December 24, 2009

Random thoughts

*The title on this graphic said "dua" so insha'allah it will remind us all to make frequent supplications to Allah swt, something I personally forget to do as often as I should.*

Well not that I don't have any ideas for a dedicated post but I have so many little things flying around my mind today I thought I should let them out before my head explodes. lol Once again, list girl here, so bear with the numerals. :-)

1. I hate xmas now. OK that isn't fair; obviously I don't celebrate it but as someone raised Christian I do love the beauty of the lights and decorations and the fact that families actually get together at least once during the year.

That said... I hate it!!! For the past week I've needed to go to Wal-Mart but was stymied at every turn! lol It was rammed, jammed, packed in, the entire parking lot full. I'm thinking... what?? I needed that mix of items that you can't really get anywhere else except a discount store. Diaper wipes, facial cleaning cloths, a rug for my van, canned pumpkin, etc. etc. I finally made it out at 8am this morning and was just in a normal busy crowd. lol

2. Do people really still think the southern US is backwards? My husband to be, masha'allah tabarakallah, is so cute. He keeps telling me these little tidbits of info gleaned about the south from who? Danged ole yankees! ;-) Things like, and I kid you not: southerners only deal in cash and the whole place is a backwater, redneck, KKK card-carrying member paradise. These are just two of the little gems he has picked up and asked me about.

I am sure part of it is tongue-in-cheek but I really think there is still this lack of understanding that we actually have progressed some since the Civil War. You know, I love Tennessee. East TN to be exact. ;-) I was raised to say yes ma'am and no sir, to help out my fellow man, and how to make the best biscuits and cornbread. ;-) So see? Ain't nuthin' wrong 'bout being from the South and ain't nuthin' wrong with sayin' ain't'. lol

3. Diet Rite should not be allowed to sit by the other tasty diet drinks. Sorry all I have to say on this subject. :-)

4. I have become horrifyingly inept. I can no longer make a decision and it's annoying the life out of me! I mean important things, yeah no sweat. It's the LITTLE THINGS that are getting me. For example, A wants to buy me a nice wedding ring. Nice as in I have never had jewelry this nice before (most of mine always came from Avon so there you go!).

I can't pick one. I can't. I mean the options are STAGGERING. Really. Now of course the price is a helpful factor but not too much. There are a huge number of rings available in the price range he quoted. So I tried to look online and soon my little head was swimming. Bezel, cathedral, post mounted? What shape stone? Diamonds or plain metal or colored stone? Bling bling or simply elegant? Ya Allah. I am going to tell him my ring size and khalas, let him deal with it. I think that's best for my sanity. lol

5. A has only met one other Tunisian since he came to the US 10 yrs ago. Subhanallah. So I invited a Tunisian brother and his wife to our nikaah but alas, they are out of town. I don't think he meets many of his countrymen either because his "regret" was sincerely regretful.

6. Oh we are adding cabbage rolls to the menu. You've had stuffed grape leaves? Well Umm Wael (Sr. D's mother in law from Jordan) makes them but puts the stuffing in cabbage leaves. That overpowering tartness is diminished and they are oh-so-good. I am happy to add them to the menu and insha'allah to my take-home baggie as well.

OK I guess that's enough. Oh I am making slow-cooker chicken to make sandwiches out of; it's sooo easy it should be outlawed. I'll post the pics and short short recipe soon insha'allah.

Ma salaama and please keep us in your dua...only 2 days to go! WOO HOO!

Walima menu and... only two more days!!!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. You know I really feel like I am legit in saying "ya'll" now (meaning the plurality of it) because I have followers. I am not an attention hound but I do like knowing I have sisters out there who care. So a big old jazakumallahu khair to you all and for your du'at as well!

OK so the nikaah and walima are going to be low-key. As I said before, we do not want a big production. We feel the best wedding is the most simple as RasoolAllah instructed us. Insha'allah I am sure ours will qualify as simple! ;-)

We are having the nikaah in the masjid so we really want to be sure that we have enough food to feed who ever might be stopping by to pray at that time. Our masjid is not a huge one so there is no worry there will be more than we can handle insha'allah.

So here is the menu. And yeah, it's a big eclectic but so am I and my friends so :-P lol

1. Sr. N is making a big pot of spaghetti with meat sauce for the children. It should definitely go over well with that crowd. She is also making Sindhi biryani which should be YUM.

2. Sr. D is going to make the maklouba. Oh happy day! The photo above is from a dinner I made and served at my home but is the same dish. Sr. D's is infinitely better than mine. :-)

3. Sr. B is going to ask her 12 yr old son to make knaffeh. You know the big orange, "hay" on top, creamy cheese layer on bottom dessert? Yeah that one. It's really good and I have even had this at a famous bakery in UAE but her son's is the BEST I have ever had.

4. I am going to probably purchase a couple of other small desserts. I really won't have time too cook; mama be busy doing other things! Like chasing Aaminah, getting her dressed, dressing my self, blah blah blah. :D

For drinks there will be bottled water, possibly coffee, and maybe a couple of pops. My new husband to be and his children do not drink pop. I crave diet Pepsi so I guess I'll have a stash set by for mama. :-)

OK I am exhausted and so much more to do plus my eyes are closing and I am about to fall asleep!

Ma salaama.....

December 21, 2009

5 more days... doing the happy dance!

A'salaamu alaikum ya akhiwaat! I'm getting married in FIVE, count 'em 5, days. Woo hoo. OK not very ladylike but then I never said I was. :-p

I am very excited for my zawj-to-be to get here. Of course I've had a FEW things to get done. :-) I've offered for them to stay here as I noted earlier so really a top to bottom clean of my apartment is in order. You know pre-Aaminah anyone could have dropped by and I wouldn't have broken a sweat. Now though.. well alhamdulillah I have the intention right? lol

You know I love lists so here goes:

1. Clean apartment- work in progress, coming along nicely. Note: My place isn't nasty just a little cluttered here and there. Not helped by my 3 mo long illness. :-)

2. Plan the nikaah- OK granted this isn't some fancy, high-faluting (does anyone besides Yosemite Sam even SAY that? lol) shindig. It will be small and brief insha'allah. :-) Of course I would appreciate a nice khutba but just saying.. My planning for this consists of getting the Imam there plus 2 witnesses and a wakil for myself. Really this is quite a task considering half the people will be on Muslim time. lol

3. Plan the walima- This task is a bit more daunting but still not too bad. As we are going to hold the nikaah at our masjid we will also serve the walima there. My friend Sr. N offered to make spaghetti for the kids plus a yummy biryani dish. I am going to implore my friend Sr. D to make maklouba (that's Arabiy for "upside down") which is D-lish and yes that's with a Capital D. :-) I will bring desserts and drinks and the paper products insha'Allah. The hardest part of this is making sure the quantity of food is correct because anyone at the masjid will need to be fed insha'allah.

4. Get myself ready!- Self explanatory but come on ladies you know this is probably more nerve wracking. Pick out an outfit for nikaah, pick out one for later ;-) trying to plan how to have some "alone" time when there are 4 kids involved. lol Insha'allah it will all work out.

THEN there are all the plans for moving I need to get started! Part of my cleaning bonanza is getting rid of that junk we hang onto that we don't need. I mean random things even like a scribbled recipe that has lived in my silverware drawer for 4 years (even surviving a move!) and various other unnecessary items that do not need to be moved to a new locale.

I have some Islamic clothing items I need to find a new home for, some khimars and abayas, maybe some of my Indian clothes. Insha'allah I'll go through them tomorrow. I would like to sell some of the things I am getting rid of but really just don't know if I have the time.

Anyway I need to get alot of things done, put in notices, etc. I am very excited about my life with my new husband-to-be insha'allah and it's worth any amount of work!

Please keep us in your dua that Allah blesses our marriage and our family,

Ma salaama....

December 20, 2009

Really? No one noticed??

A'salaamu alaikum. I had a post titled "Late night posts = embarassing typos" because of the huge number of typos I discovered upon re-reading.

Welll the title SHOULD say that however it actually read "Late night potsts..." Yes I make a typo in the heading for an entry about typos. Oh the funniness of it. :-)

Ma salaama

Oh it's great to be me :-p

How incredibly cute! This is Aaminah at about 4 months of age masha'allah. How beautiful? Verrrrry!

€A'salaamu alaikum. Just gonna leave ya'll with a little tidbit about why "it's great to be me". :-)

As you know, I've spent too much time in the hospital lately, alhamdulillah. Anyway as a side effect of the antibiotics I was on, I now have thrush. Yeah I said it, thrush. The oral infection normally only suffered by babies. A yeast infection of the mouth. Oh the joy, the pure and utter joy of it. lol

It hurts, fyi. It's like having a caustic substance poured on your tongue and letting the top layer of taste buds peel off, one section at a time. Gross but accurate description.

Plus to all this? Yep, food loses all appeal and taste so maybe I'll shed a few pounds before my nikaah. Here's hoping! lol

Ma salaama,

December 18, 2009

Update on my impending nikaah

*I got this table at a yard sale for $5 and put it by my entrance way. Since I am talking about my furniture later in the post I thought I would show this photo.*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Just wanted to update everyone on the brother I spoke so glowingly about. Alhamdulillah things are moving along just lovely. I spoke with the Imam at his masjid (which is a very large well-known one in his area) and received a stellar report on his conduct, attitude, and knowledge. He was referred to as "Sheikh" by the Imam which, to be honest, intimidated me. :-)

He also spoke with someone where I live in regards to my Islamic character and attitude; he was apparently very pleased as he texted me later and said I had received a high rating. ;-) Masha'allah he is also very funny and relaxed which I appreciate as well.

