September 28, 2016

We've been baking!

Salaam ya'll! As you probably know by now I'm a pretty decent cook with an adventurous appetite. However other than quick breads, biscuits and cornbread (along with the occasional cake mix) I have stayed faaar from baking. My first experiment with yeast in 2000 resulted in a dense loaf smaller than before I baked it! LOL I deemed it a monumental waste of time and never bothered again.

However Cap'n is a professional baker (not by trade any longer but by education) and I really wanted to try my hand at it. So yesterday we made nutty cinnamon rolls and today, empanadas! They are basically yummy little handheld pockets of meaty goodness.

Here are the cinnamon rolls; I showed most of the steps. I used a recipe I googled from the Betty Crocker cookbook; it's nice and basic and easy to follow. :)

My sis made this vinyl sticker for me; I love it!

Dough after first rise; it should keep indentions!

All rolled out and ready to fill!

I opted for sugar, cinnamon, cardamom (a small amount!) and nuts, glorious nuts! Toasted first of course. ;)

All rolled up and ready to go! Or you know, be cut. :)

Aaminah had her own dough and made baby ones ma shaa Allah. This is before baking. 

After baking

And above is the finished, ready to be devoured, product! It did take quite a bit of time but as I'm pretty much a homebody (with wandering tendencies) it works out just fine. :)

Now on to the empanadas! Oh em gee these are delicious! I started with my meat filling; I used about a pound and a half of ground beef. It doesn't really matter, a pound is good, but I had that much frozen together so I just used it all. :) Cook til no longer pink and add some frozen corn, about a half cup or so. Brown the beef and add some onion powder and smoked paprika. Then I added a good squirt or two of ketchup (I wanted to use tomato paste but I was out and I can improvise!) and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. 2 good tsp of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and you have some spicy goodness! I cooked it for another 20 min or so, stirring ever 5 to 7 minutes, just to help tame the sugars and caramelize it a bit. 

Oh and I added a tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder and a splash of coffee. Trust me, it will develop layers of flavors and your mouth will thank me! ;)

Spicy, beef, corny goodness!
So the super-yum filling was ready; now on to the dough! Lil Miss made me promise to wait until she was home as she is quite the fan of learning through play. Here are our pics:

I didn't show how I made the dough; I followed a recipe online for "yeast empanada dough", then rolled it out and we filled it with the meat and some chihuahua cheese. OK not a dog, it's actually a region in Mexico. :)

She's cutting the dough circles!

Before baking, brushed with an egg wash for crispy goodness. 

And voila! The finished product with a stunning door in the background! ;)
These are addictively delicious! Some came out smaller than others (I am a firm believer in letting Li'l Miss learn hands-on) so the bigger ones did have a better filling to pastry ratio but we are very pleased! Definitely a labor of love but isn't that why we cook for family anyway? :) Well, you know, when we have time and aren't exhausted and the baby isn't crying and the laundry is done up and, and, and... ;)

As I said above, I've been very homebodyish lately. When you have a chronic, severe illness things like parking distance and temperature really help make your decisions! Also we live in a smaller city and sometimes I just can't be the face of Islam for every person I meet. My home is my little cozy sanctuary and I'm so blessed to have it! So I like to busy myself with little projects; making the skillet handle cover, baking yummy treats, etc. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment without having to leave the comforts of home. :D

Oh I started at Amazon today! Yay me! If anyone reading is interested they hire work-from-home from several states (not all). Just log onto and search VCC (virtual call center) or work from home. It will let you know the requirements. If you have a good internet connection, good pc (or Mac) with at least a 21" monitor and live in a participating state you are well on your way! It's a great option for hijabis who might have a more difficult time getting hired in conventional workspaces. 

But you need to be away from family noise and you cannot have your children running around; if they still depend on you to keep close tabs this wouldn't work. Li'l Miss is 8 now and can handle herself in the house but not necessarily the same room as I am. She will wander in occasionally and chit chat (if I'm free) but I take my breaks and spend time with her. 

Alrighty, I think that gets up up to date. Catch ya'll later; ma salaama!

September 25, 2016

Still here!

