December 31, 2009

Global Good Luck Traditions for the New Year


After last NYE I became interested in good luck traditions after my Latin sister in law and her family introduced me to eating 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck for the 12 months to come. I can definitely say that a couple of my grapes were far more sweet than the others but all in all a satisfactory year. Here are a few other traditions I came across from a random site: 

  • Austria: Green peppermint ice-cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover for dessert.
  • Brazil: Lentil soup on the first day of the new year because lentils are believed to signify wealth.
  • Denmark: You would be happy to find a pile of broken dishes outside your house because people save their old dishes to break outside their friends' doors. 
  • China: Every front door is painted red. 
  • Germany: People leave a bit of every food on their plate until after midnight to ensure a well-stocked larder. 
  • Vietnam: Preparations are made in advance by cleaning the house, polishing silverware and pay off all debts. Smart people. 
  • Wales: Opening the back door and shutting it at the first stroke of midnight to release the old year and it's bad luck, then opening the front door on the twelfth stroke to welcome the new year and it's good luck. 
  • Sicily: Eating lasagna, but avoiding all other noodles because they will bring bad luck. 
  • Spain: Eating 12 grapes, one with every stroke of the clock for every month of the new year. 
  • Peru: Eating a 13th grape to ensure good luck, I don't know about this one... 13?
  • Rome: Festivities for three days then exchanging gifts such as honey to ensure sweetness and peace, money for prosperity and lamps for a year filled with light. 
  • Thailand: Throwing water on one another to bring good rains during the coming year.
  • USA: A masked ball and a kiss at the stroke of midnight with the mask symbolizing evil spirits from the old year and a kiss for the purification into the new year. 
  • Norway: Indulging in rice pudding where one serving has an almond within. Guaranteed wealth goes to the person who has that lucky almond.

I wish you all good luck for the coming year, and I hope you are able to celebrate this night in the fashion that brings you most happiness!

December 28, 2009

November & December '09 Playlist

I've been listening to the most random songs lately and haven't had any time to find different fun tracks, but luckily a couple of my music muses helped me out biggers with this playlist! x











When I Go - Slow Club
Nothing Compares to You - Dan Kelly
Always Like This - Bombay Bicycle Club
Monster Love - Goldfrapp
Bunny Club - Polly Scattergood
How Deep is Your Love - The Bird & the Bee
Thinking Drinking Sinking Feeling - Slow Club
Forever Young - Youth Group
Blister in the Sun - Nouvelle Vague
Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Pursuit of Happiness - Kid Cudi ft. MGMT, Ratatat
Watch the Sun Come Up - Example
Society - Eddie Vedder
Down - Jason Walker
Yellow - Jem
Before it Breaks - Brandi Carlile
That Year - Brandi Carlile
Satellite Heart - Anya Marina
Doesn't Mean Anything - Alicia Keys
Gloomy Sunday - Billie Holiday
I Am Strong - Polly Scattergood
Something to Believe In - Aqualung
Wuthering Heights - Josh Pyke
Alive - Kid Cudi ft. Ratatat
Tik Tok - Ke$ha
Feelings Gone - Basement Jaxx
Supernova - Mr Hudson ft. Kanye West
Runaway - Tom Novy ft Abigail Baliey
I Don't Believe You - Pink
Don't Stop Believin' - Glee (the video for this is so good)

jones the grocer

For those days you just need an escape from Abu Dhabi (to those of you who need that every day I'm sorry... AND you're in luck), find your way to Jones the Grocer. It's located in a pretty random place but it's like a hidden gem. With a contemporary atmosphere, Jones the Grocer is where you can go to eat, have tea or coffee, and peruse the organic products and fresh breads and pastries from the bakery. For you cheese lovers there's also a cheese room, bring a jacket because it's freezing and you'll want to spend some time in there.

They describe their menu as "international with an Australian influence." Not so sure what that means but I had the Pumpkin & Feta Salad and the Wagyu Burger and tried some of the Pumpkin soup. I would recommend the soup as an entree because of how large the serving is, but the salad was very refreshing and the burger was divine. The beef is so tender and combined with the cheese just melts in your mouth and satisfies your taste buds with such rich flavor. It's a pretty penny but it's so worth it.

Apparently it's extremely busy at lunchtime during the week, but trust me once you experience it you'll find that right time to get your jones the grocer fix!

December 26, 2009

Raw Chocolate Pudding




I must say I impressed myself after cooking a simple but delicious Christmas feast. The menu (I know, I'm just assuming you care): baby spinach salad with an orange-cinnamon vinaigrette, an applesauce-rubbed turkey, sweet potato & marshmallow casserole, and dried fruit and quinoa stuffing with fresh cranberry sauce and gravy on the side. Wanting something different for dessert, I made a recipe I was recently introduced to - chocolate pudding that doesn't require any cooking! Let me just state that if you don't care for cooking, this post will not excite you. The secret ingredient that gives it the great consistency is none other than the perfect avocado! I can't stress enough how important it is for the avocados to be fresh, otherwise you'll have a foul aftertaste. I adapted the recipe slightly by adding flavored maple syrup extract, if you can find it I highly recommend it. 