So what next? Well he lives about 1000 miles from my home so traveling to meet is no light matter. However, he is coming down next weekend for us to meet. Alhamdulillah he will be bringing his 3 children (he is a single father) and I will have Aaminah and my boys so it will be really nice insha'Allah.

I've offered for them to stay in my apartment and Aami and I will sleep at my friend's place. I thought it was unnecessary for him to pay to rent a vehicle, drive all the way down and then have to stay in a yucky hotel. Especially having his children with him. I have toys for the youngest to play with and more space for the two older ones.

I am looking forward to meeting my future husband insha'Allah. :-) Now I want ya'll's opinion on a couple of things: what should I do here to make him more comfortable? He is of Tunisian origin so if anyone knows of some neat little tradition or a beloved snack, please share insha'allah.

If all goes well we might go ahead with our nikaah while he is here. Then the next time we would see each other would be when he makes the trip back to Tennessee to help me move my things. You see, I like my stuff. :-( I am not materialistic but I enjoy having nice furniture and I like cooking with my own utensils. So we'll need to rent a U-haul (or equivalent lol) and drive it 1,000 miles. Subhanallah.

Please make dua for us that Allah guides us to what is best for us in this dunya as well as in our deen. May He make it easy for us, amin.

Ma salaama,

THAT'S what I'm talking about!

*Sometimes I like to take photos of the raw ingredients. In this case, the colors of the beans and seasonings were so nice I opted to show it that way instead.*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Back when I was in UAE I posted about the spicy Arabic sausage stew I made when I was unable to find the ingredients for what I really wanted. :-)

I thought I should post the recipe and photo for what I had truly been craving that day which is 4-Bean Mexican soup. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Fairly healthy, can definitely be made meatless (though I don't know why you would want to!!) and feeds a bunch. As it's just me and Aaminah most of the time I freeze it in single serving containers. It freezes beautifully and reheats in about 6 minutes in my low-wattage microwave from frozen (a two cup portion).

4-Bean Mexican Soup:

1 lb ground beef (use very lean or ground turkey if you like to reduce fat)
2 cans diced tomatoes with onion, undrained
1 can each: black beans, chili hot beans, dark red kidney beans & great northern.
1 pack each: taco seasoning and dry ranch dressing mix

That's it. Really. I like to make mine in the crock-pot for ease of cooking. :-) Just add your raw ground beef and cook on high for about 2 hours; chop up into small pieces with wooden spoon. Drain or spoon off accumulated fat but remember: fat=flavor so don't take it all out! Then add remaining ingredients. Be sure to drain the beans (except for the chili hot beans). You can used dried beans but be sure to soak for 24 hours prior to cooking.

You can further reduce the sodium content by using low-sodium taco seasoning. I usually buy that and am very happy with it.

Say "bismillah" and enjoy!

December 14, 2009

Late night potsts= embarassing typos

*Who's a beautiful girl??? :-)*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Wellll I always like to re-read my posts and I was APPALLED at the number of errors I made last night! Granted it was 2:00 am I think when I wrote it but still... Let's see, I mistyped "rerepresentative"; that extra "re" really makes the word, right? haha And somehow "appropriate" became "approproiate". Wow. Next time, I guess I need to use spell-check to see what errors my flying fingers have made.

Really I can spell. lol

Oh and other news, my friend said Aaminah had a fever all night. :-( She is taking her daughter to school right now so I don't have any other info. As a mother I know she needs ME to take care of her. I don't mind missing my sleep all night to care for her, I don't mind if she vomits head to toe on me. OK well I don't like it but it's part and parcel, right?

My friends and my family are awesome. I am very blessed but they just ain't mama. Please make dua that she feels better soon. I feel very helpless being here in the hospital if she is sick in any way. :-( Miskeena Aaminah.

Hospital stays and husand-hunting forays

Well here is a pic of the yummy food at my hospital. lol OK so it's not really great but the women who deliver it are awesome. :-) I really like the hospital and the nurses and staff here. They are great to me!

Well alhamdulillah it's been a while since I posted and alot is going on. I have been really sick and in and out of the hospital. As you all know, I had a kidney transplant in 2002. Alhamdulillah! However the anti-rejection meds I take (twice a day for life) make is easier for me to get sick and unfortunately stay sick. Which is where I am now.

Since returning from UAE I have been hospitalized 4 times for an e coli infection that JUST WON'T GO AWAY! Alhamdulillah it isn't system/septic it was just in my urinary tract. Now however it has turned into a full-blown kidney infection (pyleonephritis) and in my transplanted kidney at that! Alhamdulillah my kidney function is ok but I have had pain, high fevers, and chills off and on now for two months.

When the kidney pain returned this weekend I had to come back to the hospital. They want to keep me for about 4 or 5 days total to give me i.v. antibiotics in the hope that this will knock it out once and for all. Please make dua/pray for me that these meds work. Having an infection for a long time can really wreck havoc on your body and I need it easy for a while. :-)

I have been searching for a new husband, sisters. Once my iddah was up I was halal and I really didn't feel like allowing the disapproval of others to stop me. If Allah says I am halal, then that's good enough for me. :-) I feel like I have been single for years now because both of my marriages post-Islam ended in divorce and they were not true marriages.

I know the sisters and brothers who think I am being hasty have good intentions but I really feel they are letting western ideals cloud their Islamic reasoning. I am not trying to substitute anyone for another, I simply want a good, practicing Muslim man who puts Allah first, his family second, and the rest of the world last.

Alhamdulillah I have met a very good brother masha'Allah. He was schooled in Shariah in KSA, teaches at an Islamic school in the northeast and has 3 children masha'allah. He has been caring for them since his divorce several years ago. His son told him, "I'll call you Baba in the morning and Ummi at night when you cook for us". Masha'allah!lol I feel very positive about this brother and here are some reasons why:

I changed my MO. As a convert I am restricted in how I can search for a husband. I don't have family to look for me and help me separate the wheat from the chaff and as I am older with children, no one in the masjid thinks of me for anyone unless they are old enough to be my father subhanallah. :-)

So while I did the Muslim matrimony website thingy I developed new rules. Here they are (and he passed all these with flying colors!!!!):

1. References, references, references. If a brother isn't willing to give me personal and family references, I am not interested. I don't expect it the minute we make contact because who knows? But if we make that intention to marry it is a must.

2. I have to meet or at least talk to his family prior to marriage. Sounds straight forward right? Well it never happened for me before and I always accepted the excuses. Not now; this is a non-negotiable for me.

3. When a brother wants to marry me "if..." I pass them by. I am not perfect, subhanallah, I know this. But I am worthwhile. Allah swt LED me to Islam. He tests me daily with a multitude of trials. I am learning to see my positives more than my "negatives" such as age, marital status, educational background, and weight.

4. If I feel uneasy for ANY reason, I take it as a sign from Allah. He gave me a brain and I feel He expects me to use it. :-) In the past, for a myriad of reasons, I would ignore those feelings and it led to disaster or at least divorce.:-) Untenable situations or half-truths, lies, I tried to justify. No more. I demand the same openness and truthfulness I exhibit.

5. I will not compromise on my important needs. I never thought my list was particularly stringent: a practicing Muslim who STRIVES for the pleasure of Allah and it SHOWS in his life, who loves his family, who is kind, affectionate, and willing and happy to spend time with me.

6. FATAL ERROR: One brother said to me, "It's ok you have a small daughter." WHAT? It's OK? Its a blessing from Allah and he should have been HONORED I would think of letting him help raise Aaminah. So big big BIG mistake brutha. lol

It's getting late but I think that is all. Of course I need to be attracted to him but really that is easy for me. I am not so picky. I like moderate to appropriate weight (I know the irony lol) and I reallllllllly like a beard. Oh masha'Allah a brother with a beard, straight in his behavior, on the sunnah, good with his deen, taqwa.... these things are so beautiful to me.

Anyway so this is pretty representative of what I am looking for and what I demand. The brother I have met is all of these things... and more. I pray Allah makes it easy for us. Amin!

Please keep me in your dua sisters; really I cannot keep doing this, trusting and being hurt. I just need a good zawj who fears Allah and will treat me like he would insist his sisters be treated. Not too much to ask. :-)

Ma salaama.....

Queens of Islam

A'salaamu alaikum. This is an AWESOME, inspiring song and video by MPAC called the "Queens of Islam". Sisters it makes you PROUD to be a muslimah! I love this and wanted to share it with you all insha'allah.

Ma salaama,

Umm Aaminah

December 2, 2009

To end it all...

* This is Aaminah with the babydoll I bought her for Eid. She loved it! It talks and laughs and cries and sleeps and burps. lol She doesn't like to go anywhere without it masha'allah!*

A'salaamu alaikum. So we do things in this life with the best of intentions and yet, still, somehow, they come back to bite us in the rear.

I am talking about my recent marriage. It is over almost before it began. How strange really when I sit back and think I was only there for a month and then it could just end. Subhanallah.

I had to come back home because of my illness, and the fact I couldn't work there, and he lost his job. Fair enough, no one said marriage is easy or we always get what we want.

