DIY Kitchen Chalkboard

I'm having a blast this winter break. Hubby and kids are having 10 days off, and we are enjoying each minute being together. I'm thankful for having a sweet family.

Today, we finished our kitchen chalkboard project. Check the pictures below. It was fun!

We used spray paint but I really recommend using a regular latex paint. The spray paint was kind of messy.

Paint and let dry

 Add a frame. We bought wood trims and cut them to make a frame

 Now it's ready to enjoy!


Falafel in Pita Bread

Our lunch was falafel sandwiches today. No, no, no, we didn't stop by the neighborhood Lebanese deli. I made everything myself, including the pita bread.

Felafel with warm pita bread and tahini sauce... Yum Yum. Scroll down for the recipes.


2       cups soaked chickpeas, washed and drained
1/2    teaspoon baking soda
1       small onion
3       garlic cloves
1       cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2    cup fresh cilantro leaves
1       teaspoon cumin
1/2    teaspoon salt
         oil for frying (I use canola oil)
  • Put the soaked chickpeas in a food processor. Add the baking soda, onion, garlic, herbs, cumin, and salt. Process until the mixture is smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a deep fryer, and then roll the falafel mixture in small size ball. I used a special falafel scoop. Fry until all sides are brown as in the picture above. Remove falafel and drain on a platter lined with paper towel.

Pita Bread:

4     cups flour
1     tablespoon yeast
1     cup warm water (you may need more)
1     teaspoon salt

  • Dissolve yeast in the warm water and let it set for 5 minutes.
  • Put the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add salt, and using the dough hook start beating them. Add the yeast mix slowly. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more water if needed. Add flour if the dough is too sticky.    
  • Turn dough into floured surface and divide into 8 equal balls.
  • Let the balls rest for 30 minutes
  • Put a baking sheet in your oven and preheat the oven to 425 F. You want the baking sheet to be as hot as the oven.
  • Flatten the balls into even-thickness discs.  
  • With the Baking sheet in the oven, flip the discs on the baking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes, until light golden.  



Guest Bedroom -ReDo

Check those great finds I got today from TJMaxx. They fit nicely in my guest bedroom.


 Table lamp-$29.99


Guest bedroom

I also purchased this nice laundry basket.

 Laundry basket-$12.99

Laundry room


PhD...achievd :)

So last Friday I defended my dissertation, successfully! It was a big day for me and my family. No words could describe my feelings at that moment. Alhamdulellah.

It was also my birthday last Friday. So passing my defense was a unique gift!!

Another present was awaiting for me on my birthday. The YSL ring I was craving for. Thanks hubby!


Guest Post: Instinct of a New Convert

Another guest post wrote by my husband. I hope you all are having a good first day of Ramadan.


Few weeks ago, I was at the supermarket getting our weekly groceries, and while I was busy in my own little world loading bags into my van I heard someone behind me approaching and say something very softly, I turned around to see that it's the supermarket employee responsible for collecting carts extending his hand, he was a big guy (6+ ft), but handsome and young in age – around 20 years old, so I immediately took the last two bags from the cart saying “here you go”, while thinking to myself “he couldn't wait just a couple of seconds?” But then I was surprised by this soft spoken employee reaching out instead to shake my hand saying “Assalamu Alikum, I'm Br. James”*. After few exchanges with this young man I found that he is a new convert to Islam, less than a year, but what really made an impression on me was how his pride was just over-flowing that he's a Muslim! I asked him how did he recognize that I was a Muslim, he simply said “I saw you in the Masjid”, and right there I made a decision to look for him next time I'm at the Masjid and chat a little.

