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“On Your Way” Brings the Amazon Shopping Experience to Lebanon

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One of the things I miss most about living in the US is Amazon.com. More than merely a marketplace, it’s a treasure trove that sells absolutely everything under the sun (and then some). 

I’m not exaggerating. I used to skip the university bookstore, buying (and selling) ALL of my college textbooks via Amazon. Last Christmas, I stumbled across gorgeous Ivanka Trump navy blue pumps at a steal…on Amazon. Every perfume I have ever procured, from my very first bottle of Burberry Brit back in grad school, was through Amazon. Most recently, my son Stephen’s play pen, stroller, bottle sterilizer, bottle warmer, and organic bamboo bath towel were unearthed…on Amazon.
Yes, folks. Amazon is life, and nowhere do you appreciate its existence more than in Lebanon, where it is nonexistent. Here, if you come across an imported product, particularly clothing or electronics, it’s substantially marked up (been to Virgin Megastore recently?). Quite often, too, you won’t even find what you’re looking for. W…

Baby Stephen's Baptism

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In Lebanon, sacramental events like baptism, first Holy Communion, and marriage can easily spiral into lavish affairs. Lebanese love to celebrate big, and that kind of festive spirit extends even to deeply religious occasions. Modesty is rarely the motif!

Contrarily, my husband and I tend to be understated in our approach. Two weeks ago, we baptized our seven-month-old son Stephen in the presence of an intimate few. The ceremony was beautiful and symbolic; the lunch reception following it, chic and idyllic; and the keepsakes, lovingly handcrafted with ornate detail. If I were to describe the day in two words, it would be elegant subtlety, and we wanted Stephen’s first sacrament to embody that.

The Ceremony
St. Paul’s Basilica in Harissa holds monumental significance to our family. It was where Jimmy and I united in holy matrimony over three and a half years ago. It was the church in which Jimmy himself was baptized some three decades ago. And it is where we wished to christen our firstbo…

Ramadan Prep with Wesley’s

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Here in the Land of the Cedars, Ramadan is in full swing, and with it, the daily ritual of fasting for many a Muslim faithful. The wave of heat sweeping across the country surely doesn’t help with the dawn-to-dusk abstinence of food and drink, but careful planning and guided preparation can.

When it comes to inspiration surrounding mealtimes and hosting, Wesley’s Wholesale is your mecca. As soon as you enter the store, pick up an American Cart flyer and leaf through the innumerable deals carved around the month-long holiday. Prices on staples like Royal basmati rice, Mazola corn oil, Hunt’s canned tomatoes, and Durkee paprika are all slashed, so stock your pantry liberally!
Explore table stations throughout the megastore decked with ingredients to stir the senses and get the culinary creative juices flowing. This week, the spotlight’s on pasta, salad, nachos, and garlic bread, so be sure to visit in-store for live demos of delicious mash-ups.

One hot item to try is Mike’s Hot Honey, whic…

In Loving Memory

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My cousin Josette Cherfane Mezher passed away on Sunday, May 20, 2018, after battling with a very rare form of cancer. Years before, when it first showed its ugly face, she had been treated successfully. But it resurfaced toward the end of her pregnancy in December, and after numerous operations and three months of hospitalization, she breathed her last stifled breath. She was only 33.

I still remember meeting you for the first time, in 1991, on my first conscious trip to Lebanon. I asked you whether you spoke English, but you shook your head, so we quickly fell into Arabic. We wore matching Where's Waldo? T-shirts my mom had gotten us from California. I saw you wield a fork with your right hand, and I was so envious that I trained myself to do the same, even though I am a lefty. To this day, I continue to grasp fork and spoon with my right hand because of you.
We instantly became best friends. You're the first person I exchanged letters with, and you'd write back from acros…

Why We Come Back to Lebanon

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The below post was originally written in the summer of 2012 and later picked up for publication by Annahar newspaper in the winter of 2014. I've reproduced it below because from time to time, I secretly reread it to remind myself why I elected to vacate the proverbial grassier side.

I often wonder how much different my life would be had I taken the job offer at Tesla in 2009. Back then, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed grad student who craved adventure in an international setting. I fought tooth and nail to plant myself in Lebanon, when logic and sanity would have dictated otherwise.

The country's poor and ailing infrastructure paints a grim future for our progeny, and the polluted environment threatens to curb our lifespan and quality of life.

Can one ever truly justify living here when the opportunity to take flight abroad exists? Do our kids have a viable future in this shattered model of a country? Or has the sun already gone down on us? And will we continue to push our yout…

The Almighty Power of a Greeting Card

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Ask an adult what their fondest memories of childhood are, and you’re certain to hear mention of a festive birthday party, or graduation from elementary school, or perhaps a visit from the tooth fairy. Life is punctuated by tiny moments of pure, unadulterated happiness. Capturing those precious memories with a greeting card allows us to celebrate them again and again as we grow older.

As children of the '90s, the overarching philosophy taught at school was “it’s not the gift that counts but the thought behind it.” In fact, gifts took a backseat to charming, sometimes handmade, greeting cards. Mother’s Day around the corner? We’d fashion a colorful card from construction paper and insert silly vouchers Mom could cash in, like “one free carwash” or “breakfast in bed” delivered by us kids.
If we were on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, we'd eagerly anticipate the greeting card that accompanied the present. I’m not exaggerating. The first thing we did when we received a g…