Monday, May 31, 2010

Photo of the day :: First day of summer

Hot. Sticky. Buggy. Goodness, so much fun. Even for a bug-o-phobic?(wait...just googled it) an herpetophobic like moi!


I am finally coming around, and finding the appeal in Glee. I know!

I don't know if you are familiar with the Darabuka, I know how to do a few basic beats, but she really rocks it!

would have loved to attend this show.

Ninety degrees today, Ah yes! (btw, this is not me, oh noooooo)

And this is why I love etsy.

I don't wear heals, but heart!

I have farmers market asparagus, waiting for us to stay indoors for just a few hours, so I can make this.

My mother owned that same exact dress in lilac in the seventies, with the same braided fabric belt. Too bad she's about a foot shorter than I am.


Friday, May 28, 2010

I fell in love again...

 ... with the city. Garrison Keillor warned in one of his articles, about visiting a new place in spring-- you might find your self moving there permanently.  And oh how wise and true his words are. I am not going over seas this summer, and so far our plans are to stay put. But frankly I don't really mind. (except that I miss Egypt.)
 Chicago my friends is not a city to lament living in (except maybe in winters, {but that's another story} and frankly if we didn't have 'them' rough winters, everyone would come and stay--and that would be problematic)
 It's also a bonus when we get visitors, there's always stuff to do and places to go. So yesterday was millennium park day. (If you've never been to Chicago before, I absolutely recommend a mandatory visit. Come in spring if you can. Who knows you might decide to stay, and then we'll be real life friends, how about that?)

 If you're decision comes later in season, no worries, we have the best feet coolers in town. Just come, all things go...


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


 I used to get tonsillitis every month without fail when I was a little girl. You know what this meant... Yup, I was spoiled rotten during my childhood-- if that is at all possible!

My mother is one of these mothers, that have enormous hearts. When I fell sick, she would sit next to me, rub her hands against my forehead and alternate between singing and reading Quran. She would then make me potato soup. And demand all four siblings of mine, to be my personal slaves, for the entire duration of my sickness. Sweet life I'm telling you! (no wonder I got sick all the time.) I still keep my tonsils by the way. The doctor didn't see a reason to remove something that is perfectly functionable just because my mother thought it to be a good idea (around that time, the trend was to rid oneself as soon as one could of their tonsils, for they're but a nuisance) "God put it there for a reason, so let's keep it there, until God gives us a reason to remove it"... Thank you Doctor wise-man-you, sorry I don't remember your name.

I am remembering this because, a couple of days back I felt horrible. I had achy bones all over, and could hardly lift my self from laying flat on the floor. I had mastitis.  I was 95% sure. So I checked my temperature and sure enough I had a fever. It was late, so I had to wait till morning to get checked. My husband gave me everything one needs in a situation like mine. He gave me a hot wash cloth to release my milk clot, pain killers, food, and lots of fluids. And then he went to sleep... WHAT?
bbb... but... I need sympathy! I want him to rub his hands against my forehead and alternate between singing and reading me Quran. I want potato soup. I want... I want my mommy.

The next morning I woke up sore, and bitter. I got some sympathy from declaring to my facebook friends about my state. (I also learned that you can suck out the infection by placing cabbage leaves on the infected side. must. buy. cabbage!) But it wasn't enough. So I called my doctor who prescribed antibiotics (heart) over the phone for me. and a couple of pills later, I was as good as new. Well, almost, I called my mama and she sang and read Quran to me over the phone.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scenes from our weekend ::

Cook out in a park near the beach naturally means an extended beach visit with everyone. The short peeps got all wet and sandy, the tall peeps were happy to watch. (I wish I had some frizbie captures from the same outing for today. Next time I'll remember to throw with one hand and click with the other!)

ninety five degrees today! is it summer already? (her neck was all cute and sweaty. heart!)

Thank goodness for shady yards and ice-cream! (also brooms)

Rhubarb syrup, all jarred up and ready to rock some sparkly drinks!

