Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Feature-A year in Review

Asalamu alaikum,

****This is a scheduled post as I will be in Karachi for a while, please do comment, and I will post them as soon as we are setup, Thanks!****

So I started the "Friday Feature" last December, and have managed to write just about every Friday for a whole year.

I think it has helped me to write more on the blog, and to get content up even if I feel kind of lazy and don't want to write, even though the ideas are there. InshAllah I will be able to keep it up in the new year(after we get the net setup again).

Here are the "Friday Features" of the past year.

So anybody have a favorite Friday Feature post? Anything that you particularly like or maybe that you didn't like? Any particular topics that you want to see?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Feature- Packing Up

Asalamu alaikum,

We have a lot of practice in packing suitcases. We packed up a bunch of suitcases and left our home in Florida, to go to Detroit(to visit Tariq's cousins), then on to Boston(to visit my parents), then again to come over to Abu Dhabi. Then again, to go to Pakistan, then to come back to Abu Dhabi, and again back to Pakistan, and Tariq came to Abu Dhabi every couple of months for his visa. Then we came back from Pakistan during the last week or so of Ramadhan, and now once again we are packing.

We had hoped to be able to stay here until Tariq's interview at the embassy(could take a while though), but circumstances changed, and we are again off to Pakistan. We have more work to do there, and inshAllah it will be finished quickly.

So when packing we have some tricks to fit as much as we can, (within the weight limits), and to protect what is breakable. For example, one reason that I roll my suits, is to fit more in the suitcases. The rolls also make a nice cushioning layer for the breakables. We don't usually pack just once, last minute items frequently require a re-pack of the whole deal. So it is sometimes like a giant game of Tetris!

We also have a list of frequently used items that get bought just before anyone in the family travels to PK. To most people it probably looks like a grocery list though! Some of the top items are -Garam masaley(black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc.) the brand of powdered milk my Father in law prefers(Nido), Nivea cream, body sprays and perfumes, jars of the jam we all like, and the preferred brands of shampoo, and soap(Lux in case you are wondering ;-).

We are leaving shortly, and since we turned off the net before we left it may take a while to get settled in and get it turned on again. So in case I go quite here for awhile, don't worry, InshAllah I'll be back on soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Recent small knits

Asalamu Alaikum,
Here are a couple of things I have been working on lately.

This is the start of a set for on of my sister in laws in Pakistan who is expecting her first soon. InshAllah, I will also be making some bootees, maybe mittens and a pair of longies too.

Pattern:Just made up, but the star on the top is from the August chapter of Knitter's Almanac.
Needles:US 5
Yarn:Local acrylic

Pattern:Stockinette Baby Surprise Jacket
Needles:US 5
Yarn:Local acrylic

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scary Sight

Asalamu Alaikum,

We went to Al Ain the other day. Normally the drive takes about an hour, but this time it took about an hour and 45 minutes.

Just outside of the city, we drove by an accident. It must have just happened, because as we came up to the back of the crowd of cars, the first police car zoomed by us. We saw first a couple cars on the left side, just a couple of dents, then part of a bumper, and on the right the car missing said bumper. A bit after that, on the left, a tire and the car it had come off of. We thought that must be it, four cars, but there was still so much traffic. As we drove on a bit more, we saw two more cars on the right, and another car and what looked like a pile of scrap on the left

I have never really seen a serious car accident before. There was glass all over the road, and bits of car. As we drove past the pile of scrap, we saw there was still a man inside. Every one else was standing on the side of the road, next to their cars. There were a couple of guys trying to open the door and take the man out, but the car was so twisted that they were having difficulty. As we got past the accident and out of the crowd, all I could think about was that poor man in the twisted wreck. He had been moving and didn't look seriously hurt, Alhamdulillah. I was so afraid. I don't even know him. I said a dua for him, and we continued on, but we were all quiet. No one in the car spoke for a while, and we didn't feel like turning on the radio.

All of the other cars involved were the larger SUVs favored by a lot of people here, but the car with the trapped man was just a older model small sedan. It probably did not stand a chance against the others.

