Sunday, February 28, 2010

A number of strange happenings

The shortest yet longest month of the year is over... spring is around the corner people (I can especially hear cheering from all my east coast readers, what's up with all that snow this winter?)

Speaking of snow, did you know it hailed in Egypt a couple of days back?! You don't believe me? Here's my proof:
last I checked, palm trees don't go well with snow!(photo credit: Abeer)
A thousand years ago, she asked me to sing in her band. I had no idea she made it big in Egypt. So glad I said no. (she's very nice in real life btw)

She shared a classroom with me until I.G.C.S.E. Now her billboards fill the streets. (she's also very nice in real life, and no, Egyptian women don't run around the streets dressed in party gowns.)

I plugged my camera to download my photos and it said "no image".

I have two kids of my own!!! (this one is the strangest of all)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Warning: the text doesn't go with the photos *imagine the title blinking and a siren screaming*

A Burdah (an old poem written in praise of prophet Mohammad and sung by the attendees) night, is rotated amongst the Chicago-area sister's places, monthly... I never go.
(*Dinner: halibut with Indian spices and cilantro)

Today, I hosted a small Mawlid celebration for six women. I am not sure how many people do this for recreation (other than a capella groups,) but I honestly believe if more people devoted a regular gathering for singing in groups-- a lot of good would be brought to the world.
(*Dinner: tomato rice, yogurt salad, greens)

There were no instruments-- just several booklets of the poem and a couple of experienced singers who lead the rhythm and all of us followed. There were also no kids, and this is why I never go to these gatherings. They're kid-free. Now I understand why. (Grabby was the only exception, my sweet babysitter joined us to take care of Grabby. Mei went on a baba daughter day, and she immediately knew what this meant "Can I get some ice cream baba?"... Smart kiddo!)

I am no longer annoyed at not being able to attend such gatherings.
I will make an effort to start attending in the future, God willing.

(*Dinner:blood oranges and lemon)

*I have no photos from today's gathering what-so-ever. Instead you get to see what we had for dinner three nights ago and what I had for breafast the next morning. Why? Well, because I took the photos already, so you get to see them.  Also, I warned you in the title! and here's one more:

(*Breakfast: mashed fava beans with chives and pita)

I totally ruined this posts mood with my food photos, didn't I?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Celebrate Mercy

Today in the lunar hijri calender is the twelfth of Rabi'ul Awal, it marks our beloved's birthday.


I am being taught in my writing class, to not write this exact coming sentence that I am about to write: 
 "In this moment, there are no words to describe the gushing feelings going through me about this majestic day in history " (here is where my virtual instructor will tell me to find words to describe my feelings... I raise the white flag.)

Fortunately I do know a number of people who can do the job for me... continue reading:

There's an international online celebration taking place today and on the 28th check out the link to find out more about the speakers (read the list, oh my!) and what timezone you fall under.

A very happy Friday to you, Allahuma Salli wa sallam wa barek 'aleih.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

foot work

A couple of months back I made the skirt below from: sew liberated twirly skirt pattern, for Mei's third birthday::


This is the skirt with a little bit of foot work::

The third sequel to these two photos, is a lying on the floor giggling Mei. I can't ask for more than this...

Happy Wednesday.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

that's fine

Yes, you know you want to... replay!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Right now... space bar is marked with red crayons and there are a couple of red lines on my screen too-- Grabby visited my room today, discovered my stash of crayons in my desk, and decided to leave me something to remember her by... Thanks Grabby!

... the recharger for my camera went missing, I am pretty sure Mei packed it somewhere inside one of her many little packing things: pouches with zippers, backpacks, coin bags, plastic bags, trunks...etc. Did I ever mention that Mei is obsessed with packing. Three years old and she's been all over the globe already--go figure.

