Eleven years have flown past
Graduations, grand babies and numerous weddings have kept us busy and grateful.
I never could have imagined
But there truly is light in darkness
Eleven years have flown past
Graduations, grand babies and numerous weddings have kept us busy and grateful.
I never could have imagined
But there truly is light in darkness
Crocus stands outside my door, sunshine-snow falls to the core
Robins tweet the sound of spring, reminders of what beauty brings
Green and yellow soon will roll, upon the hills of evermore
Unbroken chain and melody, nature teaches humanity
Doctor Doctor hold my hand, give us all the perfect plan
Nurse of mercy she will be, on her feet for you and me
Collect the garbage, wash and wipe, nobs and handles need a swipe
Stock the shelves now, keep the peace, teach the children from your seat
Toilet paper wipes and cans, stockpile, check out, move that hand
Online, curbside, stop the greed, offer help for those in need
Old folks, babies, chronic pain, choose to not forget the name
Flour yeast and rice to hoard, sown of mercy from the Lord
Tulip green erupts from soil, real ones always true and loyal
Moon in glory casts the shine, days gone by do come to mind
Remember me games never end, same old illness new found friend
Brother sister look no more, help the weak protect the poor
Hi everyone! I hope this post finds you and yours well. We have been home and keeping our distance from others.
I had to share this video of my son in his first commercial! Yes I am a proud mom.
It has been over a month now since my book was published on Amazon. My children, parents, friends and family have stepped up to both purchase books as well as to spread the word. I am so grateful to all of them as well as all of my blog family! Thank you!
I have sent books to New York, Arizona, Thailand and now Pennsylvania. It is an exciting time and a bit unimaginable. I am concentrating on promoting this book because it took 13 months of non stop effort as well as in the hopes that it can offer some financial support for my family.
I am currently testing for an old fashioned dessert book but this is just a part time effort at this point. The next book will be a step by step and tutorial.
For anyone who wants to purchase one of my books you can contact me and I will pay shipping within the United States as well as sign the book! You can contact me on facebook or via email: email@example.com
Old fashioned desserts have always interested me and now I have chosen to highlight them in a cookbook. I am fond of jelly rolls because they look amazing and can be dressed up with whipped cream, ice cream or just about any simple filling. After more attempts than I care to mention, I have come up with this step by step on baking a jelly roll with success. The pictures being used in this post will be of a walnut jelly roll as well as a strawberry jelly roll.
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Crack each egg, separating whites from yolks placing whites and yolks into different bowls. Place whites into a mixing bowl and start beating on low speed. Let this beat for one minute until eggs start to get frothy. Gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar and salt. I use a stand mixer so that I can work on other parts of the cake while the whites beat. While this is mixing start work on egg yolks.
Use a whisk to beat egg yolks until well mixed, set aside. Gradually add the next 1/4 cup sugar to whites and increase speed. While eggs are beating sift flour and baking powder and set aside. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form. This usually takes 5 minutes but can vary depending on your mixer and speed. Pour egg yolks over whites and gently fold in until well combined.
Sprinkle sifted flour and baking powder over egg mixture and fold in making sure a smooth texture remains. Do not beat this mixture.
Spray a 10.5 x 15.5 baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, paper should cover entire pan as well as going up the sides. Spray parchment paper thoroughly with baking spray. Scoop batter onto pan and smooth over entire surface as evenly as possible. Place pan in the oven and time for 14-15 minutes. While cake is baking place a piece of parchment paper or a clean tea towel on work surface and sift powdered sugar over entire material.
The above picture is the beginning of smoothing batter to edges
Cake should look uniformly golden brown on top when done. Remove from oven and let set for 3-5 minutes. Carefully take outer ends of parchment paper from opposite ends and lift cake. Place cake over prepared surface and gently turn over and onto powdered sugar area. Remove parchment paper from top of cake and discard. Start at one end and roll cake until it is in a log type shape.
The cake pictured above is a walnut jelly roll so the texture will be smoother.
While the roll is cooling whip heavy cream and sugar until stiff and fluffy. Place jam into a bowl and stir until smooth. Fold jam into whipped cream. When cake is totally cool, unroll, spread 1-2 cups of cream on one end of roll and start to roll until you come to the end. Freeze or refrigerate jelly roll until you are easily able to slice. You can dollop left over cream on top and place fresh strawberries on each piece if you like.
Bear the sorrow
Hide the shame
Speck of sunlight
Knows her name
Cast in shadows
Brick and clay
Rough and rigid
Spare the day
Frozen heart song
She will be
I adopted my Sophie almost a year ago! She is an amazing little girl and constant companion. Someone from blog world told me years ago to get a dog for anxiety. I never imagined I would be able to do that but thanks to my kids and parents I made that decision.
Sophie and I enjoy going out in the backyard several times a day but lately she has been yelping and crying for no apparent reason. Her right paw was so sensitive and she would not allow us to touch it. I have not been successful at clipping her nails and was worried she would have a fit if the Vet office tried, thus causing me anxiety. But yesterday it was totally obvious that there was no choice in the matter.
So I carted her to the Affordable Vet Care where she has been seen several times. They very gently put a soft muzzle on her because she was not going to allow anyone to help her otherwise! The vet hugged her as did the assistant. They were amazing and now my baby is ready to run and play again. Thanks to these places that make services available for a reasonable cost! In a world that might seem cold and insensitive at times, there are many people who are more than willing to be everyday heroes!
