Friday, February 7, 2014

Jessica's Birthday

On January 4th, Jessica celebrated her, um, thirty-something birthday. On her actual day, we did some shopping, bought her some new sunglasses, and prepared for the official celebration. Due to the holiday and the fact that the majority of our friends were still away, we opted to have Jessica's party the following weekend, after everyone had returned back to Abu Dhabi. Twenty-five of our closest came over to celebrate with copious amounts of adult beverages and a massive buffet of traditional Arabic food from Lebanese Flower. Jessica made our signature drink, Bourbon Slushes, from a special bottle of Templeton Rye whiskey made in Brian's home state of Iowa. The piste de resistance was the desert. We bought 52 red velvet cupcakes, three serving platters, and a bouquet of flowers and arranged them into a gorgeous cupcake tree. Pretty creative if we do say so ourselves.

Although not ready for collection on her actual birthday, Brian surprised her with a new car. It was just recently delivered and she's now able to enjoy the full extent of her birthday present. #spoiledrotten


Knowing our friends' generosity all too well, Jessica requested that no one buy her any presents for her birthday, but instead encouraged them to participate in our charity raffle at the party. We donated a bottle of champagne and two day passes to the Monte Carlo Beach Club and held a raffle to benefit two of Jessica's favorite charities. We sold 75 raffle tickets and raised 1,500 AED ($408.42) amongst our friends that night. We told you they were a generous group. Greg won the passes and champagne, but since he's a member of the Beach Club, offered them up for a second drawing, wherein the passes were won by Marge.

The money raised at the party went to two very good causes. Sandy Paws is a charitable organization here in Abu Dhabi that cares for, fosters, and provides adoption services for stray cats and dogs. It's run by our friend Jackie who puts her heart and sole into the organization. LuLu Cats is an initiative headed up by our friend Susan to provide food for the nearly 50 stray cats trapped on LuLu Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi. These poor cats have no means for food and would starve if it weren't for Susan's efforts. Every couple of months she purchases dozens of bags of cat food and hires a boat to deliver them out to the island. Out on the island, Susan has befriended the maintenance and security staff and pays the guys to put food out for the cats daily. An article about her efforts was published last April by 7 Days Abu Dhabi. The photos below show all the food that was purchased with our raffle donation, as well as, the guys that feed the cats.

Thank you to all our friends for making this an extra special birthday for Jessica and for helping provide for all the homeless animals in need of our care.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I Married Adventure

The Adventurers Martin and Osa Johnson:

Osa Leighty was born and raised in Chanute, Kansas. Although born in Rockford, Illinois, Martin Johnson grew up in Lincoln, Kansas, and Independence, Kansas. Martin Johnson took part as a crew member and cook in Jack London's 1907–1909 voyage across the Pacific aboard the Snark. After that, he started a traveling road show that toured the United States displaying photographs and artifacts collected on the voyage. He met Osa Leighty while passing through her hometown of Chanute, Kansas, and they married in May 1910.

In the first half of the 20th century, Martin and Osa Johnson, captured the public's imagination through their films and books of adventure in exotic, faraway lands. Photographers, explorers, marketers, naturalists and authors, Martin and Osa studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands and British North Borneo. They explored then-unknown lands and brought back film footage and photographs, offering many Americans their first understanding of these distant lands.

Beginning in 1917 and continuing for 20 years, Martin and Osa wrote 6 books and produced 13 documentary films chronicling their adventures.
Martin Johnson died in the crash of a Western Air Express Boeing 247 commercial flight near Newhall, California in 1937. Osa was severely injured but recovered. Osa later died in New York of a heart attack in 1953.
Osa Johnson's autobiography I Married Adventure was the best-selling non fiction book of 1940. 

Martin and Osa's Legacy:

The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum is located in Osa's hometown of Chanute, Kansas. Formed in 1961 to preserve the Johnsons' achievements and to encourage further research into their fields of study, the Safari Museum (as it was originally named) has grown and flourished. The museum started with a core collection of the Johnsons' films, photographs, manuscripts, articles, books, and personal belongings donated by Osa's mother. The museum shares the beautiful old railroad depot with the Chanute Public Library.

