Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shopping in Doha

Over our time here I have learned that shopping here is an experience. You can get pretty much anything in the stores over here. There is the struggle to find fabric softener that has a decent smell and there is the other problem of finding one that doesn't look like a science experiment inside. Another difficulty is finding soft bathroom tissue, but going to Megamart you can get something that doesn't remind you of sand paper.

Those were some of my first challenges here but grocery shopping is always a challenge. So here are some things I have learned along the way.

  • Don’t expect to get everything in one store. This is probably the biggest pain for expats. If you go around a store with a list of ingredients, the chances are that you won’t get everything. It’s incredibly frustrating, and nearly drove me to tears one week as Zach and I wondered around with a list in our hands, and didn’t manage to get all the ingredients for one of the meals I wanted to make. It took us three stores to get everything to make Mexican Bean Lasagna; I was on a mission to make a meal from the recipes I made us bring over here. I was told to try to adapt my cooking to be local, but the reality is that there is no such thing as ‘local food’ over here and the grocery stores (hypermarts) try really hard to appeal to all of the expats here.. 
  •  Look at the prices. I know I was used to doing this back home to make sure we stayed within our budget, but you really have to be careful. The grocery stores do their best to import goods from all over the world, to satisfy the various expats, and the prices vary a lot. For example, if you are looking at the frozen bagels you will see different prices on the bags. Also you will see labels listed on the side of the compartment and you have to figure out which one applies to which package. I have a hard time trying to figure out how much something is per kg so I can find the best value. First I have to figure out what the kg to pound ratio then do math on how much it is in dollars. I ask Zach a lot when we are walking around how much something is in dollars. (I am sure he is annoyed by that). In Megamart, I stumbled across a bag of Peanut M&Ms and did the math and it was nearly $20 for the bag, you can get the same one back home for at most $6. Also you can treat yourself to a small bottle of Dr Pepper is $3. Also the prices aren’t always shown on some products so you have to take a gamble on what you’re paying. Megamart is a great place to find a lot of the imported things you are wanting and craving, it maybe a little more expensive but it might help you find a piece of home.
  • Don’t forget to get your fruits and veggies weighed! This is such a stupid system - You have to wait at counter to get your items weighed and priced before going to the checkouts. 't quite understand why they do not have self service weighing points. Well actually it is probably because the locals don’t like to have to do anything themselves. Or I think they could just weigh it at the checkout as they do in the states.
  • If you see something you like - buy a lot of it! Because the stores are focused on importing items to please the diverse customers they have, their stock can be somewhat erratic. So if you see something you like or something you haven't seen in awhile, it is a great idea to stock up. Plus seeing something you haven't seen since you were back home can get you to do a happy dance in the store and have your husband look at you funny.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Home Visit

So the paperwork finally came through and we have our time back to the states for our visit set for January 27-February 10. We don't have our tickets set but we are looking into and wanting to get the best price. We are looking into Lufthansa, neither of us have flown with them but it looks like they have a great thing going on.

We are very excited to get back home to see everyone and for everyone to meet Xavier. There will be lots of pictures taken so be prepared. :-)

We will be staying a week up in Strasburg with Zach's parents and then a week in Fountain with my parent's. We will try to squeeze everyone in for individual visits but we may have to do group visits, so we hope people don't mind. Also we might be able to visit over a shopping visit (I might just go some place to window shop, there are some stores I miss A LOT) or maybe over a meal (there are a few restaurants or foods we want to enjoy again).

Can't wait to see everyone! Let us know if there is a better day(s) for you and we will try to work it out. 

Side Note: This will be the last time you will see us before we either move on to another country or back to the US.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Open for Comments

I know there are a few of our readers out there that were looking to be able to comment and such. 
Well I finally found the settings I need to change to make that happen! 

SO...  Comment On!!!

You don't have to be registered in order to do so. 
You can follow if you would like to but it's not necessary. 
However we would love to know who has wandered on over to check out PanDoxie News.  

Weekend Woahs

What a weekend we had here, man.

Just when I am getting myself back on track and on to some kind of routine with this stay at home mom and wife thing I get a wrench thrown at the whole thing. As you know I made a food plan for the month, we went shopping and I was staying on track. I was getting things done around the house, if only a few things a day but that is okay I have a cute two month old.

Thursday- which for those of you who don't know that is our Friday here in the middle east, since Friday is their holy day and not much happens at all. Well, I go to take the rug out of the washer and get started on the laundry (that is at that point where it needs to get done, including the diapers) and there is a large woosh and a gush of water comes out and all over the kitchen floor. Lucky for us the floor is all tile and there is a drain. So we close the door and hit the drain feature, seems to work. Nope another rush of water. So I read through the manual about the error message that finally appears. I go to clear out the drain filter another stream of water. At this point I throw the towel in - my pants are soaked, I have dogs trying to lick this gross water and a baby who is mad at me leaving him alone today since he isn't feeling very well - and need less to say give up for the day.

