March 31, 2010

Ahh dang!

*These are the Dr. Marten sandals called "Alec". Alot like my faves but more expensive. lol*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. This is just a quickie observation: ever buy that one piece of clothing, that one pair of shoes, that you just adore and then you end up wearing the life out of it and what do you do? They don't sell it anymore of course, so you are just stuck.

Once, in 2000, Hanes came out with some really nice t-shirts for women. They had more of a defined shape, a cap sleeve, and a bit longer than most. I loved them and bought one of each color; two of the grey actually! This was pre-Islam and I needed short sleeved shirts to wear to dialysis. They were lifesavers! lol

Now let's talk about my sandals. THE sandals. All of my friends know these guys: brown leather, slip-on, fisherman type sandals. From: Wal-mart. Yes Wal-Mart. They were a lovely vegetable-dyed leather, and oh so comfy and sturdy. Men's sandals if you must know but they were my absolute favorite of all time!

I wore them for a year and the next year alhamdulillah they had them again! I bought a new pair, same style. Somehow that pair got lost but I still had ole faithful. Then...horror of horrors, after THREE YEARS of hard wear, the soles cracked and the tread was worn off. These babies took me from the US to Mumbai to UAE and back home. I've worn them from North American to Southeast Asia and looooved every minute of it.

Now (Earth Spirit, you traitor!) they no longer make the same style. Almost but I am fanatical about the EXACT style. So I am stuck now and will have to branch out into other lines, other brands. I feel like I am cheating on my shoes.

OK silly me but it's how I feel. :-)

Ma salaama...

You GOTTA check out this food blog!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Just wanted to bring this food blog to your attention. It hasn't been updated in a while but the archives are wonderful. It's called Arabic Bites and features step-by-step directions with great color photos. Really yummy food and I can't wait to try my hand at some!

I have it on my list of blogs I adore but its at the bottom as it's not being updated at the moment. If you like to cook, check it out. If you make something from it, please let me know how it turned out so I can try it too insha'Allah!

Ma salaama...

The perfect life

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Wow don't I have the perfect life? A loving husband, many children, happiness beyond compare. Bet I'm getting the evil eye all over the place huh?

Wellll that may be but sisters, dear readers, my life isn't perfect. What no gasps from ya'll? lol Ok so you probably guessed that but I don't like to operate under false assumptions.

My life isn't perfect. I am short-tempered sometimes and the kids (mine and his and ours!) can make me pull my hair out. :-) My husband has his faults as well allahu alim. The list can go on and on but it won't.

I take to heart the injunction from Allah swt to be the keeper of my husband's secrets. That means when/if there is a difficulty between us, you can be sure I won't be posting it here. I am tempted sometimes; how nice to feel I have some anonymity to complain, to get things off my chest.

Then alhamdulillah I think how would I feel if anyone, A or my friends, complained about ME to strangers? I would be devastated and rightly so. I try to keep this a positive place and keep my personal business just that, personal.

So my life isn't perfect but I loooove it. I am happy, content, peaceful, and blessed. We are masha'Allah simple people and we live simply. If we have a disagreement we meet it as Muslims alhamdulillah and it is resolved quickly and without yelling, name-calling, screaming or hurt feelings.

I am a sensitive person with my husband. With others, friends, family members, etc. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve. I love them but their words or actions do not cut me deeply nor do they scar my heart. My husband, on the other hand, can merely be silent for a while and I am worried he is unhappy. I know my emotional demands place a toll on him but insha'Allah my good points make up for it. :-)

I have alhamdulillah had an interesting life and I haven't always been treated respectfully by men, kaffir and muslim alike. So I have some issues, I know, with trusting in love. Please make dua for me that Allah swt repairs my damaged sense of trust and makes me whole, loving, accepting and complete. Ameen!

Ma salaama...

March 30, 2010

Lebanese chicken with rice

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I made a really nice meal last night...for the first time in a long time it seems! So, see below for the recipe please. :-) Also, on a side note, I will sometimes add a different spice or use another ingredient but this recipe is pretty true to itself.