Ingredients:


Music: anything Glee
Mood: looking for a quick and satisfying dessert

¼ cup pitted medjool dates, soaked
¼ cup agave nectar or honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup natural flavored extract (optional)
¾ cup mashed avocados (1 ½ avocados)
¼ cup & 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa or carob powder
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted with skin removed (for those who can handle the nuts)

In a food processor, process dates and agave nectar until smooth. Add the avocado and cocoa powder, mix until creamy. Add water while mixing slowly until you reach your preferred consistency, you might have to add more than ½ a cup. Add the vanilla and maple syrup extracts. Pour mixture into serving cups and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts for an extra crunch. Store in the refrigerator. Servings: 6

Need Some Friends? Try Bahrain :)


Apparently Bahrain made it to #1 on the world's Friendliest Countries list. The data was found by "The Expat Explorer Survey" done by HSBC Bank International.... if that even matters. I don't really find that too hard to believe, the only thing I think of when Bahrain comes to mind is the friendly social life everyone is part of. Then again, considering it's about one sixteenth of a freckle on a zoomed in map, it's size and lack of EXTRA exciting things to do at all times (I know, I know it's getting better) makes a social life necessary for survival.

The rest of the list is:

#2 Canada
#3 Australia
#4 Thailand
#5 Malaysia
#6 South Africa
#7 Hong Kong
#8 Singapore
#9 Spain
#10 USA

Apparently "the UAE received some of the poorest scores on the integration scale" alongside the UK...  that's just perfect...

December 18, 2009

Michelle Danner Acting Workshop *Update*

I had previously mentioned an acting workshop I’d be attending in Dubai held by well renowned acting coach Michelle Danner. Saying it was such an amazing experience is an understatement. I can honestly say I learnt more in the 4 days with her than I did in the 4 years I studied acting in college. That’s really sad isn’t it? The two classes she taught were On Camera Audition Technique and the Actor’s Golden Box. We really covered so much information, we got to work with scripts and have mock auditions that were recorded. We also experienced a set of different exercises to open ourselves more emotionally, which I think was pretty life changing for a lot of us. Additionally, we analyzed acting techniques and choices actors made in some films/ plays. It was all so helpful and I'm sure I'll carry the notes I wrote in my mind wherever I go. I’m hoping Michelle finds her way back to Dubai sometime next year because I am definitely up for a round two and I know I speak on behalf of all the wonderful friends I made in her class.

Among the many films that we should all have in our database, this is a list that Michelle gave us to watch:
  • On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan
  • Sling Blade, Billy Bob Thornton
  • El Mariachi, Robert Rodriquez
  • Crimes & Misdemeanors, Woody Allen
  • Naked, Mike Lee
  • Marathon Man, John Schlesinger 
  • The Grifters, Stephen Frears
  • Reversal of Fortune, Barbet Schroeder
  • A Face in the Crowd, Elia Kazan
  • A Place in the Sun, George Stevens
  • The Great White Hope, Martin Ritt
  • Sophie's Choice, Alan J. Pakula

6th Dubai International Film Festival


It's the second film fest I've experienced in a span of 3 months and just like the first I wish I watched more films. My stay in Dubai the past week was probably the most hectic week I've had in a while so it gives me peace of mind to convince myself I had an excuse for only watching 4 films. These films are Brothers, Amreeka, City of Life and La Teta Asustatda (The Milk of Sorrow).

Brothers was great, I had no clue what to expect in the beginning but am always up for watching a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal. Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire are also part of the cast. I was mostly impressed by the eldest daughter who is about 8 years old, she should be recognized for her performance.

I had been hearing about Amreeka for a long time so I'm glad I got to finally watch it AND have the opportunity for a Q&A with the director, Cherien Dabis, the casting director and the two main actors. Cherien Dabis was full of life and seems like such a cool person to work with. I have to say the grandma was hilarious, if you're from Palestine/ Jordan/ Lebanon or any country nearby you're practically watching your own grandma. They are all the same! One of the best parts is when she calls her daughter in Illinois to check up on her after hearing about an earthquake in California, how typical.

City of Life directed by Ali F. Mostafa is sort of like Crash a la Dubai with the "every person can change someone else's life without being aware" type thing. I'm so glad that this kind of film was made because it will encourage other filmmakers to tackle similar themes and convey them to the public. Everyone always needs that push, especially here in the Arab world where being the first to raise certain issues is not always easy. The cast was pretty impressive too, Natalie Dormer, Jason Flemyng, Ahmed Ahmed and The Narcicyst (who I never heard about till now). I'm not going to lie it was funny watching the "spoilt Arab boys" hitting on the foreign girls at the club 400.