After a bit more driving, an ambulance drove by us. I just prayed that the man we had seen had been able to get out ok, and that he was going to be all right. It was a scary sight, and I still feel odd thinking about it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Feature-Just an update today

Asalamu Alaikum,

InshAllah I will work on updating more, I have been having a bit of a rough time lately. :-)

So I have had two colds coming right after another, and Saad has been sick at the same time. So for a couple days there we basically just snuggled up in bed and were miserable together! While we were sick Tariq had to go away on business to a little place close to the Saudi border called Silah. While he was there working, he got sick too! Poor guy was all alone, with no one to take care of him.Alhamdullilah we all got better, and now just have a bit of the sniffles.

There is also a lot of family drama that seems to be somewhat normal in a lot of the joined families that I know.  I am just trying to be patient, because we have recently had some good news-

Our I-130 petition was approved! This is just the first step in our process, InshAllah it will all go as smoothly. I just keep praying it doesn't take too long, as I really want to go home. I miss my family. They haven't seen Saad since he was like four months old, it is really time to go now. Please make dua for us.

I have finished the vest I was working on for my father in law(inshAllah pics soon!), it is a very satisfying piece of knitting. I worked really hard, with small needles, and somewhat fine yarn(for the non knitters-small needles and yarn, generally means longer time to knit as the stitches are smaller), without a pattern, and it turned out wonderfully! Alhamdulillah!

So that is the basics of what's up lately,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gone Away, Gone Ahead...

Asalamu alaikum,

I have just read that my favorite author, Anne McCaffrey has died. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi Rajioon.

My mother first introduced me to Anne's books when I was about 12-13, when she gave me a copy of Dragonflight . I have read almost every book she wrote, over and over again, so much that I know many of the stories by heart. These are the books that I can always return to and read again, no matter how many times I've read them before. Her work was so moving, I can remember that at the end of All the Weyrs of Pern, I cried when Masterharper Robinton died. The characters of her books feel so real, like family and friends.

I cry now, because she is gone, but I am happy that her books are here to remind me of her. Each time I read them I will remember her. Rest in peace, Anne, we all loved you and will miss you very much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Knitting Wips

Asalamu alaikum,

Just a quick update on what I am knitting now that my Seascape Stole is done.

I started another vest for my father in law. He had a friend who was coming from Pakistan to UAE bring eight skeins each of black and white acrylic yarn, about three years ago. I just got around to starting this one, but I hope to finish it quickly. It is not from a pattern, but he had a sweater(different pattern) that the wife of a friend of his had knitting like 25 years ago, with almost the same gauge(same stitches to the inch but I had less rows to the inch), so I am basing it on that.

He was pretty specific about how he wanted it, with diamonds, and the diamonds must be two inches tall, and there has to be a black stripe between each row of diamonds.

I also started a pair of Jaywalker socks. These have been in my Rav queue since like 2008. I am making the smallest size and these are totally going to be MINE. I like the way the pattern is looking so far. I am going for the toe up version instead of top down, as I want to make them as long as possible.

I have been trying to post this for a week now, but I am having some trouble with uploading the pics. I have given up on trying and so you'll just have to imagine how they look for now ;-) InshAllah I'll be able to get it fixed soon. Also this is part of the reason I have not posted any sewing tutorials in a while, so once it is fixed then I can start posting them again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Feature-Importance of minding your own business

Asalamu alaikum,

I have never really been good at minding my own business. I always want to know what's going on even if it does not involve me at all. I am working on it though, as knowing all the stuff all the time is just not possible, and it is very stressful trying ;-)

A lot of the time all the conversations are going on in Urdu. I have been picking up more and more, but when the conversation is going at a faster clip, I have trouble keeping up, and usually still ask "What was that s/he just said?" Then the conversation will be gone over again by my nearest translator(aka-sister in law) to get me up to speed. Usually it is nothing all that important, and while it may be interesting it is stressful to have to always ask what's going on.

I have found that it is even more important to mind your own business in our little joined family. Sometimes the conversation is just gossip(which I have been trying harder to avoid lately, because it usually just leads to back biting). Other times conversations are part of a larger argument between two or more people, and not minding your own business is a sure way to get the glare of anger shown on yourself. Often during arguments, people that have no interest in the argument take one side or another. Then the opposite side gets upset over the person joining the opposition and so brings up all the recent wrongs of the person who was previously uninvolved.

It would have been better in the persons case to just mind their own business. They are now smack in the middle of the fight. If they had joined the argument because they felt that one party was being unfairly wronged, or to try to put a stop to the argument, they may have been better off to wait until the argument was finished, and then try to patch things up or explain what was going on.

