Things I love

  • ~Louis
  • ~Family&Friends
  • ~IceCream
  • ~MyKindle
  • ~CoffeeBreaks
  • ~Sparkles
  • ~Knitwear
  • ~Vanilla
  • ~AllThingsLUSH~
  • GossipGirlxoxo~
  • Chips&Ketchup~

31 December 2012


Ah 2012, how you have flown by! As NYE approaches, it's time to think about how wonderful this past year has been. I have so much to be thankful for, so here goes!
**I'm thankful because-**

*I was living in a city that was hosting the Olympics! Although I didn't watch a single event live, I loved watching the competition on TV. Well done London! 

*In September, I was able to travel to the UK to attend the wedding of one of my closest friends (now the "Mrs" in: Mr. & Mrs. M. Egan). As I boarded the plane, I thought, God, thank you so much for giving me the ability, health and funds to travel to their wedding. I still feel fuzzy inside whenever I think of their big day!

*I got to hold my amazing friends' first born, when she was only 3 days old, and kiss the towel that was wrapped around her and tell her how sweet and beautiful she is.

*When I left my hometown, I was welcomed into a bigger family, that showered me with unconditional love, coffee and cake. They have been my rocks through the past 10 years and they know who they are. This year my hubby and I uprooted again, and so I miss them all dearly!

*I somehow managed to get even closer to my school friends years after we had graduated from school, and have seen so many of them in varying locations but each time filled with excessive laughter and pride for how far we have all come.

*My family was able to provide me a life so unique and full of experiences; I'm so blessed to have a family who taught me how to travel, meet new people, help others and be strong in times of difficulty. I can't wait to see them in 2013 (inshallah!)!

*I have a husband who adores me, who wants to explore the world with me, who holds me up and advises me when I am heading in the wrong direction. And mostly, who is there to give me a hug in times of need. I love him so much. 

**And my New Year's Resolution?!**

*To be self-sufficient. Not in the sense that I will grow my own vegetables, no, but in the sense that I no longer want to live my life expecting something from others. The reason is not a cynical one such as "they will disappoint me if I expect something from them" but rather, it is a way for me to start living my life independently and without burdening my loved ones with unspoken demands. Honestly, I'm sure if I change my attitude, a lot of good will come out of it and I'll be a) more pleasant to be around, b) know what to expect of myself and strive to achieve it, c) more selfless and giving, and d) less arrogant and more understanding. Perhaps I'll listen more, take advice on board, mull it over and grow. Ask the right questions and really listen to the answer.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2013 bring you health, happiness, love, wealth, laughter and everything else you desire in life! 


28 December 2012

Weekly Wish List

Christmas is over (but all that chocolate isnt! ) and we're all looking forward to New Year's eve. I'm loving this red Miss Selfridge dress and pleated Warehouse dress for this, and future, party season(s). The black one is also lovely, but not sure how confident I'd be wearing it less than 10 days after Christmas ;)

L-R: Miss Selfridge, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse

I am a HUGE fan of flowing, baggy tops and I have fallen in love with this kimono (throw over anything) and this fitted blazer - good for office and going out.

Miss Selfridge Kimono; Warehouse Blazer

New year, new work pieces. Shirts don't have to be boring as this Asos item shows. And this Topshop jumper has a bit of bling and a funky twist to its back.

Asos Blouse; Topshop Jumper

If, like me, you carry a spare wardrobe to work (because it might rain, snow or shine) make sure it's done in style. Ted Baker have a varied and fun range of rubber-plastic totes to suit all moods. This one is just lovely with its pastel colours. What more, you get an umbrella too! Bargain.
Ted Baker

Until 2013!


23 December 2012

Diaries of a Teacher II

So I finished my second month of teaching! And my students seem to have benefitted so I'm extra pleased. 

This time round I was given the Basic English level and the lower-intermediate again. I've made more observations this month, and here they are! 


* My class sizes were smaller this month; I had 7 students in Basic and 9 students in Level 3. This meant I could spend a lot more time reviewing their work and giving them individual help. 

* A few of my Level 3 students regularly gave me written pieces to look over (homework I would assign). I really enjoyed giving them input on their written work and seeing how they express themselves. One of my favorite assignments is writing a letter to the "Agony Aunt" (ie me!) and asking for advice. 

* The Basic level does not contain much grammar or difficult vocabulary, so my students and I had a lot of time to play educational games such as Spelling Races and Pictionary. They absolutely loved this. Competition in the classroom is always healthy. Plus, I found that it helped me target problem spelling areas; for example, there were a few times that the students thought the /i:/ sound at the end of a word, example "party", was made by the letter "e" and not "y". So we were able to identify this problem area and work on it. 

