Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 1 in Arizona

Yes! We have escaped winter this year and it is awesome being in the great state of Arizona with our cousins. My two sisters and I have been talking about taking a vacation for so long. Finally, we booked a flight and decided to head south and follow the great migration that birds and senior citizens take every year to get away from  the snow and cold. The timing couldn't be more perfect, we flew out on Christmas day from Michigan with clear blue skies and frigid frosty air. Perfect weather for flying and we had no trouble getting to our destination on time. The very next day, a massive storm blankets the East Coast and the entire Mid-west grounding 1,400 flights and making it horrible for ground transportation to get anywhere in the white-out blizzard conditions.

One thing I learned from all those years living  in the Midwest  is that the weather suffers from a bad case of  Bipolar as it teeters from one extreme (blizzards and snowstorms) to  another (massive heatwaves and tornadoes). An occasional rare moment of perfect weather is very much appreciated. I hope all of you stay safe and warm back home, inshallah.

Arizona is beautiful and the weather is amazing, so we have been enjoying the change in both weather and scenery. We went to this state park/nature reserve called South Mountain in Phoenix and it looked like those movies from the Wild West back in the old days. There were cactus everywhere. This massive park  happens to have the honor of being the largest urban park in the United States because it is over 16,000 acres in size and it attracts outdoorsy visitors from all over the country (and possibly the world); who walk, hike and bike the trails. We didn't get far into the park because we snapped pictures of everything we saw and there was a lot to see at the entrance of the park. The vegetation was so different from the common plants we see in Michigan we might as well have been on the surface of an alien planet.

Here's more of what the park has to offer  


A link for directions and info

Amazing views from every angle

Did I mention that big foot visits the area? J:P

Those who like nature from afar can take scenic drives through the park

The entrance of the park

Friday, October 28, 2011

Michigan fall and apple pies!

Winter is around the corner and I love fall and I love being outdoors enjoying the cool weather and color changes of the leaves. Right now most of the color is gone and all the trees are standing naked and reminding us how close we are to the first fall of snow. So, I have been mostly indoors, keeping warm and dry and cooking.

I made my first pie so I am excited I can't wait for it to cool, so I can taste it! I am hoping it is good because I love pies and if this comes out right I will try to make other types of pies.

To make the best apple pie you need to have the best apples in this case I used the Honeycrisp Apples from Michigan of course and it is really tart and sweet and my friend Mary makes some of the best pies using this types of apples.

The dough was not that hard to make; I used butter, sugar and ice cold water.

I will tell you all about how it turned out, hopefully it tastes good!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh time, where have you gone!?

Sorry I have not been making posts everyday like I promised. I have just been too lazy to keep up with the blog and I have pretty much gotten comfortable been in Minneapolis that I no longer feel like tourist. My cousin told the first week was going to be interesting with alot of new expereiences and the second week nothing will shock because the assimilation will be very complete and I guess that pretty much describes my present mood.

I visited some of the sorrounding suburban towns like Eden Prairie  and Chyrstal mn and they remind so much of home. Eden Praire especailly was awarded by Money Magazine as the best place to live a few years back and it has really cool clean vibe.

Most of you know that I have been dealing with a lot children mostly of the my nieces, nephews and cousins and there's a lot hilarity that comes with being around children and for someone who has been around adults for a long time, this was been an interesting experience. Masha'Allah I gotta give it up to moms everywhere who continue to enrich the lives of children and kiss every booboo and love them unconditionally at all ours of the day. I truly appreciate my hooyo who was endlessly enduring when was a difficult challenging crazy child. I see her struggles with eyes of an adult and I love her for all she went through. My Allah reward all moms of the world for all they have given us and for all they sacrificed for us. There is no way we can even give them half of what they have given us.

With that said I will highlight the top ten no-no and some of the things to expect when you are around kids. most of them are common sense to those who are around kids and pretty much new to me

10. Do not make false promises. Do not say 'inshallah will see' because kids are too smart for that and they have figured out the word 'insha'allah' and they have created their own meaning. When I asked my niece what inshallah means she quickly answered "Inshallah means maybe yes maybe no"

9. Do not take kids problem solving skills for granted. If they can't reach your laptop that you placed in high shelf today, do not assume that it will be safe there tomorrow.

8. Do not use bad language around kids and if you do, don't be surprised at how quickly they pick it up and how often they use that language.