In 1998 the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum was named by the History Channel Traveler website as one of the "Top-Ten Historic Sites for Valentine's Day" that "capture romance, American-style." In 2001 The Pitch (Kansas City newspaper) named Chanute, Kansas, and the museum as "Best Romantic Day Trip."

The Walt Disney Company was the first organization to license Johnson film from the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum for the 1976 program "Filming Nature's Mysteries." Disney again licensed Johnson film as part of the "Rafiki's Planet Watch" at Disney's Animal Kingdom when it opened April 22, 1998. The architects and Disney team developing a new "safari lodge" borrowed Johnson films from the museum in 1997 and 1998 for research and inspiration. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge opened April 16, 2001. Included is an ongoing exhibit of 36 Johnson photographs along with an original copy of Osa Johnson's 1940 autobiography I Married Adventure in the lodge's Sunset Lounge.

Martin and Osa Johnson were the namesake, inspiration and background story for the 2006-2010 Martin + Osa clothing line and national chain of 28 Martin + Osa stores launched by American Eagle Outfitters. Martin + Osa used references to the Johnsons on their clothing and accessories. Examples included "1910" (the year Martin and Osa married), "S-38" (refers to the Sikorsky S-38 amphibian airplane flown by the Johnsons) and "NC-52V" (the aircraft registration number of their Sikorsky S-39). Similarly Osa Johnson’s autobiography inspired a 2011 Kate Spade "I Married Adventure" zebra-striped purse.

Brian found a First Edition, signed copy of Osa Johnson’s autobiography I Married Adventure at an antique book store in Portland. The inscription reads “With Best African Wishes…Osa Johnson.” He simply couldn’t resist buying a 74 year old book about a small town Kansas girl who travelled the world on a great adventure and authored a heartfelt autobiography with a zebra printed book cover. He was pretty convinced Jessica would love it.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sri Lanka...Paradise Found

Sri lanka feels untouched by time and technology. It's beautiful, tropical, warm, peaceful, and affordable. This is our third trip to Sri Lanka and we've now explored Kandy, Colombo, Galle, and Tangalle. Our favorite area by far is Tangalle, located on the very southern tip of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is a 4 1/2 plane ride from Abu Dhabi and the flights generally depart around 11 PM and arrive at 5 AM (there's an hour and half time difference). From Colombo, we hired a driver for the 5 hour drive south to Tangallle. There are a lot of unwritten rules for driving in Sri Lanka and it's not something we would recommend for novice tourists like ourselves. There's no way to describe it other than an organized chaos of overtaking and honking.

We spent the next 5 days at the Eva Lanka Hotel just outside of Tangalle. It's a small hotel of 23 cottages built on the hillside overlooking the beach and Indian Ocean. The reception area, restaurant, bar, and lounge are all open air with foot paths radiating out to the cottages and swimming pools below. The rooms are very basic, but at $90 per night for the Sea View cottage, who can complain. There's no Internet or TV in the rooms and after the initial shock, we realized it was a blessing and the key to truly unwinding in our new found paradise. We highly recommend Cottages #6 or #7 for the amazing views.

We literally spent the entire trip sitting in a thatched hut shack down on the beach eating lobster and shrimp and drinking Lion Beer. The only respite from the beach was a trip up to the "spa" for a massage. We literally had the best massages of our lives for the equivalent of $25 per hour.

On our way back to the airport we stopped into Galle Fort for lunch and a little shopping. Nothing too strenuous or taxing, just a leisurely stroll. And then back on a plane to AD and the real world.

Sri Lanka has become one of our favorite places and we've already started looking ahead to our next trip back in 2014.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Altoids Robot

Brian's not one to sit idle for very long and as busy as we've been lately, he still managed to find time to build a robot out of 46 old Altoids tins. Each tin is held together with a series of bolts hidden inside and under the lid. How many people would agree that he has to much time on his hands?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pool Parties and Polo Matches

It's not all pool parties and polo matches in Abu Dhabi, but today it was. Emirates Palace played host to two polo matches between Abu Dhabi's Coutts Team and London's Faberge Team and between Milan's Maserati Team and Buenos Aires' Argentina Team. The day was capped off with a party around the Palace's pool. Such a civilized way to spend a day.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Race Day

It's race day!

A very special thank you to Jules, Hatch Engineering, and the Williams Team for the free tickets and apparel!!!