Thursday, December 15, 2011

Something Vietnamese

Actually you can also make it Chinese, just use the normal fresh popia or frozen spring roll skins. For Vietnamese rice paper rolls, buy some dry rice paper wafers at the Asian sundry shop or supermarket. You can even fry some egg skins with some egg, water, pinch of salt.

To prepare :

1. Prepare all the filling ingredients and arrange on the table before you
moisten the Vietnamese rice paper .
2. Lay a lightly moistened small towel on your clean table or perhaps silicon
lining surface (I have not tried that out but it may work)
3. Have a shallow bowl of warm water next to you. Does not have to be hot.
4. Dip one piece of stiff round rice paper into the warm water. Let it soften
slightly and remove it before it gets soft and sticky.
5. After a few tries you will know just when to take it out. Do not let it soften
completely as it will stick together.
6. Lay rice paper flat on towel and quickly arrange the filling neatly. Do not
let it be too much or too wide, you need to tuck in the sides and roll up.
7. You can use the towel to aid in rolling but I just roll it tightly and seal
up the end with a little flour and water paste if you plan to deep fry it.
8. For deep frying do not use ingredients that are too wet.
9. I like fried rolls but its equally nice and healthier to eat them freshly
rolled, dipped in sauce.

Some suggestions for fillings :

blanched or fresh beansprouts
boiled and drained bean vermicilli
blanched or steamed prawns
finely sliced/julienned carrot, chillies,
spring onions, coriander, bamboo shoots
ginger, capsicum etc

Chinese spring roll filling:

finely julienned turnip fried in garlic and
a little soysauce, small shrimps, salt and pepper
topped with finely sliced spring onions, crabmeat
fried shallots, garlic, chilli sauce, bean sprouts

Alternative fusion ingredients

shredded steamed chicken
minced meat fried in shallot and garlic
shredded egg omelette
flaked fresh crabmeat
Steamed spinach and cheese

Can top with fried garlic and shallots

Dipping Sauce

Vietnames fish sauce
with lime, garlic, sugar, chilli bits and dash of fish sauce
Hot chilli sauce
black vinegar garlic sauce
light quality soya sauce with chopped chillies
yoghurt sauce
spicy fruit sauce

Just remember we can no longer use HP sauce and Tabasco as the
religious dept has confirmed it is not halal.

So far LP sauce is still alright insha Allah.

These rolls are very quick to prepare and we can even use leftovers for the fillings. I think I may want to make some savoury minced beef fillings with onions and black pepper. How about a dash of LP Worcestershire sauce or Maggi sauce?

Note: Chinese springrolls can be frozen and deep fried. Be careful not to overfill or make it damp or the skin will tear and burst. Rice paper rolls are very tiny and to my experience does not keep well in the fridge as it will dry out unless sealed in a box. Happy trying.

Hope you will enjoy trying this recipe. I added the extras as I type along. Do you know we will get new ideas and inspirations when we try to share it with others?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cooking Away

Pumpkin Soup and Parboiled Rice

Last Sunday made creamy but light pumpkin soup for dinner. Served it with some leftover chicken curry and few slices of tomato.

Tuna Mash

Also tried a recipe I found in my friend's FB - Arab recipe : tuna with mashed potatoes, egg and mozzarella cheese. Very quick and easy. Just spice it up with chopped green chillies or chili padi. Or brown some sliced onions and some curry powder.

Baked Tuna Macaroni in White Sauce

Just stir everything into the tuna and egg, cooking lightly. Very cheezy and good with toast. I imagine it can be mixed into a shallow baking dish with some boiled macaroni and milk or white sauce.

I love Prawn Sambal

Made my usual quick prawn sambal on Monday for dinner. For the side dish, I boiled some organic chick peas (garbanzo beans) (soaked overnight) and they tasted so sweet and tasty without any seasoning except a pinch of rock salt.

Served melon, radish and carrot chicken soup and made a quick fresh lettuce salad with red baby tomatoes, thick yoghurt.

How to make do with what you have in the fridge

The next day I made fried bihun (rice vermicelli) with the prawn sambal, browning some onions to create a thick fragrant base. Added some tomato sauce to make it a little tangy. We also had leftover quiche bought from a fund raising food sale on Sunday.

