Our Engagement Party

Topher and I’s engagement party was definitely the highlight of our Jordan trip. Since we’re getting married in England next year, we knew not everyone from my Arab side of the family would be able to make it – especially the older great aunties and uncles. So my parents recommended having a big party this year so the whole family on that side could attend. A great excuse to buy a pretty dress.

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I got my dress from Little Mistress at the House of Fraser and felt like a princess. The skirt was huge! It’s still available online at Little Mistress here. I paired it with flat beaded sandals from New Look and a clutch bag (not pictured) from Accessorize. I’m so glad I wore flats. My feet personally thanked me at the end of the night. They also appreciated the pedicure.

Topher is wearing a royal blue suit and white shirt from Next. The tie is from Primark.

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Me, my brother and Topher.

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We held the party at my auntie’s house in her back garden and one of my uncles organised the whole thing. I just wanted a starry night kind of theme with navy, gold and lots of fairy lights. It was really pretty – I’ve always loved outdoor parties at night over here.

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Topher and I had to endure a first dance which was interesting to say the least. It’s weird trying to awkwardly shuffle your way around a dance floor with 50 people watching you. We both concluded that we need to step it up on the dance moves for our wedding and all songs are way too long!

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The difference with an Arab wedding/party is that after everyone joins you on the dance floor, it’s a lot of people standing around you clapping while you dance if it’s your night. But eventually, it gets more fun and everyone starts to dance too, phew!

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We couldn’t help but sneak in our little nerdy dance moves!

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As much as I love dancing, my favourite part of parties like this is the buffet! Far from English weddings where the bride and groom forget/don’t have time to eat, at Arab ones you have to go first! Deal.

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Rule: There must always be lamb.

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Me, Topher, my brother and all but one of my cousins

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And my auntie and uncle!

It was a great night and great practice for next year. One important thing we took away from it was that you have to get used to all eyes being on you…and we seriously need to learn how to cut a cake properly!

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Jordan: In Photos

Since I decided to make a Florida style video to document Topher’s first trip to Jordan, I really dropped the ball on photo taking. Still, I’m going to photo bomb you with all the photos I did take. Sorry, not sorry.

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It’s never truly a trip to Jordan without at least one ice cream cone. This was gelato from Little Italy at Taj Mall.

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Topher’s favourite thing about the food over there was the humongous mezze breakfasts we would have everyday. I will wholeheartedly admit that I miss this.

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Fooling around at my auntie’s house.

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About 30 minutes north of Amman is Jerash, an city home to ancient Roman ruins. Topher loves that kind of stuff so it was a must visit. I vaguely remember the last time I went…20 years ago!

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On the way back to Amman, we stopped at a restaurant which had the BEST view. So pretty. And the food was lovely too.

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More ice cream of course!

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Obligatory mud bath at the Dead Sea. Who needs a spa when you have this available on the beach for free!

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Followed by the must needed shot of a tourist floating in the Dead Sea, reading a book. For those who don’t know, the Dead Sea gets it’s name from the fact that it has so much salt in it that nothing lives in it and when you go in, you float. Handy tip, don’t shave your legs that morning and try to go in. Lets just say I’ve never run to a shower so fast in my life.

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My mum and I went for mani pedis (my first one ever) for my engagement party. It was really fun though I’ve concluded that my feet are definitely still ticklish.

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Also, for the first time ever (even for my parents), we visited the Amman Citadel which is home to the Temple of Hercules (above) and the Umayyad Palace.

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A lovely view of an Amphitheatre.

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The Umayyad Palace

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Inside the Umayyad Palace

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The Boulevard – a new shopping area.

I’m going to do a separate post on the engagement party and the video I made of the trip so stay tuned!

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Four Winters, Amman

This is definitely the first time I’ve eaten ice cream described as revolutionary. Four Winters is a new ice cream establishment in Amman, Jordan that has two branches and is looking to expand across the globe – starting with London hopefully soon. My cousin knows one of the owners so took us all to test out the store at The Boulevard.

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Four Winters gets it’s name from the fact that they use fresh produce that is seasonal. The menus change and range from cautious, to courageous up to crazy. Everything about this ice cream is different. Each cup is made in front of you, one at a time so there’s no tubs of ice cream sitting out all day and there’s no waste. Then the way the ice cream is made is amazing! The ice cream is frozen with liquid nitrogen in front of you (safely of course!). So it’s definitely fresh…and freezing.

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I had a difficult time deciding over which flavour to pick. Do I want to be cautious or crazy? I was torn between Cereal Crunch which I knew I would like and Sweet Bell Pepper which I had no idea about. I eventually decided since I would be having a whole cup that I would be cautious this time and I went for the Cereal Crunch.

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I also sampled my dad’s pina colada flavour and my cousin’s peanut butter cup which were both tasty and we even got kanafeh flavour to share. Kanafeh flavour ice cream is definitely a first for me! It tasted just like the real thing.

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Patience is a virtue and this is definitely worth the wait. The caramel sauce is added to the cup, followed by the cereal, then the freshly frozen ice cream is put in after. And finally the toppings are added.

