Eid Baklava Recipe

20121020-171811.jpg

Eid ul Adha is a holiday where Muslims celebrate the Prophet Abraham’s (as) complete obedience to God by his readiness to sacrifice his most beloved: his own son Ishmael (as). Once God saw his intent, God replaced Ishmael with a ram, so Muslims celebrate this event by sacrificing an animal and distributing the meat to those who are needy and close of kin.

Muslims celebrate two Eids. The first is to celebrate the end of Ramadan (the month where Muslims fast) and this Eid as I have described above.

Both Eids are filled with lots of sweets. One of my favorite sweets is baklava which always looked intimidating as a dessert but is quite easy to make.

Here is my easy recipe:

Ingredients:

1 16 oz package of phyllo dough

4 cups chopped nuts

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup honey

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss chopped nuts (I chop mine using a food processor. I used walnuts.) with cinnamon and set aside.

2) Melt butter.

3) Unfold phyllo dough carefully. Looking at the pan you use, cut dough to size and set aside with a damp towel on top so dough doesn’t dry out. If the sheets are not perfect, or get a little torn, don’t worry. It will still come out nicely.

4) Start with one sheet of the dough and lay it on bottom of the pan. Stroke melted butter on top with pastry brush.

5) Repeat until you have done 6-8 layers.

6) Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of this last layer.

7) Add sheet then add nuts until you finish using all of the nuts. Make sure you brush butter on lightly each layer otherwise the baklava can get soggy.

8) Finish with 6-8 plain sheets with no nuts with just brushed on butter as a top layer.

9) Cut halfway through in diamond shapes and bake 30 minutes or until golden.

10) While that is baking, combine water and sugar in a saucepan with lemon juice. Boil mixture and let it simmer 20 minutes. I recommend cooling sauce in fridge.

11) Take baklava out of oven and then spoon sauce immediately over it and serve.

Time Management

My mom asked me to write a blog post about time management. I thought it was so ironic because as a young child, I would procrastinate all the time.

When I was in the 6th grade, students had all week to write out a sheet of the multiplication tables for each day of the week that were due every Monday. (7 sheets of it for 7 days in a week).

What was 12 year old me doing every Sunday night? 7 sheets of the multiplication tables by hand all in one shot!

As a working mom, I don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Moms NEED to get up early, take care of babies, go to work, take care of their homes and hubbies and some like me, also attend to the needs of in laws too.

While it may sound tiring, I have some tips that I learned along the way:

1) Make time for bed time: if you can stick your child to a regular bed time, try to sleep then too. That way, you can wake up early for fajr prayers (or if you are really lucky tahajjud).

Waking up with enough time to eat breakfast and get ready for work or the rest of your day sets the pace and tone for you. No one can function if they are sleep deprived or hungry.

2) Finish the boring stuff first: One of the worst things is having fun after a long work week during the weekend and then realizing on Sunday that you have to do 2 weeks of laundry! Try to do your errands on Friday or earlier in the weekend so that you have time for some fun stuff too. Let’s face it, would you want to do errands when you have the Sunday blues?

3)Always make time for your kids: Yes, a clean house is lovely. However, sometimes I do ignore messes if it means spending time with my daughter after a long day at work. I have her sing the clean up song with me so the house is not terrible and then we laugh and giggle while reading books.

4) Make small changes: As a procrastinator, I used to pledge BIG promises to myself and then set myself up to fail because it’s too hard to change. Small changes add up in impact over time. One small change I did was do automatic online payments of my bills so I never have to worry about being late on my payments.

Small consistent actions are recommended in Islam. Aisha (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saws) said: “The most beloved actions to Allah are the most consistent ones even if they are few.” (Bukhari)

5) Don’t be too hard on yourself: I used to beat myself up over procrastinating, but I realized that it wasn’t helping me change, but it was holding me back. Embrace that you have this flaw by trying to preemptively do things. If you can’t, it’s okay. Things eventually do get done and life does go on. No one is perfect! I can promise you that I don’t procrastinate like I used to, but I still have a ways to go.

Weight Loss Tip That Really Works

20121016-163959.jpg

I have written before about how I have a bully who loves to pick on my weight. What I didn’t get to tell all of you about is my own weight loss journey.

I want to tell you how since I was a teen, I struggled with my weight. I feel like if I just LOOK at cookies, I gain a few pounds. This means that I have always been vigilant about what I ate and I always exercised, but I never seemed to lose any weight!

Finally, I read an article about how people who lost weight and were successful at it actually kept a food diary. Even after learning this secret, I was still disheartened because who can actually keep track of EVERYTHING you eat in a day? And that is when I realized that perhaps I WAS eating items that seemed healthy, but were high in calories.

Do those jellybeans your coworker offered you really count? What about oil supplements?

After some research, I found My Fitness Pal (some of my other friends use Fit Bit). My Fitness Pal actually tracks your food intake because you never have to guess how many calories something is. Their food database is immense. They even have entries for caloric counts of Indian sweets like jalebi!

