How to write a suicide letter

Have you got your pen and paper ready? Your take-your-own-life device? Wait, you haven’t planned how you were going to do it yet? Ok, never mind. Let’s just write the letter. 

Dear —- (that’s gonna be the first loved one to find out you why you did such an major act, so they’ve got to be special)

Explain your terrible state prior to the act. Use words such as tired, fed up, exhausted, worn out, beat up. Don’t be afraid to use exaggerations and hyperboles, afterall you need to make it seem logical. They won’t believe you had been in such a terrible state all along or that you’d actually do it but you have to convince them. 

Now start reminding that person of all the amazing things they had done for you and how utterly ungrateful you are for turning your back on them. Tell them you have reached a point where your reasoning has failed you; where you were so depressed and lonely that nothing and no one even mattered. Not your parents, nor your siblings nor your spouse and children, if any. All you could think of was a way out. Even if that way defied your own destiny. You couldn’t fight anymore. You didn’t want to hold on to any more hopes. Nothing and no one gave you hope. You had eyes that could see but you didn’t want to look out for the light. You had hands that could hold but you didn’t want to reach out for help. You wanted to stay where you are. You chose desperation. Yes, you chose it. Desperation didn’t choose you. You decided to curl into fetal position and cry. You shut the world out. You turned your back on life. All you could see where the thorns on the rose, the greyish skies where rainbows hide.   You may tell them you’re a failure,  not for the many times you failed, but actually for failing to find the will to try within you. 

And just before you think I’m judging you for your suicidal thoughts, I just want you to know that I, too, have had them. We all have them. Yes, we’ve all been so low that we could no longer bear life’s afflictions. Everybody is prone to depression, anxiety, mental illness. You’re not a weirdo and you’re certainly not alone in this. The only difference between someone who acts upon these thoughts and someone who refrains from cutting their own rope is how hopeful they remain. The despaired aren’t weak. You aren’t weak for seeking help. You aren’t weak if you cry. You aren’t weak if you’re burnt out, broke, jobless, divorced, betrayed. You are stronger and more free when you understand the wisdom behind your affliction. 

I don’t know what would make you want to read a “how to write a suicide letter”. I don’t know why I’m putting myself in this position where I might be misunderstood. But I’m writing this for somebody, anybody who needs to read this, to know they’re so loved and cherished. You need to know you are an indispensible person in someone’s life. You mean the world to somebody and it’s not up to you to decide to leave them. No. Your time has not come and don’t ever think that by taking the nearest exit you’ll rid yourself of heartache. Don’t ever think that by writing a suicide letter you’d justify yourself to your loved ones. 

Don’t think that by escaping your brokeness you wouldn’t break someone else’s life. 
*To someone I love, someone I don’t even know, hang in there

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I am more

That day you provoked my demons

You didn’t know

I was more to what you were seeing

When you shot your arrow

You were aiming at my heart

But you missed it by far

You may have broken my wing

But you failed to see my claws

And just because I don’t roar 

Doesn’t mean I have no voice

And just because I don’t pounce

Doesn’t mean I had no choice

That day you called on your angels

Believing you were a saint

Was the day I decided I’ll never be afraid

I’ll never tremble under the pressure

To be what you want me to be

I’ll only seek my own pleasure

And fight for my own beliefs

My happiness waits for no one

Especially you 

Your doubts won’t shake me

I will pull through

I believe in the power of my dreams

And all the things only I can see

Someday, believe it or not, 

They’ll become a reality

Cinnamon Roll Biscuits – A simple warm delight

The comfort of home is written on every buttery bite of these moreish doughy cinnamon roll biscuits. Served warm with a powdered sugar glaze, they’re guaranteed to please the sugar craver in you. Make these for breakfast or as a hearty snack and be prepared to bake another batch the very next day. They’ll be gone before you can say cinnamon roll bisc…. 🙂

Good evening, everybody!

Nothing warms you up in this extremely cold stormy weather hitting most cities of the world quite like a warm sugary treat. I must admit I haven’t been watching my weight much lately. It’s always harder to stick to your health goals in winter than it is in summer. Blame it on the cold! But I know a little sugar will sweeten up my family’s smiles and that’s why baking desserts is one of my guilty pleasures. 

