Friday, November 16, 2012

Transitioning to a Real Food Diet

I have always been interested in real food.  I never really knew where to start though.  My journey finally started about a month ago mostly by accident.  Last month I ended up with a failed batch of yogurt. Instead of throwing it out I reheated the milk. I had planned on adding vinegar to make farmers cheese but before I could the milk curdled and separated. I separated the curds from the whey.
So the dilemma was what to do with all of that whey? So I turned to the real food guide book Nourishing Traditions by: Sally Fallon. My first baby step was using the whey to soak legumes. We had been eating a lot of them because of my grocery budget. My mom has trouble digesting beans so I hope this little step helps.
I have also been doing some experimentation with fermenting. Lacto ferments are high in probiotics and so good for you. My son is an extremely picky eater. But like every kid he loves his ketchup! I tried the lacto fermented ketchup recipe from Nourishing Traditions. I figure that I could get some extra nutrients in him through condiments :).
I started soaking my grain and flour. Baby step #2! I have my sourdough starter bubbling, some soaked pizza dough in the freezer, and last night made some oh so yummy soaked pumpkin muffins. Today I plan on making sourdough crackers.
I am trying to make small changes but more importantly to be consistent!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cutie Camo Shorties

I have been working on these little shorties for a while now.  This project went into hibernation once I realized that they weren't going to fit BB. I have always have sizing issues when it comes to crochet *sigh*.  After debating frogging these little shorties or not I decided to keep going and finish this project!  I am really happy that I did. They came out great!  I used wool alpaca blend yarn from my stash.  The pattern is Cutie Patootie Pants from the book Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers by: Linda Permann
I have these listed in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October Debt Diet Overview

After one month on my debt diet I was able to pay off one debt in full.  I owed $278 for my root canal from last year and now owe nothing. Yay! I didn't get as much of my debt paid down as I would have liked but, because of all the money that I did save I am going to be able to pay down more this month.
As far as my goal of not spending any money I did alright.  The first two weeks I didn't do any shopping. Towards the end of the month with Eid and everything I slacked a bit :( 
I did manage to only make two shopping trips to the grocery store and only spent around $200 for a months worth of food! We usually spend that much in a week.
And last but not least... I could probably count on one hand how often I went out for lunch. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Our Autumn Nature Table

I absolutely love our autumn nature table.  Every time I walk past it I just want to smile.  It is an area of peace and order in my sometimes chaotic home.  I have it set up on a short bookcase in our upstairs hallway across from BB's playroom.
Since Eid is this month, I wanted to incorporate some Eid decorations. On the left I put a centerpiece with a picture of a mosque that says "Happy Eid" in Arabic. 
On the right I have a wooden tree stacker and a glass squirrel.
What is autumn with out some apples and pumpkins.  I needle felted these last year.  I just love how they came out. 
BB and I wet felted these acorns last year. I am missing a lot and hope to make some more this year.  That fluffy stuff there is a milkweed seed pod that we found on one of our nature walks.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What a Day!