... I spent the past two hours meal planning and writing down recipe's-- yes the old fashioned way. I can explain: I currently (still) have tiny space left on my hard drive-- from all my toe, feet, back of the head amongst other weird closeups on food, wooden floors, sand-photos.You know, all the weird stuff you get to see here--only I take about five thousand photos and choose the perfect one to share with you(believe me not an easy choice. I hear ya I'm a madwoman) so I cannot add the extra shenanigans to make my scanner/printer work on my computer. My wrist and fingers are killing me!

... finally after four years of interrupted sleep, I am sleeping for six hours straight (six!) thanks to Grabby who so easily obliged to our agenda of night weaning. Breastfeeding is one of the joys of life I think-- when you don't have to interrupt your sleep to do it, it becomes even better... if this is at all possible.

... this morning I received the sweetest mind-opening, smile-inducing- private blog comment in my in-box and I haven't had a chance to reply to it yet. Thank you *smile*

... I am a little embarrassed about all the wrong time slots I entered for yesterdays blog post. If it was confusing for you, go back and re-read the fixer upper. sorry.

... I am missing my sewing machine.

... I am inspired by him (what a handy dad one can have! you can find a lot more projects on his blog, I recently added it to my sidebar)

Leaving you with today's Sunny Bench Monday

 OK so this is from two weeks ago when it was actually sunny. It's definitely not sunny today and we are currently experiencing a winter storm, hmph. Also my camera is dead. so...
Happy Monday everyone!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mind Games

 (this is a read-at-your-own-risk blog because it might be too religious for some, so it's your call really!)

If you are a practicing Muslim, then you might have an idea of what I am about to share with you today. If you're not-- then this is all new to you. I thought today I might share a real day to day struggle for my Muslim self. This is by no means an account for all Muslims... Most Muslims (and non Muslims) are better than me, and most humans have different struggles with different levels, at different stages of their lives. Below is a little scene about a little mind game I play with myself, oh about 25 times a day. Some days are better than others, this one is from the... well... others:

I am preparing lunch for everyone in the house. I glance at the digital stove clock-- 12:30 it reads. Good I have plenty of time left. (I just prayed Dhur *noon prayer*)
I proceed with my green monster soup making, put Grabby on her highchair and have Mei sit on hers.

Three hours pass...

I am on the floor multitasking: Nursing baby while reading all the books Mei can find and bring me one after the other. I take another glance at the stove clock-- 3:20 pm it reads. I have a little over two more hours, maybe I should wash up and pray quickly...

An hour or so later...

The stove clock reads: 4:35 pm. I am washing the dishes and thinking about dinner, and bedtime routine. Meanwhile Grabby is emptying the contents of the kitchen cabinet by my feet, and Mei is watching Kai lan and pretending to be the baby rabbit from the show.

Some time later (you do the math!)...
The stove clock reads: 5:15 pm-- Dang, *Maghrib (dusk prayer) enters in 15 minutes, I need to run!
I swiftly turn off the running water, wipe my hands on my pants as I carefully jump over Grabby. I struggle with the safety knob on the bathroom door to open. Then shut the door as fast as I can to avoid an approaching Grabby from slipping inside the bathroom from under my legs (she's very slick this little one). I wash up for prayer, while still keeping an ear for any turbulence from the other end of the bathroom door. Two minutes later I emerge triumphant, I jolt through the rest of the house and arrive at the other end (no worries, our house is conveniently tiny)--the cupboard where I keep my Isdal (prayer garment) and my rug is on that end. Seconds later I am raising my palms with open fists right by my ears. Allahu Akbar (God is great)...

I often time think it's easier to not have to interrupt life for prayer, certainly not five times a day. Often times I am wrong... With this particular issue I am always wrong... I am always grateful I have to interrupt life. It brings me back to center, be it-- while washing the dishes, shopping in the mall, (watching a movie in the theater) or soundly sleeping at the wee hours of the morning. I never ever have this regret after performing my prayer. Before the prayer-- well, I won't lie to you.

