lately things have been busy.. a lot more busy than I like my summers to be and with a lot more morning alarms than I would like.

Our first two weeks of July were family filled. My parents left, my in laws arrived (they live with us for parts of the year) and then my sister in law came for a visit with her two kids.. they are very similar aged to ours which meant lots of love, laughter and lots of fights. 

The next week and the week ahead are full of classes. D is taking an intense tennis class bright and early every other morning.. hence the need for an alarm. And then both boys are doing their annual summer swim crash course.. but thankfully things will all slow down as the month ends and then we can take a little break.. with no alarms. 

How's summer been treating you?

Now a question for my crafty friends.. my son attended a paint by arrow class. Paint filled balloons dangled over a canvas and he shot arrows at them. 

This is the canvas he created. Now I was thinking this could maybe turn into a pillow or something.. is there a way to seal in the paint? Don't know what kind of paint it is.. but it seems water based.. Any ideas?

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20 Questions with D

These last few posts have been quite D centric.. he's been having all the moments. Things are about to get busy around here so I may disappear for a bit. My parents left and my in laws flew in.. they live with us for half the year. And my sister in law in kids flew in to spend two weeks with us.. so A LOT is going on.. Have a Great Summer! Stay cool.. this heat wave has been intense. 

1. What is your favorite color? Red
2. What is your favorite toy/game? Minecraft and Roblox
3. What is your favorite fruit? Raspberries
4. What is your favorite food? Hot Dog
5. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Cookie Dough
7. What is your favorite tv show? Monster House on Netflix
8.Favorite Movie? Zathura
9. What is your favorite animal? Gorilla 
10. What is your favorite song? Sucker by Jonas Brothers
11. What is your favorite book? The Percy Jackson series and The Lost Hero Series
12. What is your favorite city/country? Budapest
13. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play Tennis and Cricket
14. What do you want to be when you grow up? Dentist
15. What is your favorite thing to do with mummy? Hugs and read Harry Potter
16. What is your favorite thing to do with baba? play sports
17. What is your favorite thing to do with Hasan? Watching videos and playing video games
18. What makes you feel sad? Leaving elementary school
19. What makes you feel happy? my graduation fondue
20. What was your favorite thing about your birthday? playing water tag

To take a look back here are
20 Questions with D at 4
20 Questions with D at 5
20 Questions with D at 6
20 Questions with D at 7
20 Questions with D at 8 
20 Question with D at 9  
20 Question with D at 10
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D Turns 11

D turned eleven last week. And we had  a little party. 

As per tradition we bought our plain white butter cream chocolate cake from Wegmans and decorated it ourselves. The theme was water tag.

It was the perfect sunny day and the kids had a blast

We sorta dropped the ball on taking a picture of the cake cutting.. I had to take a screen shot of a video.

Each kid went home with a water gun, some water balloons and a couple of snacks. All in all a good day and most definitely D's last organized birthday party. phew. 

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Graduating Elementary School

This is a big month for D.. not only will he be turning 11 this week but he also graduated elementary school! They held a simple outdoor ceremony. Guests we kept at a minimum but it was special nonetheless.        

He received a certificate of graduation from his principal

and a dragon pin (their school mascot) from the vice principal

His two teachers.

and my parents who live on a whole different continent yet decided to come visit us for a couple weeks.

We went out to celebrate that night at The Melting Pot. The kids had never had tried fondue before.

I can't believe D is going to be a middle schooler soon.. I am both excited and terrified for him.  

D's thoughts on going to graduating elementary school on moving on to middle school: 'I am looking forward to lockers and picking classes. I will miss having recess because there is no recess in middle school. I am scared about forgetting things and the possibility of detention but still excited to be going to middle school.'  

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Recent Reads

I didn't write a recent reads post last month.. honestly my recent reads haven't been all that great. 