Djaj mah ruz (Lebanese chicken with rice)

8 chicken thighs, skinned
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (more or less to taste)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme (I added this bec I didn't find the oregano at first! lol)
1 clove garlic, minced
sprinkling of salt

Place chicken in baking dish and mix remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken, turning to coat. Let sit for at least 3-4 hours so it absorbs the flavor. Place in a a 375 degree oven and bake for 30 min. Make sure the meaty side is down so the marinade keeps it moist as it cooks insha'Allah. Remove from oven after 30 minutes and flip the chicken and bake for another 10 minutes. Baste with pan juices.


1.5 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained 3 times
2.25 cups chicken broth (I use homemade; if you use canned do not add additional salt)
4 cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
fresh chopped or dried parsley

Place all ingredients through coriander in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and place lid. Steam rice for about 15 minutes. Remove and place on platter. Sprinkle turmeric over several different spots so it will give color it individual grains of rice; gently fluff with fork but take care not to mix it. Sprinkle parlsey to taste and then top with the warm chicken. May serve the pan juices on the side to be sopped up with bread or to put over your rice as you wish.

We served this with a simple green salad of romaine, cucumber, and tomato. Oh and of course additional lemon was available tableside. :-) It was heartily enjoyed by all masha'allah! Except me... I had to go to the hospital (imagine that! lol) and missed the yummy dinner. Really more than the eating I like to watch my family enjoying it. Alhamdulillah I could see it went over really well.

Enjoy and ma salaam...

March 27, 2010

Please, oh please won't you leave your calling card?

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I don't have alot of followers but I do have many readers alhamdulillah. I would love love love love love it if you would just drop a comment, where you are from, what brought you by, etc. I would really like it if you would follow my blog but hey, I'm not gonna beg. :-)

I love meeting my fellow bloggers and other interested people so please, if you enjoy what you are reading, just drop me a short lil comment saying so.

Look forward to meeting ya'll....

Caffeine MUST be avoided :-)

*My mamaw and papaw during their first year of marriage*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. It's almost 2 am here and I am not sleeping. Why? Because I had some caffeine. Yep, caffeine. I almost said "the c-word drug" but realized there are a couple of heavy hitters that start with a "c" so I changed my wording real quick. lol

Anyway in my youth drinking caffeine really didn't seem to phase me. I now only have a cup of tea in the morning (sometimes coffee heavy on the milk and sugar) and drink caffeine free diet coke or pepsi the rest of the time. I do drink some water too but really not as I should.

I decided to make some southern-style sweet iced tea for a treat tonight for mi familia. And now I can't sleep. Hence my earrrrrly morning post.

One of the most influential people in my life was my maternal grandmother. We called her mamaw (it's a southern thang!) and she was awesome. Strong, independent, a woman of faith and responsibility. I often wondered why she took on so much but she did it because, simply, it was the right thing to do.

I stayed at her house on Fridays nights while my parents delivered newspapers. Oh the fun I had. Cereal for supper? No problem at mamaw's house. Did I want to sleep on my knees with my head on the chair? Sure go ahead. (Really that one was crazy but she let me try it!). My normal bed there was either with her or she would make me a pallet on the couch out of comfy, old, worn-cotton quilts. Cool in summer, warm in winter... how can that be?? :-)

Let's just say I loved her and make this post a bit shorter. And my grandmother thought I was the cat's meow, the bee's knees, the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was a gifted child and my report cards and academic accolades were the fodder for much praise. I always knew my mamaw was proud of me and I basked in that love and acceptance.

Now two things have marred that relationship (somewhat). When I was in my mid teens I began to gain weight. I worked 20 hours a week at Hardee's fast food restaurant and besides leftovers, I brought home about 30 lbs. :-) Free greasy food and unlimited soda... I had no idea about calories, portion size, etc. It it tastes good, eat it, and I did. I was also getting sick at that point with my kidney disease so my activity slowed down as well.

My mamaw was old school. You kept your hair nice, your skin untanned, minimum make-up and perfume, modest lady-like clothes and you had a trim waist. Uh oh, boy was I in trouble. Most of those things didn't apply to me. However, as I was sick and still a stellar student and a darling of the little country Baptist church we attended, even these faults were overlooked.

