September 28, 2013

Still sick...

Turkey Spam on a ho-made buttermilk biscuit, yum!

Salaam ya'll! Aaminah is still sick; we had to make a middle-of-the-night ER run. I had taken her to the doctor on Thursday morning and they checked for strep and it was negative. She didn't feel well but wasn't too sick just a little fever and sore throat.

She really deteriorated fast that night however and started wheezing while she was sleeping and her throat became so sore and inflamed that even swallowing hurt. I was sure she must have strep and the quick test was not correct. The nurse confirmed I should take her in to the ER with her wheezing.

I'm glad I took her on in because they ended up giving her a breathing treatment and a dose of steroids that lasts for 3 days to help combat the swelling in her throat and tonsils. She has a viral infection that has caused tonsilitis and she also has croup. She isn't coughing a lot but a listen to her chest revealed it. I think croup is more of a combination of symptoms than an actual disease in and of itself.

Did I mention we had 2 kitties now? We added a little bobtail boy to the mix and Cap'n is ecstatic! It seems bobtails have a very certain set of personality trats and he's happy for it. He is supposed to be very dog-like in his affections and so far he lives up to it. He follows us around, begs for food from the table and tries to chew my shoe! lol We thought Mimzy needed a feline friend.

This is Ocho. He sleeps a lot. He has a bob tail. He is Mimzy's new friend. :)

Thankfully Aaminah is feeling better but still running a slight fever off and on, still has a sore throat and a bit of a cough. I have no doubt the steroids helped her tremendously and I'm always grateful we live somewhere that I can easily access medical care for her. :)

On the immigration front, Cap'n's papers have been sent to his local Embassy. Alhamdulillah! Yippee! Woo hoo! I'm over the moon. It should just be a couple of more months now iA before his interview and typically the visa is issued within a week after that. Which means... TRAVEL TIME! I was blessed to go to see Cap'n three times in the past year or so which has been sooo helpful in dealing with our separation! I worked hard (when I was able) and saved and scrimped and we were sooo frugal to be able to afford to do it but for our life together, we really needed some time.

The nice thing about my visits were that we did not have our children with us. His son was at his mother's or auntie's for that time and Aaminah stayed with her auntie here. We really felt we needed to have time to just be together, talk, laugh, be lazy... basically a Muslim version of "Love, Eat, Pray" :D Cause that's about all we did. About. ;)

It was great, it was awesome, it was like a honeymoon each time but we got to know each other more and more, deeper and deeper. We've been through a lot together in the 2 years we've known each other. Chiefly our separation and my serious health issues which have been hard to deal with but alhamdulillah we put our faith in Allah.

Has it been hard? Yes. Would I do it all over again? YES, a resounding yes. :) OK not sure how I got off on such a tangent but there ya go. :) I'm gonna go and tackle the kitchen (shuddering)... it's calling my name in an evil, evil whisper. ;)

Ma salaama!

September 25, 2013

Some general updates

Salaam ya'll! Well, a lot has happened in our little life since we last spoke. Old G needs major repairs, to the tune of $1000. :( I found another place with offered to repair it for $500 and I need to get it there.

Problem is I've been sick all day today and now Lil Miss is sick. She was complaining of general malaise adn body aches but I thought it was just a ploy to get out of school (hey don't judge me!). All kids do it some time or another and I figured she just wanted a day off. Unfortunately she started running a fever this evening and is now cozily ensconced on BOBB (our Big Ole Bean Bag) with a few covers and a fluffy pillow. :)

If you could see her face you'd feel sorry for her little heart too!
I've been trying to babysit a little here and there and a friend needed me to watch her little boy today but unfortunately I was too ill this morning. Now I'm feeling better but Aaminah is sick. Subanallah.

So please make dua for her that she gets better quickly; I hate seeing her feeling bad, her usual spark somewhat dimmed. One a positive note, though, I made the BEST pallets when anyone is sick. As my boys, they will tell you, mom rocks! ;)

Alright this was just a quick update, gonna get back to being Mama Nurse. :) Ma salaama ya'll!

September 23, 2013

Transportation woes...

Here is actually a pic of Aaminah helping put the daily water in Old G. :) Cutest little mechanic ever!

Salaam ya'll! I don't think I've introduced ya'll to Old G. That's what Aaminah named our car. The old is apt (it's a '98 model lol) but the G... well I am not sure where that came from, I guess she saw a G in the "Grand" part but anyway, it's super-cute and it's stuck. :)

I have a love/hate relationship with Old G. I love that I have a car. I hate that it doesn't run well. ;) The engine generally speaking does fine, no loud noises, just a slow oil leak, no exhaust issues. However, it chronically over-heats and has since I bought it almost 2 years ago. I put water in it, and it needs more the next day. Twice I've had her repaired; once a hose was replaced ($100) and it seemed to help.

Then it started overheating horribly and I had it fixed again this past March. They said an "elbow joint" was cracked and needed replaced. $200. OK so now, it's good right? Of course, I also have to do the normal maintenance any car requires: oil changes, brakes, etc. At one point a year ago my brother replaced the super-charger for me. See, Old G is a FAST car. I didn't want or need a fast car but I did want and need a cheap car and she filled the bill. (Yes filled not fit lol). Anyway the super charger has to work or the whole car stop so that was about $300. I also had to get a blower ($50). Wow, it adds up. Fast.

