Sunday, October 31, 2010

Egypt checklist :: an accidental visit

We've been reading and talking about the ancient Egyptians with my first born, and she's absolutely smitten by them. She wants to live in ancient Egypt, and rule the land. I thought it would be fitting to go visit a little place I always wanted to go to as a child but never got the chance-- The Pharaonic Village. Every Egyptian child probably went there on a school trip, but since I fell sick half of my childhood I missed, oh so many school trips.
On the wait:: who says only blocks are for stacking? Camels make swell stacking toys as well!

Anyhoo, we went, we bought the tickets, we waited... and waited and waited some more for our English speaking ferry tour/guide to arrive. People came and left, tours came and left and we were still there... waiting!

Finally, I realized (yelled hysterically at anyone in sight) that it's only a cheesy theme park, and we should just get reimbursed and take off . So we did...

"let's go have lunch at The Azhar Park, and then call it a day" suggested my sanity retriever.

I agreed.

But then we got lost on the way back.
"Hey look we're right by the pyramids, do you wanna go?"

"umkay" I mumbled...

Please allow me to revisit my lameness (the actual pyramids or a cheesy fake pharaonic village?) tough one huh!

 ...and they're huge! I mean I've seen them a gazillion times, but man, every time I go there, I understand again why the big fuss. I mean dude, we were standing right in front of the PYRAMIDS! build by the hands (and unfortunately blood) of my forefathers. And they're absolutely mind blowing.

So after absolutely despising Egypt, I fell back head over heals again. And this summons Egypt for you friends. It's a constant battle between mad love and gruesome hate. You can't take it lightly, it's intense in every possible way.

We had an early dinner at (as my wise one remarked) "The best Pizza Hut in the world!"

 We ended up missing the opening hours, but you really can't miss them, I mean we can see them while driving down the mountain (where we live, across the other end of town) on a clear day.
 So we rented a super bumpy horse carriage with a driver who took us out in the desert (the carriage horse was indeed a trooper, pulling all five of us uphill in loose desert sand) to get a panoramic view of the sight.

 The girls had the time of their lives-- as soon as the carriage stopped they hopped off and sat on the desert sand and played with rocks. The same way ancient children played and the same way kids all over the globe still play.

Remnants of the day washed down the girls bath water, it even lingered on in my girls hair the next day. Sand can be quite tough to get rid of. We love it nonetheless.

I have so many shots from the drive to the pyramids neighborhood, the carriage ride and from the desert. But I am going to be kind on myself and on you, and stop with this amount of photos. 2 hours are indeed enough blogging time. (Had a long phonecall conversation with my mom, put the food away, and finished my bedtime routine,while still waiting for the photos to upload!)

We'll see how long I last.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grabby's animal birthday party

 Time is indeed a strange creature. It passes and passes and makes things irreversibly change. Grabby was born in the water. A calm baby, who surprised the midwives by her stretched out limbs as opposed to the usual frog-like newborn form. She loves climbing, dancing, singing and copying her older sister. She's my little independent monkey. She refuses to get fed by me, so she usually gets bathed (or hosed down) almost after every meal. She loves bubble baths, and she'll follow me around our place with a book in hand anytime any day. She LOVES Dora the explorer and if I let her, she can sit and watch it for hours upon hours. She's also a big huger, and if you ask her for a kiss she'll never turn you down.
Yesterday my little sunshine turned two, we've been in need of some festivities around our little nook, so mama seized the chance and went all out, preparing for the party a week ahead. The girls helped with making the paper mashe' masks (Mei thought it was messy, but then learned to embrace the mess) we then painted the masks in different colors and mama gave them the animal features.

They were well played with and everyone was happy to take one back home with them.

I also made a crown for Grabby 'cause, I wasn't smart enough to remember to bring hers from Chicago. She avidly refused to wear it. It was fun making it nonetheless.

The pants were made from a favorite fabric I've been saving for a special project. My mother's Pfaff sewing machine is a dream to sew with. I am thinking of how I can transport it back with me to the U.S when the time comes (it's all metal).

No one knew how to juggle, but these juggling animals were made to fit the animal theme nonetheless, they're stuffed with lentils. For now they serve as weight to hold down the table cloth in place.

No birthday cake photos,  I made this cake but the frosting was a dud. (Egyptian ingredients are strange indeed) so Betty Crocker's ready made frosting saved the day. I somehow don't have face-free cake photos, hmn?

This book helped with the inspiration and the know how of many of the projects. The pants are from this book.