Then I became Muslim. Well fastforward what, 16 years or so. :-) My grandmother was suprisingly my first proponent. Until she realized that I did not believe Isa (a.s.) was the son of God. And even then it was just that she was worried for my soul. Really I hated causing her worry but I didn't feel like living a lie so I was very straighforward with all of my family in regards to my conversion.

Then I started dressing different. Oh boy... so now not only was she concerned for my immortal soul but she was uncomfortable around me. It really became a stumbling block in our relationship. Astaghfirallah, I didn't visit her very frequently anymore. I always felt awkward. As my mamaw has aged, she has gotten a little sharper in her criticisms and really I felt like I was always being judged.

OK I know, long post, but I'm coming to the point of my story. So this is the recap of our relationship the past 20 years. I recently moved away from home here to Mass. and my grandmother is very old (82) and her health and mind aren't what they used to be.

Imagine to my surprise when I received a hand-written letter in the mail. From my mamaw. As I read it, I began to cry. A asked why and all I could say was "it's so sweet" but they were also tears of guilt because I knew I had not been an attentive grand daughter.

My mamaw started by saying she wanted to write to me while she could still remember some things. She talked about my silly little antics as a precocious preschooler and how she has always been proud of me. Always. She said I've had alot of hard things thrown my way but I always came through them happily, quietly, and never complaining. Alhamdulillah it is a gift from Allah.

She apologized to me. Wow, I'm starting to cry as I write this. She apologized to me because she thought she had made me feel bad and then she named a few little incidences that really were quite trivial but were weighing on her mind.

I cried. I cried because my mamaw still loved me and was proud of me when I didn't deserve it. I cried because I let a few comments from an old woman keep me from my filial responsibility. I cried because life has no "do overs" and I can't go back and fix what I did wrong. I cried because this remarkable woman who has faced so much in her life felt she had to apologize to someone acting (inside at least) like a petulant child. And I cried because her life is drawing to an end and her memories of me were so strong, so loving she felt compelled to write me and let me know.


March 25, 2010

I'v e lost my mo-jo!!!!!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. The most heinous thing has happened... no I didn't lose my copy of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure". ;-) I've lost my COOKING mo-jo!!! Yes I know, this is a distressing turn of events indeed. I really pride myself on a being a good cook. Not a chef, definitely not a preparer of haute cuisine, but a good, basic, feed-my-family-nourishing-meals kinda cook. A little inventive and alotta good eating. Masha'Allah. :-)

However the past 3 dishes didn't go over so great or at least portions of them. To start with, I made a roast. I took a lovely red and white marbled 3lb piece of halal zabiha beef and cooked it with the standard accompaniment of root vegetables. It was ok but not noteworthy.

Then I made spaghetti. Foolproof right? Guess not. The sauce (I used bottled.. all you food purists out there can kiss my behind; I'm not peeling tomatoes!) was a bit sweet. It was a tomato & basil sauce and like most commercially prepared sauces, had a little sweet taste. I enjoyed it but my husband wasn't a fan.

Last night was broiled salmon with a typical North African spice mixture pressed into the top and yellow rice with salad. The rice was... unfortunate. I tried to add a couple of Maggi chicken cubes to the water and it was salty. Waaaay too salty. :-( The salmon was ok and the salad.. well it's just salad isn't it.

OK so in retrospect maybe I haven't really lost my cooking mojo but I felt my meals this past week were uninspired to say the least. Plus my husband prefers more fish and chicken as opposed to red meat. I grew up on hamburger meat in various forms; I think chicken was just more expensive so we didn't have it as often.

I have rarely encountered this lack of culinary excitement and inspiration. Part of the problem is A was sick with pnuemonia the past week so wasn't hungry for alot of things anyway. Then coupled with his personal and cultural foods preferences, it can become a challenge.

I must say that my husband never complains about the food if he doesn't like it. He follows the example of our Prophet saws and simply doesn't eat it if he doesn't like the taste. Of course it makes me feel bad, hence this post.

