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