How did your weekend look like?
Happy Monday (we have a thunderstorm for Monday's forecast, time for arts and crafts)


Friday, May 21, 2010

snot bubbles and cake-y cookies

I am sitting here staring at the screen, while listening to my youngest baby make unhappy noises as she sleeps-- she has the sniffles and it's at it's worst at night. I have her head all propped up with pillows for easier breathing, yet I can still hear her deep inhales and exhales, sometimes followed by moans and bark sounding coughs. My heart is aching for her. I truly wish I can lend her my nose until her illness clears up. (she wouldn't want to sport my big nose on her tiny face for longer than needed)
 I am not one of those all natural, remedy giving parents, even though I truly wish I was. I am not that patient. I will make chicken soup, and I will give arnica for speedy healing. And I give vit D to promote the immune system. (I also hold and snuggle with her as much as I can, my lower back is currently suffering from carrying her most of today.) But if my baby is aching, I give Tylenol, which I have a love/hate relationship with. Well maybe a hate all the icky stuff inside: the dyes (I try to get the dye-free kind) chemicals and what have you. (and those recalls are scary) But I love that it numbs my baby's pain. What's a mama to do?

How do you treat illnesses at your end?Please share.

 The sun was a tease today, hiding behind clouds, playing the shy game. I did manage to air Mei's mattress in those brief sunny moments. (I should air Grabby's tomorrow, get rid of some germs.) meanwhile Grabby rocked some  awesome snot bubbles-- my next door neighbor declared them the biggest she's ever seen.(high praise I'm telling you!) She even wanted to get her fancy Camera to take some shots. We agreed that it's best to leave it to our memories... I think we made the right choice.
 Mei helped mama make chocolate chip cookies this morning. (no, I still didn't buy sugar) I googled baking with agave nectar, (since I had a bottle on hand for like EVER,) and fancy shmancy internet peeps said that it can substitute sugar in any recipe except the result of the cookies will be chewier than usual. Well I say: internet peeps, with-all-do-respect, it's not true. The cookies were more like cake than cookies. I mean I am not the crusty-flaky cookie kind of girl. I am the 'a-little-bit-crusty-from the-outside-yet-chewy-gooey-from-the-inside kind of chocolate chip cookie girl. Yet the cake-y texture didn't do it for me. I mean if I want a cake-y texture I'll just bake cake. You know what I'm saying? so just so we're clear for next time, I am sticking with my trust-worthy sugar all the way!

Btw: apologies on the title, I couldn't resist!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

right about now

The sun has been gracing us for the past two days (we are very appreciative over here.) Sun usually = Mama in good mood, even if babies are unwilling to step outside. (are they mad?) We stepped outside anyways and they loved it.

We didn't make it to the beach yet, even though I so wanted to go today, but Mei wanted the park instead. (mad I'm telling you!) She went to the park as the green fairy (don't mind the wings, I buy them from the second hand store whenever I spot them, they do the job, even though I so want to try my hand at making them myself one of these days!)

 (photo from before, remember?)
I have two pounds of rhubarb in the refrigerator. I am in love with rhubarbs this season. I also make a point to always have radishes on hand. I know they don't go together, but I am about to attempt the unthinkable... or maybe not (one episode of food poisoning is enough, blech)
So I tried to make this and this (also this), this morning with the girls, but imagine that-- I have no sugar or salt in my house. true story. what are the odds that they both finish at the same time and without me noticing. Well the odds are apparently very likely. (I am in a contradictory mood tonight, I just noticed, or did I?)

 I have officially abandoned sewing for the past three months. I miss it, I won't lie, but I am currently in a rut. I have two cut pieces of fabric waiting to be sewn together to form a very unusual garment--since I didn't measure or follow a pattern (what? I am trying to revolutionize the craft. I believe. Also I am mad)

last words: I miss my Camera!


oooooooooo I just saw that smitten kitchen posted this. must. buy. sugar!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

m&ms poisoning and links

Last night I thought I was dying. It seems that I've been living in this country way too long and it's safe to say that I am spoiled-- for the past four years, last night was my first night to get food poisoned in this country. What you don't follow?

A little clarification to my non-Egyptian readers: In Egypt it is not rare to get food poisoned, especially if you are a frequent restaurant eater. The strange thing about my food poisoning is, it wasn't from regular food (and I know that because, me and my husband ate exactly the same things through out the day) It was from the one thing I ate and my husband didn't... m&m's, and yes I am sure-- my stomach felt funny as soon as I was done eating it (who gets food poisoned from m&m's?). In my defense m&m's is my traditional movie munching treat at the theater-- we watched Iron Man 2 in case you're curious, and yes I liked it. My favorite part was when Scarlet Johansen kicked butt and that's that.

My Camera is currently not in my possession, and I would have shared sunny photos from today's all day outdoor adventures, but my phone camera has all "face" photos. The girls were way too cute today to try and capture anything else... Fail!


