10 Favorite Instagrams Right Now

I have always been slow to get with the social media trends.  It took me about three years to join Facebook.  The same thing happened with Twitter.  Instagram was no different.  I remember my sister showing me her beautiful photos, and I would ask why I would want to put more photos online.  Now here I am with a blog doing just that.  I also am completely obsessed with Instagram, so here are my 10 favorite Instagram accounts for the moment.

justinablakeneyinstagram1. @justinablakeney:  Justina Blakeney’s work is so inspiring.  She is a true artist.  I can’t speak to her aesthetic enough.  If you love bright colors, fun patterns, and eclectic mixtures, hers is a definite account to follow.  Check out her website here.


 

lhcalligraphyinstagram2. @lhcalligraphy:  Laura has a way with letters that I truly envy.  Some of her videos make it look so easy and flawless.  Her photos are the icing on the cake.  I may have to try my hand at calligraphy soon.  Check out her Etsy shop and follow along!


 

humansofnewyorkinstagram3. @humansofny:  It is said that a photo speaks a thousand words.  Humans of NY truly capture that saying as they travel around NY and the world sharing the stories behind the faces.  I am always excited to see their new posts.


 

thethingssheseesinstagram4: @thethingsshesees:  Meghan is new to the blogging and Instagram world, but it seems as if she has been doing this forever.  Her photos are always airy and perfect.  And don’t get me started on her custom dreamcatchers!  I can’t wait to get one for myself.  She is truly inspiring to me as a new blogger.  Check out her site here.


 

notyourstandardinstagram5. @notyourstandard: Kayla has the life most dream to have.  She travels regularly all over Europe, she always looks beautiful, and she attends the most amazing events!  Her Instagram account is just full of beautiful photos of the world, delicious bites, and her personal style.  I also love following along with her blog.  She posts amazing recipes that are easy to recreate.


 

bbassinstagram6. @_brittbass:  I cannot express my love for abstract art enough, so it is a given that I instantly fell in love with Britt’s prints and original pieces.  Her whitewashed website is the perfect backdrop for her fun and colorful prints.  I love how you can see every brush stroke on the canvas.  Follow along for more creativity!


 

ohannieleeinstagram7. @ohannielee:  I actually first found her blog, and I knew I had to follow along with her adventures on Instagram as well.  She has only be blogging for a little over a year, but she has an aesthetic of a true pro.  I love her eye for the littlest details.  I also have a soft spot for fellow expats, so hers was a no brainer for me.


 

brickyardbuffaloinstagram8. @brickyardbuffalo:  If their name isn’t enough for you to fall completely in love, I am sure the photos will sell you.  The Brickyard Buffalo is a pop-up shop, and I can’t get enough.  Everything is completely affordable (and adorable).  But don’t take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself!


 

randomactsofpastelinstagram9. @randomactsofpastel:  Champagne, pastels, and pastries…oh my!  I sometimes just sit in awe at how she keeps her color palette so on point.  Alyssa never wavers from her signature pastel colors.  Even in her blog, her consistency and aesthetic are applaudable.  And anyone who loves sweets as much as I do is definitely one to follow!


 

thetrottergirlinstagram10. @thetrottergirl:  So you may have heard of Trotter Magazine, but you may not have heard of Eva Tsang (aka The Trotter Girl).  Her Instagram is just full of minimal beauty with a nice neutral color palette…and lots of coffee!


 

mustafaseveninstagramBONUS @mustafaseven: This is pretty much the crème de la crème of all Instagram accounts in my book.  His photos are out of this world, and they make me want to experience it all through his lens.  Everything he puts online makes my jaw drop, and I have troubles getting it back to its regular position.  Follow along for the awe inspiring beauty that is our world.


So, there you have it my 10 (with a bonus) favorite Instagram accounts.  Which accounts spark your creativity?