Today was such a busy day. I was fasting and intentionally made myself busy so I wouldn't notice my hunger. It worked. Today was my husband's cousin's birthday. I made her a big feast. We had a homemade Boston Market dinner. Chicken, spinach, corn, mashed potatoes, Mac N' cheese. It was all so good! I made her a beautiful chocolate tiered cake with vanilla frosting. Yum!
Ozlem with her Birthday Cake
I have been craving pumpkin cheesecake for a couple of days now. Today was my cheat day from my diet so why not make one. I used a butternut squash from my garden. It was so yummy. I am going to freeze the leftovers for next week's cheat meal lol.
"Pumpkin" cheesecake
As with anytime I cook a squash I had to roast the seeds for my husband. He absolutely loved them. We were down to our last quart of yogurt and running out would be a *catastrophe*. So I heated up the milk. When I remembered to check on it the milk was kind of cold. Lets see if the yogurt sets or not. That is one bad thing about multitasking.
Yesterday we defrosted our chest freezer to make room for meat in the hopes of doing a Qurbani. Inshallah. When I was consolidating everything I found some ground turkey, roasted tomatoes (from my garden last year), and onions. I threw all of that into the crock pot with some pinto beans. I will be having chili for lunch tomorrow!
I made a double batch of laundry soap today and ended up with 5 gallons! I won't have to worry about running out anytime soon.
After dinner in a panic to get everything ready for Eid I took on some of the projects I had planned. I dyed 3 play silks to give BB as a present for Eid. They came out ok for my first attempt. I am hoping to do some more colors tomorrow.
Playsilk in dye bath
While we were waiting for the dye to set me and BB got to cross off another project from my list. I had been wanting to make a replica of the Kaaba to use as a teaching tool and as a decoration for Eid. Last week I got a box already to paper mâché. We paper mâchéd it tonight and I am hoping to have BB paint it tomorrow.
BB gettin'  dirty with some paper mache.
Wow that was a lot. I am tired! It is amazing how much I can get done when I actually put my mind to it and focus! Tomorrow I have another busy day ahead of me. I think I might need a nap first.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Felt Pumpkin Tutorial

This is a tutorial for a needle felted pumpkin perfect for your autumn nature table.

You will need:
barbed felting needle
orange or white wool roving for pumpkin
green or brown wool roving for stem
orange thread
sewing needle
felting pad

1) Take some orange roving and roll it up like a jelly roll.
2) Take your needle and felt slightly just to hold it together. Pull the sides up slightly and felt them to the top to form more of a ball shape.
3) Start Felting.  Poke the wool with your needle until it is relatively firm and round.
4) Optional: I like to add a second layer of roving just to make the finished product look smoother.  Roll ball of wool in a thin layer of roving.
5) Repeat steps 1-3.

6) Thread a sewing needle with orange thread. Insert it into the center of the pumpkin from top to bottom.
7) Bring thread around and insert needle into the same place on the bottom.  Pull slightly.  Repeat all around.
See how it makes a ridged look.
8) Tie and cut remaining thread.

9)Take a small amount of green roving for the stem.  Roll it like a jelly roll and felt the top and sides while leaving the bottom of the stem unfelted.

10) Place stem on the center of the pumpkin.  Attach the stem by felting the bottom of the stem (the part that was left unfelted) to the pumpkin.  Felt until it seems securely connected.

I forgot to get a picture of the stem till is was almost attached to the pumpkin but, you can kind of see the unfelted part here.
11) Optional: Needle felt slightly along the thread to make the ridges more defined.

Tah-Dah! A beautiful felted pumpkin!
Needle felted pumpkin and gnome. 
I am donating the pumpkin from this tutorial and this little needle felted gnome for my local  Attachment Parenting International chapter's fall fundraiser this weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Baby Crochet

My dear friend Sherise had her little girl yesterday. I whipped up a cute little hat and pair of booties to send her. I was having a hard time deciding what to make since most of my yarn is boy colors and the only girlie colors I had were in wool or alpaca. They live in Georgia where it is hot most of the time so wool wouldn't do. And I couldn't just go out and buy some more yarn since this is a no spend month for me.
So I looked through some patterns I had and came across an adorable hat pattern that actually made blue look feminine. Luckily I had all of the yarn I needed in my stash. For the booties I ended up using more gender neutral colors (green and yellow) that matched the flower on the hat. Everything came out so cute! I love little crochets for little girls!