* Thinking of ways to make concepts visual. For example, "what", "who" and "where" -- I drew stick people next to "who" so that students understood we use it when asking about people. I drew a little map when talking about "where". 

* As I said, I had Level 3 again this month so I was prepared for some tricky questions in the field of the Present Perfect. I was equipped with more examples that led to more elicitation of grammar and vocabulary concepts. I felt this resulted in them understanding more the first time round, rather than half-learning it and then us having to do several revision hours. 

* I enjoyed building relationships with my students, and them trusting me to help them. It really is amazing the positive impact these classes have on these students' lives. And I'm always blown away by the students who have full-time jobs and families and still manage to do the work I set them. 


* Although the Basic textbook contained no difficult grammar or vocabulary, I was still disappointed not to have a teacher's guide. I find that teacher's manuals provide invaluable guidance (especially to new teachers like myself) on how to introduce words and concepts to students. What I tried doing was building the lessons on each other. For example, first we became familiar with greetings, then occupations, then locations, etc and what I would do is a small review session at the beginning of each class. I also gave my students some dictation exercises, to tie in the concepts we had learned (family members, where we live, where we're from and so on). Drilling was key and so was repetition. 

* On the third day of my Basic course, I had a near mutiny. My students started saying how they want to hear Arabic. I stressed that hearing only English in the classroom is immeasurably beneficial but they begged to hear some words. I was trying my best to stick to my position but then one day we were talking about possessive pronouns and just before the class ended, one of my students said "but 'her' and 'she' are exchangeable, right?". I knew I had to speak in Arabic, and just a few words from cleared the confusion. 

(I did some research when I got home. I read how others had my worries - that my students would get too lazy to listen to the Arabic if they knew an Arabic explanation or translation was forthcoming. I was also worried that I'd have to find a balance and it would be more difficult to find if they got used to me speaking Arabic. One piece of advice was to explain the commands I'd use in he classroom in L1 and also give the students phrases they could use; like "how do you say X in English?". This would increase their confidence. Plus, showing them I understood who difficult it is for them would make them relax more.

The next day I boarded up some phrases and explained them in Arabic. For example, "turn the page", "how do you spell?" and "listen and repeat". From that point, I could give commands in English knowing they understood. I also decided to introduce the vocabulary by first allowing them to look at the pictures and say them in Arabic between themselves before discussing in English. This was successful. Lastly, I pointed out some differences in sentence structures between English and Arabic (eg adj before noun). After doing these things, I immediately had a responsive classroom and my students were much happier. And a happy student means he/she will retain the information better.)

* I noticed that my Basic students wrote the Arabic translation of the vocab we were learning (eg, book) next to the photo of the item. I think that this is slightly counterproductive for them, since the photo already tells them what it is. Writing it in Arabic might just lead to them trying to remember the translation rather than the photo. So, one day I brought in a worksheet of body parts (arms, legs, head, etc) and asked my students to write, in Arabic, what the word sounded like. They loved this. 

* In terms of Level 3, it took me about 2 weeks to build a rapport with them. At first, I found some of them to be disruptive, in the sense that they went off topic at every chance they could. They consistently asked questions of why they had to do exercises or why I didn't speak Arabic with them. Getting them to follow instructions was difficult, but I think that was down to them not knowing my teaching style and me not adapting it to them. Also, I found them to be too "eager" - barely would I be through a sentence or question and they'd already have suggestions. In time though, I gained their trust and they were more willing to listen. 

* I introduced phonetics to my Level 3 students at the end of the course, and to be honest, I'm not sure how beneficial it will be since, as they pointed out to me, Google will read the word out to you anyway -_- 

What I will continue doing in my next courses:

 * Timelines, pictures on the board and more exercises to highlight problem areas. For example, since the start of my current course, I've boarded up jumbled up sentences on the board and asked the students to put them in order. Found this to be beneficial because sentence structure is very complicated for Arabic learners. 

* Speaking English naturally - the urge to simplify or shorten my sentence has been great but I am ultimately teaching my students how to correctly express themselves and so have to make sure I am expressing myself correctly. 

What I want to change/adapt:

* More warmers and more educational games. 

This month:

I am teaching Level 3 (again) and Level 2. Looking forward (and so far enjoying) the challenges of Level 2 (lower-intermediate).  

Watch this space for the next reflection! 


PS Here are some websites I found really helpful when thinking about the whole L1/L2 dilemma:

21 December 2012

A Seaside Memory

A memory.
Of Hodeidah.
A strip of beach, Al-'Urj.
Of family holidays.

