Saturday, November 10, 2012

Putting Together a Budget: Part I

Salam 3alaikum sisters,

I had a request to show how I put together the budget for our house. A budget is definitely an ongoing process and needs to be adjusted each month. This first post is going to cover how I first developed the budget.

Step 1: I bought a ledger book to keep track of our finances. I bout the one called "columnar pad" from Wal-Mart. It is not available online but you should be able to find something similar in most stores that carry office supplies.

Step 2: Write down how much I THINK we spend on each category. My categories included:

  • Rent: monthly for our apartment 
  • Electric: our only utility payment, but you may also have water and gas 
  • Comcast: internet bill
  • Insurance: car insurance is required
  • Phone: our cell phone bill
  • Car Gas: gasoline, monthly average, you may have a car payment as well
  • Food: include groceries and eating out, I keep note of restaurant amount as well
  • Fun: like travel, movies, etc
  • Netflix: monthly fee
  • Gym: monthly fee
  • Clothes: new clothes budget
  • Laundry: detergent, dryer sheets, and coins for machine
  • Heath and Beauty: medicines, make up, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
  • House Items: organizational, decorative
  • Savings: we are trying to save a certain amount each month
I put the name of the category in the first column then the amount I thought we would spend in the second column. You may have more or less categories than this.

Step 3: Track actual spending for a month. I keep all of our receipts together and every few days I update out budget. I separate each receipt into categories and keep a running total for each category. At the end of the week I check the bank statement online to make sure I didn't miss any receipts.
At the end of the month I will toss out all the receipts except those that I might need for warranty or return purposes. 

Step 4: At the end of the month, add up all your spending totals and compare to the predictions at the beginning of the month. This will give you a better idea of how you are actually spending your money versus how you think you are spending it. For example, we estimated the first month that we would spend $300 on food and we actually spent closer to $400. That is a big difference... 

Step 5: Use your actual spending to estimate your next months budget. Where can you add and where can you take away? For example the next month we set our food budget at $350 and made an effort to eat out less often. 

Note: Don't forget to add one time expenses into your monthly budget. For example you may know that this month you will need to change the car oil, maybe your husband needs a new pair of dress shoes, or you need to pay your zakat. Go ahead and add that into the budget at the beginning of the month so you can be prepared for the expense.

In part two, inshaAllah I will talk about some other budget options that may work better different situations.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Home Management Binder

Salam 3alaikum girls,

I am in the middle of putting together a "home management binder" to help me organize all of the papers and schedules and information floating around my house.

Right now, I am just putting together things from around my house (free, yay!) to create a makeshift binder until I figure out how much use I will get out of these binders before investing more permanently.

So far I have 2 plastic brad folders and one normal plastic folder.

The brad folders look like this:

One brad folder holds our receipts, budget, goals, account info, travel plans, and calendars (school, cleaning schedule, tv shows lol). It is green, like money O_o
The second brad folder holds online shopping account info, meal ideas, coupons, recipes, the grocery list and store ad flyers. It is orange... like an orange. Yes I'm so creative.
The normal folder holds our apartment info, lease agreement, and documented contact with the landlord/maintenance staff, and emergency information like family addresses, phone numbers, doctors names and numbers, etc. It is purple. Because I had a purple folder.

Along with normal notebook paper I am using a few plastic page protectors and some binder clips to hold lists and receipts and such I also have some tabs for the sections. Coupons, grocery lists, and calendars are stored in plastic pages. I have some plastic pages also to store any recipes I come across in magazines or online. I can just clip or print them and shove them in the book for later.

The 10 colored tab pages, 16 plastic page protectors, and 8 binder clips of varying size were $3 total at the Dollar Tree, so it really wasn't a big splurge to get this party started. Everything else I had laying around the house.

When I get a good system going inshaAllah I plan on adding more "official" printables instead of drawing all over notebook paper. Also I may buy a real binder.

Would you all be interested in my sharing the printables here? I know homemaking binders are becoming more common.

I think the first one I will make will be for my cleaning schedule inshaAllah. Right now I have it all written on scrap pieces of paper and stuck in the binder which isn't very helpful.

Do any of you use a homemaking binder to keep organized? Do you use some other method? I would love to hear about it inshaAllah!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upcoming Projects

Salam 3alaikum girls,

While I was away from the blog, a lot of things changed up here! We are just getting settled into a new apartment in a new town mashaAllah. We are implementing a new budget to save up for "after graduation limbo" time. I am having to learn some new skills while we are adapting to our new environment, and I am striving to get more organized so that our little home runs more smoothly inshaAllah.