Simple beauty summons me
From a state of dormancy
Scent of lilac, Starlings tweet
High Palouse and waving wheat
Fallow buds abundantly
Rise anew for all to see
Eyes for beauty gone too soon
Pine tree branches reach the moon
Child of wonder time to be
That raindrop from a fallen tree
In my effort to make the perfect jelly roll, I made this strawberry cream on Sunday! This is not featured in my cookbook but will be highlighted in a book of old fashioned desserts.
What is your favourite old fashioned dessert?
My book is available on Amazon or directly through me.
For those who have followed my story it has been a long time but here is a new addition. If you have not read my story you can read other instalments found under, flashback love-true story.
Riyadh, June 2003
I walked back into the store, carrying little Dee who was now fussy and tired. The last splash of water had been dripped into her mouth but now she insisted on full hydration. She was a small girl for her 2 plus years, tiny features, dark brown eyes and olive skin gave her the appearance of a doll like figure. A smile crossed her lips as my arms held her tight. The clerk glanced our way with a curious and questioning expression and the usual worries swirled through my mind. I scanned the aisles and picked up my pace searching for a chair or bench inside the comfort of the air conditioned store. We had exited and reentered the premises numerous times in the same fashion, searching for water or a place to take cover from temperatures that hovered at 105 degrees.
I finally returned to the bench just outside the swooshing doors hoping that it was still vacant. I could not bare the idea of being mistaken for a beggar, being escorted to the door and possibly to the street. The two hour mark approached and anger welled up inside me, sending the inevitable tears that came with standard humiliation. He had insisted that I accompany him to pick up his mail. He would drop me at a nearby store to browse and he was sure the exercise would do me good. It would take him fifteen or twenty minutes and a quick look through racks of clothing would be interesting, even fun. A steady drip drip of sweat had now pooled, leaving my face and scarf wet. The bench that had offered comfort, now seemed hard and heavy as if marks were being sewn into my legs and thighs. A twenty minute wait had stretched into hours, leaving me to wonder if I had misunderstood instructions.
I scanned the Main Street for his vehicle just as I had for the previous seconds, minutes and hours and finally it appeared. I wiped my eyes, straightened my scarf and prepared to stand. The weight of a tenth pregnancy-overdue by two weeks had pushed me to my physical limit. I mustered a fading smile, reminiscent of years gone by and hoisted my daughter into the car.
This week I have been working on creating the perfect jelly roll! Each day the kids come home they do a quick check of the freezer, then the oven and finally the trash. I made a walnut jelly roll this week and was pleased with the final results. I will try to complete my testing this weekend.
But, the question still remains, “what do you do when knee deep in jelly roll?” I say…
“Keep on rolling!”
This past weekend my oldest daughter, See See, flew in to visit with us. My middle child announced he would also be popping over. The kids and I drove to my hometown to see Mom and Dad and to meet up with all of my kids. We had quite the weekend only missing one child and daughter-in-law. As usual Osama invited everyone over for a delicious meal on Saturday and Gigi and Papa were able to make it out to the house to join in.
I met with a dear friend who I have known since elementary school and catching up was so exciting. She picked up several books for herself and other friends who requested them. She was very kind and also encouraged me to get my life story published.
The next day Mom hosted brunch and the girls helped her out. All of the kids showed up and of course it was chaotic and full of interesting moments! Ben made the mistake of taking a rest on the floor!
My books arrived yesterday afternoon and I have six copies left. If any of my friends out there in blogging world would like to order one directly from me I will send it within the United States, free shipping. Let me know and thanks!
Picture taken and posted by Pam of her Monster cookies
There are several friends that I have known since the beginning of my blogging experience and one of them is Pam over at Catching My Drift.
She weaves words into beautiful scenery that captures every sense. I love her writing and her!
She purchased one of my cookbooks and made monster cookies, again only she can make a recipe come to life!
Please visit her blog and you will feel at home!
Beautiful, feisty granddaughters…..
Still need “Grama hugs”
When I was a child I got my first puppy and promptly named her tickles! Years that followed were filled with other cats and dogs. Animals brought a certain comfort and unconditional love. It was the norm to have pets in our loving and warm household.
Then I married, had children and moved to the middle east, where we lived for 16 years. Pets were frowned upon and even forbidden in our household. When we moved back to the United States the same rule applied and it was a scary concept to even imagine having a pet.
Finally after ten years of living back home my kids helped me and supported me in fulfilling this dream. Last March I adopted my Sophie. In many ways my life has come full circle and I am getting back to the real me! These photos are of my constant companion and sweet baby! She is beautiful, smart and feisty!
Hi fellow bloggers! First, I want to thank all of you for the love and support throughout my blogging career. I have made so many wonderful friends here. Also, thank you for being patient with my absence from blogging in the past year while working on the cook book. Lastly, it would be greatly appreciated if my friends and fellow bloggers would be willing to share my book information on any and all social media. Thank you so much!
My book is now available on Amazon:
Hi to all of my friends and new followers! You have been dearly missed these past few months. As many of my good friends know, the past year has been full of; baking, cooking, taking photos, testing, re-testing, editing and endless reviewing. I finally had to say “enough” and am hoping to push the publish button on Monday! I have ordered numerous proofs, changed the cover about 7 times and have had plenty of testing and reviewing by my kids, their fantastic spouses and a special friend of the family. So here is the final look and I hope to be back on here visiting and having fun on a regular basis as of today!