After I returned home I received no correspondance from him until I found out he was seeking a third wife. My viewpoint was, if you want a third wife, you should really be able to provide for the two you currently have. If he wanted a third wife he should have brought me back instead or spent some of that time with me, not searching for something else.

Subhanallah. I am not hurt now; I am practical and I thank Allah swt that it ended when it did instead of me hanging on, crying, begging, and just in general making a right @$$ out of myself. :-) Alhamdulillah I only did that for a couple of weeks and then asked to be released thru khula.

My waiting period is up and I am seeking another husband. I believe in the rulings of Allah swt and that a woman is available for marriage once her iddah is up. For khula you only have to go thru one cycle to ascertain there is no pregnancy and hand over your mahr. So alhamdulillah those things were accomplished and I am ready to move on with my life.

I am still searching for what I want: a strong muslim husband who will help teach and guide me, who will love and adore me, who will help raise my daughter as his own, who will be kind and caring and laugh with me. Who isn't afraid to let me see them cry. Who loves Allah swt and His Rasool more than anything in this dunya and who places his family above all other pursuits.

Insha'allah I feel positive and hopeful. I know that Allah swt has decreed this path for me; I am really working on becoming more patient and less demanding, on being a better Muslimah despite my circumstances. I cannot keep waiting for everything to be "perfect". I dont want perfection, I just want a marriage.

Ma salaama,

Umm Aaminah

November 1, 2009

Well, a few changes have taken place.

*This is Aami in her "borrowed" khimar in our salon in Ajman. She was so sweet masha'allah, saying "Allah, Allah" and wiping her face as if making dua.*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I am back in Knoxville now alhamdulillah. I had started having some problems with my transplant and needed some medical attention. It would have been prohibitively expensive in UAE so the decision was made for me to come back to the US where I am fortunate enough to have health insurance.

Of course I am very sad to be apart from my husband AGAIN. :-( Our plan was to remain together in UAE until his immigration papers were processed. Now of course we have had to make some changes. I will remain here until he comes to join me. I do not fly well; I get very motion sick plus the expense of the flight itself and the upheaval international travel caused in Aami's life.

Please make du'a for my family that Allah swt reunites us quickly and blesses our provisions so we might start our life together. Please pray that Allah strengthens me in my purpose and keeps me from the sadness that threatens to overwhelm me. Pray that He helps me be a better mother, more patient and kind even when I feel the weight of being a single mother the most.

Insha'allah if our finances permit I will travel back to Ajman to see my husband in a few months if it seems our application is being processed more slowly than we anticipated. I am NOT looking forward to flying again. I'm not afraid but my motion sickness was so severe this time; I actually vomited all over myself on the flight back to the US. It was embarassing, disgusting, a little funny, and oh so uncomfortable. I had to undress in the tiny airplane bathroom, wash my abaya and khimar off in the sink and wring it out best I could. So I wore wet, stinky clothes until I arrived home about 12 hours later. Alhamdulillah.

I was very happy to be home, to see my family and friends, to be in familiar surroundings. However I would trade it all to be by my husband's side, where I belong. Ya Allah please hear our du'at and fulfill our desire to be together, growing in our deen and love. Amin.

Insha'Allah I intend to start my blog up again; I was understandably saddened by my abrupt departure, and of course feeling bad due to my health issues. I am alhamdulillah finally getting settled again and will insha'Allah have the time to sit down and blog again.

Jazakallahu khair for all of your prayers and thanks for your patience!

Ma salaama.

October 14, 2009

Chili or Spicy Arabic Sausage Stew?

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. First forgive me for the really unappetizing picture. As I hand wash dishes I just didn't feel like "plating" it as I normally do. So this is how it looks, khalas! (Arabic for finished!)

I was craving some good ole American food and a friend mentioned having chili and Mexican cornbread. YUM. Of course she lives in W. Virginia where it's chilly now and we have yet to go below mid 90s but hey, I can turn the A/C down!

OK so I had to source my products. I wanted to make this yummy chili-like soup my sister shared the recipe for. It has 4 beans and uses taco seasoning and dry ranch dressing mix. It is UNBELIEVABLY good.

Well I could find dark red kidney beans and white beans but no black or small red ones. OK no problem. I'll just use 2 types. Then I couldn't find the taco seasoning. Alright, I can make my own, it'll be close. Well I can't really make my own dry ranch seasoning so no worries, it'll be a regular chili. It's all good!

I always put meat in my chili; animal fat gives a richness just not found in it's veggie counterparts. All my carnivorous friends let me hear ya! lol Anyway I have used ground beef here once (all the meat is really fresh and safe) but it cooked up beige. Beige. Ohhh no. That does not bode well for me eating it.

Let me explain WHY. In Islam there are certain conditions that must be met in order to slaughter an animal. One it should be done in as humane a way as possible. No electrocution or disgusting living quarters. To be Islamically correct the neck of any animal is slit and the blood allowed to drain out. This is why the meat looks different. I am happy the animal was killed more humanely but sad my beef was beige!

Long story short, I couldn't eat it. I am weird with meat and milk products and that was that. So we found some lovely looking sausages called merguez. They originated in Tunisia and Algeria and are spicy and really pretty. I decided to give them a go.

My end product? A two-bean Arabic spicy sausage stew. Yummy, fragrant, thick enough to scoop up onto pita bread (don't get me started on my inability to procure cornmeal!!!) and a nice meal. The addition of chickpeas or lentils would have been really good and fit in with the new taste I think as well.

However I will never buy dried kidney beans again. Those things are impossible to cook!!! I did the fast soak where you boil rapidly for 2 minutes, cover, and let set for 1 hour. Drain off liquid and hopefully some of the side-effect inducing gases and you are good to go.

Except I cooked those beans for 6 hours and they were still a bit al-dente! lol Anyway it tasted good, Aami liked it and so did I. Abdullah had a headache tonight (too much work on his dissertation) and hasn't partaken yet.

Alright so here is the recipe:

4 large mergueza links (could use spicy italian turkey sausage or turkey chorizo)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups dried dark red kidney beans, soaked overnight, discard water
3 tbsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. HOT chili powder (plain unadulterated chilis, NOT U.S. chili powder blend!)
2 tsp. salt or to taste
2 tbsp. oregano
2 tbsp. oil
splash of orange juice for a little tart sweetness
1 can white beans
1 can sweet corn
1/4 head shredded cabbage

OK so put beans in the pot (if using dried cook the dried beans, garlic, & onion first til half-way cooked before adding other ingredients) and fill about 3 inches over with water. Add the onion, garlic, spices and tomato paste and cook til mid-way tender. Add the sausages and cook at least 45 minutes to ensure they are well-done. The last things to add are the canned veggies and the cabbage. Cook til cabbage is desired softness and adjust seasoning as needed.

Say bismillah and enjoy!

Umm Aaminah

"Storekeeper" Aami

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Abdu calls Aami a little storekeeper because she loves to play in this cabinet and rearrange the food. :-) It's really cute. I managed to catch her in the act so you can see how she is very diligent about taking inventory!

Just file this under "cute".

Ma salaama,

Umm Aaminah

Aami and Zack

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! So tit for tat, this is Aaminah and her biggest brother Zachary's photo I wanted to post, from the same last weekend we all were able to spend together.

Zack is a budding musician and we enjoy it soo much when he brings his acoustic (alhamdulillah!!!!) guitar for the weekend. Aaminah is ENTHRALLED by it. In this photo Zack was practicing in his room and Aami, drawn by the music, wandered in. I think you can see the mutual love on each of their faces. So cute masha'Allah. I love this photo also. I think Aami is Zack's first groupie (but not in a trashy, short mini-skirt way!).

A couple of weekends before it was pretty late (11:00 pm) and I needed to dry some clothes. My dryer had broken (only 1 yr old!) and I had to run to Lisa's to dry our clothes.

I asked Zack if he would mind to keep an ear out for her as she is a sound sleeper and the chances of her waking were slim to none. He agreed kindly and off I went. I also took advantage of be sans-Aami and went to the grocery story, so I was gone over an hour.

When I came back Zack wasn't in the living room so I assumed he had went to my bed to sleep. (We had gotten rid of their futon-long story- so our sleeping arrangements were interesting for the last month!) In the morning, Aami woke up with her normal "mama mama" and when I went in to get her, what did I find?

Zack asleep on the fllor wrapped up in blankets. Wow. He opened one eye (he is NOT a morning person!) and I asked him why he was in here. He said he was afraid he would fall asleep and not hear her if she cried so he brought his covers into her room to sleep.

My sons are AWESOME.

Ma salaam,

Umm Zachary wa Alexander wa Aami :-)

Aami and Alex

*The book Alex is reading was HIS favorite when he was younger and one of Aaminah's too!*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! I looooove the photo and the story that accompanies it is even MORE precious.

This was the last weekend the boys were with us before we left for Ajman. It was about 4:00 am and Aami woke up crying, a very rare occurence in itself as she is a pretty sound sleeper. I was contemplating getting up for her (usually she might just roll over and go back to sleep) when Alex, in his sleepy groggy pre-dawn voice said, "Don't worry Mom, I'll get her."

He proceeded to not only go pick her up but bring her into the living room and play with her. He read her books (as you see in the photo above) and eventually he let her fall asleep against him.

