My Photography

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Christmas card in February...

Othman and I were recently wonderfully surprised with a Christmas card from my aunt, uncle and two cousins in Brazil! Though technically Brazil is closer to Morocco than the States (I think?), two inefficient postal systems made for some veeeery late Christmas wishes. Sent December 4th, received by me on February 26th. Crazy.

Thank you so much Tia Camila! I've been sick this week (again, sigh.) and it made my day much brighter!! Hoping we'll be able to visit you all very soon.

My mom is actually on her way to Brazil right now, as my grandfather is doing very poorly and has been in the hospital for three weeks or so. I wish I could be there too. All my Brazilian family is very much in my thoughts right now. Saudades

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A glimpse into life in Casa

I'm always looking for good ways to describe where I live to my family and friends that have never ventured to Casablanca. Pictures and descriptions can only do so much, and I just happened to run across a video on YouTube which does a good job showing what traffic is like here, and some glimpses of downtown Casa. 

Of course it doesn't exactly show the highlights of the city, but is quite representative of what you might see driving around. We don't live or work downtown, but around minute 1:03 on the right-hand side you can see the church where I have choir practice every Monday evening. The McDonalds at 2:15 is right across the street from Lycee Lyautey--the giant French middle/high school where Othman's mom teaches science and his brother attends.

The video is to raise awareness of how hard bikers have it here. To be fair, many coworkers at British Council have regularly cycled to work and have recounted that it's much less scary than they'd imagine. I, for one, have never been tempted to try it! 

Here's a second video which does a better job of showing the highlights of Casa, and what mid/upper-class Moroccan teens (kinda like many of my students!) might like to do in their free time. ;p

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6 months of marriage, and Othman shows his artiness!

Can I just say I have the sweetest hubby? I really do. Othman has been fully supportive my artistic endeavors of late, and is honestly quite the artist himself. He draws really well and when he was small he took painting classes. There are more than one of his paintings hanging on his parents' walls, and they're not bad at all. We've talked more than once about how he should draw something for me to paint, and after a discussion last night here's what he came up with:

A very trendy sea turtle, with fish, seaweed and
manta rays in the background. What's not to love??
As he was drawing it and showing it to me in its various stages of completion I was more or less astounded at how great it was, and have already started painting it! He's very imaginative, and we  complement each other well because while claims he doesn't have the patience for the painting part (not that I really believe him), he's much better than me at coming up with what to paint!

On a slightly different note, in my family we're all about giving cards to each other on birthdays, anniversaries etc. Not all the time, but you could say it's definitely in our family culture. That is not the case in his family, and if I get one card from him for every 2 or 3 things we celebrate (anniversaries, Valentine's Day etc.), I'm content. I was quite happy with the card I made him for Valentine's Day (and wasn't surprised not to receive one back), but the card he gave me yesterday for our 6 month anniversary totally showed mine up! While I was still at work he broke into my "art box" and painted this little treasure for me:
He didn't find any brushes except one and did everything with
that really big brush, which makes it all the more impressive.

How sweet is that? And while he was at it, invented a new sort of paint palette for me, with the Sidi Ali water bottles ubiquitous in our house.  

So happy to have an artsy hubby, even if he tries to play it down. To celebrate our six month anniversary we got sushi (are you noticing the trend yet??), he made me this beautiful card, and I made us a cake! I'm happy. =]

Monday, February 17, 2014

A gloomy winter Monday...

...made much better by a new book I can't put down (a Valentine's splurge on myself as I was getting Othman's gift), oh-so-good Harrod's tea and London tote from a mother-in-law freshly returned from a school trip to the city, and Olympics on TV. 

My Valentine's card for Othman, it was fun to make! 
We had a lovely night together last Friday, went out for seafood 
and juice, which doesn't sound particuarly appealing stated like 
that, but was very enjoyable! ;p

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Coconut fish!

In my last post I mentioned how I recently made my mom's delicious coconut fish. This recipe is a tried and true favorite especially for guests. Othman's parents loved it when they dined at our place last! The combinations are endless-- my recipe is very different from the original one of my mom's, but here's how I generally make it.


-2 filets of fish (fresh or frozen but something white with a light taste)
-2-3 leeks (or one onion), chopped finely
-2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
-a bunch of fresh button mushrooms, peeled and diced
-1 can coconut milk
-salt and pepper
-fresh herbs (I used parsley, cilantro and dill)

In a large saucepan or extra large high-sided skillet, saute the leeks with the garlic in olive oil. Stir frequently so that the leeks don't burn. When slightly translucent and fragrant add mushrooms and saute until they've shrunk a bit. Add coconut milk, salt, and pepper, and gently place fish filets side by side. Do not stir. Turn to medium-low and cover lightly. Do not stir. Let cook for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked and falls apart easily. Remove from heat and throw fresh herbs on top. Serve over rice. 