Thanks for the love and support,
I have been totally absent from my blog for months. Testing and working on the cookbook has taken up most of my time. Family and friends have agreed to volunteer at testing recipes and now things are wrapping up. There have been several proofs made and the main work is now being done on formatting and making the book look as professional as possible. Testing still continues but on a smaller scale.
I have thought of my special friends and have missed you dearly! Thank you for thinking of me and for caring.
Many things have happened in the course of these months. High school graduation, College graduation, a Wedding and baby sitting the babies. Fattima and Ben went to London and Italy. Osama and Jacki went to Hawaii and Sumaya went to Disney world!
A big thank you to my good friend Marci over at koolaidmoms. She helped my daughter and her best friend plan their Disney World trip and that made all the difference!
Osama and Jacki went to Hawaii and I got to spend time with my grandbabies!
Meanwhile the newlyweds (who are coming up on one year) had a fantastic experience visiting London and various places in Italy!
Another huge change has been the addition of a new baby! I grew up with pets but given our situation it was forbidden. I never imagined having a special little friend again. Finally my kids convinced me to take the plunge and it is amazing!
Have a great day and so good to see you all once again!
Hi dear friends and thanks for your support and patience. As most of my friends know, I am working on a cookbook and that has taken up much of my time which has meant not blogging!
I am finally through the recipe testing part on my end and now that has been passed onto friends and family. I am currently writing the recipes and deciding what type of format I want for my cookbook. So, again more time spent on things other than blogging, which I miss very much! I will try to be more present while I sit at the computer working on the writing end of things! I hope you are all well.
Heart and soul heart and soul
Mindless fury takes its toll
Live to please
just play my role
It has been awhile since I posted and I have missed my dear friends here! A whirlwind of cooking still continues and I am focusing on my project! I will try to post once a week and catch up as I go! Here is an update from Idaho:
In a room well-hidden
I stood inside a box
Corners of seclusion
Marked only by his thoughts
Bow down and own your choices
Senses meld to grey
Peace for one more day
These days have been spent; washing dishes, mixing meatballs, stirring sauce, whipping cream, adding spices, mixing dough, more dishes and quickly jotting more directions and fine tuning ingredients. My son purchased some items to make photography easier and so snapping pictures repeatedly has also been part of my daily routine. I am practicing and my kids are helping me out so for now more cooking, testing recipes and more snapping photos. I hope you are all well and I will be catching up this week.
I know my way around the kitchen but not so much around taking pictures of food! So I will take stacks of photos and in the end we will sort through them and start over if need be! Thanks for your patience while I work on this project!
I am back on track, working on my cookbook and on alternate days putting my real life story together. My goal is to test all recipes for the book during the month of January.
February will be the month of more testing by my family and friends and a constant effort of writing and editing recipes, taking pictures and deciding which dishes are truly suited for this book.
The other day as I chopped onions and garlic, peeled sweet potatoes and pulled together a fragrant red curry, Sumaya stood watching and listening to my back and forth reasoning regarding the cookbook. I told her that this seemed like part of my legacy and something that I wanted to complete. Thirty five years spent stirring sauces, adding spices, visiting neighbors to watch them cook and inviting people into my home for meals and to take part in my culinary adventures. Delivering trays lined with cream puffs, lemon bars and decadent chocolate tidbits. Taking informal lessons on Moroccan Couscous, Indian curries and Palestinian Maclube. Afterall it felt as if my children had been raised in the kitchen and had become amazing home cooks in their own right. She nodded her head, her shiny manicured nails gripping a mug of curry topped with a large spoon of yogurt. She smiled and clicked her fingertips on the glass counter and then asked me one simple question, “What would you give to have a book of your grandmother Elva’s recipes?” And with her words I gathered new motivation to work on my legacy.
As you may have noticed I basically took an unofficial winter break! We spent a merry holiday away from home for a few days where we enjoyed time with the little ones, their parents as well as my mom and dad.
We arrived on Sunday and got the girls settled in at my folks house, then headed to Osama and Jacki’s.
Aiden and Bennett opened their gifts and so did Alayna. The boys insisted on helping with construction of their tee-pee and Alayna showed more interest in helping than playing with her stuffed animal. Who can blame her?
Auntie Foof and Uncle Ben showed up with more gifts and soon after Great Grandma and Grandpa came with the girls. Siblings hung out and then it was time to cook. Fattima, Sumaya and Deeja all helped their brother with his food preparation while I took my place on the comfy couch playing with the precious little ones.
The meal was amazing; perfectly steamed chicken that was finished with a pan frying to crisp it up, topped with a light sauce, homemade pasta and a crisp flavorful salad, yumm! Of course Jacki was in the kitchen helping, watching her babies and interacting with this lively group!
I’d like to say identical twins are no match for Gaga but they do keep me on my toes! Meanwhile Alayna is in the thick of things making her presence known!
The next day we went out to grab donuts and coffee and the day of Christmas eve began!
After the babies were snugly tucked into bed, Santa came and delivered their gifts.
Santa and her helpers were quite good at their job and once again I relaxed and watched it all unfold.
