July 31, 2011

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan Kareem, everyone! It's tomorrow and last night we put up some decorations. I still want to get some lights and a lantern inshaAllah.



July 26, 2011

Faux-reos

Yesterday, I was in the baking mood, as I often am. I'd seen these on Pinterest several times and decided I was going to try them. They are homemade Oreos.






























Ingredients

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [depending on how sweet you want the cookies, I used 1-1/4]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I don't have that here so I used all butter and it worked fine)
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat to 375°F.
In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass





























Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.(I flattened them pretty good) Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.



I set up each cookie with a same size cookie buddy.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.


























To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.






























I'm gonna say that these, while delicious, weren't really a copy of Oreos. Still yummy and pretty easy to make though. Recipe link here.

July 24, 2011

Video Post: Pin Cushion How To

A little while back I wrote this post on the DIY pin cushion and now decided to make a video tutorial. It's pretty simple as you'll see.


Chip In!


Is this image hard to look at? Well, look at it. Scrolling down or looking away doesn't make it less true. Children like this one are starving to death. The good news is, you can help.

If I may draw your attention to the sidebar. Please donate what you can to help starving people in Somalia. We can all spare something. Even if it's only one dollar, that will make a difference but please donate as much as you can. It's completely secure, by PayPal. Ramadan is upon us and we should give alms, this is a quick and easy way to do your part. Click "Chip In!" to make a donation.

If you have a blog or website please consider asking your readers to chip in as well. Let's just take a small break from the fashion, shopping and humor posts to address this important issue.  Add this widget to your sidebar for this month to help spread the word. Just click "copy" and paste it in to an HTML gadget on your page.

July 22, 2011

Monk






































I love Monk. I don't love a lot of shows, some are ok, some are eh, but Monk is such a good show. It amazes me how the character of Adrian Monk, who is neurotic, obsessive, pretty selfish and annoying can be so lovable!  Now before I go on, I have to say that here, we're still on the last season and I haven't seen the conclusion so please no one spoil me. I'm excited to watch the finale and see how it ends. I wonder if Mr. Monk will ever get to re-join the police force?  If he gets better?  If he gets over his wife's death? It's heartbreaking when the story line turns to his wife and how it was the case he couldn't solve and how he kind of blames himself.

I like that I can watch the show with my kids around. There's nothing explicit or gory. I love the dynamic between Mr. Monk and Natalie but liked Sharona better. Randy is funny but annoying at times and Captian Stotlemeyer reminds me of  Cheif Quimby from Inspector Gaget but that's neither here nor there.

I only started watching recently on re-runs, but now I know why Tony Shaloub got all those Emmys, year after year. He makes Adrian so believable and hilarious. Aside from being funny, you have the great mystery aspect and it always leaves me guessing. It's always interesting to see how Monk solves the case by noticing little things that most people don't.

So do you like Monk?



July 20, 2011

What I Bought

A few days ago I was at Accessorize because I heard they were having 70% off. I've been wanting a bag from there for a long time. Last time there was a clearance, all the bags were snatched up before I could get there. I picked up this one here.





























I chose this one because it's got the long strap so I can wear it across. I like bags that are slings like that since you can have your hands free. Shoulder bags never stay on my shoulders, I must have slope-y shoulder syndrome. Anyway, It's a nice size without being humongous, it's canvas with a lot of beading and embroidery while still being casual. It also has a pretty coral/pink lining :). I'm trying to get away from the "My bag and shoes must match exactly" thing.






























Pretty bird, heart and other little things sewn on the front clinched the sale.































I also got these rings from there. They are sterling silver and I thought they were pretty and delicate/dainty.





























I'd seen this key chain a while back but at regular price it was ridiculous. Yay for 70 % off! From Aldo.

I do love shopping so.

July 17, 2011

Brats



We've all encountered them. The tantrum throwing kid in the store, the ones running around in a restaurant.  The ones that whine and whine until the parent gives in and gets them what they want in the end. Those kids that misbehave and have no consequence. Excuse me while I get judgey:

I'm seeing more and more kids who run their family's lives. The way I see it, parents should be the boss and if a mom's life completely revolves around her child's needs and wants, I think that's a problem. I feel bad for someone who has little to no life of her own and what little life she has, is scheduled around the child's whims. Kids need to learn to be flexible and that what they want, doesn't always come first.

I cringe inside when I see a kid who's running wild and wreaking havoc. Unless she's not bothered, then I'm annoyed. I think Hey lady, get your kid under control. If we're in a nice restaurant and people let their spawn run around and disturb other patrons, I can't help but feel annoyed. This isn't McDonald's or Chucky Cheese. It's not cute.

