Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Feature-Ramadhan while pregnant or nursing

Asalamu alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.
I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

My first Ramadhan, I was almost nine months pregnant with Saad. After asking our doctor and talking to some other sisters, I did not fast that month and decided to make it up at a later time. I know some women may feel comfortable fasting while pregnant, but I was worried, so I didn't.

By my second Ramadhan, we had moved to Abu Dhabi, to live with Tariq's family, and Saad was almost a year old, and still mostly breastfed. I was still a bit concerned, but decided to try to fast on alternate days if it looked like my milk supply was in jeopardy.

Alhamdulillah, I made the whole month without missing a fast! I had no problems with milk supply at all. I tried to stay extra hydrated during the night, and rest a lot during the day. What also helped was that my jaytani(brother in law's wife), has a son only two months younger than Saad, and I didn't feel so alone with my concerns.

By my third Ramadhan(our second over seas), Saad was almost two. While still occasionally breast feeding, he was starting to eat more and more solids, and weaning himself. Alhamdulillah, again I missed no fasts.

The next Ramadhan Saad had been completely weaned for more than six months. This year will be my second Ramadhan without having any worries about the baby/nursing. I do miss having a little one, but it is good to not have the milk concerns anymore.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FO-embroidered mobile case

Asalamu Alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post. I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

Last month I completed this mobile phone case for one of my sisters in law. I had made one for myself last year and she asked if I could make one for her. I did all the embroidery myself, the style is called "kamal kadai", and I learned it from this tutorial. I had made some practice swatches of this style last year before making my own mobile case, at the end of this post.
Front of the case, one full flower and two smaller ones.

Back of the case, one flower and initial.

I used sequins for the initial and the tips of the flowers, for a little bit of shine since my SIL likes fancy/shiny stuff.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Feature-How our Ramadhan day goes

Asalamu alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.
I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

We are generally night owls any way which does seem to make it easier in Ramadhan. Our schedule shifts just a bit.

We usually stay up late into the night, and eat dinner(our second meal) at around 11:00pm. Then we stay up for a while longer. Some times we may take a quick nap before suhoor(pre-dawn breakfast). After eating and then praying, we go back to sleep for a while longer. In the day time, we pray, read Qur'an(I have to read the transliteration and the English translation), and try to follow our normal routine. In the afternoon, about two hours before maghrib/iftar(sunset prayer and fast breaking meal), we start to prep the food. When the whole family is together we make a bit of an army, so it takes several people a while to get all the work done. Usually we each have our individual responsibilities, one person makes the juice, another cuts the fruit, another fries pakorey, etc.

In our family iftar is kind of heavy, with lots of fried foods. Common snacks are-

  • Dates
  • Juice like Tang, or Rooh Afza
  • Fresh fruit/fruit chat(spicy fruit salad)
  • Pakorey-like a fritter, made with chickpea flour and chopped onions/spinach/potatoes/etc.
  • Samosey-usually a spicy potato filled deep fried pastry, sometimes ground beef or chicken is used as a filling instead.
  • Gol guppe, Now we make our own, because we are a bit concerned about the cleanliness of outside foods, but still delicious!
  • Jelebian
  • Haleem, Kind of like a meat/lentils/grains porridge, usually we only have this while in Pakistan.
  • Harees, similar to haleem, but the Arabic version, not hot-spicy, and very tasty, usually we only have this while in the UAE.
  • Dahi barey-small fried chickpea flour dumplings in a spicy yogurt sauce, may also have onions/tomatoes/green chilies/cilantro
  • Cholay-Chick peas in a spicy sauce, may also have onions/tomatoes/green chilies/cilantro/papri(like broken up chips)
Every thing is made ready and set out before the maghrib adhan, though sometimes someone will still be frying something and come rushing in with the last plate of whatever. :-)

After a quick iftar(fast breaking meal), everyone prays maghrib. Sometimes alone, sometimes two to a rug. After maghrib, some of us nap and some of us don't. Then the day repeats it self.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What do you love about Pakistani foods?