I should be looking for summer sandals, but I have an obsession with boots. I really do!

Is it okay to say that I am in love with a bowl?

The fabric, the cut, the design, only problem is I can't wear it, otherwise...

Thinking about joining this weekly challenge.

Must. listen. to reason.

Is into her music these days.


Monday, May 17, 2010


Today was a 'nothing day'-- meaning,  it looked like rain, yet it didn't rain. It looked extremely cold, but it in fact, was not extremely cold. I wanted the car because I am spoiled that way, but instead my husband had to drive the car to work. The babysitter was supposed to come, but somehow she never came... You know one of those days.

I really tried to get motivated and do something fun with the girls, but... nothing, I'm telling you! I mean Me and Mei drew next to each other (literally, we do this neat thing these days, where we draw the same things in the same notebook on opposite pages-like I draw a fish on the right page and she draws a fish on the left and so on), and Grabby and I read books, and all three of us did all the puzzles we currently own (seven) . And we pretend cooked and real cooked, and we also watched peter pan, and skipped the pirate parts, because Mei didn't like them "Mommy they're scary!"

We did not leave our little nook though, we just kept roaming the house randomly, and eventually the day evolved into a 'nothing day' (I am not sure if I am making sense, but if you're a stay-at-home-mom, spending the whole day with no tall people to talk to, and feeling unwilling to venture out because it looks insanely gloomy, you might get an idea of what I just shared... or not!)

Eventually the clock struck five, the car was available, the husband took Mei to the park, and Mommy and Grabby finished our shopping for the week. Right before I hopped in the car-- with baby and groceries in their assigned places. I got approached by a tall person whom I do not know. She asked me If I was a Muslim and I confirmed. (what do you think gave me away?)

Battlestar Galactica's episode tonight was especially weird--yet fitting to a day like today.

This was taken from a sunnier day, thought it's a better ending for today's post.


Friday, May 14, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

first impressions

Before leaving to America, a very dear friend (who is currently living in the same city and not too far from where we live) gave me this beautiful dark maroon diary, with custom made inscriptions of an old Arabian poem 'sheddy 'alayki al jarhi wa intasibi 'abr dajati romhan min'al lobabi' (I am stuck with one of the words) here's the best I could do: hold on to your wound and stand tall, through the arrows shooting from hearts. hmmn (R, a little help here?)

I wrote almost everyday for two months in this diary. Then there was a one page update last year. (I was a terrible writer, I will not make fun of my writing here. ever. again!)

Here are some of the things I found amusing and worth sharing:

Sunday March 19th 2006:
Walking on snow feels like walking on clouds, which is pretty amazing, really. (I even talk to my diary as if it's going to answer me back)

Tuesday march 21 2006:
... I noticed how Americans have a different way of speech when dealing with strangers or in a business situation, not only are they more formal, but they put on TV host attitude, and occasionally they'll slip a couple of informal phrases and then go back to being formal. I noticed that with phone-calls too. And I can't help but wonder, do they learn that watching their parents growing up or is it more conscience? (I didn't edit my diary, just to show you how far I've come in my writing, wow!)

A note today: I remember thinking how all Americans sales people are fake 'cause they treat you super polite and smile in your face when in reality they don't know you and probably don't care about you. (I no longer think that btw) I was home sick.

Thursday March 23 2006:
My stomach is still upset, I think even though we're eating much healthier stuff, my stomach is still not used to the cleaner healthier ingredients! (no comment!)

(about furniture shopping)... I got a little bit depressed* seeing the prices and facing used ugly couches. I am censoring the rest 'cause I sound soooooooo air headed.

A note today: I totally broke down and cried at the thrift shop. We went home empty handed.

Friday March 24 2006:
My first step in An American mosque  and I already answered the phone and promised a complete stranger to become her Muslim friend, I also got categorized to hang out with the older women and the aunties, rather than the cooler younger student sisters. I find it weird but interesting, I never considered myself older!

A note today: I ask my readers, to never try this at home (meaning: don't promise strangers over the phone to be their Muslim friends, what was I thinking?) The woman I befriended turned out to be very sweet though-- I got lucky. We lost touch about a year after I moved to Chicago.

