Friday, August 2, 2013

What do you leave extra space for in your expat suitcase?

We're back!
Our trip to NYC was shorter than usual but we managed to condense everything that really matters to us into one week.
There were visits to several museums and even an interactive NYFD event with CPR training thrown in for good measure (plus a couple of coveted shiny red fire fighter helmets and flasks).
James Turrell
There was plenty of delicious food, including the caloric must-eats that were burned off running in Central Park.
Chelsea Market
Wondee Siam
There were long walks downtown and lots of things to see, some more complicated to explain to the kids than others.

There was even an impromptu trip to the beach: it is always a trip down memory lane when I drive down those lush, tree-lined streets. Being there always make my heart soar.

The Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton

Most of all, however, there were lunches, dinners, activities and downtime spent with people I love. There was the acquaintance with newborn members of this circle, the reacquaintance with toddlers that were just tiny babies the last time we saw them. There was the joy of watching my kids bang on the keys of the piano with my dad, or lie on his bed, literally on top of him (or he on top of them, a new favorite game of theirs). It is through my childrens' eyes that I see who my true NY family is, blood-related or not, because those are the people they are instinctively comfortable with, despite seeing them for just a handful of days ever year or so. A year that is a decade in their little worlds. 
Sure there was the jet lag, too many activities crammed into a day and overtired children to deal with sometimes as a result, but it was worth every minute.
And then there was packing to return to my other home. When I pack I always make sure to leave some space for the things I miss the most. Sure, I would love to squeeze in a few hundred ears of sweet summer corn and the soothing sound of NY traffic at night outside my window. But because I can't take back the things I really want, it usually comes down to everyday things that I cannot buy at my local supermarket. Things like band aids and clothes and books for the kids, Tylenol, bags of dried cherries from Trader Joe's and so on.
Here are a few favorites I packed in my bags this time:
A long-coveted cast iron pan. Love, love, love.

The closest you can get to homemade, for those desperate moments

For the husband. It appears this is a favorite in US expat suitcases

Cannot live without these (muffins, cookies, pie). Or Trader Joe's.

 Last but not least, possibly the #1 favorite for US expats (we actually even rewash these: that is how desperate we are!). Are you listening Ziploc?


  1. What an amazing trip! Can't wait to see what recipes you have up your sleeve :-)

  2. Looks like a fun trip! When I came back to the States when I was living in Rome, I would crave ethnic foods (especially Chinese and deli) that were hard to find in Italy, at least in those days.

    And Better than Bouillon really is a godsend. I personally live by the chicken base!

    1. I agree, ethnic food was always at the top of my list, but it has gotten much better now, in Milan at least. Although Mexican and Thai are never truly as good as over there.

  3. Gorgeous pictures! Hehe you're so cute about your ziplocks! I must say that I love them too but we don't get the slider ones here! A friend sent me something in one and I thought that it was so clever.

    1. Once you start using them, you can't live without. :o)

  4. I have not been back to the US in 2 years and the first thing I'd do is head to the best Mexican joint in town, followed by a steakhouse!

    1. I was wondering about your whereabouts. I remember you used to travel back and forth. So you are based in Beirut full time now?


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