Asalamu alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.
I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

I love cooking any food, but most especially Pakistani food. There are a lot of things that I really love about the food itself and the cooking process of our regular meals.

Almost every dish in our house starts with frying onions with whole garam masala("hot spices"-cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, large brown cardamoms, and cloves), then adding garlic and ginger paste, then adding tomatoes, and the powdered spices(red chili powder, salt, turmeric, coriander), and frying until the tomatoes break down into paste and the oil starts to separate from the sauce. Then you add whatever the main ingredient is(meat or any vegetables)

My first favorite thing about Pakistani cooking is-I love, love, love the smell of frying onions/garlic/ginger. It is just the most delicious smell. Every time I start a meal, when the scent hits my nose, my mouth starts to water and I get hungry immediately.

Another thing is the taste of the sauce, just after the tomatoes/spices are added. They all just meld together into the most tangy/salty/spicy sauce. I sometimes like to eat it as you would a regular chuntey, on it's own with a bit of bread.

Our daily menus are not that complicated, mostly the same base with different vegetables or meat/chicken and potatoes. I also love that for the most part, Pakistani cooking is not as difficult as it looks. I mean if you look at the ingredient list for most dishes it looks like a lot, but it isn't really. My first couple of dishes turned out odd because I had no real reference for what they should look or taste like. Once I got used to the flavors and the look(after we moved here and I could see how it was supposed to be), I found it very easy to learn.

So what are your favorite things about eating or cooking Pakistani foods? Or any other regional dishes? Why do you cook what you do?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Feature-Goals for Ramadhan

Asalamu alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.
I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

I like to have at least two goals during Ramadhan that are very easily achievable, simple little goals. I mean, I could set myself to read the whole of the Qur'an in Arabic during the month, but at this point(being able to recognize the alphabet but not much more), I would not achieve my goal.

I also like to try to pick one thing not really religious in nature. Like a bad habit or something that I want to get rid of.

So this year, my first goal is to memorize four of the smaller surahs. More if possible, but at a minimum four. Right now, I know only seven surahs- Al-Fatihah, An-Nas, Al Ikhlas, Al-Falaq, Al-Kafirun, Al-Kauthar, and Al-Lahab(just learned this one recently). So four at a minimum, everybody please make a dua for me that I am able to meet and even exceed this goal!

My second, non-religious goal is to make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink after fajr(the pre-dawn prayer). I totally admit to being lazy and leaving some of the night dishes in the sink to wash after breakfast. I have had my fair share of dish washer duty while working in fast food, and I just despise doing the dishes. This year, inshAllah, I will break this habit, and I will clean every dish before fajr. InshAllah, I can keep this up even after Ramadhan, and do all dishes as soon as a meal is over!

Anyone else have any Ramadhan goals?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday mini tutorial-Slim Snap Sleeves

Asalamu alaikum,

Today's mini tutorial will be on slim sleeves, open at the cuff with snaps. These are very helpful if the cloth for the sleeves is on the slim side, or if you like slim sleeves but always have trouble pushing the sleeves up for hand/dish washing/wudhu, or if you are just hot.

Step 1-Measure from the top/fold side of the sleeve opening down towards the bottom and mark 5". You may use a smaller or larger measurement if you like. It should be fairly snug but not too snug.

Step 2-Measure in from the edge of the under arm/bust seam, one inch and mark.

Step 3-Draw a straight line connecting the two points.

Step 4-About 3-4 inches away from the sleeve opening, place a mark. This is the end of the under arm seam. At this point you would sew from this mark down to the under arm, and down the side of the kameez in the normal fashion. See my simple kameez tutorial part two, steps seven through ten.

Step 5-Once your under arm and side seams are complete, go back to the sleeve opening and fold the edge of the seam allowance towards the wrong side by half an inch, then fold it again another half inch. Pin in place, being careful not to pin it to the opposite side of the sleeve. Do the same for the other side seam allowance.