Just imagine throwing away all the excess food just because we did not bother to spend a few minutes to plan our meals. Just check what is in the fridge or larder. We just need to be creative and try to make some quick changes to make our meals more nutritious and enjoyable. So many people are starving because of famine and war. We have to be truly thankful for our sustenance. Allah is most kind to us.

Chinese Fried Rice

We enjoy simple fried rice. It goes well with fried egg or just a fresh salad or some prawn crackers or poppadom.

Just brown lots of garlic until aromatic. Then add some frozen mixed vegetables (Watties brand). Add pepper and rock salt.

Push the rice aside and add a bit of oil. Break two eggs , add a dash of salt and pepper and let it set a little.

Quickly add in the cooked rice and give it a quick stir. Its ready!!

This is authentic basic Chinese fried rice, not the recipes that teach us to add weird stuff like bean sprouts and other fanciful stuff. All that wet ingredients take away the fiery aroma.The secret is the pan must be very very hot.

I used steamed parboil rice from the fridge and it turned out just nice without being too dry and hard. You can add a dash of light soya sauce or even dark soya for a dark fried rice.

Fish sauce can also be sprinkled for a bit of variety, like the Thai fried rice where you can also add cut chillies and flossed dried prawns. like rice with kapi. Serve with a slice of fresh lime or chili sambal.

No Need to use too much oil

I use very little oil in my cooking. The only time I use excess oil is when I suddenly feel like having some fried food, like poppadam, keropok or ikan bilis. Or bull's eye fried eggs. Its not always easy to cook low fat. Good to use palm oil for frying. Light cooking with grapeseed oil , butter, ghee and olive oil. Add sesame oil to Oriental dishes for flavour and nutrients.

Flaxseed is a great oil to use but keep it in the fridge or freezer. Do not buy it off supermarket shelves as they should be kept cold. It will not harden and great for the heart.

Do try the fried rice, it can be served in 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on your ingredients. Serve hot garnished with fried shallots, fresh spring onions, chives, herbs and even toasted cashew nuts or almonds.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mixed Audience Fashion Show

Why am I involved?

I do this with mixed feelings. Sometimes, in order to go to step 2, we have to start from step 1. Just as the Islamic Fashion Festival has its challenges, it had soldiered on, creating more awareness about what is modesty in Islam. Designers are constantly reminded on the proper Islamic dressing requirements. Some consistently disregard these rules showing either ignorance or disrespect.

It is our intention to have a fully Islamic fashion and lifestyle platform through Amaed. Only members can make it happen.

Amaed is in its infant stage

Teething problems may take years to outgrow. The main thing is we must carry on, making small improvements here and there, every step of the way. Many members join the organisation to improve their business and networking. That is fine. But they need to join the greater mission, to encourage all to embrace the act of worship of covering modestly.

How do men dress in the past?

Not just women but the men should cover too. Sure they need only cover modestly between the navel to the knees. But we have to look at the situation. Men in the past had to do manual labour, carrying timber, stones and grains. They sweat and some could not afford to soil or damage their clothes daily.

Men who lead normal lives do not walk around wearing only pants or loin cloth. That is common sense. Even in the ancient days, they wore long robes and shorts and dressed modestly. Similarly we encourage men of today to dress modestly too.

Men can dress well too

It would be great if men wore long loose shirts and pants. Those with unsightly bulging bellies should cover themselves modestly instead of tucking in their tight shirts into their equally tight trousers. We are not criticising people or commenting about their figures, but encouraging them to dress a bit more smartly and decently. Women do not like to have to see men dressed in tight clothes just as believing men do not like to see women dressed immodestly.

Some people do not care or are they unaware?

As for guys with great figures, tall and athletic, cover up please. Mr Universe and our swimming champs and footballers who wear tiny underwear in public need to dress a bit more decently.

Parents protect your daughters

Actually it is surreal to see Muslim girls wearing revealing leotards and swimsuits during sports competitions. And the parents are so proud of their daughters appearing in the international media wearing skimpy little costumes. So what if they are world champions? Will the malaikat record how many gold medals they won? Or note down in their book of records what they did. Allah knows best. Just caring for our young sisters, that's all.

