Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Feature- Body Image Mix-up

Asalam Alaikum,

When I was a young child I was not very heavy, not too skinny either, just about average.
Me as a little one


Around eight or nine years old I started to gain weight, and through High School I was pretty chunky. Towards the end of school I started to slim down a bit because I was walking more, to and from school, and to get to work. After High school I got down to a pretty good weight, and I was pretty happy with how I looked.

My weight yo-yo'd going from healthy to unhealthy, working in fast food definitely didn't help. Just before I met Tariq I had slimmed down again, then after we got married and were pregnant I ballooned back up to almost 200 pounds(just over 90 kilos). I was really unhappy with the way I looked.

Me in Boston a couple months after Saad was born and before we went to Abu Dhabi


When we moved to Abu Dhabi, I was still pretty heavy, I out weighed all of Tariq's sisters, by a lot. I always felt heavy and unattractive. I did start to loose weight though, but it was very slowly. When we came to Pakistan I dropped a lot of weight very very quickly. Everyone else was drinking the local water(boiled) and not getting sick, so without thinking I drank it also. I did not think about the fact that the family had been drinking the water here since birth and so they were used to it, I was not. I was horribly, horribly ill(lasted about a week or 10 days), on at least four separate occasions. It was not pretty. I was so weak after each illness, but also a lot slimmer. Tariq switched us to bottled water only for all cooking and drinking, because of how sick I was.

Me now.


I am now slimmer than I have been in a long long time. But even though I am happier when I look in the mirror, I still have the image in my head of myself as fat. I still think that I am heavier than I actually am, and I don't know when(or if) that will ever change. I do work harder to stay slim, proper portions and less fast food, so it will probably get easier as I go along to stay this way, because it has become a habit.

Sometimes I wonder though, when will my mental image of myself match the one I see in the mirror? My New Years Resolution- to stop having a negative view of myself, to be happy with who I am(no matter if I stay slim or gain a bit of weight).

I hope everyone has a fun, safe New Years Eve, see you all next year! ;-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mooli Paratha, Yum!

Asalam Alaikum,
Today I made mooli paratha(daikon radish paratha). This is the third or fourth time I have made them and I am really close to perfecting my own version. Normally in Tariq's family they don't eat mooli paratha, but it is quickly becoming one of our favorites.



We had them after maghrib time, with a nice cup of hot chai and a simple thick raita(yogurt sauce). It was so good, a bit more tweaking the recipe and I think it will be ready for posting on my food blog.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fourth Anniversary

Asalam Alaikum,
Our fourth anniversary was yesterday, so at midnight Tariq surprised me with a cake that he smuggled into the house without me noticing.
Me and Saad like to dig right into the frosting. Strange spelling, great taste.


When we went out for dinner, we couldn't decide where to go, tikka? Pizza? Fancy Restaurant? So we decided to ask Saad what he wanted to eat, and he said the only place he knows by name-McDonalds! So burgers and fries it was.
Saad's favorite part of the meal-ketchup and fries.


Playing with the rolling tic-tac-toe to make it all O's


Making an ugly face because those kids won't get out of HIS play place. Silly baby.


Finally all the kids left, time to play!


Daddy, move your hand!


Hello blurry baby!


"Look at daddy sweet heart", "No Saad wants toy"


Handsome boys!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quittin' Spittin' - A Meme

Asalam Alaikum,

InshAllah, somebody I know is coming to Pakistan soon, and I was struck by this strange idea for a little meme. At Jinnah airport here in Karachi there is a sign(actually a whole lot of signs), that look like this-

Since a lot of people that come to visit Pakistan come through this airport and this is an easy to spot landmark- that is the meme.

Part 1.Take a picture of this sign in the next time you go through Jinnah airport, you can be in the photo if you want but you don't have to be. You can be as creative with this as you want.
Part 2.Post the photo to your blog, with this list.
Part 3.Leave a comment on this post with your blog post so we can check out your pic.

You don't have to a visitor to Pakistan, If you live here it would be awesome to see your pics too!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Piece of Pi

Asalam Alaikum,

My Pi shawl is done!
The shawl unblocked.


The shawl while blocking.


After blocking and removing the pins.


The model shot, to give you an idea of the size.


