Because They’re Muslims

When words seem to fail in expressing our great sorrow, poetry comes to our aid as the heart can’t hold that much sadness. Today the lives of three young souls in North Carolina have been claimed, their only fault was being Muslim. The murderer turns out to be an atheist who hates Islam. He might as well have murdered the entire Muslim population because today a part of our hearts has died with Yosr and Razan Abou-Salha, and Deah Barakat (Yosr’s husband). A part of our hearts dies everyday with every drop of Muslim blood shed, for we are one, we are all organs of a single body. We are all facing the same injustice. We are yet to hear a mass apology from the atheists worldwide. But no, they’re not Muslims, they don’t have to repent for crimes they’d never ponder on committing.

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Because they’re Muslims born and raised in the States,

They’re a source of threat

Labeled “potential timebombs”, that’s their fate

Though not a single terrorist they’ve met

Doomed to live in fear for their lives,

Their every day is filled with dangers

of assaults, gunshots, stabs with knives

The American passport they hold, but they’re still strangers

“Go home where you belong!” One racist would shout

“Take that garment off your head!”

Never quite sure what this whole religion is about

Because it’s nothing like what their media has said

Grab a book, son!
Get yourself educated
Before you point that gun
Someday you’d wish you’d waited

Young flowers plucked too soon
Their dreams not yet fulfilled
But what is it to you, Mr. Murdock?
That innocent lives are killed?

Would these shootings stir a mouse
In the mighty White House
Like the Paris shooting did not long ago?
But wait, what did I hear?
The killer, once more, is in the clear
He’s just another faith-hating psycho…

Stop the hate…
Stop the crimes…
Bring justice to rest all these souls
Forgo the double-standards
Enough with the bias
They are not Charlie
They are Yosr, Razan and Deah
And they’re not lesser human because
they’re Muslims

#Chapelhillshooting
#MuslimLivesMatter

Picture Source: http://www.independent.co.uk

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Flourless Banana (Oatmeal) Muffins and One-pot Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach & Sundried Tomato

Hi everyone,
I woke up in the mood for overnight oats (except I hadn’t prepared any the night before 😔). So I decided to go for a smoothie but I knew my appetite was too big for a liquid breakfast. What to do, Zeina…what to do? Alright, we’ll go for muffins, then. Those overripe bananas needed some loving. I did a bit of Pinterest browsing and found a recipe that was perfect for satisfying my earlier craving for oatmeal and could be whipped up in the blender in a flash. I honestly can’t remember the source because I didn’t pin the recipe and there were tons of similar recipes on the results page. I don’t how I remembered some of the ingredients of this particular one by heart. Yes, this recipe was destined for my belly! I had some peanut butter chips in my panty that I felt like adding. Don’t judge me, but bananas without peanut butter is like donuts without glazing (or whatever that means – well, you get the point!!)
Alright, without further a due, here are the ingredients of the flourless banana muffins:

Flourless Banana Oatmeal Muffins

2 1/2 C rolled or quick-cooking oats
2 ripe bananas cut into large chunks
1 C low or non-fat greek yogurt (fat-free laban will do)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C sugar (white, brown or any other sweetener – 1/4 C honey if using)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C chocolate chips or Reese’s peanut butter chips (whichever you prefer, I used pb chips)

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until oats are finely ground then pour the mix into a lined 12-cup muffin tin, or 12 silicone muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 mins (check for doneness using a toothpick)

The resulting muffins will be gooey and moist, and their sweetness will be just right. Let me know if you’re gonna try the recipe and comment below if you’d like to share your own tested and true banana muffin recipes…I’m simply bananas about bananas 😁

One-pot Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Did anyone say ONE POT?!! Yes, please! I mean, who likes piled-up dishes in their sinks? Well, NOT me. Pinterest one-pot dinners are all the rage these days, I’ve actually tried a couple of dishes so far and they turned out pretty amazing. As I’ve read that the founder of such an easy yet versatile cooking method is Martha Stewart. So THAT’s the secret behind its elegance! The method is pretty simple. You add the uncooked pasta to a simmering broth or other liquid in the pot instead of boiling it in a separate one, add in a few vegetables, tomato puree or milk/heavy cream for a richer pasta dish, whatever works for you.
I had some frozen spinach and a jar of sundried tomatoes in my fridge so the idea of a pasta lunch seemed so appealing to me, especially that my little girl really loves pasta.

The recipe I found was a little different than mine but feel free to check out the original at this link:
http://www.bestestrecipes.com/2014/02/one-skillet-creamy-pasta.html?m=1

My adaptation always has to be healthier (with all those peanut butter chips I devoured this morning!! LOL – lighter was a MUST) I used low-fat milk, and a little light butter. I’m also not a big fan of chicken stock cubes and didn’t have fresh-made chicken broth, I used water instead and lots of seasoning to compensate for any flavor lost without broth.

Here’s the recipe: (Serves 2)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 C low-fat milk
1 C chicken broth
Uncooked whole wheat penne
1 Tbsp light butter
1/2 C parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp cream cheese (room temperature)
2 Tbsp sliced sun-dried tomatoes, drained from oil if they’re preserved in it
1/2 C frozen or fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan, add minced garlic and sautée for a minute. Add milk, broth, and pasta, bring to a boil and cover pot until pasta is cooked for 15 minutes. Add the cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach until welted. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Serve dish immediately.