Years back (pre-husband and kiddos and America era) I was spending the night with a friend of mine, and as these things go, we were chatting away in darkness... and again as these things go the conversation took a spiritual turn and we were asking each other about our favorite or easiest form of worship. Reading the Quran, she answered quickly without even stopping to think. Really? That's like the hardest thing for me (I was educated in English schools and classical Arabic was a bit of a challenge for me, let alone archaic Arabic).
What's yours she asked. Praying, I paused or Fasting. I can't decide.

Today, praying and fasting are a great struggle for me-- I perform them the way we're supposed to. I put them off most of the time, but when I finally perform them, I get reminded again why It's a choice. It's like that phone call with your father that you're dreading, but then you call and really it's not that bad. It's as-a-matter-of-fact so pleasant you don't want to hang up.

Speaking of which. It's *isha time (night prayer time).


*The Five Obligatory Prayer Times these days (they change according to day light hours-- which means everyday)::

Fajr         4:54 AM (Dawn Prayer time enters, Night prayer time ends)
Shuruq    6:38 AM (Sunrise, time for Dawn Prayer ends)
Dhur      12:04 PM (Noon prayer time enters)
Asr          3:03 PM (After-noon prayer time enters, noon prayer time ends)
Maghrib  5:31 PM (Dusk Prayer time enters, after-noon prayer time ends)
Isha         7:04 PM (Night prayer time enters, Dusk prayer time ends)
I was told by my super observant significant other that I made some crucial typos that directly affect my story, so I went back and corrected them for the sake of saving you (dear very patient reader) the confusion. Sorry about that!

Friday, February 19, 2010

loving and Friday links


Mei's new emerging face drawings, she's definitely a lefty btw.

The girls sharing, breakfast and a highchair.
The sun finally decided to give us a long visit. (forty degrees today!)


About utilizing some time for this.

Making this sometime this week(God willing). (I have a pound of organic, very-cold-chicken livers in our freezer... waiting. I know some of you are gagging right now, four words: you're missing out!)


To this song over and over and over. (blogged before)

This album, and this. (blogged before)

This podcast (hilarious, and entertaining)


Raising your spirited child.
Playful parenting.

Looking forward to:
Our beloved's (Peace and Blessings on him) Mawlid (birthday--it's on the 26th this month)
here's a Yusuf islam song in his honor.

I am planning on making our "Moon Cake" in celebration. How are you (people who celebrate the occasion) planning to celebrate the Mawlid? (other than fasting, praying, attending a Mawlid gathering, reciting the mawlid...etc) Any kids craft ideas?


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Long day ramblings

Long day today and let's just leave it at that. ( I actually wrote about a paragraph and then erased it, trust me not something you'd enjoy reading here, hmph!)

Mei was so bored with me today, and frankly I don't blame her. We only went out when baba came home and found us in a miserable state, despite his own exhaustion he rose up to the occasion and bundled up the two girls (without any help from me) and strapped them in the double stroller and off went our family on a mood changing 20 minute walk. Remind me to step out of the house regularly, I often times forget, or more frankly, resist.

The highlight from today was Grabby's up and down journeys on Mei's highchair. (she LOVES Mei's highchair, she's also becoming very successful at verbalizing her discontent if say one would try to move her away from the highchair. They grow fast, don't they?) 

 (Mei's new bake ware in use-- so very cute!)

Also our moon cake-- special request by Mei. We've been having a lot of sweets around recently, so this cake was improvised (mainly based on a muffin batter, with only three table spoons of sugar) I poked frozen strawberries in the batter-- couldn't hurt really... The verdict: Mei Loved it,  Grabby loved it and mama loved it. The very little sugar somehow managed to satisfy my  sugar craving, I didn't feel too guilty eating it.

That's all I'm here for. Hopefully I'll do better tomorrow.


Monday, February 15, 2010

I didn't...

...cook today--we ate left overs.

...take any pictures-- no inspiration.