Pattern:Pi shawl(July) from the Knitter's Almanac
Yarn:8 skeins(roughly 800 yards) random red acrylic from Abu Dhabi, and 2.5 skeins(roughly 500 yards but I am not exactly sure) "Parley", also acrylic that we got in the market.
Needles:US 6

Details:I used the exact lace patterns suggested in the Almanac but shortened the last pattern repeat(due to running out of red), and did only one row of diamonds on the outside. The black border is the sideways knitted on garter border, 10 stitches wide. I was just going to leave it unblocked until I read about a technique for blocking acrylic on Ravelry, where you use an iron to steam it slightly(being careful not to melt it). The good thing is that being acrylic it will not have to be blocked again after washing. The unblocked diameter was 44 inches, and after blocking the diameter was 66 inches. In this shawl there are more than 43,000 stitches(I was so excited to find out how many), and it took three months and six days to complete(it hibernated for about a month because I had to go buy the black) This is the largest project I have completed so far, Alhamdulillah it is DONE! I feel like dancing and singing at the top of my lungs!

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Friday Feature! -Me and My Hijab

Asalam Alaikum,
Me in Florida, about a week or two after I said the shahada with regular clothes and an amira hijab


After I said my shahada, I started to wear a hijab. At first I just wore my regular clothes(sometimes with a long sleeved shirt underneath) and an amira style hijab, or a large square folded in a triangle and pinned under my chin. I started to buy clothes a piece at a time that were longer, or looser. Tunic style shirts with loose jeans, or a long skirt and top that reached mid-thigh. It was a slow process, partly because I couldn't go and spend a whole bunch of money on a whole new wardrobe all at once. Eventually I was able to purchase an abaya, and then my awesome mom got me a second one in a pretty blue color. After that I could just wear whatever I wanted and then throw an abaya on over it.
In Abu Dhabi, in a shayla with abaya.

I was still learning how to wrap the shayla(smaller rectangular scarves) type hijabs, and had not really had a lot of experience with dupattas(big rectangles that come with shalwar kameez suits). Dupattas are really really big, usually at least one yard wide by two yards long. When we came over to live with Tariq's family I started to wear shalwar suits full time. It took a bit of time to get used to wrapping the dupatta, but eventually I got used to it and now it just takes a couple seconds to wrap and go.
At Jebel Hafeet, in another slightly larger shayla.

I still get lots of questions about my hijab, and sometimes odd looks. In many families the way I wear it is not common. A lot of women wear the dupatta loosely draped to cover the top of the head and chest, I wrap it more tightly so that only my face is visible. I did occasionally get pressure from other women to be more "fashionable", to wear my dupatta differently, but by now everyone knows that I am not going to change and they just leave it.
Our first visit to the Sheik Zayed Masjid, in an abaya with a dupatta.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friday Features

Asalam Alaikum,

I always have ideas for blog posts, but when I sit down to write I get distracted.
So I have decided to try to write more, and I think it will help if I have some sort of a deadline, to motivate me. So, InshAllah, every Friday I will try to write at least a little something.

Some topics might be-
1.stuff I see
2.general cultural tid-bits as seen by a gori
3.related to #2-little things that are interesting/different about living in Pakistan
4.useless trivia
5.not so useless trivia that might be useful for other gori wives out there
6.personal experiences in Islam
7.completely random stuff that may or may not make sense

I will probably still be posting randomly between Fridays as well.

So see you on Friday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lots of FOs

Asalam Alaikum,

I have recently completed lots of little projects. We went to the market and got some buttons to finish a couple of my projects, and also picked up some yarn.
Remember Saad's favorite book? This first project is one of my favorites, it is so cute!

Pattern:Mouse and his Cookie(Ravelry link)
Hook:US D
Yarn:Acrylic

Next up is these fingerless gloves for me-

Pattern:Button Band Fingerless Gloves from Lindsay, over at Knitting Duck
Needles:US 7
Yarn:Acrylic
I did end up making them a bit too short, I ended up having exactly enough to finish, with a yard to spare. I might make another pair for my sister-in-law, as it was a really quick, fun project.

And another version of the BSJ, this is the seventh BSJ I have made and I just can't stop.

Pattern:A remix version of this pattern. The numbers are the same as the original BSJ and you just use the shaping of the stockinette version.
Hook:US F
Yarn:Acrylic
I love the zig-zag look at the color changes.

Lastly there is a quick vest for Saad.



Pattern:No Pattern just made up as I went along.
Needle:US 8 for the ribbing, US 9 for the body
Yarn:Last of the Plymouth Encore, and some Bally double knit. I ran out of the Encore at the split for the V-neck so I used the Bally to finish up the shoulders and for the ribbing at the neck and armholes.