XOXO,

maria

 

 

Recipe | Arabic Coffee (UAE Style)

arabiccoffeeAs I mentioned during Coffee Breaks, Arabic coffee has a taste all its own.  It is one of those tastes that builds on you until you have acquired quite a love for it.  I don’t know what I loved about it more, the taste or the history.  While we were sitting under the stars during a special trip to a bedouin camp just outside Abu Dhabi, I watched closely as our hosts followed the ancient recipe.  It seemed something out of a fairy tale for me.  I have always had an intense interest in the Middle East and its culture, so this was a definite high point for me.  As we listened to the stories of a life that seems so distant to the glittering lifestyle Abu Dhabi exhibits today, I could feel a connection to that past.  We enjoyed the coffee and conversation, and I wrote it all down as my dear friend told me the process of making Arabic coffee-UAE style.

Only in complete silence, you will hear the desert. – Bedouin Proverb

Recipe | Arabic Coffee (UAE Style)

You will need:

  • Dallah (Arabic coffee pot) — Or use your own coffee pot
  • Finjaan (Arabic coffee cup) — Or use your own espresso cups
  • 3/4 cup Arabica beans (ground)
  • 1/3 cup cardamom (ground)
  • 1/2 liter of water
  • Sieve
  • Optional seasonings: saffron, cloves, rose water, etc.
  • Serve with: Dates

Steps:

  1. Boil your water on the stove in a saucepan.
  2. Add the ground beans straight into the boiling water.
  3. Boil for about 10-15 minutes.  You should start seeing small bubbles on the top.
  4. Add the cardamom directly into the mixture.  Let this boil for another 5-8 minutes.  This is also when you can add your other optional flavorings.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Pour your mixture through a sieve into your dallah (or coffee pot).
  7. Serve your coffee in the finjaan to your guests (or use a small espresso cup) with dates on the side for a sweet treat.

Let me know how your recipes turned out.

XOXO,

maria

 

Santiago in Color | Black & White

I started this series, because I felt inspired by the colors that surround me daily here in Santiago.  Although black and white can be considered boring, I couldn’t disagree more.  These colors are classic, and they show up everywhere in Santiago.  It was hard for me to edit it down to just these photos.

lamoneda-santiagosantiago-doorsantiagoanimals

Black: secrets, unknown, comfort, barriers, power, control, intimidation, authority, discipline, self-control, sophistication, elegance, and confidence

santiago-sculpturesantiagomuralblackandwhite

White: perfection, purity, new beginnings, reflection, openness, cleanliness, protection, encouragement, peace, calm, comfort, hope, and isolation

elephantssantiagostreetart mariaantonieta^So, this last photo is actually a cafe in Mendoza, Argentina, but I had to include it.^

What colors inspire you?  Read more about the psychology of black and white.

Himalayan Salt Crystals


This weekend Derek surprised me with an unexpected gift.  We went to Noche de Colores in the city this past weekend, which I will touch on more in another post.  At this event, there were several artisans from the local shops from around Barrio Italia.  This part of town is known as the hipster haven of Santiago, so you can imagine the industrial look of this barrio (neighborhood).  Anyway, a beautiful and calming light caught my eye as we were perusing the different boutiques.  It came from the Heima stand which was full of glowing crystals.  The man told us they were salt crystals.  I fell in love.  He told us all about the natural healing benefits of these beauties, I took a card, and we continued on our way.  Then the next day, Derek surprised me with my favorite lamp for my birthday!! So, of course, I researched.

himalayan-salt-crystal-lampsaltcrystallamp2salt-lamp-ions^My desktop wallpaper is from an artist that I love – Parima Creative Studio^

What on earth are salt crystals?

Salt crystals (a.k.a. Himalayan salt) are simply crystals that formed from salt.  People use this type of salt for cooking, beauty treatments, natural healing, and so on.  The larger crystals are sometimes used to make salt crystal lamps.  It is usually pink, orange, red, or white.  You can also make your own salt crystals!  This is a really fun activity for kids, so I am excited to try this in the classroom.  After all, this is the UN’s international year of crystallography!

What’s so great about them?

