Monday, October 4, 2010

Desert Journey to the Inland Sea

During my visit to Doha, Qatar I had the opportunity to go dune bashing by the inland sea area near the Qatar, Saudi Arabia boarder.  It was a very unique experience with breath taking views!  My colleagues and I planned our trip, so we got to enjoy both desert sunrise and sunset.  Our driver was nice enough to drive us away from our overnight camp, to view the stars.  We spent late night lying on warm sand dunes and gazing into the star lite desert sky.


  Preparing to go dune bashing.  Waiting in the car while our driving
 releases air out of the tires so the vehicle doesn't roll over.

Tire impressions left in the desert sand from other dune bashing vehicles.
Beautiful view of the Inland Sea.
A fun view of the desert sand dunes rolling into the sea.
Savoring every moment in the desert!
Desert dunes.
The desert sunset.  It was pretty spectacular!
Two beautiful camels hanging out at the desert resort visited for the night.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cleaning Canvas & Cushions for Winter Storage


Canvas & Cushions the last steps before winter…….

As summer time comes to an end, the saying “the parties over” comes to mind.  Well, not really, because it’s time to move the party inside.  As for outdoor entertaining, it’s time to clean, cover, and store your patio furniture to protect from the damaging winter weather that awaits.

It’s important that you clean and make any necessary repairs to your patio furniture before storage.  This will prevent having to do this as a Spring chore.  At the least, your furniture may need to be wiped down, with a damp cloth after storage.  Warm soapy water is recommended. 
Usually furniture cushions, such as canvas suffer the most damage.  By summers end,  food and beverage spills, dust, mold, mildew, plant debris, body lotions, and tanning oils, soil cushions, often staining them.  This can be taxing on the cushions and if not properly cleaned and stored; can worsen their look and feel.

At the minimum, scrubbing cushions with warm soapy water is the best way to go about cleaning them.  This should be done throughout the summer season, to prevent soil buildup.  I suggest mixing five (5) or so drops dish soap, with about one (1) quart warm water.  This is a good way to clean cushions as colors don’t fade and involves no harmful chemicals.  If cushions are victim to heavy soiling and staining, add one (1) teaspoon Borax to the water solution.

Saturate your cushion on both sides with the soapy water solution.  Be sure to get all the crevices and creases.  With a scrub brush, scrub any areas that are soiled or stained heavily.  Allow the solution to set for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off with a garden hose.  Stand the cushion on edge and allow too dry.  Make sure your cushions are completely dry before storing them.  This will prevent the growth of mold or mildew.
Fabric and upholstery protector such as Scotch Guard will keep cushions clean and will help protect them from future soiling. Evenly spray cushions once cleaned and had time to dry thoroughly. 

Canvas can be machined washed, if it can be removed from your furniture.  It should be put back damp, so that it can be stretched back into place.  If that can’t happen, dampen the soiled canvas and lather up a scrub brush with heavy-duty laundry soap such as Fels-Naptha.  Fels-Naptha soap works great for removing stained and soiled areas on canvas.  This process might have to be repeated for the best results.  Once the canvas is clean, rinse off with a garden hose.

For fast and routine cleaning, dryer sheets do a great job of removing dirt and debris from cushions.  We recommend rubbing the cushion down to remove any unwanted dirt.  This is a fast way to clean cushions before a last minute gathering.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Doha, Qatar


The Museum of Islamic Art'illuminated facade caught my eye as I drove from the Doha airport to my hotel in Doha, Qatar.  As I passed this amazing structure, I asked my driver about the museum's history.  My driver told me just enough to spark my interest.  The following weekend, I found myself viewing the museum's most amazing collection of Islamic Art.  MIA's diverse collection of art represents different geographical areas of Islamic culture.  I especially enjoyed MIA's extraordinary collection of Islamic tabletop.

One of the most admired and honored architects of our time, Ieoh Ming Pei designed the The Museum of Islamic Art.  Upon designing and building MIA, Mr. Pei traveled across the Muslim world visiting Islamic monuments and found that Islamic culture was very diverse.  He challenged himself to design a single structure that captured the Islamic essence ranging from Iberia to Mughal India, to the gates of China.  The end product, is a modern building designed with sleek minimalist lines, accentuated with geometric patterns and aesthetic details found in the art and architecture of the Muslim world.

The purity and simplicity is complimented with the equally minimalist interiors.  It's a museum that you must see if your travels ever bring you to the Middle east.  For more information on the museum's of Qatar check out Qatar Museum Authority.



Skyline view of Doha, Qatar from MIA
Waterfront View


A grouping of boats anchored in the water surrounding MIA.
The most beautiful Date Palm walkway leading to the  entrance of MIA.
Plaza Entrance
The most beautiful awning entrance.
The MIA foyer.


Foyer Ceiling.





Exhibit room




Exhibit room.


Illuminated MIA
Illuminated MIA entrance pathway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Pots in the rough"



As I navigated through The Souq in Doha, Qatar, I stumbled upon a fantastic kitchenware shop.  This particular shop was a hidden gem.  However, it wasn't a diamond that caught my eye, but these tremendous pots.  I've been to many large restaurant supply shops and have personally cooked with "BIG" pots.  But I have never seen so many BIG pots in a small restaurant supply such as this one.  I left wondering what is being cooked and served from these large pots.  I tried to get information from the store owner, but my lack of arabic, left my questions unanswered.  One particular "paella" like oval shaped pan stood upright against the shops stairwell, stretching well past the ceiling height.  Here are some of the BIG pots that were scattered throughout the shop.




The Souq "The Standing Arabic Market"

Recently I visited the The Souq in Doha, Qatar.  Literally translated as "the arabic standing market".  This maze like complex is similar to an outdoor shopping mall.  Built back at least 100 years, the buildings were constructed very close together, creating narrow pathways throughout the market.  One could easily get lost as it truly was a maze.  The market is know for it's traditional goods such as wool, jewelry, perfumes, spices,  handcrafts, traditional garments, cookware, souvenirs, restaurants, coffee shops as well as Shisha lounges.  


The Souq is the real life version of all the Middle Eastern village depictions that we often see in western cinema.   


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Islamic Tabletop

Dish
Iran or Central China
10th Century
Earthenware, Slip Painting


Food is the common thread that we as humans share despite all our cultural differences.  From the way we grow and raise our food, to the way we cook and prepare our food, the end goal is to make a product that is pleasing to the palate.  Plates, dishes, and other tabletop accessories have become an integral part of this process.  All cultural societies have created vessels that have complimented their cooking styles.  These vessels have been vital to how they prepare, cook, serve, and consume their native cuisine.  



On a recent trip to  The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, I got to view a very large collection of Islamic tabletop.  As I roamed through their exhibits, I was amazed at all the intricate beauty that adorned each vessel.  Below are a few tabletop pieces from the museum's collection.  

All the pieces below represent different geographic areas of Islamic culture.  It's interesting to see how different and similar each of the pieces are from one another.

Enjoy!