I should have made it a bit longer, but overall I am happy with it. It is mostly just for wearing around the house as it is getting a bit cool here in the evening.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Amusing

Asalam Alaikum,
Remember a couple weeks ago when I posted about sugar?
Well today when Tariq went for a quick grocery trip what came with the tea gave us both a laugh-

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pi Progress Paused

Asalam alaikum,

I have made it to the last section of the shawl, and run out of red yarn. I had planned on using some black that I had in my stash for the border but it was a lighter weight and I didn't like the way it looked. So now I am going to wait until after Eid, and go to the market to pick up some thing a bit heavier.



I am still planning on black though, because this red is very bright and I think black will look best. I will be using the sideways knitted on garter stitch border that EZ suggests in the Almanac. So this WIP is going into a temporary hibernation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praying for the Victims

Asalam Alaikum,

"O Allah! Forgive our living and our dead, those who are with us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our men and our women. O Allah! Whomever you keep alive from us keep him alive on Islam, and whomever you take away from us, take him as a believer. O Allah! Do not leave us bereft of his good and do not send us astray after them."(Ibn Majah 1:480, Ahmad 2:368)

Ameen. The victims of the most recent attack here in Karachi are in my duas, may Allah(swt) give them peace and protect their families.

Some ayat for those responsible(and terrorists in general) to keep in mind-

5:32-On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that 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. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

6:151-Say: "Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from": Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.

17:33-Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law).

I am not a scholar, I have only been a Muslim for four years, but it seems that the Qur'an is very clear on prohibiting these kinds of acts.

Here is part one of a video from a sheik that I really respect, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, at the release of his fatwa condemning terrorism.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saga of the Never Ending Socks...Ends?

Asalam Alaikum,
This is the end of my most long-term FO! Tariq's "Forever Socks" are done, and it only took two and a half years!

Pattern-Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock"
Yarn-Olive Green sock yarn that came with a kit the Mom gave me when we were visiting.
Needles-US 1

This pair of socks has been on the needles since the summer of 2008. They went with me to the first U-knitted Amiras meeting in Abu Dhabi in September of 2008. These socks have been all over the UAE and have gone on our Omani Border Runs a couple of times, and has come to Pakistan twice. These are some well traveled socks!

Never again will I make socks for Tariq with anything less than a sport weight yarn. NEVER. EVER.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On a Sugar High

Asalam Alaikum,
This situation is getting ridiculous, when we first came to Karachi we could buy sugar in the market for Rs.45-55 per kilo, today the price is Rs. 125 per kilo. It seems like every couple of months there is a spike in the price, especially during Ramadan. Last year it got so bad that it was difficult to even find sugar in the market unless you went right at the time the delivery was coming off the truck. Tariq would have to go sometimes two to three times during the day to try to find sugar, and most of the shopkeepers wouldn't sell him more then one or two kilos at a time.

At one point when the shortage was really bad I remember watching the news and seeing a police officer in a room filled with sacks. He cut one open to show a white substance, then dipped his finger in to taste it. It was like a scene from a movie where the cop finds a shipment of cocaine. I thought it was a drug bust at first, but then Tariq translated, it was sugar.

This video from Al Jazeera from Ramadan last year shows how it was last Ramadan.


The problem seems to continue getting worse. Every time the price spikes afterward it doesn't return to its previous level, but ten to fifteen Rupees more than it was.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Assumptions

Asalam Alaikum,

Many people that I meet assume that I am Pakistani. There have been many times when we have gone somewhere(offices, visa renewal, wedding functions outside the family, shopping) when I have been mistaken for Pakistani. It is just assumed that I am, until I or Tariq says something.

Tariq says that many people just think I am Pathan(Pashto speaking tribe from Afghanistan and northern Pakistan). Pathans tend to have lighter skin, hair and eye color, so he says I look similar to them.

It can be useful, when we are shopping they don't give me a crazy inflated price for items(just a normally inflated price :-) so that we can bargain), and when we are out on the motor cycle, or walking around I don't get stared at(anymore than any other woman). I think part of it may be the area we live in, it is not a fancier side of the city where there are lots of foreigners. I also dress like everyone else, and skip the jeans and tees that I used to wear. I always wear shalwar kameez suits(with matching bangles of course:-), abaya, and dupatta, sometimes even a niqab.

Until the second I open my mouth to speak, I am just like everyone around me, and I kind of like it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Crows=Guests?

Asalam Alaikum,

Awhile ago I blogged about some birds that we watch from our roof. I really like the crows, they have such personalities.

