December 30, 2010

I love me some bargains!

A'salaamu aliakum ya'll. I had just went to our local Salvation Army Thrift store today; Wednesdays are half-off days and I loooooove getting cheap things cheaper! Well half-off on shoes and clothing but really in our house, the only thing we go through faster than clothes is food (oh and breakable dishes!) so I am always up for a bargain.

Footed pj's by Carter's. I love all of their clothes; these aren't those nasty blanket sleepers but thermal-fleece and oh-so-soft. :-) $1.50 a pair, retail about $9 each.

Alhamdulillah all the winter shopping for kids had been completed (coats, snow boots and snow pants (for the 2 younger ones) so this was really just a see-what-they-got kinda thing. Oh and the kids are out of school this week for the winter holidays, so I had all 3 girls in tow; Aaminah (napless but wonderful alhamdulillah), Zainab (who is great to distract the 2 1/2 yr old bundle of energy) and Hafsa, the responsible one who can search out her own clothes. Supposedly. ;-)

Super-cute dress by Gymboree for next year (5T size). Embroidered with ballet slippers and crowns in pink thread and has pretty pink ribbon in front. $2.50 in EUC.

I also knew A needed ALOT of winter shirts. See, there is this phenomenon alot like the "freshman 15" called the "no longer single 7". We have both gained about 10 lbs (well I'm actually an overachiever, maybe a couple more on my end....his, too, truth be told!). Anyway he really didn't have anything suitable for jumuah or even casual clothing.

The white with blue stripes is pretty thin but will be good next spring/summer. The darker plaid is the brand new one.

I hit the jackpot! I think I ended up getting A 2 sweaters, 2 nice cotton button-down shirts, and probably 6 pull-over type shirts for casual wear. And get this: the MOST expensive thing (which is the dark blue button-down that was brand new, with tags) was only $3.00. Yes THREE dollars. Cha-ching for Bank of Jeanna. Then, I unfortunately went by the little girls' section; Aaminah needs NO clothes but she is my only little girl and it's just so much fun. At $1 or $2 a piece, I admit I buy when I shouldn't, astaghfirallah. I comfort my guilty concious by giving away what she outgrows to others in need.

A's stash. I had already folded them and didn't have the heart to re-do them. But I'm sure  you all know what men's shirts look like!
 I also look ahead. If I find a cute dress size 6 super-cheap, I'll buy it now. Modesty NEVER goes out of style and we do not feel Aaminah is too young to be modest. I think it can be confusing for kids to dress in spaghetti-strap dresses and short-shorts to only be abruptly switched at some magical age. Alhamdulillah we try to be modest in all our manners, dressing included.

Love ponchos; this one from Gap in EUC. Paid $3.00 for it. Belle doll also EUC only $1.00 Poncho is for next year and the next 2 after it!

As soon as I get home, I usually throw all the stuff I find in the wash. With the bedbug scare we are having in the US I don't wanna take any chances. Of course, I don't wash it in hot water so I guess I'm just giving them a little day at the spa but I still feel better. :-)

I had picked up a really cute dress at the store. Light blue with black polka-dotted ruffle and co-ordinating sleeves. Bright, "bling-y" bow on the front, some random words. I didn't really read it, thought it was cute and she loooooooves shiny things. Like a magpie, only slightly less loud. :-D Here is the back of the dress.
Exhibit A: Cute coordinating cuffs and bottom trim with adorable bow. Nice yeah?
I had just gotten this cute little dress out of the nice warm dryer so I could hang it up. When what to my wondering eyes should appear.....but the funniest quote I am sure ever graced the front of a TODDLER'S dress. Oh and it makes NO sense.

Exhibit B: Front of dress, lots of words but who's looking closely?

Can't read it? Too small? No problem, here's your close up shot:

Exhibit C: Speaks for itself. LOL
"Relent peachy". Uh yeah, ok.... "I grant your wish by all means..." ?????  "Your cheerful smile always brings happiness. Please do not lose beautiful heart."

So not sure what country this came from but something tells me it was designed by a non-native English speaker. Anyone else with me? LOL Anyway hope ya'll thought this was as funny as I did. Cute dress, but now it's consigned to housewear for life.

Oh I also got Aaminah a really nice Calvin Klein coat for next year. It's a down-filled, knee-length quilted coat with faux-fur cuffs in a light cream color. Sooo pretty. The down was kinda messed up inside (where it was washed and all got slung to one corner) but I read a tip saying dry these type of things with a tennis ball in the dryer and it will settle it all out. For $2.50 I think I'll try it! I forgot to take a picture of the coat and am far to lazy to get up now so :-(

I spent about $43 dollars on all this plus got 5 books. The little town where I live is fairly wealthy and I love the fact they will spend $$$ on clothes I can turn around and get them for pocket change almost.

Ma salaama ya'll, I'm up too late and exhausted. :-)

December 24, 2010

Allahu akbar!

Photo snapped by AP photographer near Punjab, Pakistan. The children live in a refugee camp after their homes were washed away during the2010  floods.

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Do you see the joy on this young man's face? (I can't call him a boy because he is out trying to get food for his family to survive. )When I see that face, all I can say is "Allahu Akbar!" which I think is his exact thought at that moment.

May Allah make us all so grateful for blessings so small. Amin.

December 18, 2010

Um yeah, sure that's what I meant!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. As I posted earlier, my husband and I are in the market to buy our first house insha'allah. Please make du'a for us.

