Heart and soul heart and soul
Mindless fury takes its toll
Live to please
just play my role
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!
Author blogger mom of nine
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Author: The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481
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