  • Salt crystal lamps purify the air by emitting negative ions.  They attract moisture from the air and then evaporate it with the warmth from the light inside the crystal.  This is beneficial for your health, because many other daily items such as your computer, smartphone, TV, fridge, etc. all carry positive ions.  This helps to create a balance in the air to improve its quality.
  • Reducing stress is another fantastic benefit to having a salt crystal lamp.  Research has shown that negative ions in the air can actually improve your mood and energy levels.  People with anxiety, insomnia, migraines, attention deficit, etc. are especially recommended to own one.
  • They are an inexpensive and beautiful way to add some color to your home.  Even if you aren’t in to all the natural healing methods out there today, you can still find a reason to have a salt lamp.  These are very beautiful, and they last forever.  The glow is so calming, and they make perfect night lights for kids’ rooms.

Where should I put it?

It is up to you where you would like to put your new lamp, but there are a few suggestions for ultimate benefit.  If you work from home, you should put one in your office by the computer.  I put mine on my desk for these photos, but I usually keep it on my nightstand.  I like to blog in bed, so having the salt lamp near by helps to balance the ions in the room.  Also, I watched a Youtube video that recommended using the salt lamp as the only light before you go to bed to ensure a proper night’s rest and restoration of energy.  Another site says to leave the salt lamp on at all times of the day.  I don’t do this, because we are not home all day.  However, if you work from home, this would be a good suggestion.

saltcrystallamp

What else can I do with Himalayan salt crystals?

Himalayan salt crystals are used for so many things.  They are natural, and many people have taken notice of their healing attributes.  You can cook with them, use them for at home beauty treatments, utilize a slab for a serving tray, create jewelry, detox your body, decorate your home, or think up your own unique ways of incorporating them into your life!

himalayanpinksaltSalt-Plate-Giveaway_1saltcrystalsbeauty^endives, olive oil, & himalayan salt | salt plate | lavender soap how-to | calm dead sea salts^

Have you used Himalayan salt before?  What did you do with it?

XOXO,

maria

 

Say What?

rumi-quoteRumi and his poems have always been a huge source of inspiration for me.  He is so spiritual, and his words truly make you want to do better and be better.  I chose these specific words, because they are so perfect for things going on around here lately.  Sometimes we feel we are too busy to do the things we truly love.  While I love teaching, I also have a strong passion for the arts and different cultures.  Lately, I have been taking more time to make, to dream, to write, and to access my creative side.  It is so important to fulfill all areas of your life, and these words aptly exemplify that.  If something is exciting, we should just go for it.  If a project speaks to you, find the time to pursue it!  What excites your soul?

XOXO,

maria

DIY | Fresh Floral Arrangement

diy-floral-arrangement

This weekend was beautiful and full of birthday activities.  My friend and I planned an afternoon of girly glory.  We hit the floral stands, picked out a few blooms, made some lunch, poured some wine, and created our own floral arrangements.  **Please note:  I am not a professional florist, and this was just for fun!**

What You Need:

  • Greenery
  • Little Blooms
  • Big Blooms
  • Garden shears (or scissors)–Cut all at an angle before using!
  • A beautiful vessel
  • Water
  • Wine (optional)

I must have flowers always and always. – Claude Monet

Step One: Mix and Match

Go to your local flower stands or shops, and just pick what catches your eye.  Check around on Pinterest to see what kinds of arrangements and flowers you like.  You can ask them for help as well for a good combination.  You need to get some greenery, small flowers, and larger ones.  Hold them together to see if you like the combinations.  I always like to get some buds and some open flowers as well, because I think it makes for a more garden fresh look.  When you bring them home, make sure you cut the stems at an angle and remove all leaves that fall below the water line (about half of your vessel).

flower-arrangement

Step Two: A Base of Greenery

Make your base of greenery.  You may notice different lengths, because I prefer an airy and asymmetrical arrangement. The evergreen look stood out to me this time, but there are so many more options based on the season!  I want to try something with succulents and sword fern next!

