6 Must-See Items in Dubai (& they’re free!)

Dubai List

I would argue one of the best things about Dubai, if not the best, is how much you can explore & simply see.  Without having to pay anything or work very hard.  Not without effort, Dubai sets records & created a visual piece of artwork.  You can fill your entire trip just driving around exploring the different landscapes – for FREE.  Sometimes paying for the view, isn’t as good as actually searching for it yourself.

I wanted to show you how to make a trip adventurous without spending a ton of money!  I feel like I’m a master at going on budget friendly trips, including Dubai.  Food & drink is expensive, but there’s SO much to do for free, or nearly free – if you can just get yourself there.  You wouldn’t even be able to finish this list in one trip!  And if you do, I can add to it 🙂

This is MY checklist when I go back – things to go stare at.  And they never get old.  Even when I lived there, going to stare at the items on this list was one of my favorite things to do.  And a way to ensure I won’t waste my precious money.

1-  Burj Khalifa
This twinkly building still takes my breathe away.  Because it’s right outside the Dubai Mall there’s plenty of space to go walk around the building & look at it yourself – without paying a dime.  Get yourself to the Dubai Mall & walk outside.  You can eat near it, shop near it, walk near it, or just sit down & stare at it.  The fountain show that plays outside the building at night will also take your breathe away.  Go check it out during the day & at night for completely different views.  Until Dubai builds their next world record setting building, this is the top spot for me.  And you absolutely need a GoPro to fit the whole damn thing in a photo, OR spend $$$$ to have a tourey sales man take one measly photo for you…

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DUBAI! Top 5 Pieces to Pack.

Dubai Fashion

There are 3 questions I get asked all the time: how I was treated as a woman in the middle east, did I feel safe AND “did you have to cover up the whole time”.

I hope I’ve done a good job clarifying, go to this post to see my answers to all 3 of those questions if you haven’t already.  (We went to the public beach on this trip & there were girls in thong bikinis & topless tanning, so I think people are comfortable doing whatever they please.)

For me, I wanted to fit in.  I wanted to act like I’ve been there before & I know what the fuck I’m doing.  There’s something powerful in that.  Also, for any destination, isn’t it fun to fit in?  Wear what they wear.  I think it makes you appear well traveled, like you know what you’re doing in you life.  So that was my goal this trip.  I stuck to coverage.  When I was living there, I pushed this boundary w my cut off shorts & dresses all the time, because I was bored of being covered & it was HOT AF.  Being that I was just visiting, I had a different approach this time.

The theme:  BLACK BLACK BLACK.  If this is the color of your wardrobe, you’re in luck!  I like bright colors, florals, sparkles, drama – so I had to go shopping.  An abaya & burka are black, so that’s the colors you’ll see a lot of when you’re out.  I asked someone why black?  Why not beautiful colors + design on the abaya?  I was told the original purpose of the abaya was to avoid attention.  Bright florals & colors will do the opposite, drawing attention to the people wearing them.  So black is the theme!

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Two Years Later – Visiting Dubai!

Dubai

The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is terrible & true isn’t it?  I remember miserable days/years in different jobs, & man did time drag.  But, of course, when you’re having fun & enjoying all the parts of your life, time goes quick!  So, would you rather a boring yet long life or short yet exciting life? Ha!  Nothing like that awful question to wake you up on a Thursday morning.

I’m back from Dubai! Long story short, it was fun & it went fast.  Which in this case is better than the alternative.

Everyone that followed along on my Instagram Stories, thank you! That was fun to create.  If you missed it, I left a lot of the stories in my “highlights” section.  Click on my Instagram profile & right below the bio you’ll see the circle for Dubai & Bahrain with the stories while I was there.

If you’ve been reading for awhile you likely know this trip was a big step for me.  Last time I was in Dubai I left in a rush & didn’t exactly leave every relationship in it’s best place.  And that feeling strengthened even while I was back in the States, especially when Wafiq decided he was going to stay & begin the immigration process.  Needless to say my relationships weren’t in tip top shape across the pond.

Last year, I decided to skip the trip Wafiq took home for that very reason,  I wasn’t ready to walk back into my past OR the lions den.

This year I was ready.  Wafiq & I are both comfortable & confident in the choices we’ve made in the past & knowing we’re in control of the choices were going to make in the future – I felt like there was nothing to fear anymore.  No judgment or conversation or threat or whatever was going to hurt me.  And I don’t mean to paint the picture as if everyone was going to do just that, but when you’re struggling & feeling weak & not confident with yourself – it’s hard to defend decisions in front of anyone.  And we lived in that space for awhile so I had to protect myself.  But this time I was ready.

Right when we arrived, I felt like I was living in Dubai yesterday, but better.  And more comfortable.   Everyone was excited to see us.  The first days were filled with food.  Family. Friends. Kids.  And Food.  I definitely did not have a chance to pick up my phone & document anything.  But because those first days were easy, I immediately knew the rest of the trip would be too.

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A Christmas Crack Recipe

Christmas Crack Recipe

If you’re not already making this recipe-  hurry up & get it going!  I posted this recipe on my Instagram last year but thought it was worth a post.  It is. So. Delicious.  And super easy!

