Archive for March, 2010

The title for this post is a verse of Sufi poetry-

  • The most amazing thing that I learned this week is that blogging is addictive. I have so much to say and share-There are so many amazing people around the world, who can add so much value to your life. That the world is indeed small and if I can’t find people that I relate to in my own city- maybe I can find them on God’s world somewhere. My blog is a week old and I am enjoying expressing myself even without an audience 🙂
  • I learned that I have been stuck in rut for 7 years and praise be to my Creator, I’m getting a part of myself back that I had lost among the pile of dirty dishes, the diapers and being an oceanand some away from my parents and siblings. Once my mother said to me (when she came to visit from Pakistan to help me when LF#2 was born) “Beta (my child), you are like a photocopy of your former self-where, did my original go?” Where did I go?

Don’t get me wrong-Being a mother is the most important thing I have ever done in my life. Motherhood is a badge of honor that I wear proudly. I am grateful that I was chosen for this responsibility. But giving up a career to stay at home can consume you. Especially since there is so much lip service is given to motherhood but so little respect. But I have no regrets just happy to say-baby I am BACK!

This weekly post is a part of the  What I learned this week carnival being hosted by Julie this week.

So what did you learn this week?

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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


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


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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I have fallen in love with Shalwar Kamees again- 2010 brings with it long sleeves and ĂĽber long, flowing kamees. Gone are the horrid capris and short shirts – Alhamdulillah. Can only pray that covering witha duppata/hijab becomes fashion one day.

I wanted to share some of my favorites- This is by Karma, black and chunri what more could I ask for except the sleeves-

I adore the length and shape is taking me back t0 the early 90’s. It’s so feminine and NOT raunchy.

Karma at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion week

Here is another one that made my heart sings- I am still FASHION FABULOUS under my abaya

Nayna's Rust Bling Thing

I had never heard of this designer before- here is a link to  an interview with Saman Arif- the designer behind Naynas. The asymmetry in the shirt is an update on an old classic Mughal Princess (Anarkali) kurta , the kaam (hand embroidery) looks exquisite.

This a traditional peshwaas worn by Mughal era women-

The royal lines ran through Elan’s collection- I was suitably impressed by the following outfits- mostly whites. I noticed as I was looking through my cousin’s wedding pictures and the PFDC fashion show- the colors are really muted beiges, nudes and whites – very few bright fuchsias and turquoises- which I adore.  But jewel tones like garnet, amethyst and sapphire were still worn enthusiastically.

Elan was Elegant

Elan Regally White

Maria B Beige & blessed

Red, simple and elegant- this outfit was the showstopper for me.

Kamiar Rokni's show stopper

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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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My husband & I have made a major lifestyle change this year. As we head into our mid thirties, our bodies are changing on us. We were always night-owls ever since college. He would workout at night- the gym is less crowded- less fitnah. Then work on his paperwork til the wee hours of night.  I would even do my grocery shopping at night since taking 3 kids to the store during the day was pure torture.  As a result, I’m ashamed to say we would miss our Fajr  a lot.

This year with LF#3 in pre-school and LF#2 in school until 2:12, leaves just LF#4 at home and he hasn’t hit the terrible twos yet. My husband’s work schedule has Alhamdulillah become somewhat ‘normal’, with the 2:00 am calls diminishing as the hospital’s overtime budgets shrink.

As a result of all of this, we now go to bed by 10:00 as opposed to 2:00.  The other reason for making this change was I am salah-training my LF#1 and frankly it was embarrassing when she asked me all too often why I had not woke her up for fajr.

This poster courtesy of OJS- my brother -in-love

Here is a motivating article on the dawn prayer.

Another how-to for the Fajr showdown

Now waking up before dawn breaks, he still fits the gym in – less fitnah that early in the morning too. My kids haven’t been tardy once since we started.  The best part about it is LF#1 and I are bonding during prayers. It’s quiet in the morning – we talk without her younger siblings interrupting after every word. I know that there will be days when it is not perfect so pray for me.

I am including the yummy breakfast recipe we are making together now that we have time to enjoy them.

LF#1 Fave: Omlette a la Mama

7 Organic Free Range Eggs -one for every person in the family plus one

1 medium brown onion

Olive Oil (for the Sunnah)

Pepper jack cheese- I use the Tillamook brand, its creamy, halal certified, rennet free and the enzymes are microbial/ vegetable based AND made with milk produced without rBST. I love this company, its a cooperative of 110 dairy families.

Here is the link- Tillamook answers cheese questions.

Buy the big block from Costco , shred it, put it in small ziplocs and freeze it

Red Chili powder- a pinch

Sea Salt

Fresh crushed black pepper

Fresh cilantro or parsley (whatever is available)

  • Grate the cheese
  • Cube the onions.
  • Beat the eggs well in a large bowl. The longer you beat it the smoother your omelette will be.
  • Season as desired.
  • Warm your pan (use cast iron)  and coat it lightly with olive oil over medium heat ( don’t use too much oil it will make the omelette soggy & greasy)
  • Saute the onions until translucent
  • Pour the eggs into the pan and cook until the bottom starts solidifying
  • Lift up the pan edges so all the runny eggs flow to the side of the pan
  • Fill the middle with onions, herbs and cheese and fold the omelette.

When we are in a hurry then we just add the onions to the eggs and fry the mixture, flip the omelette and just sprinkle the cheese on top.

Grown up version- add mushrooms & green bell pepper for the hubbie.

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