There is a saying here, that if a crow sits on your house that means that you will have guests.

This guy was hopping back and forth between two bowls of food that someone had place on their roof. That is another interesting thing, if someone in the house drops some food on the floor or if something is starting to turn then many people put it up on the roof for birds/squirrels rather than just dumping it in the trash.

Some times when Tariq goes to buy meat for the house he will get some scraps from the butcher. Then he takes them up on the roof, spots a crow and tosses a scrap at it. After a minute or two the entire roof is covered with crows, looking for scraps. Pretty soon the cheels(the hawk types) come to investigate, and are swooping down to catch scraps thrown into the air. It is an amazing thing to watch.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three Years Old

Asalam Alaikum,

Is my little tiny baby really three years old? It gets harder and harder to believe that he is getting so old so quickly. I mean wasn't it just yesterday that he was a tiny little bundle in daddy's arms?

Saad at two days old-

Saad at one year old-


Saad at two years old-
And now, Saad really is three!

Happy Birthday my Little Man!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One More Time

Asalam Alaikum,
I cast on a second hat, and was finished the same day. As with a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman's patterns it was brilliantly easy, and also very addictive.

Pattern:Maltese Fisherman's Hat from the June Chapter of Knitter's Almanac
Yarn:Bally DoubleKnit(light Blue) held double, and Parly(teal) also held double
Needles:US 8

This one is to go with the last BSJ that I finished, here.

I will probably be making more of these in the future, they are just so easy and fast.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whew, that was fast!

Asalam Alaikum,

Last night while watching a really cheesy movie(Dinocroc, it was ok, but not a terribly happy ending), I completed most of a hat for Saad. Total knitting time was under three hours!




Pattern:Maltese Fisherman's Hat from the June Chapter of Knitter's Almanac
Yarn:Bally DoubleKnit, held double
Needles:US 8

It went so fast and I think it is so cute that I just cast on another one to go with the last BSJ that I made.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Whole Year

Asalam Alaikum,

I have now lived in Pakistan for more than one continuous year. Wow, typing that just felt very strange. Five years ago I never would have imagined that I would live so far away from my home, my family. It is difficult living here sometimes, everything is harder than it was in America. There are lots of things that I just can't do. Some things because of how life is here(like visiting a Masjid-not allowed where we live, and I can't even express how sad that makes me), and some things because of my own lacks(shopping without a translator-I speak very little of the language).

At times it is a little scary. Right now the situation is very tense, there have been many "target killings" lately, and all the shops around here are closed for a couple days until things calm down.

InshAllah, one day I will get to go back home and then only visit Pakistan sometimes. Until then I try to view this as a learning opportunity. In America I never really thought about how different life is for people that were not as lucky as I was. InshAllah this experience will make me a better person, more caring about the suffering of people less fortunate than I.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is it really October?

Asalam Alaikum,

I am not sure I believe the calendar. On our roof we have a very large watermelon vine with 5 small watermelons(so far). They are growing really quickly. Here is a blurry pic I took the other day.

Saad is so excited by this, every day we go up on the roof during the afternoon load shedding time and the first thing he wants to do is check the plant and give it water.

Also it is still hot enough for him to do a bit of "simming" in his little pool.


I just finished up a little baby blanket, it is a simple granny square, with a picot edging. Here it is being modeled by the cutest little guy ever-

Pattern-Basic Granny Square
Yarn-Bernat Cotton Tots
Hook-Size N

Monday, September 27, 2010

Whats on the needles and a few FO's

Asalam Alaikum,

I finished my sixth BSJ, all I need to do is find some nice buttons.

Pattern:Baby Surprise Jacket(Rav link) by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Needles:US 7
Yarn:Bally Double Knit, an acrylic DK weight from the market here in Karachi.

Next, another pair of Mitered Mittens-

Pattern:Mitered Mittens(Rav link) from the May chapter of Knitter's Almanac
Needles:US 5
Yarn:Random acrylics from the left overs bag

The third FO was really simple. I am fascinated with lacy and/or embroidered handkerchiefs, I sewed up this one from some cloth left over from one of my lawn suits and added a simple crochet trim.

Pattern:None, it is just single crochet and chains
Hook:Steel #7
Thread:crochet cotton(I think it is a size 10)

My current WIP is from the July chapter of Knitter's Almanac, I am working on the PI shawl. This yarn has been hanging around for a while, it is so bright I didn't know what to do with it. I just decided to use it for the shawl because I think that most shawls look good in almost any color, and if I don't like it I can always frog it.