CHRISTMAS CRACK RECIPE

Ingredients:

Popcorn

Pretzels

White Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Coconut Oil 

(the amounts you use for each ingredient is up to you! Extra popcorn? lots of chocolate?  go for it! )

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Always Do Your Best (and that’s enough)

Do Your Best

Remember when you were little and getting ready for soccer games, a school play, choir/band performance and your teacher or parents would tell you “Just do your best”?  Maybe you heard that, maybe you were already the best…

I wish we still had an adult following us around, reminding us to do our best.  I recently had a boss that filled a position where he was in way over his head.  Drowning in the position because he likely over promised what skills he actually had.  I watched him drown.  I tried my best to help him but quickly noticed he wasn’t trying his best.  He didn’t fulfill the position requirements and instead of digging his heels in and trying to do his best to figure it out, he resisted.  He passed everything he could off to anyone that would take it.  He gave it to his bosses, people under him, people next to him.  He refused to learn.  He trusted his seniority would precedent.

Over the weeks, that turned into months, I started wondering why he wouldn’t try.  What happened to trying to do your best?  Come in to work every day and do the very best YOU can do.  If it’s a mess or not everything gets done, at least you tried.  I don’t understand people who don’t try to do their best.  Why wouldn’t you?  With my boss, whatever his issue with the position was, I still think he should’ve tried to do his best at it, every single day until he’s either learned the position requirements or found something else.

If you stop doing your best, how boring? What are you learning? What are you getting better at?  In conversations, try to do your best at listening.  At workouts, try to be your best athlete.  Preparing for the week, try to do your best each Sunday.  I mean shiiiii, if you’re not trying at anything anymore you need to get a hobby you enjoy. If you’re an expert at everything, you have the wrong mindset. Find things to work hard at & be passionate about.  I hated my job once, and let me tell you – I did my very best at finding something better. At going to work every single day knowing I was trying for something better, so I felt comfortable working hard while I was there.

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Forget Cyber Monday & Try This

Asos

Thank you to everyone for your feedback on the Jury Duty post!  I can’t describe the relief it was to feel other people understand where I was coming from… The experience made me think I was alone on an island called Understanding – so thank you thank you thank you! And like I said, I’m not done with this, so stay tuned.  My wheels are spinning!  Please continue to let me know if you have similar stories, ideas, thoughts – I love hearing them!

Today, I’m getting off the serious train & into something I consider a little more enjoyable.  I become overwhelmed & disengage quickly when someone is in a constant heavy subject.  Even for me, that gets exhausting.  I need to full circle of conversation.  I also try to enjoy my life & freedoms as much as possible because I know they are not granted to everyone.

Let’s talk Black Friday & Cyber Monday.  Fuck that shit!  (Yeah right, I spent the entire weekend scrolling the internet in efforts to procrastinate all other tasks.  Procrastination does not end in college.)

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My First Dating App Pic + A Little Dating History…

Dating Picture

Last week I did something a little anxiety provoking by logging onto Facebook & scrolling through years of pictures.  I don’t use Facebook very much anymore, and have never been a die-hard Facebooker.  For a few years after graduating college I deleted my Facebook all together.  No matter how much mind control you have, scrolling through a feed of highlights from everyone else’s life takes its toll on you.  I felt myself questing decisions I was making & comparing, comparing, comparing! – so I let Facebook go. At the time it was fantastic.  Since then I’ve rarely been using it & do my best not to get sucked into scrolling through my feed.

Ok, so this leads me to the other night, I stalked myself.  I wanted to see what was up with Miss Katie in her good ol Facebook days.  Years ago Facebook used to be a place where people posted full albums of a night out, dinner, vacation, dog, friend, time at the park.  Not 1 photo, but an album of 50.   These days Facebook is more business-y? And people sharing articles.  Instagram took over photos I think.  So I stalked back to the days of albums.  I should continue by saying, I don’t like erasing past decisions, which is why I try not to delete anything that I posted myself.  If I wanted to post it at the time, that’s how I was living life! OUI!

I felt pretty good after stalking.  Solid life experiences I’ve been documenting.

BUT THEN, I came across this photo of myself on my apartment balcony and immediately remembered.  MY FIRST DATING APP PHOTO.  I think I was 21?  Somewhere around there, and guys I put so much effort into this photo! The outfit, the lighting, the smile, the head tilt!  Probably even the nails…  I remember getting this shirt for $5 at Forever 21 & I never loved anything more.

My one & only dating app picture – on E Harmony
I put myself on EHarmony.  EHarmony at 22.  I remember feeling like the guys I was meeting on my own weren’t interested in anything more than going to church with their parents on Sunday mornings OR binge drinking on Monday nights.  Not for me you know, can we land somewhere in the middle?  So EHarmony (and blind dates) were my jam.  I pretended I was on The Bachelor and had a new date every week, on Thursday nights.  I had that system running for a long time…  Thursday was perfect by the way, the date didn’t interrupt one of my already planned fun weekend nights but was late enough in the week to actually relax & enjoy the night. Highly recommend setting up a similar schedule if you’re single.