So if any of ya'll have some healthy ideas (we've both gained about 7 lbs since we married subhanallah!) for quick, delicious meals especially seafood please share. My country-style cooking doesn't really sit well with A's palate or stomach. :-)

Ma salaama...

March 17, 2010


A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! This could be a new southernism but only for southern US Muslims, obviously. :-) I wanted to post this photo of Aaminah and when I looked at it, so many southern sayings popped into my mind I knew I needed to share. :-)

1. I could just eat you up! Translation: You are most probably the sweetest thing I have ever seen. :-) This is what I thought when I saw this pic of Aaminah.

2. Look at that sh*t eatin' grin. Translation: You look mischievious. Yes, this is a real bona-fide southern saying.

3. Oh bless her heart! Translation: How I pity you and/or revel in your distress but in order to appear sweet and genteel I can't say so. lol

4. Well I'd rather do ______ than get a kick in the head. Translation: Self-explanatory.

5. I ain't seen you in a month of Sundays. (Pronounced: I ain't seen you in uh month uh Sundees.) Translation: Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since we spoke last!

6. Why, he's mean as a striped snake. (Pronounced: Why, he's mean as a stripe-ed snake.) Translation: Don't mess with that guy. lol

7. Well, they! Translation: You must be kidding me!

8. You're as useless as tits on a bull. Translation: Uh, you're useless. :-D

Here's an impromptu vocab lesson: "layg" and "ayg" are leg and egg and "flair" is both flour and flower.

Please remember when saying these (if you were to ever want to do so!) that you must draw out all vowel sounds. Otherwise you will just sound crazy. :-)

I know there are many more but I think I'm losing my southern-ness. :-( Now Aaminah says "Hi" and "Bye" instead of "Haiiii" and "Bahhh". My baby is gonna have a northern accent. Nooooooooooooooooo!

Ma salaama...

March 15, 2010

So many kids, so little space!

My crazy-haired, just-woke-up little girl. Melts my heart. :-)

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! So as you know we have 6 kids between us, 4 living with us. Alhamdulillah we have a 3 bedroom apartment at the present so things are a little tight. :-) Of course, Aaminah and I literally brought enough stuff with us to fill an entire 2 bedroom apartment. How to consolidate?

Some things are easy and just make sense. For example I have a really nice leather sofa, recliner and love seat I bought before Aami was born. I had my little Nova at the time (rat terrier mix dog) and I didn't want his hair to stick on my furniture. A's furniture has seen a better day so alright, compromise accomplished.

Now he also was living kind of a bachelor's existence in term of his decorating style. Once again, easy to find the balance. I have knick-knacks and bric-a-brac galore. Well not really overkill (I like to purge my stuff sometimes) but I definitely have some nice decorative elements. They are still not up on the walls but you know, halfway there. :-)

Harder are the things that aren't replacing others. Our clothes for instance. I am ashamed to say I have quite a collection. Ashamed because I wear about 10% of what I own and that is a generous estimate. I have a few pre-Islam clothes (very few) and then the "convert" look which is 3 or 4 long, slit-less denim skirts and long tunic tops. Then there are my Indian clothes I bought when I was in India in 2006; I have probably 10 shalwar kameez outfits. Add to that my collection of abayaat and galabeya and...well you know.

We won't even DISCUSS hijabs!!! The funny thing is, I wear only the long stretch tie-back khimars. They fit comfortably, are plain and modest, and for sure cover my chest. I really have no need of any of the beautiful hijabs I have but it's a sickness, what can I say. lol

As you can see in the photo I have put a nice container system up for Aaminah's toys.A verrrry small portion of them. I still have to find a place for her play kitchen (brand new, from my family, only played with twice before we moved) and many others things. Anyway this system lets her see her toys and play with them AND just as importantly, help pick up when she is finished. I would encourage anyone with children to use these storage bins they can easily access for toys. I bought this for only $25 used from Craigs List. Great resource for families on a budget. Oh and don't be ridiculous and go alone to someone's home or let them in yours. Meet in a public place, blah blah blah. lol

Ma salaama....

March 12, 2010

Craft time, la la la!

Our Hajj felt board; fun to make, fun to play with too!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I made this lovely little felt board about Hajj for Aaminah. Insha'allah it will help introduce her to important vocabulary and just be plain ole fun!

