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For the brave and innocent souls of Newtown CT

Al-Fatihah

Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen
Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Maaliki yaumid Deen
Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een
Ihdinas siraatal mustaqeem
Siraatal ladheena an ‘amta’ alaihim
Ghairil maghduubi’ alaihim waladaaleen
Aameen

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.
Amen.

Food and such

I have week long food photos from different parts of the day. I had them on my phone and thought to share. Also I feel slightly self conscious because what I eat is personal. And I’m not giving you a recipe or anything I’m just showing you my food because I took the photos already and someone should look at them. So since we’re doing this (although I’ve been doing it for years, but am suddenly self conscious about it) you should know that I only take the–in my mind– healthier food choices I make. Meaning you won’t see my pre-bedtime chocolate or potato chips snacking. I don’t do it all the time, but my food choices aren’t always fabulous. Just keeping things real… and awkward.

Breakfast::

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Lunch::

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:: fava beans with a poached egg, chopped parsely, radishes and pita bread :: smoked trout, tortilla chips, half an avocado, half a grape fruit and figs :: Bratwurst, kale, carrot soup :: stir fried kale, onions, mushrooms, topped with an omelet, with a side of arugula, olives, and a spoon on humus.

Dinner::

White people food. My husband made us one of his childhood casseroles: Mac n cheese with veggies and canned salmon subbed for canned tuna. He bears with my weird Egyptian food like Molokheya I figure, I can handle a casserole, also he’s awesome!

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Peace

Babble

Acorns and panda puff balls are what I’ve been stepping on these days in our apartment– says a lot about the kind of people we are. It says that we are parents of nature collectors, and panda puff devourers who skip the milk and go straight for the crunch. It also says that we haven’t vacuumed in a while.

***

I have five draft posts that I have written and never published, after re-reading them I thought “umm, better not”. They were all different forms of whining about a week long sickness that is currently breathing it’s final breaths. The result: I sound like an old man whose been smoking most of his life. My youngest declared me unfit for reading books with her. I concur.

Tomorrow I am supposed to get my final fit test to see how much I’ve progressed in the past two months of gym going. I am still super weak from the sickness and I lost I a lot of muscle during my rest (lost five pounds) so I’m not sure what I’ll be testing tomorrow other than fatigue. I still plan to go because I promised my instructor I’d go.

Can you tell I’m lame and blank these days. I am just writing this post to get things out of the way and break the spell. Hopefully this should do it. Also my man found my camera charger, so here’s something to look forward to.

On a less lame note, I finished a book during my sickness, because when you have conjunctivitis in both eyes, and have consumed the capacity of your eye tolerance to stare at a screen for long periods of time, you figure: maybe you should start reading that book you’ve been meaning to read a while back, and so I did. It was a very good book. I had consulted a while back with twitter of which book to start me off with Neil Gaiman. Twitter gave its word: American Gods. And so it was (after I got sick and was forced to sit–or rather lay– and read) The story was set in different parts of America, but mainly in America’s Midwest. My kind of place (wink) so now I want to go visit The House On The Rock because it sounds ridiculous, entertaining, and creepy all at once, or at least that’s what the book suggests. Also the story is set in winter, and it spoke of harsh temperatures, several feet of snow and numbing cold winds. So now I have gone completely mad and actually missed real, bone-penetrating cold, winters. We have sunshine and forty degree weather these days, and i’m thinking lame (lameness is apparently my theme tonight). So instead of being thankful I am wishing for snow. Also my man bought me a box of these. Prepared is how I’m feeling right now.

Before I had read anything by Neil Gaiman I started following him on twitter because I was already following a lot of his followers and so Twitter suggested him on my list of people to follow. So like the good girl that I am I took twitter’s advice and followed the man. So when I started reading his book I somehow subliminally heard his voice narrating his story to me, and I even saw his avatar picture speaking to me without moving it’s mouth. Just like it has tweeted to me before without moving it’s mouth, so we became friends. Just like that. It’s strange how people will connect with you and identify with you through a voiceless medium. It’s also a little creepy because we really don’t know each other at all (I am including you dear reader in this epiphany, yes, I don’t know you, except if I do) but he sat in that little corner in my head and spoke to me in a friendly way, and so I decided that he’s alright. You know? Yet for all I know he could be a wife beater in real life. I could be connecting on a personal level (’cause you know reading is very personal, and I was very sick and vulnerable) with a wife beater. Just a thought that popped in my head that I thought to share with you.

… and reader, I am not a wife beater. Feel free to connect with me on a personal level.

Peace.

I have no title in mind so I’ll just type this: Vote!