When morning came I heard the boys talking, then Daddy and Mom went in to get them and the fun began!
Numerous photos were taken but it was obvious that this would be a challenging effort and we decided “real” was better anyway!
Gifts were both practical and fun, children were grateful and parents exhausted. The next stop was Great Grama and Grampa’s on our way out of town. Brunch was served along with more gifts.
As always it was a memorable event!
Happy new year!
Lights strung on trees illuminate the darkness of Christmas Eve morn. Stockings line the railing and all is surely calm. Moments are spent waiting for angelic voices to call out, prompting a rush up the stairs to gather and bundle.
This is an ongoing story recounting our first year back in America. There are three parts that can be found on my menu page.
Fight flight or freeze were words we all knew well. There was never a place to seek refuge in Saudi and fighting might have meant dire circumstances and so the mode of coping was usually freeze. Fighting only ensued when the children were involved and a demeanor of reason, reminders of religious principles and finally a stance of locked rebellion meant that the worst would not come to pass. Battles were picked according to priority which meant safety, basic needs and issues regarding personal liberation but I held firm when it came to my children. I was well versed in the operation of pick and chose, making sure that every decision took its place, stacked upon years of training, seasoned with fear.
The first grade teacher’s voice was no longer sweet and calm but had taken a turn towards dry resolve. She remarked that my son was clearly not ready for school and that it would be better if he did not return. Her heels clicked on the patterned floor as she marched the other students to the door to line up. We walked to the brightly painted cubby and collected a single backpack, hoodie and lunch bag. No words were spoken and a sense of defeat hung heavy as we unlatched the wooden gate that lead to the apartment parking lot. My three other children who had attended the first day of school also remained silent and the unremarkable yet familiar feeling of dread lagged shortly behind us.
Fattima stood at the ready stirring homemade sauce that bubbled and spattered, leaving red dots on the yellow tinted 70’s stove. She started to ask how it had gone but stopped when she saw my face and instead plated meals and grabbed backpacks. Mom and Dad’s hand me down lake table was opened and chairs positioned near the slider so that the meal could begin. It was a tight fit but the table brought back cheery thoughts of carefree days spent in the paddle boat, laying on the dock and roasting marshmallows. As each one finished they trudged into the tiny living room and plopped onto the couch.
It was clear that Heme was not going back to school, there was no option given and it was not worth the fight. It was almost a relief to keep him with me as his name had been mentioned and the idea that he should be returned to his father where he belonged. No other child was discussed but a message was clearly sent through a mediator that my youngest child belonged back in Saudi.
Saturday afternoon a shiny, new stove arrived at my front door! The other stove was only nine years old but had seen much wear and tear, burners refused to turn off and heated up randomly and recently a buzzing noise from inside started catching the attention of my children. Still, I was so very grateful to have a stove as many people do not.
If you have followed my blog and life story then you already know that I cooked on a stove that was purchased from a flea market of sorts in downtown Riyadh. Two of the four burners functioned and both shocked me if I used any metal utensils. We lived with no beds, chairs, tables etc. for a couple of years and with the very bare necessities when we lived outside of compounds. My parents supplied any luxury items for our family (new towels, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets, toys) and we fought to hang on to those. We have all learned to be grateful for the smallest of things and realize material items cannot bring happiness, but they can make life very difficult when you do not have even the basics.
I was raised in a beautiful home on six sprawling acres of pine trees and never imagined living without the basics and also the many extras that I had become accustomed to. I was unaware of the insidious cycle of abuse until it swallowed me whole and spit me back out.
But now things are different and my children are allowed to make their own choices and to be who they were meant to be.
Meanwhile, I sit in my comfy recliner and sip coffee while visions of jelly roll, sugar cookies and fried rice dance in my head. Thoughts drift to concoctions that will be whipped up on a brand new stove!
Happy Holidays and remember that things can get better, there is always hope!
Almost two weeks ago I received the honor of having three special guests arrive!
I was confident that it would be quite easy to keep up with my friends in blogging world and of course there were many photos and stories to share!
After all, Grama had a special helper this time who agreed to spend her days changing diapers, playing games, chasing twins through the house and caring for a little princess.
Cooking, baking and crafts commenced as the three little babies were snug at Grama’s house. Meanwhile Mother and Father were off on a family adventure that had been planned for a year. They were now sad about leaving their babies but were assured that everything would be fine!
Days were spent laughing, cooking, baking and doing crafts, all with their aunts and uncles.
Days ticked by until the first little one got a stomach virus, followed by his brother, then his aunt (the helper) and eventually his youngest uncle. Grama tended to sick babies, scrubbing and wiping. Care was given in the form of hugs, fluids and watchful eyes. At last everyone seemed well and low and behold six days had quickly passed. Plans to go to the science center, play place and other Christmas events had been dashed. Auntie Fon Fon and her trusty helper Ben managed a trip to a local town hosting a Christmas extravaganza.
Mom and Dad sent photos of their out and about time
Grama and Alayna were home alone and so it was time for a photo shoot.
Auntie Fon Fon took the boys to a local play place that proved to be total fun and will be a destination in the future.
Meals were eaten at their new table
Babies were tucked into bed
And finally day nine arrived and it was time to say goodbye. Mommy and Daddy finished their adventure.
Bags were packed, wash was done and final moments were shared.