Salaam ya'll! It's been a tough week. My health, while pretty stable and really good for and end stage renal failure patient, still has its ups and downs. This week was a down; I had a really bad case of vertigo and felt super dizzy pretty much all week. I am just now getting up to snuff and I have a lot to tell ya'll about! Oh nothing earth-shattering just those little photo ops that go great on the blog. :)

Let's see...Oh I did a few crafts recently! I wanted to attempt hand-sewing again. Which basically means small little projects that are easy to finish. My favorite! ;) Here is a pot holder I made for Cap'n's morning coffee:

Oh you might notice mess in the backgrounds of my pics now. That's because I don't care! Crafting (and life!) is messy sometimes and I refuse to sanitize it. So there! :p I hand-sewed this and stuffed it with batting then hand-placed the French knots in a type of quilting. I'm just starting out again but I was happy I managed to hide my seam!

Then I decided to make a pan handle cover for my cast iron skillets. If you have one you know they get BLAZING hot! I had some fabric leftover from previous projects and a skirt I bought at Goodwill for $1 to use for the material so it cost me nothing out of pocket. It was a bit of a process and turning it inside out was the hardest! You can Google tutorials so I'm not gonna do that step-by-step stuff but here is my finished project:

The colors really look good with my curtains and door and semi-painted brick fireplace. :) We don't do perfection here, we just go for learning and growing.

Oh and I have some Eid pics! A lovely family in our community hosts a picnic type celebration after salaat and we are always invited ma shaa Allah. :) Her food is legendary and the decorations are fabulous! She has Arabic and Desi drums playing, bounce houses and candy table for the kids; it's really fun every year. Here are a few of the pics:

Li'l Miss and her friend

Macarons, cookies, and sweets oh my!

Pakoras! Some of the best I've ever eaten! And some little pinwheel canapes that have mustard seed on them; they are addictive ya'll!
So it was kind of a low-key Eid except for the picnic but I enjoyed that so much I'm not complaining! Aaminah went with her friend to spend the night in their 4 story mansion (I kid you not!) complete with indoor swimming pool and elevator! Ma shaa Allah blessings on her parents; they are lovely people and I am not in any way jealous just amazed by their new home. :)

I start work this week at (from home). Like I said, I've done it before so it's kind of old-hat but I'm excited to be earning money for our family again. We have been in a bit of slump since buying the house and I'm looking forward to digging our way back out! AND then getting some work done on our home. :)

Ma salaama ya'll!

September 16, 2016


Salaam ya'll! There was a muscadine vine here when we moved in. They are indigenous to the southern US and are like grape's wild cousin. Most people here make jam or wine with them. I am going to try my hand at some refrigerator jam (doesn't have to be pressurized but only lasts a week or two) because the deer have eaten most of them! However I did manage to pick several handfuls today, about 3/4 pound I believe. Look how beautiful the colors are!

Oh and we have a voluntary tomato plant growing by our front door which has yielded 2 tiny tomatoes. :) It is a miniature tomato plant apparently and it either grew from the previous owner throwing a tomato out by her door or she planted it. Either way, there are several more ready to ripen and they are totally organic as we use no fertilizer or pesticides. Aaminah was in heaven! 

This is from a couple of weeks ago; it's much larger now! I would say please forgive the state of my little garden but I'm sick and can't handle weeding, etc in this heat so we are waiting for cooler weather to get out there and weed the flower beds. :) 

Oh I'm about to start working again also! hires work-from-home representatives to help out with their holiday rush. I worked for them from Nov. last year to March of this year but quit when I needed to start getting things ready to buy the house. This time I am doing the reserves which means I pick what days I want to work instead of being locked into a schedule. With my health issues it makes much more sense for me. I can work anywhere from 1 hour a week to 30 and up to 60 during the holiday season ma shaa Allah. I worked a LOT of hours last season and it was hard but I can do anything for a short while. And I really want to get some work done on our house. :)

It was built here in the 40s for the Manhattan Project (nuclear warheads) during WWII. It was called the Secret City because it was kept a secret from everyone until after the war! There were tens of thousands of employees here and the first residents of Oak Ridge. My house was built for an engineer and his wife and 2 sons; the wife just died this past year and the sons were selling it. So there is loads of history in it! We have these old-fashioned awesome glass "crystal" doorknobs throughout:

And these super cute, retro handmade curtains which I adore! The blue matches the color I am painting the doors. :)

And we have hardwood floors throughout EXCEPT... the living room was covered in old carpet. The first thing we did was pull up the carpet but unfortunately the padding had stuck to the floor so we have to have them refinished. Le sigh... we haven't had the money yet but that is one thing I am working for because I really want to get the floors finished and the living room painted. I'll def show pics when that happens in shaa Allah. Just not sure exactly when! Maybe early next year. 