So we get what we can afford and alhamdulillah she is paid for but not without her issues. The over-heating is the main one and then of course there is no AC. That is a big deal here in the south where it's really hot but alhamdulillah we manage. The door panel threatened to fall off the other day but, clever me, I taped it back on. Yes, taped. Not even duct tape. Package tape. Whatever, it works. lol

Today, I take Aaminah to school and she starts overheating. Now I had added the requisite water before starting out so I was suprised. I got Aaminah to school then only made it about 5 minutes down the road before I had to call my best friend and her husband (who happens to be Cap'n's best friend if you recall). They come and follow me to the shop and bring me home.

So now just sitting here waiting for the damage and I am already preparing to say "Ouch!" really loud. iA it won't be too bad as Cap'n's friend said for a radiator repair they do not have to go into the engine proper so I'm hoping and praying to Allah that it's not too horrible.

Alhamdulillah I was able to babysit during Ramadhan and I saved my money for a "rainy day" or perhaps even just a day when Old G decides to break down and I have to fix her. Siiiiigh. Just say a brief prayer for us that we can get the old girl running again and she can happily take us to and from our important errands of school, doctor, masjid and grocery, with the occasional jaunt to a nearby park thrown in for good measure! ;)

Ma salaama all...

September 21, 2013

Super easy shrimp scampi with spinach

Salaam ya'll! And again with the cooking posts! But hey, I did have a couple of other things to say recently. I told ya'll about one of our summer adventures and I showed off my mad thrift-shopping skills. Or, should I say, skill-z. ;)

Anyway we were supposed to go to a fundraising dinner at our local Islamic school to support the robotics team. Of course, Aaminah is still too small for it but I want to support the programs now so when she is old enough it will be available iA. :)

Alas, my head is hurting and my mother and grandmother stopped by for a little visit so we opted to stay home. Plus today was some CRAZY, earth-drenching rain alhamdulillah and Cap'n suggested we stay home. OK he actually played the husband card and told me to stay home. :) He doesn't like me to over-exert myself and was worried about me having to take 2 girls out late in the evening. (We sometimes keep my friend's little girl J in the evenings.)

So something quick and yummy was in order and this fills the bill perfectly. Btw, I see it said "fills the bill" and "fits the bill" but I'm fairly certain it's fills since it rhymes. Menus used to be called "bills of fare" so I'm going with my version. :)

Anyway without further ado, my simple recipe for a warm, carb-filled dinner at home. See, toldja the low-carb breakfast bowl from last week was a fluke. :D

Fresh or frozen shrimp (we used shelled frozen about 20 small shrimp)
1 lb angel hair pasta
handful of spinach, fresh or frozen...
olive oil and butter (use real butter)
garlic to taste (I used about 3 tbsp minced)
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put your water on to boil and heat a pan to medium for the shrimp. Add a few good swirls of olive oil and about 1/2 a stick of butter then toss in your shrimp. Cook for a couple of minutes on the first side, then add your garlic and don't be skimpy with the pepper and salt to taste. By now you should be able to add your pasta and spinach to the boiling water (it just takes 4 minutes to cook angel hair pasta) and flip your shrimp.

Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Your shrimp are done when they are opaque and orange-pink. Dump the shrimp and garlic sauce on your pasta and toss it well. Top with some grated parmesan cheese if you like. Squeeze a little lemon on top to cut the richness if you prefer. Enjoy hot and say bismillah!

I read some cooking blogs and I love the way so many of them present their recipes; as if they are speaking to an old friend. I just can't do it. I'm a point A to point B kinda gal now and I want to be sure I list everything accurately. Alhamdulillah. Now, for myself, unless I'm baking I don't measure things out; it's one of the perks of being an intuitive cook. However, since some of my readers aren't gonna be as experienced, I felt I should always strive to give complete and accurate descriptions so even novice cooks can attempt the recipes. :)

Alrighty then, I'll talk to ya'll later! Ma salaama and good eating!

September 20, 2013

I'm gonna pop some tags :)

