Saturday, June 19, 2010

Annual Lyndale Avenue Stroll

Today I got to see my very dearest friend, whom I now see about once a year, always around this time. We did what we usually do, and what we will probably do as long as I live in Minneapolis.

We started off with coffee (okay, and a chocolate croissant) and then headed to Steeple People, where she bought an outfit including a belt (this person is obsessed with belts and other leather goods like purses and shoes) and I got two sets of cute cloth napkins for $1.10. I am obsessed with those.

Then we got breakfast/lunch at French Meadow and talked about life. It was lovely.

I love her and always will—I hope we never fall out of this pattern because it is really comforting to know that some things always work out, no matter how many miles we travel away from each other between each of these one-day reunions.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good gravy!

It's been a long time since I posted. I don't even know what is news any more!

Here's what I've been up against lately:
  • Rooming with a wonderful but right-now-carless friend who happens to go to school in White Bear Lake. She is taking a 5-week 7:40 a.m. summer class which meets M-R so yeah, I don't sleep a lot these days.
  • Searching for new apartment for last 2.5 months as plans change. Got mad for a whole new reason today when some lady totally crossed the discrimination line with my friend over the phone and I had to call and give her a piece of my mind. On my roomie's side again.
  • At the same time, searching for new office space for one of my jobs. WE ARE ALMOST THERE, ALHAMDULILLAH!!
On a positive note, I took a totally awesome trip with another good friend to suburban Chicago for a training last weekend and ate some of the best food ever on Devon Avenue. I highly recommend the butter chicken at Sabri. [Their website is a little ridiculous but don't let that discourage you.] However, skip the pakora and save room for the naan dipped in leftover butter chicken sauce.


Thursday, April 29, 2010


Yesterday morning (it is presumed), a very dear member of the Minnesota Muslim community passed away in his sleep, quite unexpectedly. He was young, had a wife and 6 children—one of whom is just two months old. He was a founding member of Abubakar as-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis, the largest mosque in Minnesota and the gathering place of many of my friends. His Janazah, or funeral prayer which took place today, was the largest many of us have ever seen in the U.S. If I had to guess, I would say at least 3,000 people attended after receiving hardly any advance notice. May Allah reward them.

Abdiweli Mohamed Yusuf will be missed, but his mile-wide smile will not be forgotten. We always called him "the tall guy" because most of the board members' names started with Abdi, as most Somali names do, and for a time, we couldn't keep all of them straight. Now, I don't think I could ever forget the name of this kind, jovial, and good-hearted brother.

I have been sad in the last 24 hours thinking about his mother, wife, and kids and the grief they are experiencing right now, but every time I think of Br. Abdiweli, it's his big grin that keeps popping into my head. I guess that's his lasting mark on us, aside from the tireless service he gave to the people at Abubakar for the sake of Allah.

The death of this young, healthy, and happy man is just one more reminder that we are not immune to the will of Allah—that He will give and take as he sees fit. However, we also have a responsibility as members of society to use the knowledge, compassion, and reason He gave us to make the best of our time here as well as use our own free will to make the choices that determine how we spend our time in the hereafter.

People always ask me, "How can there be a God when all of these bad things happen to good people?" and I say, "How can there not be a heaven for them in which to spend eternity?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DMV laffs

This post is just for fun. I had to renew my tabs and I always think the MN DVS site is so funny. Here's the home page image:

This makes me want to drive a Cadillac through a swirly flowchart neighborhood. Slow down when you see pointless gradients, people. It could save a life!!

If you have other funny government-run websites to share, please do.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arabic 3, Quran 1—look out world, here I come!

I started my Arabic 3 class today, which will also have a Quran 1 (reading) class attached to it starting in week 5.

This is like, a major accomplishment for me because these classes are only 10 weeks long each and it's taken me almost two years to get to Arabic 3. I took a session off for Ramadan and other things, then my dad got sick and I missed so many of level 2 that I repeated it last time.

