Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Ichiban Pensacola – YUMMMM!

We knew we were in the right place – the parking lot was packed. Our son and his wife had told us they like Ichiban for sushi and Japanese food, so we thought we’d give it a try.

As we were seated in our little booth at Ichiban, with cubby holes for our shoes, and a well for our feet, we looked at each other and had the same thought – how is it we have never been here before? We love this place, even upon entering. Friendly greeting, gracious service, full of people eating plates of delicious food, nice atmosphere – how did we miss Ichiban?

There is a stylized salmon design on the tabletop; a sure winner for a gal from the Pacific Northwest. I can hear Japanese being spoken in the kitchen, and the food . . . the food is the closest I have come to food from a little Japanese restaurant in Seattle. They even have salmon teriyaki on the menu, and bento boxes! I am in heaven.

We had a pot of green tea, and we ordered bento boxes.

If I have one tiny complaint, it is this: there is too much food! Each Bento box came with a full sushi roll. This is the California roll:

Here is a menu of all the different kinds of sushi they have available.

I had the bento box with chicken teriyaki. It came with a good sized bowl of miso soup, which I love, cucumber salad, an asparagus salad with shrimp on top, an egg roll and two delicious little fried beef dumplings. Everything was tasty. Each taste was separate and delightful.

AdventureMan ordered the Bento Box with Shrimp Tempura:

There was so much food! We ended up bringing home a lot of salad and our main courses. I’ve never seen so much food in a bento box.

We are impressed that Pensacola has such a great Japanese restaurant. No wonder people are keeping it a secret!

I love it that on their menu, they have Sushi for Beginners. 🙂 If you have never tried Japanese food, Ichiban Pensacola is a great place to start. They can guide you on some menu choices, and make sure you have a delightful initiation. If you already like Japanese food – see you there.

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Beauty, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Restaurant | 2 Comments

Trial Run: Lessons Learned

We have most everything put away now, a real pain in the neck, but we keep in mind that it is not as much a pain in the neck as losing everything, or having to hack a hole in your own roof to escape a flood which completely ruins a house so you have to rebuild and live somewhere else while you are rebuilding. It’s even a lot easier than having a window or roof or garage breached, and the resulting damage from wind-driven rain, or just sheets of rain.

Today has had higher gusts of wind and frequent showers, and an occasional breakthrough of Pensacola sunshine.

We know how long it takes to put on our window protection – and take it off. We know how long it takes to clear all the potential flying objects out of our backyard. We know a couple vulnerable points, and that it’s going to be expensive to get a fix big enough to give us complete protection. It’s a gamble.

Here is something else I know, very valuable.

I know that I can keep hot coffee and hot water HOT for five days.

This great thermal jug from Qatar had coffee still warm after five days – not hot, but warm.

This little thermos from Starbucks kept coffee very warm, but not hot:

And this is a large thermos/ server I found in Kuwait and used for three years for large groups of ladies. Six years later, it is still working great. I poured boiling water into it on Sunday night, and on Thursday afternoon, it was still almost boiling hot. It was hot enough you can use it to make soup, which is just what you need to be able to do when you have no electricity and need to fix something that can warm you up.


August 31, 2012 Posted by | ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Hot drinks, Hurricanes, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar | 2 Comments

African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

This is another wonderful recipe I found on My sweet daughter-in-law told me about, and once I signed up, they started sending me recipes every day. Not all of them are of interest to me, but most of those I have tried have been really good.

We LOVE this soup. It is delicious, and easy to fix. While it is an African recipe, we find that many of the most delicious Southern dishes are similar to African dishes, probably because there were so many African ex-pats brought to the USA and settled in the South a few hundred years ago. Their legacy lives on in Southern cookbooks.

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

• 1 tablespoon good olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch ground cloves
• 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
• 1 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot, and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes.

2. Pour chicken broth into the saucepan, and season the mixture with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add peanut butter.

3. Remove the soup mixture from heat. With a blender wand, blend the soup and peanuts until almost smooth. Stir in fresh cilantro. Serve hot.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Recipes | 2 Comments

Wind Advisory, High Surf Advisory for Pensacola

Woke up this morning to more wind and grey skies, occasional rain, more of the same. We are still in an outer band – as is South Carolina, LOL. This storm is going to effect a lot of states before it finally clears out.

These warnings are from Weather Underground, my favorite weather site.

High Wind Advisory

High Surf Advisory

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Hurricanes, Weather | Leave a comment

Blog Action Day 2012: Register Now!