Well, everything was for Li'l Miss. I looked for things for H but all the boys' stuff gets worn-out. :)
Salaam ya'll! Thrift shoppin' Mama strikes again! We have a local consignment sale here in Knoxville, TN, the Westwood Children's Consignment Sale (this is their fb page) and it's awesome! Local moms (and dads, who knows, maybe even aunts and uncles or grandmas!) gather up all their no-longer-used goods, clean 'em, tag 'em and iA sell them at this bi-yearly event. I always look forward to it. :)
I've done this sale since Aaminah was a wee little lass and it never really disappoints. This year alhamdulillah, due to the kindness and shopping addiction of my cousin, I really didn't need to stock up for Aaminah. She gave us all of her beautiful daughter's outgrown clothes and they were extra-cute! However, I have a weakness for athletic-looking apparel and denim, so the little outfit was a must. :)
I got that cute little outfit, jeans and t-shirt, for only $4! Yes and the shirt is embroidered. It doesn't appear to have been worn at all and I just thought it was super-cute. :) I also picked up the little Nintendo backpack; we use a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 in our home which has a lot of games on it but she still likes to kick it "old skool" and play her Dsi occasionally. :) The little canvas case was only $2.
As ya'll know, Aaminah is CRAZY about cats so when I saw the Cat Encyclopedia I knew she had to have it! One of her fave books ever is a huge animal encyclopedia; I swear it's genetic. I used to read my Mamaw's encyclopedia set when I would go visit her on the weekends. We love knowledge. :) Anyway this book is massive and has 1,000 color photos. She'll be in heaven!
I then kinda splurged and bought a set of Bath & Body Works Winter Wonderland. As you can see there are 3 lotions, a body spray, and some lip balm. Aaminah loves nice smells and this is really light and girlish. It cost $7 but as ya'll probably know, that's a HUGE discount off the new price and everything was full. So all in all I spent $18. I try to be really frugal but come on, a little Westwood never hurt anybody. :)
Their last day is Saturday and it's a 1/2 off day. I might mosey back out there and see if I can pick up some shoes or winter coats on a deep discount for the next couple of years. Yeah, I plan ahead. :) I have a brand-new pair of brown leather boots I got for only $3 three years ago that I've saved. They will fit her this year, iA. :)
Alright, thanks for stopping by, ma salaama!

September 19, 2013

We did something this summer!

She did great but I was nervous! :)

*** Second post of the day***

Salaam ya'll! I can't believe I forgot to post about our summer happenings. Oh wait, maybe because I wasn't blogging then, so that totally makes sense. Anyway once it hit me that we actually did do more than sit inside and eat, I just wanted to tell ya'll about it.

I have a sister, see. A really special kind of sister who ADORES my daughter and always, mA, strives to include us in family get-togethers. One thing I am very grateful to Allah for is the fact that my immediate family has always been fairly supportive of my conversion. Now they didn't throw a party per se but they love me and treat me more or less the same. :)

So my sis is always careful about doing things with Aaminah because she knows I am so limited in what I can do. Dragging around with 10% kidney function, in full-blown end stage renal failure, tends to make one a bit slower paced. ;) So imagine our GREAT suprise when she invited Aaminah and I up for her annual "Camp Gigi".

Now, besides being a great aunt she is an AWESOME grandma or Gigi. She holds a week-long camp every summer for her grandson and always has a different theme. Yeah, my big sis sure did make it hard to live up to her! :) This year they decided to stay close to home and went The Wilderness at the Smokies. This place is amazing! It's a HUGE indoor water park; really you have to go to their website just to see how awesome. It's so much fun for kids and adults.

This was the smaller outdoor part. So fun!

I even got in the water a bit, hijab and all! I got in the big wave pool and went around with Aaminah on the floats. Well, I walked around, I get realllly motion sick even in 4 feet of water! lol We stayed over night (my sis and her grandson were there for 5 days!) and Aaminah had a blast! I have a few pics from it I will show you guys.

I'm really glad Aaminah had that opportunity; it ws so safe and kid-friendly even I didn't stress and I keep a VERY close watch on her! There were 2 different outdoor parks and one big indoor one. The drawback, of course, is price. The food there, while huge portions, is pretty expensive and not very inspired. Cheeseburgers, sandwiches, and chicken fingers, oh my! But the rooms have a kitchen in them so you can bring in food.

She, again, did great. mA my little Adventuress!

Anyone who goes I would suggest you bring lots of drinks because that is one of the biggest expenses. :)

To top it off, she took them on a helicopter ride on our way home! It was such a memorable experience for Li'l Miss and I hope one day to take her with Cap'n and H (my stepson). :) Hope ya'll had a great summer and I'll post of a few more of our mini-adventures soon iA. Ma salaama!

Waiting her turn patiently. :)

Another recipe :)

Notice the potholders, again? I think I'll include them in most of my food pics. :)

Salaam ya'll! I know, I know, all I seem to be posting are recipes lately. Well, truth be told, I don't have a whole lot to say. Aaminah is in school most of the day, I'm too ill to work, but we eat. Everyday. :) So it just seems to be one of those topics I have plenty of fodder for. Plus, I love to inspire and be inspired. These are really delicious.

I saw a recipe on fb for sausage biscuit "cups" and I wanted  to recreate it. However, I am really good at taking a recipe and making it mine which is exactly what I did! So here is my spin on yummy, portable turkey sausage breakfast cups. :)

Fast n Easy Turkey Sausage Biscuit Cups

1 can flaky biscuits (I usually make my own homemade; here is my recipe)
1/2 pound bulk turkey sausage- I generally add red pepper flakes and more sage to mine
1 packet pepper gravy mix (check to make sure there is no pork/sausage in it)
Shredded cheese


Preheat oven to 350. Brown your sausage; while browning meat grease a muffin tin. Line each tin with one biscuit (I used Grands) and then place a nice pinch of shredded cheese in the bottom. Stick it in the oven for 3 minute to pre-bake a bit before adding the meat mixture.