The problem with Eharmony was that no one wanted to date me.  I think I was too young for the site?  One of the dates that I landed was with this guy that met me for appetizers.  He barely spoke & I don’t think listened to anything I said.  But I was so excited for this date!  I remember that. I can’t remember why, I think because he was older and it made me feel like he had to be more mature & maybe potential for a 2nd date??  Well we ate the apps, he took me to a nearby bar, and I saw a smile for the first time of the night when he looked up for the first eye contact of the evening and asked “what my sexual preferences were”.

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What Do You Think A Shelled Sunflower Seed Is?

Sunflower-Seeds-2

Holy shit!  Almost literally. I was scared to go to the bathroom the morning after I ate those fucking sunflower seed shells.  I know that’s all you’re wondering, how was my poo poo.  Well, ladies and gentleman I’m relieved to report everything flowed normally… so far.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about you didn’t see my Insta Story. I’ve been trying new cookbooks & have recently been using the Naturally Nourished recipes.  I went for a casserole recipe the other night & noticed one of the ingredients was “shelled sunflower seeds”.  To me, this meant in-shell.  I was in Trader Joe’s googling “Shelled Sunflower Seeds” with results showing sunflower seeds, IN SHELLS.  Confirming my thoughts that the recipe had to mean sunflower seeds, in their shell.

Does baking a shell of any seed make sense? No it doesn’t. But neither did putting bulbs of garlic in green juice to cure my shingles, but it worked.  My mind told me no. My gut told me yes. To pursue & discover this new secret vegan ingredient, sunflower seed shells.

I blended about 1/4 Cup of sunflower seeds, in their shells. I did have a moment of hesitation after noticing the sunflower seed shells weren’t grinding down very well.  After persistence, I sprinkled the crumbs onto my casserole and baked.

Sunflower seed shells are a softer shell, okay?  I ate them as a child.  I know.  So I thought, maybe baking them would create a soft, crunchy crust.  Clearly wrong.

THIS WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. And likely unsafe. Therefore, don’t do it. Shelled means unshelled. I don’t understand it still, and probably never will, but what the hell, learned something new.  In my defense, in another recipe from the book it asked for “Pistachios, out of their shell” which is why I assumed if that’s what they meant w/sunflower seeds they would’ve said it the same way?

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3 Tips For Normal People Trying To Take A Pretty Picture

Good Photos

I HATE taking pictures.  I take them all the time for Instagram & my blog but it’s my least favorite thing to do.  People stay interested w/images more than a ton of writing so I know if I want my blog to be what I imagine, it has to include photos.  But it’s the hardest piece of the puzzle.  Can you be more into yourself than when you’re taking photos, trying to be pretty?  Ugh it makes me uncomfortable more than you’d imagine.

When you see pictures of me, this is typically the process. First, I hold the camera & Wafiq poses for it so he can remind me how easy it is.  He doesn’t care if other people are looking at him as he tries to act cool for pictures, he models confidently.  Once he makes me laugh enough, we switch.  He grabs the camera & tells me to do the same thing.  Boom, all my pictures.

I’m uncomfortable taking pictures & I know I’m not the only one.  Being in a picture these days means you’re likely going to be plastered on social media for everyone’s eyes.  Back in the day, a photo was shared w/family & maybe a few friends.  Now it’s all eyes on us, all the time!  The good side, having these pictures posted everywhere means we’ll easily be able to have the memory.  The best part, the memories. So I don’t let myself shy away from taking them.

There are a few, super simple tips I learned in college when pictures really started being a thing.  I wasn’t used to my picture being taken & after seeing a few horrible ones I started following these three rules for ALL photos.

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Being Thoughtful + 5 Times To Stop & Think

Thoughtful

As you may have noticed, I write “be thoughtful” at the end of all my posts.  When I started writing regularly I wanted to think of something to end with.  Something short, that I genuinely wanted readers to leave w/every day.   I thought about “be nice” or “be kind”  because there’s nothing better than a nice person, but that’s not always the case.  Sometimes, you shouldn’t be nice.  You should be strong.  You should be loud & badass & stick up for yourself, which might not be nice.   I might actually suggest “be mean”.

I came up with “be thoughtful”.  If you slow down & you’re thoughtful of the people you’re interacting with, you’ll know whether to be nice or to be mean.   No one knows what’s going on w/the people they interact with every day and no one knows you.

I think this really amplified itself for me a year ago when I was dealing w/bad anxiety.  I feel like I looked normal but was going through such a tough time in my head.  I was trying to take things slow & gentle while I worked through my anxiety, and I felt fragile.  But people didn’t know that.

One issue I had was driving anxiety.  American’s driving is the single thing I HATE the most about America.  It’s also one of the only times I use the word hate.  Moms, dads, young people, old people, men, women, they all drive like a tasmanian devil.  It’s crazy to me!  We have these huge machines we’re plowing recklessly through traffic with and have no worry?  And where are we always rushing to?  Why are we rushing?  We’re a product of our environment, American’s are glued to time.  My advice is to say fuck it & leave work early, take your time to your kids soccer game, so you can show up alive.

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