Friday, October 5, 2012

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama : {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Karniyarik is a stuffed eggplant dish.  It is my favorite Turkish meal! On my last trip to Turkey I finally learned how to make it.  It is hard to find the right size eggplant here but, the ones from my garden were perfect!
Peeled eggplant from the garden.
I don't have an exact recipe just yet. Rather a method.  You need small eggplant for this. The baby or Japanese kind are best.
First peel the eggplant leaving stripes of skin on.  Make a slit with the tip of a knife. You are now ready to fry these babies whole.
Once they are soft and cooked through put them aside to cool. While they cool make the filling. I used a little less than a pound of ground beef for 5 small eggplants.  First saute one chopped bell pepper and one onion in a little oil.  When the onion and pepper gets soft than add the beef to brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Open the eggplants where the slit is and spoon in the filling.  Place in a baking dish.
Mix together some tomato paste and water (maybe a tablespoon of paste to a cup of water).  Pour into baking dish.  The liquid should come to just below the top of the eggplant.  Bake at 375 until the liquid has reduced by half.
I had forgotten to take a picture of the finished product when it first came out.  I took these out of my husband's lunch box before he headed off to work.
I served my karniyarik like this with a side of Bulgur Pilav and salad.  I have had these served with a slice of tomato and hot green pepper placed on the top of each eggplant before baking. Maybe next time I will try it like that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Debt Diet

Unfortunately over the years we have gotten into debt. Since we are a one income family it has been tough paying down what we owe. We are not very extravagant but still need to find more ways to cut back on spending so we can eventually be debt free Inshallah.
The game plan is to make October a no spend month. We like to eat out about 2 times a week and I probably get lunch out more than that. If I start eating at home I could probably save about $100 a week. That is $400 a month! That is my car payment!
Yesterday I took an inventory of what is already in the freezer and am trying to make meals out of what's already there. I will be doing my grocery shopping this week, which will include what I need for the whole month. But after that no more spending for the rest of October. I do have some exceptions though. I can buy milk, eggs, oil, flour, sugar and bread if we need it. Things can be purchased with coupons and gift cards. I hope to save about $150. All money saved this month will be applied towards our debt.
I have always heard that the first step in taking control of your finances is to actually see what you owe.  Well this morning I checked both mine and my husbands accounts and added everything up.  I was shocked at how deep we are in debt.  I honestly didn't think it was this bad.  OK so between credit cards and hospital bills we owe $10,966.13.  The car we still owe $17,976.97.  I owe my mom $3,270 and I think my student loans are about $7,000.  I am not even going to bother adding our mortgage.
Fortunately we are refinancing our mortgage this month and will be saving another $300 a month YAY! I already stopped going to the chiropractor and getting electrolysis which is saving me $250 a month.
Wow! I am overwhelmed, but I am excited to see how much I can get these totals down!

In Tirmidhi a hadith is narrated that:
"Whoever dies free from three things arrogance, cheating and debt will enter Paradise."

Friday, September 21, 2012

{this moment}

Inspired by Soulemama : {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making the Most of the Harvest : Butternut Squash

This was the first year that I ever grew butternut squash.  I am pleasantly surprised at how well they did.  We got soooooo many squash.  I should have enough to hold me till next years harvest. YAY!
Some of this years harvest.
In my attempt to make the most out of what I had grown I picked all mature butternut squash, immature squash, and squash blossoms. 
I quickly got to work. I cleaned the mature squash and inspected them for any damage. I wiped down all of the squash with a diluted bleach water mixture to prevent fungus. I now have them curing for winter storage.
There were a couple of squash that were slightly damaged and needed to be used up right away.  I decided to make some crock-pot "pumpkin" butter. Yummm!!
This "pumpkin" butter is so good.  The recipe made enough for a year with some to give away as gifts.  I am bringing a container to my sister next week.  I decided to freeze small containers instead of canning.

I scooped the seeds out of the squash from the "pumpkin" butter and roasted them up with a little salt. Instant protein packed snack.
The immature squash will be used like a zucchini.  I think I want to make zucchini appetizer.  I just need to get some Bisquick. 
Fried squash blossoms and one lone eggplant.

The squash blossoms I stuffed with a bread crumb cheese mixture and fried'em up Delicious!!
These were sooooo good!
Look at how many things can be made from a single crop.... And that is why I *love* butternut squash! 