If you know me, you know that I am extremely busy (even if you don't know me, you must have guessed by my posting infrequency) and really don't have time for a weekly three-hour class. However, this blog is all about motivation, so I'm going to list all of the reasons why I want to keep going so that I don't flake out on any more sessions (I don't count helping my dad as flaking out FYI):
  1. I want to read Quran and understand the real meaning—not just the English translation, which is not technically the Quran.
  2. I work for or serve on the board of three Muslim organizations. Since Muslims come from all over the world, the only common language you can usually count on is Arabic. If I am fluent, I will be able to talk to a lot more people, especially East Africans, in my work.
  3. The language is beautiful in the way it sounds, the way it looks, and in its complexity/simplicity—I can't really explain, but I love Arabic.
  4. I am always starting things and not finishing them. I am sick of being the one who gets all excited, spreads that excitement around, and then ends up slowly backing out because I can't handle it/am lazy/lose steam.
I'll start posting about my progress here from time to time, but for now, take my word for it that I know the alphabet and vowels/writing rules, can read words and sentences, and am slowly adding grammar and vocabulary.

Monday, April 19, 2010

For those of us who ALWAYS make too much tea

Okay, I am paranoid when it comes to tea.

I am scared that I will not use enough water and there could be a time when I don't have a full cup. I could measure the water first, but it's just not in my blood to measure anything unless I am baking. I just can't do it! Plus, it feels like a waste to make one cup of tea when I know I can get three or more from one tea bag if I play my cards right.

So what to do with the leftovers? Well, since I make mine spiced with cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (YUMMERS!) which allows me to hang out with the East Africans and Desis, it's pretty easy to make iced chai from this. Some of you already know how this works, so if you have variations to add, please feel free!

Here's how to make awesome iced chai and save $3.75 at the coffee shop:
  1. Boil too much water with one or two tea bags (black... I like English Breakfast but I know the purists will freak out on me for this) and one each cardamom pod, clove, and small chunk of cinnamon.
  2. Let it simmer until it's a nice dark tea color, but not too long—maybe a minute at low boil.
  3. Drink your cup of tea however you like it (I like one spoon of sugar and some type of milk). Try it Desi-style with evaporated milk for extra richness.
  4. There is nothing worse than watery iced chai. YUCK. Pour the leftover tea into an ice cube tray and freeze so you can chill your chai without adding water. Save cubes in a plastic bag so they don't get funky in the freezer.
  5. The next time you have leftover tea (the next day because you again made too much!), store the remainder in the fridge.
  6. When you want iced chai—and you will often in the summer—mix the tea with sugar, milk (my favorite is actually with Silk Original Flavor soy milk), and add some of the tea-cubes.
Viola! Iced Chai. Once you get rolling, you will almost always have some tea-cubes and chilled tea in the fridge/freezer. I really think it's as good as what you can get in the coffee shop and you can make it without dealing with an over-bubbly barista (unless you are one yourself, then that's your problem, not mine).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three-Hour Tour

I worked late (until about 7:00) today, but still, I was able to do the following in about 3 hours after getting home and settled:
  • Went through all my mail and recycled about 10 pounds of flyers and envelopes.
  • Sorted, washed, and dried two big loads of laundry (including rearranging all of my clean top-tier scarves on the drying rack that is their home).
  • E-filed my Federal tax return online.
  • Got mad that State would cost another $37 (I don't remember this last year!) so I deleted it from my return and filled out the return myself using the MN form M1 PDF. It was worth $37 for sure. It is actually kind of satisfying to stuff eight pieces of paper into an envelope and affix three stamps like my mother has done all her adult life.
  • Paid all of my bills (I like writing checks out!)
  • Completed the 2010 Census (I like filling out forms too... see above). I don't really care about the Census at all but it's postage-paid so whatever.
  • Listened to a wonderful lecture on the major sin of gossip by Bilal Assad, one of my favorite sheiukh.
I may be a procrastinator, but I can make things happen when I try real hard.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Soreness as an indicator of progress

This past weekend, I took off for my hometown to help my mom get her house ready to sell ... for the third time :)