Respect Divine Rules

We cannot say we believe in Islam and yet not respect the rules. These are rules from our Creator, not man made. Because these are divine laws, Muslims have to submit to them eventually. Sometimes they disobey when they use their own nafs (vain desires) to decide the way they dress and behave.

If we do not want to cover modestly whilst we are alive, we will still be covered from head to toe in our burial shroud. Do we wait to be covered only when our bodies lie cold and lifeless? May Allah SWT have mercy on us.

Pay the Price

People have the freedom and choice to obey or disobey. However they all know they must pay the price some day, one way or another.

Perhaps they think they will one day change their lives, to begin to live with dignity as Muslims, humble slaves of Allah. But they do not want that one day to be today, or tomorrow, or the next. Not yet anyway.

Shirk to change Allah's laws

Actually these people who disobey are not that bad compared to those who change Allah SWT's laws. When Allah says something is haram or forbidden, these people are quick to claim that it is halal or permissible for Muslims. They will say black is white and white is black.

Who are these people? They are the ignorant or worse, arrogant ones. They do not fear or respect Allah. Disobeying Allah is very different from rejecting Allah's laws. Those who reject openly commit shirk.

Some claim to love Allah but they take their dressing too casually. Friends may give a small hint or reminder. If they are the types who do not take kindly to sisterly advice, no one will dare to remind them any more.

Yet these very people too may fast during the month of Ramadhan and even pray the night prayer with thousands of other devout Muslims. They may pay their zakat and do a lot of charity. Sometimes these acts of faith ends with the month of Ramadhan, Some may revert to their former selves and wait for the next Ramadhan to come the following year.

What Kind of Muslim are We?

So we realise there are so many types and levels of Muslims. Which kind of Muslim are we? We know we are not perfect, I know I am far from it and am still struggling to improve my faith/iman and my will power to obey Allah.

We get what we want

I may not fulfill every form of ibadah but I know I want to improve. Allah knows what is in our hearts and He knows our intention. When we do something that is not for the sake of Allah we may succeed but there may be no blessing in that action.

We get what we asked for, if its dunya we want, that's what we will get. What if we do not get anything for our akhirah? There may even be curses directed at us.

How Nice if its All Women Event Only

Coming back to the fashion show, how I wish it would be a fully Muslimah event. All males will be barred from the dressing room, makeup room and the stage. The helpers, dressers, choreographer, waiters, technicians and managers including security will be female only.

Even the audience should be female. When it becomes a show by women specially for women, much of the fitnah is removed. And no men looking at our models on the catwalk, which I feel increasingly uncomfortable. No men to watch other women who are sharing their tables and no women will have to serve male patrons in the hotel or hall.

A Fashion Show is not just about fashion, glamour and sales

It may not happen overnight but every sincere Muslim would not object to all women events for fashion shows. It is not just merely showing the beauty of Islam through decent Muslim attire. Amaed is the right platform to educate the public and members likewise. Some members know but continue to design tight little dresses as they may sell faster. Some may feel it is not that serious so we can only hope knowledge can help them be strong.

Change Perception

It is also very much about encouraging Muslims to change their perception. Muslims must be aware of their great responsibility to show Islam in a good light. Each and every Muslim has the sacred duty to share the ''beauty and duty " to cover up.

Be Proactive

Let us be proactive. We have a great Amaed Team and they have put in so much time, money and effort to put things together. We hope one day in the near future Amaed will represent true Muslim attire and convey the beauty of covering up modestly on a higher level.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fashion shows are fun and glamorous?

Fun and glamour?

Not exactly. Perhaps only for the audience. For the rest of us backstage and back in the workroom, it is a lot of tedious , repetitive work, checking, reworking, checking, unpicking, fixing ...

Tension Backstage

Yeah, a hundred and one things to do before we can give our friends and audience a splendid show - the many beautiful clothes carefully designed, cut, each stitched and put together to make an outfit - an ensemble.

Too many choices make it difficult

Besides finalising the designs, there will be some changes along the way and in the end the final result will look nothing like the original proposal. That is the fun part. It can be frustrating too - trying to acquire the right fabrics, textures, colours, shades and trimmings.

