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Archive for the ‘Savings’ Category

Apparently I live in a city with one of the  most significant collections of Islamic art in the world.  Where have I been?

Silver ornament from Turkish soldier's cap


“These widely diverse arts, from an area extending from southern Spain to Central Asia, trace the distinctive visual imagination of Islamic artists over a period of fourteen hundred years. The collection comprises more than 1,700 works, of which some 150 examples are on view; these include glazed ceramics, inlaid metalwork, enameled glass, carved wood and stone, and manuscript illustration, illumination, and calligraphy. Particular strengths of the collection are glazed pottery and tiles from Iran and Turkey ; glass, especially from the late seventh to the mid-thirteenth century; and Persian and Turkish arts of the book.”

LACMA Acquires Islamic Art – Los Angeles Times

AND guess what I have for you a printable 2 for price of 1 admission coupon to visit the Museum but it expires in April, 2010 so make the trip.  LACMA COUPON

I am planning mine as I write this. Maybe I will have LF#1 do some research before we go there- she is an ‘artist’ Mama.

Geometric Pattern Bowl

Tile

What I am most excited to see is the Aradebil

The lessor known secret Ardabil rug

This is the second “secret” carpet of the pair. Sacrificed to repair its magnificent twin at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Smaller, now borderless, and made up from the remaining usable sections, was sold to American businessmen Clarence Mackay and was exchanged by wealthy buyers for years. “Passing through the Mackay, Yerkes, and De la Mare art collections, it was eventually revealed and shown in 1931 at an exposition in London. American industrialist J. Paul Getty saw it, and bought it from Lord Duveen for approximately $70,000 several years later. Getty was approached by agents on behalf of King Farouk of Egypt who offered $250,000 so that it could be given as a wedding present.

This couplet grace the carpets above the signature-

I have no refuge in this world other than thy threshold
My head has no resting place other than this doorway

-Hafiz


The Ardabil Carpet

“The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is fortunate to possess one of   renowned Persian carpets, the so-called Ardabil Carpet, whose better-known mate hangs in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.”

I remember visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum as a child, holding my Aboo’s hand as he made sure we understood the history each mystical artifact.  The ‘Arabdil’ was the magic carpet in my 8-year-old eyes.

“Brought to England sometime in the late nineteenth century, the carpets were
reported to have come from the Safavid shrine at Ardabil. There is still a good deal
of speculation about where and for whom such sumptuous court carpets were
commissioned. The outer borders and a section of the lower field were believed to
have been removed from the carpet now in Los Angeles in order to repair the one
now in London. The Los Angeles carpet was subsequently given a new outer
border. Apart from these differences, the two carpets are virtually identical.

According to their dated signatures, this matched pair of carpets were made in1539–40, by a certain Maqsud of Kashan, who may have been the designer who prepared the patterns and oversaw the project; or he may have been the  commissioned the carpets. Predominantly blue, red, and yellow, the overall composition of the carpets—based on a central medallion with  radiating pendants,with quarter medallions repeated in the corners—is ultimately derived from contemporary and earlier bookbinding and manuscript illumination, as is typical of many so-called medallion carpets. The Ardabils, however, include a unique design element in that lamps are depicted projecting from the top and bottom of the central medallion. Medallions and lamps are set against a dense field of flowers that grow from scrolling leafy vines.”
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For the first time in my life I am a part of a committee as in BC, DC , kitty party. What is a BC? you make ask. A group of women gather together to pool their money into a ‘fund’; every one puts in x amount of money into the ‘pot’ ie. $500. One lucky sister gets the to take the kitty home. ( Every month a different woman takes the money until the round in complete)

Here is how to set one up -

  1. Gather like-minded women you trust- usually works well with at least 12 women- one for each month
  2. Decide the amount of the “fund” ie. $12,000
  3. Decide the amount of contribution. For example- if the fund is 12,000 then the participants can choose to give the whole $1000 a month and take $12,000 when it is their turn OR they can have a partner and contribute $500 each and take $6000 when it is their turn.
  4. Appoint one coordinator who reminds people of the dates and amounts. This person is also in charge of gathering all the checks and giving it to the lucky sister.( Don’t do cash, as its harder to take care of and bills may turn out counterfeit)
  5. Decide at the beginning of the session who will receive the money in which month either by lottery or by request.
  6. Decide a fun activity for the participants to do when they get together ie. In our BC the gal who gets the “fund” hosts a dinner at her house. Others go out to restaurants or have speakers come in or take a class together whats ever works.