I called a realtor today to ask about a certain property for sale and she asked to meet with me. I was explaining that we have specific requirements with our home loan due to our religion. Here is a transcript of that conversation:

Realtor Lady: Oh you have special religious requirements? What religion are you?

Me: (Had already said Muslim but guess she didn't hear) "Oh we are Muslim" thinking her cell phone didn't pick up on that word the first time.

RL: "Oh that's ok, don't worry."

Me: (Uhhhhhh ok.)

RL: "Blah blah blah let's meet at Solomon Pond Mall on Monday. Is that good for you?"

Me: "Yep that will be great. Well I'll be the one with the headscarf on so you shouldn't get too confused." (grinning)

RL: "Ohhh yes and I am sure you will be BEAUTIFUL with it on. Just BEAUTIFUL."

Me: ( Uhhhhhh ok.... )

LOL I guess because it's kind of awkward for HER she was transposing her feelings onto me. Nope, wasn't apologizing, just making my little joke that I will stand out amongst all of the non-headcover wearing folk that will be at the mall.

Oh my, oh my. Funny stuff.

December 17, 2010

How neat is this? :-)

Alternate post title:  I'm easily amused! Anyway I was playing around with my phone (which I've had a year now!) and just realized that you can do some pretty neat stuff with it. Not just those cheesy photo frames. :-) So this is a pic of me cartooned. :-)

I think I'm gonna use this as my blogger icon now
 And here is a pic of my sweet little Aaminah I had taken a couple of months ago while apple picking (which was really fun and the apples were awesome!)
My beautiful girl
Ma salaama ya'll!

December 13, 2010

Cute little sock-rice warmer

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I threw this little thing together this morning after I got Aaminah's lunch ready
. I hate to use a thermos container for warm food because it doesn't fit in her lunch sack. Which, as I got it sooo cheap at a yard sale, I really want to make use of it! lol

Anyway I heated her food up and then put it in the bottom insulated compartment. Then I was searching for a little freezer pack to place with her fruit and yogurt. I noticed one of our infamous "rice socks" in the freezer. They are great for aches and pains. They can be frozen for cold, microwaved for heat, and mold to any shape practically.

I thought, hmm maybe I can heat it up and place it in her lunch sack with the noodles and keep them warm? So I rummaged through her drawer and found a pair of leg warmers (only .99 on clearance) and just quickly zipped a little hemmed edge on, filled with rice, and then did the other end.

It's really cute, super-frugal and useful. As I said, it can be used for aches and pains, headaches, sprains, bumps, etc; you can heat it in the microwave for approx. 2 minutes and it emits a lovely warm heat (careful of burns!) if your pain requres heat. I put it in her lunchbox but I don't know how useful it was. Couldn't hurt and it fit nicely around her lunch container. :-)

You could also use a pair of cute, outgrown baby socks and make little hand warmers for cold days or use the sleeves from a small outgrown shirt. Stretchy material is best as it can form to other shapes better but feel free to do what you like.

So to recap: really inexpensive, options are limitless as are uses but some may not be as useful as others. :-) I just wanted to share because it was so easy and uses items we all probably have around our house.

Ma salaama ya'll!

December 12, 2010

Niqaab: my personal dilemma

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I've thought alot recently about wearing the niqaab, the reasonings for and against it, etc. I'll be honest, I've always felt very strongly drawn towards it. Maybe because of my early pre-teen warping from reading trashy romance novels where the ladies in the harem were always covered in diphaneous wisps of face veils. :-D However, I'd like to believe it's a bit deeper than that. lol

From the time I first became Muslim I have thought about wearing niqaab. I've grown leaps and bounds in my modesty and haya since I converted almost 5 yrs ago. *Not that I was necessarily WRONG in what I wore in the beginning* but I do personally feel if a sister is drawn towards the niqaab she should be exceedingly modest in her manner of dress as well as her actions.

When I was a new Muslim alhamdulillah I had such a piece-meal, mixed up wardrobe. Wallah I laugh when I see my early pictures from India. Subhanallah!!!! Pleasssse my sisters, picture this (mentally cause I don't have these photos on this laptop):  newbie-issue al-amira pull over hijab COMPLETE with lace edging, long green poly-silk kameeze gifted from friend, long peasant-style denim skirt from Wal-Mart (super cute, still have it just a little too snug at the mo'), and dark grey/neon green New Balance shoes.

Oh my aching sides!!!! I still giggle when I see those pics. Oh wait, the coup-de-etat (sp?): I tossed a niqaab on top of that hot mess. Yes my sisters I did. You see, at least where and when I was in India (Mumbai/Maharashtra/Nagpur area, 2006) Muslims sisters ONLY went  out of the house in full on, black head-to-toe, abaya/hijab/niqaab ensemble. I kid you not. WITH full clothing on underneath. Ya Rabb, I am sweating just thinkin' about it!!!!! So imagine how I stood out! Warning, another side-splitting description coming up:

White skin, green eyes, southern US accent even in my "a'salaamu alaikum", chubby, dressed to kill (with laughter!), and a smile bigger than Texas permanently on my face. Ya'll, I had just married and was having the adventure of a lifetime. My fashion woes would NOT hold me back. Anyway so all this together *kinda* stand out from the average niqaabi sister floating around oh-so-gracefully. I wore the niqaab to fit in and to please my new husband while in his home country. I do, in my rather weak defense, have to go ahead and say I quickly had more appropriate clothing made and eventually made some of my forays in a lovely black abaya I still own, and my first ever purchased.