So this is a reminder to myself first, and anybody who cares to listen;-)- if there is nothing really serious going on, sometimes it's just better to mind your own business!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Feature-Half filled journals

Asalamu alaikum,

I love paper journals. I have many of them but very few actually get filled.

I get so excited when I get a new journal. The plain paper, fresh, unmarked. What to write first? Sometimes I write a current favorite quotation, or bit of poetry, and almost always I sign my name very neatly on the front page.

I start out strong. I have a plan. I am going to write every day, even if it is just a few sentences. For a couple of months it works. Then I miss a day. Then two. Then weeks go by and nothing gets written. I have lost my enthusiasm for it.

After that happens the journal gets relegated to the being just another notebook. A place to scribble phone numbers, fitting measurements for my latest sewing projects, knitting patterns, and ideas for blog posts(this post was actually written in an old journal :-).

They are still a reflection of my daily life, just in a different form than I was expecting. Sometimes I think they are a truer mirror of my thoughts than the actual journal writing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Feature-Oooh look another Masjid!

Asalamu Alaikum,

I love driving around in the UAE. Everywhere we go I always have to point excitedly and shout out "Look another masjid!", at almost every single masjid we pass. Even the little prayer rooms at the gas stations outside the cities.

It is a sense of child-like excitement that I feel. In the states there aren't masajid on every corner, and some of them are not originally built for that purpose, so from the outside they don't have features associated with masajid. Here though, there are so many, and they are all individual. I have not seen(that I can remember) , any two masajid with the same minaret style.

Just today we were in Mussafah, outside Abu Dhabi, and I saw a masjid with a minaret that was a swirling tower. The dome of the masjid was also in a swirl shape, like a shell. I love seeing all the different shapes that minarets come in.

Going over an over pass outside the city, you can see all the minarets in the area. In the city it is a bit harder, because of the buildings, but you can still spot them easily. Usually the sky will open up suddenly, because of the space around the masjid, and it will be at an angle to all other buildings around it. I love counting how many I can see in one minute of driving.

InshAllah I never lose this excitement at seeing a house of Allah(swt).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

FO-Pink Waves Stole

Asalamu Alaikum,

I know it's been a while, so here is a knitting update. I finally finished the Seascape stole I was working on. According to my Rav project page, I started on the 14th of April and finished on the 25th of October, so roughly six and a half months. I was working on a blanket and some other stuff in that time too, so not too bad I guess.

It is not as long as I had hoped, and a bit wider than I thought it would be, but I'm cool with it. It still sits nicely on the shoulders, and has enough overlap in the front to cover all that needs covering.

So final stats-
Pattern-Seascape Stole(Rav pattern page), from Knitty.
Needles-US 7(4.5mm), but the pattern called for a US 4(3.5mm)
Yarn-About 500 meters of random acrylic that I picked up in a market in Karachi

Mods-I added a pattern repeat to get more width, but as it turns out that wasn't necessary. After blocking it was wider than I had anticipated I could have left off the extra repeat and got a bit more length. If I make it again, I will follow the pattern as written. I also used a larger needle than called for, but my yarn weight was a bit heavier also.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fun Project! Hijab and Shawl pins

Asalamu alaikum,

I saw this post over on Witchy Woman(Chiton Pins), in which she made some pins from bits of copper wire. I loved the look of them, and wanted to make a couple.

So I ended up making one hijab pin(left side, with the point), two slightly longer shawl pins(minus points, don't want to accidentally stab myself), five finger rings(one each for three sisters in law, brother in law's wife and myself), and one toe ring.

I do like them all very much, but as she said in the original post, they make little holes in the cloth. I use the hijab pin as decorative only, and only in loose woven scarves where the weave can be mushed back into place after I take out the pin.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Haiku for Happy Birthday

Asalamu Alaikum,

Still in haiku mode, it was Saad's birthday yesterday. Four years old already, very difficult to believe.
So proud of his work,
So careful coloring them.
Mommy! Mommy! Look!

~~Father and Son~~
Big hands so secure,
Small hands hold daddy so tight,
neither loosening.

~~For Saad~~
Beautiful Boy.
I love you, my small sweet son,
My External heart.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Feature-Randomly in Haiku

Asalamu alaikum,

~~Why Haiku?~~
Haiku poetry,
Mini memory bubbles
Capsules of my life.

~~Motorcycle rides in Karachi~~
Speeding thru dark streets.
Always sitting "side saddle",
Hope my shoes stay on.