I just registered for Blog Action Day October 15, 2012. Take part in a huge global discussion #BAD12

I love the theme they have chosen for this year: The Power of We 🙂

Hello Bloggers

Welcome back to Blog Action Day for 2012.

As previous participants of Blog Action Day, I am pleased to share with you three important announcements.

1. Blog Action Day will be held on October 15, 2012,
2. Our theme is “The Power of We” – you can use the #powerofwe hashtag, and
3. Registrations for Blog Action Day are now OPEN.

Why did we choose The Power of We?

We choose this theme for a few reasons.

Firstly, the popularity of the subjects Community, Equality, Transparency/Anti-Corruption and Freedom, in the theme poll we ran via Facebook and Twitter, over te last few weeks.

Secondly, we felt that Blog Action Day needed to reflect the ever growing movements of people working together for positive social change.

Whether using digital tools like blogs, social networks and mobiles, or meeting face to face in local community halls, neighbours house, andpublic streets. Greater numbers of people have been coming together to make change, either for their own communities or the world at large.

For the team at Blog Action Day, we see The Power of We as a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, and we hope you take part and register your blog for Blog Action Day.

Ideas for how you can discuss “The Power of We”

For Blog Action Day, you might profile a person or a group who inspire you, talk about your own efforts to make change, or highlight a cause that has been successful for using people power to make a difference.

There are hundreds of examples you could choose from such as; fighting for healthier meals for kids in schools, protecting people’s rights in countries far away, stopping practices in industries that hurt the environment and communities, challenging authorities to listen and act for the people.

Or, you may want to focus on historical social change movements such as the Suffragettes movement, campaigns against slavery or civil rights.

If you are active in a movement, you might even want to discuss the strategies and tips of how to organise to encourage other people to make change happen.

Getting ready for Blog Action Day

As Blog Action Day gets closer (just under seven weeks away) we will be sharing thoughts from our NGO partners, previous Blog Action Day participants and interesting individuals about our theme, and ask them to provide suggestions and materials that you can use for your blogs on October 15, 2102.
Also, over the next few weeks we will be increasing our communications with a weekly email, as well as regularly updates, content and opportunities via our website and social media channels.

The team at Blog Action Day can’t wait to see what you all blog about and we really hope that you enjoy taking part in Blog Action Day on October 12, 2012.

All the best

Karina and Jason and the rest of the Blog Action Day team

PS. Don’t forget to register for this year’s event via our website

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Character, Charity, Communication, Community, Political Issues, Social Issues, Values | | Leave a comment

Tabak Rohoo: A Damascene Dish

Syria is heavy on our hearts, and in our helplessness, we honor our Syrian friends by trying a Damascus dish, Tabak Rohoo.

Although we did not manage to empty the cooking pot by sliding the completed dish out still in layers (a challenge for the future), this dish was so delicious that we plan to have it often. AdventureMan was amazed; he doesn’t even like lamb, but this lamb is delicious.

It is hard to imagine that this dish might be even better if made with ghee. We substituted a very good olive oil. 🙂

The recipe is from, where I find some of the best recipes ever 🙂

A Vegetable Stew – Tabakh Rohoo

“This is an Arabic vegetable stew made in layers and served with steamed rice or bulgur. My Damascene sister in law recently showed me how to make this. It is delicious. The addition of ghee or rendered butter at the end of the cooking is a traditional Damascene style of cooking; however, these days these dishes are made without the extra fat.”

20 Min
1 Hr 15 Min
1 Hr 35 Min
• 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
• 1 pound lamb meat, cut into small pieces
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 pinch ground cardamom
• 2 onions, sliced
• 1 potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound zucchini, thickly sliced
• 2 pounds tomatoes, cubed
• 1 chile pepper, chopped
• salt to taste
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/4 cup water
• 6 cloves garlic
• salt to taste
• 3 tablespoons dried mint

1. Heat the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Place the lamb meat in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Season with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.

2. Place a layer of onion on top of the lamb in the pot, followed by layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Do not stir. Place the chile pepper in the center of the vegetables. Season with salt. Mix the tomato paste and water, and pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, until vegetables are tender.

