My lovely visitors :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Photos from the BBQ

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

 if you haven't yet, you can read Texan in UAE's entry about our lil' BBQ get-together at Om Abdullah's home the day before yesterday :)

  I was going to make a post about it as well but she pretty much summed it all up in her post MashaAllah.

 But I do have some photos to share-- you may not want to look at them if you are hungry  :P

so, here Kasey, Texan in UAE, and I  just skewered the marinated chicken (you must try this recipe--which you can get at Texan in UAE's post)

and here Om Abdullah spiced the steaks

here Texan in UAE and I were in charge of grilling... and well...  we burned this first batch LOL   and we decided to do the rest in the oven instead  :D

So next were the steaks and after a few minutes flames started shooting up from their oils that drippped down and instead of moving the steaks I thought, "photo opportunity!!" and snapped up some photos before moving them LOL

Here is the yummy salad Texan Teen made for us

oooohh baked potatoes!!! the real thing too!! baked in the oven (not microwaved like some people do--thats not the real thing!)  :D

and here ya go, the kabobs and steaks  :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Your Saying it Wrong!

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I know I already made another post earlier today but I just had to tell this little thing...  its really random and only an Arabic speaker might understand the mumble jumble I write here LOL

 so... Om Abdullah (Om A)was BB-ing with Texan in UAE (Texan) who was talking to me from her landline.  Om A asked us to ask our husbands for a few words starting with the Arabic letter noon (for her daughter's homework)  So Texan's husband tell her "nakhla" (palm tree)-- and then I could hear Texan asking her husband how to spell it... then after a few seconds Texan asks me,
"Ask your husband how to spell 'nehala'." 
and I could hear her husband  telling her something in the background (but not clear enough to understand)...and I asked my husband
"So, (husband's name), would you spell Nahala-- 'n', 'e', 'h'..." 
and he interrupted me and said,
"its 'naHla' not 'nahala'" -- allllll annoyed at my pronunciation LOL
so I tell Texan (while rolling my eyes),
"oh, so he is saying its 'naHla', not 'nahala'"
and Texan said, 
"My husband is telling me the same thing!! that its 'nakkHHHHHHHla' and not 'nahala'" 

allll she tells her husband my husband is complaining about the same thing he is and he starts laughing!

allllllll both our husbands at the same time are all annoyed at our pronunciation because we are having some difficulty with the Arabic letter "Ha" that you pronounce in the back of your throat  LOL

-we need some practice to pronounce some of the letter correctly.  It takes time especially coming from speaking a lazy language like American English LOL

oh...wait.. I speak Japanese, and some Spanish, French (well, I used to speak it really well but its pathetic now) etc... and then Texan speaks Spanish as well--   but in our defense...none of these languages have any letters pronounced in the back of the throat  (oops well french does have one)!!

***oops correction I called Texan back after posting this and it turns out we were both pronouncing different words.. she was meaning Nakhla meaing "palm tree", while I heard it from her as nehala (she can't pronounce the harsh KH that is also pronounced in the back of the throat ), so I pronounced it like her and my husband was thinking she was meaning neHla, meaning "bee".  LOL 

Texan just told me--the funny thing is her sisters in law always laughs at her and once told her "Texan, when you say palm tree do you know what your saying?"    
 and she answered 
"yes, palm tree"
and her SIL said, 
"no, your saying 'bee'"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Relying too much on maids and nannies...

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.

~William Goldsmith Brown

These are a few stories of when a mother is pre-occupied with things other than her children, letting maids and nannies be the main caretakers instead.

 One 14 year old boy over at our home one day was snooping through my laptop and found a folder with some nasheeds in them.  He wanted to hear some so the first one I played was  "Your Mother" by Yusuf Islam.  

This is the very first part of the song:

Who should you give your love to?
Your respect and your honour to?
Who should you pay good mind to - after Allah,
And Rasullullah?
Comes your Mother,
Who next? Your Mother
Who next? Your Mother
And then you Father

Then while listening to this next part:

Cause who used to hold you
And clean you and clothe you?
Who used to feed you
And always be with you?

at this point, he said matter of factly,  "The maids did!!"

 that just broke my heart. 

I was at this boy's family's home one day and his little sister took me to her room and opened a drawer and asked if I would play something with her.  She took out a box full of stuff to make homemade bracelets and you could tell she has used it before so I asked her, 
"Oh, do you and your mom make bracelets together?"  
to which she replied, 
"No, my mom never plays with me."

and my heart broke again. 