I should actually say that I watched 3 and a half films because I walked out of La Teta Asustatda (The Milk of Sorrow). I'm sure it's a great film but I guess I wasn't feeling too appreciative and just had a long day. From what I gathered, thousands of women were raped and murdered in South America in the 80s and 90s and apparently a type of disease is passed on to women who suffered during this time. Fausta, the main actress who is actually very pretty, has this disease and is living a paranoid life so she inserts a potato in her vagina to protect herself from anyone who tries to rape her. There was an actual shot showing her cutting the roots of the potato, which was growing inside of her. It's really sad she had to do that... and sad I had to see that... don't know if I can eat a potato again. I spose I should be more grateful...

Act Up - UAE's First Playwriting Competition *Update*


I was able to attend Act Up at the jamjar in Dubai. The place is actually really cool, a stage on the far end and practically a carpet of bean bags for the audience to relax on and a bar on the side, what more do you need right? With my piece being survival tips to living in the UAE, the lady performing it divided it, and performed a tip between each of the skits. It was interesting and weird to see something I wrote being performed. It has definitely made me want to give writing a shot though. I was lucky to get some exposure for it in Emirates Business 24/7, in the article "Life, love and class wars inspire Dubai Playwrights."

December 5, 2009

Gold Class vs. Regular Cinema ie village


Last week I had the opportunity of watching New Moon (is anything else showing?) in two completely different theatres, and honestly feel like it wasn’t the same film. First in Gold Class and second in a regular cinema. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Gold Class “option” means that you basically pay around $26 for a ticket but get an exclusive experience and sit in a theatre filled with lazy boys. Before entering the theatre you have the option of ordering the regular confectionary goods or actual meals/ latte/ iced coffee/ tea style. The theatre obviously cannot take as many people as a regular cinema, which is great. You get served your order as the previews go up and if you need anything else throughout the film you can press a button on your chair and a waiter will come. It’s pretty much amazing onwards because even if the film sucks you can snooze comfily…. I was tempted to sleep. Of course considering I had been counting down the days to New Moon I didn’t let myself give in to dreamland.

Second, the regular cinema. It started off on a great note with some kid bumping my latte out of my hand. At least he picked it up after it fell all over the side his thob. After the Gold Class experience, I felt like I was watching it with villagers. I don’t know why 90% of the viewers took it upon themselves to quiet down the crowd… it got to the point where it sounded like a helicopter was landing on top of us.

People were talking throughout the whole film and would cheer whenever Edward and Bella kissed. Is that really necessary? At one point when Jacob tried to kiss Bella (yeah I’m just assuming you watched it) and she moved away some guy actually yelled out “you should be thankful!!” #1, I’m not sure what gave him the impression he was at home. #2, the fact that he was actually giving a frustrated opinion during New Moon made me question his sanity… and my safety. #3 you’d honestly think the girls would be the ones who were more involved. I guess guys here in the UAE share soft spots to rejected werewolves. That’s fine. He clearly didn’t get the memo that it’s just a movie though. To add to the embarrassment, viewers would randomly scream at different moments and somehow that would be hilarious. People can be so daring when the lights are out.

I don’t think I’m going to shell out $26 every time I go to the cinema, so if it’s Gold Class or the village I think I’ll wait till movies are out on DVD…unless it's something good... you know... NOT Harry Potter or any other Twilight film :p

As for the movie, to start off with reaaally subtle with the full moon in the beginning. The second book was my least favorite, but I think the movie did it justice. It’s great to see all the amazing visual effects they were able to use with the higher budget. Thank God Jacob ditched the wig. And I don’t hate Kristen Stewart, sure I’m a little jealous she’s involved in such a cool franchise but if Bella’s supposed to be a really haunted person then she fits the role perfectly, even with her weird breathy reactions and awkward arm movements. Does anyone else think Edward’s nipples are a little questionable? Also I do think a bit more reaction from some of the characters wouldn’t have hurt. How normal is it that Jacob can just bounce effortlessly into Bella’s room before she knows he’s a werewolf? And Edward could have been a tad bit happier she trekked out to Italy in what seemed like a minute to save him. Just maybe. Does anyone else think Jasper gets way too little credit? Love him.  

December 1, 2009

World Aids Day!

"by respecting and protecting ourselves and others we can stop the spread of HIV and end HIV prejudice.


5 things you can do to respect and protect:

1. find out the facts about HIV and talk to your friends, family and colleagues about HIV- make sure they know the reality, not the myths.

2. know your HIV status: get tested if you have put yourself at risk.

3. always use protection.

4. if someone tells you they are HIV positive, treat them with respect and don't tell others without their agreement.