greenery arrangement-greenery

Step Three: Add the Small Blooms

A mix of smaller flowers with larger ones always gives a fresher feeling.  It also helps to fill in dead space.  I always thought you needed to start with the larger flowers and fill in, but that isn’t the case.  For my arrangement, I chose small berries and gypsophila (baby’s breath).  These can be stuck inside the greenery and poke a few around the outsides as well for an airy look.

floral how tofloral arranging

Step Four:  The Big Boys

Once you have your greenery and small flowers in place, it is time to add some more texture with the big flowers.  We really needed some color in our white apartment, so I went for colorful ranunculus and white roses. To add a bit more visual interest, choose some buds and some open flowers.  This allows your arrangement to change over time.  Fill these flowers in the dead spaces as the main attraction.  I added the water last, because I didn’t want it to be too high.  Using a funnel or watering can makes this really easy.

how-to-floral-arrangement2how-to-flower-arrangement

Step Five: Find the Perfect Place

This is the easy part.  After your arrangement is complete, all you need to do is find the perfect placement.  (After a few photos of course!)  To make the flowers last longer, you can add more water and cut the stems.

flowersfriendsflowers2Flowers add such a whimsical feeling to any room.  They bring smiles and color!  Share your creations with me on Instagram with the hashtag #miamangos!  Happy arranging!

With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy? – Oscar Wilde

XOXO,

maria

Twenty-Six

I have officially crossed the bridge into my late twenties and celebrated my 26th birthday yesterday.  Those 26 years have been full of lessons, tears, belly laughs, and new experiences.  This past year, in particular, has been such a whirlwind.  Since September of last year we have moved from China to the US to Chile!  I figured I would share with you 26 things I have learned by being an expat (expatriate).  But first, I wanted to say thank you for all of the kind words on social media over the weekend for my birthday.  You really know how to make a girl feel special! :)

26-things-expat

1. Body language does not always work.  I used to think that I could get by with using a lot of body language to get my point across.  While it does work most of the time, it definitely is not a substitute for learning the local language!

2. Making mistakes is okay.  There is no way to learn a language without making a fool of yourself a few times.  I have asked for six prostitutes in China while trying to order some baozi (steamed buns).  I’ve also asked for one noodle of fabric instead of a meter.  But these always end in laughter, and I never forgot the correct word again.

3. The whole world does not speak English.  This can, unfortunately, be a crutch for us native English speakers.  Sometimes we just assume that everyone in the world has learned English in school, so they must be fluent.  That is not the case, and it is such a reward to learn and use a new language.

4. Immersion is the best way to learn.  I love learning new languages, but I get frustrated when it doesn’t come quickly.  I really need to just relax.  However, I have learned a few things about speeding up the acquisition process.  Fully diving in to a language is the best way to learn it–reading books in that language, talking with native speakers, asking people to correct you, listening to music, watching the local news, etc.

great-wall-chinachinese-lion

5. Humor is totally cultural.  I can’t count how many times I have either given or received a blank stare after a joke.  The more Derek and I travel, the more I realize that funny really depends on where you are.

6. Travelling doesn’t need to be expensive.  Derek and I are full time educators, so we don’t have overflowing bank accounts.  However, we’ve still travelled to many places and have never felt like we’ve missed out.  We splurge on things that matter, and we save on the things that don’t.

7. Hostels are not scary.  Despite what those terribly graphic flicks told us, hostels are not damp, creepy places.  We have made some great, lifelong friends by staying in hostels and conversing in the living spaces.  Plus, they are the best bet for budget travelling!

8. The world is pretty small.  It doesn’t matter if we are on an island in the Phillippines or walking down the streets of Santiago.  We always end up having a crazy run-in with someone.  Just two months ago, Derek was running in the park and ran into two girls from South Dakota!  They were only in town for one more week, so the chances of seeing people from our home state was so slim.

zayed-mosque-abudhabi zayed-mosque

9. People don’t always get it.  It is really hard to try to explain to people why we travel.  Sometimes people don’t get why we do what we do.  Sometimes people aren’t very supportive of it.  That happens.  It is bound to happen.  I just wish I could truly explain the joy and the rewards in a few words, but I haven’t found the perfect ones yet.