It was so sweet and of course a bit heart-rending as I know they will miss each other. Her brothers are outstanding; they are patient and loving and playful with her. In return, she adores them. Insha'allah we will return soon. Amin!

Ma salaama,

Umm Alex wa Zack wa Aami :-)

October 13, 2009

Some of the things I miss

*Obviously this is NOT #1 but...those who know me know my love for a good cheeseburger!*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! This is a pic I took of an end-of-Ramadan iftar I had at home with Aaminah, Lisa and Aliyah. Homemade cheeseburgers (YUM)on bakery rolls with tomato, onion, lettuce, chipotle cheddar cheese, and mayo. (No tomatoes or onions for Lisa, I must point out!) Also an AWESOME salad that was better than the cheeseburger... almost! Butter lettuce, red onion, cucumber, tomato, swiss cheese cubes, pecans, dried cranberries, avocadoes and Green Goddess dressing. OMG. YUM.

So I miss the food in the US although the food here is good it's not the same. I miss my friends and family and Muslim community. I miss Aaminah being able to spend time with her brothers and Mamaw and Aunt Janet and all of her Muslim family too! Really there are too many to name! ;-)

I miss driving. I can drive here but I don't like it. I miss the fall. This will be the first year of my LIFE I haven't had a season change from summer. Dang. Sucks. 'Nough said. :-)

I miss knowing how to DO things. Like how to get meat at the grocery counter, how to talk to anyone, how to behave in any given situation.

Alhamdulillah things are NOT bad here. I just miss certain things.

I miss cooking in MY kitchen where I know where everything is.

I miss having a bathtub just right for Aaminah to take her fun little splash time in. We have a bathtub here, it's nice, just a weird configuration from what we are used to.

I miss being home. Insha'Allah pray for us that we can come home soon and I can bring my husband to Knoxville. He loves nature and hiking and camping and let me tell you, there ain't alot of it here in UAE! lol

OK just to reiterate, this is NOT a rant, just a little collection of some things I miss.

Ma salaama,

Umm Aaminah

October 12, 2009

Niqaab update

A'salaamu alaikum. A few posts ago (pre-UAE) I posted a photo of me in FULL coverage and gave my thoughts regarding it.

I would like to make a few amendments. This isn't the type of cover my husband wanted me to wear and it is not what I wear.

I do wear niqaab here in UAE but only in and out of our building. We have a disproportionate numbers of bachelors here (read: laborers and unskilled workers) who will ogle, stare, and just in general make an annoyance of themselves.

At any given time there are at least 25 to 40 of them squatting on the grassy areas, drinking tea, or talking. Once I did go out without my niqaab (it was really late at night) and I was definitely attracting attention.

Abdullah feels (and I agree) it is better to keep my face covered in this area so my whiter-than-normal skin and green eyes do not draw their attention. It is very safe here but at the same time there is no reason to take chances.

What is the most that would happen? I could be followed home and as we live in a multi-storied, elevatored building that would be scary for me. I would prefer to slip a niqaab off and on as opposed to dealing with some psuedo-stalker with a thing for fluffy chicks with white skin and southern accents. LOL

Alright so now you're up-to-date.

Ma salaama,

Umm Aaminah

Pull-top tabs... a blast from the past!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! This is just a funny little fact. They still use pull-top tabs here in the UAE. I was taken aback at first as it's been YEARS since I last pulled a tab and I am sure my niece and nephew have NEVER done so. :-)

Oh the diet Pepsi cans here are pretty, don't you think?

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

October 11, 2009

Ajman: where it's great to be an honorary doctor!

*Aaminah is amazed by the beautiful glass chandelier hanging in the waiting area of the hospital LAB. Yes lab waiting room. Sooo posh!*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! My family jokes that I am (or think I am) a doctor because of my myriad of health conditions. To be fair, I am very knowledgeable about my conditions and having been in nursing school I am well versed in the healing arts. :-)

Ajman is a veritable medical paradise for someone like me! Don't want to bother with a pesky doctor? No problem, just go to your nearest pharmacy and tell them (not even SHOW them your old bottle) tell them what medicine you want and BAM! it's yours.

Want some bloodwork to check on your renal function? Not a problem, just scribble down your own orders; they even mark "self" as the doctor.

Seriously. I am shocked and in my case very happy this can be done. I know what bloodwork I needed and I am also on long-term medication that DOES NOT CHANGE. I think the US insurance/health care system should take some notes. I don't think this amount of freedom is good but for instance, a medicine that your doctor can state is for a long term health condition should maybe be free of refill restrictions. I'm just saying... :-)

Also while there I saw a I woman with a baby in a blanket. Not a big deal of course until I happened to see the baby. It was sooo tiny; it's head was about the size of a peach. Subhanallah. It looked to be maybe 2 months early? May Allah have mercy on the family and heal the baby or bring it back to Him and give comfort to his mother. Amin.

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

October 10, 2009

Just some thoughts on UAE

*His 'n her laptops. Awww how cute!*

A'salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Here are a few of my disjointed reflections on UAE so far:

I am a little surprised that I still feel like a "stranger in a strange land" here in a Muslim majority country. I don't fit in with the ultra conservative sisters who wear niqaab and boushiya and walk thru this world as if they are not a part of it. I am really taken by them and their other-worldly aura.

NOR do I fit in with the sisters who go to the other extreme and wear tight or see-thru clothes beneath their $1000 abayas and have their fabulously-styled hair showing thru their thin shaylas. Can I get an "Alhamdulillah!"?

Then you have the middle ground, simply muslim sisters who dress modestly according to their cultural mandates and who have even smiled at me once or twice. I think this is more where I would stand and most of these sisters seem to be expatriates (not Emiratis) the same as myself.

Also I do not want to hear how Muslim brothers are so much more respectful of Muslim sisters. Alhamdulillah they do not engage in idle chatter with them or in'sha'allah look them up and down but they will NOT stop for you if you walk in front of them nor will they offer to assist a single mother pushing a stroller with a crying baby, lugging 3 bags and obviously 7 seconds away from dissolving into tears.

Nor was the woman at the "reception counter" being very kind when asked if there is a phone available and instead of offering you her cell phone to use for a minute, she directs you where you can buy a 30 dirhams ($8) phone card instead. Alhamdulillah!

THEN... there are the others. The porter who helped me collect my massive amount of baggage, tracked down a cell phone so I could place a call to my husband, and when he saw me at the airport a while later (it was faster for Abdullah to drive down and get me then to wait for my connecting bus) stopped in his work to ask me if my husband was indeed coming.

There was the 20-something girl from the UK who works in Dubai, on her way back from a friend's wedding who helped me as I was obviously struggling to juggle Aaminah, my 3 carry-ons and carseat off the plane. She actually walked all the way thru immigration with me and to the baggage claim. Masha'Allah the kindness of strangers. The kindness of non-Muslim strangers to a muslim mother. :-)

So I think what this all means can be distilled into this: people are people are people are people. Was I surprised? A little, but mostly by the small kindnesses shown to me and definitely by the lovely, warm reception I received from my husband, and also a little by the uncaring attitude of others. I am from the south, the Volunteer State and, while I am not nationalistic (or state-istic?lol) I am proud of the fact that we hold open doors for each other and go out of our way to help a stranger.

Tonight I prayed Isha prayer with my husband. He has a beautiful voice and it was very moving to be standing with him in worship of our Creator, to be lead by him in prayer. It made any other positive or negative vanish. I made sincere dua that Allah blesses him and blesses me, that we grow together in our religion and in our relationship, and that we teach our children to be pious Muslimeen. Amin.

As we stood facing Makkah and the Ka'aba I was overcome with awe that I was so close now. Every prayer, every Muslim in the world faces in this sacred direction. It is something I have done thousands of time since I converted to Islam. But this time it held even more significance for me. I could still feel the heat of the desert sands on my face, I could look out my window and see the Arabian Gulf shimmering on the horizon. I could even insha'allah retrace the steps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

So to recap: I am happy. :-) I miss home of course but seeing Aaminah KNOW Abdullah at sight (and call him "Baba! Baba!") was a beautiful thing. Less beautiful was her amazingly severe jetlag. :-( I tried to help her but it was so hard on a little baby, to try and make them stay up so they can get on the correct schedule. I am sure she was thinking, I WAS on a schedule! :-)

Insha'allah we will be home in a few months time. During my stay here I hope to make some positive changes in my life; I think I have found an Islamic Center for converts so I am very excited by that prospect as well. Their website is I would just use the website for contact info; don't email them. I did a week ago and still nothing. Of course now I have started work, alhamdulillah, and have not found a way to juggle work, homelife, and study. Insha'allah. :-)

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah wa Zawjah Abdu!!!!!

Shoes, sensible shoes!

*Notice the air vents for cooling comfort and the thick, wedge-shaped orthopaedic heel. "Stylish" is the brand. What a misnomer! lol*

A'salaamu alaikum. This is just a short post on the fun time we had searching for APPROPRIATE shoes for me.

I should have brought more with me. I did not. The ones I brought, while cute, are not so comfortable and not really modest enough by modest (not hoochie wear) Gulf (and my husband's) standards. They are like the little ballerina flats, with an open top and open back and small strap. Really popular in the US but unless you wear black stockings with them, not appropriate for UAE.

Also there is the comfort factor to consider. They are flat. FLAT. And my feet have been killing me after looong days in the classroom. So hubby said time to go shoe shopping.