OK sorry I got sidetracked. Then when I was in UAE I wore a form of niqaab called a ghashwa (please see post topics on the sidebar for a pic of me decked out in that). By that time (last year) I was very modest in my dress (and alhamdulillah matching!!! lol) and felt it was a much better fit for me.

So where is my problem? Well turns out I got lots of them! I'll just list them for you.

1. My non-Muslim family. Already how I dress makes them uncomfortable sometimes. I am afraid if I wear niqaab it will totally alienate them, especially when I would tell them that it isn't required. Hmmm. I don't want the few times I am able to spend with them to be awkward for them or me.

2. Dawah issues. In the West women in niqaab are somewhat feared I think. Right now I have the opportunity to speak with people, give a smile, make some type of interaction with them which I think isn't as possible with the niqaab. I might be wrong.

3. Perserverance. I am afraid I might start it and then find it too difficult and give it up. I don't like to fail and I don't like to start a thing and not be able to finish it. Except for craft projects, noooo problem with that!

4. Loss of identity. I am not positive I would feel this way but I guess when I think of this, it's mostly in mind that when I am out with Aaminah and she can't see my emotions on my face; my happiness or pride in her.

OK so that pretty much sums up my "Things that make you go 'hmmmm'" list. :-) So why WOULD I want to wear it? Where is the dilemma?

I want to please Allah. I want to have more good deeds than bad on yawma-qiyamat. I want to do more to improve myself, make me feel closer to Allah. I know, it would be better for my soul to pray all my sunnah and nafil prayers or became a hafiza. I can't do those things. I get side-tracked or the kids are crazy or dinner needs cooked. Sometimes I'm just downright lazy. :-(  I feel wearing the niqaab, like wearing the hijaab, is an easy way to please Allah. It's as simple as that.

How many of you have flirted with the idea of niqaab? Who used to wear it but removed it and why? Pros, cons, questions of your own... please post them all. :-)

December 4, 2010

I'm still a cookin' mama (2nd post of the day)

A light mediterranean style lunch for A. Hummous tahini, mixed salad with lemon juice and olive oil dressing, boiled egg, olive medly with pickled garlic (YUM!),  Syrian bread and fresh strawberries. Please notice how the strawberries looked like a heart inside when I cut them. Masha'Allah! :-)
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I haven't posted any new recipes in a while but I've been cooking. :-) Let's see, I made a lovely homemade (from the sauce down!) lasanga that really knocked our socks off.
Please forgive the crappy cell-phone pic. Honestly it deserved a real photo. Also, please note what I think is my face, mirrored upside-down in the spoon. LOL

Recently A and I made "lef lef" but really the name is longer just can't remember it. Dejaja is chicken right? So dejaja lef lef but I forgot the rest of it. :-D Lef lef means rolled up I think. I can't find a picture of it online and I forgot to take one myself so... :-( Boo hoo hoo.

Anyway it's a Tunisian dish with pounded chicken thighs, stuffed with a mixture of parsley, cilantro, tomato, carrot, onion, little salt and pepper. We also put just a smidgen of cheese in it to placate my Amreekan tastes. lol Then roll it all up, secure with a wooden toothpick, fry til brown on all sides and then bake in preheated 350 oven for at least 35 min. Be sure and cover with foil to keep it nice and moist. We served it with rice and the cooking juices poured over individual servings.

This is a really healthy dish and the taste was...ok. :-( I'm not used to such herb-y tastes; I mean this uses ALOT of parsley and cilantro! My husband loves it though and as I already said, its a very healthy dish so I am happy to make it and insha'Allah one day maybe my southern-cooking trained taste buds will come to crave this type of fresh fare. One day... lol

We also made (join effort between hub and I) a very traditional winter-only Tunisian breakfast food called leblebi. You use extra-stale bread which is great cause I had bought a loaf of french bread that was very hard. You make a spicy chickpea broth/soup, heavily spiced with cumin, to soak the bread with thoroughly. The most interesting part, besides the harissa (spicy Tunisian hotsauce) was a barely-boiled egg cracked onto each bowl. Hmmmm.

I don't even eat RUNNY eggs. So after boiling eggs for maybe 5 minutes (it takes 15 left in just-boiled water to fully cook an egg) we cracked them open into the bowls. Yep. Then stirred the mixture all up and topped it with the hotsauce.

Honestly I could feel my gorge rising just at the thought of the raw egg, which is stupid because I ALWAYS like the beaters when making cake and duh, it has raw egg in it! I took a few bites but could feel the heat coming to my face like I was going to be sick; just like the time I tried bona-fide sushi. The taste was ok it was just the thought of slimy raw fish that made me feel ill. :-D

My husband, however, was super happy so I was happy he was getting a taste of home. His kids liked it for the most part; until I came they usually only ate Arabic foods in the house so they are more acclimated to it.