~~Sunset in the desert~~
Sun is now sinking.
Burning golden light on sand,
last rays of sunset.

~~Grab your passport~~
Oman visa runs,
uncertainty in my life.
InshAllah, no more.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Feature-Negativity and Anger

Asalamu Alaikum,

I don't like negatives. I don't enjoy angry, negative people. It just seems like such a waste to go around being angry/negative all the time. Any time I am in a bad mood, when I feel like shouting at everyone around me for being so annoying, it is just so stressful for me. I very quickly drop what ever is making me so angry.

I wonder how people can be so negative, so much of the time? Don't they get stressed? Isn't it hard to keep up the anger, doesn't it take too much of their energy?

I also feel like it makes me feel old, truly down to my bones ancient. When there are things going on that I have no control over that make me angry, I feel like it ages me years in only days.

I have tried to ignore what bothers me, but that only works for so long before I just get so stressed from the negativity that I want to scream.

So instead, I try to pray more. Praying keeps me calm. The feeling when I make sujood, and then raise my head up, just brings me peace. I finish my prayers and make dua, and just leave what I can't control, to Allah(swt). I can't control annoying people/situations, but I can stop being angry myself. That is what helps, letting go of what I can't control.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Feature-Review of Moth Smoke

Asalamu Alaikum,

I though it would be fun to write up what I thought of one of the books we picked up in the Urdu Bazaar in Karachi. We picked up five or six books, most by Pakistani authors.

Moth Smoke was an interesting read, but for my taste it seemed a bit over done. Maybe I just don't click with the author's writing style.

The protagonist, Darashikoh, losses his job, and starts using hard drugs. He has an affair with a childhood friend's wife. He turns to crime for money as his life starts to crumble. It has a bit of a twist at the end, it is foreshadowed, but not heavily so it is still a bit of a surprise.

I think one of the main reasons I didn't like it was the unhappy ending. I never really thought I was a happy ending kind of person(although I guess my addiction to romance novels should have made it kind of obvious). By the end I kind of felt sorry for Daru. I mean yes he started with the drugs and the crime, the affair, but what happened was not right. I don't want to spoil the plot, so I will try not to get into too much detail. But prosecution for a crime he has not committed rather than what he has committed while the real culprit goes free, just bothers the heck out of me.

Not a new favorite, but still worth the read. I do recommend it, because I think it is mostly just the style that didn't click for me personally.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Liebster blog award!

Asalamu Alaikum,

Sister Um Zakarya from Froggy Hijabee, has given me a Liebster blog award! It is so exciting, this is my first blog award, JazakhAllah Khair sister!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

So here are the rules-
  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere - other bloggers.
  5. And, best of all - have fun(Yay, Fun!)
My five picks are-
Kiss my roti -Always gets me thinking.
After Hardship There is Ease -Inspires me to be a better me.
ihsaanlife -This is a sister I knew in America, she is a wonderful writer, with thoughtful and inspiring posts.
Yemeni Journey A sister I met(virtually ;-), through Ravelry. Another inspiring writer, she is like a painter with words, I can so easily see what she describes.
Thinking As the blog title suggests, I do spend a lot of time thinking, lots of excellent posts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Feature- Just the Right Fit

Asalamu alaikum,

When Saad was first born, it was easy to hold him in one arm. His head fit in the crook of an elbow and his backside in the palm of a hand. He was always curled up with his feet against his chest. He fit just right.

As he got bigger, he no longer fit in one arm. But he did fit nicely on one hip. He used to sit perched on a hip like a small bird, always looking around at everything. With him perched there, I could put one arm around him and lay my chin on the top of his head. Still he fit just right.

Now he is even bigger. He still fits on one hip(though rarely now, he prefers walking), but no longer can I lay me chin on his head. He is at just the right height for nose to nose snuggles on his hip perch. A different fit, but still just right.

Most of the time he prefers walking to being held, and he can put his little hand in mine without either of us having to reach very far. A very comfortable feeling, holding his little hand, just the right height. I think he will always be the right fit for me no matter how big he gets.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Small Moments, SubhanAllah.

Asalamu alaikum,

Last night we decided to go for a drive into the city. We drove down the road toward the entry onto the high way, music blaring. Just as we got to the entry, Tariq turned the music off.

I looked across the high way, and through the leaves of the palm trees I saw some thing beautiful.