Now normally I loooove to buy shoes. Stereotypical or not. They always fit and you can find them in all price ranges and colors. Look fabulous on you. Almost fail-safe shopping. Looking for shoes overseas is a different story.

First and foremost is the quality. I ended up just buying some "pleather" shoes because the real leather ones were, in my opinion, astronomically priced. OK to be fair they aren't really "pleather" because they wouldn't fool anyone! lol

I buy shoes on clearance in the US usually or at a discount place like Wal-Mart or Shoe Show on sale. So it was a shock for me to find what is considered the higher quality shoes to be such a poor value.

We settled (between my need for comfort and my husband's need for me to be dressed more modestly) on a pair of black rubber heeled shoes that would be the envy of every lunch lady from Topeka to Tallahassee. Really no idea where those locales came from in my brain but I was adamant to use Topeka. lol

These are a MASTERPIECE of modesty, a serenade to sensibility. "Oh y hee" as a friend's young daughter used to say, oh y hee. I like nice shoes. Pretty shoes. I dress very modestly, some would say plainly, and I like my shoes to have a bit of personality. So it was a bitter pill to realize this is really what is best for my job and my way of dressing here in UAE.

If only I had bought some Earth Shoes before I came... if only. :-)

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah of the sensible shoe (tm)

*This is a photo of Aami at the Abu Dhabi airport. She loved playing with the life-size statue of a camel. Very stereotypical and can you say HARAM? lol*
A'salaamu alaikum! This is part of an email I sent my family, laughing about my travel experiences as a solo mom of a sick baby en flight. Enjoy!

Anyway the trip to Chicago from Knoxville was almost uneventful with the exception of Aaminah crying so hard she vomited all over her outfit. No worries, I was smart and packed 3 changes of clothes alhamdulillah.

No problem, how many more changes could she need??? This is what I thought rather smugly to myself.

Well, that said, our flight was momentarily delayed on the landing strip. Thankfully that gave me time to change Aaminah's clothes.

Then we had to rush to get on our next flight. I didn't realize it at the time I booked our tickets, but 2.5 hours isn't enough as I had to get boarding passes for my flight in Chicago. So rush rush rush and a nice man from the ticket counter actually helped us not by-pass security but fast track it. Of course all that rushing only meant we got to sit and wait on our flight for 30 minutes but I guess they want you on early as we were two of the last ones to board.

Sooo long story short, I had no time to change Aaminah's diaper since Knoxville. After take-off we were required to stay buckled in for a while and then of course i had to deal with my motion sickness. Great. lol It gets worse as I get older; I will never travel again without some sort of medication!

So all this meant Aami had the same diaper since pre-flight Knoxville and by the time I was able to stand up to change her...yep, you guessed it. She had peed thru her diaper onto her newly-changed clothes. :-(( Now we are down to her LAST outfit and I was stressing! We still had 14 hours of flying time plus airport juggling.

Thankfully she kept those clothes clean. Whew!! But in my desire to pack only comfy clothes for her and my silliness to think she would not require so many changes of clothes, I had packed just a short brown shirt and white leggings. White. On a toddler. On a long trip. LOL That was a stroke of GENIUS, especially if I wanted her to look like a little beggar child upon arrival.

However once we landed in Abu Dhabi and a very kind young lady helped out a struggling mom with too many carry-ons, I was able to break into a suit case and find a cute dress. You know most of the people who travel in this region really dress their kids up for a flight. Aami had carseat bedhead that made her beautiful bouncy curls a HOT MESS and both of her cheeks were inflamed and rough and red due to some unnamed allergeric reaction and my use of wet wipes on her face.

Yeah, finding a nice dress was paramount at this point! lol

Simply put, I've learned alot about flying with small children and plan to adjust accordingly before next we travel. Oh and please please please please PLEASE do not let it be traveling alone again. :-)

You know I have been writing this email for 2 days now. It seems I never have a truly spare minute. Of course also wanting to spend time with Abdullah but even besides that, Aaminah was sick for a couple of days, she is teething, and trying to make sense of her new world. All of this, PLUS the jet lag, resulted in an often cranky, never really sleeping well baby who also refused to eat.

WHAT?? Chunka dunk not eating you say? Yep, She was not a fan of food for a few days but now she is perking up. I think the cold just made her feel bleh and took away her appetite. However the jet lag is receding now (she has been asleep since 10:30 I think tonigh) and life is becoming normal.

I know this is a looong email but it was way past due. We have (fairly) reliable internet here so I really am in a good position to communicate... well as long as Aaminah cooperates. :-)

Alright end of disclaimers. Some interesting facts about UAE:

* You never see elderly people here. The population is overwhelmingly made up of expatriates and of course they are always young and rarely allowed to bring over relatives, especially aging ones. I saw an old man today and was like...what??? :-) I realized how odd that was and asked Abdullah about it. See above for his answer. ;-)

* There are many recognizable brands here from fast food (Krispy Kreme, yay!) to clothing to vinegar. Yep, Heinz. :-)

*People are rude in a really impersonal way. Like at the "hyper market" (large grocery store) today it was really busy and people will just push your cart out of the way or walk right in front of you. None of the polite waiting for a couple of seconds, oh no! It was weird but I adjusted quickly which meant I still try to wait and be polite and say excuse me while getting cut off. LOL

* UAE is overall a very clean country. I appreciate that.

* My husband is GREAT. OK so to be fair, that isn't a fact about UAE but he lives here, it's my blog, you do the math. :-)

* Although this is a Muslim majority country it is also a conglomerate of cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. Mainly Indo-Pak but others are represented as well.

* It's weird not seeing any dogs around. Not strays nor pets. Abdullah said some people have them of course but I don't think I have seen even one yet.

* It is verrrry safe here. We took a walk at 2:30 am the other morning. Quiet, peaceful, niiiice.

* They consider 90+ degree weather to be pretty sweet. Our apartment stays at about 80 to 82 degrees. Abdullah is really sweet masha'Allah and turns the air down during the day a bit for me to about 77 degrees which feels D-Lish. Really. I am acclimating to the temps and gives props to myself for starting my campaign at home before I came here. :-)

* Driving rules: what are those? This could be the topic of a WHOLE other post so I'll just Fast. We say a massive twisted, scrunched up wreck on a divided highway with no entrance or exit ramps, bright dry sunny day. I mean, what did they wreck on ??? A banana peel? haha

OK so excuse some of the oddities which made it obvious this was written for a personal email and not a blog post. Just don't have the time right now to fine tune everything. :-)

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

October 9, 2009

Liiiiiiive from Ajman! (Or...sorry it's been so long!!)

*Photo: I took this a few days ago. Is a really beautiful masha'allah! I wish blogger would allow me to post more photos EASILY. I have soo many to choose from!*

A'salaamu alaikum and hello!!!!! Sorry it's been such a long time. Aami and I arrive in Ajman, UAE on Monday September 28. Since then we have been acclimating ourselves to a new country and a new family. Masha'Allah everything has been going GREAT!!!

I could not ASK for a better husband. Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah! He is sweet, kind, supportive and understanding. Say masha'allah tabarakallah please. :-)

I have so many experiences to blog about but soo little time! My observations about life in UAE, I have already 200 photos and I started a new job. Really a total life change except I am of course still a Muslimah, a mommy, a wife, a sister... all that stuff. :-) But the details.. all different now.

Our flight was interesting, to say the least! I had written an email about it and I might amend it to post on here. It was funny and a bit stressful but sooo worth it in the end masha'allah.

My job... that is worth a post or two on its own! I am a KG teacher here in UAE at a British curriculum school. I won't of course post particulars about my students by name and I won't post photos but I will tell about my experiences working in the Gulf for others who might want to follow.

One big change has been mine and Aami's eating habits. My husband is a verrry healthy eater and of course it is rubbing off on us! Alhamdulillah. We eat whole foods, fruits, veggies and some meat of course. Aami and I have had a cheeseburger from Hardees and a chicken sandwich at a local mall but otherwise are eating "clean and green". ;-) I think that phrase can apply to sooo many things!!!

Anyway here is a sample of what we eat:

1. Hummus. Fresh, cooked at home. Abdu made the chickpeas and instructed me on the rest. Grind your chickpeas with a little water and salt and garlic. About 5 cloves, peeled. This is your base. Lasts for a week in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, jazz it up! Add spices (red pepper and cumin are favorites) some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and then finish it off with a good drizzle of olive oil. YUM.

2. Fool madammas. This is fava beans (fool) cooked and mashed (madammas). So simple and yummy plus is healthy! We used canned beans btw. Take a tomato or two, chop it finely. Add some chopped garlic, onion, and cumin, red pepper, and fragrant spice mix (cinnamon, cardamom are in it) and fry lightly over low heat for a few minutes, stirring often. Soften the tomatoes this way. Then mix in the beans, heat thoroughly. Remove from stove, mash with fork. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with thin pita bread. Once again, YUM. Aami loves this, sans the pepper.

3. Fresh fruits. Self explanatory. :-)

4. I made veggies tuna salad today. Chopped cucumbers, grated carrots, and finely diced onion mixed with tuna and a judicious amount of mayonnaise. I put Aami's into soft white bread bun and put Abdu's into whole wheat pita. It was really good!

