A Short and Lovely Trip to Tbilisi, Georgia

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I had a lovely long weekend last week. Made a short trip to Tbilisi, Georgia with 2 of my colleagues from work for 3 nights and had a blast!

A beautiful country and one that would be much more appreciated in the spring/summer than in winter. It is much too cold now and being someone who loves the heat, I still enjoyed the beauty of the place.

We went on Thursday evening and got back Monday morning. Visas are upon arrival in Georgia and that is one major plus-factor for most us expats from the GCC who needs to get visas prior to travel to any country. So any expat holding a valid Residence Permit from any of the GCC countries can travel to Georgia without any visa fuss .

Somebody also told me that Georgian immigration greets all visitors with a welcome drink! Which didn’t happen with us, though 🙂 . Must have been wishful thinking on their part!

Our guide (Nino) and driver (Zaza) from Wonders Infinity Group (Tour Operator) were the most fun-filled guide and driver I have ever met! Kept us in peals of laughter with their camaraderie on who’s village is the best kept secret in Georgia and general bickering. What was so charming about them was how passionate they were about their country. They tried to show us every little thing there was to see with so much enthusiasm, it was infectious. And what we loved most about the place was how genuine, friendly and unpretentious the people were.

We visited Georgia’s best Ski Resort – Gudauri – where I had my first ever paragliding experience! It was amazing and although I am glad I did it, I wished with all of my being that it wasn’t so freezing cold! I was almost on the verge of frostbites and I could actually feel my feet and fingers frozen in places and desperately wanted it to end. Minus 20 degrees is no joke!

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On the Road to Gudauri

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A lone Tea Stall on a hill along the way. They even had a hammock to swing on 🙂

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Gudauri

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Me in the air with my pilot.

The second day took us to Lake Lopota in the beautiful wine-making region of Kakheti. If it was summer, the place would have been lush green. But winter saw us passing acres of snowy and brown landscape in Kakheti that were actually vineyards with millions of stems sticking out of the ground. Come August, they would be ripe for harvest. Lake Lopota is a resort perfect for families and also corporate events with a private lake, surrounding which are hotels, cottages, swimming pools, sauna, spa, restaurants and even a stable. We took turns to ride a lovely chest-nut brown horse named Nisha. That was a first too, for me. We also spent a few moments admiring the rakish, stable-boys. I couldn’t help thinking how one of them looked a little like Jake Gyllenhaal 😀

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Lake Lopota Resort and Spa

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Lake Lopota Resort and Spa

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The Lake Lopota – frozen a little bit here and there

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All of us except Zaza

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Nino and I

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A bit of Horse-Riding

The last day was spent in the city of Tbilisi and a long drive to Mtshketa. The quaint old town of Tbilisi, the museums, the monasteries and churches in both Tbilisi and Mtshketa all had their own charm. If you like touring places where old is gold, then Georgia is definitely a must-see. The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral located in Mtshketa preserves the cloaks of Christ and the Prophet Elijah. We can’t see them, though, because they are buried underground. But I was still in awe at being so close to something so historically and spiritually powerful.

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Inside the Stetitskhoveli Cathedral – Under this column is the robe of Christ buried

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The Zhinvali Water Reservoir – It looks more beautiful on my phone where the water is actually turquoise colored 🙂

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A small frozen waterfall in town

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The Bridge of Peace – a little bit at odds with the oldness of the city

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View of Tbilisi at day

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View of Tbilisi at night

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Tbilisi St. Trinity Cathedral

Dining and shopping is very, very, very reasonably priced. They do not have brands in the likes of a Dior or a Chanel. But they do have brands like Zara, Mango, Aldo, Charles & Keith, Clarks etc to name a few with prices being half of what I would have paid for in Kuwait. Their food is fresh and all produce comes from their local villages and mountains. I am told restaurants are not allowed to use frozen stuff which is not so hard to believe because we could actually taste the difference in the food there and what we are used to here in Kuwait. We got the chance to try out the Georgian Chacha too! Burned down my throat all the way to the tips of my toes!! All I could muster were 3 sips. Its supposed to be a drink for real men, apparently 😀

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At a traditional Georgian Restaurant with live music

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The Tsiskvili Restaurant – Tbilisi’s best – On our last night

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The country will soon be a part of the EU in another 3 months and tourism is still in its infancy. English is not widely spoken, so having a guide with you to tour around is the way to go.