Step 6-Sewing on the very edge of the fold, start at one side of the sleeve, sew down, then across the under arm seam, and up the other side, similar to how you would sew the chauk(open part of the bottom of a kameez, below the hips).

Here is how the sleeve will look after sewing the folds down. You could leave it as is, and just have an open sleeve, but I always attach snaps.

Step 7-Select your snaps. I usually use the sew on kind as that is more easily available here. If you have the prong types that have the press/hammer you could also use that.

Here are the sew on snaps.

Step 8-Sew one side of the snap to one side of the sleeve on the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 9-Sew the other side of the snap to the same place on the opposite side of the sleeve, still on the wrong side of the fabric.



Complete you second sleeve in the same manner, and then the rest of your kameez.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Feature-Gearing Up for Ramadhan

Asalamu alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.
I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!

I like to start preparing for Ramadhan at least a month in advance. Well, I try to start at least thinking about preparing. ;-)

One of the first things I do is make sure to make up any missed fasts form the previous Ramadhan, if I have not done so already. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it is not. Last year Tariq, Saad and I were horribly ill for half of the month, to the point where none of us could do more than make it to the bathroom and back, before collapsing on the bed. So I had more days to make up than I normally would.

I also like to make lots of lists. Lists of what dry goods we need to stock up on, lists of what surahs I want to try to memorize, list of meal ideas, lists of house cleaning chores I have to get done. Lists of all my different lists.

For household chores, I like to start the month fresh so first I clean out all the kitchen cabinets. I take out every thing form one shelf and give it a good clean. Then get rid of the expired stuff, and put every thing back, nice and organized. I do the same for the pots/pans/dishes too. I make sure to keep the karahi(cast iron pot, shaped kind of like a wok-used for deep frying), front and center as it will be getting daily use. Iftar in our house usually has lots of fried snacks like pakorey(like fritters, made with chickpea flour), samosey(potato stuffed fried pastry, sometimes beef or chicken is also used), and dahi barey(little dumplings made of chickpea flour fried and then put in a spicy yogurt sauce).

After all the cabinets are organized I hit the fridge and freezer. I give it a good scrub down, re-organize, and take stock to make sure nothing is going bad.

When we are in Pakistan during Ramadhan we tend to stock up on some things well in advance of the start of the month. Things like sugar, besan(chickpea flour), chickpeas, Rooh Afza, and stuff like that. During Ramadhan last year prices rose very sharply just before it started and stayed high the whole month. The price of sugar was almost double what it is now. So we make a big shopping trip about two weeks before the start and get as much as we think we will need. Another reason for this is that the markets get a bit crazy during Ramadhan. Many people will go out shopping in the evening to avoid going out during the heat of the day. It is just too crowded, and Tariq hates to go shopping in too much of a crowd.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ABC's

Asalamu Alaikum,

-This is a scheduled post.I have decided to stop "live posts" during the month of Ramadhan, to try to concentrate more fully on what I need to during the month. Please don't hesitate to make comments, as I will be stopping in once in a while to check how every body is doing. Have a blessed month every one!


Many of the kids here start school a bit early, my niece and nephew started at 3 and 2.5 years old. Since we are kind of nervous sending Saad to school here, and back home they start kindergarten at 5 anyway, we are just waiting until we get back.

We have been doing some work on our own though. We got him a "Ben 10" chalk board, and pencil case since it is his favorite cartoon and we have been practicing writing out the alphabet. We have made it up to "P" so far. We also got him some of those little work books that have the letters printed really lightly, or with dashes so that you can write over them.
"A" for apple

Close up of "A"


He has even started learning to write simple words. "N-O spells No", was the first, and he really likes that one!
On the top is Tariq's writing, and then Saad's.

MashAllah he is doing a very good job!

He has also progressed from "drawing" scribbles to stick figures!

Arms where the arms go, legs where the legs go, two eyes and a mouth, Yay!

So far all his people are square. It is so cute to see him run up all excited to show me his latest masterpiece! I get so happy to see him learn something new and want to show what he has learned to us.