The masjid across the high way was lit up, the minaret and a dome glowing a light green. Behind the masjid I could see the crescent of the moon. It was just at the start of Isha, and looking at this sight I heard the adhan start. SubhanAllah, it was a wonderful moment, the kind that just brings peace to the heart.

All the stress I have had recently melted away for an instant.

After the adhan finished, the fighting over whether to listen to a cassette or FM, and the shouts to turn up the volume returned and the moment was gone. Alhamdulillah for simple joys, for the moments of ease after hardships.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Feature-Jebel Hafeet and Green Mubazarrah

Asalamu alaikum,

Related to last week's "Friday Feature", this week it's Jebel Hafeet!

In Al Ain UAE, there is a mountain called Jebel Hafeet, at the base is the Green Mubazarrah. The Mubazarrah is a great place to relax, and have a picnic, have a bit of a hike, and do a bit of swimming.
View of the park from the top of a little hill.

There are hot springs that pump water down through the park in channels that form pools at the base. There are also indoor pools with separate buildings for ladies, and men and children(the indoor pools charge a fee, but are cleaner than the out side).

Pools at the base of the park. The water is cooler here, but also sometimes
dirty(especially if you go on the weekend).

We usually end up at Jebel Hafeet after our "Border Runs."

There are picnic pagodas setup all around the park, with grills on the side. We bring a picnic blanket and setup in a pagoda, and start grilling. Some times we have a bit of a hike on the hills first, to give us an appetite. There is also play equipment for the kids. We don't like to go on the weekends so much as there are really big crowds.

Us at the top of a hill, taking a rest. The walk back down is always so easy!

After eating, we go and play around in the channels. The water is only about 6-8 inches deep. The further up hill(closer to the pumps) you go the hotter it is.
Saad was a bit afraid of it at first, he doesn't even like to take warm bathes in the house, so the warm water freaked him out at first. After he got used to it, he was like a fish, and didn't want to go! If you go, do be careful, there is some algae or something that makes it slippery.

You can see the lights on the road up the mountain, snaking back and forth in the background.

There is a road that leads to the top of the mountain, we have visited it before if you want to take a look, the post is here. The view from the top is pretty cool at night(we've never been during the day, too hot!), and there is a little cafe, if you want a snack while up there. When we went a couple weeks ago, there were signs saying the road to the top was closed because of construction work, so I am not sure when they will open it again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday Feature(Opps late!)-Oman Border Run, FUN!

Asalamu alaikum,

So we have been here in the UAE for a bit more than a month now. Since we are still working on the residency visa for me and Saad, we had to go on a "visa run" to Oman. I have posted a couple times before about this you can see older posts here, but I thought I might write up a little outline of how the whole process works.
Saad shows off his new water bottle on our recent trip.

Americans, and some other nationalities are granted visit visas that are good for thirty days on arrival in the UAE. So if you want to stay longer than that you have to exit the country and re enter to get a new thirty day visa. The whole process takes a couple hours. For us the easiest way to do it is to drive to Al Ain(about an hour from where we live, and about two hours from Abu Dhabi).
A truck full of goats, one was particularly curious.

From Al Ain you go to the Hilli Border Post, at the gate you show your passport and tell the guy you need an Exit stamp, then he will point you to the left where there are a couple of buildings. Go inside and tell them you need an exit stamp, they will check your passport, charge you a Dhs 35 fee for leaving the country, ask how many people are in your party(all must have passports and if they are normally resident their sponsor must accompany them) and write it down on a little slip of paper, possibly ask where you are going(for border runs we just say"visa renewal"), then he'll stamp your passport and you go get back in your car.
I love the sand dunes on the way to Al Ain.

You drive back towards the gate that leads to the UAE, and turn left behind the buildings and back around behind the first gate you came through, give them your slip of paper and they will wave you through to Al Buraimi.

Al Buraimi is a border town, technically in Oman, but the Omani border post is actually about 45 minutes away. So drive through town, if you feel like a snack, they have lots of little "refreshment" places where you can get a snack and a cup of chai.