5. Tea. Yes this is a food group/meal. :-) Tea with milk and sugar, yum. Add a plate of biscuits (lightly sweetened crackers) and you are good to go!

6. Packed lunches. Sometimes leftovers (like chicken and rice) but just for Aami. Here lunch is a LIGHT affair. I usually take some bread (not sliced white) and spread a bit of peanut butter on it. Did the same with a a fruit and nut pancake I made too. Of course yoghurt is always a winner! The other teachers at the school exemplify Arabic hospitality so each day I get little bits and bites of their food. Yum. I will reciprocate insha'allah soon!

OK so this is just an idea. Light, healthy, big on fruits, veggies, and salad. Light on the meat and of course Aami has milk. Those who know me know I am WEIRD about drinking any milk other than what I am used to so... I haven't ventured into "shelf stable" milk territory yet. :-)

Oh I drove. I was nervous. I did a good job (masha'Allah). It wasn't trafficky. lol Anyway I need to start driving myself to school but I don't like round abouts!!! I also don't like feeling incompetent. Sigh... insha'Allah I'll master it soon. Make du'a for me. Really please.

OK I have sooo much more I want to say but it's almost 3 am. I am not longer jet lagged but I woke up and thought... hmm good time. Aami doesn't like sharing my time alhamdulillah so is easier for me when she is asleep. :-)

I will start to write regularly because I really want a log of all my experiences; I don't want to forget them! So insha'Allah you should all see a huge spike in my writing now. Pleae make du'a for my family and I that Allah blesses us and makes things easy for us, amin!!!!

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

September 21, 2009

Things to do!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll!!! OK so here is just a smidgen of what I need to accomplish before Sunday:

*Get flu shot for myself- As I am a transplant patient and will be in a flying germ box :-) this is particularly important.
*Get Aami's next series of childhood immunizations. Obviously these are available in UAE but here are free.
*PACK! More daunting than it sounds because I need to make sure I have all the things I need for Aaminah to make her transition easier insha'allah.
*Finish up things at work! I don't want to leave any project unfinished as I worked at the masjid and want to make things easier for my replacement!
*Clean the apartment. You know, just to make sure all things are totally spic-n-span.
*Make arrangements for Lisa to come and open the apartment once a week, dust, check the mail, etc. Need spare key made.
*Make sure I have all identification forms, etc. needed for immigration paperwork. This one is REALLY important!
*Give family my contact info overseas.

...and so much more but I need to write it down as I think about it!

September 20, 2009


A'salaamu alaikum. What do you think of the photo? This is me, fully "niqaabed", "ghashwaed" or "boushiyahed" however you wanna say it. My husband told me that our apartment building has many non-Muslim bachelors living in it who are none-too-shy about staring at women, especially lighter-skinned, lighter-eyed ones. :-(

He feels it would be better for me to remain fully covered when out and about, especially when I am alone. From what other sisters have said (both those I personally know and some blogs I follow) the men can be really creepy there. And stalker-ish in their behavior.

It makes me feel loved and protected that Abdullah has such strong feelings for me, to take care of me, keep me safe, insha'allah. This all comes from "gheerah" the strong protective emotion Allah swt gave Muslim men to keep their women safe insha'allah. I think this concept is intrinsically Islamic, it is part of the internal make-up of almost all Muslim men.

They want to keep their wives from being harassed, help them preserve their modesty especially in situations where they might be alone, and has that strong overwhelming urge to protect them. Jealousy I think is not a good translation of that word bec in the US jealousy normally has very negative overtones whereas the emotion of gheerah is a gift from Allah swt and therefore is only positive.

Now..that said... I was a little put off first time I saw myself. Not my reflection, mind you, because through the fabric I could not see so well. So I snapped a photo and it really amazed me how I seemed to disappear. I mean obviously on the streets of the US I would stick out like a sore thumb lol but to myself I just seemed to vanish.

It took a little time to acclimate myself to that feeling, of being so not-me. Anonymous. However I am very happy that a) my husband loves me so much he is careful of my modesty and my personal safety and b) that I will feel more comfortable being out in public alone.

I wore niqaab (but not an eye screen) when I visited India in 2006. When I didn't wear it, the men all stared. No matter where we were, no matter if they were non-Muslim or Muslim astaghfirallah. I was an oddity, a strange occurence and as such open game for stares. I felt happier with niqaab except for the stifling heat! I have since learned fabric makes ALL the diff! So no more cheapies for me!

Anyway, I digress. :-) I think I will appreciate the extra protection the face screen will give me. Also as I was raised to be very kind and friendly, it's hard for me to avoid smiling in general. Or especially when talking to Aaminah and if we happen to be outside... well I am afraid I am just not restrained enough in public and I do not want to create problems for myself.

I also feel very blessed Abdullah cares so much for me that he would request I cover more completely to avoid this situations for fitnah.

I'll update and let you all know how it feels walking out and about in one, especially after I get a chance to shop a little there and purchase the type I find I really prefer.

Please make dua for my family that we are united soon and united safely!

Ma salaam,

Umm Aaminah

September 18, 2009

UAE, here I come!

*I know the photo has no relevance; she was just too precious picking up little leaves and nuts and handing them to me. Masha'allah what a sweetie!

A'salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. OK ok enough of the niceties... I am going to UAE!!!! I am so happy, I feel like I could just float on air!

Ticket bought. Travel date: September 27th. Yep, that is right, the 27th. As in 10 days from now. Oh the plans to make, the clothes to pack, the toilets to scrub! Not as random as it sounds; toilets get really grungy when they are left unflushed for a while so I wanna be sure they are sparklin' when I leave.

So 10 days left to prepare. Well really 9 because the day I leave doesn't count. Oh and Sunday is the Eid so now we are at 8. Count that I still need to work... lol OK, ok, never mind. :-) You get the picture. Basically a week and a half.

Some of you may be thinking, why did you wait until the last minute? Guys, I just work better under pressure masha'allah. Always have, always will. I tried to take care of some things earlier but really most of it is last minute by virtue of needing to use my stuff before I leave.

I can't pack our personal belongings until it is almost time. However I have started packing my clothing, some abayas, Western style clothes, a mish-mosh really. I am also making a list of what I am bringing so I can peruse the list to make sure I don't bring 7 shirts and 1 skirt. LOL That would be odd.

Also I just enjoy making lists! Planning and listing... ah. On paper everything is easy to make perfect. ;-)

OK so back to what is making my little heart pitter-patter: Abdullah, zawjy!!! Words cannot describe how happy I am to be finally going to him. It is just amazing to me and I am thankful to Allah swt for granting me this desire.

I prayed sooo intently and sincerely during Ramadan, only to be united with my husband and for us to have a halal, happy life. Growing together in our Islam, raising our children to be pious muslimeen insha'Allah... We can plan but Allah is the best of planners. We can pray but Allah knows the right time to grant what we seek. Subhanallah.

I am also packing little odds and ends I think will come in handy. Like scissors, over the door hangers to extend storage space, some random fabric I want made into dresses for Aaminah. I'll also be adding some kitchen things that I just can't cook without. My wire whisk and silicone scraper are two of them. Insha'Allah I'll have room for everything I need to take.

My husband bought a separate ticket for Aami, alhamdulillah. I would never have asked for it but he offered and I agreed it would be better. I am just happy I don't have to hold her for 14 CONTINUOUS HOURS. lol That would be rough!

I am very exhausted masha'Allah and need to go to bed. My eyes are blurring and my head feels heavy.

Please make dua for us, insha'allah.


Umm Aaminah

*PS: I re-read this post a few days later and was APPALLED by the number of typos. Letters transposed or omitted... subhanallah! I am a very careful proofreader because I don't like errors like that. IF anyone read this post and noticed the mistakes, I hope it didn't annoy you as it did me!!! LOL

August 29, 2009

Taraweeh at home

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I was hoping to be able to pray taraweeh salaah this year at the masjid but little Aami had different ideas. She is going through a phase where she wants NO ONE but her mama. So alhamdulillah I am unable to pray. I thought. ;-)

My husband (jazakallahu khair habib) informed me that even taraweeh prayer can be made at home, alone. I had mistakenly thought it had to be made in Jumaat and with a hafiz leading. He explained that if my niyyat (intention) was clear, my rakaat made at home with whatever amount of Qur'an I had memorized would be accepted insha'allah the same as if I made it in the masjid.

Sister, I have to tell you it was very beautiful. Of course I miss hearing Hafiz Noman's voice (may Allah bless him and give him Jannah amin). However as I cannot speak Arabic often my mind would astaghfirallah begin to wander, no matter how hard I tried to concentrate.

This way, I was in the privacy of my own home. I recited as much Qur'an as I knew and I prayed so sincerely to Allah swt. Since these were surah I already knew, I understood the meaning of what I was reciting. I felt as if I were almost in a trance, in a meditative state. It was very beautiful, very spiritual. I made such heartfelt du'a at the end of each 4 rakaat cycle; I really felt connected and full of love and piety alhamdulillah.

Of course I waited until Aaminah was asleep. ;-) I would encourage any sisters who have difficulty attending taraweeh to do the same. It felt very satisfying spiritually to be able to make nafil prayers, to be able to do the superogatory acts of ibaadah (worship).

I pray that Allah swt accepted my prayers and my fasts, forgives me of my sins, and answers my dua. Amin.