Happy happy weekend everyone!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

five years ago VS now

Five years ago:

I was viewed as the weirdo who married a foreigner.

was able to articulate myself in Arabic fluently without sounding like a five year old.

Had lots of child free friends whom I hung out with on regular basis.

Saw my mother and my brother at least three times a week.

Hosted (and cooked) dinner invitations for at least 15 people if not more, about at least once a week if not more.

Talked on the phone over three hours every. single. day?!!

Didn't sew, make my own cleaning supplies, or even dreamed of making my own bread.

No kiddos


I am viewed as the weirdo foreigner (and if I counter argue my Egyptianness, I receive a dismissive smile)

I catch myself translating my thoughts to Arabic, and when it comes out I do sound like a five year old.

Most of my friends moved to different countries or far away suburbs, and all of them have kids and are insanely busy. I might see a friend once a month.

My mother is usually either out of town or out of the country. My brother just moved to a different country (Like the rest of us, and he told me before he left that I sound like a non-native speaker)

In the rare occasion of entertaining, I invite two couple max.

Hardly talk on the phone.

Know how to sew, make my own cleaning supplies, know how to make bread, and dream about finding time to make more of all of that.

Yes two wonderful, fascinating, beautiful, kiddos.

How are you today from five years back?


Saturday, October 23, 2010


 (this photo is not from today, it was someone's sleeping nook on the side of the street when we were out tourisiting *not a word* in old Cairo)

Today we drove to one of Cairo's suburbs to check out a child friendly store to buy the girls homeschooling supplies-- we are now the proud owners of a child size easel.

On our way there, driving through mountains of crushed rocks, concrete and skeletons of new developments. In the blistering sun, we saw shacks built out of cardboards and loose bricks, tents built out of plastic trash bags, and a single sleeping space surrounded by straw crates and covered with rags to protect the napper from the glistening sun. I could tell there was someone resting in this horizontal space because his feet were peeking out. These guys/families are the workers or caretakers of a pile of rocks. The builders will spend hundreds of thousands of pounds for their new developments and wont provide their caretakers a decent shelter.

A couple of hours later after buying said easel and settling in for which coffee shop to stop at, I found myself frowning and almost ripping off a small piece of fabric atop my head (my hijab) and running in the coffee shop's indoors seating area, welcoming the cool breeze of fake, stuffy air and the smell of cigarette smoke (Mind you I was sitting under a giant umbrella waiting to get served a cool overpriced mint/lemon slushy.)

My cleaning lady is the wife of the doorman (like a security guard) of a fancy big building at the corner of our street. The building is almost finished, they've been guarding the building ever since it was an empty lot and an idea on paper. Five years ago when I last lived, they (the doorman, his wife and his then four kids--they are now six kids) lived in a hand built (by them) little shack made out of stacked bricks (no cement to hold the bricks together) and ripped cardboard boxes for a ceiling. They still live in that same old shack, and when I asked my cleaning lady if the owner will build them a small room under the stairs or in the garage(the tradition), she said, he's been promising for years now...

I am grateful for shelter, for air conditioners and for a whole lot more.

Alhamdulilah for his blessings.


Friday, October 22, 2010

moments, lists and links ::

This is my moment for this week. Smitten Kitchen's Butternut Squash Galette. It was so good I had it for breakfast the next day cold.



I've been carrying trash in my pockets, bags and later car ever since I was in school. Check out this inspiring initiative. I hope it spreads in every little nook in Cairo. Do spread the word!


The Makwagy (the ironing shop down our street, essential for every Egyptian's household, will iron all your clothes for next to nothing. Heart, sigh )


 This book! and this one too.


and some more things...


To THIS show. Seriously, go have a listen, if you're not hooked already!


Alhamdulilah, all praise to God:)

Happy Friday everyone!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow connection...

I've been wanting to blog for the past three days, only our USB connection is insanely slow. Sleep or blog? Hmn...

This last post (fall colors) took TWO whole hours to upload the photos alone. (I hope you liked it!)

So for obvious reasons, I will not share photos with you today, but, but you should know that I started sewing again (and I have something to show you once our connection shapes up) and I've been cooking like a mad woman. Also we discovered a new super close sporting club (similar to Canadian community centers, only you must be a member, which luckily I am) It's abandoned by Egyptian standards ('cause it's out in the middle of nowhere) which makes it just right for us. Mei absolutely loves it (they have a trampoline!!)
Grabby's second birthday is coming up and I need to make her another birthday crown (I forgot her first one is the U.S) and some birthday decorations. I also want to sew her a doll or pants or both, and, and make her birthday cake and party treats. I am an ambitious woman I know. We'll see.