...cut my nails-- can't find my nail scissors (I have a bad scissor mojo so it seems)

...listen to any music today-- I just didn't.


Here are some links just because:

How cute is this?

This is awesome on so many levels.

I love this print.

Mei's current favorite song. ( I am so making the girls the wings in the video inshaAllah)

I love everything in this shop.

I never watched the winter Olympics before (they weren't aired in Egypt) and I don't know a lot of the sports involved, but I am enjoying watching some of them this year. If you don't own a TV like us you can catch them here. ( also is it just me or are all these suicidal sports? My heart goes out to the luger's family.)

Middle-East meets Far-East. Check out this innovative Arabic Calligrapher if you're not familiar with his work already. ( this one says Allah al Adheem: God the Greatest)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Let your cheesiness shine!

...add insult to injury, not assault to injury-- is what I was told by my American-expression-checker. (this is from yesterday's blog just so you know) So there corrected!

 I originally wanted to share the above photo's recipe ( Egyptian style spinach with yellow split peas) if it had tasted authentic enough to me. It didn't... it was good, but not what my taste buds were expecting. So instead what you get today is the above photo of said dish, along with a bomb (trust me), and some prepping up for *a celebration of love.

Without further a due... le bombe::
(pecan cinnamon rolls from the five minute book using the brioche dough)
Let me tell you, if you want to gain about five pounds in one sitting, make yourself "le bombe" weez a frrrench 'accent!-- yes this is what I am calling this from now on... it was gooooood!

CE-LE-BRATE YOUR LOVE... C'MON! (I need to add a music symbol here but don't know how!)

(paper heart garland, cut by kitchen scissors and sewn together by my super cool machine)

*OK just so we're clear. As a super cool rebellious teenager, I was appalled by the idea of valentine's. I thought all my friends who wore red that day, and all the girls who received big flower bouquets and cheesy big teddy bears were LAME! They were just being brain washed by "THE MAN' tricking them into naming a special day for celebrating something that should be celebrated everyday without all the cheesiness around it. I take it back and I apologize to all my friends that I rolled my eyes at when seeing them dressed in red, all the ones that got excited and giddy for all the flowers and giant heart balloons around them. Those paper hearts are for them and for your dear readers. There's obviously a truth to my cool rebellious teenage mind. But you know what... this is the one commercial celebration that I don't mind at all... in fact I will also celebrate our Egyptian one next year which is on Nov.  4th btw. Because there is no harm in spreading love or cheesy love around. What is wrong with that? 
So let the cheesiness begin!

Happy valentine weekned everyone!

See you Monday:)

Peace and Love.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

brain dump and a recipe

One of the things my writing instructor tells us in the class is to write. Just keep writing as much as we can. Follow our ideas and see where they take us by dumping them on paper. Regardless if it is good or bad writing. The idea is to get practice at listening to your self, and generate ideas. I don't think I have a problem about dumping my brains out. I also don't have a problem about sharing my poor writing skills with the world. (Hello blog) I was hoping to improve my actual writing. I am a little frustrated right now with my class. I have to say I am learning a lot though-- I am just afraid it is not exactly the direction I was hoping for the class to take me. I mean I am not trying to get published. I just want to write well.
Also most of my classmates are like awesome writers. about 75% of them are working on a novel or a novella and took the class to get some help with that. I feel a little incompetent right now... and frustrated.

I think I am mainly frustrated at the "no impact man documentary" I just watched. Somehow the director of the movie managed to take one of the most interesting topics/experiments, and turn it into a lame reality show. As my husband put it, they included all the feel-y part of the experiment and left out all the practical, how they are doing it part, which is what we were interested in. Also discussing unrelated topics: how No impact man didn't want another child but his wife did-- was not only irrelevant but too private/personal and made me feel uncomfortable watching it (I mean it is non of my business really). It was disappointing. It did make me want to never ever forget my re-usable shopping bags. Also we might try going without electricity once a week... or once a month. It needs planning though. I blogged about wanting to try the experiment for a week. But it never worked out. First I forgot to do it when the challenge started (I blame my mommy brain. I have to blame someone!), and second I was homesick and didn't feel like adding assault to injury.