About hanging out with the aunties in the mosque: there were either the teenagers--who obviously won't hang out with married sisters in their twenties, or the Aunties. The aunties embraced me while the teenagers rejected me. I do realize how pathetic I sounded, by thinking it's weird to not be with the "in" crowd. Today It's a challenge to even go to a mosque, I'll befriend anyone. (now I sound more pathetic)

Sunday April 2 2006:
...we didn't get our expected shipment even though it arrived. Apparently Americans have their bureaucracy too.

A note today: Before I came to America I thought, plumbers showed up on time, streets were litter-free, governments weren't bureaucratic, and people glided on the streets from happiness singing 'shiny happy people holding hands'. The last one was an exaggeration... obviously I am not that naive. But you do walk happily in the streets holding hands... no?

...and lets stop here.


Edit: here's the poem's correct translation:
"Cover your wounds and rise, through impenetrable darkness, like a spear of flame".
Thank you Rahma, you ROCK!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

a tarty spring craving and a favor to ask

My computer screen is opened on these two pages simultaneously (if you're not the link-clicker-kind, those were two rhubarb crumble recipes. Such a thoughtful gesture, I know!) and I am at major loss here friends. You see, I've been on the lookout for some early local rhubarb. I've been keeping my eyes peeled since late March (yes, I am indeed naive, yet hopeful.) I've been scavenging all the stores in hope of a glimpse of this skinny-bloody-green-fibery-little-fellow (see how many adjectives I used to describe it?Help!)

I got introduced to this vegetable masquerading as a fruit (or is it the other way around?), oh about four years ago. My husband would come back from working in a small town (about 45 minutes drive north of Madison WI) declaring it's rhubarb season. And that his co-workers (who grow rhubarbs in their backyards so it seems,) were selling bundles upon bundles for practically nothing. A Blank stare would be my response. The next day he would come back, declaring that they're giving it for free!
But what is it? what do I do with it? how do I cook it? how does it taste like? I had no idea, and no interest to embark on an experiment, when I was in early pregnancy and struggling to keep a chewing gum in my mouth.

Now dear lovely readers, I am a more seasoned foreigner, with (definitely) a couple of pounds extra, a pregnant-free belly, and the pallet of a lover who has tasted his object of affection and is back for more.

 This is why I am boring you with all these details. Because, I have indeed found my desired object( It was the one and only skimpy bundle on the grocery shelf: I grabbed it carefully-- trying hard not to look conspicuous) I also made sure to accompany our skinny tart friend with his match made in heaven: strawberries.

Too bad it's one hour before mid-night, or else I would be sharing 'Right Now!' photos with my family of a steaming glass Pyrex dish bubbling with deep red juices.

Maybe this is for the best, so I can get to ask you for your favorite rhubarb/strawberry crumble recipe.

What's your fav.? Please share. It would be much appreciated.

Peace and Thank you!

Edit: town name removed upon request.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Mei demanded to go to school today, so much for my homeschooling advocacy! here's how it happened:

We passed by this super cool Waldorf school around lunch time-- their Kindergarten class was out in their playground--which was equipped with massive chopped tree logs, climbing steel bars and a massive wooden skeleton of a farm. The active kids were picking at dirt with long sticks and plastic shovels and some girls were trying to climb the fence-- the only teacher present at the time, managed to divert them calmly. A boy was sitting quietly at one of the corners, noticing some sort of a bug, and their teenagers were sitting by the footsteps of the entry way to the school.
  A random car blasted loud tunes, and everyone started-- as if subconsciously-- to sway with the light midday breeze and grin at the sun. And this is when Mei single-handedly managed to sabotage the euphoric scene, I just described.


"Mei, this is not a public park sweetie, it's a fenced school, you can't go in." I tried to reason with her.


Mei, your school starts in a couple more months sweet pea, lets find a park to play at"


I think she's ready, don't you think?

So Mei starts a part time preschool this September inshaAllah, and I do think she's ready and that she will blossom with more structure and around regular friends. Grabby will probably miss her, they've been playing together so beautifully recently, it make my heart all mushy, ack!
 iPhone capture (not the best quality)

So after this eventful midday spectacle, we made a couple more stops and then finally went to the park. I couldn't help but notice all the roadside violets, we even had some lining the side of our outdoor parking spot. I was so pleased to have read this blog post right before I stepped out. I already have a pretty vivid picture in my mind that entails two little people alongside one bigger person, a basket and violet blossoms.
again iPhone capture, my apologies.
This is what greeted us on our doorstep. The little fella was so scared, he forgot his early flying lessons. We were so lucky we got to see mama robin and papa robin feed  "young-spotty-belly" before they all flew off.