Yesterday I picked up my notebook on which I stored some really old recipes I’d gathered since my newly-wed days. I quickly skimmed through the pages in search of my cinnamon roll biscuit recipe. I remember that recipe being a big hit on the Blackberry Messenger cooking group I was a part of some 5 years ago (seems like ancient history now!) The ladies in the group quickly adopted my recipe claiming it was a massive success with their kiddos and families, and developed sweet and savory variations with my tasty dough base. I really don’t remember the author of the recipe nor the link where I got it from. It really just says “cinnamon roll biscuits” in my notebook and states the ingredients only. The preparation method is also missing, so I’m taking that I either must have been in a hurry to copy the method or thought I was too smart to follow instructions to the letter. Well, either explanations reflect me. Guilty!

The whiff of cinnamon in this recipe is breathtaking and what makes it even more appealing is the texture of the dough. It is neither too soft and soggy nor cookie-like hard. It rests in that comforting middle, bringing delight to every sense that savors it. I’m not really a good candidate for preparing doughs, I actually hate making dough altogether, but this simple minimal-kneading dough makes the process so much fun and enjoyable. I felt like a pastry chef dipping my fists into it, gently squeezing it and forming it into a ball. If you’re not confident about your dough-making skills, this recipe will give you a boost! 

I know nobody likes all the blabbing that precedes a much-awaited recipe ingredients section, so I’ll just cut to the chase now. Don’t forget to share this recipe with the ones you love, you’ll be tempted to eat the whole batch by yourself. Trust me on this one 😉

Cinnamon Roll Biscuits

Ingredients:

For the dough:

————-

2 cups white flour

1 tsp baking soda

3 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cups of milk

1/2 cup of cold butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar filling:

————————–

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3 tbsp butter, melted

To prepare the dough, mix all the dry ingredients first, cutting the butter into the mixture until it’s crumbly and gradually adding in the milk. Knead a few times. If the dough gets warm, form into a ball and place into the fridge for 20-30 mins. 

Make the cinnamon sugar mixture by adding the sugars to melted butter in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Roll the chilled dough on a floured surface with a rolling pin, thinning it out as much as possible. Slather some melted butter on top of the dough and spread your cinnamon sugar mixture evenly to cover near the edges as well. Carefully roll the dough to form a cylinder shape. With a sharp knife, cut cylinder into circles 3 cm in width and place on ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 20 mins or until bottoms are slightly browned. Don’t overbake. 

Remove sheet from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing cookies. Store in an airtight container. That is, if they last that long, hehe 

N.B. Please note that ovens may vary so keep an eye on those babies. You don’t want to ruin your good work! 

Serve warm drizzled with powdered sugar glaze or just the way they are. They’re awesome either way. 

If you ever try this recipe, please do let me know in the comments below. 

Have a warm and restful Monday eve. 

Lots of sweet love, 

~ Zeina

   

    
 

  

No day is ever guaranteed

Good morning, Sunday!

I’m filled with gratitude to be alive on this beautiful yet rainy day. The rain instills a sense of comfort within my soul, somehow. It’s the fact that I’m living on this very day that I’d like to talk about. The fact that no day is ever guaranteed to us humankind, and yet we take each and every one for granted. Every breath, every ray of light that hits our retina as we sleepily open our eyes and snap out of our drowsy  daze. They are not ours for the taking, yet generously given away by the Creator of life; To test us, perhaps, to examine our gratitude further with daily pressures and mishaps; to remind us that, despite the illusion of control we feed with organizers, checklists and strict schedules, things can and will go off track, not necessarily to our disadvantage. It is our attitude that shouldn’t change with every endlessly changing day. The faith to accept the unseen. The gratitude to embrace each moment, painstricken or painsfree, and take the day with a smiling heart. 

