Monday, November 30, 2009

Mothers of Many Share Their Secrets

The Autumn edition of Sisters magazine is out and one of the topics is Mothers of Many Share Their Secrets. I'm featured in this article. You will have to buy it to read it though. Can you guess which one is me? So I guess this makes me famous! Masha Allah.

Sweetness in the Belly

Today is the last day of November so I am assuming that you have all finished the November book club pick. If not then skip this post and come back when you are done, lol. My daughter is still wading through hers and having some interesting conversations with her classmates ie explaining to them what the Kaaba is and where Mecca (Makkah) is. First of all I'll start off with what I like about this book. I like that its about a white girl/woman going through an historically charged time in Ethiopia so that we see the world through her eyes and feel that we can relate more closely. Usually we have a tendency to shut out the world and see things as happening to those people over there. What I didn't like about the book was the fact that the story is based on the sufi practice of Islam rather than Sunni which can really leave non-muslims confused and at times disgusted. She does point this out though but overall I still think they would not really understand why these muslims are doing things that are so unislamic including the cultural things they are doing like chewing qat (drugs). I also didn't like that in a couple of spots there was some haram intimate moments mentioned. For a muslim its an interesting read to see how misguided some muslims are in the world but I wouldn't recommend this book to non-muslims or they would have a very poor estimation of the islamic religion.

Eid Miracle

This Eid instead of house hopping I got everyone to hop on over to my house. The miracle was that I actually cooked and that people liked it and that people asked for the recipe, rofl. So here is the recipe that made everyone ooohhhh an ahhhhh. Hope you like it. Once again its from Company's Coming page 132. The last time I made this was like 7 or 8 years ago. I guess I should dust off my cookbooks more often eh?


It doesn't seem to be showing up so I'll put the recipe here.

Curried Beef

(lots of saucy fruit and beef to serve over rice)

Beef stew meat,cubed 2/12 lbs
All purpose flour 1/3 cup
Cooking oil 1 tbsp
Can of crushed pineapple, drained 14 oz (398ml)
Can of tomato sauce 14 oz
Can of sliced peaches, with juice 14 oz
Medium onion,chopped
Raisins 1/2 cup
Garlic clove, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
Beef bouillon powder 1 tbsp
Curry powder 2tsp
pepper 1/4 tsp
Ground cardamom 1/8 tsp
Ground coriander 1/8 tsp
Ground cumin 1/8 tsp

Coat beef with flour. Heat cooking oil in frying pan on medium-high. Brown beef until no longer pink. Turn into 3 1/2 quart (3.5 L) slow cooker.

Mix next 12 ingredients in large bowl. Stir. Pour over beef. Cover. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours. Makes 8 cups (2 L).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak - Blessed Eid- Selamat Hari Raya Aidil-adha. May Allah accept your good deeds.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Customize your cheesecake!

My son is making cheesecakes (his choice) and the package only has a plain recipe so I went to the website and found this awesome cheesecake customizer option. Its so fun! You choose what you want from the options and then a recipe is generated that you can print out and follow! Show your kids they are sure to love it!

Malaysian No-Bake eid goodies

This eid insha Allah we will be making onde onde and agar agar (when something is said twice in malay it means its plural). Here is a recipe for onde onde.

Onde Onde (Tapioca Balls)

2 3/4 cups glutinous rice flour
1 1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp pandan extract
3/4 cup coconut

1. Blend or process flours and sugar until well combined. (keep the palm sugar separate for later)

2. Combine water and pandan extract in a bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture to pandan mixture to form a firm paste. Roll tablespoons of paste into balls. Insert small piece of palm sugar into the middle and close up the hole.

3. Cook paste balls in batches in boiling water about 5 minutes or until they float to the surface. Remove from water with slotted spoon, roll in coconut.

Makes about 30.
Best made on day of serving, cover at room temperature, do not microwave or freeze.

Tough Muslim Women

If anyone of you were following headlines a few years back you will recognize the name Monia Mazigh and know about the terrible ordeal she went through to secure her husband Maher Arar's release. She also wrote a book about it called Hope and Despair. There is another woman like her from the US and her story is unbelievable since her husband was arrested for being a good samaritan. The book is called Zeitun after his last name. You can read about it here. This is on my must read list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No bake goodies for Eid

Just two days away so we started making some no-bake goodies. First we made Rice Krispy Squares with chocolate rice krispies and halal marshmallows. Next we made the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from Top Secret Recipes and finally the TV roll from Company's Coming.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Deen for little learners.