After we put in a request with the maintenance and they come and do what I did and just open the filter and put more water on the floor and that's it since it doesn't work we leave it for the night. We order Indian take away from this great place we know have discovered has great Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan Bread for reasonable prices. This means putting off my adventure in making chicken soup for the first time but I do finally get it done on Friday. The plan when making the soup is to put in extra meat (I did two whole chickens) and use it to make two other meals for the upcoming week. So the chicken soup is done and I have meat for BBQ Chicken Pizza and Chicken Tacos later on in the week. Zach says the chicken soup turned out well, I was worried since he has these great memories of his mom's homemade soup growing up. 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Gnocchi

For breakfast Zach spoiled me by making a new recipe I ran across on Heritage Schoolhouse- Blueberry Quick Bread It was tasty and very moist.


As Saturday comes around we put in another request and we tell them what is wrong since Zach worked really hard to get the machine to work. He had a great system with tape and the hose in the floor drain and everything. He made the machine work through 1.5 loads to get the diapers done but it just won't work on its own.

We go to Xavier's two month checkup with his first round of shots. It is a longer wait since it is a day that a lot of people have off but we still got out faster than some of my appointments in the states. He is healthy and growing - 5.54 kgs and 59 cms long. That puts him at average for weight and height but he's in the 90th percentile for his head size. Means he is going to have all that room for all the smarts he will aquire!


 <---- Xavier trying out his play mat. He was fascinated with Pooh.
He kept smiling and starring at him. Gus came over and checked him out and I told him to not be so close so he ended up where you see him. He would try sneak one or two kisses when I thought I wasn't looking but for the most part it he was a good pup.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Walking the Pups

Tonight while I was walking Gus and Sadie it made me think of a lot of things I learned about them and about people here over the months since arriving in Doha.

Things I have learned about the dogs:
  • Sadie walks on the right, Gus on the left (Always!)
  • Sometimes they walk side ways and it seems like their back legs are going faster
  • Cats are fascinating to bark at but you know I think they just want to say hello
  • Sadie is terrified of feathers- she can jump a mile when she sees one or it blows near her
  • Most dogs even big ones are scared of Gus
  • There are a lot of tasty things outside, at least they think so
  • Gus knows how to untangle himself from his leash but Sadie will stop and not move until you fix it

Things I have learned about others:

  • The sight of dogs can make a person slow down or even flat out stop 
  • The dogs provide great amusement for children (most of the time that is who is stopped to look at them)
  • That those that do NOT want to pet them will make gestures and noises that makes them want to go closer to them. (I would love to inform them that if they don't want them close just keep on walking)
  • The dogs barking will make almost all delivery men stand 6 or more feet away from the door and keep backing away

 Tonight we are on to day three of Jennifer's meal plan show and we are trying a recipe from - Cashew Chicken in Lettuce Cups. Then to follow that up from Our Best Bites - Chocolate and Strawberry Nachos.

Tonight's Dinner - Chicken Cashew in Lettuce Cups

Tonight's Dessert - Chocolate and Strawberry Nachos

Cashew Chicken in Lettuce Cups
By Jenna

3 or 4 large chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1 tablespoon oil

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

2 -3 tablespoons dry roasted, unsalted cashews, diced

Boston lettuce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Put chicken in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let brown. Cook chicken until almost done, but not quite, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, stirring constantly. Let cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add soy sauce, brown sugar and honey to pan. Stir well, then leave alone to caramelize, about 4 - 5 minutes. Sauce will start to bubble and thicken. Stir it a few times until it coats the chicken. Throw in cashews, mix well. Remove from heat.

Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture into individual leaves of Boston lettuce. Serve immediately.

Baked Cinnamon Chips
Flour Tortillas (6″ ones)
Melted Butter

Cinnamon/Sugar Mixture

Preheat oven to 350.

Lightly brush one side of each tortilla with melted butter.
Then sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar. A little or a lot.  
Use a pizza cutter to cut tortillas into wedges. 
Place them on an ungreased baking sheet (sugar side up) and bake them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. They will crisp up. Watch for the edges to turn up.
Remove from oven and let cool. You can put them on a cooling rack so you can fill up the pan with more, but they can just cool on the pan as well.

Strawberry & Chocolate Nachos
Chop up the strawberries and let them sit in a spoonful of sugar for a bit.  Just so the sugar dissolved and forms a nice light syrup.
Then sprinkle them all over the crispy cinnamon-sugar coated chips.
Grab some chocolate chips, eat a few.  Then put some in a bowl to melt in the microwave.  Then eat some more.
Adding just a touch of vegetable oil or shortening to your chocolate makes it nice and smooth for drizzling.
When it’s nice and melted, you can start drizzling.
The finishing touch is a few drops of whipped cream. 