The Barn Hop
   Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Saturday we celebrated BB's second birthday. He is no longer a baby. He is now a little kid. It really is amazing how fast the time goes by. How do I have a 2 year old? I still can't wrap my brain around that lol.
We had such a fun weekend. Friday my sister was in New York for work so me and BB treked into the city to meet her. BB is currently **obsessed** with trains. So we took the train into the city as an added bonus to his pre-birthday celebration. He was completely mesmerized. I was actually able to get some crocheting done. It was marvelous!
We meet Auntie Em for lunch and then headed over to central park to go to the zoo. BB absolutely loved feeding the alpacas in the children's zoo... it was so cute. He feed them one pellet at a time and would giggle and clap after each one.
Look at that smile!
Saturday we decided to go to a local amusement park. He went on everything. The scarier the ride the bigger he smiled. He is quite the daredevil.
Driving his taxi.

Ride'em Cowboy.
 My father came over for dinner and cake but BB was so exhausted from the park that he slept the whole time grandpa was here.
We made a choo choo train cake just like the one I had when I was little. It wasn't perfect but it did look so cute.
What a wonderful birthday weekend for my little boy.  He is growing up so fast.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BB's Birth Story

BB's birth was very traumatic and I try not to think about it to much, since every time that I do I cry.  But since Saturday is BB's birthday I can't help but think about that day two years ago. 
September 14, 2010 I was 40 weeks 6 days pregnant.  I went to my weekly midwife appointment that morning.  At that appointment my blood pressure was slightly elevated. I had a fetal non-stress test and was contracting quite regularly but was not in active labor.  Since I was past my due date and my blood pressure was elevated the midwife advised me to make my way to the hospital to be induced.  I was so upset.  I wanted to go into labor on my own, I wanted to labor at home.  But I was scared and excited and decided to follow my midwife's advice and went to the hospital. 
I got to the hospital around 1pm and was 3 centimeters dilated. The nurse took some blood and urine to test for preeclampsia.  Then she hooked me up to monitors to track my blood pressure, contractions, and fetal heart rate.  I got an IV and was started on pitocin.  About 3 hours later the nurse came in and told me that my labs came back negative for preeclampsia.  About 2 hours after that their was a shift change. 
The new midwife decided that it was safe to change the blood pressure cuff from taking my pressure every half hour to every hour.  I stood next to my bed to have gravity help but kept getting in trouble because the monitors needed to be readjusted.
When I was in labor I lost all sense of time but probably around midnight the problems started.  Every time the blood pressure cuff was supposed to check my pressure it would just keep inflating and deflating about 15 times for 5 minutes.  I told the midwife and nurse.  They would come in push a few buttons and say everything was fine.  At one point I insisted that the nurse take a manual reading since I didn't think the machine was working right.  She said it was good. 
The midwife was concerned that the monitor tracking my contractions was not working properly and suggested an internal monitor.  I agreed.  At that point I was no longer allowed out of bed.  I needed to use the bathroom but was told I had to stay in bed and I could only use a bedpan.  I couldn't go.  I thought it was because of the bedpan.  After about an hour the nurse put a catheter to empty my bladder.  A couple hours later the same thing happened.  But the nurse said the internal monitor wasn't working so I could get up and use the regular bathroom, but no luck once again so she put another catheter.
At one point my legs started shaking uncontrollably and the midwife said that's the sign of a good contraction.
I had taken a Lamaze class while I was pregnant and used the cleansing breath to get through my contractions. I felt like I was in a trance.  I was able to sleep through most of my labor.  With every contraction I took a deep breath and while inhaling I said in my mind "The contraction is rising, getting stronger almost at its peak and now it's subsiding" and exhale.  I also used the mantra "This too shall pass" lol.  It helped. I didn't receive pain meds or an epidural.  I was trying for a natural birth.