We are currently in watch mode for an approaching dust storm. Rumor has it, it should hit Cairo tomorrow morning or even tonight. Please keep us and my youngest in your prayers/thoughts, I don't want her chest to close up again.

Enjoy the rest of your week *smile*

...annnnnnd peace!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Colors

Last year:; Red

This year :: Red
Last year :: Orange

 This year :: Orange

 Last year :: Brown

This year :: Brown

Last year :: Yellow

This year :: Yellow

 Now, how can I capture fall smell, hmn?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

fall cravings

 Egypt has it's head set strong on summer mode. Even though it almost swayed from it's position a couple of days back and we saw people in hoodies and blankets at night in the streets (we were still in t-shirts, but mind you these are Egyptians we're talking about here).

Alas, it's much too hot for fall I say, and not much trees to show off any fall colors anyway (At least up here on mount rock-more aka mokattam) So if fall will hide from us, well shall cook it out....

.... today, in experiment number one, I made Moroccan style butternut squash stew. From the fantabulous Deb of smitten kitchen. Only I didn't have couscous on hand so I served it on Egyptian style short grain white rice, and tweaked the spices to taste and added carrots and fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones. It was deeeelicious! If you're looking for something to make this fall-- be it a cold fall or a boiling one. I suggest the above dish. I said it before and I'll say it again. The woman never fails me, she's genius!

My next experiment will be this one. I almost made it last night but ran short of butter for the galette dough. And I say never get stingy with butter, I mean people, we're talking serious business here! (to answer your question *I am a mind reader * our car was at shop getting fixed, hence the no "quick run get zee butter from zee store before zee kitchen explodes and zee flour evaporates" that sort of hubby rushing prep talk thingy)

If all else fails, and Egypt refuses to budge, I am going to have to resolve to extreme measure. and don't ask what, I am still concocting an evil plan in this demented little head of mine *insert evil laugh*


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Settling in & The Amazing Bread Delivery Guy

The sewing machine hummed for about half an hour yesterday-- the results... Nada. I need to google the instructions, My mother's machine seems a little bit trickier than what I am used to. I am hopeful... also My eldest and I already cut and pinned a simple stuffy to try out. The internet is crazy slow and we still have no news from people in charge of such things. Lets all join our hands in supplication. Amin.

I can also tell I am settling in because I started making my own apple sauce, pizza sauce,  pie crust and I've been making my own cleaning products since we've moved to our place in Mokkattam (It's pretty much vinegar, water and for wood, olive oil-- nothing fancy) It's always a good sign when I start making my own things. I also found out where the vegetables were hiding at the grocery store (Egypt was short in Veggies for the past two months) I also discovered local asparagus! the cleaning lady refused to try it. But I assure you I shall not give up-- cleaning lady must. try. asparagus.
She tried brown rice though (Egyptians eat short grain white rice) and Liked it, she said it tastes like wheat-- I completely agree with her.

These guys ride all over the place, they're pretty awesome. It's also not a rare sight to see a bicycle lying in the middle of the road with bread scattered everywhere. Talk about on job hazards!  (the behind the scenes of this photo is pretty funny. My patient hubby parked the car several times to capture the bicycle guy whizzing through traffic. I have some funny outtakes. The one you see is what made it in the final cut)

This is all I have for you today.

Happy Sunday!


Crazy date today (10 10 10 )

Friday, October 8, 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.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Egypt Checklist :: Sultan Hassan Mosque

Egypt had a national holiday yesterday to celebrate a victory that didn't really take place. But don't you dare mention it to an Egyptian. Unless you desire to listen to something unpleasant.

Victory or no victory, we had a holiday people. So Sultan Hassan Mosque is where we packed ourselves to. And I strongly recommend if you find yourselves in Cairo to make a stop there. You won't be disappointed (also did I mention it's my favorite mosque of all times?)


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Here is my famous desperation post... Ten things I am loving right now! (I beg of you)::

1. Homeschooling my babes.

2. Dress up time that entails monsters, feet, and feathers.
3. Cloth diapered bums! (Yes, I started again. We don't have chlorine free diapers here.)
4. Thought bubbles, and family photos.

5. Significant others who try so hard.(Thank you!)

6. My youngest love for sticking herself inside anything and everything.

7. Baking and oh all the mess that I spared you from (Mei helped with rolling the dough) It's apple pie in case you're curious.

8. Old doors and walls. Oh yes!

9. Palm trees. They're everywhere.

10. This new fascinating world. oh my!