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."