3. With a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, salt, and mint. Mix with 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot, and pour over ingredients in pot. (I used a mini-jar on my blender. I tried the mortor and pestle, but there was a lot of stuff and it was messy and unsuccessful. The blender did just fine, and this mixture is essential to the delicious nature of the dish – Intlxpatr)

When removing the mixture to the serving dish – a fairly open or wide bowl – tip the pot and let it slide out the side so that it stays in the layers.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Cooking, ExPat Life, Experiment, Middle East, Recipes | 7 Comments

Hurricane Isaac Hanging Around

Hurricane Isaac – for Pensacola – has turned out to be not so much. Yes, there has been high water, due to the ceaseless winds pushing water onshore. Yes, there are some bursts of high winds. Yes there are some heavy showers.

We’ve seen worse, we’ve had worse storms. The think about Hurricane Isaac is that while there is nothing you can put your finger on, he is like that annoying guest who stays too long. He is hanging around, and we would like to get on with our lives.

Example: Our grandson’s school is still closed, and our son and his wife need to go to work today. Fortunately, AdventureMan and the Happy Toddler have a great relationship, and AdventureMan has made a plan to introduce him today to the public library, it’s treasure trove of childrens’ books, and that you can take them home – but you have to take them back. We hope the library is open today! We don’t know! It’s just annoying and inconvenient, these are minor things, not the great huge overwhelming problems that Plaquemines Parish is facing with their huge guest who insists on hanging around. Huge and slow, just the size and duration is causing expensive and life-threatening problems.

My plan for today is to put the heavy things back on the walls, mirrors I didn’t want to replace, framed art-work and hangings I didn’t want damaged if we were hit by the hurricane or tornado. Yes, there are still tornado warnings. No, I am not so worried.

At 6:30 this morning it was hot and humid. At 0900, it is still hot and humid, with occasional showers of warm rain. Aargh. Thanks be to God, no flooding in our house, no breeches in our defenses. We’re ready to move on. We’re ready for this to be over.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Weather | 3 Comments

Noon 28 August 2012, and Isaac Becomes a Hurricane

We’ve had some squalls, wind and rain, but at noon the skies are blue with some clouds, the wind has dropped, and we decide to see how things look. Many are closed and boarded up, few are open. Our favorite lunch spot is open:

The sun is shining, but it is weird:

As we are eating, we learn that Isaac has now been declared a hurricane. We decide not to drive over the two bridges to the beach, but we take a look downtown and take the Bayshore Route home. The downtown marina is almost entirely empty:

The pelicans are enjoying a little surf:

Over on Bayou Texar, you can see that the water level is very high. The piers in the park have totally disappeared, and our favorite restaurant, the Oyster Barn, is underwater – oh NO!

This heron is happy to have the pier all to himself, until a local fisherman comes along and scares him away:

These people have temporarily lost their dock on the Bayou:

Now back home, the sun is hidden by the thickening clouds, rain falls in flurries and we can hear the wind whistling down our chimney. We are glued to our TV’s, keeping up with what is going on in New Orleans and Louisiana. It looks like the eye may be heading west of New Orleans, more toward New Iberia.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment

ReBirth in the Midst of Chaos

“Come look! Quick, come look!”

As AdventureMan was making preparations to move the potted plants indoors, he discovered a Black Swallowtail chrysalis had split, and a new swallowtail was born. It wasn’t easy to capture this resting brand-new butterfly, newly out of the chrysalis, hidden deep within the bronze fennel plant, but so beautiful!

As I headed through the guest suite to the French doors, I saw something flutter . . . and it was a newly born Gulf Fritillary – in our guest room! We must have brought it in with the garden furniture – those chrysalis are often hard to spot.

“I need your help!” I called to AdventureMan. (I don’t handle insects!) He rushed to my assistance and was astonished to see another newborn.

If you had known AdventureMan in his business persona, managing multimillion dollar contracts, you would not believe this new AdventureMan, who cultivates a garden that attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, who grows tomatoes and hot peppers, who takes photos and identifies rare birds flying overhead, and whose favorite time of all is spent with his grandson. 🙂

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Character, Circle of Life and Death, ExPat Life, Gardens, Home Improvements, Pensacola, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Hurricane Preparations: Isaac

As we were out last night, we saw this gathering of trucks. They are not Gulf Power trucks, or at least they don’t say Gulf Power, but they sure look like trucks pre-positioned to take care of wind-driven electrical outaages. It’s very reassuring.

The weather is very warm – lows in the high 70’s, highs in the low 80’s – and the air is drenched with humidity. An electrical outage is hard on an Alaska girl like me, who hates stale warm air. It’s also hard because this weather is ideal for mosquito breeding, and mosquitos head my way when given any access. Let’s keep the electricity flowing and the air conditioning running!

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Hurricanes, Pensacola, Safety | 4 Comments