Blogging had long since been given up on and Grama was sure that everyone would understand. Special moments like these don’t come around all the time.
Happy holidays everyone!
I like to sit and listen
to watch the world go round
no movement or emotion
just silence falling down
see one stolen moment
and then I capture two
nothing but enchantment
my sacred rendezvous
This weekend was spent playing catch up on household work, scheduling as well as cooking. I am a list type of person and if you don’t know what that means I will enlighten you. There are menus, daily lists, hourly schedules, agendas and an assortment of variations in between. My mother has always been organized and everything is planned to the letter while I am more of a loose planner. Having spent the past 32 years keeping a household of nine children in order there have been numerous concessions with my obsessive planning and I have learned that nothing is written in stone, concrete or even sand. Lists serve more as a reminder of important things that need my attention and they keep our world in fairly good order. So this weekend and even today I am tweaking my schedule, knowing full well that it is always “tentative at best”.
For Black Friday my oldest children gave me some money to go shopping and I ended up purchasing a new camera. It has a zoom lens and I have always wanted one! I am excited to start watching tutorial videos so that I can be familiar with my new camera and learn the details of how to take truly amazing photos.
As I mentioned last week, I am embarking on a new journey and one that means a great deal to me. I have started testing my recipes and will add tips, adjust ingredients and measurements where needed and of course, shoot new photos. The book will be in color and will have a picture of each dish after preparation is complete. My middle child has encouraged this project and cooks from my blog often, so he has offered to test each recipe and add suggestions for tips and directions. I loved working on the poetry book and now am excited for this new adventure.
Yesterday I made sambusa or cheese pillows as my mother nicknamed them years ago on her annual trips to Saudi. They are a delicious pastry, filled with a mix of ricotta, feta and mozzarella cheese. I posted my recipe on the blog a couple of years ago and instead of the traditional deep frying we opted to bake these delectable little morsels. The kids have been asking for them for months and so yesterday I rolled up my sleeves and made a double batch. This time I fried them much to everyone’s delight.
We also decorated the tree that Mom and Dad gave us as they have now chosen to scale down once again. We removed the lights, added our decorations from last year and placed our smaller tree downstairs.
Overall it was a quiet and relaxing weekend spent around the house reviewing pictures from Thanksgiving and preparing for the month ahead!
Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway and those of you who purchased, liked and reviewed my book. The final drawing was done and the last winner is Brigid of Watching the Daisies
Please send me your mailing address so that I can get this book off to you Brigid!
I am currently working on a cookbook and trying to keep editing my real life story as well. I go back and forth with the real life story and kind of give up but then hear of other people who are suffering and as I have been told by many I do have a voice and can speak out. So, hopefully I will be able to complete it and maybe switch back and forth between these two ideas taking the pressure off.
Have a great Saturday and I had to share these photos of little princess Alayna. She has a great deal of hair that is long and curly and in the morning it can be quite wild. Mom and Dad put a cute bow or make a little ponytail on top of her precious head but early one morning when I woke up with her it was natural and untamed! She is such a doll!
Bad hair day?
This is the story of our first year back in America, other installments can be found here:
A sharp buzzing pressed in my ear waking me from a restless sleep. It was time to rouse one of the girls, spoon coffee into a filter and pour a pot of water into the reservoir. Thoughts of school and the day before held a nagging place in my gutt. The sad little figure that lay sprawled in the grass amongst students and helpers remained fixed in my memory. I had overlooked the possibility that this was my youngest child and instead a mask of denial coated my brain leaving it in an unrealistic fog. But after his sister sat beside him taking her place in a stance of not so much concern but possibly comfort, it was clear that things would not be as easy as I had hoped. My focus turned to the thought that there were only two more weeks of the paper route and then a new routine would take shape; no more nights spent wrapping bundles, sorting orders and jumping out to deliver to each and every home. Cooking for the co-op, cleaning once a week at a building and the odd sub job assured me that we could keep afloat and each time mom and dad visited they unloaded boxes of bread, croissants, peanut butter, canned vegetables and chicken, candy, school snacks and staples. Provisions were hauled into the apartment, stacked on the kitchen floor and put into cupboards. I watched as hot coffee dripped into the carafe and pushed away the idea that I was truly at fault but still I couldn’t help but wonder if leaving Saudi was for the best. I heard his words ring through my ears triggering shooting pangs of guilt to my core. “You are torturing me and the children with your stubborn and unhappy ways, you have become one of those women that I hate”
I walk the road of no regrets
Dirt scuffed shoes and poplar leaves
Fallen heroes grieve for me
Womankind stacked at my feet
Her voice calls out in unison
I sing in tandem heart bereaved
The chime says no regrets for me
A wasted form of liberty
This past week was somewhat of a blur and flurry, guests arriving, shifting, cooking, cleaning and finally everyone packed up and made their way back to their homes. Yesterday afternoon the last of my children headed back home and now the house is relatively empty. The house is still a bit messy and today will be my big weekly clean up which means an all day effort of moving furniture, sweeping, scrubbing and finally everything will be back in place, shiny and routine.
Last Tuesday morning I cleaned the house, made guest beds, moved furniture around to accommodate our large family and stocked the pantry with basics.
Wednesday was spent baking and waiting for my kids to arrive. I worked on my contribution to the dessert table with a turtle cheesecake.
