March 21, 2011

A Charming Note of Care.

I recently bought a shirt from a locally based fashion designer made out of kanga material.

These were the care instructions that accompanied this purchase:

1.  Wash in hands in 30C.
2.  Don't mix with other clothes.
3.  Don't leave on sun for too long.
4.  Iron in medium temperature.

March 18, 2011


Our new house is big and accordingly there are a lot of big, empty white walls, begging to be filled with color, or something, anything. That was task #1 in the new house - finding a hammering and putting some things on the walls. Luckily, we had recently purchased two new pieces of art that we were keen to display.

The artist is Miguel Costales. He is Spanish. He has a charming accent and adorable dimples to match. He is humble and simple. He exudes a sense of coolness and confidence that kind of makes you want to be friends with him and chat for hours over a beer. 
Miguel is inspired by the beach and natural objects. The result is art that feels intimately connected to the Swahili Coast.
We bought two of his swimmers, but continue to be inspired by many of his other water colors and carved objects.
Dar-based folks, some of his pieces are still on sale at Makutano House, otherwise you can contact him directly and perhaps even visit his studio in Mbezi Beach, or else karibu kwetu to enjoy his art.

March 17, 2011

Nostalgic for St. Patrick's Day.

I heard the entire city of Chicago went on a bender last weekend, as is typical this time of year in commemoration of St. Patrick's Day. Something about wearing green and drinking copious amounts Irish spirits usually proves a recipe for disaster, as I have witnessed firsthand several years over along the green river.

I cant say I wish I was there among them, but I must admit that I am feeling extremely nostalgic for St Patrick's Day celebrations this year. Perhaps it is just a wishful diversion from work, but something doesn't feel quite right about letting this day go by without the standard fare of a draught guiness, corned beef and cabbage and some soda bread.

So in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day and also in celebration of my mom's birthday, I share an innovative recipe that you can count on to get your annual fix of Irish soda bread.

Beta Testing the Our New Toy.

Our novice attempts at mastering the grill resulted in this somewhat obscene picture:
But we couldn't argue with the results. It was delicious. For those among you perverse enough to be inspired by this picture head here.

March 16, 2011

Grill Master Needed.

Latest acquisition for the new house. Now accepting applications.

Alpenglow in the Rock City.

Immediately following our recent move into our new house, I departed for Mwanza aka Tanzania's Rock City. Some aspects of this trip proved a welcome distraction from the hustle of our recent move, including awesome sunsets and alpenglow over Lake Victoria and the rock city.

March 8, 2011

Helpful Moving Advice.

This warning label helped to ensure a consequence-free move.

March 3, 2011

Goodbye Cottage, Hello Change.

Two weeks ago today, we received news that we were going to be kicked out of our house in Dar.

This news struck me like a load of bricks. We had finally managed to kick out an oh so dreadful roommate. For the first time in our married lives we were going to have a place to call our own. We had pored love and attention into this cute little cottage full of potential to make it feel like a home. Things were looking up, excitement was in the air.

As if this news was not disappointing enough, Andrei was traveling in the Democratic Republic of Congo and I was scheduled to be in Mwanza aka the "Rock City" the day our lease was slated to expire. I pleaded for an extra week's stay in the house so that Andrei could be part of the decision-making process, and so that he could be here in person to help with packing and moving. No dice. In lieu of a renewed lease, or even a helpful compromise, the owner was sending in a wrecking ball. And these plans could not be delayed, even by a mere three days. I guess there is no room for delay when there is money to be made. The average rent in our neighborhood in Dar is approximately $4000/ month, far more than what we were paying for this little humble house. With green eyes, she could not muster any empathy towards my situation. I wish her all the best with these untempered dreams.

I spent a couple of days absorbing the impact of this news and mourning the loss of the place that we had learned to call home, even throwing out some rather idle threats to Andrei that I was going to book a one way flight out of here, and he could meet up with me whenever he so chooses, wherever that may, right!?  Very mature, Matty.

After spending sufficient time licking my wounds, I finally took up a broker who told me anything he thought I wanted to hear until I wrote a check, a big fat one, in fact. I toured seven places around Dar es Salaam, each one more depressing than the next. He finally convinced me to push our budget up by a very minor amount so that he could prove to me just how far that minor extra amount would buy up for us. I felt I was walking into a trap, until his promises did not fall flat.

And with that we have inherited a new little house to call home. Ok, its not so little, but it comes with an awesome garden, where Andrei and I can take up one of our favorite past times - gardening and entertaining. While our house will probably look something like this over the coming weeks as we get settled, I promise more pictures as things come together.

Mamma Mia.

In a whirlwind celebration of 50 years of Tanzanian freedom and 100 years of International Women Day, Mustafa Hassanali is hosting a fashion show at the Movenpick hotel in Dar es Salaam to benefit the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, a cause near and dear to my heart.

Those of you that will not be able to attend will have the opportunity to watch this event live: Via at 1600hrs East African Time. Karibu wote!