5. wear a red ribbon as a symbol of your support for everyone affected by HIV, and to raise awareness."

world aids day 

Flourless Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies


There's nothing that makes me want peanut butter more than watching Brad Pitt savor a spoon of it in Meet Joe Black. I'm assuming I speak for myself there... or maybe not. I've had a pretty ongoing obsession with peanut butter for more than a year now. First it was creamy peanut butter, then it was Wholefoods' honey roasted peanut butter that's freshly ground and worth gold to me, and now it's just any organic crunchy peanut butter with honey drizzled on top (because Wholefoods doesn't deliver to the Middle East).

If you like peanuts, there's so much goodness that comes with them. While peanut butter doesn't beat chocolate for me, it still melts in your mouth and is a great snack to get your energy back up. A great source of protein and delicious with apples. What I suggest doing is getting a tablespoon of it out and sealing the lid.... with superglue, then putting it back in the fridge because while it's filled with great nutrients, it's also full of fat and you don't want an overdose, even if it's the good kind of fat.

I decided to try out a few recipes using peanut butter and came up with this yummy one:

Ingredients:


Music: The Seed 2.0 - The Roots
Mood: energetic


¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup agave nectar or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup organic unsalted peanut butter
¼ cup flaxseed meal 
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
¼ cup unsalted peanuts chopped
¼ cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Warm the applesauce and in a bowl dissolve the sugar in it then add the vanilla extract and peanut butter.  In another bowl combine the flaxseed meal, salt and baking soda then mix them into the wet ingredients. Add in the chocolate chips and chopped peanuts. I used a spatula to make sure it was combined well, it wasn't that fun and I might have gained a couple arm muscles. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Since no flour is used, the mixture can be quite sticky so I use two teaspoons to scoop out the batter and place on a greased pan. Bake on the middle shelf until lightly golden and slightly puffy around 12 – 14 minutes. Servings: 12 cookies.

I hope you enjoy them!

Opposite Sex Friendship, a Myth?


I’ve been asking this question for a while and thought I’d share some views on it. The question at hand: can boys and girls be just friends?

It’s something to think about because I keep getting different responses. I have personally always gotten along well with boys and find that hanging out with them can be so drama free. I know I speak on behalf of many girls when I say that. The thing is, is it possible to keep these friendships with guys completely plutonic? Also, if a boy is nice to a girl does it automatically mean he’s interested in more than a friendship? If a boy is friendly to a girl, how is she supposed to know if he wants to hang out and appreciates her friendship or if he has other intentions?

If in fact she starts assuming he has other intentions but nothing has been said, how does she let him know she's not interested in a discreet way just to avoid any awkward moments? It would be nice if a code existed that you could mention to let someone know from the start if it’s a yay or a nay.

There have been times when I’ve enjoyed a boy’s company and have made every imaginable comment that I’m not interested in a relationship with him, like “I’m not interested in anyone right now,” or “I’m at a place in life where I want to be single,” and the boy will still hang around. This gives me the impression he realizes our relationship is not swaying in that direction and that he genuinely wants me as a friend. Suddenly though, he’ll just stop talking to me, in which case I’ll assume he thought there was hope then realized it wasn’t going to happen and decided not to waste his time. Of course by the end of this I end up being the rude unworthy one (not sure how that happened when I made myself clear).

This is too frustrating… is that the only reason boys will go out of their way to be friendly with a girl? If a guy is friendly should we assume otherwise and not waste any of our time making a friend then losing him if we aren’t interested in him? What is the best way to let a boy know you’re not interested but that you enjoy his company and that he honestly shouldn’t be hopeful because it ain’t happening? Is there even a way or can we just not be friends?

November 27, 2009

A Toast to Being Thankful!

I hope you all had such a happy Thanksgiving, and wish you Eid Mubarak. May God bless you with happiness and good health always xx

November 24, 2009

Introducing my Gluten-Free Banana Nut & Date Muffins


So I've been experimenting with different ingredients to make muffins. I was so excited to make them without butter and have them just as moist. These ones specifically are gluten-free and egg free, which I made specially for a friend with allergies.

You're probably thinking wth is Quinoa Flour, it's basically flour from the Quinoa grain, I was only able to find it in an Organic store. I hope you can find it! There's something about it that's magic, I took these muffins out of the oven so many times and they did not deflate at all. Since I use a lot of liquid ingredients, I bake it at a lower temperature for a longer time, you want to make sure they are the right moistness but not doughy.

Make them for such a scrumptious tea time treat or great for breakfast as they are high in fiber and filled with nutritious ingredients. Note: be prepared for feelings of greed and possession. 