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

Synopsis - Present Day newly divorced, Julia Hamill, buys a house and discovers a skeleton in her front garden. Looking for answers to the ancient mystery dating back to 1830, she soon connects with the family of the previous owners. 
In Boston, 1830: In order to pay for his education, Norris Marshall, a talented but penniless student at Boston Medical College, has joined the ranks of local “resurrectionists”–those who plunder graveyards and harvest the dead for sale on the black market. Yet even this ghoulish commerce pales beside the shocking murder of a nurse found mutilated on the university hospital grounds. And when a distinguished doctor meets the same grisly fate, Norris finds that trafficking in the illicit cadaver trade has made him a prime suspect. To prove his innocence, Norris must track down the only witness to have glimpsed the killer: Rose Connolly, a beautiful seamstress from the Boston slums who fears she may be the next victim.

Thoughts - This book seemed to have all the makings for a great who dunnit. It had very good reviews. But unfortunately it kind of dragged on for me. The last couple of chapters was where the pace really picked up and I hadn't seen the end coming so that was good.. but I had to skip over a lot of paragraphs in order to get there. 

Lost and Found Sister by Jill Shalvis

Synopsis - After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.'s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she's looking for a missing piece she can't find?
The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie. On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn't quite fit in right away, she can't help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.
As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there's another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn't a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she's searched so long for.

Thoughts - This was a cute read. It had heart. But it was predictable. I don't read a lot of contemporary romances but I like to read a couple here and there on the off chance that I will find one I love like The Rosie Project or Josh and Hazel Guide to Dating. But this was not it. I read it all the way up to the end but just didn't have the will to finish it. 

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Synopsis - Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth…. With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

Thoughts - This was the best of the three books. It was clever and unpredictable and kind of messed up.

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Friday Photography

Redchurch Street in Shoreditch East London

London Travel Art Print Horizontal Home Decor Wall Art

Colorful Graffiti Wall Mural on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch East London

Redchurch Street - A colorful wall mural and graffiti found on Redchurch Street in East London's trendy Shoreditch. Want to read more about our trip to London click here

You can buy this print here. Get Free Shipping with code BLOGGER

Prints also available in larger sizes. Contact for more information and special requests.

I am open to wholesale and licensing opportunities. Get in touch for more information.
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Strawberry Picking

Happy Memorial Day to my US friends.

This long weekend was a complete wash out... it rained all day, every day.

The kids had an extra snow day so the school gave them Friday off as well. There were a couple of rain free hours on Friday morning so we squeezed in a quick strawberry picking trip at a local farm.

This was our first time strawberry picking. We unintentionally ended up with 8lbs of strawberries. So now began the task of how to use all these strawberries.

I made pancakes

and milkshakes

I also made ice cream and pureed a bunch and froze them as ice cubes to be used in futures juices, I love a good strawberry lemonade.

And now we have just a bowl full left to eat. They were absolutely delectable.  

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Friday Photography

Door 62 - Olive door against a coral peach wall found in the streets of Marrakesh, Morocco. To read more about our trip to Marrakech click here

You can buy this print here. Get Free Shipping with code BLOGGER

Prints also available in larger sizes. Contact for more information and special requests.

I am open to wholesale and licensing opportunities. Get in touch for more information.
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Eid ul Fitr

Last week we celebrated Eid. M took the day off.. the kids skipped school.. it was all well and good but it got me thinking about how we would have been celebrating if we were in Pakistan and of course pre covid. Something my kids will most likely never experience. 

A couple of nights before Eid the markets would be open past midnight.. a hustle and bustle.. most people buy new clothes to wear for the day of. Matching glass bangles.. oh I used to have so many glass bangles. Not a fan personally but most apply henna to their hands. The night before Eid is especially festive. 

The morning of Eid we wake up at the crack of dawn to pray and then the celebrating begins, which mainly includes a lot of eating. We generally celebrate for 3 days. It involves visiting the homes of all of our uncles and aunts, other close family members as well as friends. Usually it's a 20 minute stop at each home where they ply you with food and the elders gift the kids money known as an Eidi. Most create a basic schedule of sorts where they visit during the mornings and are available to entertain visitors during the evenings. With expanding family sizes some have started to also have Eid gatherings.. so that instead of having to visit every family member and and eat that many appetizers we reserve a restaurant or take turns hosting it at our homes so that everyone can meet and exchange Eidi's at the same time. 