Another story, a local guy my husband knows.  His parents had never really been close so they both have always done their own thing, not even sleeping together in the same room.  Well, his mother was always wanting to leave the house so the local guy and his siblings were pretty much raised by the maids (well, they were both maids and nannies).  His mother always replaced the maids every year when they were little because he and his siblings would start calling the maids "mom"

how heartbreaking!

final whisperlita--a funny memory popped into my mind after writing this--  Texan in UAE, remember when you asked me to change lil A's poopy diaper?  alllllllllll I thought I would still have the mastery of changing diapers I attained back when I was a nanny (over 10 years ago LOL)-- but nope... I lost all of it--alllll Texan in UAE walked in and saw the pile of baby wipes I had used and started laughing at me LOL 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Time flies when your away.... it really does...

As-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Reading my dear best friend Texan in UAE's post got me thinking...

First I will quickly talk about one side of my family:
I had not been in contact with my biological father's family for years. Its not because I don't love them or anything like that... its just... life happened, and a distance came between us after my parents divorced. A big part was because my sisters and I lost contact with our father (its a whole other story). We have recently gotten in contact with our family again Alhamdulillah and its amazing to see my cousins all grown up, going to college, having careers, marriage, children etc... I always remember my cousins from the last time I saw them, the pre-teen years. The same with my aunts I have gotten into contact with. MashaAllah, they are still beautiful and just amazing to think that they are grandparents and all... its bean a REALLY long time we were not in contact.

Living far away from family is not easy. You get used to it.. Alhamdulillah for technology that it is easy to keep in touch. But every time you get to visit them you get that feeling of how hard it is to be away from them all over again when it is time to part.

Its not just the time spent apart that is the hardest part. Its all the changes. The younger ones grow up so fast. Months can make a difference. I get to see pictures and get to video chat--but its still different to finally see the changes in person. My nieces and nephew were all under 10 years old when I moved away.

They have grown so much these last 5 years MashaAllah! It makes me sad that I am not there to watch them grow, to see the interests they take up, to help them with homework, to be their auntie. I mean, I will always be their auntie, but its not a hands-on role since we are so far apart. I can't wait to see them inshallah this summer. Alhamdulillah that I get to visit them though. Some people cannot visit their family who are overseas often so I am very grateful for that Alhamdulillah.

Now the other hard part--the hardest part--is seeing the older family members getting older-- seeing my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents getting older.

The last time I saw my mother was in Japan the year before. I was shocked to realize her age... for some reason I had just never thought of her age. of course she is still just as beautiful MashaAllah, just older. And not seeing her for one year makes a big difference, not to mention if I don't see her for longer than that. When we said our goodbyes at the airport in Japan I felt really sad and thought about how I am always going to keep seeing her getting older.

The people I am going to talk about now are my step-family. I'm not going to use the term "step" here for them... they are my family.

The same with the last time I saw my father I was thinking how he looked older. He is a sushi chef and when one day talking to him about possibly coming to Dubai to open a sushi bar, he told me that he is probably only going to work another 10 years or so and then it will be time to retire... and it just hit me too about how he is getting older. The same with seeing my aunts and uncles.

The biggest one was my grandfather. He had fallen off of a ladder and hurt his back really bad. He had to have surgery but he was in immense pain for over a year. When I saw him a year and a half after he had fallen, it was shocking to see how much he had aged in just a year and a half. He was such an active man, and was such a handyman that he was always building and repairing things in the home. To be so hurt and so immobile had caused him to age so much :( Alhamdulillah they finally found a medicine that helps his pain so he is doing better, but he will never regain the strength he had back then.

I am now sitting in tears writing this... I am so sad that I am not there as my parents and grandparents are getting older and older.

I do not regret one bit that I married my husband and moved to UAE. This is my home, and my husband is who I want to be with for the rest of my life. Its just hard to be oceans apart from my family.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Who is Entertaining Your Children?

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

So, who is, or what is, entertaining your children?  

I have noticed from the younger locals coming to our home, that their parents don't realize (or who knows, maybe they don't care?) the things their children are watching and listening to.

For instance, around a couple of years ago, one young girl (10 or 11 years old) was trying to watch tv at our home. She turned it to MBC4 to watch what she told me was one of her favorite shows. The show had not started yet so I pressed the info button to find out what show it was---it was "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter"

For those of you who do not know this show,  it is about a family who has two high-school aged daughters and a younger son.  The older daughter is the popular, pretty girl who dresses in skimpy clothing and the younger daughter early on the show was more conservative and nerdy, but later on she starts dressing skimpy as well. The show deals with dating, sex, partying, etc...  the typical normal part of American teenage lives.