Despite a lot of roadblocks and a major fish fry on the deck Saturday night, we were able to do the following in three days:
  1. Clean out the Den/Computer Room/"Courtin' Room" (my dad's name for it) which included no less than a million of the following: Harley Davidson tchotchkes my dad swears are "worth a lot of money"; actual floppy disks including "Mouse Setup II" from like 1992; and VHS tapes, DVDs, and books people drop off for my mom which she never wanted in the first place (I am one of the guilty parties).
  2. Take a load of stuff to the thrift store and only come out with one toy, 3 books, and a "new" desk for the den to replace the awful particle board thing they had.
  3. Scrape the REALLY OLD wallpaper still scarred by cat scratches from a cat we had over 15 years ago and paint/paper the room in a lovely new color with fake wainscoting wallpaper. Trim will come later, according to my dad's promise.
  4. Clean out yet another room full of trash, home decor, and fabric my mom's been saving for way too long. My little sister took it all to the dumpster at her apartment building, so don't tell anyone.
  5. Dismantle another particle board beauty—the entertainment center from my dad's gun room (don't ask) and throw it in the pile to be burned out at my cousin's place (are you getting the redneck vibe yet?).
  6. Scrape poster putty from my childhood room's ceiling. I stuck it there to hang the glow-in-the-dark stars so it's fitting that I stood on a ladder to peel it all off.
  7. Sand and paint the walls and ceiling in that same room that got "fixed" by my sister and an old boyfriend who also wisely decided to paint it a dreadful purple. It's now a lovely Dutch Boy "popcorn" white.
This was all accomplished while my dad, jilted by friends who were supposed to take him away for the weekend, was alternating between providing color commentary on our work, arguing about what we were throwing away despite his assertion that it's all my mom's junk, and screaming at us for accidentally disconnecting his cable in the middle of the 4th 3-hour long classic car auction he'd watched over the weekend.

I want to give my mother credit for not taking the rest of my dad's pain pills and giving up. I also want to give my dad credit for not throwing me out. It was stressful for him and the weekend culminated in my little sister getting a flat tire in his driveway which he had to help her fix with a bad back/jack combo. He somehow pulled it together and finished the job.

Here's to everyone who has ever tried to fix up a 100 year-old house with 55 year-old inhabitants.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010



I am now insured (sort of). There's a big deductible, but let's just say if I get hit by a bus after tripping on my long abaya while crossing Central Ave. illegally from the mosque to the Halal market (there really should be a light in the middle of that street...), no one will have to hold a benefit dinner to raise money for my hospital bills.

Too bad this insurance won't pay for the massage I am going to need after spending my weekend painting the interior of my parent's house.

I am excited about punching out of my 24/7 work and hanging with the fan for three whole days though!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

AWOL for good reason

It's funny that I titled this blog A Gentle Shove, because in the last two weeks, it is exactly what I got. When I left my previous job, my health insurance ended on Feb. 28. I was so busy (and annoyed that Health Partners doesn't seem to support any browser except Internet Explorer (I will save you from rant on this) that I hadn't signed up for new insurance yet, which I am buying on my own.

Two days after my coverage ended, I started getting this stabbing pain in my back, above my kidney on the left. I could barely breathe, and I had no idea what was going on. It came and went, and after a while, I realized it was after eating. Long story short (and a lot of WebMDing, friend chatting goes into the long story) I determined that it must be gallstones. I have been eating poorly since I got so busy.

Anyway, this has been my gentle shove back to eating well. I went to the co-op next door and bought the following:

  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Butter Lettuce (it's so pretty!!!)
  • Watercress
  • Lemons
  • Gala apples
  • Organic grape juice (on sale for $2.69—you can't beat that when it's usually like $5!)
  • Walleye fillet
All of these things are super yummy and super good for anyone. I don't know why it's so hard for all of us to just say no to the Doritos® and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup® ice cream (my "treat" to myself on Friday, followed by the worst pain I ever experienced in my life for four hours straight...).

I broiled the walleye with a little olive oil and lemon and made a delicious salad with a watercress dressing made by pulsing olive oil, lemon, vinegar, and mustard then adding the cress and pulsing again. I even chopped up half an apple on the salad and it was really good.

If anyone else has healthy eating/living/attitude stories to share, please feel free to comment!

p.s. My insurance should come through soon, but I may skip the doctor if this new diet helps!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Palak Paneer, thick pita, and Fritos®

That is all.

p.s. Fritos are Kosher, so everything's ok.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Things I will not miss about my old job:

  • People claiming they have a gifted/mature/talented 6 year-old who just can't possibly take a class in the age group they biologically fit into but must instead jump ahead three years. Also they have hockey camp (in the summer???) during the time of the age-appropriate class so they would miss 4 of the 5 days so as long as that's okay (and we will only charge them for one day) then maybe they will check with Rylan [or insert any other made-up name here] to see if she wants to do it.
  • The Baleen e-mails.
  • Credit Card Detail Explanation Forms.
  • Healthy Benefits updates and that hideous board they are using to post them in a gallery space.
  • Nudie art and similar.
  • Summer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pure exhaustion

After waking up for fajr (morning prayer) at 6:30, it was a nonstop day of car shopping with my friend who is looking to buy her first car. Sandwiched in-between two marathon sessions of driving from lot to lot and sliding around on the ice/in the slushy waters of said lots in inappropriate footwear trying to find a good deal (all while avoiding the skeevy guys who work there), I also had training at my new, new job.