I did my last minute jobs to ensure that our house was once again ready to be bursting with the usual antics, and soon after Yusuf and Alicia came driving up in their brand new electric car. I am assuming in years from now the grandkids will look back and laugh at us oldies who were amazed by a car that needed to be plugged in and charged at few and far between supercharger stations!! The next order of business was a spin in the vehicle and a return home to get settled in.
My middle child flew into Spokane late Monday and insisted on chauffeuring Grama and Grampa to our home on Wednesday. Meanwhile Saleeha and Edison would arrive around midnight, Osama, Jacki and kids made their way to Fattima and Ben’s that day around 3 and eventually everyone ended up at the family home for pizza and of course this included, home repairs, playing games, wrestling matches and some time for chatting.
That night my middle child picked up the engaged couple at our tiny local airport and everyone settled in.
After a good night’s sleep it was time to head over to Fattima and Ben’s for breakfast and precious moments were spent with the whole family. All nine of my children were in one place and it was just like old/new times.
Babies were put down for naps, cars were loaded and it was time for the days festivities to begin. This year I took charge and made sure things stayed on a loose schedule and it went fairly well. The family picture was scheduled for 12:30 and although everyone hemmed and hawed they knew I would not take no for an answer! I started with a picture of my parents and all of my children.
Jacki and I switched places as photographer
Eventually Heme’s friend came over and took a photo of the whole group
Cooking commenced and a whirlwind of pans, dishwashers and dryers, oven overloaded with food, turkey and stuffing, shepherd’s pie and sweet potato au gratin, spinach salad, smashed potatoes and rolls were all served promptly at 3:00 p.m.
After dinner everyone pitched in and cleaned up following the jobs list to the letter. Dessert was the only thing that occurred out of order and a line that formed behind the cheesecake was inevitable. I really liked the recipe and only made a few changes, some of the batter for the cheesecake was mixed with caramel sauce and a portion was mixed with chocolate, marbling it with the plain cheesecake. I chose to make a chocolate ganache and topped that with caramel sauce and pecans.
Our white elephant was the best ever and my gifts were stolen numerous times, specialty candy and a puzzle of Seattle, a stack of scratch tickets, VR headset and a holiday tin of popcorn and finally I ended up with outdoor led light torches for the yard. The other gifts included; a tortilla press, a digital cooking thermometer, gift basket from the World market, snowman cookie jar, tiny pool table and candy and too many others to list.
Games, cards and movies were watched, babies carted around and general family time shared.
Cars were packed, bags loaded and slowly each family and individual went back to their place of residence leaving our cozy little household of only 4. I think Alayna expresses our sentiment in splendid fashion with no words!
This Thanksgiving I was encouraged to take charge once again and so I found my rhythm and my place as the head of household.
Blessings to all and thankfulness for every day!
Our house is still hopping with activity but wanted to say hi and let you know the name of the third winner of the book giveaway. I will keep everyone in the drawing please let me know if you have interest and I will put your name in for the fourth and final week. My book arrived safely to Clive Cliveblogs and this week I will mail the second copy to Annika https://annikaperry.com/
This weeks winner is:
Lynn from Lynn thaler
Thank you for entering!
For the next 48 hours my paperback book will be on a special black friday sale!
I hope this helps for those who want to purchase it as a holiday gift! In addition to this sale, my ebook will still be free for the next few days.
Happy holidays from our family to yours!
I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving! Just to let you all know, my ebook will be free for the next few days!
From my dear friend Gail, thanks so much!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Nigella Seed Cheesies! One of the benefits of making friends in the blogosphere is meeting other foodies who share the same love of cooking….and eating! This recipe comes directly to you courtesy of Lyn at https://lynzrealcooking.com/2015/10/28
She posted this wonderfully cheesy snack and it went viral! Because it is called “Cheesies”, you can use a wide variety of cheese options, including your own personal favorites. Thanks, Lyn!
NIGELLA SEED CHEESE BITES
Ingredients for Dough:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
1-8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
Ingredients for Filling:
2 cups Nigella seed string cheese
1/2 cup Colby cheese, finely shredded
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix well. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for one hour. Remove and divide into four equal-sized balls. Roll one ball at a time…
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It is the day before Thanksgiving and as I sit under the red blanket from mom, lights from our first small Christmas tree cast a shimmer on the window. Thoughts of previous years run through my mind, children, grand babies, turkey, game tournaments and also anxiety.No one is up yet and as usual my 3:30 wake up comes and goes without notice. Hot steaming coffee is enjoyed from a large Christmas mug and a calm silence once again highlights the living room and kitchen clocks that keep time with a back and forth ticking pattern.
This has become my time, early morning starlight, fog, frost and glory. Some days I wonder what progress has really been made and then in quiet moments like this I remember and remind myself it is the little things that can ultimately turn out to be the quite large things.
I was once a valiant fighter and keeper of household peace and at times a stone monument unwavering and bold. Diapers, school trips, no electricity, no beds, mix batter, fold laundry, smile and breathe. In what seemed like a mere blink, I found myself reduced to a child like state, unable to manage the tiniest of tasks. But now a rebuilding and knowledge that I can move on and begin again has truly taken hold and for that and so many other things I am grateful.
I am thankful for:
1. My faith
2. My family; children and their partners, my parents, my three grand babies, my sister, nieces and nephews, my special cousin/sister, brother in laws, extended family.