This show does not reflect UAE values at all.

As soon as I found out what show it was, I told her there was no way I was going to let her watch it. To that she said, "But I always watch it at home"  and I replied with "well, I guess I need to be having a talk with your father about what kind of shows you watch" and she made a face understanding exactly what I was talking about.  Then her older brother, who was sitting in the room grinned and said, "yeah, your right" as I told him "You shouldn't be watching this kind of stuff too!"

Of course I was not the one who spoke to their father--I told my husband about it and had him speak to the father.  Their father had assumed that since this is a Muslim country, there would be no inappropriate shows that geared to the younger generation.  And guess what? I know for a fact she and her brother are still watching inappropriate shows.... so this father just doesn't care to want to see for himself what they are watching.

I have heard these younger girls and guys talk about other shows they watch and movies they download and such. I know these shows and movies have sexual themes in them that are inappropriate for them.  When I ask if their parents let them watch this stuff  they always say yes.  When I ask if their parents watch this stuff with them, the answer is always no.  

Another situation...  A very conservative father who comes to visit our family with his children all the time--I had assumed since he was strict with his children, that they weren't as exposed to the more inappropriate things.  Then one day, one of the young girls asked if she could use my laptop to show me some things.  She proceeded to find a site that had all of her favorite music.  A lot of it was current hip-hop and all of the inappropriate lyrics that come with it.  And she was singing/rapping along.  

This same thing happened with another young girl (11 years old) at our home too.  She started singing the chorus in Flo Rida's song "Right Round" --which I thought was just a remake of the old song, when I heard the lyrics were just a bit different...  and realized the new lyrics are about oral sex. 

The youth is online or watching satellite television watching all of these music videos that go along with these songs... and I am sure a lot of you already know what kinds of things are going on in music videos.  

Then, lets not forget to mention the Arabic music video channels.  I stopped sitting with one person (an adult woman) whenever she is around because when I sit with her all she wants to do is watch these channels.  And she will watch the channel even if younger kids are around as well. What are the videos all about?  I can't understand the lyrics most of the time but I can see the skimpy clothing, the writhing bodies, and not only that, all of those stupid sms messages that people send in to those channels running across the screen. 

ok, so I know some people are going to say, most of the young kids just like the songs for the beats/melodies and they don't understand the meanings of the lyrics.  But if you are a parent, do you want your children singing crude lyrics even if they don't understand them?

And when these younger ones are watching music videos with sexualized themes, what would the parents really think if they actually saw it with their own eyes?  Or do they know and just not care?  Are they too busy with themselves that they are OK leaving the television and internet to babysit their children, no matter what they are watching and listening to?

Also, I know what else will be said--that music is haram in Islam.  But it doesn't mean everyone is not listening to music.  If the children are listening to music, the parents usually are too, just different kinds.  I don't know how much these parents realize just how bad the lyrics and music videos get sometimes...

And for television shows and movies... Muslim parents need to learn for themselves what kind of shows and movies are available for their children to watch.  American or European norms in these societies with their youth are not the norms of the UAE (and many other countries). 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who is Twizzle?

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

so... who is Twizzle eh (he he for my Canadian sisters-spelling error corrected as per OmAbdullah he he he)? I was tagged by Texan in UAE (alll she tags everyone LOL)

I was born in Boulder, Colorado (CO) (AKA hippie town) and was raised in Denver, CO most of my life except for the two and a half years I lived in Japan :)

I have two younger sisters who are twins... and although we look alike, they have hazel/green eyes and back in the day they were embarrassed to be half-Japanese so they used to tell their friends I was adopted!! My sisters are both some of the funniest people you will ever meet, MashaAllah. 

I was the nerd in high school who never partied, drank, or did drugs, but I wasn't all goodie goodie. A couple of other friends and I ditched school quite a bit. We got away with it by pretending to be our parents and calling ourselves in. So I pretended to be my mother and would call in using a super duper exaggerated Japanese accent:

"Haro, jisu izu Twizzle's maza, she widu nottu be inu skuru today. She bery no feeru good"

tanslation: "Hello, this is Twizzle's mother, she will not be in school today. she very no feel good (she doesn't feel good LOL)"

and since we were nerds,we would go eat, go shopping, go downtown and just hang out etc... I was also such a nerd that my best friend and I would pull all-nighters at Denny's or Village Inn (24-hr restaurants) studying--though we'd do quite a lot of goofing-off and talking (hence the not so perfect grades) :P

I was a dancer and my sister, best friend and I did a dance in a talent show in high school to Alphaville's "A Victory of Love"-- we got laughed at as we walked onto the stage because we were wearing sort-of ballerina type outfits, yet when the dance was over we got a standing ovation. yeah!!  I have also performed in a couple dances with a group my best friend formed on a local television station in Colorado  :P

I am the girl who so can't sing... I can't stay in tune..... except with Opera. For some strange reason I can sing Opera.  