A memory.
Of driving down the straight road
On a Toyota Land Cruiser,
To the Red Sea.

Singing cartoon theme tunes, while
Abu Bakr melodies floated out
Of the cassette player. 

A memory of
Passing by women, selling camel milk
In plastic bottles.
Passing by pink flamingos,
Perched on their stilts.

Beyond. The sea,
Meeting the horizon.

A memory.
Of running into the water screaming delightfully,
Footprints imprinted side 
By side with the sea shells.
Of being called back to shore for breakfast.
Of racing each other for food.

A memory.
Of a fish. Caught that morning, steaming 
On a piece of aluminium foil.
Its skin grilled to a crisp,
Its flesh melting in our mouths,
Its bones teasing our eager fingers.

What did it taste of?
Of charcoal, smoky and black.
What did it taste of?
Of salt water, dripping from our wet hair.
What did it taste of?
Of sand, making its way from our sand covered feet.

Red tea.
Sweet and hot.
Washing down the chewy bread,
The soft fish.

The tall palm tress,
Their leaves inhaling, exhaling.
The sea breeze.
Us children, hiding behind bushes,
Changing out of our swimsuits.

What did it taste of?


14 December 2012

Weekly Wish List

~LUSHous Loving~

For anyone who knows me, I HEART LUSH. As soon as I have a steady income, I am stocking up on my favourite products. Especially during the winter time, when the weather is wreaking havoc on our skin, hair and nails. So here's a [long] list of the products I have tried, loved and am now recommending. 

You will be converted. 


*I have used many, many other Lush products so if you want more recommendations just leave me a message :)
Dream Cream
 * Dream cream -- by far the BEST body lotion you will ever come across. Say good bye to dryness and hello to soft skin, for hours and hours. The smell is a little strong for some but delectable nonetheless. If you have ezcema or any dry skin conditions, buy this.
Sympathy for the Skin

* Sympathy for the Skin -- another favorite body lotion of mine. This one smells of a vanilla milkshake.
The Olive Branch

* The Olive Branch -- this shower gel will make you happy. It smells of orange, olive and something else that somehow touches your soul (you think I'm crazy, try it).
Flying Fox

* Flying Fox -- pure jasmine and honey. The most luxurious shower gel out there. And worth every penny. Softens and gently perfumes the skin. *sigh*
Ocean Salt

*Ocean Salt -- this is a bit of a funny body scrub because it takes a while to get used to the fact that a lot of the salt will escape your fingers and end up on the shower floor. However! It is worth persisting with because it is a really lush scrub. Can also be used on the face.
Angels on Bare Skin

*Angels on Bare Skin -- this is a really great facial scrub. I usually buy a pot and use some every few days. It leaves skin clean, soft and refreshed. You only need a little bit and a pot can last a couple of months.
Fresh Farmacy

*Fresh Farmacy -- this is a soap-like cleanser for your face and is good if your skin borders on the oily side. My skin is quite dry, but I found that using this and then using a good moisturiser was perfect. It makes your skin squeaky clean!
BB Seaweed

*BB Seaweed -- Lush are notorious for their fresh face masks and it's no surprise why. When I was younger I used to make my own face masks using yogurt, honey etc and so I was so happy to see a cosmetics company doing the same. I love this face mask because it cleans my skin but leaves it soft and supply. What I do is wash my skin with Fresh Farmacy, then apply this for 5 - 10 minutes and wash off.
Brazened Honey

 *Brazened Honey -- this is my other favorite face mask. I usually use this one if I've been treating my skin badly or if I'm having a long week and need a pick me up. The honey in this has so many benefits plus almonds to scrub. Smells divine too. Follow same routine as above :)
Eau Roma Water

*Eau Roma Water -- I personally hate toners that feel oily or synthetic. This one just feels like water with rose, great for dry or tired skin. After cleansing (using any of the above), spray this onto a cotton wool and wipe your face. You'll feel instantly refreshed. Do this twice a day and your skin will thank you for it.