If you are homeschooling and live in GTA specifically Mississauga ( I can only wish and of course make dua) then you can join this homeschooling group for great islamic activities. If anyone reading this ends up going, please let us know how it went insha Allah. They also have arabic classes for women with the first two classes being free!

From Out-er Space

This a new book by a woman from Kelantan (my hubby's state in Malaysia) that I want to get my hands on (its only available in South East Asia) She lived overseas in Australia and the US so had a hard time adapting when she came back home. I can totally relate to not being able to adapt to Kelantan;I lived there for 4 months and it was more than I could bear. I think the only way to not experience major culture shock in Malaysia is to either be an expat or a tourist. Living like a local is no picnic. Since this book is not available here it makes me wonder how many wonderful books we are missing out on. Also makes me wonder if Kindle or Nook have a feature to download such books as these.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homeschooling mamas need a break too!

Just read this lovely article about a homeschooling mom who makes her own bath products and then gets to chillax! I can't imagine having the time to make these concoctions but if you have time get cracking then get some soothing spa breaks.

My new toy

Sometimes the shoe gets dirty, ok all the time, but housekeeping is a chore. Right? So therefore it should be avoided. It takes a lot to motivate me but this H2O Mop is so much fun! Not only that but its good for the environment which equals good wife/mother and good viceregent rolled up in one! And its fun! Did I just say that? Hopefully the novelty won't wear off but at least my floors will be clean for Eid insha Allah. My floors can wait for another 10 months after that,can't they? What?

Eid Decorations

Just a reminder that my daughter's online shop carries handmade Eid Mubarak banners. She has also added an arabic numbers matching game which would make a great gift.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Writing on the Wall

Iqra is the first word revealed in the Quran meaning read or recite. So I am always appalled by the illiteracy problems in the muslim world. But what about right here in Canada? Well the majority can certainly read but what are they reading? According to the documentary Writing on the Wall by Indigo/Chapters there is a crisis here in our schools. The books are so out of date, worn out and non-existent that the children are suffering. It sounds unbelievable but if you watch this video you will see what is happening in our schools. When I grew up we had a lovely large library in our school with up to date books and a full time librarian and even had to go to library class once a week. These things are mostly a thing of the past with only 13% of schools having librarians now. My second daughter watched this documentary too and verified that indeed the library at her school had no up to date books especially science books. What on earth is going on in Canada? Where are our tax dollars going to? If you are upset click on the link, watch the documentary, then sign the petition and donate to the reading program or just simply donate to your child's school. I never thought I'd see the day when Canada would go so far downhill; healthcare is a mess,jobs are being outsourced,schools are going downhill and libraries are underfunded. Education is the light of the world, don't let the government snuff it out.

Cake decorating kids

This year I took a cake decorating course (Wilton's #1). The teacher let me bring my daughter with me and once I brought my son. My daughter took pictures so that I could refer to my lessons later and she also was my right hand woman, lol. She didn't really get to try anything though and because I don't want her to use my stuff, we got her this for the upcoming Eid. Last year her sister got her a matching hat,apron and baking gloves set and this year a fondant kit. All she needs now is an Easy Bake Oven.

Out of the mouths of babes

Last night we went to a pre-eid sale. There were clothes for sale, food, face painting and henna. So far, so halal but then there was also loud music playing with quetionable lyrics and in the corner a place to try your luck? Luck? My third daughter got up and turned down the music. I didn't tell her to she just got up and did it. I thought someone might get mad but the guy at the next table gave her the thumbs up. Looks like there were others feeling the same way. My second daughter didn't find any clothes she liked (none of them were really appropriate;too thin, too sparkly, too short) so we went to the mall. At one store where we amazingly found a ankle length skirt but for the awful price of $145, my fourth daughter decided to pass the time chatting with customers. She asked the woman what her name was and told her hers. Then the woman started talking to her about Christmas shopping but my daughter told her we don't do Christmas but Eid. So the lady started talking about how grown ups don't eat for Eid for a month but I kindly corrected her and said that was Ramadan and that this was a different Eid to celebrate the end of the pilgrimage to Makkah. Then she asked my daughter what we did to celebrate and so I reminded her to say we go to the mosque and then she said we go to the mosque and then we have an Eid party! Subannallah. Sometimes you think your kids aren't learning anything but then they turn around and change the haram with their hands and do dawah with a stranger (of course under my watchful gaze).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Conservation areas

Apparently homeschoolers often go to conservation areas. I love nature but for some reason I don't think I've ever been to a conservation area although I could be mistaken. All I can ever remember going to are provincial parks which are beautiful and I've been to many, alhumdullilah. But after watching this video it will be on my list of must do's and they even have educational programs. Besides a house of God is there anywhere you can feel such a spiritual high? Alhumdullilah the whole world has been made a masjid for us.