I am the girl who used to go downtown with my best friend and we would sing opera the whole time we were walking around... anything we wanted to say we had to sing it in opera.

Other times I would be out with other friends and either I would randomly start singing opera alone, or with another friend :D the best times were when someone, usually some random guy, would sing back!! In Denver, people would look, come talk to us, sing back etc... we tried this in Seattle, WA once and every single person ignored us LOOOL

My friends and I were so goofy we would do stupid stuff out in public to make us or other people laugh and there were times when people would tell us we need to sober up when we didn't even drink!

this is where most of it happened (The 16th Street Mall in Downtown, Denver):

I love to draw, write poetry, write songs, and hang out with my husband, family, and friends--oh, and my pets too :P    I also love off-roading, barbecuing, and cooking. 

Islam has been the best thing in my life MashaAllah Alhamdulillah! I said Shahada on August 31st, 2002, so this August, it will be 8 years!! wow, how time flies!  

I looooooooooove rain and cloudy skies...  so...yeah.. UAE isn't my kind of climate, but I have a good life Alhamdulillah and UAE is my home :)

so there you have it... a little bit about me  :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Paranormal Happenings Part 1

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah,

have y'all had any paranormal experiences? I'd love to hear them. I will share some of mine, but not all at once because it would get long.

my experiences really did happen to me, I am not making any of it up. I highly recommend you read this in the middle of the night when you are alone----just kidding!!

So, here is one of my paranormal experiences:

When we first moved in our new home (I was about 15 yrs old) I got the basement bedroom. A few weeks later when I was home alone, I went to bed and when I was just starting to get settled into a sleep, all of a sudden, right behind me, "someone" was breathing hard...but it was a struggled breathing, and it was RIGHT BEHIND ME like someone was laying in my bed with me!!!! I got extremely cold too!!... I got so scared, and pulled the covers over me and thought of something else and it went away.... I tried to tell myself it was just my imagination and calmed myself down. Then I tried to doze off again a few minutes later....and the breathing started again!! I remember getting cold and thinking to myself "should I look?" "should I look?" and got too freaked out and I jumped out of bed and ran upstairs!!! When my family got home later they all laughed at me, thinking I was just imagining things because I was home alone.

I have no idea how I even managed, but I still kept that as my room. I wanted to be away from everyone who all had their bedrooms on the same level, upstairs. I started sleeping in the room with the TV or the radio on because although I never heard that breathing noise again, I always heard something...

At one point, my sister got to take the other room next to mine for a little while--it was a family room but it was pretty much unused so she was going to make it into a large bedroom for herself. And the 2nd night she slept in the room she heard the breathing noise!! She went straight back to her bedroom upstairs..

One night while my cousin slept over with me in my room and she woke me up in the middle of the night. I was like "what???" all annoyed and she was terrified and said "I heard the breathing!!!" Another time that same cousin and I (but not the same night she heard the breathing),were talking and talking and in the background I could hear this tapping on the wall but I wasn't wondering about it -- after a while my cousin said "what is that?" and we both stopped to listen.... and the noise just completely stopped.

One day I was sitting on my floor leaning up on the foot of the bed. All of a sudden I "felt" a cat jump on the bed. I started saying "who is hear..." and when I turned around there was nothing there. I am certain "it" was my cat who had died a few weeks earlier.

Here is one of the last experiences in my bedroom:

One night I forgot to leave the TV / stereo on and while I was laying down trying to fall asleep I heard scratching on my closet door. I sat up and the noise stopped. So after a few moments I laid down again. Then the scratching started again. I sat up and it stopped again. I sat there for a short while and called our cats names' but no reply so I laid down again. The scratching started up a few seconds later again!! So this time I got up and out of bed, turned the lights on and opened the closet door thinking one of our cats must have been scratching.... but NOTHING was there!! I freaked out and turned the tv on so I could sleep.

We later found out the former owner of the house died of a heart attack in my room! ewwwwwwwwwww!

I eventually moved out to live in an apartment with a friends. A couple of years later I moved back in temporarily and I didn't hear any noises anymore, Alhamdulillah. My parents still live in that home. No one uses my old bedroom... they changed it to a guest room and so far no guests have stayed down there.