I am planning on putting together some new posts related to:

  • home organization
  • home management
  • food/recipes
  • my inspiration
  • DIY projects
  • beauty posts
  • health and fitness
I have come to realize that I am a homemaker/ housewife that doesn't really know how to make a home! I love the idea of taking care of my house and my family, but I don't really know how to give myself some structure so that I really take my job seriously.

Right now I just do housework and such whenever it becomes absolutely necessary, like when the sink is full of dishes or we have no clean clothes to wear. I sit around a lot and put things off. I want people to have respect for homemakers, but I am not being very respectful toward my position. If I was on a "real" job outside, I think I would have been fired a long time ago. MashaAllah my husband is very patient with me, and very understanding, but it is not right for me to take advantage of that. 

So for a little while inshaAllah my posts will be pretty "home" related as I try to teach myself to be a better housewife.

What do you think??


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quick Update

Salam 3alaikum ya akhwaaty,

We are just getting settled into a new apartment alhamdulillah and getting into the swing of school again. I feel like we have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off for weeks now but inshaAllah ya rabb hopefully things will slow down soon.

We finally have an internet connection and everything so inshaAllah I will return to more regular posting soon.

Hope all of you are doing well inshaAllah!!!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Affordable Beauty Tips #4

Salam 3alaikum ya banaat!

see what you can do with that stuff piling up in your medicine cabinet or laundry room!

Beauty in the Laundry Room/Medicine Cabinet!

Ivory Bar Soap:
 Cheaper than liquid body washes and also great for hand washing delicates. Before you go out gardening, scratch your nails across your bar soap to build up a coat under your nails, put on your gardening glove, then when you get done just rinse out the soap. It will save you time having to dig all the dirt from your nails later inshaAllah.

Bounce Sheets: Rub a bounce sheet on the bottom of your dress/pants/abaya to avoid static cling. Keep bounce sheets in your clothes drawer to keep that "just washed" smell. Bounce sheets are also great to smooth out fly-away hairs!

Aspirin: Crunch up aspirin, mix with a little water and use on skin to reduce puffiness and prevent razor burn after you shave. If you apply a paste to a pimple it will also reduce redness and pain and help shrink it up quickly.

Baking Soda: I use it for everything! You can use it to exfoliate your scalp (just add to your shampoo or conditioner) to deodorize your shoes, add to bleach and make a scrub for the bathroom and kitchen, exfoliate your lips by mixing it will oil or vaseline and gently wiping away with a warm wet cloth. Add baking soda to your toothpaste for extra cleaning power and toss some in the wash to help whiten whites.

Epsom Salts: Great for adding to oil for an exfoliating scrub. Good for tossing in the bath instead of those pricey bath salts. Just add some body wash/essential oils/leftover perfume in the bottom of the bottle for a great smell.

Witch Hazel: This is another great antiseptic/astringent. It does amazing things for ingrown hairs and razor burn. Just put some on a cotton ball and swipe over the area. Follow up with olive oil/vitamin e/ coconut oil or your favorite moisturizer! Witch hazel is really cheap but I would spend the extra couple dollars to get one that doesn't have such a strong smell to it, because the smell is quite definitely an acquired taste... You can also try adding an essential oil to cover the smell, but shake the bottle each time before use. Witch hazel also helps heal bruising and sun burns.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Affordable Beauty Tips #3

Salam 3alaikum girls!

In continuation with the "affordable beauty" series, here are some tips for using what you have in your home office or at work!

Beauty in the Office!

Elmer's Glue: Use kids white school glue as a peeling face mask. Apply to skin, wait to dry, and peel off.

Liquid Paper: Use this white correcting fluid to fix a chip in your french manicure instead of going to get a fill in. It also works to cover up black scuffs on white shoes in a pinch!

Scotch Tape: Removes powdered eye make up really quickly if you want a change or if you get extra powder all over the place. Just press the piece against the make up you want to remove and it will lift away!

Magnetic Paper Clip Holder: Holds all your bobby pins in one easy to access place.

Post-It Notes: Use small ones under your eyes to catch any loose falling eyeshadow, fold in quarters with the sticky side facing out and use to clean under your nails. The sticky catches the dirt.

Paper Clips: Use an unfolded paper clip to make polka dots with your nail polish.