3. Each child of mine and their heroic efforts to live and breathe in freedom. To love me without conditions or expectations. My heart and soul!
4. My mother and mentor who taught me to be my best no matter what.
5. My father who gave me courage and the strength to be me.
6. My sweet grand babies who have helped me to heal and have brought a new sense of purpose to my life and their amazing mommy who accepts me for the Grama that I am.
7. My friends who have encouraged and supported me
8. The ability to cook meals unhindered by anxiety for the most part.
9. Gorgeous nature God has put before me on a daily basis.
10. Being able to walk and exercise.
11. A significant reduction in anxiety and panic, good physical and mental health.
12. Overcoming an eating disorder that was part of the abuse cycle.
13. Having a home.
14. Having food, clean water and medical care.
15. Realizing I cannot be and am not perfect and neither are my family and friends.
16. publishing a book.
17. For my daughter’s marriage and her very special husband.
18. An engagement and upcoming wedding for my eldest daughter and her wonderful beloved.
19. Last but certainly not least, getting to spend special time with my lovely sister, mom and dad again as a little family unit!
One foot and then the next builds a path to freedom.
The last day of school was Friday and now the kids have a week long break. This makes them happy and also brings me great joy as well. A menu has been posted, clean up jobs listed and the traditional family photo is scheduled.
Everyone will trickle into town over the next few days and guests will be divided between the newlyweds home and my house.
A competition over who has the best white elephant gift will inevitably continue from last year and a trophy that was fashioned for only one winner will be held in the highest regard! Meanwhile I will fawn over grandbabies, take the family picture and try to keep things on track in a loose but firm fashion. In other words, I am ready!
This weekend I made chocolate zucchini bread/cake and it was delicious! Moist, rich and decadent are the words I would use to best describe this cake. I am thinking of ways to change it so it is healthier and when I do, you will be the first to know!
Fattima and Ben popped over to share our special Cougar gold cheese from Ferdinands on the W.S.U. campus. She made cheesies and I made chicken strips. https://lynzrealcooking.com/recipes-2/appetizers/cheesies/
After getting a few groceries I had the pleasure of being waited on by my gorgeous daughter. What could be better? She also made peppermint bark which turned out well.
More decorations were placed around the house and finally I just threw up my hands and announced that is was time for Christmas!
This is the second week of my poetry book giveaway! I stopped by the local post office on Tuesday and sent my first book winner his autographed copy and now this week we have a new winner! Last week the winner was Clive from Take It Easy.
After rummaging around in my hat for a few seconds, I picked out the second name and the winner of my new poetry book. Congratulations to dear friend, Annika from
Please message me with your mailing address and I will get the book off next week! All of the names that have been put in the hat will remain there for the next two drawings. If you have interest in entering, please let me know in the comments section!
My book is available on Amazon
I edged closer to the tiny parking spot that stood above Frat row. It was a cement slab just big enough to accomodate a large vehicle but still unnerved me each time I navigated onto the platform. Plastic bags were grabbed in batches and hauled over the rugged path and into the door of the old brick building. It was grocery day and that meant unloading and preparing a “fast food” meal including plenty of variety for those with dietary restrictions. I stuffed bags inside of each other forming a large ball of sacks that would be used for trash bags at a later time. Several packs of ground beef were placed into a large skillet and stirred, smashing them into smaller bits. The familiar sound of sizzling and the smell of taco meat would soon bring girls into the kitchen. Soos, Heme and Deeja made themselves busy with coloring books and crayons, cards and stickers. They placed themselves at a wooden table just outside the kitchen where residents would soon sit after dishing up their last meal for the day. Sullen faces stared blankly at my workstation and I knew that our discussion regarding school had still left them confused and fearful.
That day we had walked through the rickety wooden gate and into the school yard that lead to a side door. I kissed each one goodbye and delivered them to their respective classrooms, leaving my youngest for last. We had been to see the teacher days before and although she was inexperienced, she was also bubbly, kind and understanding. I was sure that everything would go as planned and so I walked with an air of confidence and pride. We reached a brightly colored door that said Welcome to first grade. Other students sat at standard desks and tables, hanging hoodies and jackets on a coat rack, backpacks were shoved into cubbies and parents waved their goodbyes. The teacher nodded her head as if to tell me that it would be fine and it was time to leave. I gave a quick wave and returned the same way I had entered, leaving the wooden gate and parking lot behind.
From the upstairs window I scanned the school playground hoping to catch a glimpse of at least one of my four children. The recess bell rang and with it a massive exit from the side door of the one story school. Children carried balls and toys and quickly started in with their mid day break from books and lessons. A tiny figure stood alone in the large grass area, a hood tightly wrapped around the shiny hair of what appeared to be a small child. A stark contrast became unsettling as he crouched near the brightly colored playground equipment looking from side to side and finally giving in to tears. Classmates ran, laughing and giving chase, engaging in childish games that only youngsters play. Their smiles and shrieks of glee only heightened as activities progressed into throwing, catching and eventually climbing onto a metal structure. I watched him cover his face, firmly placing it into the school yard grass until a familiar figure with dark brown hair placed herself next to him and gave him the company he longed for.
