20210531

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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20210528

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

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20210517

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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20210510

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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20210507

Friday Photography

Photograph Charming Little Yellow Bakery in Spitalfield Market London

London Vertical Travel Art Print Home Decor

Yellow Bakery in Spitalfield Market London

Butter Believe It - A charming little yellow bakery in Spitalfield Market, London. To read more about our trip to London click here

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20210503

lately

Today both kids have gone to full day in person school! I am excited. They, not so much. They were loving the comforts of home far too much. Lunch and recess will be very different and they expressed their disappointment but that was expected. With the weather nicer outside they will at least be able to go outside even if they can't access the playground. 

We are at the tail end of Ramadan.. just eight more (rozas) fasts to go. It's not really about the hunger but it is about the food. We take for granted how much joy food brings us.. the day just feels empty without the smells and tastes of food. 

H lost his first tooth


and D had his first visit with an orthodontist.. his mouth is suffering from overcrowding. The doc prescribed him a treatment plan using Invisaligners. As a braces kid, I am envious. Braces were horrible. Though I am concerned about him taking them off in school.. firstly, the hygiene, I would be insane to expect my ten year old to wash his hands before sticking them in his mouth.. ugh. Gross. But here hoping?! Secondly, I hope he doesn't lose them. And the list of things mom's have to worry about just grows.


Have you heard of Kim's Convenience? I am always looking for light shows to watch during the day.. I like having something on in the background while I fold laundry and do other tedious jobs. This was such a great find. Sitcoms these days have no heart or originality. This one has it all. And it reminded me so much of my parents and our life growing up as children of immigrants who owned a convenience store. My parent's also never closed the store.. 7am-7pm 7 days a week. Meaning we never went on vacations. We didn't live above our store.. we were a car drive away but our school was across the street and my brother and I spent all of our time at the store until my mom went home a couple hours earlier to get dinner started. My parents sold the store when I was ten so my memory of it is a little fuzzy but I remember the hard life my parents had though all that time they spent working together made them so much closer then all my other friends parents. 


Another great sitcom with a lot of heart is Superstore. The series ended just this year and it was such a treat. Such a brilliant cast of characters. 

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