Circle Paper Hole Reinforcements: Use to make a clean curve with your nail polish during manicures, like the "half moon" manicure and french manicure. You can also use cut up strips of blue painters tape to make straight lines!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Affordable Beauty Tips #2

Salam 3alaikum sisters,

This is a continuation of my "Affordable Beauty Tips"!
There are many ways to make what you already have in your bathroom work for you in many ways to help stretch out the life of your beauty products. Its all about the multi-taskers!!

Beauty in the Bathroom!

No More Tears Baby Shampoo: Great for removing make up and cleaning make up brushes. You can keep a small bottle with a few drops of shampoo mixed with water to use as a make up remover and brush cleanser.

Tinted Moisturizer: Mix your favorite moisturizer and foundation to make a lighter feeling "tinted moisturizer" and stretch your bottle of foundation! I use this one from St Ives that you can get pretty cheap at walmart. The tub lasts forever and is really light. I can reapply every time I make wudhu without feeling too greasy. It is made for reducing wrinkles, which to me is totally off the point since I just like the weight of it, but I guess an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure inshaAllah!

Left Over Lipsticks: That small amount of lipstick in the bottom of the tube can be gently melted in the microwave and added to moisturizer to make a cream blush. You can also use lipstick and gloss leftovers as a light cheek stain in a pinch. Also you can try mixing colors if you get tired of a certain lipstick color. Mixing with vaseline will make a less intense color as well.

Vaseline: Vaseline has so many uses I might be able to make a whole post about it... I especially like the new vaseline with cocoa butter. Use it to protect eyelashes at night, as a cuticle cream, on rough skin patches, as chap stick or gloss, mix with eye shadow to make a cream eyeliner and apply with an angled brush, vaseline and kool-aid make flavored lip gloss, use to tame eyebrows, apply to cracked feet and wrap with plastic wrap them put on socks over night.

Conditioner: I use one conditioner (Suave Naturals, Tropical Coconut) to cleanse my scalp (instead of shampoo) and as a shaving cream. You can get a huge bottle for just a couple of dollars at walmart! I like this one because it doesn't have any silicones in it that require a harsh shampoo to wash out, plus it smells great.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Affordable Beauty Tips

Salam 3alaikum sisters!

As a newly married lady, I am always on the hunt for affordable beauty tips and tricks. I thought I should share the wealth! I'm hoping this will be an ongoing project inshaAllah.

Beauty in the Kitchen!

Sugar: Mix granulated sugar with your favorite body oil or honey and exfoliate. Add used coffee grounds for a great smell and caffeine that helps firm skin!

Corn Starch and Cocoa Powder: Mix a small amount of cocoa powder with corn starch to make a cheap "setting powder" that reduces shine and is SUPER cheap! You can adjust the amount of cocoa powder to match your skin tone. You could make a slightly darker version to use as a bronzer, and try adding cinnamon for a little more "rosy" hue. Be careful to apply sparingly so as not to dry out your face too much.

Rose Water: Dilute some rose water with a few spoons of water to make a great facial toner. Its affordable, natural, and smells great! Keep only a few ounces mixed at a time in a tightly closed bottle to keep it fresh.

Olive Oil, Coconut Oil: Great skin and hair moisturizers and great for use on dry cuticles and cracked feet! And its something you probably already have in your house. I also sometimes use olive oil to remove waterproof makeup.

DiY Blush: Mix a couple drops of red food coloring into a couple spoons of water. Add baby powder or corn starch until it makes a powdery paste. Add more or less food coloring to adjust the color. The color of the wet paste will be darker than the dry paste, so don't freak out! Press the paste into an old clean empty blush compact.

InshaAllah the next installment will be coming up soon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Makeup Advice?

Salam 3alaikum sisters,

I have a question I hope you can help me with inshaAllah.

I like to wear make up in the house for my husband, but this is something that I don't have a lot of experience with. Before Islam I almost never wore make up and the three years after Islam before I got married, I only really wore make up for short periods of time for ladies gatherings or 3id.

So my question is, how do you keep your make up on all day?! It is my understanding that I've got to water to all parts of my face/skin when I make wudhu, which means the make up has to come off every time I get clean for prayers.


Is there some secret tip to this that I am missing?? I know there are ladies out there who wear make up all day, so how do you do it?? Please educate me!!

Thanks sisters <3

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to: Sugaring/Halawa!

Salam 3alaikum sisters,

Sorry this was a long time coming. I wanted to post photos of myself sugaring a hand or something, but then figured that there were men reading this blog... (SHAME ON YOU GUYS, THIS IS A LADY'S ONLY SPACE!!!)