A totally charming place with great value for money and definitely worthy of a visit.

Crafty Goodies

The better half went to Vegas again for their yearly trade show event. I look forward to these trips of his because then, I can get him to bring stuff from the US that I always hesitate to shop online because of the exorbitant shipping costs and unreliable postal services.

Taking into consideration his airline luggage allowances and the loads of official stuff he had to bring back this time, he did manage to get me some supplies too – the sweetheart that he is 🙂 . No yarns though, sadly, except for a bundle of mini cotton yarns by Lion Brand. But those are really tiny! Not much one can do with just one pack.

But he did get me some clasps for the heart-charms that I had made reading crochet charts, lots of buttons, some metal charms, safety eyes, Mod-Podge Matt and Gloss, Stiffeners for my doilies and some tiny seed beads.

And guess what I did with a few of the flower buttons shown on the bottom left corner! I brightened up a plain black top that I owned 🙂

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After Vegas, he had taken a trip to San Francisco as well to tour around and sent me these 2 pictures that he took near Fisherman’s Wharf :

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Feels grand knowing I’m thought about on his trips 🙂

A New WIP – The Moroccan Tile Afghan

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I had been curbing my desire to start a larger project and I was able to keep it at bay until last week. I finally had to give in to the urge and so, began work on a new throw – The Moroccan Tile Afghan by Tamara Kelly. I seriously love the color combinations she’s got going with hers!

I’m doing mine with a color change on every other row, though. So there’s gonna be hundreds of yarn ends to weave-in! But I’m being a little diligent and weaving them in once I complete 1 set of colors (9 colors in a patch).

Since this throw has already crossed the “scarf” stage, it is most definitely going to be a completed project soon enough 🙂 .

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Taking it with me on my car rides to work. This is SO not a suitable car project!

Now, if only I could be tempted to complete Sophie! I think I’m gonna take her out today and see if I can add on a few more rows.

Hoping to post an update soon!

“Owl” See You At School Bag

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I’ve made my 3 year old his very first school bag for preschool. A small and cute little pattern that I got from the August 2016 edition of “I Like Crochet” Magazine.

He loves it already and keeps showing it off to his sister all the while saying “MY bag”. To which she replies “NO! Its mine” just to provoke him, and then a scuffle ensues. Its fun watching them fight!

This is how it turned out (a little different with the embellishments although I think I need to re-do the beak and make it a little bigger) –

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But I’d be happier if I could sew a lining for this. Learning to sew is currently on the top of my list when I go down to India for my annual holidays later this year. Mum said she’d be happy to show me some basics. On the scary machine!

One positive : I learned a new stitch with this pattern – The Crocodile Stitch. Something I had been planning on learning and now I have (with help from Tamara Kelly’s video tutorial.)

I’m also contemplating an Owl Beanie to complete the look. Gotta see how that turns out.

They’re Growing So Fast!

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Its been a little more than a week since my last post. My 3 year old will be joining a preschool in another week and its been kind of doing my head in. I had been wallowing in a sea of gloomy thoughts along the lines of how quickly my cheeky li’l monster was growing up. I desperately wish there was a way to slow down this growing-up business! As much as I am looking forward to seeing him mingle with kids his own age and hopefully hear him speak a language that makes sense to us, I am dreading the day when I will miss him speaking Minion. And a time when he wouldn’t even want to be seen around with me is also just around that infernal corner. All these impulsive hugs and cuddles that he’s always giving me will soon come to an end. And so will all the whispers, snuggles and giggles that we share alone at night.