Before, when it was just Aaminah and myself, I always had a spotless clean kitchen (for the most part) and could take pics step-by-step even (see previous blog posts!). I had time to plate it beautifully and take pictures. Now it's just a rush to get food on the table and the eating begins before I even remember the camera! So I guess until I get my act together, this'll be what we get: half-way remembered recipes with no visuals. Yep stunning huh? lol

Oh and for an iftar snack in Ramadan I made homemade basboosa. You know the yummy semolina cake soaked in honey with nuts on top? Well mine was masha'Allah AWESOME I am happy to say. The only fault was it was a bit crumbly. I mixed 'n matched some recipes. It was a little involved but well worth the happiness A felt when eating it. He was so proud of it he took a dish to share with our Iraqi neighbors who live down the hall. Score one for the non-native Arabic cook!!!!! Here's a pic; I don't really wanna post the recipe right now because I can't find the use I used (sniff, sniff) and there are soo many available online.

Alright well it's late and I'm off to .... not sure what but the kids are in bed and I loooooong for a deep, spa-like tub I could soak my cares away in. Maybe in Jannah, huh? :-) Ma salaama......

Pretty is as pretty does...

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Many of you know Sr. Stephanie from "Muslim Mama". She posted the following on her fb and I wanted to share it with you all. This is a transcript of veteran slam-poetess Makkai. It is very strongly written and explores the insecurities we, as women, often suffer from. It is also very evocative of how we, as Muslims, view physical appearance and society's preoccupation with beauty, sexuality, and perfection.

*Please be warned there is a very crude word used but I do not edit the work of others.*

Pretty by Katie Makkai

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers' hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.

“How could this happen? You'll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That's why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!

"Don't worry. We'll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.

But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.

Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”

All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”

And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven't a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath the tyranny of those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction on everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung, stained with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you will never be merely "pretty".
Nicely said.

December 3, 2010

Foreign cinema

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. You know, as women, as mothers, as muslimahs, we still have personal interests (just not usually the time to indulge in them!) I think alot of people, both non-muslims and not, believe Muslim women are restricted to the confines of their home, both physically and mentally. I can accept this attitude somewhat from non-Muslims; they often all too easily fall prey to the najasa spewed by the media and don't take the time to discover the truth on their own.

However when a sister has the same outlook it baffles me. I once read on a sister's blog how she felt all the other sisters around her were one-dimensional, only interested in child-rearing, their husbands, and home, as if that somehow made them less. *UNNECESSARY DISCLAIMER*: This is absolutely fine but even the sisters who devote and dedicate their time and energies to their families have hobbies, interests, and likes outside of that arena.

I chose to be a traditional Muslim wife and mother but I know my worth isn't merely defined by how well I can make couscous or how clean my bathrooms are. (ALHAMDULILLAH! lol)  I am respected and loved by my husband for all of my good qualities and accepted with my faults alhamdulillah. I am responsible in front of Allah swt for fulfilling my religious obligations and I am encouraged to pursue my own halal passtimes and seek knowledge (ilm).

On a side note, ilm is defined as knowledge of one's deen not merely scholastic knowledge with no practical benefit. Just like to clear that up as so many people like to quote a particular hadith but without the true meaning of it. :-)

Sorry back to the regularly scheduled program. I started this post (as the title shows) to discuss one of my newer interesst which is foreign cinema. I just got sidetracked on a tiny little rant, sorry. lol Anyway at night, when all the family is asleep, is mama time. The house is quiet and I can concentrate. I sometimes read or catch up with the bills online, etc. Really just whatever I feel like doing.

I recently had some spare time and decided I wanted to watch a movie via Netflix. I like alot of different types of movies but of course so many of them now are full of sex and innuendo so its harder for me to find something I can feel good about watching. Which lead me to check out the foreign films.

I might be a little addicted. :-) I've always loved to learn about other cultures (um hello, I'm a convert to Islam which is a pathway to learning about alot of different cultures!). So here is my list of recently watched films:

1. Tuya's marriage: I really loved this one. Filmed in 2006, it is set in inner Mongolia and tells the story of strong-willed Tuya whose husband was disabled. She is trying to run their sheep ranch and care for 2 children, their home, and her husband. Eventually her husband insists she divorce him to remarry because she cannot continue doing it alone. Her stipulation: her new husband must accept her children and ex-husband as well. This is a very moving film and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

2. Arranged: Um so technically this IS a foreign film (it said something about CanadaFilm) but it was shot in New York. However it is an indie film and focuses on the unlikely friendship between an orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim sister. Both are in "arranged" marriages and it gives a pretty balanced look. It alternately pokes gentle fun at these institutions while also showing their strengths. I really enjoyed this one as well.

3. Bliss:  This one really deserves it's own post. It's about a young Turkish girl who is raped. She cannot remember the attack and therefore is outcast by her family who believes it is her sin. The patriarch of the family (her uncle) decides the girl must be killed to preserve the families honor and sends his son to do the job. He takes her to Istanbul but despite many opportunities to finish the job finds he cannot. They eventually fall in love but it isn't a love story and the main characters aren't always likeable. Although Cemal (the cousin) does the right thing, he has a bad temper, is very jealous and alternately goes from believing Meryem to reviling her as a whore if she even speaks with another person. I find this makes the film much more believable because rarely are people all evil or good. I highly recommend.