I have a confession to make. I am kind of scared… of winter. It’s coming you know. I know that because all our maple trees and the other trees I cannot name stand tall and bare, we also wake up to a white dusting of frost covering our grass, oh that and the daylight saving hours–sundown is at 4:44 pm– Pretty solid affirmations of the season to come. Also November kindda gives it away don’t you think?

The good news is I am excited about spending longer hours in the kitchen again, I have high hopes. I borrowed this book from the library to get excited about kitchen affairs again. I’ve been burned out for sometime. Homemade granola, bread, and pies remember me? Homemade crackers, sauerkraut, and pasta here I come (didn’t I mention my high hopes?) Also, here’s one more reason to get excited about kitchen affairs (listen up family, and lurking readers wherever you may be) my dear Egyptian friend Yasmine just started her own food blog (awesome blog name right? ‘mumkin’ translates to ‘maybe’). Just to give you a back story about my friend, she hails from the same neighborhood in Cairo as your humble slave, she is the one who suggested that I meet her husband’s roommate– who happens to currently be my dah-ling husband. So yeah, we’re pretty tight despite the distance. She currently resides in the west coast with her wonderful family.

Yasmine was once known to use tomato paste for american recipes calling for salsa (the word salsa means tomato paste in Arabic, you get the confusion right?)She’s come a long way since, one thing you should know about Yasmine before you commit to her blog. She’s a perfectionist, if she gets into something she’ll research it until her eyes pop out. She’s recently (well not so recently, has it been almost a year now?) joined the cross fit band and adopted their healthy eating habits (a trick for flour devouring ol’ moi) the Paleo diet. What gives me hope is she has a sweet tooth and three males in her life who are known to devour anything edible that comes their way. The girl manages to make paleo friendly cakes, cupcakes, granola, and desserts, how about that? If you’re still not impressed then you’ve probably wasted precious time over here, hop over there and see for yourself.

***

In other news I have my oral exam tomorrow, so all prayers, thoughts, energy (whatever you have I’ll take it) are much appreciated!

I announced on FB (because that’s what people do on Facebook) that the current challenge facing me in my new job is meeting all these people I am interpreting for. I mentioned that it’s a challenge because I’m an introvert, which was received by shocked responses from some of my closest friends. I guess I do a good job hiding it. Also, I’m not sure some of my friends understand introversion very well. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy people, I really do, and I like crowded places, and sometimes I’ll go to the farmer’s market just to get shoved by people, I mean I did grow up in Egypt. But it’s a lot of work for me, it consumes all of me to do so, and I need to just be alone for some time to recharge and then I’m good to go. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’re one of us. Watch this, it might help. Also introverts are awesome!

***

We carved our pumpkins the day after halloween, and guess what? they’re just as fun and they didn’t protest at all. We possibly have the friendliest jack o lanterns in the neighborhood. I think it gives away the presence of little girls in our household.

One of our night time routines are bargaining about the number of books to be read for bedtime. Tonight Grabby pushed this pile all the way from her bedroom, we settled on three: This, this and this. It’s very hard to say no to books, but someone’s gotta do it, or we’ll be up all night. If Mei is not super tired, she’ll linger in her bunk with a flashlight and a book.

And with that I wish you a good night filled with good reads.

Peace.

Fall links

I catch myself smiling while driving the girls to school every morning. The magnificent season is what fall should be called. My mother once told me that she would’ve probably become an artist if she was raised amongst such beauty. She was only talking about Canada Spring. “You need To come and see Fall in the midwest” is what I always tell her.

On with the links:

This made me happy this morning.

Did you watch this show yet. It’s really well made and very informative, ( not for young eyes.)

This song has been stuck in head for a while now. Love it.

Nathan Fillion is prepared for the zombie apocalipse. Are you?

“Don’t you feel like you’ve–For lack of a better word and bordering on sounding cheesy– summoned the inner warrior during your work out?” “I feel terrible during the work out, did you see my face?” My gym instructor was noticing my increased strength at class today. Also, I managed to lift the kettle ball without bruising my wrist, says something right there! This video is at the gym I go to. Tough tough tough! This guy would be handy when the zombie apocalypse hits.

Warrior.

I’ve been making different sides for our meals lately. I made grits tonight, I’ve also been making bulgar, lentils, and wild rice. I might pick up baking bread again now that the weather has cooled off enough to make my toes complain. What sides are you into these days? I ‘m always looking for inspiration.

I used to add a lot of bands and thing to my headscarf before marriage and motherhood. I’m thinking of re-adopting my funk after spotting this. We’ll see if I have any patience left in me.

That’s it!

Peace.

 

Our Cousins

My mother with a big smile asked the western looking two young kids (about 4 and 6 years old) sitting on the table opposite us– at our neighborhood KFC– about their country of origin:

“You speak Arabic with a “Shamy accent” are you from Syria?”

“No”

“Lebanon?”