They want me to come stay with them when I visit this summer inshallah but remembering everything makes me scared to use that room again so I will most likely stay at my sister's home!

ok, so that is my first story.... please do share a story of yours if you have any!! I love hearing them... I don't know why but I like getting scared LOL

** would y'all like to take your mind off of my story for a moment? if so, here is a random pet video of our birds KooKoo and NuNu y'all can laugh at :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An old song's lyrics still feels relevant today

I was going to post this last week and forgot about it...  I was cleaning one day and singing old songs and while singing this song I realized the lyrics are still very relevant today.

For those that don't listen to music, don't worry,  I am not posting music or a music video--just the lyrics to a song.

its a song from Queensryche's "Operation: Mindcrime" album--which I think is one of the greatest albums of all time.   The album was released in 1988, yet the lyrics to this one song still feels relevant today--just change the word "communist" in the lyrics for "Muslim" or "Islamic" and you will see what I mean.

Revolution Calling

For a price I'd do about anything
Except pull the trigger
For that I'd need a pretty good cause
Then I heard of Dr. X
The man with the cure
Just watch the television
Yeah, you'll see there's something going on

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It's just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There's a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I've seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone's a crook?

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[There's a] Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

I'm tired of all this bullshit
They keep selling me on T.V.
About the communist plan
And all the shady preachers
Begging for my cash
Swiss bank accounts while giving their
Secretaries the slam

They're all in Penthouse now
Or Playboy magazine, million dollar stories to tell
I guess Warhol wasn't wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone's using everybody, making the sale

I used to think
That only America's way, way was right
But now the holy dollar rules everybody's lives
Gotta make a million doesn't matter who dies

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[There's a] Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I've seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone's a crook?

Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
[There's a] Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through

**anyone interested can see their live performance of this song HERE  --I went to this concert back then (in a different city)--and it was AMAZING!   my poor best friend back then... she had only known their song Silent Lucidity and didn't like Rock/Heavy Metal but I dragged her to the concert anyways LOL!!  And to be fair I did go with her to a Whitney Houston concert LOL

**oh, in case anyone is wondering/shaking their heads... I was not Muslim back then...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the newest member of the crew plus more FOOD!!! :D

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

so I was thinking about what I could post next while massaging my husband's back and neck--poor guy has had a kink in his neck from sleeping the wrong way--anyhow, so I was thinking about the blog because, you know... I'm addicted to blogging and every chance I get I think about what I can blog about LOL

... and I realized.... wow I've been lazy lately... I have a few cartoon rough drafts drawn out but I haven't felt like uploading them to edit and color... inshallah I'll start doing them this week.

I then remembered I took photos of dinner I made tonight so here we will go with a foodie post!!

But first, I'd like y'all to meet the newest member of our crew: a Sun Conure that my SIL's uncle found roaming around where they keep their chickens :)  he/she is now at our home and we looked info up on the lil' guy and turns out their feathers are olive green when they are babies--then at 6 months of age they start turning more yellow and orange hued... so this lil' guy is young.. looks like some yellowing is going on so probably right around 6 months. Its good he is young... inshallah he will get used to us real quick :) I think tomorrow we will let my MIL give him a name inshallah :)

and now onto the food part!! Here are pictures of some foods I've made recently and some are pictures of stuff I've made a while ago... yummy yummmy!!

first... here are some Texas Tortillas I made from this recipe -thank you Homesick Texan!! they were definitely YUMMY Mashallah!!

And with these tortillas, I made this recipe of Tacos Al Carbon--the photo doesn't show any of the steak pieces LOL and before I realized I should take another picture it was allll gone. Mashallah!  Once again, thank you to Homesick Texan for this!!  I will definitely be trying out more of your recipes inshallah :)                            

This is a pic of Chile Rellenos I made from this recipe

And this is a Korean beef dish named Bulgogi, with this recipe--you have to scroll down just bit on the page to see it- I forgot I posted it on my old, now abandoned blog  :)

These are some Veggie Enchiladas with brown rice... I just threw it all together randomly so I don't have a recipe written out for it yet...

This is a Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Quinoa salad...another thing I just throw together so don't have a recipe written out...

Here is a Kofta Bademjan recipe I got from a sister on the Muslim Sister's Unite forum... again, I will post the recipe if anyone asks inshallah :) its thinly sliced eggplant wrapped around kofta, and baked in a tomato sauce--yummm Mashallah oh, and my homemade Hummous which is this recipe

Here is whole wheat Penne with my homemade Bolognaise sauce.. again, another recipe I just make by throwing things together...