Today is Sunday, make it worthwhile; spend it wisely, playfully, freely, generously, spend it with family, kids, friends, colleagues. Don’t let any gloomy weather discourage you from spotting colorful rainbows. 
Have a great day, everyone

~ Zeina

“Back in the old days”…

With all due respect to the elderly in this society, but they all just need to chill! As a parent, albeit it a young thirty-something parent of two children under 10, I believe I have the knowledge and ability to run my life along a safe course. I don’t do drugs, I don’t commit crimes, I don’t feed my kids litter, I don’t keep them awake till after midnight, I dress them in clean clothes, etc… Basically, I count as a good candidate to parent, thank you very much. If that’s what’s considered “mothering”,  I surely can’t be doing it all wrong! Right? 

This short-sighted vision of parenting, however, does not work very well with today’s definition of the term. To be a good parent you have to be a lot of things, not just a housemaid who slaves away in the kitchen cooking, baking and scrubbing floors, or a hermit who severs social ties to raise a family. 

I’m so tired of hearing stories about how moms did nothing but handwash fabric diapers or those obnoxious braggeries about how they potty trained all their children by 12 months in that golden era. You can forget about stating facts and relaying scientific data related to the physical readiness to potty train which most children exhibit by age 2. If you decide to wait it out against your elders’ recommendations, you’ll be looked down upon as the lazy mother who’s too busy texting and tweeting to notice the signs (because, obviously, children at age one SHOULD already by ready to tell you “verbally” that they need to go.) Trust me, your great aunt is more experienced than your pediatrician. 

I’m really tired of all the well-intended yet unwelcome tips and endless guilt trips the nice old ladies take you on with their remarks. Why can’t they just let this generation of mothers be whatever they choose to be? Whose expectations should we be living up to, theirs or our own? Yes, their days are definitely different, perhaps they did have better days back then. Times have changed, and this stressful lifestyle demands a change in approach to parenting, caregiving and house management. The comparisons make no sense when it comes to multitasking, for example. Mothers in the olden days didn’t have the same tasks, interests or passtimes. In defense of moms like myself, I believe we’re all doing an outstanding job surviving this wretched heartless world while teaching our children all the necessary lifeskills to ensure a safer, brighter future for generations to come. More educated conscious moms means higher awareness (and earlier intervention) to issues that require special attention, like learning difficulties, delays and impairments, or physical disabilities. 

They say we should respect our elders, but how about  a little appreciation from our elders as well? How about the respect we deserve for trying to fix a world our predecessors have left broken? We are certainly not the only generation of parents responsible for the moral degredation we witness today. Instead of constantly grieving over the past, we’d be far better off with a little more help and a little less meddling. It’s our time to make mistakes, just like they did, and our chance to learn the lessons they obviously didn’t learn: To live responsibly and teach responsibility, to raise well-rounded personalities not puppets we boss around at will. We don’t want our children to be us, we want them to be better. As a parent, I want to make sure I’ve left no stone unturned, no study unresearched, no effort unexhausted to see my children blossom. I want to bask in the satisfaction that I’ve done all that had to be done so my kids won’t be disappointed that I’ve been a neglectful parent. If that’s not enough for the generation of mothers before me, I might as well blame my inadequate parenting on every war that has plagued this country, wars that were caused by our elders’ unwise elections and re-elections of corrupt figures of state, rather than statesmen. At least we’re trying to change something instead of whining incessantly.
I will always pay much respect to every mother on this planet who would blindly give up anything to secure every child’s need, no matter what her age is or where she is from or how mean she can be to younger inexperienced mothers. We’ll always need to learn vicariously from parents who have longer years of experience in this domain, but we, too, can learn a thing or two on our own. That’s called life, and no one can live it for us no matter how knowledgeable they think they are. 

~ Zeina
Image credit: adweek.com

Balluza: A dessert and a memory

Today I decided to try out a recipe that I’ve been meaning to make for over 6 years since I discovered it in one of mom’s Arabic cookbooks. I wonder why I waited that long to finally give in to a sugar and dairy craving. This rarely happens, but I guess I was intimidated by the number of dirty pots and pans that will be piled up when the masterpiece is done. One would hardly call a pudding a masterpiece, but who wouldn’t admire the contrast of white creaminess and bright orange “syrupiness” layered beautifully in an elegant glass serving cup?
  