Make your gravy; I get the packet that has 2 cups yield but I only used 1.5 cups of water so it wouldn't be too wet. Add the turkey sausage to the gravy, it will be really thick. Pull your pre-baked cups out of the oven and fill each with one heaping tablespoon of meat mixture; it should mound up a bit. Top it with another generous pinch of shredded cheese.

Pop it back in the oven for about 10 minutes until brown. In my oven, this 13 minute bake was perfect: 3 before we fill them and 10 afterwards. Also I did rub a bit of softened butter along the edge of the cup to help it brown and keep it from drying out.

These were really tasty, pretty easy to make, and very portable. Handheld breakfasts rock! It would also be a good snack. There is just a tiny bit of mess as the meat mixture is moist but it's not a deal-breaker; just don't expect a toddler to eat it mess-free. :)

I hope ya'll like the recipe and iA I'll post about something else in the future. :)

September 15, 2013

A quiet, homey kind of day (2nd post of the day)

Li'l Miss cloud-gazing mA :)
Salaam ya'll! It's been a quiet, homey kind of day. We stayed in, did some chores, and just enjoyed each other's company. It was gorgeous outside, subhanallah. Warm with a cool breeze, sunny... the kind of day that makes you wanna lay a blanket down on the green green grass and spend some time just contemplating life.

That's what Aaminah did. :) She also brought her bicycle outside and she really did great learning. With training wheels. ;) The type of things that require me being outside, standing, moving, bending... those are the things that we have had to put off due to my health issues. I am stable now alhamdulillah but still very ill. Today was a good day. :)

Aaminah is learning how to pedal, brake and steer. She got frustrated a few times but I refrained from getting up and going to help her. I told her, "I know you can figure it out!" and sure enough, she found a way to get it done. I am really proud of her. :)

Today was get stuff done around the house day. I did some laundry, cleaned my room, stripped off my bed and washed all the bedding then re-made it. Really for many people that is not a big deal but for me that is a lot of physical work in my weakened state. Short arms + deep mattress = frustration! lol Anyway, I vacuumed the entire house and we cooked nice, from-scratch meals all day. I already posted breakfast but here is what we had for dinner:

This is mine and Aaminah's; I plated it together for the pic. :)
Earlier in the day I roasted some baby potatoes. I love these little guys! So tender and versatile with a very thin skin. They cook really quick and hold their shape. So I decided to throw them in my well-used clay roasting pan and drizzled them with a little olive oil. I added some frozen green beans and salt and pepper. I put in the oven for about 25 min at 350.

I love the color of the beans before cooking!
After the first stage, I took them out and added half a sliced yellow onion. I didn't want my onion to cook down too much or even burn so I opted to do it in stages. I put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so; just watch them and when the green beans wilt and the potatoes are slightly wrinkled, they are done. Here is the finished pic of just the potatoes:

My grandmother made the potholder on an old-timey metal loom. I have several of them!
I let these sit out and just re-heated them briefly in the microwave. I'll probably send some in Aaminah's lunch tomorrow as she really liked them. I love roasted potatoes but sometimes when I'm cooking the other parts of the meal I just don't get them done. So I do them a few hours before and I always make a full pan. The leftovers are great the next day. :)

I took the tilapia fillets from the freezer. It said you can cook them from frozen so I thought I would try it. I made a simple dredge of cornbread mix (cornmeal and flour) with some pepper, salt, and smoked paprika. Simple. :)

I did rub the frozen fillets down with a tsp of vinegar; my friend's husband suggested it and as he is also from the Carribean (he is Cap'n's best friend) I heeded his advice. I then flipped them in the cornmeal mix and set them aside while the cast iron skillet heated. I placed about a tbsp of oil in the skillet and as soon as it sizzled dropped the fillets in.

I also cut them in half so they would cook fully. I do not cook a lot of seafood so I am still kinda of trial and error with it. I cooked them about 4 minutes per side in a medium-hot skillet. I did break them apart to make sure the flesh was white and "flaked easily with a fork" as I've read in countless recipes. Success!

I put a little mayo and ketchup on the side and we both really enjoyed our dinner. Alhamdulillah! I really don't like battered, deep-fried fish; it tastes ok but it's just sooo greasy! :( This was really good and iA we will make it again.

Well, thanks for listening to me again. See you next time, ma salaama!

Chipotle-seasoned egg and turkey sausage breakfast bowl (low-carb)

I finally got rid of these old Americana dishes but I kept the 2 pasta bowls because they are so shallow, great for eggs. :)
Salaam ya'll! Aaminah woke up STARVING this morning but didn't know what she wanted to eat. Don't ya'll love those days??? ;) So after about half an hour of general grousing (and my not-so-empty threats of "whiners don't eat breakfast") she asked for us to make something. With "ingredients". :) Which is Aami-ese for "I wanna cook in the kitchen with my mama".

So with those very loose parameters, off we go. I always get vegetarian-fed, cage-free eggs. Why? I feel like they are probably treated more humanely and the general consensus is they are healthier, with more Vitamin D and less cholesterol. iA khair! I usually get Eggland's Best but I think this past time I got the Kroger brand. :)

After a cursory perusal of the fridge we decide scrambled eggs are the way to go. :) I bought some bulk turkey sausage (not the pre-cooked type) to make little quiche with but I wasn't feeling adventurous enough to make a crust today. (Plus I was out of shortening!). So I throw a chunk of the sausage in the skillet with a pat of butter and brown it. I really like to add a little extra sage and red pepper but alas I was out of both ingredients today. That's ok, we improvise, it's how we roll.