Once you find the main road out of the city, just stay on that road and drive. Currently they are re doing the road so there is a lot of construction. After a break in the mountains that looks like stairs, there is a roundabout from which you make a left turn. Keep going until you reach the "Wadi Al Jizi Border Post". Go inside and get on of the little forms from the counter and fill it out.
Wadi Al Jizi Border Post, just so everybody knows I took this photo before we got to the
"No Photography" signs

Take your passport up to the counter and tell them you want "Enter and Exit". The guy will take your passport, and scan it, type a bit, then you have to pay. The fee is 20 Omani riyals(Dhs 200), but you should bring a credit card as they are starting to not accept cash. If you don't have a card, you should stop in Al Buraimi at an exchange and turn your dirhams to riyals, as they might not be able to make change.
Four types of currency in my purse! We got the Omani riyals at the border, because they had no change for dirhams, the rest is US dollars, Pakistani Rupees, and UAE dirhams.

I am sure the price increase has been slow and steady while we were in Pakistan, but the last time we did this(October 2009) it was 6 riyals or 60 dirhams. That is quite the increase!

Anyway, after you get your entry and exit stamps you can head back to Al Buraimi. While there you could buy some live chickens! This is my brother in law's favorite part, he loves chickens and keeps several in our yard.

After checking out Buraimi a bit, head back to the Hilli border post, to the same building where you got your exit stamp. Hand over your passport, get your stamps, tell him how many in your party, get your ticket and passports back and head out the exit to Al Ain.

Yay! All Done!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Feature- Where is "home"?

Asalamu Alaikum,

When I say "I want to go Home"(capital H), I mean I want to go to the States. But really I have no home there, no address of my own. Any mail goes to my mom's house, and that's probably where we'll stay when we get back, inshAllah. Mom hasn't seen Saad since he was about four months old, so she is threatening to chain me up when we get there anyway!

When we left America to come to the UAE, I came to a place that was so unfamiliar that it took me close to six months to settle in and call it "home". Shortly after I started to feel like it was home, we moved out of the large apartment building we had been staying in downtown, and moved to a little villa type place out in Baniyas(sort of a suburb of Abu Dhabi, about a 45 minute drive into the city).

I got used to it a lot quicker, and soon it felt like home. Another eight months and then we had to leave for Pakistan.

During our first visit to Pakistan, I never felt settled enough to call it "home", even though we were there almost six months. It was a pretty hectic time, with my sister in law's wedding and all the shopping/sewing/cleaning/etc. that had to be done.

When we came back to Abu Dhabi, it felt like coming home. I thought at the time that we would be staying a while, but we were here only about a month and a half. Then it was back to Pakistan for another wedding(BIL's in law's family). I thought that we would stay for a couple of months and then back to Abu Dhabi, but I was wrong again. We ended up staying almost two years. By the time I had been there a year, I felt like it was "home", even with all the difficulties.

We have now been back in Abu Dhabi about a month. I don't know how much longer we will be here. We could be here another week, or a couple of months(I am hoping for the latter).

But until we are ready to head back to the states, after our time here is up (here is something I never thought I would say), we will go Pakistan.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eid ul Fitr Day 2-Part 2

Asalamu Alaikum,

Day 2 part 1 is here.

So after a quick google on Bhai's Ipad for a local park, we found this one-Saqr Public Park, Ras al Khaimah.

We ate lunch, then sat around in the grass while the kids played on the slides and stuff.

Saad and I went on the bumper cars, with my sisters in law Saad with me and one of my nephews with one sister in law. Our ride was cut short though, Saad's nose hit the steering wheel and we got off real quick. The attendant let one sister in law and my nephew have a second go to make up for ours. Saad spent a lot of the rest of our time in the park complaining how the "bad gari(car) hit me". He was fine, no blood, just a little bump, but it did put a bit of a damper on the rest of the park.

After a while he was feeling better so we all went for a ride on the train that goes around the park.

Just before we left my three sisters in law and I decided to go on one of the other rides, the one with chairs on long chains that spin around and up. Big mistake. I think the park could really use more attendants, and possibly some classes on safety issues. There was only one guy to run the ride, no attendant at the gate, which was just wide open, people were inside the fence rather than waiting outside. Several young girls walked right under the people spinning around, while talking on their mobile phones, and paying no attention to the ride or the attendant shouting at them to get out of the way before they got kicked in the face. I was wondering if they might get hit by a flying shoe or something, but alhamdulillah, nobody was hurt while we were there.

Since there was only on attendant, every one would rush the ride as soon as it started to slow down, to grab a seat. People saved seats for their friends, and would pass off the seat back and forth, not letting anyone else on. One group of teenaged boys rode three times before getting up. There was pushing, and shoving, it was just like a bunch of dogs fighting over a bone. Horrible experience. The park itself is nice, clean and lots of fun, except for some of the rides. If you go I recommend you avoid the more popular rides, and stick with the train and slides/swing sets.