What are your favorite pasta dishes? And how would you “healthify” them so you won’t feel guilty about pasta cravings? (not that I’m judging you if you don’t, pastas should make a separate and albeit necessary food group, if you ask me!) Let me know in the comments below.

Have a great healthy evening, everybody ☺️

DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim to be a health expert or nutritionist, nor am I food blogger, per se. A friend of mine suggested that I add a section to my blog covering my healthier recipes whose pictures I share on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I’ve recently become health-conscious and that’s a road not so easy to stay on track of. By sharing my recipes and resolutions I’m holding myself accountable in front of you to stick to my healthy living goals. I do not intend by any means to offend anyone. I’m doing this because I care about my family’s health and wellness and mine first and I’m only here to help. I’m all about loving your body and yourself, so whatever makes you feel comfortable, whether you’re a huge foodie or not, is awesome ☺️

Love,
Zeina

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The Gift of Friendship

Today was my best friend’s birthday. It has been over 10 days that I hadn’t heard anything from her. She was completely out of reach due to some personal reasons. She sent a voice note earlier saying she needed a little space to solve some pending issues and that she’d call me back soon. That was it. Creepy thoughts kept nagging on me. Was she really avoiding me? Was it her way of telling me she didn’t want to be my friend anymore? Was it something I said or did? What secret was she hiding…from me? Of all people!!!and the more negative thought of all was, “was I losing her?”
I woke up today determined to find out what was wrong, anxious to know what she was really up to (with her phone off, email bouncing back, inactive social media accounts and all). I strapped my baby girl into her stroller, grabbed her birthday gift and headed straight to her home. I wasn’t sure whether my eyes watered from the wind blowing in my face as I pushed the stroller steadily up and down the pedestrian-unfriendly streets of our neighborhood, or out of fear that she might stand there unmoved, or worse – disturbed – by my surprising appearance at her door. And then I told myself I didn’t care, I had every right to check on my friend, even if she demanded to be left alone. Arriving at her building, I was greeted by the power cut which would last another hour, as one neighbor informed. You see, in Lebanon we have a 3-hour power cut daily schedule to save energy – assuming we actually had a power shortage in the first place, of course.
Feeling rather crushed, I unstrapped my girl who recently started walking, folded the stroller and carried them on each arm and walked up the stairs to her apartment. All the way up to the fifth floor, I prayed to find her home, but something told me she wasn’t though her car was parked outside the building. I was right, her mother apologized for her absence and disclosed some information that justified her sudden disappearance. I politely thanked her for receiving us so unexpectedly and left her home thinking about all the things that connect me to this girl.
In Ramadan 2003, my BFF and I met at our neighborhood’s most-attended mosque while we were praying the nightly prayers (or Taraweeh). We became the best of friends and sisters in faith since then. That deep connection remained though the years had passed and despite my marriage, my relocation to Saudi Arabia between 2007 and 2013, and my overwhelming motherhood tasks. I can’t recall a time when this uniquely thoughtful lady, whom I’m proud to call my friend, had not made me feel worth loving and so special. She is the kind of person who reminds you of all the good there is in life in spite of all the evil, mercilessness and greed that has taken over humanity. She has the heart (and temper) of a little child. Sweet but fiesty, strong but stubborn, frank but untactful. Above all, she was sincere and upfront, which is all I look for in a person.
She called me back in the afternoon to thank me for the gift and reassure me that she was alright. When we hung up, I realized how blessed I was, not because she was sent into my life but also because I was sent into hers for a reason. I don’t often go out of my way for people, I frankly stopped doing that after several disappointments. (that’s something I’ll leave for later blogposts). But for her I’ll go the extra mile just to see her smile. I know she would do that for me any given day. A friendship that’s sincerely mutual is a friendship worth keeping for life.
Someone once asked me why that girl, of all my other friends, was so dear to me. My answer came out unclear but now I do have the clarity to reply with “it’s Divinely made”. We love people regardless of their looks, size, race, color or religion, we love them for who they are on the inside. My friend has loved me for the hesitant person I’d been when I first met her, the mess I was when I was abroad, and the more mess I’ve become coming back home. She’s loved me when I was always there for her, and even more when I couldn’t be around. And I love her just the same. Sometimes I feel that our paths have crossed that holy night in that sacred place for a reason: So that we’d always remind one another of God. That is the bond that ties us together. When the going gets tough she always points at the bright side and unties the blindfold on my eyes. When she hits rock bottom I pull her back up and remind her of her massive inner strength.
Today was indeed a great day because I found out that I was the one who received the best gift of all: the gift of a timeless friendship that I will guard with my life.