I didn't want to leave you all hanging so I found a youtube video that does it similar to the way I do it, plus shows how to sugar with cloths (kind of like regular waxing).

I didn't actually listen to the sound on this one yet since I picked it while my husband was sleeping lol.

But some tips from me:

  • this wax looks much more soft/liquid/sticky than what I usually use. That's ok though as long as it still pulls off your skin.
  • if the sugar is too hard to easily pull out of the container you put it in, let it sit in a sink of hot water until it is pliable and easy to remove from the container
  • if your hair is a little long, trim it down to about 1/4 of an inch, which will help the halawa hold stronger
  • if you are afraid the sugar is too sticky and will pull your skin (which seriously, it almost never does) you can put a light dusting of baby powder or talcum before you apply
  • this lady picks up her hand as she smooths on the sugar, but I never do that. I slowly press up against the hair grow in one long sweep, making sure it is a pretty thin and even application, then pull down with the hair growth, the sugar never leaves my hand the entire time
  • keep the skin pulled tight, it reduces the pain and seems to help the hair adhere to the sugar better
  • if it becomes difficult to control, stop and make a ball with your hands then start again. 
  • unlike wax, you can go over a place you have already waxed more than once if some hairs are missed. I probably wouldn't do it more than 3 or 4 times though, just to avoid stressing your skin out
  • if you miss a few stray hairs, don't worry you can just pull them with tweezers later
  • I usually use the same blob of sugar for an entire leg
  • if you are going to sugar sensitive areas (face or bikini area) I suggest using a small amount of sugar and working in small sections.
Using Cloth Strips:
  • heat the sugar the way you would wax, make sure it isn't too hot!!!
  • you can use cut up denim for this, i heard it works really well, just wash it really good in very hot water before you use it for this
  • you can use the same cloth strip more than one time, and use it to pick up missed hairs
  • I think this is probably a good method to use the sugar that cooked a little bit too long, but I never tried this before so don't hold my word to it
  • wash off any sticky stuff left with water (cool or lukewarm water is better)
  • if you are prone to ingrown hairs, it is a good idea to put an antiseptic after you sugar like witch hazel or something made for waxing
  • moisturize moisturize moisturize. I usually apply a thick layer of extra virgin olive oil. I would suggest using an unscented moisturizer for the first 24 hours to avoid irritation
  • many sites i read said to avoid hot water on the skin for the first 24 hours as well. 

Do any of you ladies wax or sugar under your arms? I am terrified to try it lol, but I get tired of shaving. Also if I recall correctly it is sunnah to pluck those hairs out.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Salam 3alaikum sisters!!

As you can tell I have been absent for a while. First our computer was in the shop and then it was being monopolized  by the man of the house.

Currently were a planning a small vacation inshaAllah before the two of us part ways to visit our families for the rest of the summer. I am looking forward to seeing my family inshaAllah but not so excited to be separated from my husband for 2+ months. We will be spending our first Ramadhan and 3id apart from each other inshaAllah.

Also I found out that I have problem with acid and ulcers and damaged stomach lining subhanAllah. To me it seemed so sudden, but apparently there have been small symptoms that I just ignored in the past. Alhamdulillah 3la kl 7al that it wasn't something more serious!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Sunday

Salam 3alaikum ya banaat!!

This weekend my husband and I decided to spend some time outdoors. It rained for most of the day on Saturday, but Sunday and Monday brought really great weather alhamdulillah.

On Sunday we went to visit a nearby city. They had a really beautiful park next to the river with walking trails.

During the walk I took some pictures of the flora and fauna! A few of these pictures are from a garden inside the city. Can you tell which ones?



Saturday, May 26, 2012


Salam 3alaikum ya banaat!

This is so hilarious. I was looking for a picture of a beanie like the one I have and I came across this instead...


bahahahahahahahahaah sooooo awesome!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sadaqah Button ~~>>>>

Salam 3alaikum sisters,

I just wanted to bring your attention to the "Chip In" widgit over on the right side of my blog >>>

I am currently working with the group Pious Muslimah Initiative in order to collect donations to feed orphan girls from Mombasa, Kenya. These little girls are all under the age of 13 and are receiving an Islamic education mashaAllah even though many Kenyans are distrustful of Mulims.

Apart from money transfer/wiring fees, every cent you donate will be going straight to the care of these girls.

Even just $1 can buy two meals for a little girl.

Please consider donating for the sake of Allah!!!

Jazakum Allah Khair <3<3<3<3<3

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hair Removal: Halawa

Salam 3alaikum ya banaat!