Aaminah cracked the eggs (she asked for 2 although I was pretty sure that would be too much) while the sausge browned. After she beat them nice and fluffy (and we fished a few pieces of shell out! lol) I added about a 1/4 tsp of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can buy the small can in the ethnic food section and bring it home and puree it. It will store for a while in the fridge as it is preserved in some vinegar. It adds a delicious spicy, smoky kick to anything and it's one of our favorite condiments. :)

I wiped out the cast iron skillet (we don't use non-stick anymore) and put another pat of butter in. Poured in the eggs, cooked until almost completely set, then I turn off the stove. Cast iron hold heat so well they cook with the heat off. Then I added the cooked sausage back in along with a generous handful (Aaminah's hand!) of shredded cheese. Oh we also put a pinch of salt in the beaten egg but pepper is done after the sausage is added.

Slide out onto your plate or bowl and enjoy! Now for the low-carb thing, it wasn't intentional. Aaminah is a healthy eater with a great appetite for a variety of foods. Typically if I made this it would have half an English muffin on the side as well as a sectioned clementine or a few grapes. I like color on a plate and we like to eat balanced. However, this morning was kind of a spur-of-the-moment post and I had to take her bowl away for a second to even get a pic! ;)

Let's see, for the turkey sausage I used pre-made from the freezer section; however it's easy to make your own (I've done it) and season it as you would like. Being from the south, we love sage and red pepper in ours and I typically add a drizzle of maple syrup (the real stuff not Mrs. Butterworth's lol) at the end or of course you could incorporate it into your mix. However, the sweet maple flavor wouldn't really work well in a savory dish like this. We really like it with waffles or pancakes or even on a biscuit. :)

So on a separate note, I was talking to Cap'n about my blog. Of couse I told him I started it back up and, surprise surprise, he actually read a post! When we first met I told him I had a blog and offered for him to read it but he was uninterested. Now, to me, that was unfathomable. Doesn't he want to know what I think about things, how I view the world??? It was much more simple than that. He was aware there were comments regarding my previous life that he really just didn't want to know. I think he chose the wiser path but if it were me, I would have read it front to back! ;) The difference between us and alhamdulillah for everything. :)

Anyway he is on board with me blogging again; he comes from a culture that is very private and doesn't believe in being such an open book. :) I'm southern through and through and we just don't meet a stranger! I think his acceptance now comes from the fact that we know each other so well now and he knows I am not the type of person to broadcast my bidness ;) to everyone. I take the Qur'anic injunction seriously to keep my husband's secrets and he keeps mine. Alhamdulillah. :) So now that we have that understanding, he has no problem.

Of course he does require I not show our faces; he just doesn't trust the intention of bad people. He also doesn't want me to talk about him a lot at this point except in a general way. He said until he is here with me he just feels it's for the best. He is such an awesome husband, alhamdulillah, and is so easy on everything that when he does ask me for something, I am more than happy to oblige. It's a two-way street, sisters, because he does the same with me. :)

Alrighty then, guess I'll sign out for now. It's nice catching up again. :)

September 14, 2013

Oh cobbler, how I love thee!

Salaaaaam ya'll! Let's talk about cobbler. Basically it's the lazy-man's pie, sweet biscuits, an easy way to feed sweets to a crowd and use up ripe fruit. In this day and age, I use canned fruit. I just don't have the patience (or usually money!) to buy a bushel of fresh peaches, stand up in the kitchen and peel and pit those babies. So canned or frozen is my go-to; use what works for you. :)
When I went to visit Cap'n this last time I made him a blueberry cobbler. I actually brought a bag of frozen blueberries into his country. I hope I wasn't circumventing customs but it wasn't anything you could plant and trust me, we ate it ALL.

It was delicious. It was warm and gooey and crusty and sweet. Trust me when I say the corner is prime real estate in cobblers as well. I think a cobbler pan should be in an octagonal shape so everybody can have a chance! ;)

I'll give you my recipe but I got it years ago from a Taste of Home magazine. It was a recipe by a lady named Mattie from South Carolina. Allah bless her soul; I say a prayer for her everytime I make this. It's brought a lot of happiness and yummy dinners to my family so I like to be thankful for those who pass on their secrets.

Trust me, follow it exact as it says, do NOT deviate and you will be left with a yummy, decadent peach (or blueberry or blackberry or cherry) delight. :)

Here is the link for the recipe: Mattie's delicious peach cobbler. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we have!

September 12, 2013

Our weekly treat

Salaam ya'll! My best buddy L (Um Aliyah) and I often carpool to take our daughters to school. Last week we stopped by a local doughnut shop and OH MY GOODNESSS I'm glad we did! It puts places like Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme to shame! Fresh-made, hot, yummy and definitely decadent! I bought a dozen for us to share; they were only $5.99 which is about $2 cheaper than the chain places. :) It is near my home here in Knoxville and it's called Dippin' Donuts. (Giving them a shout-out in case anyone is googling them, this review might show up!)