Last night, Ramadan was announced across the Muslim world, and like many I joined the Ramadan nightly “Taraweh” prayers, and after we were done at a rather late hour I noticed “Br. James” in the Masjid, so I walked up to him and as I taped him on the shoulder he turned to me with a face full of sweat as if he was just out of a shower – it was a really hot night and ACs where not cooping with a Masjid full of people. So I start a conversation:

Me: “Assalamu Alikum Br. James”
Br. James: “Assalamu Alikum”
Me: “So you broke a sweat?!”, my attempt to break the ice
Br. James: “It's my first Ramadan. Do you think Allah will understand if I drank water... I'm thirsty and its hot”

He stopped me in my tracks and for a couple of seconds I was not sure what he was asking. Seeing me confused he reiterated, “it is my first Ramadan”, almost apologetically. Then it hit me, “Br. James” is asking me if Allah will understand if he drank water at night, after Taraweh, because he understood that Ramadan started and clearly he did not understand the rules, not yet, after all it IS his first Ramadan. I went on to explain to him that although the month of Ramadan had just started at dusk that evening we did not fast yet, and that fasting is from dawn to dusk, and during the night it is completely fine to drink and eat. We spoke a little more, and I found out that he was working at the supermarket to pay his way through college. Few minutes later, I left him and headed home.

As I was driving as was going after what just had happened in my mind, his words “It's my first Ramadan” ringed in my ears, and I thought what a wonderful feeling to experience Ramadan for the first time... it must feel magical, the same way I felt when I knew Ramadan as a Kid. But what really struck me was his innocent question “Do you think Allah will understand if I ...”, and although it appeared that I know many time more than “Br. James” about Islam, after all I'm a born Muslim, I felt that he captured in his question so much more than what I typically do as a Muslim. To be honest, I typically look for an excuse to justify my actions, effectively I'm asking “how can Allah understand what I'm about to do”, not what my “Br. James” simply stated in his few words using his god given instinct as a new Muslim with an almost clean slate. That moment I felt what a true Muslim should be like.

Maybe I can be more like “Br. James” this Ramadan, and make sure “Allah will understand” my actions before I do them, if in doubt, better stop right there and then.

Ramdan Mubark to you all!

* I changed his name to maintain anonymity


Cake shop

Sometimes I seriously think about making a cake shop. My own cake shop. Maybe one day, who knows!!

I really enjoy making cakes. Check the pictures below for some of the cakes I made over the past couple of years.

 My daughter's Birthday cake

 My friend's Birthday cake

 Hubby's Birthday cake

 Strawberry cake

  Swiss rolls

Coffee cake


Lately in pictures!

First, please welcome my new camera! I'm in love with it. I can finally become the professional photographer I always wanted to be! Just kidding :)
Here are some of the pictures we took with the new camera.

Japanese Lilies in my front yard 

 The zoom lens is amazing

Hubby got those aged cheese from Netherlands last week

 I made those Swiss rolls last week

 Stroop waffles with tea

The cake I made on my hubby's birthday


Spring-Clean your life

I came across this post while I was checking my favorite blogs this morning: 10 ways to Spring Clean your life, by Iowa Girl. I loved the idea itself, Spring-Cleaning your life! I think I really need to do this. I need to start thinking about my own ways to clean my life from all things that have been bothering me to start fresh this Spring!

Actually, I found the 10 ways mentioned in the post interesting. The one related to cleaning your makeup bag is so good because I (and probably most of the ladies I know) never cleaned my makeup based on the expiration date. I always get rid of the old ones when I get bored of them. This chart gives you an idea about how long cosmetics are good for. I can now decide which makeup items in my drawer I need to get rid of.


Pickled Turnips

Well, I love mezes. Those Middle eastern small dishes we almost serve with each meal. If you are not familiar with mezes, you can find some information and the common dishes here. Pickled turnips are one of my favorite mezes. I made some yesterday using my Mom's original recipe. 


2 pounds white turnips, peeled and cut into medium size wedges
1 medium beet cut into medium size wedges
3 cups water
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp sugar


  • Place the turnips, beets in a canning jar. The beets will dye the turnips pink. 
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and salt to boil. Set aside to cool briefly, then pour warm mixture over the sliced turnips and beets in the jar. Place the lid on the jar and allow to rest at room temperature for up to a week. 
I usually open the jar in a week. I recommend transferring the jar then to the fridge so the pickles don't get overdone.



Asian caramelized chicken

I just posted a new recipe on my cooking blog. Check it out here.

I feel like I haven't blogged in ages. I have been busy lately. I have a lot to talk about but can't manage to write them in a post. Sometimes I just wish I chose to blog anonymously so I don't hesitate talking about things that bother me!

Now back to work. Hope you all are doing well!
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