Here are Blueberry Muffins from Texan in UAE's recipe

This is a miniature version of Monkey Bread from this recipe

and last but not least, Flan, or Creme Caramel...another recipe I just throw together so don't have anything written down... :)

I ok, here is the creme caramel/flan recipe:
for the caramel:

1 Cup sugar
1/2 C water

for the flan

3 Cups heavy whipping cream
2 Cups milk
5 eggs
3/4 C sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

when baking

you need some boiling water (to pour into baking pan for a waterbath)


heat oven to 325F, about 163C

grease or lightly butter your baking dish/es (I use spray oil)

first prepare caramel:

on high heat, add sugar and water to a medium saucepan (it may seem to big of a pan but the sugar water bubbles up kind of far as it is cooking and it won't be a pretty mess to clean if it gets onto the stovetop!!).

let it start to boil and you can stir it for probably a minute or so... stop stirring and let it continue to boil until it is a nice med-dark to dark golden brown color.

**with the caramel, the color starts changing rather quickly and if you are not watching it careful it will easily turn dark dark dark and burn. so when you see it start turning color make sure you are standing there watching it.

**do not stir anymore from the time I wrote to stop stirring. If you do keep stirring it will not turn into caramel...

immediately poor into baking dish or evenly into ramekins. it will cool and harden as you are making the flan mixture..

now for the flan:

add all the cream and milk and then the sugar and pinch of salt and mix well.

add eggs, one at a time and mix well until all eggs are all broken and incorporated in (you will still see flecks of yolk but just as long as it is broken up its ok).

add vanilla and mix that in well. strain for a smooth texture.

pour into baking dish or evenly into ramekins. Place in bigger deep pan (a roasting pan works well for this) and pour boiling water in until it reaches just about halfway up the baking dish/ramekins.

bake for 1 hour (when the top starts to brown slightly, loosely cover it with foil), raise temp to 350F (176C) and bake another 30 minutes. (it will still be a little "liquidy" but it will set when refrigerated. let cool on counter for 15 minutes then refrigerate for 6 hours to overnight.

run a knife all around the egdes to loosen the flan and then place a dish that is bigger than the rim of the baking dish/ramekin on top and flip over and the flan should slike out and you will have a nice caramel top and caramel sauce that will run over the sides of you flan.

have more photos but this post has gotten long so it'll have to be another future post inshallah :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dune Bashing--Some Desert Fun in Tawi Nizwa

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

My husband and I went dune bashing the other day - it is definitely the beginning of the end of the desert going season, for me at least. It has started to get so hot during the days. So I have to try to get in a bunch of dune bashing over the next few weeks inshallah!

I am posting photos here, but just so you know, not a single photo can capture the true beauty of the open desert. It is really something you have to see for yourself. I drive from time to time but I do get nervous when I get the more steep hills climb because I do not know what is on the other side--a nice flatter surface to keep driving on, or an immediate steep decline... and it does take finesse to get over and through the desert hills. I drove the other day for a while and we went through a more difficult area than I had previously driven through. There was one steeeeeep hill to climb and I told my husband I don't think I'm ready but he told me to just follow the tire marks so... I went up up up up and then was trying to reach the highest tire marks I saw, hit the top and then I was supposed to steer left but when I hit the top the force made the car go right a bit and then.... we got stuck LOL

Alhamdulillah there were some guys around and they helped shovel sand from underneath the car and then pushed our car back to help us get out. I felt so embarrassed!! And then of course, we got to the bottom and my husband went to climb the same hill and was over it in not time and it was so easy LOL

If you saw my last post you saw that I posted the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado where I am from--its a beautiful beautiful place Mashallah--but, most of the are is off-limits to any vehicles. So no dune bashing like in UAE, except a small area that is available (I don't know how big the area is)--but here in UAE there are huuuuuuuge areas to go dune bashing.But there are pros and cons to each.... for the dunes in Colorado, since it is a federally protected zone, while, it is too bad you can't do some serious dune-bashing, you won't have the problems of trash lying everywhere harming the environment and wildlife.In UAE where you can drive through most desert areas, you do see lots and lots of trash left out--and what they have found with autopsies on dead camels that are found in the deserts--70% of them died because their stomachs were full of plastic trash bags (the garbage left in the desert) The bags block their digestive systems so the camels slowly starve to death. pooooor things :(

The photos I am posting are from different days we have gone dune bashing... I did take photos yesterday but they all start looking the same LOL These photos are from an area named Tawi Nizwa (he he the first is a camel who stopped to pose--he and some others were roaming around the start of the dune bashing area... I think its pretty much if you go to the desert, you are going to encounter camels roaming around :)

One day we went with my SIL and she saw a GMC go up and then down this one hill and she said "Atta GMC!!" (kind of like "go GMC") and then 5 seconds later we heard a lound noise and this is what had happened to that GMC:

all we told her she gave them the evil eye... Alhamdulillah there were no serious injuries in that accident.