10.  The people who invented video calling are the best.  If it weren’t for Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts, I would be a mess.  We talk to family at least once a week via video calls.  It is so comforting to see the faces of the people we love.  It really makes the distance easier.

11.  The same for WhatsApp and social media.  Say what you will about social media, but I can’t imagine our lives without it.  We are able to keep up with what is going on halfway around the world with the people we love most.  Also, we don’t have to spend outrageous calling and texting fees, because Brian Action and Jan Koum combined forces to create a free service just for reasons like this.

12. Language isn’t a barrier for friendship.  Though it can be difficult to communicate all the time, we have made so many friends that don’t speak English fluently…or at all.  It shouldn’t be a reason to miss out on a potentially great friendship.  We’ve learned so much from friends around the world.  One time I made dumplings with a student of mine in China.  My Mandarin is extremely basic, and her English level was beginner, but we made a recipe from start to finish together and then went on a double date after with Derek and her boyfriend.

thailandthailand-wat-temple-chiang-mai

13. Researching a country’s etiquette is a must.  Every place in the world has a different way of doing things.  This is not saying that we have to totally change ourselves to visit a place, but we do need to be respectful of customs and cultures. For example, in the US, people almost always rub the Buddha’s head or belly for luck, but to rub the head of anyone (especially a buddha statue) in Thailand is considered an extreme insult.  If I hadn’t researched that, I would have offended pretty much all of Chiang Mai.  Plus, it just adds to your knowledge base of the world, so bonus!

14. Vegetarian does not mean the same thing everywhere.  In Asia, I would ask for my meals without meat.  It would come with pork or seafood on it a lot of the time.  They didn’t consider these to be meat.  If you are vegetarian, definitely find out exactly how to say what you need, so you don’t end up with a bad experience.

15. Americans say thank you a lot.  In the US, we use please and thank you for pretty much everything.  In some cultures, they thought we were pretty weird.  In China, for example, people do not say thank you for common courtesy things like opening a door.  However, we still did.  That is pretty ingrained in us.

16. You can never judge a person by their government.  While a country’s government might be a stark contrast to your opinion, its people are a different story.  Each person is completely unique, and we can never be too quick to judge based solely on where they happen to live.

18.  Open-mindedness is essential.  It is impossible to travel with a closed mind.  Well, I suppose it is possible, but I would highly suggest opening it before going anywhere.  There have been so many experiences that I would not have taken if I had tunnel vision.  A go-for-it attitude is kind of necessary, especially in cultures that bring you the most culture shock.

19.  Culture shock doesn’t always hit you right away.  In China, culture shock didn’t really hit me until we had been living there for over three months.  I think I had rose-colored glasses for a while.  Culture shock isn’t always necessarily negative either.  Sometimes is smacks you in the face with something amazing.

bok-choy-china rural-china-cooking

20. Cooking is a true art form.  I have always enjoyed cooking, but I would not say that I am anywhere near being a chef or a foodie.  I love learning how to make different local recipes from the countries we visit.  Like art, cooking has so much history, culture, and many stories to tell.  There’s a reason for each step, and if you skip one, it just won’t taste the same.  I love watching people cook traditional dishes, because it makes me imagine their ancestors doing the exact same thing while following the exact same recipe.

21. Some places are great to visit, but not so great to live.  This is definitely a personal thing.  Each country and culture offers so much, and where feels like home really varies person to person.  Every place we’ve visited or lived has offered us amazing experiences that will be cherished for a lifetime.  That being said, not all places are meant for us.  Some places we want to visit again, but living there isn’t an option.