I got the idea for it here. This is a blog called "A muslim child is born" and the sister running it, Umm an-Numan is masha'allah very talented and creative. I adapted her storyboard idea and came up with this a couple of nights ago.

I bought regular felt in a variety of colors and then wanted a large piece of stiff felt for the background. I got grass green which I thought was lovely 'til I got home and the realization dawned on me that there isn't alot of grass in Makkah! lol Oh bless my heart, yes bless it indeed! I should have gotten either sandy color or sky blue but alhamdulillah I had those other colors in the softer felt so no harm, no foul.

Side note... I just got an unrequested kiss from a crazy haired little sweetie. Masha'Allah I love it!

OK back to subject. Upon speaking with my husband (ya Shaykh!) I discovered that Mina is about 14 miles from the plain of Arafat. However I wanted my stones on the story board so I took a little artistic license. I also made a kufi for the brother but obviously he won't wear it til Hajj is complete!!! lol

Those who know me are aware of my affinity for black; black abaya, black hijab. It's somewhat of a joke with my more fashion-concious friends. Anyway I opted for a white overgarment on the sister because it looked nicer on the board.

Anywho, no templates are needed just freehand it. You can pencil in your design if necessary but I only did that for the Ka'aba. I had to do it a few times to get it right but alhamdulillah I am pleased with this overall.

Insha'allah ya'll will enjoy making this too. If your children are older they can help. For my childless sisters, make this for a friend's kid and enjoy craft time yourself.

Oh another couple of great websites I found my browsing the blogs of homeschooling sisters: Handmade Beginnings and Islamic Lapbooking. Pass them on insha'Allah!

Ma salaama...

March 11, 2010

Hmm hmm good!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! This is an overdue food post. I decided (from my backlog of yummy recipes) to pick the Tunisian feast my husband prepared for me shortly after I arrived in Massachusetts.

My favorite part was helping A in the kitchen. It was really fun cooking with someone instead of being in there all alone while everyone else has a good time watching me sweat it out! :-)

This was a traditional Tunisian feast. Of course the meat of choice is lamb which I am not a fan of to be honest. It has a heavy aftertaste to me. I grew up in the south and you couldn't even find lamb in the grocery stores until about 10 years ago!

So let me run through what we made and a brief list of ingredients. My husband cooks by intuition, not recipes so it was a handful a pinch a smattering. lol His spices will change with his whims. Really he is fun to cook with masha'Allah. Oh I will also double check all the ingedients with him and will update my blog tomorrow to reflect anything I might have left out.

First I'll tell you about the tagine. This is Tunisian tagine not Moroccan so get the idea of a meat/veggie stew out of your mind. :-) You take cooked lamb cubes and grind them til they are almost a paste. Yes really a paste. Interesting concept. Then mix that with a couple of eggs and some finely diced cooked potato. This is kind of like an American hash. When I say finely I mean tiny uniform cubes. Really small. :-)

Anyway you take a large bunch of parsley and another of dill. Also some green onions. Trim the root ends and weed out obvious nasties. :-) Chop finely. I mean fine. Really really small pieces. Mix the cooked lamb paste, the eggs, potatoes and herbs. Then layer a nice thick covering of mozzarella cheese on top. I was surprised by that ingredient; I guess I thought it was only us danged old yanks that smothered everything in cheese. lol Spread into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 30 min.

We also made shorba or soup. Very simple, rustic almost in its simplicity. Sorry I didn't get a photo of it; it's not really photogenic but it's oh so good! Boil the leg bone (hacked into 2 or 3 pieces) in a large stock pot of water. For the Arabic food purists out there, save the leg bones to disgust your non-Arab dinner guests by sucking the cooked, gelatinous marrow out of the center of the bone with a loud slurping noise. Lovely, really.

Throw in any array of veggies coarsely chopped. I think we used carrot, turnip, assorted squash/zucchini, garlic, onion, tomatoes, a large bunch of dill, spinach and some other things. Salt to taste, pepper and really I am drawing a blank. lol Anyway you boil it all together til soft then puree it in batches in your blender. This is yummy and healthy and makes popular iftar fare.