4. Jodhaa Akbar: This is everything you would expect from a high-budget, Bollywood blockbuster extravaganza. I really enjoyed it. :-) Actually there weren't many of the (to me) cheesy dance scenes and the one love scene was fairly tasteful and not very explicit. Anyway this is based on a true story of a Mughal (Muslim) emperor in India who tried to unite all of Hindustan. He marries a young Hindu girl who is very devoted to her religion and her personal god, Krishna. My only complaint is that Islam isn't always portrayed in a correct manner but it often isn't PRACTICED in a correct manner. It does show alot of good about Islam as well so I think it's pretty balanced. It does of course make the Hindu leading lady out to be a saint but I can forgive that. It's a sweet, moving love story but it is LOOOOOONG. Took me two nights to finish it. Anyway I enjoyed it but not because it's an intellectually stimulating movie. It was just a fun film for me. :-)

Alrighty that about does it. I tried to watch 2 others; one was shot in Sri Lanka but the camera work was soooooo crazy I actually got motion sickness lol. I also started to watch Kadosh, an Israeli film about 2 ultra-orthodox jews who weren't able to have children but the husband loved his wife and didn't want to divorce her as his father commanded. It was a little slow but I felt the love scene was starting to be too graphic and opted to not watch it. I might try it again some night but will fast forward through that part.:-)

Let me know if you guys like to watch foreign films and what do you like about them. :-) Ma salaama!

December 2, 2010

Crafty mama

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Pre-Aaminah I used to do alot of little crafts; nothing too involved but fun for me and my friends or family. Since her birth I've not done so much for obvious reasons.

I've been wanting to be more creative again for a while but I have this rule: No "fun stuff" til the chores are done. So I told myself, ok you can do a project once the house is EXACTLY the way I like it. Which, my dear readers, hasn't happened since I've been married. :-)) Before A, I lived alone for many years and even after Aaminah, it was just she and I for almost her entire first 18 mo. Not too difficult to keep my house just how I like it. Neat, everything in its place, clean, sweet-smelling, etc. etc.

Now well let's just say there is always a pile to be sorted, laundry to be done, papers to go through... it's never ending. :-) So last Saturday while the big kids were in Bukhari school I said (to myself) "Know what? I think you can just ignore all that other stuff. Cause even if you clean it, it'll just be dirty again tomorrow!". Masha'Allah, how liberating it felt to give myself that permission!

Anyway here is what I chose to do: make a long denim skirt for Aaminah. The older girls had outgrown a super-cute (and not yet worn-out) pair of pants, below. Sorry for the cut-off legs; I realized afterwards that I wanted to take pics so I just laid them back in place.

OK great. So I cut the legs off and opened them up on the seam. I used the hemmed botton of the legs to make the hem of the skirt so it has that nice finished look.  Now I would like to say that I did a perfect job but I had 2 factors working against me: 1. I didn't plan it out, just kinda cut and threw it together and 2. I couldn't find my pins to secure the pieces so I just held them as I sewed them. Hmmm yes.

I learned with cross-stitching that the backside should be as neat as the front but this ain't happening with these! See I just kinda took off, spur-of-the-moment, and whipped it up. So the inside seams aren't finished. :-( Really that's a shame for me but I'm just being honest here. I wasn't sure how it would turn out so I was a little lazy with those details. Double shame. :-)

Anyway it turned out super cute and I would love to say that Aaminah adores it but I had to bribe her with a Hershey's white chocolate and peppermint kiss to get her to model it. No joke. And this girl is a clothes hound, she loves pretty things. I said, "Mama made this just for you. Don't you like it?" 

Never ask a toddler for an honest opinion. You get it. ;-)) Anyway I love it and when I marketed it as being supremely modest and therefore pleasing to Allah swt she was happier. Alhamdulillah. lol

Well here are the pics of little miss reluctant model and the (in my opinion, not humble at all) cute skirt:

Here she is, eating her ill-gotten gains. :-)
Close up of the skirt itself

Please tell me you love this little pocket as much as I did. I needed this extra panel to make the skirt A-line and I had the idea to use the back pocket area. I think it's super cute. :-)
What a cute fake-attitude face. Funny girl. :-)
I wanted to show the back of the skirt, and the little opening I left for ease of movement. Then she just struck a pose. I'm not very diva-licious so I don't know where THAT move came from. lol Beautiful hair though masha'Allah!
I wanted to show the side of the skirt with all of the embroidery. She asked to take it off and I told her, no just a few more pictures. LOL She was game but put on a nice pretend pout.
Well at least she did like the pocket, as I predicted. :-)

This just looks so quintessentially India I had to include it. I asked her to put her hands on her knees and she oh-so-gracefully sank down, like a good bhabhi serving chai. lol

Ma salaama ya'll!

November 29, 2010

The love for our children

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. To those of you with children, have you ever wondered at the extent of the love we have for our children? How we can have so much emotion for these tiny little bodies that we bring forth, in pain and hope, into a world of uncertainty? How we can be so content when a sticky chubby hand simply reaches out to hold our own? How we can feel such a bittersweet tugging at our heart when a sweet, small voice says, "I love you mama"? How proud we feel as we watch them grow, going through their own struggles, and watch them emerge as capable, caring young adults?

Really it is incredible, miraculous, and awe-inspiring. Before I was a mother I had no idea, honestly. I couldn't even fathom the depth of feeling I would be capable of, how the mere thought of my child in danger would bring out a ferociousness in me, like a tigress unleashed. Or how a small memory, insignificant to most, could make me laugh and cry, simultaneously? I would unhesitatingly give my life for that of any of my children. They can make us crazy sometimes, they can frustrate us and more than anyone else they can bring a joy and lightness that can make our bleakest day a little brighter.