Alrighty, well that's all I've got for now. Li'l Miss is home and I had to do a few things to prepare for my job and thought I'd pop on for a quick post. If I make it a habit I'm less likely to slack off again. 


September 15, 2016

I know, I know, 3rd post of the day!

I totally forgot to upload some recent pics of Li'l Miss. She is my heart, my sunshine, and one seriously funny girl! Her passion is cats and social justice and anything water-related. She's just a joy. :)

I'm not even gonna caption them (mostly because I'm lazy!) but I think her personality speaks for itself. I will say I think all of these were taken at the old apartment not our house. Anyway this is her, beautiful and sassy and sweet, all rolled into one awesome girl (say ma shaa Allah!). Catch on the flip side!
Haterz 'n debaterz, please read:

Salaam ya'll! I just saw my old post where someone criticized me thinking I was saying I only loved Aaminah. So let's clear one thing up in this Trump-riddled, xenophobic world we find ourselves inhabiting:


I don't care if you like me. I don't care if you hate Muslims. I don't care if you think my crafts are horrible and my recipes crap. I just don't. I'm in a zen-like place called "Being a Grown Up" and your hate and vitriol do not concern me.

So post your typed refuse if you must but know I will delete it without reading it. Yes, I have that gift. A super-power, if you will. I can read things, see where it's heading and quietly hit "delete". So you won't get any "air" time here on my blog and you won't get any head-time in my brain. Just letting you know it's a futile, futile path you are traveling that will literally take you no where.

Carry on! :D
Salaam ya'll!!!!

I'm back! Kinda, sorta? I know I have not updated in literally years but my health has stabilized and I have a lovely all-in-one desktop ON a desk so I feel like I can commit again. Updating on a phone is for the birds!

So let me try to catch ya'll up. I'm back on dialysis, number one. I went through MULTIPLE surgeries but Alhamdulillah I finally have an access I can use. I dialysis at home as well (yup! It's great!) and I stick myself with MASSIVE needles 4 to 5 times a week. My numbers are excellent and I'm feeling better. I also am just about to get listed on the transplant registry (in shaa Allah!) so please make dua that is successful. The typical life span on dialysis is 5 years and I've been trudging along for 2 now. :)

Second, I bought a house!!!! Yes I'm so excited! It was a dream of mine, growing up in a trailer and living in apartments my entire life. So I finally just took the plunge and found out I could get approved and the rest is history! I live in Oak Ridge, TN now which is a small city close to Knoxville. Although it's pretty diverse for a small southern city it doesn't extend to hijabis; I've seen exactly 2 others and they were wearing dupattas so the locals really have no idea they are Muslim. To them black hijab=Muslim=potential terrorist. But that's a post for another day! We moved here to be closer to family, for the EXCELLENT school system and our money went a lot further. I'm in love!

Front of my house. :)

I painted our front door this teal color called "Connor's Lakehouse". I'm doing all the exterior doors and the fireplace in sha Allah.

Our house was built in 1942 and it has a lot of the older characteristics. Love my door!

Our backyard!

Part of our kitchen

Third, yes I'm happy to report Cap'n and I are still married! ;) He's adjusted nicely to life in the US Alhamdulillah and we are going strong. Every relationship has ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Luckily we are in a peak and things are going smoothly.

Fourth, I've been crafting again! So I'll share my crafting and cooking escapades with ya'll. This will pretty much be the blog you've always known and loved (and if ya don't, well....don't let the door hit your butt on the way out!).

OK so that was a short-ish update. I'll be back at least a few times a week now, in sha Allah. Salaam ya'll!