7. Expect kids to be very chatty and be ready when they carry on conversation with random strangers at malls or anywhere else that you could be at. One word you will always hear is why. On positive note kids will make you very outgoing and you will always meet new people

6. Expect kids to have more energy then you can ever possibly have but the minute they get low on energy and get tired be ready for the meltdown.

5. If you do not give kids something to keep them busy with, they will get busy with you. So give them someway to burn all that energy.

4. Do not forget about them even for a minute you have to always be watching them. Because they tend to get into the most trouble when you are not looking

3. Do not ignore them when they are talking to you, you would be surprised  by the neat things they tell you

2. Do not wear white clothing around them, kids have a way of loving you even when their hands are dirty

1. Do not tell them scary stories! NEVER EVER EVER DO THAT! Their perception of reality is a bit different so if you make the story vivid enough for them they will believe it to be true.

                                           Will be back to Michigan soon insha'Allah lol

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coasters and Camel Burgers!

I have been very daring lately... Taking big risks with myself. You know the saying, "relax, go wild you're on Vacation!" It doesn't really apply to Muslims, because our deeds are always being written down for us and we are accountable for all of them. Anyway, I have been going places; I have been exploring the city and walking on the wild side with limitations of course. When you are on vacation, it is always good to do things that you would normally not do because you are taking a break from the normal everyday things.

I normally don't go to the malls but now I have been going everyday. I normally don't eat out a lot because there is always something made to eat at the house. I am somewhat adventurous and more likely to try new foods than any of my close friends, but I do not eat anything weird. So of course, since  I am doing things out of the norm I tried a camel burger, and before you say ewww and click out of the page, let me just say it tastes just like beef! Like a really good  lean cut beef burger patti and it was made by my friends at Safari Express so you know it gotta be at least decent in taste. It was topped with  grilled pineapple and its own version of special sauce that was spicy, savory and really tasty. I am glad a tried it, but I am not sure I would be eating the camel burger everyday because I would not like my lunch turn into major discussion any time I was asked what I ate for lunch. Besides camel burger is not an everyday kinda meal just like any  exotic dish out there. And since I do not live here, I doubt that I would find it any where else in America.

Camel Burger

I went to Mall of America today and it is ridiculous how huge this place is. The shopping sucked for me  just because of the distance between my favorite stores and I didn't feel like going to new stores because I had a few hours to see and experience the whole place and I have been shopping plenty all week.  So we ended up going to amusement park inside the mall and that was a lot of fun. I am normally too much of a chicken to even attempt roller coasters but like I said I was a daring version of myself.  Of course the first coaster I rode was really fast and it scared the crap out me and afterwords there were several more rides and I was not all that scared anymore. I had a blast!!! I am so so so glad that I didn't shop too much. This was highlight of my week so far, tomorrow I am going to a wedding and so the party is not over but I am pretty sure today is going to be up there in the ranking as the most fun day of my time in Minnesota.

                                      ~Team fun~ these cuffs allowed us to go on unlimited rides!

Friday, October 7, 2011

All about food

If you are in Minneapolis and you are not dining from the Somali restaurants you are missing out big time! so far I have eaten the food from the three different Somali restaurants and I am not disappointed by the food both the quality and the quantity. Let me start by saying that I am a big foodie; I love everything about food: cooking, learning about new and interesting foods and definitely eating food. I even dream about new recipes while sleeping, down to the measurements. So of course I have done my research ahead of time (before I arrived) about places to eat and foods to try.  I come to town seriously excited about chowing down on some of the best Somali cuisine Minneapolis has to offer and let me tell ya this city delivered.

First place I tried was Qoraxlow restaurant and this place must be a new fad in the city because I have seen more Qoraxlow restaurants than I have seen McD's and Wendy's and my cousin Ifrah tells me that they all popped up all over the place recently. she says the owner is woman with a true rags to riches achieving the American dream tale. The food is good but insha'Allah I plan to explore it some more because I was not really wowed as I was with other restaurants. It was decent Somali food but there is craze over this place and I plan to get to the bottom of it. So many people most be obsessed with  these restaurants because the company seem to be expanding rapidly.