The amazing thing is that I am not some super-mom of love. I am just that, a mother. Subhanallah. I am grateful to be a woman, to be a wife, to be a mother. It is a blessing from Allah that I have been GIFTED with these three beautiful, amazingly different yet similiar children. They are an amanah from Allah and I try to be thankful to Him, ar-Raheem, for this wonderful thing he has entrusted me with.

I'm just feeling kinda nostalgic tonight, missing my sons but so sooo happy for the blessing of them and Aaminah in my life. I truly cannot imagine my life without them, nor do I want to. I no longer have visions of grandeur for myself; I made sacrifices for my children and I did it GLADLY, not so in years to come I could say, "You don't know what I gave up for you!!!". Nope, guilting ain't my way and I was and still am very happy for any decision I made that was good for my babies. 17, 13 and 2. Masha'allah, subhanallah, wa alhamdulillah!!!

Please anyone want to share a "loving my kid" story please do so. I would be happy to read them. :-) Ma salaama ya'll.

November 28, 2010

Warning: don't view if hungry!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. On Sundays we run with a lighter crew; two of my three stepchildren go with their mother. So we take advantage of that time to run errands, etc that is much harder with 6 people in tow.

Today after an unsuccessful bid to buy a patio table (they don't carry them after summer here apparently) we decided to grab a little bite. We headed for Panera; my husband is a bread-hound and of course they have great bread and their sandwiches are very nice masha'Allah.

We both got sandwiches; I had the turkey artichoke which has asiago cheese, caramelized onions and an artichoke/spinach spread on it. All on grilled focaccia bread. The caramelized onions added a distinctive sweetness I coulda done without but it was still super-good. Hmmmmm.....

A had the frontega chicken which was super nice as well. It's calling my name from the take-out bag as we "speak". lol

We both got a side of soup (creamy chicken and wild rice and brocolli cheddar) and the girls (Z and Aaminah) had their absolutely yummmmmmmy mac 'n cheese. Almost wrong to call it mac 'n cheese, it's so far past what we throw together from a box.

Anyway it was very tasty (but $$$ in my opinion) and even A could only eat half his sandwich with his soup and the complimentary bread that comes with it. So we have a full sandwich between us to bring home. I'm a sandwich fiend, I love 'em, so really I'm looking forward to a late night snack insha'Allah. ;-)

After we had eaten I noticed a sign giving you any pastry in the dessert case for only $.99 with a meal/drink purchase. So I trot back up front and ask our cashier. He was super nice and let me pick three divine-looking pastries and he didn't even charge me the $2.97. Alhmamdulillah. We got the bear claw:

And we got the pain au chocolate (chocolate-stuffed pastry):

And I opted for the cherry cheese danish. It looks soooo yummy....

So alhamdulillah we had a good time, spent some quiter-than-normal dining moments and just enjoyed ourselves. I would prefer to just go with the two of us for a quick lunch one day instead of 2 kids accompanying us but alhamdulillah what can you do? lol

Ma salaama ya'll....

November 24, 2010

Pictures from my trip to Tennessee!

Aliyah and Aaminah cheesin' it up... with kohl on!

Alex running in his last cross-country race of the season; look at his hair fly!

This is Aaminah's first time seeing her big brother Zack in 9 months. She loved him from the first minute she saw his face!

At the restaurant, Alex and Aaminah bonding again! So sweet masha'Allah!

What a bunch of weiners! LOL My sis just opened a restaurant (a spin-off of their wildly popular "Best Hot Dog in East TN" hot dog cart) and we were dressing the part in some of the Groovy Dawg's props.

November 23, 2010

A trip to the beach

 A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. For the first time in my life, I live in a state that is bordered by an ocean and yet we've only went to the beach once. The problem is, up here if you go during warm weather nothing but fitnah and it isn't appropriate to take a Muslim family unfortunately.

I really wanted to see the ocean again. The first time we went at the end of last winter it was bitterly, bitingly cold. Literally we stayed for 4 minutes and then left.

 This time the temperatures were at least 15 degrees higher but oh my! We were still super cold as you can tell by Aaminah's face in the first pic and the lack of others at the beach. I think we made it 15 minutes this time (I insisted everyone wear jackets, hats, gloves, etc.).

Still my dream of a nice picnic by the beach didn't transpire. We went to a sandwich place later and grabbed a bite. Funny in this pic the most prominent person is A who most dislikes having photographs made. lol He says they destroy your imagination but I insist they help jog my memory and thus are necessary. :-) In case you are wondering, I was holding the cam trying to get us all in the shot. Nice job huh??

Any of you have husbands/family members who (aside from any haram/halal argument) feels its odd to want to capture a moment in time? I love it personally but have cut down alot from what I used to snap. Oh and it was just us four (that's Zainab in the pic) bec the other two went with their mother that day.

Ma salaama....

November 11, 2010

Post-fajr halaqas YES!!!

A'salaamu alaikum! My husband is going to be going through the Qur'an with me, surah by surah, and doing an early morning halaqa with the emphasis on tafsir and learning the meaning behind the verses in the Qur'an. I am so excited; it stemmed from a conversation we had this morning which turned into a "Grab the Qur'an with Arabiy and English". I read aloud the entire surah (surat-ul-Maryam) and he would stop me to interject definitions, meanings, clarify the English, give background and related hadith, etc.