After the park, we decided to head for home since it was getting late. The traffic on the way from RAK to Abu Dhabi was horrible(it's EID, people! everyone is out having fun!). Just outside Sharjah one of my sisters in law was getting a bit car sick so we to the next exit and ended up in the "Heart of Sharjah". We stopped at the King Faisal Masjid, to wash up, pray and rest for a bit.

After praying we went for a walk around the Central Souq which was just across the street.

Outside the souq, Saad was a bit tired.

After checking out the souq, we got back on the road and headed home(again), but got side tracked again in Dubai. We stopped by the water and my father in law decided to treat us to a ride on one of the water taxis.

He hired one of the water taxis to take us on a one hour ride, up to one of the bridges(the one with blue lights), and back. It was lots of fun, and I do recommend it if you get the chance.

So that was the end of day 2. We got home shortly after three in the morning, and spent all of Eid day three sleeping and just relaxing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Feature-Of Children and Chicken Feathers

Asalamu aliakum,

A while back while we were still in Pakistan, I was sitting down stairs and Saad comes up to me quietly, with his hands behind his back. Usually this is the sign that he has something he shouldn't, but on that day he just came right up instead of trying to skirt around me with his hidden treasure. He told me in a very proud little voice, full of dramatic little pauses- " a......", and then with a big dramatic flourish, he brought his hands forward and said-"FEATHER!!!"

It was a very pretty light green feather, that he had found on the stairs. He was so proud of having brought me this gift, and it was such a pretty feather, that I made a huge deal out of it. I profusely thanked him and made a big deal of saving it in my journal.

After that he brought me every single feather he found, from the pretty colorful ones to ratty old crow feathers. I made a bid deal of every single one, he was just so sweet, proud of his gifts for Mama. My collection of feathers in Pakistan grew very rapidly.

Here in Abu Dhabi, my brother in law keeps several chickens. After we got here Saad started to collect chicken feathers. It was not long before my two little nephews started to bring me feathers, and I kept making a big deal out of them.

Saad even found several feathers when we went on our little trip after Eid. In 24 hours he found feathers for me in three different Emirates(RAK, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi).

My sisters in law have several students that come daily for Qur'an reading lessons, they are all less than nine or ten years old. They do not speak very much English, and are very shy when they do, so they don't talk to me a lot. It was not very long before they noticed our feather collection fun. I have no idea what they think of this little game, but now they too have started bringing me feathers. They are so sweet, so I thank them for each one and keep them in a plastic cup in the window.

Now comes the question. What the heck am I going to do with so many chicken feathers?!?!?!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eid ul Fitr-Day 2, Part 1

Asalamu alaikum,

So for day 2 Tariq and his brother had a plan. Khasab in Musandam. We packed up overnight bags, sleeping bags, fishing gear, another pulao dish(chickpeas, easier to eat on the go), marinated chicken, a grill, dishes, spices, and anything we might need for a two or three day camping trip. We gathered all the passports, and packed all that stuff, along with eleven people into the van. My brother in law had received a GPS and an Ipad from his job(hard work bonus!), so he entered in the coordinates, and off we went.

On the way we stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank, and I prayed inside the little masjid(just about every gas station not in the cities has a little attached prayer area, with a section for men and one for women, I love this).

Ladies section, gas station masjid, somewhere outside Dubai.
Inside, pretty blue carpet.

I liked it so much here is an up close picture. Pretty pretty.

Driving on we saw Dubai, from a distance.

We saw a lot of sand, camels too, unfortunately no pictures.

We even saw Sheik Zayed, on at least three or four cars.

We drove on to the border point, and we hit a snag. One person's residence visa had expired the day before. So if we left, they couldn't come back. We left the border, and went to a local masjid to wash up and pray zuhr.

The masjid was right on the edge of the water!

Ladies side of the Masjid by the water.

Another pretty rug.