22. Material things just don’t matter that much.  Before travelling to China, I was pretty materialistic.  I didn’t think I was, but in retrospect, I’ve discovered that about myself.  Derek and I have a storage unit that was jam packed full of items from our life together in the US.  We had totes and totes of clothes, home decor, etc. (And, mind you, this was AFTER we downsized!)  Those things were the things we had to have.  Then we went to China.  The best example I can think of is our arrival and departure.  Upon arrival, our employers put us in a hotel (for free!).  I remember I complained about the bathroom.  I thought the place was pretty dingy.  Then, after we lived there for 13 months, we returned to the same hotel to help a new coworker settle in to her new life in China.  I went in the same bathroom, and I said, “Wow!  This bathroom is so nice.  I love the sink.”  In only 13 months, my mindset did a complete 180!  I stopped with the bigger is better, and I now try to have a minimal lifestyle, and we enjoy decorating our house with pieces that hold special significance to us.

23. Staying in touch is hardbut it is also the most important thing.  Over time, it becomes harder and harder to keep in touch with friends.  I have to remind myself to write an email or send a message.  While I am always thinking of my friends, I sometimes forget to tell them.  So, to any of my friends reading this, I will be better!  I think of you often, and I appreciate you more than you know!

24. Being late is not so bad!  I am notorious with my friends for always being late.  It is a family thing, and it has always been that way.  While I try as hard as I can to be on time for events or meeting with friends, I always end up at least five minutes late.  In Abu Dhabi was the first place that this was a normal thing.  People kind of had a fluid relationship with time.  Oh, we said 3:00?  Well, it’s 6:00, and they are just arriving.  I really enjoyed this lifestyle.  It was more carefree, but I will try to be on time for my punctual friends!! :)

25.  We really need to cut down our carbon footprints.  Travelling to different cities really showed me how much of an impact we make on the planet.  In some cities it was difficult to see across the street due to the smog, while in others you could see for miles.  It really makes a difference, so we should all try to keep Earth healthy! Check out an easy DIY project here.

26. We really aren’t that different.  As cliche as this sounds, it is so true.  If we look past the superficial, people are not that different.  We all want happiness.  We all strive for success.  We all smile, cry, laugh, fight, and love.  The way in which we do these things may be different, but that is not what matters.  I can’t express how much these travels have changed me and my viewpoint on the world.  I hope we can all experience a new culture, or at least befriend someone who has a different nationality or native language than our own.

travel^photo: Mint Afternoon’s Etsy Shop^

 What have you learned from travelling?  If you haven’t yet, where would you love to go?

XOXO,

maria

Coffee Breaks | pt. 2

So yesterday we talked a little about what coffee culture looks like in the USA and the UAE.  The second part of this coffee date will explore Chile and China.

coffee-breaks

Chile

There is something about South American coffee that really brings me joy.  It has a distinctive taste, and it just seems fresher.  Cafes are pretty much everywhere you look here in Santiago, so it has been a fun adventure to test and compare.  In Chile, coffee is enjoyed at all times of the day from the early morning to the late evening.  All of the coffee shops that we’ve tried have either been outstanding or serve Nescafe (or, as I’ve been told, it is referred to as “No es cafe” here – hehe).

coffee-designSomething I just recently discovered is pretty quirky but carries a bit of history.  I’ve seen cafes all over Santiago that have completely blacked out windows.  While I’ve never ventured inside one, I did find out the scoop.  Apparently Chile is one of the only places that has cafe con piernas (coffee with legs).  The servers are female and wear “revealing” clothing.  The traditional uniform is a mini-skirt with heels, but, at a few, the girls wear bikinis or lingerie.