Here is one video clip on a busy weekend at Bedayer (Red Dune) --it was windy that day as you will hear  :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Desert in Colorado...

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

 I went dune bashing with my husband yesterday and I will post some desert photos in my next post inshallah.

I just wanted to share a little bit I discovered today.  I have heard that there are sand dunes in one place in Colorado.  I have never been there, and neither have any of my friends/family.  I had not thought about it for years now and just decided to search online about it this morning.

I am in awe with the photos I saw.  Who would have thought there would be sand dunes in the state famous for its mountains, Aspen trees, and Rocky Mountain National Park--full of lush vegetation, river, lakes, and animals.

I was imagining the area would be really tiny but I discovered it is a substantial.  Some of the wildlife include Wild Bison, Elk, Pronghorn, and Migratory SandHill Cranes.  In the winter you can ski on the snow-covered sand dunes with no trees to obstruct your runs (there is one photo here of the snow covered dunes)!   Mashallah!

While I was first looking at the photos I actually got really teary eyed-- my home state is just so BEAUTIFUL Mashallah and I miss it so much!! Inshallah I will be going to visit my family later in the summer  :)  

Here are some photos--I only chose photos that have views of the dunes, the whole area is surrounded by so much nature, mountains, lakes, rivers, etc... for more photos see: Photos (all photos are courtesy of NPS Photo):

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
(by the way,  The traditional Ute word for the Great Sand Dunes is Sowapophe-uvehe, "the land that moves back and forth.")

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why do You Wear Hijab?

why the veil?
you think I failed
that now I'm jailed

for a man?

this fabric

covers hair and skin
protects whats within
from the eyes of sin

2 yards of cloth

do not cover my voice
it was my choice
this duty I rejoice

this hijab

not to disguise
but to emphasize
and be recognized

I am Muslim.

Allahu Akbar

-- Tico

**i"ll use Tico as my ghostwriting name :D

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hijab: The Bond We Share

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

The first time I felt ashamed I didn't yet start wearing hijab was at a cafe with a Muslim friend who wore it. She was getting stares from others and although she could have been more graceful in her confrontation with them, I had no clue what she was going through since no one could tell I was Muslim. I felt how unfair it was to her that she was alone at our table in feeling the negative stares.

It was one of the things that helped push me to slowly start wearing hijab. Shortly thereafter I started to really feel a bond with other sisters who wore it as well.

It was the bond I felt when I was new to wearing hijab--I was so self-conscious of the people who would stare--but all of that would disappear the moment I would see another sister and we would exchange greetings and smiles. Mashallah.

It was the bond I felt while in the London Heathrow Airport, and a sister came to speak to me while I was in the restroom freshening up. We ended up spending about 3 hours together chatting, laughing and having fun while we were both waiting for our flights. Mashallah.

It was the bond I felt in China, waiting for my connecting flight to Japan, where other Muslim sisters and I ran into each other and we greeted each other, and then exchanged some pleasant conversations about where we were from and where we were going. Mashallah.

It was the bond that I felt in Japan, at a subway station, off on the other side of where I was, I saw a group of young sisters, who noticed me at about the same time. Then came the biggest smiles on their faces--you could see the excitement in their expressions--to see another sister, in a country where there aren't all that many Muslims. Although we could only wave at each other, I said "as-salaam aleikum" to them in my heart :) Mashallah.

And it is a bond, while in Munich, where there were many Emirati sisters in hijab and abaya, with whom we exchanged smiles from a distance, and with some, "Salaam aleikum"as we walked past each other. Mashallah

And it was the bond I definitely missed, while traveling in Italy earlier this year, where most days I never saw a women in hijab (in fact I only saw one every few days), in a country where I felt a lot of negative stares (I do just want to let everyone know it wasn't so bad I could not enjoy my vacation there, but it was definitely noticeable.)

It is so nice to be able to easily recognize another Muslim sister wherever you go. The bond may be less enhanced in highly Muslim-populated cities and countries, it definitely is still there. It is the bond of knowing we are inshallah doing it for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we are going through similar struggles and experiences, both positive and negative, in whatever places we encounter each other in.

