 for a small jar. Priorities people.)  Also, the DR had tons x tons x tons of beer and rum + yucca and tostones + loud salsa music inside the markets… at 6am.  All for approx. 10 cents <– You can tell those people are happy.

In Amsterdam – my dreams came true. Tiny, cutie, corner markets with breads, cheeses, flowers, coffee and food that looked so precious – staring at it all day was enough!  They also had larger, more typical style grocery stores. Extra heavy in the floral department. (Needless to say, I’m anxious to go back)

 Flowers

What my flashback has pushed me to say is, when you’re abroad, take a good look at those local grocery stores.

Appreciate the fresh items you find, that you won’t be able to at home.  Eat them like cray.  And don’t forget to figure out what groceries to appreciate from home, that may not be offered abroad.

The people working at the grocery store are locals.  Learn about the them. Personality, language, accents, style…

 1Portugal

I love finding fun activities that aren’t so touristy. Granted, sometimes laying on an all inclusive beach resort with no scary pork dungeons is a treat of it’s own… But that get’s a little boring, no?

What fun do you look for when you travel internationally? Surely, it can’t simply be grocery shopping…

PS. Must-Have Trader Joe’s Grocery List IS coming up tomorrow… Distractions on lock down.

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