Remembering the needs of customer

Designing an outfit may look like a piece of cake. Well its not just drawing and doing what we think looks nice and may sell well. The costing is important because the wrong choice of fabrics may increase the final cost and make it unaffordable to the end customer. What is the use of making clothes at a price that customers cannot afford? It has to be balanced, affordable yet beautiful and practical enough to be loved by the wearer.

No time to relax

It is only fun after all the work is done and the show is over. Perhaps then people will relax and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. The fun lies in the challenge of designing and creating something beautiful out of a few pieces of fabric, some thread, beads and ribbons. The joy of seeing the working coming together and suddenly something fabulous is created. The process of creation is a very personal experience.

Always ready for a challenge

Yet designers love their work and the challenges. They would not have it any other way. They may worry, may fret, may moan but they will carry on with the show. Sheer drive and determination keeps them going under stress.

Fighting for time backstage

There is so very little time for the models to change into the next outfit. With just 10 minutes to change, clothes are flying into the air as they grabbed the next outfit. Everyone is frantically trying to adjust the outfit, put on the scarves, shawls, accessories and before its done, she has to go out to face the audience.

Looking Cool

Models are trained to keep their cool. Even if the outfit is not arranged properly she has to look calm and cool. She has to make it work. After all that is what professional models are there for - to help make the garment work even under intense stress and pressure. People did not go to see the women just to admire their beauty. They want to see what the clothes would look like when it is worn by real people. They have to bring the designs to life.

All in good taste, insha Allah

That's why we do not parade mannequins or robots. They will definitely not be the same. Nobody walks like a robot. Muslima fashion models are trained to walk naturally and gently, they do not strut and sway like non believers. They do not sell clothes by abusing their bodies. At least they are not supposed to as Muslims . There is such a thing as self respect and dignity.

Appreciate the efforts of people behind the scene

So as the models parade out in all the finery, let us appreciate the creative spirit of this breed of people called designers. Their work can be beautiful, bold, funny, serious, wacky and sometimes plain weird. Beauty is subjective and everyone just dives in to swim. We can only admire their zest for life and love for creativity.

We also acknowledge the dedication and supportive work carried out by all staff, tailoring , design , research and support personnel. Designers cannot work alone, they need constant support, feed back, in put and constant reminders to keep on track and on time.

Not outrageous or vain

Muslim fashion shows are preferably low key, models are generally not over made up for drama and shock value. All in good taste. The models are chosen for their height and also good etiquette. Punctuality, well mannered, considerate and cooperative. No divas are expected here and we know it is not only the model that sells the clothes. Allah SWT determines our rezeki so we just keep on working and improving ourselves.

A way to encourage women to dress modestly

One of the reasons for holding such shows is to encourage more women to cover modestly. Many of them think they will lose their beauty and be forced to become dull and uninteresting. This is probably because they do not realise that covering modestly is a requirement in Islam and when we submit wholeheartedly to Allah's commands, He will bless us in different ways.

Precious Jewel to be protected or trophy to be exhibited?

Have you ever noticed the nur or glow upon a sister who is covered modestly? Just compare her with someone who is exposing herself for all to see, to sample and to imagine. If you were a man would you like your sister or wife to go around half naked? Do you know that if a woman wears tightly fitted clothes that reveal her figure, even if she is covered from head to toe, she is considered to be part naked? She is showing her body to people who do not have the right to see her in that manner.

Would you want to protect and advise her or be secretly proud to show her off to other man like a trophy? Is she just another possession to be shown off? Are you treating her like your new BMW or new swimming pool?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Cat with no legs?

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Not so if you are a Malaysian. Lately this cat had been in the news and causing quite a stir! I cried when I read the story of how a man found a badly maimed cat by the road. I forgot the details ...

Leg forcibly cut off!! Raw Pain!

Anyway he described his shock when he found a cat bleeding on the ground. Its 2 front legs were cut off! Its really unthinkable that a fellow human being would commit such an extremely cruel act. Certainly no living creature deserves to be treated in such a painful inhumane way.

Anger can make us lose our reasoning

The person who did it was obviously very angry, maybe it was his way of punishing the cat for perhaps stealing his fish. He was perhaps so blinded with rage that all he felt was he needed to teach it a very nasty lesson. Muslims are reminded not to become angry as it is an attribute of shaitan (the devil).