One thing I had to be much more diligent about when I got married was hair removal. Because of my skin type/condition hair removal is very difficult, tedious and often painful. I am very prone to razor burn and ingrown hairs because of all that extra keratin my skin/follicles are producing.

The best method I have found for hair removal is halawa. Some people might know it as "sugaring." (halawa just means something sweet)

Because finding anything useful in my hometown is incredibly difficult, I had to learn how to make halawa in my own house. It takes some time but you can make a big batch and put it in little plastic tupperwares to keep it fresh. If you live somewhere hot it might be better to keep it inside the fridge so it will last longer, but generally I keep mine in a airtight container in the cabinet (not in the bathroom... it gets too hot in there).

So the method for making halawa is like this:
(this is for one batch, you could very easily double or triple it if you like, it wont make any big difference)

1. put 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, juice from 1/2 lemon into a small saucepan
2. simmer on low heat until the sugar has started to caramelize, turning a nice dark amber color.
3. stir every 5 to 10 minutes, this size batch usually takes me about 30 minutes. larger batches might take longer to finish cooking.
4. be careful not to let it go too long.... if you cook it too long it turns into hard candy lol
5. let it cool a little in the pan, then distribute into containers. if i make a double batch i like to use several small containers which i use to delicate areas like face and bikini area and a couple bigger containers to use for larger areas like my legs.
6. when you want to use it, like it sit in some warm water for a little while so that it will loosen up from the sides a  little and come out easier. otherwise you will have to wrestle with it to get it off the plastic.

note: if you find after it has cooled that the sugar won't form a soft ball because it is too sticky, you can just put it back in the pan and cook it a little longer. there isn't a good way to save it if you cook it too long, but you could always eat it like candy :-P it actually has a nice and interesting flavor!

The color should come out something like the picture on the right inshaAllah. It looks a little goopy in the picture since it is still a little warm.

InshaAllah I will put together another post on how to use it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Time for Everything: IKEA

Salam 3alaikum sisters!!!

A few days ago I went to IKEA for the very first time ever in my whole life! I grew up in an area that didn't (and still doesn't) have one.

I told my husband that I would really like to visit one since I had never been before, so he drove me half an hour to the nearest one.

When we first got there we had some cinnamon rolls and hazelnut chocolate. Then we walked around the show room. I really really love how they can make such incredibly tiny spaces seem complete and functional. It's freakin amazing! I also liked that everything is pretty affordable. Right now we are only planning to live here for another year or year and a half tops... for us there is no point in investing in heavy furniture pieces.

After we looked around the show room we went downstairs where they have all of the small sale items and the warehouse area. They had so many really nice items that were even cheaper than what you find at the dollar stores! We walked through isle after isle of kitchen supplies and I felt like I was in my element. I wanted two of everything.

Some things I love about the store:

  • the flow was really great and keeps you moving forward
  • it was clean and organized
  • decent quality items, especially for the price
Some things I hated:
  • if i had been separated from my husband, i would have never found him again. the show room is set up like a big maze and there was no phone service in the building
  • i wanted to spend way more money than we had
  • it was pretty far away
I ended up getting:

A coffee table, two plates, two bowls, a laptop stand, a pan, wooden spoons,  and a silverware organizer. Plus the earlier chocolates, cinnamon rolls, lays chips and a pepsi.
All for $35!!! Can you believe it?? I felt like I bought a cheap coffee table and got all the other stuff for free mashaAllah alhamdulillah.

So I think it is safe to say that IKEA is now one of my favorite places ever. I can't wait to go back inshaAllah ^_^

Monday, May 7, 2012


Salam 3alaikum ladies!

I know the "official" start of summer isn't until later, but in the south summer starts on May 5th.

May 5th starts the strawberry season and strawberry season starts the summer y'all!

So here is the new banner and icon for the occasion!!! Enjoy!

Email from a Friend

salam 3alaikum girls,

I received this email from a sister of mine, my bff from South Africa. MashaAllah it is sooooo good! Just read... you'll see.

Oh Allah.
I told you: I'm in pain
     You said: 'Do not despair of the mercy of Allah' (39:53)
I told you: Nobody knows what is in my heart
     You said: 'Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest' (13:28)
I told you: Many people hurt me
     You said: 'So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them' (3:159)
I told you: I feel I'm alone
     You said: 'We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein' (50:16)
I told you: My sins are so many
     You said: 'And who can forgive sins except Allah?' (3:135)
I told you: Do not leave me
     You said: 'So remember Me; I will remember you...' (2:152)
I told you: I'm facing a lot of difficulties in life
     You said: 'And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out' (65:2)
I told you: I have many dreams that I want to come true
     You said: 'Call upon Me; I will respond to you.' (40:60)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Arabic Links

salam 3alaikum ya banaat!!