I haven't really found a GAPS-friendly alternative to the rice, since this is very sauce-y, and since I don't have a problem with rice I haven't tried too hard. Definitely let me know in the comments if you find a good substitute.

My mom's recipe involves chopped tomatoes, and zucchini is wonderful as well. It's really just the onion/leeks and the coconut milk that are necessary. She even changes the fish for chicken pieces sometimes! One way or another, it's an easy and delicious dinner that's worth a try!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Olympics, dinners, and a special birthday!

Today is my mom's birthday! Although she's freezing in the northern US I'm sure today will be a good one for her, since of course the Winter Olympics are on! 

Growing up, my parents made the wise decision to rarely have a subscription to cable or satellite TV at our house, and us kids had movies or nothing, or we could play with the bunny ears to get fuzzy local channels. I don't remember being particularly upset about this counter-cultural lack for the most part, though I'm sure I complained at times. The more I am exposed to TV now as an adult and to other families who have the TV on constantly, the more grateful I am that my parents kept it out of our house and our heads! Without going into the junk that most TV shows are, I've personally witnessed on more than one occasion the impact commercials can have on children. Marketers advertise to children to get them to get them to bother their parents, and wow does it work. Othman and I enjoy certain shows and watch them online without any commercials, which makes them much more palatable. Thanks mom and dad!

Yah that looks about right.

Though TV was far from being a constant companion, there were certain periods when it was necessary in our household-- the World Cup and the Olympics being first among them. I remember with particular fondness the winter Oylmpics of 1998 in Nagano. As a 9-year-old I was enamored with Tara Lipinski (probably in no small part due to the American Girl magazine!). All us kids were homeschooling that year, cooped up inside our house in cold New Jersey, so we watched LOTS of Olympics. For years I'd bother my older brother with a mash-up of two different commercials from NBC that year, and still remember the Dave Letterman Late Show jingle. Interestingly I don't remember any of the sports other than ladies figure skating, but the commercials stuck with me. Hmm. Nevertheless, since then I've preferred the winter Olympics to the summer Olympics, by far. In 2012 I had fun watching the London games with my sisters, but was really yearning for figure skating, speed skating and bobsled in my heart! 

My memories of Nagano consist of commercials and these girls!
I've been following these past few days with some streaming sites, while Othman tries to get the satellite dish and decoder we borrowed from his parents figured out. (We've been perfectly happy till now to live without TV. Do I see history repeating itself?) As I watch and root for countries like the Netherlands (where big bro lives now), Poland (in honor of old family friends), France and Brazil (for obvious reasons), the US, (depending on who they're up against-- love seeing the little countries win! But USA vs Russia is an easy pick, for example), and even Morocco which has its first winter Olympics delegation this year, I feel connected to my family in frigid South Dakota who are surely watching and cheering at the same time as me!

I meant to talk more about my mom than that, but my love for the winter games got me carried away I guess, oops! 

On a different topic with another big nod towards my mom, I want to showcase a couple dinners Othman and I have had lately that are directly thanks to her!

The first is a dish that most anyone who has ever eaten at my house has had some variation of-- coconut fish (or chicken) over rice. Due to my allergies I've adapted the recipe to work for me, and it's delicious and easy, and definitely a favorite chez nous

Basmati rice we brought from France, yummm. Too
pricey here! Technically it isn't GAPS-legal, but as I
don't have problems with it, I do eat rice every so often.
The second we had last Saturday, needing a light dinner after having had a snack late in the afternoon. Pao de Queijo is easily my favorite Brazilian food, and my mom was wonderful enough to give us a few boxes of Pao de Queijo mix to bring back to Morocco with me. I'm extremly lucky that it's naturally wheat-free, and though I doubt it gels exactly with GAPS, it's so worth  the cheating! This was the last box that I had forgotten about, which made eating them even better. I used my mom's trick of kneading the dough into oblivion, and they were beyond delicious. Paired with the Brazilian Guarana we found last week, I truly felt I was in Brazil again!! Or close enough at least. =]

All in all, thank you mom for teaching me how to make delicious food, for raising me without a brain like this:

Othman posted this today on Facebook, I just had to use it!

and for being the supportive and understanding mother that you are! I love you! Happy happy birthday!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happiness is...

...seeing how my little baby turtle has been growing since we got her!

(I love our little modern dinosaurs.)

..finding a bit of Brazil in a Moroccan supermarket!! I literally almost cried sipping it... I'm Brazil-sick. 

...blooming flowers on the windowsill.

...keeping the window open all morning in February.

...working on my painting and practicing for choir tonight with YouTube.

...having a long conversation with a college friend I hadn't talked to since the wedding.

Since I work till 5 pm on Saturdays, Mondays are my weekend. Sometimes they get pretty lonely, since Othman is at work all day and about 30 minutes before he gets home I leave to give a private class and then I have choir till almost 10 pm. But today is a good Monday.