Unrelated: I've been experimenting with some free apps, and I'm glad to report that the whole foods cooking app is superb. You can search a recipe according to your dietary preference (gluten free, low fat, high fiber, diary free, vegan/vegetarian... etc) I  tried these for dinner tonight from their recipe search and I'm glad to report that they were welcomed by the grown ups, not so much by the little ones, eh.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothere's Day!

It was a wonderful, chilled day, in our neck of the woods. It entailed all things traditional... you know: sleeping in,  waking up to a lovely breakfast, a heart shaped cookie presented by my first born, and a " HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!" cheer.
I also got to take some time off from my babes, which consequently, entailed a lot of thinking about my babes. Ah the irony! No, for real- how  can I not visit the day when a mother was born along side her first coned-head, little bundle? It was so surreal, I laughed and cried at the intensity of it all. Nothing can ever prepare a woman with motherhood except going through it yourself. You will change irreversibly and you will (in most cases) never want to go back.


I am not photographing these days, I am in spring mode-- cleaning some cluttered space inside-out, and stretching and yawning if-you-will with the sunshine-- dusk is around eight these days, did you hear?

I've been making food that lasts us three days at a time (so unlike me) and enjoying my littlest one opening with spring flowers, she's: stubborn, demanding, patient, wise, sly, affectionate, interested, driven, focused and will not eat no matter how hard I try.
Her older sister is: a chatter box, entertaining, funny, intense, thoughtful, artsy, passionate, intrigued, musical, imaginative, and so aware of herself and others.


I am sitting here looking at my hands, and considering the fact that I am not in Egypt (once upon a time, my comfort zone,) I am talking to a screen-- documenting a period and a state of mind, hoping for some connection with like minded souls, tomorrow I am going for a hunt (might share, or might not) but tonight... tonight my friends I have a batch of brownies in an airtight container. (Did I mention I'm on a diet?)

And there you have it, another classic late night ramblings (I should categorize these!)


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Less than half an hour of your time...

Watch it to the end. Trust me:


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today was another beautiful, sunny, warm, Breezy, day. We started out by finishing off our weekly shopping (which by the way never ends up being a once a week endeavor, but you get the idea) Mei is pretty good about picking up her Mei sized shopping cart and helping out with the list. I do find a few stray items by the cashier, but considering her resistance to the cake/candy/cookies isle... no complaints. Also here's a discovery: Do shop before nine in the morning, the grocery staff are all smiley and offering their time and help every five seconds. You might also score a one day expired pistachio box for free. Since when do pistachio's expire... ah Americans!

We finished off by breakfast in the yard and some serious side walk chalk drawing. My help is no longer required, Mei does just swell on her own. Also Grabby, disregarding the stuffed mouth and the bits of chalk dribbling down her chin--ewww, and she won't eat sweet corn, she has serious taste buds dysfunction I'm telling you)

This is all I'm here for today, along with some links:

I am probably renting this movie so very soon (I am a big Audery Tautoo fan, also a Coco Chanel fan {not that I can afford her stuff, still}.)

This movie is on our net flix queue for Me before Mei.

If you are reading this and you're not a family member than you are from the lucky ones. I am absolutely smitten by this iphone app. and have been bombarding my family with all things hipstamatic. Get yourself one if you have an iphone, it's insanely cool!
Do you believe me now?

If you are into massive Muslim crowds, enjoy raw art performances, or have young ones and live in Chicago or the greater Chicago area, do mark your calendar. Taking it to the streets 2010 is happening this June inshaAllah.

It's getting hot and I am into these pants again, I want to get them in mustard yellow.

Leaving you with a song from memory lane.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scenes from our weekend::

I heart tulips! (at the Chicago Botanic Gardens)

a labor intensive Syrian dish for a dinner guest-chicken fattah (each layer is first cooked separately then layered in a baking dish, then baked. Deconstruction: baked pita bread, rice, chicken pieces, garlic-vinegar sauce plus yogurt-tahini sauce, & finally a generous sprinkle of nuts, served hot in winter days or cooled in summer days, we had it in between)

 new board game, a word which here means: two sleeping babies, a husband and his wife skimming through a game manual and "a series of unfortunate events!" a new favorite activity.

 not one but three raspberry-almond brioche braid photos, can you tell I'm proud? (from the five minute book) it was, oh sooo goood!

How are things at your end? do share.