Ingredients:


Music: I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
Mood: you've got the time to bake

Dry:
2 Cups Quinoa Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbs Ground Flaxseed
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ cup chopped Walnuts
2 chopped Dates


Wet:
3 mashed Bananas
¼ cup Yogurt
½ cup Unsweetened Applesauce
¼ cup Honey or ¼ cup Agave
2 tsp Vanilla


For Crumb Topping (optional):
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Rolled Oats
2 tsp Canola Oil


Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Using your own muscles to mix, fold the dry mixture in batches into the wet ingredients. I’ve been told avoiding an electrical mixer for muffins is a better choice because they come out fluffier… you can be the judge of that. I just think it’s one less thing to clean up really. Cover and put aside to make the crumb topping which really gives it that extra umff but it’s just as delish without. Oil your tray (I use a cupcake tray because I prefer the smaller size). I use a spray Pam, but you can oil it by using Canola Oil and wiping the tray with a paper towel. Sprinkle some flour evenly in the cups so that the muffins don’t stick. Pour the mixture into the cups, around halfway full and sprinkle the crumb topping on top. Bake for around 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center. Servings: 16 

November 21, 2009

Want to Fly? Try Acro Yoga


When I heard of Acro yoga, I had no idea what to expect, all I was told I would need would be a partner and an open mind. That still didn’t help much.

With around 12 of us at the workshop, we started with a circle ceremony, sitting with our knees to knees. We did a couple stretches and poses on our own and used the person on either side of us for other balance poses, which was beautiful. I’ve never experienced yoga with someone else, but this practice teaches you to trust and use each other’s bodies to balance and move gracefully while synchronizing your breath. Trusting takes practice  as well, now a day we have so many guards up constantly  to protect ourselves, so it was so liberating to find that trust in your partner and be able to balance or lose balance without feeling the need to open your eyes.  After the flow we went through some flying poses that I never even imagined I’d be able to do, and ended it with a wonderful savasana that involved giving your partner a chance to relax from the practice using elements of Thai massage.

All in all it was a great blend of the spirituality of yoga, the dynamics of acrobatics, and the kindness of Thai massage. While everyone in class worked together, you realize that no pose is impossible; it just takes balance and concentration. It’s genuinely a beautiful practice that you should try, working together with others in yoga brings you together as one, providing feelings of tranquility and union that are not always easy to find on a daily basis.

November 19, 2009

You have not showered yet if you haven't experienced this....




I just got treated to a very special bath, a Moroccan Bath to be specific. I’m kind of embarrassed it took me this long to discover the greatness of this experience. I feel like a new person…. I might actually be one. For those of you who have had one you know exactly what I’m talking about, for those of you who haven’t, let me tell you.

First off, remember the slightly “full” (lets be pc) woman in a yellow dress in the beginning of Aladdin who still thinks he’s rather tasty? If she was inspired by a real person, it would be this lady who escorted me to the changing room, and who to my lovely surprise would be giving me my bath. So I’m ordered to undress except for my undies and wait for the actual bath room to steam up. She’s just that kind of person you don’t question, if she says undress, you undress.

Of course, knowing my luck the steam decides not to work so she steams it up using the shower. The room steams up perfectly and I’m told to sit on the massage bed inside. She disappears and comes back wearing pretty much nothing but some silk lingerie-esque black mini dress.  We soon find out that the shower hose melted, so there we are in this small room, her trying to fix the shower, me sitting alone on the bed…. Awkward would be an understatement.

We start, despite the lack of steam, with her rubbing some olive soap on me. It was very smooth. I honestly just let go at that point and felt like I was three years old all over again. I mean it was hard not to with some big mamma holding on to and pretty much bathing me. To rinse me off I sat on a block and she used a bucket that she kept filling with water. Even though I was in a pretty fancy spa, I didn’t mind the steam being broken or the shower hose melting because I felt like I was getting the treatment the proper old-fashioned way.

I couldn’t help but have some mini internal panic attack during the next step. She started scrubbing me with some glove-like sponge. I seriously thought that she was trying to rip my body to shreds at that point. It’s a good thing she was friendly, she made it a comfortable experience… as comfortable as being scrubbed down vigorously by some stranger can be. This step is probably the most important slash most disgusting of them all. The amount of dead skin that gets rubbed off your body is disgusting. I’m pretty sure I lost 2 pounds of dead skin after that experience. The worst part is she KEPT telling me to look at the dead skin rolling off, as if having someone else see all that nastiness wasn’t bad enough. Through all the scrubbing, rinsing, having her huge chest stuffed in my face, I did feel a little violated… not gonna lie. 

The best part, yes surprisingly there was a best part, was the cucumber-mint cream she put all over me at the end. The smell was so fresh and so smooth and for once she was treating me with a bit more delicacy, which was a nice change after being virtually beaten up.

After my final rinse I was able to relax in the changing room and admire my new layer of skin, which fyi is as smooth as a babies butt. I know my experience was pretty dramatic, but I think it was as such because I had no clue what to expect. If you can afford it, I would definitely recommend getting a Moroccan bath at least once a month. Kind of feels like I waited 23 years to have a proper bath. Yeah, I know that sounds gross, but don’t even think about judging me if you haven’t experienced it :p

November 9, 2009

Crackberry Users Check this out!