Ma a salaam,

Umm Aaminah

Another great bargain idea

A'salaamu alaikum. I forgot to tell you about another great way to save money on your Islamic clothing. I tend to dress in traditional abaya and khimars so I can't really just go to Ross and pull something off the rack and make it more modest. :-)

I really love to "window shop" at SunnahStyle. I do wish they offered other basic colors besides black but alhamdulillah I have no problem with that color either! I had my eye on the above abaya for a while; I searched on eBay but to no avail. I could not justify spending $56.00 PLUS shipping on it.

Alhamdulillah SunnahStyle now sells their factory seconds on their blog I like to think I had a hand in it; I had asked them a few months back if they ever sold abayaat with a crooked seam or small tear, etc.

Anyhoo, they had one of the Desert Sands Bisht Abaya on there for a STEAL at $20.00. I paid $8 shipping so alhamdulillah was under $30 total. Now this one did have 2 tears; one just really a slight area, the other more substantial. They show ALL flaws fully. I knew these would both fall under my khimar plus I was confident I could repair them. Alhamdulillah I was able to fix them and now I have a beautiful new abaya for half price (although still more than I normally pay!).

Ramadan mubarak,

Umm Aaminah

Bargain shopping or 1/2 off Saturdays at Goodwill!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! As a mother of 3 who has never been wealthy, I learned how to bargain shop early on. From groceries to clothing, I give anything a try! At our local halal market, you can get halal zabiha meat for 1/2 off if you take the frozen stock. Almost all of my Islamic clothing was purchased from eBay (used) for under $10.00 per abaya. I have splurged on 2 full price abayaat; masha'Allah they were worth it!

Anyway the last weekend of every month is 1/2 off weekend at Goodwill. These are charity stores that accept donations, then sell the items while training mentally or physically challenged persons work skills. I won't normally shop there otherwise because sometimes I find them overpriced. :-)

Alhamdulillah I am glad I went this weekend. I picked up another large (25") suitcase for our impending trip to Dubai insha'Allah. It is one of the American Tourister wheeled canvas bags. This one has alhamdulillah seen a few better days but it is serviceable and fairly lightweight. I've seen so many beautiful new luggage sets ruined in one flight so I am not stressed over that. PLUS I got it for $7.50 after the discount. Oh yeah!

Then I also found some things for Aami as you can see in the pic above. For a grand total of $7.07 I got the following:

1. pair of light up (not my fave thing) pink and white Elmo tennis shoes. These are in great shape, her size, and super cute.

2. pair of white Circo (Target brand) sandals in almost unused condition. These are 2 sizes too big but insha'Allah she will grow into them. Cute.

3. A pair of gymboree white and yellow floral capri pants in t-shirt material. These are so soft and really sweet. A size 3 but she will be in them before I know it!

4. A really cute pair of lime green shorts with the adjustable waist. They are a size 2T but with the adjustable waist they fit her now and insha'Allah for a while into the future. She has a couple of cute little t-shirts that needed bottoms to match.

5. A beautiful, soft, pink cotton sundress. This is a 4T but the quality was so nice it's worth it to save. Plus in dresses you can almost take it in a little under the arms and voila! extend the life by a year or so insha'Allah.

6. A long-sleeved light blue shirt with abstract design on the front for Alex. Alhamdulillah he isn't really a picky dresser. Zachary (my oldest) is pretty particular and he enjoys doing his own shopping. :-)

I also got a small folding hair dryer. Was $1.00 after the discount. Can't beat that. works!

So I was very happy with my haul. I could have gotten her a sit 'n spin for $1.50 but she is still too young and she has alt of toys masha'Allah. So I opted to not.

I rarely (maybe never) paid full price for Aami's clothing. Yard sales, consignment sales and stores, sometimes clearance if the price is low enough. And masha'Allah she is always dressed nicely.

Just wanted to share my experience with you and encourage you all to try it if you don't already. I feel it's very important to be a good stewardess with the money my husband provides through the bounty of Allah swt. My problem? Buying things that are merely decorative but alhamdulillah this time I resisted!

Wasalaam and Ramadan mubarak,

Umm Aaminah

August 26, 2009

Updated goals

*Alex, Aaminah, and Zack when she was just a couple of weeks old masha'Allah!*

A'salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. I pray this finds us all growing and striving for the sake of Allah swt.

Soooo to the point of my post. I have decided to revise my Ramadan goals to better reflect the reality of my life. :-) Please see below:

1. I will try to not stress when taking Aami to the masjid for iftar and she tramples plates of food, spills cups of milk, and screams while rubbing her tongue because she got a bit of spice on it. :-) lol

2. I will try to not stress when I am trying to pray maghrib and isha and suddenly a very sweet and chunky little girl HURLS herself at me, full-speed, onto my prostrate body. Often pulling my hijab up in the process.

3. I will try to not notice when said little girl insists on being picked up and held during prayer, and then proceeds to give me the SWEETEST little kisses over and over, as if to make up for her antics in the dining area.

4. I will do my best to not notice when she also plays the body part game with me and practically skewers my eyeball on her little finger or shoves her finger into my nostril while saying "nose, nose" :-)

5. I will try to not be disappointed when the beautiful little Barakah from Allah keeps me from my goal of attending taraweeh prayer because she just doesn't' want to be out of her mommy's sight. Say masha'Allah. :-)

6. I will work on being more grateful for everything in my life and thank Allah for it daily. Even when at times it just doesn't seem to be what I wanted or asked for. ;-) Such as being apart from my husband (Ya Abdu, I miss you!!!) or having to work outside of the home (no matter how much I love my job, I just don't want to while Aami is so little). Let's all say Alhamdulillah and mean it.

7. Finish the Qur'an by the end of the month. This is the resolution I will INSHA'ALLAH absolutely stick with. Please pray for me that I am able to complete it. Of course it will be in English; I cannot read Arabic yet; I am still learning my letter, their sounds, and how they connect.

8. Keep iftar and suhoor simple, filling, and healthy. Khalas.

I feel much better with my amended goals. I don't like to fall short of what I set for myself; I also want to grow and not place my goals too low. However with being mother to a toddler I really feel this is giving it my all. Dang. lol Next year insha'allah, next year...

August 21, 2009

Ramadan Mubarak and sicky icky baby girl

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll and a great big southern Ramadan Mubarak! Now can't you just imagine how that sounds in my accent? :-)

I have a list of things (internal) I want to work on this Ramadan:

1. Praying each salaah as soon as it is called. Sometimes with Aami (or other less important reasons) I get sidetracked. The shaitaan would like nothing more than to make us leave off our prayers! Alhamdulillah the shaitaan are shackled during Ramadan so insha'allah may we be successful in all our personal endeavors.

2. Work on Arabic everyday. Whether it's listening AND practicing my pronounciation or working on writing and recognizing the letters, at least 15 minutes.

3. Learn one new Surah. I think I will learn Surat-an-Nas insha'Allah.

4. Try to read my English translation Qur'an in order to keep pace with Taraweeh. On the night I don't babysit (we have babysitting for Taraweeh at our masjid) insha'Allah I will read along

5. Eat only halal zabiha meat. Here in my city we only have one fresh meat grocer and its double what I pay at the grocer. I have read opinions by Shaikhs who say it's ok, say Bismillah, etc. but i know inside I feel guilty. Make dua that Allah makes this easy on me amin.

OK I don't wanna overload myself. I like to keep my goals doable because let's be honest, we still have our normal lives as well; work, cleaning house, cooking, caring for the children, etc.

Now to Aami. She is having a case of the yucky snotty nose which in turn is giving her a cough which is IN TURN making her gag and get sick. :-( So I've been cleaning up the floor alot the past few days. Now her little nose is raw and sore. I need to just use my hand and water to clean it, no more toilet paper.

I have my boys this weekend as well so I'll probably be a little too busy to log on. Insha'Allah I pray every one has a great start to their Ramadan!


Umm Aaminah

August 19, 2009

Up before Fajr

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. This morning I was awake when the time for fajr came in. Subhanallah it was so peaceful so quiet. Even Aaminah was uncharacteristically silent, no rustlings coming from her crib.

This is a beautiful time of morning. I have been trying to wake up in the last 1/3 of the night (as this is when Allah is closest to us) and pray. Alhamdulillah I have been waking up most mornings but have only been making du'a (although heartfelt) but not actually offering a nafil rakat of prayer. It seems with the baby still small I am always right on the verge of being soooooo tired. :-) and sleep beckons me.

So this morning found me awake before the alarm enjoying the silence and peace that filled my house. You may be wondering why I only speak of Aaminah and myself when I have 2 sons and a zawj. Well isn't that a story in itself? lol

My sons are from a previous (pre-reversion) marriage and they stay mainly with their father. Aaminah is in LOVE with her brothers and follows them around constantly when they are here! It's really very sweet to see.

As for 3abdullah, he is in UAE at the present working. We have been married for 3 months now alhamdulillah but have yet to live together. I have been soo patient ukhtis! :-) Insha'allah we are praying to be together before the end of Ramadhan; please make du'a that Allah swt removes this hardship from us and allows us the simple, basic, often taken for granted pleasure of being with our spouse insha'Allah.


Umm Aaminah

I can fast this year, alhamdulillah!