It is a great way for ladies to socialize and save some money. Women can also ask for the kitty at a time when they most need it ie. an upcoming wedding in the family, vacations, a trip to the ‘maikah’ (their parent’s home) or any other reason when they don’t want to ask their husbands for spending money.  This tradition is very common in the subcontinent. Credit cards are a very new phenomenon in there. And bank loans for women who don’t have a steady income are non-existent. So from the villages in Gujrat to the mega city of Karachi, women from all strata of society indulge.  One friend of mine renovated her kitchen with the money. My neighbor asked for the first take and bought a car – INTEREST free and paid it off in a year!!

I had my reservations at first. Why do I need to do this? I can always get an interest free credit card and buy what ever I need or just try to save some money in a drawer. That reminds me of Maasi- my mother’s maid, who saves her money under her mattress only to have her druggie son steal it. I have dual degree in Accounting and a BBA I should be able to save money in a bank account somewhere!!  But I know myself- I am not good with cash, I ‘ll lose it or spend it or give it away (when I feel guilty). Credit cards never give me the feeling of accomplishment – mostly I make impulse purchases and later get buyer’s remorse. Thank God for my husband’s policy of paying off credit cards at the end of the month. I think when you save up for something it means more to you. It has VALUE.

The choice I had to make was should I ask to receive the money at the beginning or at the end. The beginning would work well for people who have a hard time getting a loan or even a credit card. I decided the end will work for me; this way whatever I buy or save for will have value because I actually waited for it for a whole 12 months instead of the instant gratification we all have become accustomed to.

Anyways, since I am the lucky sistah this month, I get to host the party at my house. All ladies means No hijab!   To offset the gossip fest and to remember God when He blesses us – I asked a lovely sister to speak. Maybe we can make zikr together… Alhamduillilah (Praise the Lord) now I don’t have to stress about my sister in law’s wedding in July- I saved up enough for the tickets to the East Coast, her wedding gift, and shopping!! Now to cook some Persian food…

Here is my menu :

Pita Chips and Hummus (Not really Persian but it’ll do)

Herb Salad with Pomegranate with Tahini dressing

Herb Salad with Pomegranate with Tahini Dressing


Kashk-e Bademjan based on my favorite Persian restaurant in Sacramento- Scheharzade

some people like it chunky but I prefer it really smooth and smothered in Olive Oil.

  • 6 small eggplants, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped (dried mint also works here)
  • few cloves garlic
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 cup of  kashk- this is whey- I buy the B.B. brand from small Persian store called Mom and Pop’s Deli
  1. Roast the eggplants in their skins until they collapse- I do this in our BBQ to give them a smoky flavor or you can use a touch od liquid smoke in the oven; peel, then proceed as below
  2. Fry the onions until golden brown.
  3. Remove all  but two tablespoon of the onions from the pot.  Add the mint to the onions. Continue to fry until the mint is fragrant, and the onions are medium-dark brown and starting to crisp a bit. Remove and set aside; use this for garnish.
  4. Add garlic until it pops. Return the rest of the onions and eggplants to the pot. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt & pepper (the kashk is quite salty, so be careful).
  5. Use a mixer, mash the eggplants until smooth
  6. Add one cup of kashk, whip until mousse-like. Re-season, if necessary.
  7. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and the fried onion/mint mixture.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature with pita or use as a delicious side with your koobideh and tahdig.
Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh
( Dr. Z’s, my mum-in-law’s best friend who spent quite some time in Tehran as a newlywed taught me how to make this but I added my twists to it – ofcourse!)
Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh

Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh

and finally my habibi’s favorite Koobideh Kebob -

Koobideh Kebob

That is recipe is another post by itself since it has evolved over the course of my marriage.

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