*Imperialis -- I have been using this moisturiser for about 8 years. And I never get bored of it. It's perfect for dry skin or if you think you have combination skin. It's probably too rich for oily skin or during the summer. Again, a little goes a long way and a pot usually lasts me about 2 months (used twice daily).
Vanishing Cream

*Vanishing Cream -- I must admit that I only tried a sample of this once, but it made an impression. It's lighter than Imperialis and also really lush!
Honey Trap

*Honey Trap -- forget about any other lip balm and use this one. Not only does it smell of honey, vanilla, sugar and just every other yummy thing ever, it will make chapped lips a thing of the past. A staple of mine. 
Silky Underwear

*Silky Underwear -- like baby powder for adults. Great after a shower or a bath. Makes your skin soft and smelling warm. And if you're too lazy to moisturise, you can get away with using this as a moisturiser.
Lemony Flutter

*Lemony Flutter -- for problem cuticles, knees and elbows. Rub some of this on before you sleep and wake up to super soft hands, elbows and knees. Good for feet too. And smells of lemons :)
Handy Gurugu

*Handy Gurugu -- this is a fab hand cream. Easily absorbed and effective. Good for winter time.
*Ultrabland -- I think in my past life I must've been glitter, because I just love the stuff. I used to put glitter on my eyes, on my cheeks, glitter lip gloss, you name it. And this little make-up remover would vanish any trace of sparkle from my face. The best make-up remover in the world in my opinion. Rub it on, put a cotton pad under hot water, squeeze the water out and then wipe the Ultrabland with the pad. Make-up gone.

*Rehab -- I am a slave to my ghds and my hair suffers for it. So every once in a while I need something so full of hair loving ingredients. I reach for Rehab. It can be a bit drying to the scalp, but if used every 3 washes or so, makes a huge difference. Hair is stronger, shinier and happier. I always come back to this one.

*Daddy-O -- I was in a Lush store once and the check-out lady had beautiful shiny hair. She was a brunette so I asked what she used. She recommended this. Although meant for "blondes" it is wonderful for brunettes too. Makes my hair really soft and shiny. And smells of voilets and bergamot. Just delicious. I have been using this for over a year now and really notice a difference.
American Cream

*American Cream -- I'm in love with this. Perfect conditioner. Not too heavy but still effective. I find that if I leave it on for a few minutes, my hair feels like new. I use this with Daddy-O and can't stop touching my hair. Plus smells like vanilla.

*Retread -- if I need a stronger conditioner, I use this every once in a while. Lush conditioners don't make your hair soft in the shower, like other brands, but once you dry your hair you really noitce the difference. I used to use this once a week or every 4-5 washes for a little boost. Wonderful.
Soft Coeur

*Soft Coeur -- this is the only product in this list that I have not tried. But every time I am in a Lush shop (which is a lot) I have to go smell this. It smells of something you want to eat. I can smell it from Amman, that's how amazing it is!

11 December 2012

Market Buzz

Newish Uggs, 10JD
On Wednesday night, market vendors work tirelessly to pitch up their stalls and lay out their goods. They do so because on Thursday and Friday, they participate in one of Amman's most famous markets. The Abdali Flea market.

My work is literally a two minute walk from the market so last Thursday, a couple of colleagues and I decided to have a little wander down there.

What. A. Market. It was mad. Not chaotic mad, just random mad. I've lived in Sana'a and London so have seen some market polar opposites but this was unique. Firstly, I hadn't realised the massive area the market spanned so didn't get a chance to see everything. But you can find everything. Clothes. New and old and used. Shoes. New and old and used. Toys. New and old and used. Bags. New and old and used. Kitchenware. New and old and used. Vegetables. New and new.

And everything was cheap as chips. You could hear the vendors competing, screaming "talat leerat!!!" (three liras or three JD). And, honestly, they could've been referring to anything!

I only managed to take a few pics bit here they are. I'll try to go again and spend more time browsing the goods and researching how low the prices really go!

People browsing some of the available clothes. Tops for as little as 1JD.

"Dior" boots for 22JD
Used Ugg boots = 4JD

This is where Ronaldo shops...

Tights, anyone?
Baby cot

"Barbie" dolls

View from the other side of the market

09 December 2012

The Cock and The Pearl*

I've recently bought Aesop's Fables. I thought it would be nice to share these stories every month or so with you, since they are just so insightful. 

The versions of these fables are taken from "Aesop's Fables" by Aesop (Mar 2011) [here on Amazon]

Enjoy :)



The Cock and the Pearl

A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hends whensuddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. "Ho! ho!" quoth he, "that's for me," and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. What did it turn out to be but a Pearl that by some chance had been lost in the yard? "You may be a treasure," quoth Master Cock, "to men that prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck of pearls."

Precious things are for those that can prize them.

*Aesop's Fables

06 December 2012

Weekly Wishlist

Brrr. A warm coat is great for this weather but defenses must be reinforced by the way of layering. I've been trawling the internet for some cosy pieces to beef up (literally, metaphorically) your winter wardrobe :)
Oasis notebook

* Ever have inspiration hit whilst on the Tube or bus and found nothing to write it in? This cute notebook will ensure you keep your notes in one place while adding a bit of sparkle to your purse. Plus, who said shopping lists had to be made on post-its?