Happy birthday sweetest friend, how lucky I am to have you ❤️

The One Way To Be A Good Parent

The sound of silence. Ahhh, how I relish it! I love that time of night when I can sit down and think about what happened during the day, evaluate each incident, each accomplishment, each tick made on the To-Do List. Hurray….Me time! And then it strikes me, the guilt…that agonizing feeling deep in my stomach when I know something didn’t really turn out right. I tell myself over and over again that I definitely need to muffle the voice inside me that reminds me, mockingly “oh, look…you failed to do that, AGAIN.” As mothers, we’re constantly bombarded with pictures of perfectionism on social media. You will read blog posts spreading like wildfire on parenting pages “100 DIY Crafts for Toddlers and Little Kids” “70 Activities to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer” “How I disciplined my child in 3 days straight” “Foolproof ways to potty-train your toddler in a day” Ummm…seriously? A day? My son is six years old and I still get nightmares about his potty-training days…make that months! Parenting is far more tedious than what we perceive in advertisements showing perfectly-polished faces of parents gleefully playing with their children.
Not that it is wrong or unacceptable to display such positive moments of parent-child bonding, but to show only the bright side would surely devastate parents who are struggling to have quality time with their kids amidst their busy schedules. I am a stay-at-home mom and I barely have time to sit with – really sit and not just tend to the needs of – my children, I can only imagine how hard it feels for a working mom who only has a few hours on weekdays and a weekend to make up for all the lost time.
Perhaps we should give ourselves credit for simply trying to be the best that we could, simply creating the time instead of just finding it. That guilt which burdens most moms I know, including myself, should really stop. Why does motherhood have to come with such a dearly price? And why should we even compare ourselves to some lady playing peek-a-boo with her baby on a billboard? You won’t see a diaper ad featuring a mom changing bedsheets with a look of dismay on her face, or a baby food ad starring a picky toddler throwing his broccoli and pasta dinner plate on a recently-mopped floor. Well, these things do happen A LOT – on a daily basis. This is the gist of every mom’s life. Those mishaps, messes, dirt, stains, drools, tantrums, head bumps, whining. They are to be cherished as much as every quiet peaceful smiley-giggly moment. I can’t help but remember here the quote that says, “there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but a thousand ways to be a good one” There’s no way we are ever going to be perfect parents, and there’s no way we’re going to raise our kids perfectly, we just need to raise them well enough to rise up the challenges of life. There’s no way we can guarantee they’ll be truly accepted, loved and well-treated by their peers, teachers and other caregivers, but we can at least assure them they’re loved by us and assure ourselves we’re doing a good job at that.
I appreciate every successful parent’s effort to educate others, whether by blogging or writing, about all the great things parents can do with and for their children. The mention of the fake titles above was simply to draw attention to some unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves and our kids that turn out to be more harmful than useful. Believe me, I know exactly what those expectations feel like, I’ve tormented myself with such high expectations of myself which, not surprisingly, negatively affected my son. I know for a fact that he can’t stand crafts, can’t sit still for 10 minutes without fidgeting, hates coloring and will not learn any lessons from sitting in time-outs. I know my child. I know my child better than anyone else. So do you. Know what to expect of them and what not. Parenting is hard enough already. I remind myself and you, as a parent, that some moments are not worth sweating upon, not worth the stress that high expectations impose. They’ll grow up someday and we will all realize that such moments could have been easily avoided and replaced with more joyful ones. I truly hope so, anyway.
If there’s one thing we should expect of our children it would be that they reciprocate, as adults, all the love we have offered them as children. But even that is only in God’s hands and I’m pretty much certain that no amount of love invested in good upbringing will go unrewarded.

What’s in a name?

Good morning all,

The first blogpost! Where to start?! It’s always hard to introduce yourself so briefly but let me give you an idea about the girl behind your screen. In a nutshell, I’m a perfectionist. It took me 6 months just looking for the perfect name for this blog. Yes, 6 months! That’s how bad my perfectionism is. I asked around, researched other websites with similar interests but in the end I decided to stick with my real name. Life is vigorously moving, trends come and go, and so do people who walk in and out of our lives in a flash. We constantly change our minds, hearts, opinions, shoes, but very rarely do we change our names. I happen to like mine, in fact. It’s a very common name. I hardly know a household in this city that doesn’t have a Zeina.

Anyway, about this blog….

As a translator, I view incidents as content that needs interpreting, a source of rich information that’s worthy of analyzing and explaining. I don’t take things at face value. Delving deep into the substance of my daily findings has become more than habit. It’s become a way of life.

Oddly enough for a perfectionist like me, inspiration hits you like thunder, any time of day, especially at the wrong time, like now when it’s 6 am while I’m getting my kid ready for school! I’ve learned, the hard way, that there’s no right time to do things. My muse won’t drop by when the kids have slept and I’m sitting by my laptop, sipping tea, pen in hand, waiting for her arrival. You just have to seize every moment to get things done. Juggling motherhood and a passion for writing is no easy task especially if you’re always on the run. I never find time to write, I make it.

Challenges inspire a lot of change in us, and I guess I’m finally learning that it’s far more important to get things accomplished than perfect, without compromising on quality, of course.

So that’s the story behind the name, or lack of creative blog name. Now why do I have a feeling we’re gonna be late for school?!

Have a great day everyone and hopefully I’ll keep you “posted” soon,

~Zeina