Even a pin prick causes pain

If we nicked our little finger we would be feeling the pain. What more if someone were to cut off its leg at the joint, one leg and then the other. If I were there I could have been moved to jump on him, knife or no knife.

I saw cat on tv

During Eid I watched tv (very rare thing to do, perhaps a few times in a year) in a friend's home. I saw the cat on tv, fully recovered (without the legs of course) but it is a very resilient little thing, moving on its hind legs and trying to do the things other normal cats do. She was named "Hero", signifying how much they admired her courage and determination to survive.

A loving friend and companion

Hero licked the face of her beloved master and rescuer. Her affection was pure and true. It was very touching as he recalled what he had done, without even thinking of the consequences. He wrapped the bleeding creature in his jacket and wanted to rush to a vet. Suddenly he realised he would not have been able to afford to pay the vet. The next best thing to do was to apply emergency treatment on it. He applied lots of minyak gamat (sea cucumber ointment) again and again until the injuries healed.

Wonders of Minyak Gamat

Minyak gamat is known to aid in healing and a wonderful natural cure from Allah's bounties, from under the sea. It is relatively cheap and yet potent and easy to apply. Pharmacies charge people a lot of money for things that Allah has made available to us, if only we make effort to discover the secrets of what is on land and under the oceans. The Chinese buy dried sea cucumber from the medicine shops and boil them slowly for a few hours. usually with chicken, red dates, herbs and roots . It makes a truly delicious soup that rejuvenates and revives any tiredness.

A survivor and a shining example

Hero had to learn how to move and take care of herself painfully. This is a lesson to us all too. If an animal can survive such a trauma and learn how to rehabilitate itself, we humans should emulate this brave spunky little cat. We often have people to help us, encourage us and also some special equipment to help us support ourselves. Yet we sink into dark moods and become angry with the world. These are all tests from Allah to see who is best in patience and behaviour. What can a little cat do without her front legs? Yet she did not give up and wilt away.

Allah Most Merciful

Allah is Most Merciful! This brother who passed by at the fateful moment did not hesitate to help one of Allah's creations. He accepted the responsibility and did his best. His family too supported him and grew to love this cat. His tears flowed as he recollected what had happened.

Sometimes animals behave better than humans

Today Hero is secure, peaceful and loved by all in the family. It has even found fame and respect. Yes, sometimes it is easier to respect an animal than to respect a human being. Al Quran tells us that human beings are capable of being the best of creation and yet equally capable of sinking to the lowest of the low. It is up to us to decide who we want to be.

Strive to be the best person

It is not about riches, about popularity, about fame. We can always strive to be the best person we are capable of, within our own limited abilities. It may not be a comfortable or secure life. There is no such thing as real security in life anyway. Even nations can collapse overnight so we should not feel too secure in our man made castles.

Follow the true and straight path

Be true to ourselves and follow the path that Allah SWT has planned for us. Ihdinas siratal mustaqim... are we going in the right direction? Are we sure we are in the right direction? Do not just follow our friends or depend on people we admire; we need to know our own direction.

May Allah guide us and forgive our sins. Let us strive for a better future, dunia and ahirah, this worldly life and the Hereafter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How we spent our Eidul Adha

Muslims celebrate only 2 days in a year.

Islam is all about time management. We are not encouraged to spend our time on frivolous matters throughout the year. We take a day off to celebrate Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha. The two most important days of the Islamic calendar. Many people however stretch one day into one whole week. There are times we stretch one day into one whole month! Endless socialising and over eating. We all do enjoy eating but the never ending part is really upsetting our health...

Do not overeat!

We are supposed to fill our stomach with only one third food, one third water and the other one third to be left empty for air. Muslim lifestyle is really quite simple, not too many rituals except those prescribed by Allah SWT. Muslims are required to do their best to fulfil their once in a lifetime obligation , the 5th pillar of Islam, - the haj pilgrimage to Mekkah.

For those of us who are unable to join them, for various reasons, perform qurban, sacrificing animals and distributing their meat to the needy. It is not a burden but is yet a sacrifice as we need to part with our saving to fulfil this requirement.