A'salaamu alaikum. I received some very good news today in regards to my health and fasting. I spoke with a Muslim doctor in my community and he said I could fast this year.... with some caveats. :-)

I had a kidney transplant in 2002 and one way you try to ensure a healthy, long life for your new transplanted best friend ;-) is to drink plenty of water, take your medications on time, and in general live a healthy lifestyle insha'allah.

This will insha'Allah be my fourth Ramadhan and I had never been completely convinced which way I should go. My non-Muslim doctors of course merely said, "Don't fast!" as if I were a complete idiot to even contemplate it.

My friends, out of concern for me, said "Don't fast!" because they love me and do not wish to see me sick.

Islam tells me "Don't fast" if doing so will cause me harm. This is where I decided I needed to look a little deeper into the situation.

Ramadhan 2006: Fasted almost the entire month. This was my first Ramadhan and overall feel it was a good learning experience. It's hard to get it all together. :-)

Ramadhan 2007: I was newly pregnant with my daughter Aami. Due to complications with the pregnancy and my kidney issue I did not fast very much. I would fast every couple of days or so. I really craved the "Ramadhan experience" but was worried about hurting my kidney and the baby.

Ramadhan 2008: Tired of not feeling like I was really getting the most out of Ramadhan, I decided to do a modified fast. I am NOT saying this fulfilled the requirements of fasting; I am saying I wanted to do as much as I felt was safe for me to do. So I did not eat all day but I did drink water with my medication (if not it burns my stomach lining) and if I felt dehydrated I would drink water. I felt like I was getting more benefit from Ramadhan but still wasn't satisfied.

Ramadhan 2009: The year of the comeback! Alhamdulillah I finally did the *right* thing and spoke with a MUSLIM doctor who will intelligently weigh the benefits and risks and advise me accordingly. He said there is of course a mild to moderate risk of losing kidney function from 15 hours of no drinking. He said also if one has strong faith and puts their trust in Allah WHILE doing as much as they can to protect themselves they should feel ok to fast.

I put my kidney at a moderate to severe risk to carry Aaminah. We take calculated risks all the time if we feel confident in the outcome. I have decided the blessings I will get more than make up for the possible risk. The dr. also suggested I do a blood test before Ramadhan (I better hurry) and then another 4-5 days out to gauge my function. If it has dropped then I should stop the fasting.

Insha'allah I will be able to fast completely this year. It is my desire to experience everything my ummah experiences, to know the hunger, the thirst, and to purify myself through these acts of expiation.

Please make du'a for me that Allah swt protects and guides me. May He make my pride lessened so if I need to ask for His mercy in this matter I will not be too stubborn.


Umm Aaminah

August 18, 2009

What? No eggs?

*This is the little allergy-girl the day she turned 1 masha'allah tabarakallah!*

A'salaamu alaikum. My 14 month old daughter Aaminah was recently diagnosed with an allergy to eggs. Alhamdulillah it isn't a severe one; she breaks out in hives if something containing a small amount of egg is ingested and vomits profusely if she eats plain eggs. So the latter is easy to control but you don't know HOW MANY THINGS contain egg until you start reading the labels!

As a Muslim in the west, I am used to reading labels looking for the hidden haram, the gelatin, the animal protein that remains unnamed.:-) Alhamdulillah now almost every food has a warning stating "Packed/Processed in a plant that handles nuts/eggs/wheat" etc. Or it states outright what is contained.

I have found myself now needing to learn how to make homemade noodles! Of course you can get eggless noodles but ALL of them I found was processed in a plant that also handles egg products. The recipes are easy but look a bit time-consuming. Insha'allah I will make them one day and post the end result on here. :-)

Even if a small amount of cooked egg doesn't harm her the allergist said continual exposure can lengthen the amount of time she keeps her allergy. So I am trying to be very diligent.

She has had a couple of episodes, one very severe and the others requiring only benadryl which does knock her out. The first time I gave it to her I kept checking on her to make sure she was breathing! I have been a mother for 16 years alhamdulillah but I still over-worry about some things.

Insha'allah please make du'a for us that she outgrows this allergy and that I am always cautious and careful in any foods she eats. Alhamdulillah as I cook aat home I can control what she eats; it's being at friends' houses (especially during Ramadhan!) that makes me uneasy.


Umm Aaminah

August 17, 2009

*Neat* Ramadhan craft

NOTE: As this is something that goes outside we chose to use the word "God" instead of the beautiful name Allah out of respect.

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Our local Muslim Girl Scout troop made these last Ramadhan. They were really cute and super easy. Our troop varied from 5 to 12 years of age so we really had to work at finding projects that could span that age range insha'allah.

You need a wreath form (we liked the grapevine wreaths), spray paint, ribbon, small wooden stars and cresent moons, co-ordinating paints, wooden banner, metallic marker, foam cut outs, and of course scissors and glue.

We painted the wreaths first. We chose a silver & blue color theme so we spray-painted the wreaths silver a few days before hand. The girls wrapped contrasting blue ribbon around their wreaths. Then the girls wrote out some key words about Ramadhan (we brainstormed this as a group masha'allah) and tied them to the wreath with ribbon.

We had some moon and star cut-outs as well as a banner cut out for the top of the wreath. We let the girls paint these as they liked (but due to interesting color choices we did limit what paints we put out!). lol

These wreaths were really nice when finished and we view it as a sort of dawah. Insha'allah when neighbors pass by my door and see this wreath, they will insha'Allah learn just a little bit more about Islam. It is also really nice to do a "Five pillars of Islam" wreath which can stay out year round of course.

As the co-leader I am always busy helping the girls masha'allah. Therefore my wreath didn't turn out as nice. :-) Hazard of the job. Plus when I moved last year I obviously lost my "Ramadhan" banner. I'll have to fix this before I put it on my door but at least you get the basic idea.


Umm Aaminah

August 16, 2009

Mb'atten unstuffed or lazy mb'atten :-)

Salaam ya'll! My zawj 3abdullah is originally from Libya and I decided I wanted to try my hand at some Libyan food. I love to cook and I really love to take care of my family so I thought this would be a perfect way to show him I care about his culture and heritage.

Libya isn't reknowned for it's cuisine. It has simple, fresh whole foods, lots of seafood and grains, breads, veggies and fruits . It has influences from Italy (which you can see in the way they use tomatoes to make thick rich sauces and noodle dishes) and of course from Arabic and African cuisine as well. So culinarily speaking the country is a bit of a melting pot. It was a little difficult to find recipes that appealed to my taste buds and were authentically Libyan.

Enter mb'atten! This is a delicious little stuffed-potato sandwich. Normally you would take a peeled potato and slice it to within a half inch or so of the bottom to make a nice little potato pocket to hold your meat and veggie filling. One potato would make 3 to 5 sandwiches. However, being ummi to 14 month old active Aami I decided to make "mb'atten unstuffed" or lazy mb'atten, whichever way you want to look at it. :-) The original deep-fried stuffed potato recipe was just too time-intensive and I also felt a wee bit guilty about all that yummy deep frying.

I enjoy taking photos of the foods I prepare so I already had photos of this delish dish. Also just so you know, I have absolutely NO qualms about taking a dish and making it my own. So I might add grated carrots or spinach to a dish if I think it will taste good, add needed color, or make it a bit more nutritious.

Also I would normally put in a picture tutorial however Blogger has made it difficult so I think for this post I'll just use the end-result pic. BTW, when my zawj saw the photo of it he said, "Hyati, that looks very delicious but.....that is NOT mb'atten!" lol Guess I should have explained my process first!

Before you start, take 1-2 cups of basmati rice and rinse 3 times in hot water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes and then prepare as normal. For me, that means I empty the 3rd rinse water and add a mere 1 1/4 cups of water or chicken broth for every cup of SOAKED rice. A bit of salt, butter and turmeric for color are musts for me. I also often add some cardamom pods and cinnamon stick at this point at well. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover and cook til the liquid is absorbed (12 to 15 minutes insha'Allah).

OK on to the recipe!

1. Finely dice your onion and green pepper. It really doesn't matter how much or how little. :-) I am a home cook, not a chef or a baker and I don't deal in absolutes. I used one large onion and one large green pepper. Adjust it to suit your tastes.

2. Sautee your aromatics (in this case garlic and ginger) in a skillet over medium heat for approx. 3 to 5 minutes. Let it get nicely browned but not too dark.

3. Add your onions and green pepper and allow to sautee for an additional 3 minutes or so.

4. Next place the meat in the skillet. I used ground beef but of course you could substitute ground lamb or even turkey. Make it yours! I also add a couple of cinnamon sticks at this point; what a great flavor and depth it adds.

5. Salt and pepper your dish now as well.

6. Peel your potatoes (I used 4 good sized ones) and cut in half lengthwise. Then slice into 1/8 inch slices. You want them to be nice and soft insha'allah when the dish is done. Sprinkle some turmeric on them if you like a nice yellow color. We do.

7. Place potatoes in the skillet with your meat mixture. I also add some chopped, thawed spinach but you can use of course fresh or canned. I prefer frozen for the quality and ease of prep. :-) I also sometimes add grated carrots at this step too; just do what feels right!

8. Cover your skillet and cook for about 30 minutes, CAREFULLY stirring ocassionally. Take care to not break up your potatoes.

9. Heat until your potatoes are thoroughly cooked and then either mix this with your rice or serve side by side. I often also offer yogurt with this on the side.

10. Say "Bismillahir-rahmanir-raheem" and ENJOY!


Umm Aaminah