We got strawberry and creme, jelly filled, coconut, chocolate glazed, choc glazed & lemon filled, Boston creme, a crueller, plain buttermilk cake doughnut and 2 chocolate, coconut and walnut topped. Are you kidding me? :) We shared the dozen and I'll probably freeze a couple of these cause Aaminah and I do NOT need to polish off 6 doughnuts in a day. :)

Also I like to support locally owned business WHEN it's feasible. They are so nice, it's a mom & pop shop run by professional bakers. People who obviously take pride in their craft. I take delight in it. :) When we walked in last week the owner (I think) came out and asked if we were placing an order for the masjid. He let us know they give a discount to all houses of worship, mA. :) Here in the Bible Belt people don't recognize other religious institutions, either from ignorance or malice, I don't know. So it was really nice he was so kind and open. I hope the school or masjid will order from him sometimes. I gave them a shout out on my fb page as well.

I want to reiterate here, I never ever ever ever do endorsements for reimbursement or free stuff. I don't use my blog to make money (kudos to those who do it's just not for me). I just like to talk and share my experiences, good, bad, or even just the mundane like early morning doughnuts. :)

I have to remind myself how broad the internet is and that I have readers from overseas who will be really interested in the minutiae of life here just as I devour blogs written by people that live elsewhere. I love to expand my horizons. :)

OK so this was just a quick little blog. I know I haven't said anything really note-worthy since I started back up but you know I only talk about what I want. My outlook on life in general has changed, naturally, as I've grown older and my outlook on Islam and Muslims has as well. I've passed that 7 year mark and in any relationship, you grow, you change, you find your pace. I have a long way to go but I feel like I've hit my stride so to speak Islamically. I'm not as hard with some things and then in others I am probably a little more strict. Our outlook changes as our situation in life evolves.

I guess this is a long way of saying the focus of my blog is more family, friends and food with faith being the common denominator and what binds everything together. It is intergral, it is important and it is mine. :) My journey in Islam, my path to worship my Creator, is a very personal thing. In the past I spoke about things, how I felt, how I viewed the world but I wasn't always right. So I think I will probably be a bit more silent on controversial issues and instead, focus on all the beautiful aspects of our religion and life. :)

Ma salaama ya'll!

September 11, 2013

Lil Miss's lunch today and iced coffee :)

Home-made iced coffee (recipe to follow)

Salaam ya'll! So here is the second installment of "What I packed for my daughter's lunch" sponsored by my pocketbook. :)

Last night we made carne picada which is basically just a term for chuck roast that is very thinly sliced and chopped. It is typically used in Hispanic cooking (thus the Spanish name). I decided to marinate it overnight to improve the texture a bit. I used a packaged lime-chili marinade which turned out delicious. :)

This is the meat frying in my cast iron skillet; I drained the excess marinade and oil. :) I put a bit of smoked paprika on it and the color was lovely but I didn't take a pic of it. :)

So we packed leftover carne picada on a small flour tortilla with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and a smear of chipotle mayo. :) I think packed her side-dish container with cucumber sticks, halved baby tomatoes (so the juice wouldn't splatter out as she bit into larger ones!) and pre-shredded carrots. She loves to eat the shredded carrots, weird little girl. :) I then packed some preservative-free Ranch dip (found in the produce section) and in the last small container I took 3 strawberries, cored and sliced them for her. I am sure ths lunch will be a hit!

Her snack was a yogurt tube (strawberry vanilla) and a few Pringles sour cream and onion chips. Chips are her weakness, her downfall, her unhealth snack of choice. We induldge moderately in our house with no guilt. :) I also packed a shelf-stable strawberry milk and also her water bottle with grape flavored water. We'll see how much she brings back!

As I'm now a stay-at-home mama with a going-to-school girl, we've both had some adjusting to do. I was thinking about it the other day when I went to the doctor. I was always used to having her to chat with, point things out to, making every outing a learning opportunity of some sort. Now it's even more precious, the time that we do have together.

On the way to school (which is indeed a bit of a drive) I took the opportunity to explain road signs. She had asked about a particular sign and we are always of course on the lookout for school zones! It was really fun and I love how quickly she catches on mA. Well overall she's just pretty awesome anyway and I miss her a lot during the day.

So how do you fill your days now, UofA? Ahhh let's see, I generally do jack diddly. :) I sometimes lie back down but regardless, I alwyas try to rest a bit while she is gone. I get so tired and I really try to use this time to rest. According to Cap'n, however, I don't rest enough, bless his heart. Allah swt blessed me with an understanding husband mA. :)

I also do my grocery shopping at that time. Besides saving me money ;) I don't use our precious together-time for mundance chores that take up so much time. There are of course my requisite doctor visits as well so all of those things I try and schedule for her school time.

Her school lasts realllly long actually. She doesn't get out until 3:50 pm, subhanallah. I think because we have to fit Qur'an, Arabic, and Islamic studies (plus prayer time) into the schedule and we have state standards to uphold. iA it gets easier, I'm still not used to her being gone so much.