So since I’ve been pondering over all the changes that will take place very soon, I have also been thinking about my 11 year old who turned 12 earlier this month. She’s going to be in her teens next year and I am already having a tough time talking to her. We’re at each other’s throats quite frequently these days and I really do not know how to handle it. Which brings me to wonder how my mum did it with my brother and I! We were horribly rebellious during our teenage years and she managed us all by herself because Dad was overseas.

Why can’t they just remain little for a while longer? I remember a time during my childhood days when I truly wished I didn’t have to grow up. If Neverland ever existed, I think I would have happily run off and made my home there. This could be a reason why a part of me is still and always will be, childish. I never wanted to grow up! Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional, they say.

So is all of this going to get any easier? Nope!

I guess I can cheer myself up with the fact that there is going to be a lot of “First Times” to look forward to with him. With both of them, in fact. But that’s about the only positive thing in all of this for me.

So I’d better just suck it up, put my game face on, add more lipstick and pretend all is well with the world. And if I need to cry, at least I have my yarns to cry into.

Project “Small and Cute” – Crochet Jellyfish

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I’m thoroughly enjoying making small and cute! I didn’t really expect that. I assumed working large detailed projects would be the most satisfying. But I was wrong. Small and cute has its special magic too!  Having said that, I’d seen a free jelly-fish toy pattern drifting around in the Pinterest Sea that was too damn cute to pass up. So make it, I did.

Pattern is by One Dog Woof and I love it. I want to make sooo many more. Maybe make my bed in them. Oh wait! What if something even more adorable washes up on my shore! I think I shall not make any hasty decisions on what makes my bed just yet. Besides, these could prove to be all lumpy if I lay on them. I shall simply wait and watch.

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Make It For Me – Day 2

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“Make It For Me” is an initiative by Elk Studio that I am following.

Day 2 project is an Old-Fashioned Paperback Book Cover that I completed yesterday.

I decided to make this to cover my Bible that I have been using since ’96. I was 17 when I got it and it was gifted to me on my First Communion (I know! A bit too late to have one’s First Communion!). This Bible has been through a lot together with me and its paperback had tattered and disintegrated years ago making it a little floppy.

It did come with a separate cover, but a little boring one. So the moment I saw this book-cover pattern, I wanted to make another to shelter my old, precious Book and I think it’s turned out quite alright. It isn’t perfect, though I would’ve loved it to be.

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I’ve used just 1 skein of a rainbow colored thread yarn (Alize Silk Effect). I had been saving them for the “right” project and decided this was it. I used two threads together by combining the 2 ends of the skein and a 6 mm hook.

I had also deviated a bit from the original pattern for the strap closure. Mine looks terribly amateurish because I didn’t really think it through, I guess. I wasn’t too keen on the strap and thought my way was easier. But the way I made it doesn’t look too neat either. Good thing I’m not gifting it to anyone 🙂

At least this one is for me and is definitely going to see a lot of use! My 12 year old has asked to make one for her Bible too. She doesn’t really need it though, because hers is a hard-cover. But since she insists, I am going to see if I can do a better job with that (minus the closures).

Have a great weekend, all!

Green Island, Kuwait – Our next barbecue spot!

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After 10 years of living in Kuwait, we visited the Green Island for the very first time last Friday.

Why, oh why, did we never bother before??

Everyone I have ever asked about it had always been quite vague; which led us to believe it wasn’t worth a dime.

On New year’s Day, we decided we would try and visit all possible, visit-able places in Kuwait EVERY weekend. We never know how long we’ll be here, so we might as well make sure we see everything there is to see. No matter how boring it may seem. So that’s how we thought of Green Island, despite the fact that no-one seems to go there.

But we were in for a surprise. The place was packed!!

We went last Friday afternoon. The weather was cool and everything looked extra bright and crisp. The sea and the sky looked bluer, the leaves looked greener & the air felt fresher. It was a lovely day. Contrary to what I thought about the island being an actual island away from Kuwait mainland, it is actually just a little extension out into the sea like in the picture below :

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The entrance fee costs KD1 per person. Children less than 3 yrs go free. We got in and roamed around a bit just to get an idea of the place and immediately saw its potential!