So now I am back with a little bit more casual posting. I am excited to talk about things that randomly pop into my mind for a while instead of trying to stick with a theme.

For my first post back I am doing a link dump. YAY!!

All of these links are great (FREE) ways to study Arabic. Personally I have no $$$ to spend on Arabic classes or tutoring or lessons so free coursework online is great for me. Many of these can also be opened on a smart phone if you have a pdf reader and internet connection!

1. Live Mocha: This site offers vocab lessons, review sessions, writing prompts, and speaking prompts. All submissions are reviewed by native speakers for you and they give you tips on improving your language. You can also chat with native speakers in order to practice and review other people's submissions in your native language and help them learn as well! You can move at your own pace and be as active or as absent as you feel necessary. They offer many more languages beyond Arabic as well.
Practices: Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar

2. Understand Qur'an: Understand Qur'an focuses on learning Arabic through Qur'anic vocabulary. They introduce vocabulary and grammar concepts using common Islamic phrases, du3a, and verses. They program they use to introduce grammar and conjugation is really easy to remember mashaAllah and is worth it, even if you don't finish the rest of the course. The course includes text book, workbook, instructional videos, power points, quizzes, tests, posters, vocab sheets, and audio.
Practices: Listening, Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar

3. Foreign Service Institute:  FSI has put together many language texts that are now in the public domain. The Arabic courses include Written Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Saudi Arabic, and Comparative Arabic. They include student texts and audio files for listening. I haven't looked through all of the courses but the Saudi Arabic course has a good focus on conversation examples and dialect explanations which is really nice if you want to be able to actually talk to someone.
Practices: Listening, Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Grammar, Dialects

4. Islamic Online University/ Fanar Institute: They offer free online certificate/diploma courses in Islamic Studies. They are less intense than degree courses. They offer one introductory Arabic course for free in the diploma section that is for beginners called "Arabic reading and writing made easy." I assume it starts from the very beginning, but I haven't actually started it yet. I haven't started any of the other courses from this site either as I haven't confirmed if it is giving correct knowledge.
Practices: Will update when I start the course inshaAllah

5. Madinah Arabic: Offers free Arabic courses for learning to read and beyond. They have flashcards and a text that is pretty easy to navigate. You can read the text online or they also provide a .pdf file you can download and print. I think this is better for reading and writing since it is missing the listening/speaking sections.
Practices: Reading, Writing, Vocabulary, Grammar

6. Kalamullah: Kallamullah has many Arabic textbooks for free download. Many (but not all) come with downloadable video or audio content to accompany the book. This is great for those of us who really prefer independent study and having a lot of options or variety in study materials. This resource also includes many English/Arabic dictionaries and articles with advice on learning Arabic as a second language!
Practices: Listening, Writing, Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar

7. Cartoons: Never underestimate media as a tool for learning a new language! I prefer watching kids shows since generally they don't have the sex or violence in adult movies and the language is usually at a lower level and easier to grasp. This site has a lot of Arabic cartoons posted and even movies that you will recognize that have been translated into Arabic from English. A really good one believe it or not is Dora the Explorer (search دورا on the website). They throw in some English words every once in a while to help get your bearings, they repeat phrases often so you can get the idea and the vocabulary is basic.
Practices: Listening, Vocabulary

You can add a speaking component to each of these courses by simply finding someone who will take it with you and practice together! Don't have someone willing to take the course? At least find someone to tell about what you learned even if they have no idea what you are talking about lol, just saying it out loud to someone will be very helpful.

If you know of any other good, free sources for learning Arabic, please let me know!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for...


The zenith is the culmination of an event, and this is the culmination of mine.

This is the end of my ABC challenge.

I feel an actual sense of accomplishment alhamdulillah :-D It is always a little sad when something comes to an end, but I'm really excited to start more regular and unstructured posting again!

I am planning to do this again, maybe during Ramadhan inshaAllah but with the arabic alphabet. Is anyone interested in joining me??

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for...


People have been using yeast for millennia to bake.

One of the things I can remember very vividly from childhood is the fresh baked yeast bread my grandfather's second wife use to make for us when we came to visit. She would cut us thick hot slices and slather soft butter all over the top. Me and my dad would sit in the kitchen and eat half a loaf in 5 minutes between us.