Oh the iced coffee! Yes, it is sooo yummy and delicious AND cheap! I make this at home for a fraction of the cost of "pricey" chain stores with dubious investment portfolios. :) Here is the recipe:

3 tbsp instant coffee, any type
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups cold water
French Vanilla coffee creamer (or any flavor you prefer)

Mix the 3 heaping tbsp of coffee with about 1/2 cup hot water. I put this in a clean, empty sauce jar. Shake it to mix thoroughly but be cautious of the jar exploding (common sense, shake a bit then release pressure, duh lol). Put it 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cold water. Refrigerate. This is your coffee base. It keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

When you crave some coffee, simply fill a cup 1/2 way with milk. Add a good splash of the chilled coffee base until your milk is the color you like (I prefer a bit lighter). Then add a good pour of the flavored creamer. Be careful bec it is pre-sweetened; you can always add more.

That's it! Delicious and frugal. :) Of course you can pour it over ice but I just pre-chill the coffee base so I can make it anytime and not worry about melting ice diluting the drink.

Alrighty, ma salaama ya'll!

September 9, 2013

My new fave passtime

Salaam ya'll! I love packing Aaminah's lunch! I love everything about it! No, really. :) I love the planning, the shopping, and actual packing. I enjoy the fact that I can provide her with healthy, yummy options and she doesn't have to eat yucky cafeteria food. Now, at our Islamic school we have CATERED lunches. Yes, you read that right, masha'Allah! Catered. By local restaurants and it's all halal. So yes there are a lot of vegetarian options and tho we do love our meat we like veg too so it's all good.

Sometimes it is catered by Muslim-owned restaurants and then we are able to get zabiha meat. If it is not then they go veg. I let Aaminah pick lunch from school one day per week. It's a little pricey, $5 a day or $20 for the whole week but I understand. They also get a half pint of milk with the food so the school isn't really making any profit on this. Still for us it's too much so it's a weekly treat. Last week Aaminah chose the Petros chili and chips with cheese and sour cream. Basically it's Fritos corn chips smothered in a veg chili with toppings. Really delicious plus it is a locally owned franchise that was started in Knoxville during the 1982 World's Fair. Yes we hosted it. It sucked. The theme was "energy" and as a 4th grader I could not have been more bored. :)

Ok so back to packed lunches. I know I probably send her too much food but I don't want her to be hungry. Plus anything left over she eats later as a snack. Today here is what I sent her:

1 Chobani blueberry yogurt stick
1 clementine (baby orange) peeled and segmented
1 can tuna in water, drained, with a bit of mayo n pickle mixed in to make a salad spread.
7 chocolate covered raisins and 1 date-sized no bake chocolate-peanutbutter oatmeal cookie

I think there was something else but I'm drawing a blank. Oh I made her an English muffin with one fried egg for breakfast but she only wanted her milk. She is still in Ramadhan mode and doesn't like to eat breakfast. :) I packed it so she could eat it at snack if she wished.

Now this wasn't really a good example because I needed to go to the store which I did this morning. I bought some grapes and strawberries (she loves fruit mA!) and I also bought some jelly for sandwiches (her least fave lunch option). I also bought some turkey pepperoni. We make little cream cheese pepproni "sandwiches" for snack or sometimes make a pepperoni and cheese quesadilla. It's very packable and kids love it!

I also bought some veggies I know she likes. I got cucumbers and shredded carrots. She really likes the small thin carrot shreds and of course I slice the cucumbers. I like to get the baby hothouse cucumbers but at over $3 for 4 tini cukes it wasn't happening. I bought 2 large cucumbers for $1.40. :) I wanted to get her some sugar snap peas but I always look to see what's on sale or even clearance veggies before I do that. You can save up to 50% of the cost and just use them in a couple of days; it's all good. :)

They have shelf-stable milk which is awesome. It's a little pricey ($1 a container) but it's organic and flavored. I get her the strawberry and the vanilla and she loves it. I usually freeze it for about an hour before school so it will be really cold plus I put a freezer pack in her lunch box.

Oh speaking of lunch boxes, I waited til now to buy them because of the great clearance deals you can find. I got her a really cute Igloo brand purse-style in a cool chevron design for $5 and I just picked up a Rubbermaid sandwich lunch kit for $5! It's normally almost $15 so it was a great savings! It has a sandwich/main dish keeper with a specialized freezer insert and then 2 snack cups and 1 side cup. It will be great. I've eyed them for a while but put it off until I found them on sale. Patience pays off!

InshaAllah next time I pack her lunch I'll try to snap a pic of it. I think it's great to give each other good lunch ideas so our children are nourished with love. :) For her drink I pack the milk plus I fill her water bottle with flavored water. I don't like plain water unless it's bottled; our tap water doesn't taste good here. :(
Alrighty then, talk to ya'll later, ma salaama!

September 8, 2013

My newest love

This isn't me; it is Sr. Badra's stock photo from the listing. :)

Salaam ya'll! No, I'm not talking about Cap'n (who is not so new anymore!) or little kitty or a new baby (good lord NO! lol). I am talking about the new khimar I purchased from Badra Boutique. Ohhh mA, I love this khimar!