This post is not to criticize sisters who do not, or do not yet wear hijab. Inshallah Allah gives all of you who are considering to start wearing hijab the strength and patience to do so, and that you will soon get to experience this bond we share. You are strong enough to do it. I know you are :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Funny and unconventional Gift...

mood: angry--allllll at Texan in UAE's description of a hypothetical situation-- talking on the phone at 3am with her :)

**I changed the original wording to say "unconventional" because AstagferAllah, the original word I used showed no appreciation.

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Have y'all gotten an unconventional gift before?

I really really do appreciate it when people give gifts. It is a really nice gesture Mashallah.

But this gift was funny but unconventional LOL:

A rooster!! A woman that has known the family for a while gifted this to us last year Mashallah... that was nice of her... except we didn't even have a farm to put him on (this was long before my BIL bought farmland)!!! We still live in the old-school houses where the courtyard is in the center of the house and the garden area is too small for a rooster to be happy living on LOL

We did find him a good home though Alhamdulillah

Though while he was home for a day and a half, our cat ZuZu did get to meet him:

Final whisper to Texan in UAE: allll I was talking to my step-father and I asked "How are y'all?" and he goes "You moved all the way to UAE and you are now saying y'all? Really? Y'all?"

*note: we do not say "y'all" like the Texans do. we say "You all"


Friday, March 5, 2010

Meet the Crew :)

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, “This dog is suffering from thirst as I did.” So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).”
(Bukhari,Book #43, Hadith #646)

who else reading my blog are animal lovers? do y'all have any pets? :)

I thought I'd share a little tidbit of my life by showing you the pets at our home.

Tora-chan--her mother had her and her siblings up in the roof of our home and we found a home for the other two and kept her :) She is a cutie Mashallah, she tolerates all our birds, hates our other cat and talks back to me when I get mad at her. She gets scared when my husband gets mad at her though.

Next meet: Zuzu, or Zaidane--he just wandered into our yard one day and my husband decided to keep him because he has always wanted an orange cat LOL --that being said I do almost all of the care-taking of him!!! He is a really really sweet cat Mashallah. He tolerates the birds and is afraid of Tora-chan because she has kicked his butt several times since he was a kitten. He isn't afraid of the street cats though.

Meet: KooKoo the African Grey--he is a loud one... loves to talk, make wierd loud noises, and whistle. He is really playful and he gets along with most people... but you have to know his body language to know if he is angry or playful--if he is angry his bites can hurt pretty bad. He is pretty good with me though :)

Here he is right before he got his butt whacked today for trying to chew on my laptop! He gives attitude and talks back when I get mad at him :) When my BIL clips his nails or wings he doesn't speak to my BIL for like a day or two afterwards LOL

Meet: NuNu the Rose-breasted Cockatoo, or Galah- my BIL just found him in a parking area by his friend's house one day. He was real friendly and came to him so we have had him ever since. He is really friendly, playful, and silly. I just realized I barely have any photos of him... most of him are on video, which I will upload some of his funny stuff at a later time inshallah :) --he chases and attacks our cats :)

Meet: Titi the Indian Ringneck--he is my SIL's parrot, she hand-raised him since he was a baby. He tolerates us but has attitude like crazy and tries to bite everyone all the time. He will go to anyone and stand on their shoulder but sometimes will bite people on the face if he gets angry. He eats just about anything while the other birds are more picky.

And last but not least, meet: 3al3ool (alool) , or Looli, AKA Turbo the cockatiel -he is the newest member to our family :) He is still afraid of everyone but he does get on our hands. My MIL calls him Turbo because he runs so fast.

p.s. for anyone thinking of running out to buy a bird or a cat now... please realize it is a HUGE responsibility. Cats are easier...but you do have to deal with litter boxes, cat hair, yearly trips to the vet for vaccinations, and more if they get sick!!

Birds, especially the social birds like parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels, etc... need entertainment and physical activity or else they become very stressed. They need at least 45 minutes of interaction with you a day. They can be very loud when they are stressed, bored, or like our Koo Koo, whenever he feels like it. They need toys that give them activities to keep them stimulated and toys should be rotated because they do get bored.

They won't always like everyone in the home. Sometimes they only love one person and reject everyone else. And they have a longer life expectancy than cats and dogs. For instance, Koo Koo's species can live up to 50 years!!

Please do not get a pet unless you have researched what their needs are and you are sure you can provide for them. :)

"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery