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As the end of the year approaches our kids often have class parties, where they exchange gifts with their friends. Sometimes I send in toys or books. This craft was an Eid/holidays gift for my daughter’s preschool class. I painted one on canvas for each child in her class, inscribing their names in English and Arabic. MashaAllah the kids were fascinated, seeing their name in another language and hopefully will carry happy memories of a Muslim girl and her mommy for many years to come. Many of the parents appreciated the time and said they would display these in their kids rooms. All praise belongs to Allah.

This kid was half Indian Half African American

You will need ready made canvas available at Micheals or Aaron Brothers

I used acrylics and distressed glitter glue

First paint the background and let it dry before doing the calligraphy. Be as creative as you want. For some I shaded the background.


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Just read this somewhere

Fact: The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609
pounds per person per year, 3/4 of which is organic garbage that can be composted. Tip: Compost.

Ever thought about it but never followed up because it seemed too hard? I have been composting for the past 7 years Alhamdulilallah- I do it because its good for the Earth and we will be held accountable for our actions- not that I don’t have so many other facets of my life still needing fixin’. It really isn’t that hard, I swear. It takes a little effort.

I take my:

Tea bags

Fruit and Veggie peels and scraps

Egg shells- crush them first

Cardboard egg crates- wet and crush

Wet and crush

Get your kids involved-LF#2 is my composting buddy. She helps me crush up the egg crates and throw it all into the heap.

Crushed egg carton

And put it in THIS

My poor little composting container 🙂

It is just a tall plastic tupper ware kinda container with a cover- I need to get a new one (sheepish grin)

I saw these at the Corningware outlet but LF#2 said it was waste of money- 🙂 $ 29

This one is so beautiful and would fit my kitchen decor.This stainless steel one is available at the container store for 12 bucks-BINGO!

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Friday is a blessed day for Muslims. And this Friday is my day to cook and ‘sell’ lunch boxes at our masjid.

Women who don’t have an income, often wonder how they can contribute to their masjids, especially monetarily. This is a simple way to give sadaqah.  Our tiny masjid was in massive need of donations, as some of our donors had lost their jobs due to the recession. They could not keep up with their monthly commitments. Larger masjids and Islamic centers often have caterers or restaurants sell food to make money for the centers. So we started a lunch box program.

I rallied together  a few women who like to cook and volunteer. We have about 30 volunteers; so each woman only has to cook once in 4 months.  It is a simple and humble effort but Allah (swt) blessed it. Alhamdulillah, we made up the deficit and it is growing every week. We started with 30 boxes and this week we will  make 50.    So far we are averaging  a $175 profit. Alhamdulillah.

How to set up a LUNCH BOX PROGRAM for your masjid:

  1. Get permission from the board or the committee in charge of social/fundraising
  2. Sell during Jumaah, after weekend school
  3. Organize volunteers to cook each week – set up teams of 2-3 so it is not a burden on any one person
  4. Have back up in case of emergency
  5. Make a calendar for the volunteers and post it in the masjid
  6. Ask volunteers to turn in their menu ahead of time
  7. Place the menu in a prominent place
  8. Set the amount of boxes to be made
  9. Advertise- get the word out through your masjid email list and posters
  10. Set a price but ask for suggested donation as it may be illegal to ‘sell’ homemade food in your county/state*
  11. Email/call with a reminder the week before their turn and update them on the number of boxes sold
  12. Set basic rules but give the volunteers creative space-micromanaging turns volunteers off-these are ours:

a) Use proper containers

b) All food should be fresh and zabihah

c)  Include utensils

d) Include dessert and a salad. The lunch boxes are $ 5.00 and  drinks are extra

e)  Be on time

f)   Inform the coordinator at least 2 weeks in advance if you can not cook or arranged a substitute

g) Turn the money over to the treasurer

h) Make dua for the success of the program

For organizational purposes, having one person organize and delegate responsibility to team members makes for less drama and more productivity. The feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie for the ladies is an iman high.  We didn’t realize how many brothers/sisters we were providing a service for. For five dollars, they get a home cooked halal meal. We live in an area with out any halal restuarants nearby, the closest one is 30 minutes away. Some of our customers have sick or pregnant wives at home and they take these boxes home on Fridays as a ‘gift’; to give them a break. Others are bachelors and would have eaten out at a restaurant.

Our masjid is not officially a ‘masjid’, it is a center with a musalla. It is not open for all five salats yet. InshaAllah one day it will be. So the rules of not buying/selling in the masjid don’t apply to us. Check before you all start a program. If any other sisters have suggestions or have run a similar program, I would love to learn from them as well.

*Under California Retail food code a “Food facility” does not include any of the following: (1) A cooperative arrangement wherein no permanent facilities are used for storing or handling food. (2) A private home. (3) A church, private club, or other nonprofit association that gives or sells food to its members and guests, and not to the general public, at an event that occurs not more than three days in any 90-day period.

*A 1996 federal law that, as reported in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “protects all donations made in good faith . . . . The only exceptions are gross negligence or intentional misconduct. A plaintiff would have to prove that a company or individual intentionally tried to harm another person by making a donation of food it knew to be unsafe.”

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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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