You can track your calories easily. There is even a barcode scanner capability on their smartphone app. It also helps you track your exercise too. It makes it simple for you to track what you intake in terms of calories, what you burn, and even estimates your weight in 5 weeks based on your daily entries.

I lost 17 lbs using this free app. That being said, I still have a long way to go, but at least I have a powerful tool to help me along the way.

What are your weight loss tips?

Quilted Bags For Any Budget

20121016-082316.jpg
Clockwise from upper left: bag by Chanel, Michael Kors, Aldo, Forever 21

As a hijabi, I feel like it is important to look your best. In Islam, dressing well is considered part of the Prophet (saws) example. This is called the Sunnah of the Prophet.

It drives me crazy when people claim that looking nice is being “full of yourself” or “arrogant.”

According to a post on Suhaib Webb’s page: “In an enlightening hadith (prophetic narration), the Prophet tells us that no one with an ounce of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise. In seeking to understand what arrogance means, the companions asked ‘O Prophet of Allah, what if a person likes to dress well?’ The Prophet responded, ‘Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is rejecting truth and looking down on people’ [Muslim] (taken from http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/withthedivine/divine-beauty/)

So don’t feel bad about wanting to look well dressed. Obviously, we still want to follow the dress parameters outlined in the Quran too.

With that in mind, accessories are a very easy way to update and polish your look without having to overhaul your entire wardrobe.

This fall, it seems a lot of brands are taking a cue from Chanel’s iconic quilted bag. There is one for any budget, so check out your local shops for your own quilted bag this season!

Fall Accessories

20121015-140244.jpg
I was so excited about my new Ralph Lauren business card holder pictured above, I had to share it with you.

But then I realized that perhaps there was a theme with accessories that make me happy. Sure enough, I pull out my glasses from Tory Burch and I noticed that the cover is gold too!

So there you go. I love gold accessories. The beauty of accessories is that it is small enough to take risks with color. It is neutral enough to add a bit of sparkle to any outfit without coming off as being too tacky.

You don’t have to pick gold. Pick a color or even a print that suits your own style and personality. For example, one of my aunts loves animal prints. When she wears neutrals, she just pairs animal print pumps and a belt or scarf and she looks instantly pulled together.

Also, remember that accessories are not equal. Shoes are more memorable than say a business card holder so take the time to invest in a good quality accessory with rich detailing. It doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, Aldo and other brands have been making some very cute accessories.

Expect a fall accessories round up from me soon! It will be for all budgets so be on the look out.

Reality of Marriage

20121014-151431.jpg
Jasmine is such a little flower, but it provides the most lovely fragrance even at a distance.

Like jasmine’s demure size, it’s the little things in a marriage that keep it going.

The look of appreciation after a hard day’s work, telling your spouse how good they look, or even sending them a sweet email or text.

Like jasmine, it may seem small, but the beauty of the act travels far.

The contrasting thing that can poison a marriage is little bits of nagging. Saying “you never do things like so and so’s husband does.”

Let me tell you, sometimes you see people on Facebook talking about getting served breakfast in bed but what you may not know is how that spouse may have been kicked out that very same bed the night before!

You never know a couple’s whole married life, so stop comparing and enjoy what you have. Make sure to stop and smell the flowers on a stroll with your spouse today.

Perfect Weekend Shoes

20121013-140655.jpg

Before I was a mom, I used to loooooove wearing heels, wedges, and other cute shoes. After my baby was born, I had such swollen feet, I couldn’t even wear shoes (just flip flops)! So now, I have to settle for comfortable shoes.

The good news is that with ballet flats, slippers, and other styles, I don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort.

On the weekends, I especially love to wear laid back flats with fun details like the Toms you see here. They are perfect for just slipping on and being on the go with a baby and Hubby in tow. I especially love the crochet patterned ones.

For you cold weather folks, Toms may not work as well so I would recommend nice flat heeled boots you can tuck your jeans into. Stylish, functional and warm! Perfect for chilly fall weekend weather.

Make sure to jump in the leaf piles for me!

PS: Thanks to my girl Sarah for introducing me to Toms and making me more stylish!

Skincare Basics

Pssssst! I want to tell you all a secret. The secret to having unclogged pores and gorgeous skin. For years, I struggled with clogged pores, disastrous facials, and stress breakouts.

Finally, a genius at Nordstrom Spa used this miracle tool called a Clarisonic on me. While it felt nice, I was skeptical about if it would REALLY work. I mean it’s not a cheap tool that’s for sure.

I mentioned it in passing to my Hubby while I was pregnant, cranky, and complaining about hormone induced breakouts. So he surprised me with it (I think it was mostly to get a rambling pregnant lady to stop talking!)

It was the BEST present I have ever gotten (besides my daughter from Allah of course).

You can use literally ANY cleanser (drugstore, fancy pants, whatever) and it will clean all that gunk off your face, exfoliate, AND unclog pores.

So ladies, if you want to wear less makeup, invest in this. I know I sound like an ad, but trust me, Clarisonic did not pay me a dime for this post.

PS: At first, you may break out even more because using the brush causes more sebum to surface quickly. But stick with it, and you will see your skin improve.