Unfortunately this is what it has come to.... Yeah I know, you wouldn't be caught dead with it, but you can't say it wouldn't be prettty convenient!

November 8, 2009

Acting Workshops Coming to Dubai from LA!

For all you acting thesps in the Arab world there will be a workshop that shouldn’t be missed! Michelle Danner who is the artistic director of Edgemar Center for the Arts and Larry Moss studio in LA is coming to Dubai to do 4 days of classes. These are the same classes she teaches in LA and around the world. She also coaches stars such as Chris Rock, Christain Slater, Selma Hayak etc...


The first class is called "The Golden Box" it is a 2 day 6 hours a day technique break down class. She explains how to break down a script and personalize your role and bring it to life. The second course is the On-Camera intensive. you will be given sides from various scripts to go over and you will perform them in front of Michelle and a camera and then be critiqued on how to interact better in auditions and behind the camera. 


There really aren’t enough acting classes here and considering these classes are taught by professionals from Hollywood where they have experience in all aspects of the industry, it is well worth the money! Even though I majored in acting, I’m always looking for more classes to take, there are so many techniques and styles of acting to learn and each experience gives you the food to grow more and more as an actor. These classes are for people of all experience levels; even if you’ve never acted before what better way than to start off with a strong foundation. Ultimately, it'll be a great experience, so why not?


Click here for more details. 

Local Playwriting Competition Update



A while ago I blogged about a local playwriting competition in Dubai held by the Dubai Drama Group. I decided to give it a shot and submitted a monologue about survival tips to living in the UAE. Surprisingly it got chosen to be performed- of course AFTER I told everyone about it, I received an email from them letting us know that they chose all eight entries... I’ve convinced myself it’s still exciting and will be funny to watch something I wrote be performed. The performances will be during the Dubai Film Festival on the 10th & 11th, if any of you are around town come watch!

October '09 Playlist





Flashback - Fat Freddy's Drop
Mississippi Freestylin' - Slow Train Soul
Come as You Are - Caetano Veloso
Morena Mia - Miguel Bose y Julieta Venegas
Sofrito - Mongo Santamaria
Mi Swing Es Tropical - Nickodemus
Maria Jose - Federico Aubele
Oh Boy - Montana & Rossini
Till There was You - Rachael Starr
The Mambo Craze - De Phazz
They - Jem
Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby - Dinah Washington
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
New York - Paloma Faith
The Richest Man in Babylon - Thievery Corporation
Fleur Blanche - Orsten
Union Square - Stephane Pompougnac

October 20, 2009

A film you can't miss!

I didn't get to watch as many films as I would have liked at the Middle East International Film Festival, but out of the ones I did watch I can't get over No one Knows About Persian Cats by Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi.

The film centers around Iran's underground Indie Rock scene and more specifically, a  duo trying to flee Iran's strict laws to Europe to play their music freely. (This description doesn't do it justice).

From the plot to the acting to the soundtrack, everything is pieced together perfectly. Keep your eyes open for it, you'll be just as obsessed.

October 12, 2009

"When life slows down, it's easier to see the beauty in it," from my dearest Dylan. So so true.

October 1, 2009

Bring out the Pink Ribbons!


Among the many reasons I love the month of October (my birthday, Halloween, my birthday), I respect it on another level because it celebrates a very worthy cause: Breast Cancer Awareness.

Even though you hear about it daily as it is one of the most common cancers in women, a lot of people don't care to give much attention to it. There are a lot of ways you can help out especially with research by just giving a bit of your time. The Army of Women site provides great information on how to get involved. Please check it out, if you have time to read this you have time to sign up, you will make a world of a difference.

Being aware of breast cancer is vital as it can sneak up not only on women, but men too when you least expect it. While I hope none of you ever cross paths with it, learning more and checking yourselves never hurts.

Best wishes for good health to all xx

September '09 Playlist












Scenic World - Beirut

One More Night - Stars
Submarine Symphonika - The Submarines
Horny Hippies - The Dodos
The Start of Something - Voxtrot
Nantes - Beirut
Us - Regina Spektor
The Pelican Narrows - Caribou
To Build a Home - The Cinematic Orchestra
Tell My Pa - Joshua James
Eyes - Rogue Wave
Comme Des Enfants - Coeur de Pirate
Paper Bag - Fiona Apple
Oh - Micky Green
Ramparts - John Frusciante
The Windows in Paradise - Sufjan Stevens
Come Around - Rosi Golan
Reasons to Love You - Meiko
Fondu au Noir - Coeur de Pirate
Walking Dream - Natalie Walker

September 21, 2009

5 Healthy Rules for a Flat Belly!

I see so many people punishing their bodies in order to achieve the flat stomach of their dreams. It doesn't have to be this way! People need to trust health specialists a little bit more. They don't have some evil intent to get you fat.

I found this article on Woman's Health: "The 5 Rules of the Belly Off Club" and honestly it's rare that I find such a clear and succinct plan to start you up. You'll be able to maintain or lose weight at a healthy pace and with the right exercise feel much more energized and satisfied with your body.