I feel like this blog post is a little too negative for my "trying-to-make-it-better" usual, so I'll end with last night's promised dinner recipe.

Below you will find a full description of how to reproduce our very easy, super fast and incredibly delicious dinner. Plus very strange food photos. Ready?

(note to self: take food photos at the beginning not the end of the meal)

Kofta flavored meatballs:


one pound ground beef (I used grass fed organic beef from whole earth meats: organic grass fed meats slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, even though it's not mentioned on their website. We happen to know because it's our friend's business) Chicago residents, do check it out!

one small onion (finely chopped)

half a bunch parsley ( finely chopped)

one tablespoon tomato paste

one jar pasta sauce (your favorite brand or homemade)

spices to taste (nutmeg, sweet paprika, cardamon, oregano, sat and pepper)

What to do with all this stuff:

mix everything together except for the pasta sauce. Shape the meat into meatballs place on a deep baking dish cover with pasta sauce and let cook covered in a 375 degree oven, or over a stove top in a covered pot. Cook for half an hour or until your meat is done. (no pink colored meat from the inside)

Dump over cooked spaghetti, and wait for your husband and two kids to lick their plates clean.

Simple, quick and delicioso.

The left over uncooked meat was covered with a plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator, and then taken out and shaped into traditional Kofta shape and cooked for tonight's dinner. I served it with rice, peas and salad.

What did you have or are planning to have for dinner?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Things that cut things

I need to buy more scissors, it seems like I am always looking for scissors. I have one Fabric scissor that is forbidden for any other purpose, one fabric serrated scissor and one smaller scissor for other endeavors. The last one is the one I seem to be looking for all over the place. (Yes-- to answer your surfacing question. This post so far is about scissors. I don't have a plan for today's post, so scissors is what came up right now.) Where was I? oh yes, loosing my one scissor. You see if you have kids, you'll need to cut things around often. And you're kids will try to cut things themselves too, unfortunately kid friendly scissors stink. They shouldn't be called scissors because scissors cut things-- these things just make you annoyed and are more likely to frustrate your three year old to a tantrum. So I cut things with my grown up-y scissor, and then I go about hiding it. And naturally I forget where I hid it, so next thing you know I am making paper hearts with the kitchen scissors. So as I said from the start I need more scissors, one can never have too many scissors or chocolate is what I say.

I also need a pizza cutter. I don't have one, and for some reason I think the year 2010 is the year where I try my hand at making home made pasta-- yup, including the actual pasta dough thingy. And since I don't want to buy one of 'em fancy shmancy pasta making contraptions, I will be content with a rolling pin and a pizza cutter to do the job.


You probably (hopefully!) noticed that I changed my template-- got bored from my old one. I am not yet at home with this one, but it'll do for now. I am actually thinking about moving my whole self into another virtual place, but this will need some time. And this week has proven to be a rather challenging one in this department. So the dotty thing is what me and you get for now.

Here are some photos from today, because apparently I took fifty of them. How is this possible? I keep on asking myself, so go ahead and ask with me::

::A foot of snow on the ground they say, how are my east coast readers doing? I know you guys probably win!

::Brioche-- from the five minute book. (I almost had a heart attack while preparing this one-- the dough wouldn't rise for over five hours. Apparently our house was on the cool side, so some sitting next to a warm oven didn't harm)

:: and here is why I have fifty photos from today.

:: "the question is: are you a cry baby?"

:: a too late shot, recipe' included tomorrow (God willing)

:: Mei's grocery shopping list from top to bottom:: a singing gate, broccoli, pasta, tantrums, one rainbow to be exact, biscuits, and princess things.