I recently witnessed a kid ordering his mom to get him dessert because he didn't want to eat the yucky food. He slapped her hands away when she tried to calm him down and she got him cake at the end. Can you believe it? Rewarding the little demon? He's learned that's how to get what he wants and it works. The mom probably feels frustrated, but she lets the cycle continue. If things don't change that kid is going to be even more of a nightmare. Think Veruca Salt.

I don't claim to have the most perfectly behaved children at all times but they know how to behave in a nice place and speak to me and other adults with respect. I do have to note that although a lot of kids here in Egypt are rambunctious and rowdy, (boys especially), in general kids have a lot more respect and appreciation for their parents and elders than kids in the US.  Thoughts?

July 15, 2011

Ramadan, Quickly Approaching

All of a sudden, Ramadan is around the corner. It may start August 1st, depending on the Lunar calendar. That's right about 2 weeks. I really would like to make the intention now, to get the most out of Ramadan both spiritually and in the worldly sense, if that makes....sense.
  • First of all I want to read Qur'an every day, inshaAllah. I always make the excuse that it's hard for me in Arabic, well, whatever, reading in English is better than nothing. I know there are those who are going to be all "well you know, no translation is ever going to be the true meaning..." but I feel it's a step. I want to get one a mus-haf that has the arabic/english and phonetic together. That would be ideal. 
  • Secondly I want to try to observe my fast in a better way. Not just abstain from food, etc, but to be more patient, calm and reflective. I keep telling the kids that fasting includes speaking kindly and all of that and I should be an example by not screaming at them for fighting and so on. 
  • Third of all I want to go all out. I want to make Ramadan and Eid the best, most fun and happy memory the kids have. Remember my post on The Lure of Christmas? Well, now it's time to put it into play. I want us to make traditions. More than the usual ones we always do. I want us to pray jama3a and let them help me make iftar. I'm going to get loads of decorations, twinkly lights and lanterns and it's going to be gaudy. But kids like gaudy. InshaAllah I want Eid to be a big deal.  

It's a humble list, I think and very doable, inshaAllah. So tell me, what do you do in Ramadan that's out of the ordinary besides fasting? Any family traditions or plans of?

July 13, 2011

Insomniac


Well, I wouldn't go so far as to make that diagnosis, but I've been having trouble sleeping lately. This is how it goes:

I'll go to bed at around 1, which isn't very late for me, in the summer. I feel tired. I'll then toss and turn for about an hour. I'll think about the day, think about what I need to do tomorrow. I glance at my phone for the time. I do that, if I sleep now, I'll get 6 hours sleep thing, and since I'm holding my phone,  I'll just check my email. Oh and, while I have it I'll take a quick look at Facebook. Then I end up tapping links and before I know it, it's an hour later and I'm wide awake. I figure, well, since I'm not sleeping, I'm not going to waste any more time lying here. I get up and clean or even bake sometimes. By then it's past fajr and I'll try to go back to sleep. It's light out. I put on my sleep mask. It starts to annoy me, so I take it off. I try to arrange the blanket so it's covering my eyes but I can still breathe. Ok, deep cleansing breaths. After changing positions eleven times, I eventually fall asleep. I'll get about 2 or 3 hours sleep before I hear the kids up. Once I'm up I can't fall back asleep easily. I go through the day kinda sleepy but try to resist a nap thinking: Yea, I'll be good an tired and sleep through tonight, for sure! Nope, a similar version of the night before happens and I end up awake most of the night.

I don't know what to do. I know I should charge my phone on the other side of the room for a start. I've tried counting, warm milk (yuck), pretending to sleep to trick myself. I might try sleeping pills. I go through cycles, like sometimes I'll sleep really well every night and sometimes it's like this. Any advice?

July 4, 2011

Meow

When we were waiting for our van to come take us to alex we heard a cat meowing in a tree. It was stuck. Essam to the rescue!

Here kitty kitty...

Come on...

That's it...

Good boy...

Free!

Thanks guys!

OOH! A STRING!

July 2, 2011

Alex Beach

Last week, I was away. My sister came from the US and we went to go visit my dad in Alexandria for a few days. We had a great time, lots of laughs. The kids had a lot of fun with their cousins at the beach and playing with Grandpa, alhamdulillah.

This image has been cropped to protect the innocent.
This beach was a real, Egyptian beach. Not the beaches we see here in Hurghada. Here you’ll see people swimming in everything from jeans to underpants. You’ll see naked little kids. (I don’t get it either), and women in niqab in the ocean. And the sellers! You’ll find guys selling towels, floaties, sand toys, flip flops, souvenir seashell necklaces, lib (seeds) mango, something called fresca? Apparently it’s a kind of wafer/nut snack. Yea, shopping at the beach! Eman and I had almost as much fun as the kids. The Red Sea, if you’ve ever been, is practically wave-less so the big waves in Agamy were exciting for them.

After Alex, we went to E's home town, Damanhour for a couple of days and it was a nice time. :)