The Balluza is a classic mhalabiyé (mahalabiyah, sweet milk pudding) dessert with an additional layer of orange juice thickened with cornstarch over heat. I’ve read that this sweet has Syrian roots but I remember my grandmother (who was purely Lebanese) and aunt making it for many years. I also remember my grandma’s open fridge (and cupboard and drawer) policy and how comforting her food was. I wanted to revive some of my childhood and adolescence memories of grandma today through this walk down culinary Memory Lane. I must admit that I will never come close to her talent. She, like many women of her time, was illiterate and couldn’t decipher a single letter of any cookbook you might hand her, yet her skill was matchless. Her love for the kitchen could be felt in every bite and sip. 

Grandma was the barakah (blessing) of the family, the soul that united us all, first and second and third generations, every Saturday over breakfast and every Eid (holiday) feast. When we lost her 12 years ago, little did we know that we had lost more than just a remarkable pious kind old woman. We had lost the very heart of the family. I’ve missed her wisdom, serenity and patience. I’ve missed her touching bedtime stories, her humor and giggles. I’ve missed her delicious extra-large kibbé (fried meat and bulgur balls stuffed with minced meat), the largest I’ve ever seen yet. I’ve missed the way she used to call my name and how she would take my side when mom and I quarrel. She loved her grandchildren very dearly and took pride in their achievements. She died a happy woman, I’m sure. She had all of her daughters and son by her side when she took her last breath. In days like these, you’re very lucky if you’re Lebanese and all your children live in this country with their children. It’s very unlikely that I’ll live to 87 like granny, but I do wish to die her peaceful death having lived a fulfilling peaceful life, such as hers. 

  
Going back to the balluza recipe, you might want to give it a try too. You could start off with a regular rice pudding instead of a milk pudding. It’s totally up to your preference. I garnished my set pudding with ground pistachios and sliced almonds. 
Here are the ingredients: 
For the mhalabiyé (milk pudding):

—————————-

4 cups whole milk

3 TBSP cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1 tsp orange blossom water

1 tsp rose water

For the orange layer:

—————————–

3 cups orange juice

3 TBSP cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

Method:

—————————–

Mix 1 cup milk with 3 TBSP cornstarch, add to rest of milk and bring pot to boil over medium-low. Add sugar. Continue to whisk throughout cooking time. When milk thickens, add rose and orange blossom waters. Pour pudding into serving bowls or glasses, filling only half-way through. 

2- As the milk pudding cools, prepare the orange syrup by adding 3 TBSP of cornstarch to 3 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. Add sugar and whisk thoroughly until mixture thickens as it comes to a boil. 

3- Pour orange syrup over mhalabiyé and place all bowls in fridge till they set.

4- Serve garnished with ground pistachios or chopped almonds, if you prefer. 

I hope you make this comforting, tangy/creamy dessert soon. Let me know if you do and if you have any pudding recipes you’d like to share in the comments below. 
Have a warm evening, everyone!
~Zeina

Aren’t We All?

You say you’re tired

You say you’re confused

You say you’re distressed

And all your energy is consumed

Well, aren’t we all?

You say you’re disappointed

Things didn’t go as planned

You think you’re lonely

No one holds your hand

Well, aren’t we all?

Aren’t we all looking

Aren’t we all searching for

This place called happiness

But is it worth waiting anymore?

Sometimes I wonder

Why there’s delay

Waiting in hope that someday

This chaos rests forever

Perhaps this day is nearer

Perhaps the things we desire

Aren’t really what we need

But will that quench the fire?