* This may not be glamourous but, THERMAL UNDERWEAR (hilarious images found here). Yes, it works. It's light and discreet and keeps in the heat. I have tried Uniqlo's Heatteach, and was not too impressed (although maybe I picked the wrong item). The advantage of Uniqlo's range is that there are so many options, styles and colours, so you might be more likely to find something that will fit under your shirt or dress. I personally love Primark's thermal underwear range. I have a vest and a long sleeved top, and they both keep me warm. The price isn't too bad either :)* If, for some reason (and it better be a GOOD reason) you've not been shopping at Uniqlo every winter, then get down there immediately. They have the best selection of basic knitwear known to man. Uniqlo usually do offers during the winter which makes it even more worthwhile to stock up on knitwear there. My favorites are their Merino wool jumpers (and they are lush in every colour) and their cashmere jumpers. Both ranges are warm yet light. Personally, I have 3 Uniqlo jumpers (an orange Merino, a cream Merino and a black cashmere), which have survived the washing machine and kept me warm for the past 5 winters (seriously). You'll be warm without looking like you've gained 10lbs.

* Coffee dates and lounging at home will be that much more exciting if you wear a Penguin jumper. Period.
* This lightweight cardigan from Oasis will transform your office clothes and go with your jeans too :)

* Not usually a fan of fur, but this Topshop coat just looks tres adorb!!$hero$ 

* And, although it's raining and the thought of anything less than boots makes your toes cry out, these shoes are just to die for. River Island definitely got it right.

* Lastly, stock up on winter tights - guaranteed to keep you warm and stylish! I usually head to Topshop, Miss Selfridge and H&M.


~Next week, my LUSH winter favourites :)

04 December 2012

The Hormonal Black Hole


For quite a few years now, I've noticed that I have days where I'm just not myself - I'm a stick of dynamite waiting to explode. A hurricane waiting to collide with you. A storm gathering its get the picture.

I had some of these days recently, and I randomly commented to a friend that I had been in a black hole but I was now out of it. And I then realised that the term "black hole" was unbelievably apt. And I began thinking about the characteristics of these horrendous vacuums that swallow you whole.

You can usually tell, from the minute you wake up, that it's gonna be "one of those days". Seriously, from the second your sleep laden eyelids are opened. And you hope that nighttime will hurry up along so that you can leave this feeling behind without too much collateral damage.

You pick up the pieces of whatever energy you do find and get out of bed. Your partner may smile at you or even blow you a kiss...and you think "What are you so HAPPY about? Can't you see I'm MISERABLE?!" (but of course they can't! They can't read your mind). Alas, it's too late. You have subconsciously decided that your anger shall be projected at them...FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

Now, these days are filled with adventures. Every wrinkle is noted and magnified and dramatised and you know you're now on the other side of that hill. You spill your morning coffee on your favourite pjs, or worse, in your cereal. You stare at your wardrobe and wonder why, after hundreds of pounds, you still have nothing to wear.

Should the phone ring, you don't pick it up. You stare at it and shout in your head "leave me alone!!". Messages are left unanswered. Emails pile up. You're convinced that friends that do text you supportive words are doing it out of duty and those with practical advice are being unsupportive so might as well keep their advice to themselves.

You think, maybe retail therapy will help (or cheese). Then you realise that you were supposed to get your finances in order. Actually, your whole life in order. And then it all feels too monumental anyway. The voices in the evil black hole persuade you that you're no good at anything. You check the time and wonder why it's only 3pm when you've been awake for what feels like days and days.

A lunch reminds you of your lack of commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Everything on TV is dull, or turns you into a sobbing mess. You can't focus on a book. Moping seems like the answer, and you hope someone will notice that YOU'RE the victim. But, honestly, if they offer solace, you'd just yell at them for not "getting it".

A concerned question of "are you ok?" is met with evil stares, unconvincing shrugs or the dreaded "I'm fine" response (why oh why does it seem like a good response?!). Thing is, sometimes you know nothing is *really* wrong and this sensation will pass. Unfortunately, that just exacerbates the situation in your head, compounded with the already swirling question of "what is wrong with me?!".

Now, these feelings may be similar to how sufferers of depression feel. But, the catch is, this black cloud lifts after 24-48 hours. And you wonder why on Earth you were mean to your poor partner. And why you still haven't recognised these hormonal patterns?

You wake up the next morning, sing a tune and make some toast. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...