“No”

“Jordan?”

“No”

“Palestine?”

“No”

At this point their mother who was probably using the rest room came in with a frown on her face and held her two kids close and answered:

“We are from Israel!”

My mother immediately pulled our arms tightly and her face transformed from a big smile to the most hateful face I ever remember her giving to anyone “stay away from them, don’t speak or play with them, do you understand!” my mother yelled.

We knew better than to argue with that face. We (meaning my sister and I) were fourteen years old and very confused.

After making our speedy exit from the restaurant and sat in our car the questions started:

“But mom, they were only children, and the war has been over for decades”

“the war is never over! we were sent faulty weapons that blew up our soldiers instead of shooting the enemy”

We are not a war generation, we will never understand. Is what my mother always said.

***

The first time I set foot in America I saw a jewish man dressed in his full jewish attire, I started to point at the jewish man to my husband (he promptly put my hand down and reminded me about the rudeness of my gesture) “I’ve never seen a visibly Jewish person before, only on TV” –which now that I think about it is curious since I traveled to Europe before.

***

A couple of years later we permanently moved to America. Our first upstairs neighbors were two American graduate student girls from New York, they were also Jewish. They invited me to Latke pancakes on Hanukkah and gifted Mei with a hand knit baby hat with a knotted cord at the top to represent the umbilical cord. They brought us meals on my first week of recovery from labor and one of them sold authentic Jerusalem olive oil to help support the palestinian olive tree farmers. I am not a war generation, I will never understand…

***

I have a Jewish cousin whom I’ve met only once in my life. My uncle was married to a German woman, had a son and a daughter, then got divorced. They were raised in Germany. The girl was raised christian and the boy converted to Judaism and moved to Israel. The last time I saw them, they were teenagers and I was in kindergarten. I used to get a kick out of the fact that I have a Jewish cousin. I find it normal now that I am married to an American myself.

***

After having my first born by a month my mother made it to America for the first time in her life (also possibly the worst winter she’s ever experienced in her life). I did not tell her that my neighbors were Jewish and we all hid from her that my husband’s aunt, my dear aunt (the woman who spent many nights and days of Mei’s early months with us caring for her and allowing a first mama some precious sleep and making wonderful healthy meals) was ethnically Jewish. We wanted my mother to give her a chance, and at the very end of my mother’s stay, we told her. Quick background about my mother, if you’ve watched any greek or Mediterranean movies before and think these people are passionate, I have one questions for you: have you met my mother?  During her brief stay, my mother grew to LOVE my dear aunt. So naturally when she found out she was shocked and devastated. She cried for a long time and then… she hugged my husband’s aunt. We are not made of stone, we have our loyalties, our culture and our experiences but we also have a heart.

Now my mother explains to her friends (who I assume are from the same war generation) “No, they’re not all bad, there’s a difference between Zionists and Jewish people. I met a good one, trust me”

***

There is this recent controversial advertisement that is in several NYC subways. It is really offensive to say the least. Jihad is an arabic word to mean struggle. The highest ranks of Jihad is Jihad al nafs or the struggle against ones lower self. My mother accepting her heart and love of this wonderful woman over her culture, upbringing and her generation was a high form of Jihad. If what my mother did was savage, and this racist message is an act of the civilized man. Than I believe we should all support “the savage”.

Also thank you to our Jewish cousins.

Peace.

Not my religion

Whenever something like this happens (and unfortunately it happens every two or so years) I want to run away and hide. Or go out in the street and yell: NO I AM NOT WITH THEM. I seriously consider removing anything from my visible attire that would indicate that I am somehow associated with these people… I am not!

These people don’t represent Islam or how Muslims should behave, these people are barbaric and crazy. And unfortunately for Islam they also happen to be Muslim, and their simple minds tell them that this is the way to be a “good Muslim”. I am not one of them. Please don’t judge me by my headscarf, I follow a completely different religion from what they follow. My religion is based on love, compassion, mercy and understanding. My religion is innocent of these people’s actions, my religion tells us not to cut off a tree during war time, how about during peace? My religion empowers women and honors mothers, my religion promotes knowledge and learning. It condemns violence and murder “…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”–Al- Quran 5:32

Prophetic sayings on the etiquette’s of war before engaging in battles:

“Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle.” (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud) 

“Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and to not do wrong even if they commit evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

“Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

“Do not practice treachery or mutilation. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food.” (Al-Muwatta)

“If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam.” (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

“Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)

“Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience.” (Sahih Muslim)

“No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire.” (Sunan Abu Dawud).

Mind you we are not at war.

To the families of the the American envoy who were killed in Benghazi, my deepest condolences. Nothing… NOTHING not even the destruction of the holy Ka’aba is worth the loss of innocent lives. I am so sorry.