China

China really isn’t known for its coffee culture, but I figured I would touch on it either way.  We spent most of our time in the northeastern regions of China, so I cannot speak to what it is was like in the south.  There were cafes all over the city, but most served Nescafe style coffee.  Also, it seemed to me, that the coffee was an afterthought for foreign visitors, because there were usually five pages of teas and about three options for coffees.  But, they always had the cutest, tiniest desserts!

rotti-bun

That being said, we found some pretty great coffee shops.  The eclectic Chinese decor style made these fun, and most had small moleskin notebooks that were left open for doodles and quick messages.  It was really interesting to look through at all the different languages in these books.  We actually loved one coffee shop so much, that we decided to take our one year anniversary photos there.  Thanks again, Kelly, if you are reading this!  We love your creative ideas and images! You rule! :)

one-year-photo-coffee coffee-shop-one-year-anniversary

 XOXO,

maria

 

Coffee Breaks | pt. 1

Our morning confidant…

That magical liquid that lifts our spirits on the most sluggish of days…

An aroma that fills the home with the smell of productivity….

Yes, I am talking about coffee.  It comes in many forms, and each person (and culture) has his or her own way of taking it.  Derek is an iced coffee guy, and I’m all about the soy lattes.  But in the morning, all I need is a little cafe con leche to kickstart my day! I’ve noticed that in every place we visit, the culture surrounding coffee is immensely different, so I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast a few for you.  But as I started writing this post, I quickly realized I’d have to separate into different posts.  So today, we have the USA and the UAE.

Coffee: (kɒfi)  noun  |  synonyms: joe, java

  1. a hot drink made from the roasted and ground bean-like seeds of a tropical shrub  “a cup of coffee”
  2. the shrub which yields coffee seeds, native to the Old World tropics

United States of America

The US is interesting, because I have noticed two separate cultures growing here.  The first being the fast-paced, need-to-have-it-now lifestyle.  The to-go cup has almost become a fashion accessory in modern American culture, as you can’t go a full scroll through a social media page without seeing one paired beautifully with a fitting hashtag (#butfirstcoffee,  #coffeecoffeecoffee).  Also, these popular coffeehouse chains, from Starbucks to Tim Hortons, have become the perfect place for a quick, informal meeting or quick get-together with a friend.  The drive-thru ease of these chains make getting your coffee easy, and you don’t really need to slow your pace to do so.

starbucks-cupThe second fits more with the creative force that is dominating the US right now.  These are the coffeehouses, or shops, that treat coffee beans as an artisanal ingredient.  They may or may not have a drive-thru window, but that isn’t the reason people frequent them.  These are the places you go to see a poetry slam, open mic night, or to meet up with a study group and savor the flavors in the cup.  They are the places where just getting your cup of coffee (and seeing what design the barista created in it) is an exciting experience.  Some look like chem labs, while others have a fresh air of eclectic charm.  They are almost always locally owned, most have an emphasis on organic or free-trade products, and each offers a different experience unique to their location and clientele.

coffearoasteriesiouxfalls^photo from one of my favorites: Coffea Roasterie^

United Arab Emirates

My trip to the UAE was too short.  I loved every minute and enjoyed immersing myself in a culture so foreign to my own.  Not only was the culture different, but the coffee was unlike anything I’d ever tasted.  It was spicy and reminded me more of tea than coffee.  However, as the weeks went on, I started looking forward to my afternoon cup.  Yes, I said afternoon.  It was not a common thing to enjoy coffee in the morning in the UAE.  Coffee was more of a social thing.  People gather together after work or school in the late afternoon to enjoy tiny cups of Arabic coffee.  It is a time to catch up and reflect on the day.  The vessels are beautiful, and I could not wait to get my hands on my own set.  The coffee was always served with dates.  The sweetness from the fruit was a nice combination with the spicy coffee.  I’ll be sharing this recipe with you next week!

uaecoffeecultureThe coffee culture in the UAE started with the bedouin lifestyle in the deserts.  People would boil the coffee (which they still do today!) over the campfire and sit under the stars or in large tents enjoying the drink and conversations.  I quickly learned the etiquette of Arabic coffee drinking.  It is considered extremely rude to decline the cup of coffee.  You should always take at least one cup, and when you are finished, you shake the cup from side to side in your right hand.  As I usually use my left hand for eating and drinking, I had to retrain myself while in the UAE.

Check back for part 2 of this post tomorrow!  What is the coffee culture like in your country or city?

XOXO,

maria