:: click.



added part: I just re-read my blog after just publishing to make sure *things make sense. Here's what I learned about myself just now ::

1. *they don't (sorry about that)
2.  I need more vocabulary than "things, thingy, thing...etc"
3.  It's a good thing I am taking this creative writing class. It hasn't payed off yet.

Here's my request ::

Be patient I'll get it eventually.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A true act of selflessness!

I went to bed last night around one in the morning. I got lost again in the world wide web. It is indeed a very tricky place... you see, it has all these side alleys and nooks that keep taking you further and further down, until you are deeper than you thought possible.  The next thing you know-- you're all tangled up and paralyzed.

Naturally, as soon as I finally manage "to find my way back home" and set my head on the pillow, Grabby decides it's midnight snack time. I sit up for another 15 minutes then set her down in her crib, and go back to trying to sleep. Before five minutes pass Grabby starts making weird gagging noises. So one more time I get up and this is when it happens... next thing I know I am covered in Grabby's earlier dinner along with her midnight snack-- noooooot a pretty sight, or smell!

So erase the first sentence from the very top, and lets try again...

Last night I went to bed around three thirty in the morning. I was not happy.
And this morning I woke up around six thirty in the morning. I was not happy either.

It is one hour before midnight right now. Both my eyes are bloodshot red (especially my right one-- there's this big red circle of clustering veins right by the corner of my iris and it stings people! it really really stings) I know you probably have no sympathy for me right now, since obviously I am doing this to myself. But you might have a slight amount of sympathy if you know that I am here because I care about you, and because I am not selfish and because I wanted to share something I enjoyed tonight with you (Am I getting some sympathy now? not yet... you'll decide when you hear it you're saying... okay! man you're a tough crowd) It's true. I watched this super entertaining movie tonight and it was awesome. Did you know that I like sports movies? well now you do.
Did any of you go to a roller derby game before? (just curious)

Anyhoo, here's my selfless act. Now go rent it or netflix it if you haven't seen it already! ( did I win your sympathy yet?...c'mon!)

Annnd you're welcome!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Four things plus a bench

Thank you everyone for emailing and commenting, I learned so much from your feedback. So since you've been kind enough to read my "serious" stuff. Here are some photos to better assist yesterday's unusual blog.

Desk:(this was taken about a year ago, I added it from my flickr account, hence the weird dimensions. Taken by a phone camera)

Desk, originally uploaded by Muslim Hippie.

Sewing Machine: (all the photos were taken very late at night, hence the poor light, I do immensely apologize!)

The three antique photographs:: ( again so sorry about the lighting, I don't like using flash, so all you get are weird blurry photos) first::




( don't mind the weird stuff on the wall!)

Repurposed Crib Rail::

My daughters are all about dress up these days. We currently own only own set of wings which is sometimes a problem-- you see Grabby is becoming more vocal about her desires. So this borrowed fairy costume from her sister was a compromise. It was screaming to be a Bench, so here you go-- The fairy inhibited Bench::

 Happy Bench Monday everyone!


Yeserday's post has been removed.
Thanks everyone.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy ten!

 Ten things that are making me happy right now::

1.Daily morning craft time, rocking it on these tunes. (The yellow alien is all Mei, she designed and glued everything, I only secured and added the belly button-- I didn't want him to look like a freak, you know*wink*)

2. These boots::


3. Another favorite chocolate chip recipe, found through her. I had them for dinner tonight (what I'm a grown woman I can eat cookies for dinner, If I want to!)

4. This song. I love her! Here's a kid friendly song by her (yes! we need good parent friendly kid music, please!)

6. How awesome is he?

7. This Photo. We are currently all about anything orange. And above all those cuties clementines popping in sweet little boxes all over grocery stores.

8. Grabby's new creeping words and animal sounds. A big fat heart for this one.

9. Awesome neighbors and friends.

10. My online creative writing class. (It's wonderful, I am learning so much, and I'm only on my second class)

What's putting a smile on your face these days?