Allah does not wish to burden us

Allah does not wish to burden us. Only those who can manage to pay for their one seventh share of a cow are allowed to do so. Those who cannot afford to make this sacrifice in turn are given the meat as it is the right of the needy to receive help.

After all, Prophet Abraham was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his beloved son Ismail. Both father and son were loyal to Allah and they humbly accepted the command, submitting to the will of God. At the last moment, Allah substituted Ismail with a ram and they therefore passed a very great test of sacrifice.

Act of Submission

To commemorate this act of submission and to remind ourselves of Allah's Mercy all Muslims try their best to also make a sacrifice during this holy month of haj. The big difference is we are allowed to sacrifice a lamb or one seventh portion of a cow or more, instead of having to sacrifice our children.

How Merciful is Allah. He does not need anything from us and we need everything from Him. How small we are and yet we sometimes walk haughtily upon this earth, forgetting who is the real Master of the Universe.

This Eidul Adha we decided to do something very different.

We decided to go to Seremban, Negri Sembilan to perform solat Eidul Adha with the revert brothers and sisters at the Masjid frequented by many reverts. Seremban is less than an hour away via the highway but since everyone would be using the main roads, we decided to take a drive along the old roads to avoid the usual massive holiday traffic jams.

It took us about half an hour to reach USJ 6 from Ampang. It took a long time because we were stuck in the jam and took a detour, via Duke highway, then to Bandar Utama before hitting NKVE to USJ in Subang. After that we took the KLIA Nilai road. All the effort was worth it as we managed to escape a very tortuous long crawl to Seremban.

Our main intention was to attend solat Eidul Adha (Eid prayers) in the Chinese Masjid (mosque) in Seremban. I met the imam and some of the Macma members there once. Had promised to visit them again. The kuthbah (sermon) was in Mandarin and some Arabic.


Very unique - if only I could understand Mandarin. It would be useful to distribute copies of the translation of the kuthbah. No point in sending the congregation(jemaah) nodding off to dreamland while the iman is speaking in Mandarin. What is the point of a kuthbah when it does not reach the ears and hearts of the jemaah? No doubt there will reward for listening but its better to share the knowledge. Don't you think so?

Chinese Style Masjid

Its really beautiful, with Chinese features and traditional Chinese style interior. The pagoda was a very nice touch. The best feature I loved are the gently swaying willow trees in the garden surrounding the building.

Assalamu alaikum dear friends, I'm back again!

Good to be back!

Been away for a really long time - since Ramadhan. And its already Eidul Adha already! With all the extra work and commitments in Ramadhan I decided to cool it and stayed away from my blog. Sometimes when we are too busy, the creative part of us become frozen in time.

Stale and Stilted Thoughts

Writer's block some may call it. We can still write but it will take more effort and time. And ideas may become stale and not spontaneous. I do not write with drafts and re drafts. Sometimes when the mood hits, my fingers just fly over the keyboard and words begin to form, as fast as the brain can muster the thoughts and feelings.

Feeling good about writing again

Its kind of coming back right now. I did not plan to write anything, just to check whether I needed to respond to any comments from my dear friends and readers. I love you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Thank you.

I need to improve my vocabulary

I do not like to stop when I am on a roll. That of course means I do not use words that I cannot remember how to spell anymore, due to long disuse. And also vague words from memory that I am no longer sure of what they mean exactly. Where's that old dictionary of mine?

I do envy (in a good and loving way) , my dear sister Hajar who writes so delicately and yet so effectively. I love the way she pens her thoughts.
Some of her little phrases inspire and make me want to put in more effort than just churning out my thoughts in a primitive manner.

Looking forward to more writing... soon! I promise.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Garlic Bread Supper

Alhamdulillah for a lovely lunch

We were given a lovely treat by br. Sharin Low at his fine dining restaurant today. It was a sort of thank you lunch to show his appreciation for the effort by the working committee.

Heavy lunch is often enough to last us till next morning. Today I had a fairly heavy lunch, though I managed to discipline myself to only one medium bowl of white rice. Its difficult to have a full Chinese meal without rice. Some dishes may be a little salty and its not suitable for consuming it by itself.