There are two foods that are the most popular on Eid and they both share a primary ingredient. Dates. Dates are very important during Ramadan, when you break your fast the first thing you are supposed to eat is a date. For Eid the dates get a little fancy. The first must eat food is stuffed dates. I made them this year after many many years because my mother in law is usually living with us during Ramadan and she makes them. 

You start with a packet of dry dates. Everyone has there own version of making them. I make them like my mother does.. After washing them, I soak them overnight in milk to plump them up. Rose water is a common addition.. but I don't like it.

The next day I slit them in half and deseed them. Put them in a pot and pour in just enough milk to cover them. Then I cooked them till the milk was thick and the dates soft. 

Once cooled I removed the dates from the milk and scrapped off any excess residue off the dates and put it back in the pot. I added ground nuts, shredded coconut, cardamom powder and some condensed milk.  

The mixture is then stuffed back into the dates.

Then I wrap them individually in foil and keep them in the refrigerator. 

M and I are the only ones who will be eating these so I only made 12. People have different takes on them.. in fact my mom doesn't even make these anymore.. instead she now purees the dates and makes a date rolls instead. I haven't tried my hand at making them yet. 

The second must make is sheer khurma. I completely dropped the ball on taking process pictures for this one.. 

In a pot I heated a little oil and toasted vermicelli, once it started to slightly toast I added milk, condensed milk (my maternal grandmother loved condensed milk so all the recipes that have filter down from her to me have a can of condensed milk in them, after much trial I have finally found how much condensed milk I actually need to use.. which is most definitely not a whole can!) evaporated milk, dry dates cut into bite sized pieces, cardamom powder and saffron. If I have some of the above mixture I used to stuff dates left over that goes in too. Some like raisins.. I do not. And cook on medium heat till it bubbles. Then simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. And done. Most eat theirs warm. People vary on consistency also.. some like to drink theirs I like to eat mine with more of a porridge like consistency and prefer it straight from the refrigerator. Thankfully M likes it my way and I don't have to make two different types. 

On Eid day our friends had a small get together.. the kids got Eidis. And M has a cousin that lives nearby, they came over for dinner over the weekend. 

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Have You Ever Gone Geocaching?

D is going to be turning 11 soon. And we have been brain storming outdoor birthday party ideas. And we discovered that one of our county parks offers a geocaching birthday party. Geocaching? 

Turns out geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.

Yup, that make total sense. Off to find a youtube video because we were a still confused. We found this video with a cute kid dumbing it down for us. 

Step 1. Download the app and create an account at geocaching.com

Step 2. Find a geocaching location near you. So over the weekend we decided to try it out. Turns out there are a whole bunch near us.. I mean who knew this was thing!

Step 3. Pick the one you want to do and the map opens up.. all you got to do is follow it. We drove as far as we could drive and then we walked the rest of the way. There is a clue or riddle sometimes to help you find it. The first one we did was called 'The Birdhouse' so obviously once we were just a couple of feet away the boys started to look for a birdhouse.

Step 4.  Once the bird house was found you open it or in this case remove the bag from inside it. Now I'm not sure if the bird house is the geocache or the stuff inside it is. Anyway.. inside were two zip lock bags. One contained a pencil and a log that you date and sign. The other contained a bag of small tokens. The idea is that you take something and leave something. So for the first geocache D removed a little red car and left behind a bouncy ball.

Step 5. You mark the geocache found on the app.. can leave a thanks to the person who hid it and that is about it. 

Since we had some more time we did a second one. 

This one was a little trickier to find. The gps location pin pointed to a house across the street and we felt uncomfortable snooping around someone's private property. Plus, as the name suggests, there was no railing in sight. So we went across the street where there was a railing. Eventually it was found, the goodies inside were a bit meagre so H graciously decided not to take anything and still left a small Catboy figurine. 

Conclusion, the boys enjoyed it. It took them away from their screens and spend sometime outdoors. While it is not something D wants to do for his birthday, he does want to continue doing it. I like that it has no geographical boundaries.. so you can do it wherever, whenever. You can adjust the level of difficulty making it more challenging for adults. 

Have you ever gone geocaching?
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