It's actually called a pak chador so it is the kind that you can opt to wear as niqab or down under your chin. It has a tie-back headband (the penultimate in comfort!) but the front is open. You pull one side either across your face or under your chin, then secure it with a hijab pin. I intend to sew it at some point I just haven't yet.

The one I bought it kind of a turquoise blue; shocking, I know. :) I am the girl who branched out into olive green. lol. It's not that I'm opposed to color I just always find black and it looks good on round faces. I like black but I also like having a little color sometimes too.

I also love this style (and my regular poly tie-back khimars) because they are uber-modest and definitely cover the entire chest area. This is a big deal to me and one of the reasons I am pretty picky about my hijabs. Oh and I can't do the whole "feeling like my jaw has been wired shut" thing with the wrapped hijabs. I can't open my mouth! So as ya'll have known for a while, tie-back khimars are where it's at for me.

Unfortunately the company I've always bought from ( no longer gets new stock in. I think they are sourced from Syria which would explain the inability to restock. However, it was really a hardship for me as I needed a new khimar and stat!

I am really glad I took the chance on Sr. Badra's pak chador. It is made from a very soft, stretchy jersey material which is comfy. I am not positive I love the fabric though; I went to a family reunion today and was really worried about Aaminah's greasy fingers touching my hijab; it will leave a grease spot, where the polyester ones of course do not. It also doesn't hold the peak as well as the fabric is so soft but overall I really really like it and it's great because it fits any size face as you adjust it yourself.

Look her up on facebook under Badra Boutique or on I think the name is the same. I do NOT get paid to endorse products nor do I receive free products; I paid $25 for my khimar with shipping! lol I just like to pass on things I've found that I love. :)

Ma salaama ya'll!

September 6, 2013

Well, howdy-ho!


Salaam ya'll! I know, I know, it's been a RIDICULOUS amount of time since I last updated but sometimes, there just isn't much to say. Or there is a LOT to say but someone's husband doesn't like her to say these things. :) Either way, here I am now so let's just get down to business, shall we?

I would like to introduce a new theme for my blog and that's basically, just a bunch of random thoughts that I'm pretty sure most of you won't be interested in but I like writing so there's that. I like keeping track of Lil Miss's hilarious stories and let me tell you, she does not disappoint in that department! I did get pretty bummed when I lost ALL of my photos on my blog. :( I was going to delete a few that Cap'n objected to but I did not want allll of my pics gone. Boo hoo hoo. But they are so I decided all I can do now is forge ahead, dear readers. :)

So where to start? OK so my health... as you know I was on dialysis last year after my Hospital Episode of 2 weeks! I had probably 10 surgeries and truth be told, I was very ill. Alhamdulillah. Anyway I eventually decided enough was enough and asked my medical team to just stop and give me a couple of weeks. Turns out my kidney, hereafter always to be known as "little buddy", while indeed failing, still provides just enough funciton for me to eek out an existence. Yay! ;) So I am at about 10% kidney function which is, dear readers, dialysis level and I have officially joined the "End Stage Renal FAILURE" club but I am not doing treatment. I feel better and stronger than I did on dialysis so it's a win/win as far as I'm concerned.

Disclaimer: I'm still super sick. I get tired verrrry easily. My house doesn't get messed up and cleaned in the same day. We don't always have the home made 5 dish meals I like to cook. I'm at peace with that. :) I am able to be Ummi to Aami and function at a reasonable (for me) level and for that I'm... all together now... grateful. :D

Immigration update: Cap'n is STILL in the midst of the Carribean. However.... USCIS did approve our petition so yay!!!!! We are simply waiting on a visa interview which should be easy peasy lemon squeezy, done and dusted as the Brits say. I'm so relieved and just reallllly ready to be a family in toto again. :)

What else is there to say? Oh yes Aaminah has a kitty. Bless our heart, it's the third one. Maximus the Catticus should have been named Sh*tty kitty bec he was just mean! So he went back to his original family. Then a few months ago we tried an older girl, maybe 2 years old. However, she did NOT like little children a fact the people who gave her to me said might happen. We took her for a trial and it didn't work out so yep, you guessed it, back she went.

Now we have a new little kitty, 8 weeks old, Aaminah named her "Mimzy". She's cute and cuddly and on my lap as we speak. Aaminah is the Queen of Kitty Land and is in heaven! She is mostly verrrry kind and gentle with her but after a day of school she tends to get a little wild. Working on that with her.

What, you say, Aaminah has grown in the time since I last blogged and is now in school? Yes, she is! My baby done growed up. ;) She started KG this year in our local private Islamic school and let me tell you she looks adorable in her uniform! I could just squeeze her cheeks and kiss her cute little face, which I do quite often. :)

So if any of you took advantage of the fb add button on the side, you already knew all of this stuff. Pretty sure a lot of my fb friends will be happy I've started blogging again; it should cut down on the number of posts I generate on their newsfeeds. Oh well, as I told them once, if they are really my friend they will want to know and if they aren't they shouldn't be on my page. :)

OK so I guess I'll leave something to say the next time. Until then, please keep us in your du'a and I'll say a prayer for you also. Ma salaama!