All I can say is there’s no way out

But to push away the fear and doubt

And hang on to that silvering ray

On every cloud heavy and grey

Perhaps then what we need

Eventually finds our way

New Year, New Wishes for you ⭐️

Hello everyone, 

So this is going to be the last post of the year. What a great one it was. My first year on this blog is coming to end and I’m really glad I’ve made some accomplishments this year, both personal and professional. I wish you all a wonderful 2016. 2015 may not have been that awesome for some of us, but trust that there will be brighter days ahead. Have faith and you will see them with your own eyes. I hope you enjoy my last poem with my heartfelt wishes for you. Keep bloggin’, WordPressers✌🏻️

Goodbye 2015!!! Thanks for everything ❤️

There will come a day 

When you’ll say

I wouldn’t want it any other way

All the pain would seem

Like a hazy dream

And you’ll open your eyes

To a great reality

There’s wisdom behind the tears

There’s strength inside your fears

Your afflictions are blessings in fact

But you’re too consumed to realize that

All the prayers have not gone to waste

And finally you’ll get to taste

The sweetness of the fruits you reap

You’ve worked so hard and lost sleep

Over all those big things that now look small

In fact, they weren’t even there at all!

So go out there and stand tall

And leave your marks on the wall

Live the life of happiness you owe yourself

And don’t worry about everyone else

Today is yours 

Tomorrow may not come

Go chase the moon

Outshine the sun

Just be yourself

While you’re having fun

~ Zeina

What Makes Me…Me

What makes me me?

Is it a bittersweet reality?

A present smeared with history?

The fragments of unresolved 

Crises of identity

Unfathomed emotions, unrealized dreams

A motherhood, as unideal as it seems

The passions reminiscing

Of a long-lost career

The interests, cravings, scribbles

I like to call poetry

That speak volumes about

strength that’s found in fragility

What makes me me?

When there’s nothing special

About my life’s monotony

I fill my papers with the inks

Of my agony

But my imagination dwindles

As the years fly by so rapidly

As the year closes, 

these thoughts consume me

What makes me me?

The uniqueness I bring to the ordinary?

The reflections upon sentimentality?

Things that still mean the world to me

Now overlooked as trivialities

What makes me me is simply

What makes you you

What makes humane a humanity 

Strawberry Chocolate Tarte

I love recipes that are met with success, tremendous success. I love them more when they’re easy to make and hassle-free. Like this recipe of chocolate tarte adorned with fresh strawberries and dusted with soft flakes of powdery “snow” (I used powdered sugar for garnish rather than chopped nuts as the recipe calls). This tarte has “winter” written all over it, although I’m pretty sure you can enjoy it any time of year. It looks elegant too, your guests will think you’ve slaved away in the kitchen an entire afternoon making it. Honestly the only hard part about this divine chocolatey treat is waiting for it to harden in the fridge. With preparations taking a little under 20 minutes, I was a bit skeptical and unsure whether I was following the recipe correctly. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, a rich chocoholic cream dream with a crunchy Oreo crust and a touch of tanginess from the fresh seasonal strawberries. 

I know you and I hate reading long food blog posts, so let me end this torture now and tell you what ingredients you’ll need to satisfy your present craving. You, my chocoholic friend, must be salivating at the mere mention of “chocolate” I’m sure. 

For the crust

330g of Oreo cookies (approximately 32 cookies), crushed in processor

110g of butter, melted

Add melted butter to processed cookies and continue blending until they have a crumbly-doughy texture.

Press into tart or pie pan and freeze until you prepare filling.

For the filling

100g dark chocolate (I used a bit more)

200g milk chocolate (I used the hazelnut kind, and a little more of it too)

200ml heavy cream

Heat the cream and pour over chopped chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Let the hot cream slowly melt the chocolate for 10 minutes. (I was so impatient I had to use the microwave to finish the deed!)

Mix the melted chocolate and cream until they’re incorporated, pour over prepared frozen crust and place strawberries on top. Place in fridge for 2 hours at least or overnight. Try not to devour your slice(s) at once, I dare you. 😍

The recipe, naturally, is not mine. 

I found it on this site: 

http://www.homecookingadventure.com/recipes/no-bake-strawberry-chocolate-tart

It’s been circulating on Pinterest for a while. Don’t you just love this app? Please click the link above to get the author’s original recipe. In the meantime, enjoy gazing at my version of this chocolate-strawberry insanity! 

   
    
         

 

Have a great weekend, everybody ❤️

~ Zeina