Light and Easy Supper

Its better to prepare some garlic butter just in case anyone gets a little hungry at night. We normally skip dinner if we had a heavy lunch or tea. How much can our bodies take, forcing our liver and kidneys to work even harder when we overeat. Just imagine the amount of abuse our bodies have to endure when we decided to have an extra meal - unnecessarily.

Its better to enjoy some fresh fruit juice or a blend of vegetable juice or yogurt shake. Some buttered garlic toast may be just right for hungry people who do not want to over eat at night. Light supper is better that heavy rice or noodles for me.

We can have plain toast with some leftover clear vegetable soup or just boil an egg and add a few dashes of light soya sauce and pepper. I welcome hot garlic toast using white sandwich bread, French baguette or homemade bread. Just prepare some garlic butter, keep it in the fridge for a couple of days for a snack.

How to do it

Garlic Butter

Half block of Softened salted butter
Finely chopped garlic - 2 tsp or more
Freshly ground black pepper
white pepper

Just mix everything and season to taste with a little sea, rock or mountain salt. So easy when we are in the mood for a quick snack.

Butter one side of the bread, no need to trim the crusts. Turn the bread over and spread butter generously . Pop it in the mini oven toaster or place several pieces on the oven tray and toast it in the oven.

Its ready when the surface starts to turn golden brown, Remove quickly before it burns as it will continue to toast after its left on the cooling rack. Serve with some salad or soup. Yum..

Another quick snack for lazy or busy folks :

Tomato and Cheese Sandwich

It can served as an open sandwich or sandwiched together in the sandwich toaster. Its really hot and juicy so be careful of the hot tomato and cheese when you try to bite into it.

Butter the bottom side of the bread. Place a slice of cheddar cheese on top and ad 1 thin slices of ripe red tomatoes, seeds removed. If you like, top it with another slice of cheese. Cover with another piece of buttered bread and place it in the oven or sandwich toaster. Buttering the top and bottom will give a nice crispy golden surface. Watch out for the steam!!!

No Cooking Ikan Bilis Sambal Toast

Actually I also used to prepare sambal sandwich with the leftover ikan bilis sambal from nasi lemak . Just sandwich and pop it into the sandwich toaster. I had a customer who ate this very regularly and obviously its her favourite.

Sardines and Toast

Everyone knows how to do this. Just add some sliced or minced fresh onions and red and green chillies. Chopped bits of pineapple can be tasty too. Serve with sliced cucumber, tomatoes and leafy greens.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quick Cooking - prawn sambal!!!

Craving for prawn sambal

Had been thinking of prawn sambal for the past week. Some people stay away from squids and prawns as we know that fishermen sometimes do use too much preservatives to keep their catch in saleable condition. They have been known to add formaldehyde to the seafood. You probably know that this same ingredient is generally used to preserve dead corpses.

We also know that some people add msg to the dried prawns etc. I also decided to omit the belacan though it gives a nice touch.These days I too had tried to avoid prawns unless its once a blue moon.

Already shelled the prawns though they could be tastier with shell intact. Kept the tails for show. Its really quick when the prawns are ready. I freeze them immediately after shelling. Maybe they will be a little less toxic with shells removed.

This is how I make my instant prawn sambal

3 large red onions
7 or 8 cloves of garlic
4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil
1+ 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of ground chili paste
1/2 to 1 tablespoon of molasses sugar
1 tsp salt or to taste
white pepper
some slices of ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
(that's because I ran out of asam jawa/tamarind paste)
Optional : petai which I really like
finely sliced limau purut leaves


Just blend the onions and garlic coarsely, I like the texture of softened sweet onions.
When nicely browned and fragrant, add the sliced or blended/grated ginger and chili paste.
Add the molasses sugar, salt to taste and some water to make some tasty gravy.
Make sure the mixture is bubbly hot when you add the prawns to ensure they get
thoroughly cooked. Once prawns are cooked squeeze some lemon juice over them and give a quick stir. Taste and dish out. It takes only 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Nice with hot rice and a salad.

Eat it with some fresh vegetables

Today I steam cooked some cauliflower. Too busy to go marketing. I like to raid the fridge and clean it up before I buy some more. Wasted too much in the past.

Fresh cucumber and pineapple and tomato salad would be great too. A quick scrambled egg with sliced onions fried in olive oil made it extra nice.