At around 7:30 September 15, 2010 there was another shift change.  The midwife on call was the same one that I had seen in the office the day before.  She said "Let's get this labor moving" and turned me onto my side.  At that time I felt an enormous surge of pain.  I was almost in tears.  The nurse was next to my bed and said "That was some contraction".  That was the last thing I remember.  I don't know what exactly happened after that.
The rest of my son's birth story comes from what my mom and husband have told me about that day.  My husband has not told me everything and said he can't because it is too upsetting.  I want to know... but sometimes I think I am better off not knowing.
My mom, my husband were in the room at that time.  They said I became stiff. My husband said my hands were clenched and he tried to open one of them but couldn't.  He left to get help.  Within seconds every nurse on the floor was in my room.  The midwife checked me and I was at 10 centimeters.
The anesthesiologist kept saying "I can't give her anesthesia  she is not are you going to get a tube down her throat she bit her tongue". I was wheeled out of the room.  My mom and husband were told to wait in the waiting room. 
I had a seizure from my blood pressure getting so high..  My husband said at the time of the seizure my blood pressure was 180/?.  He doesn't recall what the bottom number was.  During the seizure I bit my tongue.  It swelled up and closed off my throat so I could not breath.  The swelling was so bad that the next day I was only able to eat oatmeal... everything else was too hard to chew. 
No one was there for the birth of my son.  We can never be sure what happened.  I had an emergency cesarean section.  BB was born at 8:15 am on September 15, 2010.  Because I had stopped breathing while BB was in utero he was deprived of oxygen.  When he was born he was not breathing.  He had to be intubated.  He was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (low oxygen and low blood flow to his brain). His blood pH was 6.7 and he had sepsis. So the little bit of blood that was making it to his brain was severely acidic and infected.  He had seizures shortly after being born. He had suffered injuries to his brain and was a candidate for head cooling therapy.  Head cooling is medically induced hypothermia it gives the brain a chance to heal.  He received the head cooling for 72 hours.  During that time he was not to be stimulated in any way.  We were not allowed to feed, hold not even touch our little boy.  That was probably the hardest. 
When I woke up after my surgery I wasn't told that BB was born but I guess mother's intuition kicked in because I just knew that he was born.  I had remembered that it was important to breastfeed within the first hour after birth.  I tried to ask my mom, she was next to the bed, to bring the baby so I could nurse but no sound came out.  I was intubated and could not talk.  I tried to show my mom what I wanted by grabbing my breast and then pointing to my mouth.  All she could say was "Everything is OK just relax".  I feel asleep shortly after that.  My mom said I started to get annoyed and was pulling on the tube so the nurse sedated me. I was in recovery in the ICU.
The next time I woke up I was in a different recovery room and no longer had the tube. I was on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures.  I remember random things.  I remember complaining that I couldn't keep my eyes open and that my lips were dry. 
My husband took some pictures of BB on his phone and showed them to me while in recovery.  I was already in love with my little boy. 
At 3 am September 16, 2010 I was moved to a room.  But before going to my room the nurse put me on a little bed, the only bed that would fit through the door of the NICU, and brought me to see my baby for the first time. I am so grateful to that nurse.
BB came home on September 25,2010.
I have both smiled and cried while writing this,  thank you for letting me share my story.
Happy 2nd Birthday BB!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Felt Birthday Crown