Kuwait does not really allow barbecuing anywhere. There are only 1 or 2 beaches and 1 or 2 parks that permit this, but its banned every where else. And every time we plan a barbecue event, its always at the same beach and I think we’ve already done 4 family get-togethers there. So this was right up our strasse because the island has specific places meant for barbecuing. We staked out the entire island and finally decided on the precise spot we would have it –

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Another thing I noticed about the place was how clean it was. The grass areas that were packed with people were, of course, littered. But once they’re gone, I’m pretty certain the place is well-maintained.

The island has a little train that takes you around its entirety. Cost us 500 fils per person (children below 3 exempted).

They’ve also got bicycles for rent – the normal ones as well as the roofed ones that take on 2 to 4 people at a time. We didn’t get the opportunity to rent them. I’m quite certain the kids would’ve enjoyed it. Next time!

It was a great outing and I’m desperately hoping we have a get-together real soon (hint! hint! to a certain pretty lady reading this :D. Yes, its you, Mrs. P!).

Make It For Me – Day 1

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I had mentioned in my New Year post about an event by Elk Studios (namely, Make it for Me Projects) that I decided to join in. You can read all about the event here.

Although it’s described to select any one project that catches your fancy out of the 31 projects and make it for yourself, I was thinking, why not try them all (like I have all the time in the world!!).

I will, most definitely, not be able to complete each project on a daily basis; but I shall at least attempt them as often as possible.

The pattern that was released on 1st January was the Snowy Mountain Beanie.

I’ve completed it, but realized very late into the rounds (towards the end, more like) that I should’ve checked my gauge (very important for this particular pattern) because, then, I would’ve used a bigger hook if this beanie were to fit my big head.

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So guess what! This hat fits my 3 yr old son perfectly. Not even my 12 year old. But it’s more like a girls’ beanie and I imagine he would look rather silly prancing around in a girly beanie, more so, in a shimmery one.

(The yarn is Nako Lame Fine and I used 2 strands together with a 6 mm hook).

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So it looks like this beanie is going to go to my niece. Serves me right for not properly reading instructions. Not that I mind giving stuff to my nieces (for the record, I love them to bits!!), but these projects are meant for ME.

Oh well! There are 30 more patterns coming up this month (6 more are out already) and I’m sure I shall eventually make SOMETHING for myself that will be put to good use 🙂

READING CROCHET CHARTS!

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Oh Boy! I am so pleased to have made some progress on learning to read crochet diagrams! This was something I planned on doing last year, but never really got down to it.

I had been quite lost on what I wanted to take on as a new WIP now that my major projects are done with. Only Sophie remains and although she has been begging me to please, please take her out of her worn-out bag, complete her and make her shine, I just couldn’t do it.

I wanted to begin something new and I just did not know what to start with. Should I do small, cute and quick projects or large, time-consuming ones?? What a tough choice!

I finally decided on small, cute things and I came across a heart pattern on Pinterest by Anabelia. I loved ALL of her creations (a lot of them paid patterns) and just looking at them makes me happy! Really bright and cheerful.

She had a free diagram for her Crochet Heart pattern that I was determined to read and follow. And I did!

So its official now – I CAN READ CHARTS! Well.. the simple ones, at least.

Here’s how mine turned out (of course, its not as perfect as hers, but hey, I’m a first time crochet-diagram reader and they don’t look so bad, I think. The tassels are just something I included to make it a little quirky) –

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And its also the first time I’ve made them tassels. I think I need to practice some more. My 11 yr old has already put a claim to them and wants to give them to her best pals. She’s decided they’ll hook them on their bags as charms. In that case, I’ll need to pay a visit to the local craft stores to get the necessary hooks. Hoping they’re easy enough to find.

This has really been a boost of confidence and now that I’ve managed one chart, I think I shall take on the challenge of figuring out more. I like to think of it as an exercise for the mind.

Will be back with an update on further chart-reading and what I’ve made of them 🙂