I have always wanted to learn how to bake yeast bread, but always had the image in my mind that it was incredibly hard. I never even tried because I thought I would fail. Failing at cooking always seems extra terrible because I didn't just fail... I also wasted precious food.

Anyway... finally I decided that I just couldn't wait any longer.

When I got married I decided I would try it. You all have already seen the results from that!

So now I feel pretty competent making a loaf of yeast bread alhamdulillah and my husband loves the smell of the house when I bake.

My next project is to learn how to make pastry dough inshaAllah!

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for...


An unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners,or anything perceived as foreign or different. 

Racism and discrimination against people of another religion and culture are all forms of xenophobia. 

Xenophobia is something that Muslims in the West have to deal with a lot. Even western muslims may have to deal with it in majority muslim countries.

 Many converts experience it in different levels of our lives.
Some experience it within themselves. How terrifying would it feel to be afraid of anything different than yourself or your set group of people? It influences some new muslims to only accept those things that do not make them seem different from their group, such as rejecting hijab. They are afraid of feeling foreign.

 Some experience it from their families. Many of our families do not know how to adapt or react to the changes we make in our lives that make us so different from them. They are afraid of it because they can't identify with it. They look at their family member and suddenly see something completely foreign to their experience.

 Many experience it from their communities. Communities tend to develop a group identity and those that don't fit in are excluded, feared, or rejected. Fear of the unknown is common to all humanity, and foreign/different people have shown themselves to be an unknown quantity.

 Even muslims exhibit characteristics of xenophobia. Many communities fear the corruption of their religion and culture so intensely that they actively discriminate against people who are different, even if those different people do not pose a threat to them.

 Xenophobia is a destructive to the community as it excludes minority people, creating a group of of people who feel no allegiance to the community and no sense of responsibility to them. This is something that Islam totally teaches against and encourages marriage between muslims of different races and cultures in order to create a community whose identity is belief in God, not in culture or color or geographic location. Muslims are even taught to accept the disbelief of others and that this life is not where their judgement will be found. We are taught to say "to you your religion, and to me mine."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for...

Wove... Twoo Wove:

That is "love... true love" to those of you that never watched Princess Bride.

Alhamdulillah I feel so fortunate that I married a man that I can truly love and respect. Allah knows better but I feel that he is really the love of my life.

I know many people are not as lucky as me and some just don't care.

I think the best thing is not that I love all the good things about my husband. This is the easiest thing for us women to do...

The best part is that the bad things don't drive me crazy alhamdulillah. This is the real gift from Allah. That is how I know that this is the man for me subhanAllah.

I could make a long list of all of my husbands good qualities mashaAllah but the truly remarkable thing would be the list of annoying qualities that just don't phase me :-P

***please say mashaAllah***

What is difficult for you in your marriage? What is easy for you? How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for...

very very... extra-ordinary:

not really lol, V is for...


I am not good at making myself vulnerable. Sometimes I think it is a bad thing.

For example, I am a perfectionist. If I don't think I will do something correctly, I just wont do it. Like with language, if I don't think I will say something correctly or wont have all the right words or right pronunciation, it is almost impossible to make myself say anything. I will sit and think about what I want to say over and over but never actually SAY it.

I have a problem also with asking for things that I want. Especially in relationships with people I love like my family and my husband. A part of me is always afraid they will say no or I will realize that it wasn't what I actually needed or wanted or maybe they will resent me asking or it was something that wasn't really important and I caused trouble for no reason. So I don't ask. I keep thinking it is just better all around to not ask... I am an easy going person and it is much easier for me to forget and move on than it is for the people around me alhamdulillah. I think I am completely incapable of holding a strong grudge because I just forget things so fast!

I have a hard time opening myself up in general. My feelings bruise really easily and people can hurt me without even having the intention to do it, then they feel bad because I feel bad and it becomes a huge mess...

I know in a lot of situations this is a good thing. I am not haunted by the past deeds of people around me, I am in touch with my feelings and can easily recognize my motivations, and I usually think really hard before I say anything alhamdulillah. On the other side I am impeding my own language progress and I am not always upfront about how I am feeling or what I need from people.

alhamdulillah 3la kul 7al, inshaAllah this is something I can work on. Any advice?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for:


This post is going to be underwhelming. It is 5:24am and I realized that I hadn't written a post yet.

I am trying really hard to actually finish this thing I promise!!!

Anyway, I guess this is a good time to tell you guys. I'm a terrible finisher. Did I already say that earlier??