Have you gone to one with your homeschooling group or with your family? Which ones have you been to? Which ones did you love and would recommend?


KitchenAid is offering a $75 mail- in rebate that I thought you would be interested in, until December 31st. I still have my eye on a mixer and with all the sales on now (Walmart and Zellers) plus this, it might just be the best time to get one. Imagine the ease of mixing dough and frosting! Ahh. With all the space it takes up too, it would be a good incentive to declutter my countertops or maybe my island or both!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handmade Beginnings Etsy Shop -Grand Opening

Handmade Beginnings ( my daughter) has opened up her own shop on Etsy with the same name. Masha Allah. She will be making learning toys for children insha Allah. Her first item in the shop is an Eid Mubarak banner just in time to be ordered before Eid. The bright colours and block letters will really appeal to kids.
Check out her shop and be sure to tell all your friends!

Islamic activity pages

I found some more hajj activity pages here and some islamic pages here. If you live in Toronto then you can do these real activities here and here. Today is Dhul-Hijja and the kids will be learning their islamic months from a reproducible in their Eid Mubarak book by Susan Douglas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kindle in Canada

Apparently Kindle is finally available in Canada; I assumed it was already here. Don't know what a Kindle is? Check it out here. I'm not sure if I want one. I usually just get my books for free at the library. I'm willing to pay for islamic books that I can't find in the library or that I want as a reference but I can also lend those out to family members. Kindle doesn't allow lending to another Kindle. Also how much Islamic material is even available to be downloaded? And finally there seems to be no colour so goodbye to coffee table books, magazines and newspapers that are finally in colour. What's your take? Do you have one? Would you get one?

Update: Barnes and Noble is selling an ebook reader now and it has colour and touchscreen features. It called a Nook and you will be able to download books from B&N. Cost is competitive at $259.

Islamic video games.

Sorry folks but there isn't much out there. A great game that we have, is on sale right now though at SoundVision called Abu Saleh. I also found some online games here and here. If you have an Ipod you can download this arabic letters game. A learning game can be found here but its the first I've heard of it so can't say anything about it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eid gifts for kids.

Besides Soundvision one can get kids gifts at many places. One new place I just discovered is this one. Masha Allah everything all under one roof. Other places I have ordered from in the past are Noorart and onlineislamicbooks and Multivisions. Why not get your child an islamic gift this eid?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ramen Girl

Last night I watched a movie which really touched me personally. Its about an American woman in Japan left by her boyfriend who then decides to become a ramen chef. Most sane people would just jump on the plane and go home but not her oh no! There is so much to learn from this movie about eastern vs western culture but also about the human spirit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Juggling Ball craft

Today we went to the library and the theme was juggling. First the kids heard a story and then got to make juggling balls. This is how they did it. First they poured 1/2 cup of rice (I would suggest sand instead as wasting food is just wrong!) through a funnel into a balloon. Then they made sure the rice was all in and squished down. Next they tied a knot close to the ball part. Then they cut off the excess. After that they took another balloon and cut both ends and were left with the middle part which they wrapped around the ball. A third balloon was then used the same way. Multiple colours adds to the fun. Finally they were given sheets that taught them how to juggle and colouring pages of jugglers and shown books about juggling that they could borrow. This could be a great activity for homeschoolers or anyone too for sure. Happy Juggling!

Hajj Season

The hajj season is almost upon us so I will be focusing my homeschooling on that and Eid-ul-Adha. A great social studies book for this is this one by Susan Douglas. It talks about hajj and eid in different countries with lots of activities to reinforce learning. Will also be reading the book The Three Muslim Festivals to them and getting them to watch this movie. After that I will take my teen daughter's advice to implement cooking into the curriculum and get my kids to help out with Eid dinner. Insha Allah. I just found a game to play too. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November Book Club Pick

Hopefully you have all finished reading The Gift of Rain and if so please feel free to comment on it in my former post. For this month I have chosen a book that my daughter has chosen from a group of books offered for her English class. Its called Sweetness in the Belly. This sounds like a very interesting book as it is about a non-muslim raised by muslims. Its also written by a Canadian author. My daughter has a pretty cool teacher; she also offered Three Cups of Tea.

Go to cookbooks.