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My dad insisted I get in front of the camera for once. This is my obliging face.

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And there we have it. I warn you not to take a massive mouthful because it is soooo cold! But oh my god this was amazing. I was so annoyed that I only found out about this place on my last day but I will definitely be back next year. After we had to go to my great aunties for lunch and usually I don’t eat anything before hand as we get FED with her but not this time. Leaving with a fully belly, I declared no regrets.

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Jordan Roundup: What I ate

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Well, how do I begin? What didn’t I eat? (chuckles*). Eating is a big part of Jordanian culture and when you hang out with your family there’s a good chance there’s going to be food involved. At least for my family! The spread above is dessert of fruit and kanafeh at the top for about 20 people. Dig in!

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For breakfast on the first morning we had mana’eesh which is dough topped with za’atar (a spice) – though I always have the cheese version. And in my sleepy state I may have taken a (huge) bite or two before I remembered to take a photo.

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And after many years, I finally learned the source of all the cheese we eat over there. It’s sheep cheese that is preserved in water, salt and poppy seeds. It’s very salty when it comes out of the (giant!) tin so you have to soak it for a day or two in water.

I’ve always eaten similar foods when I visit but this year I finally noticed how much this cheese is used in cooking over here. You fry it to have with breakfast (or even just have it straight from the bowl), it’s on mana’eesh, used in countless desserts like kanafeh and qatayef (see below) and it’s used in so many savoury dishes it makes my head spin. I’ve now discovered where my love of cheese originated!

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These sweets are always in my bag to take home with me – the office loves them! They’re called Ma’amoul and are biscuits with fillings. Blue is walnuts, red is dates and green is pistachios. My favourites are the date filled ones. They come in different shapes and sizes and are popular to give to your guests that come to visit for Eid.

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This main meal is called M’sakhan. Roast chicken served on flatbread with onions. Usually eaten with your hands. I don’t because I’m a rebel. My family always laughed that my brother and I ate with a knife and fork but this year so many of them did the same. My cult is growing!

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I seriously want to eat this entire plate. Qatayef is mainly served during Ramadan so the last time I ate some of this was when I last came to Jordan during Ramadan. About 13 years ago. That is way too long to go without this sweet treat. It’s comparable to a pancake filled with sweet cheese. The same cheese as above in fact. So versatile!

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And a meal is not complete without a baby cup of mint tea. This and arabic coffee is my rocket fuel!

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It’s been awhile but we finally returned to The Bake House which I haven’t visited since 2012. I had the lemonade with mint again. Always a favourite with me.

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And I had the banana and strawberry pancakes which were amazing.

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Now a trip to Amman isn’t without venturing out and sampling some new food. Firstly, this frappachino type thing from Nestle Toll House. The name I am familiar, the fact that they have coffee shops, I didn’t know! Well anyways it was diabetes in a cup and it was freaking delicious.

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We also tried an Italian place called Little Italy at Taj Mall with some of the family. My uncle likes to order the entire starter menu for everyone to share so I got to try loads of new things. Most of which I have no idea what they were exactly. But delicious, yes!

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I decided to be adventurous today so I tried things I have never tried before. This is lemonade with basil. IMG_3020

Followed by a truffle risotto. I love risotto but have never had truffle anything (does chocolate count?) so gave it go. Quite nice but I still prefer my usual seafood risotto’s.

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Afterwards we were all lured in by the gelato stand outside so indulged in a cone. I tried strawberry balsamic which was pretty tasty.

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And this was only a peek of the many things I ate while I was there. Now I’m hungry. But that’s all the indulgent food for me for now. I’ve got 2 months until I eat the world in Florida and I need to fit into my shorts!

What’s tickled your tastebuds recently?

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Jordan Roundup

Now that I’m back in the UK and back at work, it’s time to reminisce about my holiday. Jordan roundup time! For those of you who don’t know, I visit every year to see my rather large family. It’s my pilgrimage that I haven’t missed for a single year since I was born 27 years ago. This post is just a few of the places I visited and things I did while I was there.

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Amman has changed a lot over the years and there are so many new and exciting areas that are being built so we have had a little look at a few of them. This area is called The Boulevard. It’s still a work in progress but I can’t wait to come back and visit next year. Especially to visit my new favourite ice cream place. But that’s another post!

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Traffic is still the same. No one understands how lanes work. Or roundabouts for that matter! One of these days I’ll be brave enough to drive myself over there.

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But the malls have been getting better and better.

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As well as visiting the local hotspots, there was plenty of family time to squeeze in since it was Eid. So exhausting! I also have to do an entirely separate post just for the food of course!

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A typical family lunch. This isn’t even the whole family!

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And as I do every summer, I relearn my cousin’s favourite card games and then lose miserably at them.

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It was more chilled than last year but everything is more chill when there isn’t a wedding and parties to attend. But Eid is definitely still busy!

Stay tuned for my next Jordan post on all the food I consumed. Warning; eat something before you read!

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