This was technical training on how to manage the organization's website, which is easy enough, but when you are on very little sleep and your toes are still numb from test-driving a car with no heat (seriously, people!), it's hard to concentrate.

We finally gave up at 4:00 and she decided to save some more money so she could afford to buy something not gross.

Am now lounging at home in the East African equivalent to the mumu and loving it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


So most of you know that I gave up my stable (albeit crazy and stressful), full-time job for a part-time position in a growing (read SMALL) nonprofit. It was a big leap of faith, and Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God) it worked out.

I just got an offer for a second part-time position at an organization focusing on providing relief to the Africa and I accepted!

All said, I will make more than at my original job even though the average of the two salaries comes out to slightly less, because it's 40 hours per week instead of 35.

None of that matters. I am going to be doing what I have dreamed of for a long time now—helping two charitable organizations do real work in the areas of humanitarian aid and social services.


OMG, I AM GOING TO GET TO GO TO AFRICA ... This is really too much. I need to calm down.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

So productive!

I managed to work on my first emergency assistance case today for my new job, stop by the office for mail and the noon prayer, interview for a second part-time job (it went well!!), grab some groceries, go to a friend's house for a late lunch gathering, and go snow tubing, all before 9:00 p.m.

Did I mention I slept in until 11:00 today?

Sunday will be action-packed too—I have Arabic class in the morning, tubing trip #2 for the weekend (yes, I am obsessed!), then babysitting my favorite little girl at 6:00.

It feels so good to get out and DO SOMETHING on the weekends, rather than sit around. Now if I could just work cleaning my apartment into this schedule...

Friday, February 12, 2010


I hope I haven't given up on this blog already. I'm just so swamped, it's hard to maintain all of the electronic "friends" in my life. But this blog is supposed to be just for me (and the three people who will ever read it) as a way to just type everything out. So I'm going to try to keep up, if only to retain some sanity.

Working your old and new job at the same time is not advised, but I really need the overlap paychecks to get my financial act together. Student loans, Ruby Sue (my lil' Impreza), and rent are taking a bite outta my chex.

I'm considering moving in with my friend's little sister, who has become my good friend since her sis moved to Saudi Arabia last year. It would be an adjustment to have a roommate, but I think she and I would be a good match. She can't really cook but doesn't mind cleaning, and I am the opposite. I would be able to cut my rent down to less than half of what I'm paying now, but would have to move to the evil twin of Minneapolis.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Those sub-continent peeps got it goin' on!

I've recently discovered that not only are Southeast Asian dishes delicious (I knew that) but they are ridiculously simple to make (if you ignore the grandma methods...) and REALLY good for you (if you avoid the wonderfully naughty cheese called Paneer).

Here's a modified version of what I can only assume is a favorite dish among the Desis. It's high in fiber, protein, and vitamins, there's almost no fat, and it is even better the next day (see earlier posts about leftovers):

Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach and Chickpeas

2 whole sweet potatoes (or frozen cubed)
Medium yellow onion, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained
8 ounces frozen spinach, or large bundle fresh
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs hot Madras curry powder...or more :O
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (tip: always keep the leftover Pho broth!)

In a large skillet or dutch oven, saute the onion on medium heat in a little olive oil with a dash of salt until tender, but not soft. While you're doing this, cook the whole sweet potatoes in the microwave for 5 minutes (poke holes in them first!) or steam them, or bake them...whatever. Let them cool before you try to peel them. Once peeled, chop into 1-inch cubes. If using frozen cubes, skip this step.

Once the onions are tender, add the spices and red pepper flakes, stirring so they don't burn. Add the tomato paste to the pan and let it cook a little before stirring in. Add the chickpeas and coat them with the mixture and cook for a minute or so. Add the broth and the spinach, increase heat to medium-high and cook for a few minutes to thaw or wilt, depending on which type you used.