I am linking up to Tricia's Stash Bash and Frontier Dreams Keep Calm Craft On.
I have been preparing for BB's second birthday! I can not believe he is going to be 2!! Craziness!!
I just love the idea of a special birthday crown and have seen quite a few in the blogosphere.  I rummaged through my stash and found the yellowy gold piece of felt that I had made. I realized that it would make the perfect crown.
I needed extra length so I cut the square in half and sewed the two pieces together to make one long strip of felt. My impatience got the best of me and I ended up cutting the crown design free hand, with no pattern late at night with the dullest scissors ever.  So it is perfectly imperfect which I love.

I ironed and blocked the felt to help flatten it out.
I wanted to add some of the same elements that are going to be in his birthday candle ring.  I needle felted a tree and mini toadstool onto the sides of the crown with a big "2" front and center.  I used all stash roving that I had left over from a wool knotting class I took last year.
I added a little hill to the bottom of the toadstool so it wasn't floating in mid air. I added dots of color to the tips of each point and all around the body of the crown. I wanted to keep it simple. I love love love how this came out.  It is so cute! I have already started planning next years crown. 

Finished B-day Crown

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My First Attempt at Wet Felting

I have been kind of obsessed with wool lately.  I just love how it can transform into so many things. Wool can be very magical. I would love to try my hand at spinning one day but for now I decided to try a little felting. I have a couple of projects planned with sheets of felt and the polyester stuff won't do.
I had some BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) roving in my stash. I planned on only using the yellow but after layering small tufts of wool, there were still some thin spots. I filled in the holes with some of the lovely robins egg blue roving. I used a rattan blind to full the felt but I have read that bubble wrap works just as well.

 BFL roving from my stash .

 After 20 minutes of rolling and lots and lots of hot soapy water here is the finished piece of felt!!


It really is amazing how something so soft and fluffy can tun into something so strong and flat.  For my first attempt I am really pleased with how it came out. I can't wait to make more!
I have a very special project in the works using this felt. It's top secret!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Eid Mubarak!!!

Saturday was the last day of Ramadan so Sunday we got to Par-Tay!!!  I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Eid and I hope that all of our fasts were accepted. Inshallah.  Luckily Eid fell on a Sunday this year so my husband didn't have to worry about taking off from work or anything.  My husband went to the masjid for eid prayer in the morning and then we spent the rest of the day home. 
I made a big dinner with roasted chicken and potatoes which came out delicious.  We had stuffed grape leaves, salad, soup, rice.  I honestly can't remember all that I made.  For dessert I made kemal pasha.  I usually make baklava for Eid but I have been extra tired since my wisdom teeth are coming in and just didn't have the energy. 
I got BB a cute little wooden train set that he absolutely loves.  He walks around with his train going ch ch ch ch.  It is so cute.  Since our trip he is now obsessed with trains, planes and automobiles lol.  But seriously if he hears an airplane fly over us he stops and points to the sky. 
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of this Eid but I never get sick of seeing old ones.

Eid 2011
Next year I plan on going into Jamaica, Queens for Eid.  Eid Salat (prayer) there is unbelievable.  If you don't already follow HONY a.k.a. Humans of New York go do that.  The pictures are ah-mazing! Here is one of the pictures HONY took from this years Eid Salat in Queens.
This almost brings tears to my eyes.  A beautiful sea of humanity all bowing to our creator the One and Only God. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


This is the last week of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month on the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month when the Holy Qur'an was first reveled to Prophet Muhammad (saw). During this month Muslims fast from dawn till dusk. This month provides the opportunity for great reward. Each good deed done by a fasting person its reward is multiplied ten times. Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an , ‘All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.'" During this month the time that was spent eating can be used for prayer.  Allah's Messenger (saw) said, "When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and the rebellious jinn are chained, the gates of Hell are locked and not one of them is opened; the gates of Paradise are opened and not one of them is locked; and a crier calls, 'You who desire what is good, come forward, and you who desire evil, refrain.' Some are freed from Hell by Allah, and that happens every night." (Tirmidhi).

Ramadan is my favorite time of year. It is a time of self reflection. The sense of community and brotherhood is increased. A billion Muslims are all doing this one act for our creator. It really is an amazing time. We fast for Allah, we fast so we can feel how the hungry feel everyday, we fast so our hearts can be soften and we can regain some humility. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Home Sweet Home... Back from Turkey

After being away for a month I am so happy to be home. It was a long trip home especially after missing my original flight and having to go on stand by the following day. I though I may never get home. But we made it. And just in time for my 8 year wedding anniversary.
We had a great time in Turkey.  I learned so many new recipes (will post soon) and got to spend time with my in laws.  It was amazing how quickly my son adjusted to everyone and everything.  
BB and his cousin Lutfi.  I got them these matching outfits. They look so cute together.  They really are BFF's.  When we first arrived my son was shy and wouldn't go to anyone except Lutfi.  He went right up to Lutfi and gave him a big hug!

Our homemade swing holding BB and Lutfi.  With Harun Amca pushing and Satinur Abla.
Lutfi and BB playing cars on the balcony.
Getting water for iftar in Oylat.

My mother-in-law with BB.