What are your go to cookbooks? After years I've realized that I keep using the same ones over and over again. Besides the Malay one I mentioned before and Top Secret Recipes I really love cookbooks by Margo Oliver. As a child she used to have a series in the Weekend magazine that used to come with our newspaper. My mother used to make her New Brunswick bread recipe which was like smelling heaven when you opened the door after coming home from school. Another great cookbook author is Jean Pare and her series Company's Coming. She has a new cookbook just out called Inviting Asian Flavours which features Malaysia and Vietnam among other countries. Both of these women are Canadian which is kind of rare in the cookbook world.MARGO OLIVER'S WEEKEND MAGAZINE MENU COOKBOOK

Eid Baking Decorations

More demands! My 4th daughter has asked me to make eid cupcakes. Did you know that there are companies out there that sell decorations for your cupcakes? I don't mean frosting either. If you want to make things a little more festive check this out and this. For other party stuff check out Soundvision. If you want to save some money I'm sure these things could be made at home on your printer then just coloured and stuck on toothpicks.

What Muslim Women want ...for Eid.

I came across this article by a man no less explaining what Muslim women want for gifts. I read through the list and it seems the guy really gets it! So if there are any men out there reading this then take some notes. For the women be sure to forward this to dear hubby. As for me just check out my post on what to get the baker on your list. ;)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Eid- The way it should be!

Insha Allah Eid will be on November 27th this year..Eid-ul-Adha that is or maybe not...gotta wait for the moon that starts the Hajj season..the Islamic month of Dhul-hijja. When I first became muslim Eid was pretty lonely with just the family. Some years I invited other converts I knew. When I moved to another place I found that no one was interested in inviting or being invited and it felt very sad. Now that two of my kids are grownup its like they are the guests and they come and it feels festive. No one should be alone on Eid. If you know someone with no muslim family members or family members only overseas please invite them. Why? Because Eid should be like this!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halal Candy

Its hard when you convert and find out how many things have pork in them, including candy especially if you are just a kid at heart and if you have kids. Its goodbye skittles (I got to eat some at the ISNA conference though and RIS conference), some jujubes, marshmallow cones and candies of all kinds. The hard part is you remember how these taste unlike kids who grew up in Islam unless they have those parents who never bother to read ingredients like the ones who keep trying to give my kids tootsie pops! So its nice to find places to buy halal candies. One place of course is the halal meat/grocery store but be careful sometimes even they might have things that haven't been checked over. Another place is oriental stores which often have Malaysian and Indonesian halal candy. And online there is this new place called The Souq which also sells hijabs and pins. Insha Allah you can still have time to stock up for Eid.

The Story of Stuff

A new art store has opened up here and yes its big news because we've never had one here before. I was talking to the owner about how I like handmade stuff because its more lasting and unique too. For example I just bought a purse and within days the zipper was broken! I just want to buy something and have it for years and just forget about it. I could care less if its in style just as long as I like it and it lasts. So then last night dh tells me hey come and watch this and I'm thinking you are preaching to the choir! My mother taught me all these things since we were small;she was way ahead of her time. This is our role in life; we promised to be good stewards/viceregents. And this ties in nicely with my St.Jacob's post;handmade vs Walmart. I think I should be getting this purse; its recyled and long lasting. Love that her shop is called Rumah Kampung; malay for Village House.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Big muslim families?

According to rumours muslims are having so many kids that they are going to outstrip everyone else. Really? Can someone please tell me where these so-called big families are? Every blog I come across that talks about big families is Christian! Most muslims I've come across limit their kids to 2 or 3 kids. If you do have more they chastise you. Yet these rumours linger. Have you ever seen a blog about big muslim families? If you have please direct me to it. I expect to be disappointed. If you have ever wondered what its like to live in a big family then read this, its from a Christian family but its so true that I couldn't stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top Secret Recipes

I have the book and there is also a site you can go to with even more recipes. I have made the Mrs. Fields recipe and my kids too so many times the page is covered in dough splatters. I also make the Orange Julius recipe and yesterday my daughter made Reese's Peanut butter cups. My daughter forgot the cupcake holders but they still turned out fine. These were yumalish! These would be great for Eid! (why do I keep adding to my eid list?) Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Malay cooking

Cooking is not my favourite thing to do but when I do, I like to make things simple. One of my favourite things to make is rendang. This is eaten in Malaysia but is really considered to be Indonesian. I love to use Asian Home Gourmet spice packets to make this. Along with this I make nasi lemak (creamy rice) found in the Easy Malaysian Style cookery cookbook. They have other asian lines as well as Indonesian such as Vietnamese. If you're feeling adventurous try it out. Oh and be sure to add sliced cucumbers; they help with the heat. A new kid on the block right here in Ontario and hailing from hubby's country are Wau Inc. I haven't tried out their products yet but I have met the owners. I will put it on the top of my list of must buys when I am back in the area. I personally love satay with rice cubes and peanut sauce myself so can't wait to try their's out. I also like onde onde which I sometimes make for Eid.