We also had a lamb salad for lack of a better word. Cubes of cooked lamb tossed with parsley, onion and tomato. Little olive oil thrown in for good measure never hurts! I enjoyed this as much as a non-lamb lover can which says alot!

Now..onto the star of the show, my new all-time favorite Tunisian food: salata mishwaya. Oh y hee!!! My taste buds do a little victory dance every time it appears on our table. Insha'Allah your family will enjoy it too!

Take about 5 plum tomatoes, 3 of the long green peppers (medium heat NOT jalapenos!), 5 or so small eggplants, and several cloves unpeeled garlic and roast them til black and blistered all over. Hint: after roasting place in bag or covered dish and let steam for 15 minutes; the skins will slide off! You do NOT leave the skins on as they should be nice and burnt by this point. Charring the veggies gives the whole affair a smoky sultriness that is incomparable!

Mix these all together, throw in a little salt and a good measure olive oil. Should use enough to cover the vegetable mixture completely and have some pooled up on the top. Soooo good with crusty french bread, ya'll don't KNOW how yummy this is. As a matter of fact I had some tonight. Hmmmm!

The last time A made it he used our little grill on the patio because we are having a warmish spell; however in Jan. he just turned the stove eye on "High" and roasted them inside. Really very good idea, I wouldn't have thought of in a million years. :-)

Ok so recap: salata mishwaya, lamb salad, and tagine. Don't forget the shorba! Such a yummy meal but of course I thought how divine the tagine would be with ground beef. Hey shoot me, I like my cows.

Medium well that is. :-)

Ma salaama...

March 3, 2010

Oh I was sick again

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Just realized in my non-posting month I didn't keep everyone updated on my health issues. :-)

I was hospitalized here in Massachussets for the SAME stinking kidney infection. I have a super-resistant strain of e. coli running amok in my urinary tract. If you remember, I was hospitalized 4 times for a total of 12 days from Oct. to Dec. last year.

After I officially moved here to Mass in the beginning of Feb. BOOM! it hit again. Subhanallah. Same bacteria, same location... which is my transplanted kidney. I was kept for four days and finally allowed to come home. You know here isn't the same as back home. I don't have all my close sisters in Islam to care for Aaminah or my family.

Alhamdulillah my husband was awesome!!!! He kept Aaminah for those 4 days, fed, bathed, loved, and cherished her. He came by with the kids each day for at least 2 hours and brought me decent food. A huge alhamdulillah! ;-) Really couldn't stomach their food at UMass Memorial Hospital in nearby Worcester. Anyway I digress...

So I was sent home with a midline which is a more permanent IV that goes into a deeper vein in your arm. I was on self-administered i.v. antibiotics for 3 weeks. Just got off them last week and had the tube removed. Yay! Now I am on TWO MONTHS of a prophylactic antibiotic.

Please make du'a that I kick this bug one and for all. It can be dangerous especially to my transplanted kidney and I don't want anymore hospital time for a looong time. I am not so naieve as to say "never" just beseeching Allah for a little breather. :-)

Alright guess I'll go now. It's 10:36 pm and I am up late! I used to be such a night owl but our schedule here is different and I am usually in bed by 9:00 pm. Yeah really. :-)

Insha'allah this finds everyone in the best of health and iman and thanks for reading!

Ma salaama...

March 2, 2010

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Wow it's been a month! I am sooo busy and really feel guilty for sitting here right now to update because I have many tasks to accomplish and only 24 hours in a day! ;-)

I have signed up with FlyLady to help me get organized again. I had everything pretty under control when I lived alone with just Aaminah but now with so many people in the home and consolidating two households (personalities, food tastes, and THINGS!) I need to get a new handle on my home. :-) I like flylady because they send daily email reminders about things to do in your home so you dn't forget them. Insha'Allah I'll report back as to whether I have kept up with her regimen or (more likely) taken what I like of it and then made it my own.

Make du'a for me and my family that we contingue to grow together in love for Allah and I ask that Allah fills my heart with mercy and understanding so I might be more patient, loving, and accepting. Amin! :-)

Ma salaama...