Really I am so excited and happy about this. :-) It was so much fun this morning and I know I am learning LOADS more than when I just read Qur'an on my own. It is indeed a huge blessing from Allah swt that I have married A. Alhamdulillah there are many good things about our marriage (please say masha'Allah!) but this is really one of his selling-points for me. I intend to exploit his knowledge to the fullest!!! lol

One ayat which really spoke to me today (which I'm sure we've all read before) is ayah 67 of surat-ul-Maryam:

"Does not man remember that We created him, when he was nothing?"

Subhanallah. I love this; these exact words or very similar are sprinkled throughout the Qur'an, a CLEAR reminder to be grateful to Allah and be in awe of His majesty and omnipotence.

I just wanted to share this ayah with you all that you may be blessed with it too insha'Allah.

November 9, 2010

Who out there wears overhead abayaat?

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I am thinking of expanding my clothing repetoire (which is pretty basic) into overhead abaya. I mean, I wear abaya all the time anyway but then have to throw a hijab on top (I wear the tie-back khimar style) so I think I can really streamline this situation. lol

However I must must must must must have a peak (the part that sticks out) on my forehead. Flat to the forehead hijab is NOT a good look on me. Plus I don't like showing so much of my forehead but I digress.

I want to know who does or has worn an overhead and if you've ever tried the chador overhead abaya, a newer style. It has the forehead piece and ties back behind the head but is all one piece abaya to the ground.

Any sources would be great. I found one (see above) on (I think) but it's $56 PLUS shipping and I just can't justify that amount. So I would super appreciate any words of advice you all can give insha'allah.

Ma salaama....

November 3, 2010

I've taken the NaNoWriMo challenge! :-)

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Sooo maybe you can guess I have joined the NaNoWriMo movement. National Novel Writing Month encourages all its participants to write a novel (defined as at least 50,000 word) in 30 days by the end of November insha'Allah. I have a good start as I always have some sort of story line going on in my head.

At first my biggest challenge was to just focus on one topic. I had a few ideas bouncing around in my head but some were too autobiographical (I wouldn't want anyone to read it!) and others were just too in-depth to be tackled effectively in this time frame.

I finally opted on a halal romantic historical fiction. I am not (too) ashamed to say I used to love reading these types of books. To be transported to a different time and place, all the over-the-top characters, and the passion... lol Well I loved reading them before I was Muslim but afterwards... well there was just too much sex and haram to even consider it (although reading any novel isn't recommended it's still something I enjoy from time to time).

I have read some so-called "Islamic" fiction and I was horrified by the topics chosen and the way they were presented.  I know some people will think I am being ridiculous and over-the-top but as Muslims we are commanded by ALLAH SWT to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. I feel that to glorify sex and drinking and adultery is indeed enjoining evil and perpetuating it. So instead of compaining about what is out there, I decided to just write my own. :-)

I am striving to write a historically accurate, emotionally satisfying, and ultimately uplifting novel. My intent isn't for publication but to enjoy the challenge to complete something after soooo many years of reading a sub-par book and thinking, I could've done better than that! lol Haven't we all? So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth was, so to speak.

In this book I will endeavor to keep from the haram as far as possible although some characters will be necessarily good and some evil. It will insha'allah have a moral to it as well without being preachy.

Anyway here is just some excerpts from the opening. I would enjoy getting your feedback. I don't mind criticism at all but I reserve the right to accept or reject it. In the end, I want to write a book I would be proud of, that upholds the same values I espouse, and that will insha'Allah entertain my sisters in a more halal manner.

Without further ado, the much-anticipated (yeah right!) debut:

A Novel by Me!

The prisoner looked up at the dark night sky, searching for the moon. In vain he craned his head this way and that trying to catch a glimpse. He was disoriented, hungry and dirty; he had been rudely shoved into the unused damp cellar 2 days ago and had as of yet to receive anything with which to cleanse himself. He rubbed his hands reverently on the stone walls and began his ritual ablution, running his hands slowly over his face and arms, cleansing himself symbolically, if not physically. He was readying himself for commune with His Lord, Ya Rabb. After a brief search, he found a small twig in amongst the hay that was laid down to serve as his bed.

Carefully he peeled it and chewed the end until its fibrous core was exposed. He cleaned his mouth thoughtfully; it was inconceivable for him to approach his Creator in prayer with a dirty mouth. The malaika (angels) are present during prayer and are offended by stale breath. He did his best to clean himself and then slowly, he raised his hands to the side of his head.

“Allahuakbar!” his voice rang out in the chilly air, his warm breath leaving a trail of steam in its wake.

“Allahuakbar!” he called again and felt his pulse slowing and his focus turning inward.

He continued the athan and began his prayer. Since he has been in this tomb-like enclosure, he could never be sure of the direction; it was a part of his salaat (prayer) to face the direction of Makkah, the holy city. Now he only had his dim recollections from a few nights past when he was brought into this makeshift prison. With his heart, Sofiane made the intention to complete his prayer correctly and beseeched Allah to accept it. Insha’Allah (God willing) He would.

Afterwards, he sat very still and let his mind focus on the glory of Allah. He made dhikr or remembrance of God and made his personal prayers. He prayed for his freedom of course (and more importantly) for the mercy and forgiveness of his Lord. He prayed for Allah to protect his family in his absence, to give them comfort and consolation, to make them accepting of anything they were given or was taken away, to make them strong until his return. Insha’allah.