Salt the mixture and taste, adding more curry or other elements if needed. Add the sweet potato cubes, reduce heat back to medium and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.

Serve over basmati rice or with naan/pita/chapati whatever bread you have.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Watched Some Like it Hot and realized I'd seen most of it on TCM or something a long time ago. I am terrible at movie/celebrity names and am always forgetting.

I love Jack Lemmon though. He's a classic.

This entry isn't very motivational, but I've had a long week. Now to cross off item #1...

Weekend To-Do List

I am going to do at least two of the following:

  • Sleep early
  • Sleep late
  • Watch "Some Like it Hot" before Netlflix thinks I died and that's why I never returned it
  • Hang out with a certain Egyptian lady
  • Laundry
  • Elliptical machine
Yes, I noticed that the less exciting things are at the bottom of the list, but maybe that's because they are fresher in my mind???

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tempting, but...

This blog is also about winning mind games with yourself. I had almost talked myself into going to the middle eastern restaurant across the street from where I have a meeting tonight, and then I realized I had tortillas, shredded cheddar, and vegetarian refried beans.

Quick Blog Fight: Which is better, a quesadilla or good ol' grilled cheese??

Not BTW: My current, and soon-to-be former, job made me love the Oxford comma. Grrr!

Baby steps

This theme must really be coming together because one of my favorite movies of all time is What About Bob?

Some baby stepping I did yesterday:

1. Finally took 2.5 minutes to put in the winter floor mats that Subaru gave me with the car in May. January may go down as the slushiest month on record, but at least I am making some effort.

2. Switched laptop bags to something a little more professional.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Recession Food

So I'm on this new campaign to spend absolutely $0 on food this week, unless it's unavoidable. A misbegotten onion ring purchase during a weak moment at work doesn't count. Anyway, someone else bought those onion rings and I only had 3 or 4, so whatever.

Here's what I've been able to cobble together from my fridge and pantry, which has actually proven pretty satisfying.

Breakfasts this week (3):

Monday and Tuesday I made fried egg sandwiches with some heavy-duty pita (thanks for the tip, Toni!) and Kiri cheese (yes dad, it's made in France!!!).

Today I had just the bread and cheese because the eggs were finito.

Lunches this week (3):

Monday I had leftover sweet potato, chickpea, and spinach curry with rice and some kibbe.

Tuesday I brought a red beans, rice, and chicken dish leftover from Saturday's class, along with some romaine lettuce and chopped cucumber. This is the best part: I made a dressing from the contents of the office fridge—a little mayo ("borrowed" from Betsy), some half and half, salt, pepper, and sugar. My mom's recipe for a simple dressing for greens.

Today I had the last of the curry (thank God that's over—it was amazing, but after like 5 servings...) and some bread.

Tomorrow's all packed up in the fridge: Boca Spicy Chik'n Patty, sharp cheddar cheese, some mayo, and you guessed it, pita. Breakfast will be bread with Kiri cheese and strawberry jam, which sounds gross, but this is cream cheese we're talking about.

I will admit that some of these foods are little on the naughty side, but the super-healthy curry and the high-fiber/low-fat bean and rice dish and salad should even things out. Insha Allah (God willing).


Does everyone post this much when they first make a blog?

It's probably like exercise, which is the one thing I procrastinate the most. For the first few days, I am really into it—cardio like crazy, forgoing 30 Rock for walking to the co-op for Smart Food®, and feeling REALLY GOOD.

Then, something snaps and I go eat a 1/2 lb burger and fries at this awesome restaurant serving halal American food (I know, right?) and everything goes downhill from there.

I mainly started this blog so that I could break this vicious cycle and also support my parents in making some healthy changes to their lives.

Here's hoping a blog will help me in this venture and not just give me one more excuse to sit in front of the laptop!

First big step

I officially gave my notice at my job today. It's a big deal for me, because I have worked and/or studied here (it's a college) for 10+ years now and that's a 1/3 slice of life pie, my friends!

I'm off to a brand-spanking-new position with an organization I love, so it will be a fresh start on many levels. I'm up for the challenge!

One foot in front of the other

Here goes! A blog for people who have great plans, but terrible follow-through.

p.s. I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time, and yes, I do see the irony.