I get so excited about things but at some point, I lose my steam. I start out with great intentions and millions of ideas and then.... ... .. . blah.

I am trying to work on it, as you can see here. InshaAllah it is something I will learn how to overcome in the future.

Any tips or tricks??

Thanks for bearing with me ladies, mashaAllah I admire your patience!

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for:


I love tea. I love sitting and enjoying tea. I love all of the snacks and foods that people usually enjoy with tea.

I especially love tea with habeg/habeq. I have never heard any other people using habeg except for Saudis, but it makes tea absolutely delicious!!!

Habeg is sort of minty, but has a kind of dry bite to the end of it. It is really difficult to describe. I don't even think it is actually in the mint family.

Anyway tea is delicious and always comes at a time when things are slow and you can just sit and savor.



Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for...


I don't use the stuff. Or rather I can't use the stuff.

I have a condition called hyper keratosis or keratosis pilaris. Its not like a disease, but more like a certain skin type.

This keratosis thing means that my body produces toooo much keratin which is a protein. The symptoms include bumps on my skin where the protein builds up in my hair follicles, skin that is incredibly resistant to exfoliation, extremely dry skin that cracks especially on my feet, and dry hair. I could take a bath in vaseline and still come out a little dry lol.

Anway, most shampoos have sulfates and sulfates dry skin. (sulfates are what make your dishwashing liquid work) Drying agents like sulfates exacerbate my skin condition.

So as an alternative I wash my hair with conditioner that doesn't have any silicons in it. Water can't dissolve synthetics like silicon.

I slather conditioner on my scalp and scrub, let it sit for a while, scrub and rinse. I put a higher quality conditioner on my ends. Every once in a while I use vitamin E oil on the ends as well to keep everything hydrated.

Have you ever considered going without shampoo? It is healthier for almost everyone even if you don't have my crazy skin problems.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for...


I love to read. I mentioned before that I consider reading to be my "imagination supplement."

I could read for hours on end on almost any topic.

Lately I have been reading a lot about corporate finance. Weird I know, but it is what my husband studies in one of his classes. I'm learning all about stocks and returns and operations management and capital investment.

I also love reading about languages and cultures and science fiction novels.

How do you spend your free time? What do you enjoy reading about?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for...


Astaghfirullah I don't spend enough time with it. At some point it became a real struggle for me, like a duty instead of a joy. I know this is related to the general malaise I have felt recently about actually practicing the religion that I love so much. I WANT to want to read Qur'an, if that makes sense... Allah make it easy on us ameen.

When I read Qur'an I spend so much time trying to make sure I pronounce each word correctly that I miss understanding the very few words that I actually know.

I know that practice makes perfect. The more I read, the easier reading will be inshaAllah. And the easier it is to read, the more concentration I can put into remembering meanings for words that I recognize and such.

In order to help me move forward with my goal of understanding the Qur'an in Arabic, inshaAllah I am starting one of the Understand the Qur'an courses. I am going to start the short course 1 inshaAllah! The short course should give you enough vocab and grammar to understand about 50% of the words in the Qur'an.


It is free mashaAllah, it concurrently teaches basic vocab and grammar of the Qur'an and uses the Qur'an and common du3a and phrases to teach the course so you spending time only learning Arabic words that are in the Qur'an or used for Salah. It consists of video lectures, a textbook and workbook, vocabulary sheets, quizes and tests, power points, sound files, posters, and verb sheets. MashaAllah it has a really nice and easy way to remember the form of verbs for conjugation!

It also comes in a lot of languages mashaAllah: English, Urdu, Hindi, Bangala, Malayalam, Farsi, Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, Malaysian, French, Spanish, Bosnian, Burmese, and Chinese.

There is also a longer "basic course" available which covers about 70% of the words in the Qur'an, a "full course" which teaches you how to cover all of the new vocabulary as you read through the entire Qur'an, and a children's course which covers mostly the same material as the short course but with colored pages and doesn't require being able to read the Arabic script.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for...


First of all... it is an adorable word. It reminds me of fairies and stars and glitter.

Second... what a great color!! Periwinkle is a dusky blue-purple-grey color. So beautiful subhanAllah.

Periwinkle flowers have this color and so does one of my favorite gems, tanzanite!

When I graduated from high school my parents bought me a tanzanite ring. It is so lovely mashaAllah but still too big for me :-P

What is your favorite color?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for...


Our house is in chaos.

My husband is in the midst of finals and massive term projects and its turning our little life upside down.


Allah give us the strength to make it through this time unscathed ameeeeen!