The second place I went I have been planning to go since 2008. Crazy I know! I was looking for recipes for Somali dishes on YouTube and I came across Somali chef who has name I can't recall and he was on morning news show and he was demonstrating how to make this dish he called Chicken Fanstatik, so I wrote the recipe and lost it later on, but I remembered the place he cooked at was called Safari Restaurant and it was in Minneapolis,  that's all knew and I have been waiting to come here and eat this dish since that year. Yesterday, FINALLY! I had tasted it and my goodness it was worth the wait. It was incredible, this dish is unlike anything I have ever tried... it is more Italian than Somali  but it still  has Somali'ish vibe. It was an absolutely delicious meal and I swear I imagined many times how it would taste but is was totally different than anything my imagination came up with. let me describe to you a little the ingredients; it is shredded zucchini, onions, carrots and chicken with a creamy, herb-y sauce over a bed of the some really yummy Somali rice.  I am not the only person who raving about this amazing invention I was reading the all the awards this place has received over the years. Even the mayor of the city comes around and dines there, and the restaurant is also involved in the community which is a bonus for me. And by the way the service was really really great; not to mention I met a white guy named Jeff who speaks Somali really well and we have had few minutes discussion in afSomali and we agreed how difficult it is learn this language... I was surprised how well he spoke it given the hardship of learning this language. Better than some of my friends! I wanted badly to  get a picture with him but I was too shy to ask.

Fantastik chicken Fantastik 

Did I mention that there is camel burger for adventurous folks to try?

My third stop was at Kaaha restaurant inside the 24 mall, (another Somali mall in this city) and I went there by myself and I was seated in women's area. Yes people, some Somali restaurants do have separation of men and women and in my experience I have also noticed in a few restaurants that have a "miscellaneous area" where men and women sit together; mostly family groups or Americans sit in this area. I am not sure if Kaaha has the same arrangement. I have asked for  a menu and the waiter laughed and later on told me that I  was the first person to ask him for a menu. why? because Somali food is always straight up the same at every restaurant you go, it is traditional, no surprises, the same great meals that we grew up with at home are available at this joints. Of course I would not know that because we have a shortage in Somali restaurants where I am from. like zero Somali restaurants! The service was great and it had a very comfortable  Somali family vibe and I loved it. Two thumbs up from me.
                                                   Chicken kutuleti (cutlets) with rice

                                     so much food and so delicious I took some home with me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Damn Al shabab

I know I am on vacation and I promised that I would be writing about things related to my stay in Minneapolis so I am sorry if this is not what you expected from me. I am just truly saddened by what has happened in Somalia to the 70 dead  and many injured people in Tuesday's car bomb. so my thoughts are far from enjoying myself in this beautiful city. I can not express enough how much I abhor Alshabab and anyone who kills unsuspecting innocents in the name of Allah. I am not one to easily who hate any of Allah creation no matter how vile and horrible they are. But I have to tell you how truly deserving they are of my hate.. may they all perish and burn in deepest parts for hell for the fitna they cause in Somalia. Somalia has seen many tragedies in the last twenty years but this one gets to me the most because this cursed group not only enslave my people but they do in the name of my Religion and I cannot forgive or forget that easily.

I have never really appreciated how much Allah has blessed me with, especially my education. There are young students in some places in the world who study in dim candle light and they keep studying with out complaining and then they there those that are killed just because that trying to do something useful for their country. In the history of humanity, when one group wants to keep down   the  morale of another group or enslave them, the first thing they do is take away the power to think for themselves by immersing them in the darkness of ignorance. And this my dear friends and family is exactly what is deplorable group is doing. they are squishing the hope of the young ones before it blossoms and gives them the confidence they need to survive. The confidence they need to bring about positive change that is desperately needed in Somalia.

I wish them nothing but harm... I am tired of praying for them to change for better when all they do is  destroy the last ray of hope that this fragile country can cling to.

Dugsi (again)

I missed to make the last post. Oh well, it is not the end of the world; life goes on as usual. Yesterday was a loooong day subhana'Allah. We went mall cruising again.... so many cute hijabs I wanted to buy them all. Next time I will probably drive down to Minneapolis so I don't have to deal with Airport baggage requirements and  I can take everything I want. I don't understand how I can hate shopping back home and I want to spend all my days in the Somali malls here. I know for sure if I move here I will never save money because I will always be buying head scarfs.

I went to dugsi with the kids again and masha'Allah I love the place. If  the Somali of Minneapolis got one thing going for them is the quality of Islamic education. They excel at that here but the dugsi that my nieces and nephew go to is even better than the traditional dugsi because they help the kids with their homework and they have a collaboration with moms who seem to be spending just as much time at the school as their kids. This dugsi teaches math, English, science as well as the traditional Islamic studies and this great especialy since some of the Somali moms can't really help their kids with these subjects.

                           The kindergarten class... my niece calls it the baby class

My niece drew this picture of me... I was kinda freaked out because we lost the car keys and she really captured my stress, but I only wish my lashes were that long!