Note: Please don't overdo the weight loss once you can tell that it's working, no woman should be confused for a little boy. I'm all about having a bit of meat to add those feminine curves, I just don't find a protruding belly one of them :)

September 19, 2009



I hope Ramadan was a great experience for everyone and wish you happy festivities this Eid!

September 18, 2009

boys n girls: Classic Scenario II



A fact of life I've grown to learn (yes according to my 22 years) is that in many cases whenever you start using pressure and force to make two things fit together, something is amiss. Examples are seen everywhere from trying to force:

  • your jeans to close after thanksgiving dinner
  • the wrong key in a hole
  • the glass slipper on the ugly step sister
  • an incompatible boy and girl
Scenario: Lovely girl, great guy, don't really get to know each other that well, relationship loses any ounce of illusionary libido it might have had but for some reason it's so hard to leg go.

As two separate individuals you're great and everyone seems to think you're both catches. That's why the last thing you want is to lose this person everyone seems to love. Over time you hardly see this person but soon start to live through the very few fun times you shared (most of which were at the beginning when you didn't know each other that well). You hope that things will get better and expect wonderful loving times you will have in the future. I blame Disney.

Suddenly, it's not only you, everyone around you starts noticing how sour the relationship has become but you're just not ready to let go. All you can think of are those fun times you NEED to fulfill, which will prove everyone wrong. The "unfinished business."

Sorry to say this but unless your relationship is a remake of Casper the Friendly Ghost (unlikely), unfinished business does not apply. If you're not compatible in the beginning, get ready for a long and frustrating search to find the road to love and there's no time to build a fake one that's sturdy enough. Of course there are exceptions. Please don't convince yourself you're one of them, let it get proven to you. Don't make excuses for the other person either, suck it up and leg go. Trust me, I know all too well that it's not easy and it takes a lotta discipline. Ultimately, if it's meant to be in the future then it'll happen without any force at all.

You're probably reading this with a grain of salt because you would NEVER try to indirectly force someone to like you or force a relationship to work.... You'd be surprised how easy it is for even the most logical of us to come up with reasons to back up the unhealthy, psychotic obsessive acts we are capable of!

September 14, 2009

To the Growing Oenophile

      I've witnessed that showing off your knowledge of wines can either be a means to impress or a moment to dread. How many of you have been on that date where you're on a role, only to find yourself shot down when the wine list comes along? You know you can always give the sommelier the "I trust your recommendation" nudge, that's of course if you're fine with living out of a can of tuna for the rest of the month. Unless you were raised with it being a mandatory ingredient to every meal, becoming a savvy wine aficionado does not come without a couple thousand experienced taste buds.
      For some reason an exceedingly large number of students grow a fondness to the fermented grape juice at some point of their college career. Maybe it's the swanky glass or the fact that Greek and Roman Gods lived by it, but the "urge-to-feel-more-classy-and-sophisticated" bug doth bite many. For the majority of these students the most affordable ailment would probably range from $5 - $20. I clearly remember forcing myself to drink wine with my friends and family, claiming that it added SO much flavor to my food. I had no clue what I was talking about. Don't know why I'm acting like I do now.
      While I feel rather special to say that my wines of choice are Riesling and Zinfandel, I am no novice by any account. Until I get the luxury of spending my days traveling from one vineyard to the next, I have to take the advice from people who do know their wine. That's why Cor.Kz the iPhone application with over 530,000 bottles of wine with ratings and reviews from the experts is a great accompaniment. Also, if you have the time before buying the wine you can visit nataliemaclean.com where you can pair wine with food.
      Remember, drink in moderation. Don't take the whole wine is good for you out of control. Studies have shown that the resveratrol in red wine is said to fight cancer, lower blood sugar and have other great cardiovascular effects... in mice. We're hoping the same goes to humans.

September 10, 2009

Blackberry I love you, But You're Bringing Me Down

You might find this absolutely ridiculous, but I have gotten myself into a very serious love-hate relationship. I have always tried to hold the upper hand in my relationships and well I've completely failed this time. If you get nauseous easily don't read on. I don't want to lose readers... if it's not too late. 

So you're still reading... you either feel sorry for me or are worried you might be in the same boat... which is sure to sink. On a serious note, I can't be the only one who has fallen hard for their blackberry. I'm just completely dependent on it. It's not a one sided relationship, I just know that I need it much more than it needs me. It's that damn messenger that keeps me holding on. 

I'm more than fine with being taunted by my family about how rude I am for constantly giving more attention to my blackberry. I have consciously become impolite for it.