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hamburger Steaks

So last night was the first night of many, many nights of home cooked meals here at PanDoxie Place.

It was very easy to make and made the house smell yummy. I cut it in half for two people. The only issue I ran into was thickening the gravy part but it turned out in the end. I was reading on another blog today that these can also be Salisbury Steaks and Zach said that too. Next time I am going to make some mashed potatoes for a side it would compliment it very well. I would have done it last night but I wasn't feeling very good for a while so I snuggle with some pups and a baby.

So we started out with all of this, plus a few more that I forgot to round up.

Then we ended up with this. Not too attractive but YUMMY!
I didn't use all the meat so I am stretching into tonight's meal of homemade chili and cornbread. I have never made cornbread so I am hoping for the best, I am going to try Betty Homes and Garden's version. I wish we had our big iron skillet, however if this works out I will give it a go when we go home.

Hamburger Steak with Onion and Mushroom Gravy by

  • 2 pounds ground beef (I used about a pound)
  • 1 cup bread or saltine cracker crumbs (I used 1/2 cup bread crumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillion granules
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon flour (I ended up adding more to try to thicken the gravy)


  1. Mix together ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic salt. Form into patties and cook in a skillet over low to medium heat until done throughout. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms to skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and allow to cook until tender.
  3. Mix together beef bouillion and water. Pour 1/2 over onions and mushrooms and allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Mix together flour into remaining broth and pour over mushrooms and onions. Allow to simmer until gravy has thickened.
  4. Serve hamburger steak with the onion and mushroom gravy ladled over the top.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Copyright © Add a Pinch. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menu Planning

So yesterday I woke up more refreshed than I had in a while. I can thank little Xavier for that it was the second day in a row we had a long stretch at night, 6 hours. He is doing better with his tummy problems but he does still have his bad times. If we can get the pups all healthy again that would be great, we are watching Gus he might have an infection. Poor pups, but they do snuggle more when they don't feel well. I always have a full lap and who could complain about that, right?

So after dusting off the cobwebs in the old brain I sat down to do some meal planning for the month. I haven't done it for a while, I did it for a few months back in Kentucky. There are some old favorites planned and there are a large handful of recipes from the different blogs that I have been exploring recently. I have known about blogs a long time but I hadn't really wandered around them very often until now.

So we will be trying out several recipes and we will post the results here and maybe you can find something new to try too! I guess I can't complain that Zach is on-board with trying all these new dishes, I am certainly a very lucky lady.

Here is the board I use. It is a fluid system so if something needs to move or if we feel like having something else than you just move it to that day or switch things around. This is a great way for us to eat at home and try to save some money. So I will keep you all posted on how it goes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Diapers and Machines

So we have started our journey of cloth diapers with our little one.
Xavier is styling don't you think?
We have gone with BumGenius and have an array of colors and patterns. We had them shipped over thanks to our good friend Jennifer and a sale at  Cotton Babies, since you can not get anything like that out here in Qatar.

So far we are enjoying them and I have even roped in Zach with them and he is a pro already. Not that there is too much more to them than a disposal but there are a few more steps. I think we have a system down, just need a few more tweeks and we are in full swing. However we have run into an issue ... the washing.

Washing cloth diapers is really easy, put in washer and then dry (covers - air dry and liners - go in the dryer). Our problem lies in the fact we have a crappy washer/dryer situation. I have made this known several times on Facebook and to anyone who will listen to the story. We have the privilege to use a washer/dryer combo unit. This is a HUGE change from our LG Steam Front Loaders we had just paid off before we moved here, I miss those appliances. I told Zach I may hug them when they come out of storage, he laughed and gave me that look like you are not. I might, if not I will definitely sit there and look at them and probably talk to them for a while especially after every great load it does for us. Yes, folks I am a dork!

Its the LG tucked into the corner.

It will not soften clothes naturally (you have to use a fabric softener of some kind) so you are left with a baby comforter that can stand up on its own. ---->

Let's also not talk about the fact it can take four hours to do one load!

It will also ruin a cute little onesies too since you can't pull something out before it goes to the drying cycle. Also when you live in a place that the water gets ridiculously hot that doesn't help either. Poor Kermit he was all melted together in the middle.

Plus I now have another dilema and that is the diaper shells are gathering lent and I have to bust out the lent roller before putting them on Xavier or he ends up with lent all over, poor guy! You would think just clean out the lint trap, however there isn't one on the combo. ANNOYING, I can't wait to be back home with our pretty shiny washer and dryer.