We decided to try to find a park to eat lunch and then figure out what to do. Brother in law's Ipad came in handy, we surfed around a bit and found a local park.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eid ul Fitr-Day 1

Asalamu alaikum,

Our first day of Eid started early, in fact my three young sisters in law and I did not sleep at all. Too much excitement, last minute cleaning, and I had to finish sewing my Eid suit! When we came to UAE on the 20th my father in law had asked me to help the three girls and my brother in law's wife to sew their own suits. I was supposed to just explain, while they did all the work, so they could learn. They all finished up, and I waited until last to finish mine as I could work faster. So I finally finished at 3 am! Alhamdulillah it came out wonderfully! The suit was a gift from my friend Ammena, that she had given me before she went back home. I thought about giving it to a tailor while still in Pakistan, but it is so beautiful and I was worried about how good they would do, so I sewed it myself.

Eid Mubarak!

So after finishing my suit I mendhi-d up my hair, and we tried to work on our hands too, but the cones that we had bought here in Abu Dhabi had no color. :-( We all finished up our cleaning, and prepared our families traditional breakfast dish-sheer korma. Sheer korma is a sweet dish, made of vermicelli noodles, milk, sugar, cardamoms, and a turka of ghee with slivered almonds, pistachios, raisins and sliced dry dates. Sometimes we put silver foil on the top as a decoration.

Sheer Korma, Oops, didn't get a picture before someone dug in!

After preparing the breakfast there was the traditional bathroom scuffle/race trying to get all eleven people in the family-showered, dressed and ready. I was ahead in the race, taking my shower early because I knew what would happen. Why does no one else ever seem to remember the bathroom race?

After the bathroom race we all piled into the van, we could here the calls from the local masajid, but as we drove around they were all finishing. I began to get a bit upset, we were going to miss the Eid prayer! We finally found one where they had just started, but my brother in law didn't see any women around so he told us to wait in the car, and took the kids. I started to cry, I haven't been to a masjid in well over two years, and I spent the last two Eids all alone in Pakistan as the rest of the family was here in UAE.

One of my sisters in law said not to cry, lets get out and check if we see any women. So we got out of the car and walked towards the masjid. All gents everywhere, not a woman in sight! I was getting more upset and just decided to turn around and go back to the car. As we were almost back to the car, a woman came around the corner in her car. I figured she was just headed home or something, but my sister in law suggested we wait a minute and see if she stops. So we did, we watched her pull up in back of the masjid, get out of her car and very quickly head around the other side. We ran! I was so happy, Alhamudulillah she came when she did, or we would have missed it! We followed her and found the ladies entrance, after skirting around the huge crowd of men, on the far side of the building.

I was crying during the whole prayer, and sniffing during the khutbah, I was just so happy!

After the khutbah was finished, we went out and waited for the crowd to thin a bit, and followed my father and brother in law to where Tariq had pulled up the car. As we all piled in again, Tariq looked at me and asked why I was crying, and I could barely speak.

We went home and had a huge breakfast, then all went to sleep for a couple hours. We got up and had a big Eid meal(chicken pulao for the main dish), and then just hung out all day.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Feature-Ramadhan Wrap up.

Asalamu alaikum,

InshAllah everybody had a good month! Alhamdullilah I completed my goal of learning four surahs. I completed surahs- An Nasr, Al Ma-un, Quraish, and Al Fil, though the last I still have to pause a bit and picture the words on the page to remember them.

I had added another goal on the first night of Ramadhan, I wanted to pray every sunah and nafl prayer in addition to the fard prayers. Sometimes I get lazy and only do sunah and fard or only fard. I make excuses like "it will take too much time" or "I'm too tired". Alhamdulillah not this month! Almost every single day I was able to make all my prayers fully. About a week in I had a realization during Isha prayer, it doesn't really take so much time at all, why hadn't I been praying more before?
InshAllah I can keep this up, please make dua for me that I don't listen to the whispers that urge me to cut my prayers short.

My goal of completing the dishes everyday before fajr went better than expected. I was able to get everything cleaned up for about the first two thirds of the month. After that a little trip interrupted my little plan.

Which brings us to The Big News-on the 20th, we left Pakistan and came to join the rest of the family in Abu Dhabi for the end of Ramadhan and Eid. Alhamdullilah, it is really enjoyable being all together again. Little problems, but nothing out of the ordinary. So we are here for a little while anyway, don't know how long though, the situation in Karachi is not so good right now so we plan to stay for a bit more, and we'll see what happens. Eventually we'll have to go back, as we still have some work to do.

We have already had a couple little adventures here, and so I have a couple more posts in the works on what we've been up too, InshAllah I will start working on that in the next couple days.

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.