Recently I've come to realize that it has turned into somewhat of an abusive relationship. I'm actually injured! I have diagnosed myself with "Blackberry Thumb," although I do have a record of misdiagnosing myself (I thought I was lactose intolerant for 4 years before I went to a doctor and was told otherwise). According to an article on Techrepublic (who goes there?), "Blackberry Thumb is a stress-related injury due to over-use of any pda or smartphone... the condition is caused by highly repetitive, forceful thumb movements with the thumbs held back from the palms. The symptoms are pain in the thumb and region around the base of the thumb and hand."

Whenever I'm in a conversation on blackberry messenger I type as though I'm helping someone unlock a code to a nuclear bomb that is set to explode any second. It's like I'm afraid someone's feelings might get hurt if I don't tell them what I did that day as soon as the message is read. I'll go as far as replying at a traffic light and I've seen worse. Honestly, who's feelings get hurt by those "read" notifications... Unless you've just asked someone if they love you for the first time (which is stupid to do over bbm anyway) you should be alright if they take some time to reply. Alas, what I thought would be exercise for my thumbs turned into pain.

It's that red light... I'm spellbound by it. It can be seen no matter what you put on top of it! I try so hard to ignore but it's useless. If I put my phone on silent it's even worse. I'll hold my breath and stare at the blinker constantly to wait for it! At least my latest blackberry is honest, my first one was constantly blinking for no reason. It also got run over by a car so I guess we're even.

To all you Blackberry users, try not to stress your poor thumbs too much. Take breaks, let people get over the time you take to reply.

Anyway, despite it all I'm happy and if that's the case why should I let go. I already know I'M the one who's going to get hurt, I'm fine with it....


Where can I get help?

September 9, 2009

I've been obsessed with penguins for such a long time now, before all the penguin movie craze and NO I'm not trying to be Jessica Alba. That was just annoying. Anywhose Surfs Up is definitely one of my favorites. Who can resist these ickle penguinos!!! If you haven't seen the movie your life is worthless...

September 6, 2009

Can't Get Enough of The Beatles?

I know I can't. Those Beatles just don't stop do they. 9/9/09 should be dedicated to the band as a remastered version of their catalogue will be released. According to the remaining "Lads of Liverpool" this release is the closest reproduction to what their music sounded like in the studio. 
It doesn't even stop there- you can now find your inner Lennon with the new release of "The Beatles: Rock Band."After an unhealthy addiction I formed with Rock Band (sharing the guitar was out of the question) I was able to let go before I formed "anti-social Rock Band" syndrome. I think I'm starting to feel the itch to go out and buy it with this new release though...

Praying in Style

Why not pray in the sixth largest mosque in the world if you can? Yesterday I paid a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Nahyan Mosque which can accommodate up to 40,000 people. Large would be an understatement. With it's 57 domes and 4 tall minarets made of white marble, it feels like you're entering Aladdin's world... which is like a dream come true for me.
The mosque has such a zen and pure vibe and it was lovely to pray in. As for my sister-in-law who isn't Muslim she felt it to be such a great learning experience after the mini tour we gave her. There are tours throughout the week for non-Muslims, which I highly recommend... just at a cooler time of the year, as feeling sweaty is not supposed to be part of the experience. Also, be sure to check the guidelines for dress code before visiting. I did find it a little unnecessary to note that people aren't allowed to wear swimwear or show any pda though... if you don't know this already you have problems... to say the least.

I've attached some photos we took...they don't do it justice at all:

September 3, 2009

August '09 Playlist




Mr. Pitiful - Matt Costa
Let Your Love Grow Tall - Passion Pit
Folding Chair - Regina Spektor
Little Bit - Lykke Li
Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
Any Fun - Coconut Records
Hearts on Fire - Cut Copy
Lift Me Up - Moby
Not Fair - Lily Allen
Skeleton Boy - Friendly Fires
Dance, Dance, Dance - Lykke Li
In for the Kill - La Roux
I Want You - Peter Bjorn and John
Saint Jerome - Coconut Records
Just the Past - Peter Bjorn and John
All Love - Ingrid Michaelson
Courtyard - Coconut Records
Curs in the Weeds - Horse Feathers
Over the Rainbow - Melody Gardot
Like Lavender - Horse Feathers
Time Flies - Lykke Li

Thanks to the Cinnamon Trees & the Bees


For those of you who know me well you know I can't live without cinnamon. I had this obsession even before I found out about all of its health benefits (which was today).... I can add it to everything, from sweet dishes to savory ones, it's just always that missing taste to complete my meals. Considering a similar obsession with honey, I've recently been liking the combo of both together a bit too much. I found a list of benefits that the combo can help with by either making a paste or mixing some cinnamon and about a teaspoon of honey with warm water:

  • Arthritis
  • Reducing cholesterol
  • Curing cold
  • Curing infertility
  • Upset stomachs
  • Strengthening immune system
  • Promotes longevity
  • Better digestion
  • Reduces itchiness (of insect bites)
  • Skin care
  • Hair care
  • Dental care
  • Weight loss
How often do you find natural remedies that taste so good? Stock up.