Canadian Muslim Fashion Stores

Besides Shukr there are a few other muslim stores online in Canada. I don't shop from them because they rarely to never are baby friendly. But those of you who are interested I thought I would post them. In Quebec there is n-ti who also have a real store and in Ontario there is anja. Anja does have one nursing abaya here. Both of these companies have shown their wares at RIS. A third online store is CanadianMuslim. I'm not so impressed with the 3rd one, the clothes are too tight and the website really needs to be cleaned up. There are 2 others that I know of but they haven't updated their websites in years although they are still in business. If you know of any others, please share the links here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yogabbagabba and ya kabah kabah

Cake requests are already coming in from my kids for eid. My 4th daugher who asked me for the Dora cake last time has asked me for a yogabbagabba (plex) cake. Her older sister gave her a plex for eid last time hence the interest. Since it will be eid-ul-adha though I would also like to make a kabah cake. I'm thinking a layered cake using square pans. Gonna have to get that black Wilton's dye though for sure. My older kids have asked for a pokemon cake which actually has a pan so that makes things easier. And there is also this homemade pokeball one.

The Gift of Rain

Yesterday my book choice for the book club was due so I hurried to finish it. Insha Allah you have all finished it too. I chose this book because it is about Malaysia; the homeland of my spouse. The author is chinese and the main character is half Chinese and half British. The story takes place mostly during the second world war. Overall I like the writing style of the author but I did find the story a little dragged out. I learned a lot about the Japanese occupation in Malaysia which was of interest to me since my in-laws lived through this time. Aikido was also a big part of this story and I felt like I had martial arts on the brain all the time due to this book and my kids Tae Kwon Do lessons. Penang Island is the exact location for most of the story and its a place I haven't been to in Malaysia so the description was also very enlightening. Although this story takes place in Malaya (Malaysia pre-Indepence) the emphasis is mostly on Chinese,British and Japanese people. This feels odd because the majority of people has always been the Malays. They don't seem to figure at all in the story though and seem more like wallpaper. I know that they weren't part of the main story but it would have been nice to see a little malay culture or one malay character in the book besides the use of the word lah and a few malay words like makan and a few malay dishes. Next time I read a book about Malaysia I hope to find better malay characters and references. This was a very dark story about a very dark period of time but I liked the conclusion at the end about the meaning of life; it sounded pretty islamic even though it was reached through a combination of Buddhist and Christian theology.

Eid gifts for the baker on your list.

I've always wanted a stand up mixer and after years of going through hand held ones which have fizzled out accompanied by the stench of motor burnout I have longed for one even more. A double oven is also a dream of mine. You can bake a cake in one oven and supper in the other ie lasagna. On etsy I also found a lot of great items that any baking lover would sure to show gratefulness. Check out these finds here,here, here and here. This is also a great find from the Cake Lady. And if you've ever thought of starting a baking group then read this article for inspiration. Imagine, baking as dawah, who knew?

English Roots

Well I'm not English but it is my mother tongue so that is the language my kids speak and in which I'm homeschooling. My father tongue though is French and until homeschooling my kids were going to French school. They are bilingual and for French I use Instant Immersion French Deluxe which has "advanced speech recognition and analysis features". I actually bought this for myself as my parents didn't teach me french but it is so handy for my kids to use too. But I digress. Back to English and its roots. On another blog I found these flash cards for learning the Greek and Latin roots of English words. We also have lots of words from Arabic so I searched and came across this interesting book. But aside from these roots English is made up of so many languages and it is what drives immigrants mad when they have to learn the spelling of them. Scientifically speaking the learning of these roots is a phenomenal boost to the dissecting of words. I will consider getting these as an enrichment activity later in the year when they have covered most of the curriculum and are starting to get bored.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Culture Clash

Socializing with female friends has different parameters in different cultures much to my chagrin. The canadian way is free spirited; stick hubby with the kids in the evening and take off for a coffee or whatever. The immigrant muslim way is get together in the day with your kids at their house. Okay that is what we would call a playdate not a fun time for friends. But they don't see it that way. Apparently when thier husband is home he needs their full attention and there is no gallivanting around with friends. Not only is this not my culture but I also homeschool so it makes no sense. How about weekends? Looks like those are only for your husband too! So you would think why not just find a convert who agrees with me. I can't seem to find any around me for one and a lot of them have been convinced by their hubbies that they should be stuck at home when they are there. I understand spending quality time with your hubby but where do friends fit in? Oh yeah between 10 and 11 am, weekdays only.