He felt a strong sense of peace. He had done all he could do; he had prayed, lifted his hands up to his Creator and placed his trust in Him. He laid down on the scratchy straw and fell into a deep slumber.

Emma stared pensively out the opened window, the cold moist air encircling her body like a frigid cloak. She shivered slightly and pulled her woolen wrap closer. It was also cool and damp in her room despite the roaring fire. Most young women her age didn’t have a private room but Emma was lucky she wasn’t required to spend her nights on the stone floor below, fighting for sleeping space with the multitude of hounds and slinking cats that were the habitual inhabitants of any keep. Her room, though small, was adequate for her needs and she was grateful for the privacy it granted. Especially now.

Everyone in the area knew of the infidel who had been brought here under cover of darkness. His location was supposed to be kept secret but in all actuality what harm did it matter that some illiterate peasants and a handful of landless gentry knew his location? Emma’s father was keeping the prisoner for his lord, Sir Gilbert. Sir Gilbert’s castle was in the same town as the local fleece market and as such news would spread quickly of the prisoner’s whereabouts. It was much safer to house him here in the sleepy little village of Wallingham than to chance placing him in a more accessible area.

Emma’s thoughts turned to the prisoner himself. She had to admit she was eager to catch a glimpse of the heathen. Churches had just started giving sermons, short moralistic stories the common masses could relate to their everyday lives. Although Emma herself was very skeptical about the Church and their doctrinse she was fascinated by their stories. It was fun to hear the priests give their lectures but she didn’t put too much stock into it.

However since the beginning of the crusades to win back Jersusalem, or the Holy Land as the tiresome priests described it, Emma had been hooked. They told tales of ruthless muhajideen or holy warriors dressed in long white skirts and carrying evil scimitars who would strike down any man, woman or child unlucky enough to be in their path. They delved into great detail when describing the evils of the harem or women’s quarters for the wealthy Sheikhs. Emma could almost see the writhing, naked bodies, clad only in the sheerest wisps of silk, drenched in intoxicating perfumes. All there for the pleasure of one jaded man who could end their life at his whim. Oh yes, Emma was enchanted!

It was all so much more exciting than her boring life here in Wallingham. As the daughter of the lord of the manor she was expected to act as housekeeper, hostess, and occasionally in any other capacity necessary. Emma’s mother had died many years ago when she was just a small child. Although her memories were beginning to fade, she remembered her mother as being kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, perfectly suited to life in a quiet little hamlet.

Not me!, Emma thought mutinously. She would never be happy here, just marrying whomever Father picked and raising a pack of kids for an ungrateful husband, dying when she was 35, worn out and miserable. She dreamed of life, life! beyond these crumbling grey stone walls. Emma had a keen mind and was a quick learner and above of all of that, she had a curiosity and a zest for life and love of knowledge. All of these traits combined to make her unsuited for a life of monotony and duty.

She found herself thinking about the prisoner again. From her small window she could just see across the courtyard to the place where he was held. There was a dull light shining through the tiny ventilation opening, as if a lone candle had sullenly agreed be lit. Emma strained to see through the foggy darkness and was gratified with a glimpse of a dark head just visible. She could see short black hair and a surprisingly thick beard. Apparently he did not find what he was searching for because momentarily he disappeared.

Disappointed, Emma started to move away from the window, plotting how she could cajole her father into letting her meet the prisoner. Suddenly the most beautiful and haunting sound came from the direction of the cellar....

Anyway that is the end of what I wanted to share right now. Insha'Allah you all enjoyed it and if I say or do anything good it is from Allah and Allah alone, all praises are to Him.

Ma salaama...

October 17, 2010

I gots da' bumpity bump, camel hump!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. It would appear that I am going for that all-out, over-the-top hijab fashion/trend known as al-gambooa3a, the camel hump, 60's beehive hairdo under a scarf, look. HOWEVER it's not quiet that simple.

You see, I got a perm. A curly perm, to clarify. My eldest son asked, with a look of barely concealed horror, "You mean a straight perm or a curly perm?". Seems even 17 yr olds with no real knowledge of the 80s knows what the end result of a curly permanent can be.

Yes Virgina, I did get a permanent. And you know what? I like it. I really like it. Being a southerner (and growing up in the 80s) I do have an affinity for big hair. Bring on the Final Net and hair dryer, our hair is getting some wings! One of my friends used so much hairspray your feet would literally stick to the floor. One girl in high school (her name was Kara, really sweet shy girl) had what was enviably known as the "tallest hair in the 9th grade". We all loved her hair.

So it would seem I've brought back a version of the big hair. I don 't wear it high on the top but when I pull my hair back under my hijab it still makes a verrrry noticeable hump. I've never worn a hair flower (used to give the illusion of height under my hijab) because I do feel it isn't correct. I am NOT starting a debate, I don't judge those who do it, I just feel it's not correct.

But I do like the look my new 'do gives me. Hey, its just my hair, I can appreciate it! Anyway I would love to post some pics of my hair done up in the funky rollers (it took 2 girls 3 hours just to roll it!!!) but I still think that borders on haram/showing off what isn't apparent so I'll have to take an indefinite raincheck. ;-)

Alrighty insha'allah I'll get my vacay pics uploaded soon. I wanna show off my handsome sons!!!! We are having a cookout tonight (it's already chilly here in Mass especially at night) but a girl's gotta eat her halal burgers.

Ma salaama ya'll!