Can I be me
Am I that free
Answer to no one
Live in the moment
Smile while you’re laughing
Stand running forward
Chair near the wall
Rug in a corner
Walk through a puddle
Not get in trouble
Joy now reflected
Talk at the table
Say words that matter
No mindless clatter
Dust covered shelf
Volumes of life
Marked with a pen
Climb to the top
Stand on the mountain
Having a large family means keeping busy at all times. There are very few moments when the phone isn’t ringing or someone isn’t asking for food, socks or just advice. I love being a mom, it has been the best career ever and lasts a life time. Five of my kids still live near me or with me in the house, three live several hours away and of course Osama, Jacki and babies are near enough to pop over easily.
This weekend was spent putting up decorations, taking walks and cooking. I tried a couple of new recipes and unfortunately forgot to take pictures. I have slowly set out little Holiday bits and pieces over the past few weeks. The kids know how I feel about Christmas and notice these small changes. They grin, possibly mutter or maybe even humm a bit of seasonal music, knowing that there is much more to come. It is clear that once the leaves start their annual turn, holiday season is upon us.
This weekend I saw via snapchat that Jacki had already put up an artificial tree soon to be followed by a second real one. Therefore, I felt that permission was given for me to also bring out my first little tree from three years ago or that was my justification to the kids!
Mom and Dad’s village houses went up.
As well as my Christmas angel
And other decorations from years gone by
A walk in 23 degree weather was definitely brisk and although no snow has fallen it is in our forecast! Meanwhile the lavender that I cut back two months ago, is once again blooming! It is always amazing to me that plants show such resilience.
Fattima and Ben came over for a visit Saturday evening and joined us for dinner, cards and the usual loud antics. Fattima went to the bathroom and her brother pushed everyone on the couch, into the hall, blocking her exit. She climbed over and placed herself directly over her younger siblings! This is quite typical of our household.
Four youngest kids sitting nicely before they were pushed down the hall!
I sat in the comfy recliner that my middle child purchased for me on his last visit! I decided I was much too settled and relaxed to remove myself to take a picture! Yes it is that soft and comfortable!
It was a nice, calm weekend spent around our little University town. Frost covered fields and our deck railing, sunsets melded into a frigid sky and thoughts of this year’s festivities surely danced in our heads!
My prayers and thoughts go out to those affected by recent tragedies. I pray for peace!
Last week I started a four week book giveaway. I put the names of those who entered into a hat and drew one name. Those who entered and have not been chosen will be in the drawing for the remaining weeks of the contest. If you have interest in this giveaway just let me know in the comments section.
The first winner of my new book is, Clive from Take It Easy
Congratulations Clive, please contact me with your mailing address!
Any review of my book on amazon would be greatly appreciated!
Several of my friends as well as acquaintances in Riyadh had departed without their children in tow, returning to various locations around the globe. While the choice to leave appeared to be voluntary none of us knew the circumstances that had lead to their decision. Marriages that had fallen apart, abuse and the inability to legally remove youngsters from the country resulted in little ones who were left behind. Memories of dear friends separated from their toddlers as well as teenagers were still fresh in my mind and so the tiny window that gave a view from the walkway into our apartment had been spray painted and covered by a piece of printer paper. Although we had made it back home, the idea of losing my children kept anxiety out of control for years to come.
Summer faded into Fall and a routine that was oddly familiar took shape. The tiny townhouse had come together with furniture that had been procured from the Union Gospel mission as well as odds and ends from mom and dad’s wood house. An alarm buzzed and prodded until we climbed out of bed and readied ourselves for the first day of school. There were no more long trips with a driver and the past few years of homeschooling had been exchanged for a public school that could be seen from the upstairs apartment window. We were together and no one had been left behind in Saudi, making it seem as if somehow all would be well.
Documents and papers were shuffled and stacked until everything was finally in order. A quick trip to the school meant walking out of the apartment door, into the parking lot and through a rickety wooden fence. Vaccination records were not available and birth certificates had taken weeks to arrive, being classified as a Birth abroad report from the consulate. I had met with the principal, teachers and office personnel but still felt that this was somehow wrong and I was at the center of upheaval and a leap into uncertainty. Mother reminded me that it was for the better good and school was part of a new freedom.
Many of you already know that I am a mom to nine fantastic children. But maybe you don’t know that I have five sons and four daughters. Recently Foof got married and a month before the ceremony my eldest daughter Saleeha, got engaged! As I have written in many of my true life stories, it was hard to ever imagine this joy and the idea that my girls would be able to pick their own careers, daily habits and most importantly their love interest. But here we are, two of my girls have found amazing partners and now for the second time I am overjoyed to witness them blossom, find love and build a future.
Saleeha met her intended through a friend and they share many similarities including their love for literature and writing. It has been a long road for my girl, building that trust and learning to relax and accept love and a warm and endearing heart but she is there and I couldn’t be happier.
Edison is a soft spoken Phd in Chemistry, a poet and he loves to cook! The ring he picked has a vintage look and is just what Saleeha wanted.
They have not picked a wedding date and both of them are not really into having a big bash so they will find what suits them. I am all about being yourself and doing what works for you, so whatever they chose will make me happy for them.
Edison proposed at their special place, deception pass. I posted pictures last year after they shared a romantic day there.
Recently wedding dress shopping commenced and she found the perfect fit for her! It is gorgeous. I will only show a bit of the dress so that Edison isn’t disappointed!