Simple meal

Its a simple meal that can be put together very quickly. Also steam boiled some Jasmine extra long basmati rice. Any leftovers can be frozen or used as fried rice the next day.

We enjoyed it as it had been raining and the cool air that breezed in was chilly, as the house is facing the mountain. Alhamdulillah!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TV 9 Safiyah interview of 'the Beauty of Covering Up'

TV 9 Interview

The past few days I had been receiving reminders and questions about my expected appearance on TV3 today, 2nd October. Even just before the airing I kept getting reminders and calls. I appreciate the caring and support of my dear sisters and FB friends. I also made some new friends through these interviews. Alhamdulillah.

Surreal Feeling

It felt very unreal - most of the interviews I had were always direct telecast. I did not really have the chance to watch how I conducted the interviews. My command of Bahasa Malaysia was only average and I was concerned I would not be able to express my thoughts adequately After all making dawah in just a few minutes is not always easy.

Today was no different because though I had enough notice, I was at a meeting to discuss ibadah and dawah fisabilillaah. I had to decide between watching the program comfortably at home or to sacrifice that moment. Of course I hope to be able to obtain a copy of the airing. Just for records purposes as the pretty young lady had sportingly modelled some of my Oriental cheongsam jubahs for me.

Islam is for everyone

I wanted to remind people that they do not have to dress like a Malay or any particular nationality to practise Islam. So long we dress modestly following the requirements found in Al Quran and the hadiths, it is good enough. So Chinese reverts can continue wearing Oriental cheongsams and samfoos so long they are adapted to Islamic requirements. So Simple!

I was a little curious but not too keen to see my self on tv. There is nothing much to see , keeping a low and modest profile and learning to age gracefully. Given up makeup many years ago. It was not an easy decision as some of us love to look well groomed and beautiful, even if no one is watching. Just for own pleasure and satisfaction. For our own self esteem.

Those were the days :)

There had been a time when I enjoyed dressing up a bit more glamorously. I loved beautiful clothes and had my own boutique but I had chosen to leave those days behind.

Not because I am getting on in years - actually when people grow older, only their physical selves show visible signs of aging. Every elderly woman would feel just as young at heart as the young lady sitting next to us. But we do need to look in the mirror to see the gradual change in us.

Gentle Reminder to Get Real

A gentle reminder that its time to move on to more important things, like preparing for our final journey.... to make sure we end up in the best destination, insha Allah.

We too were young once

We used to be that young lady sitting next to us. We can still remember all the things we did when we were younger. But Allah's laws cannot be reversed -- time passes and people age, only their hearts remain young. Perhaps that is really a good thing. To have maturity and wisdom of experience and yet the attitute of perpetual youth, still with a zest for life. Alhamdulillah! Allah knows best.

One day all too will lose their physical beauty

The physical body has to age. Weakness and ill health that may follow is to prepare us to accept the inevitable - our promised return to our Creator. Just imagine if we do not age physically, we will just go on living and enjoying like there is no tomorrow. We will not be preparing ourselves for our final journey until the Angel of Death stands in front of us.

Allah knows Best

So everything that may seem bad or negative can also be seen as something that is positive. After all, Allah always does what is best for us, though often we beg to differ. He knows what we do not know yet we sometimes oppose His guidance and reject even what is stated in Al Quran.

May Allah guide us and forgive our daily sins and mistakes. Ameen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Frugal Life - is it really that dreary or a smart thing to do?

Why the Secret?

Shhh! Don't let on that we are frugal! Why the secrecy? It can be a good thing, you know. In fact be glad you know how to be frugal. Its the in thing right now.


Frugal! Once upon a time people would shy away from using such words to describe themselves. Today its just the reverse! With rapid rising cost of living, we have to use our common sense and wisdom to know how to live a quality lifestyle without too much unnecessary frivolous spending.

Of course we love to spend! Its how you spend that matters.

Of course we all do spend extravagantly once a while, depending on the occasion and our budget. To be frugal is smart and gives a sense of satisfaction.

Frugal living to me means spending wisely, on good quality products and fresh and tasty food. It does not mean eating scraps of old veggies bought from the discount corner. It does not mean buying overripe mangoes which cannot be eaten and bananas which should be delegated to the garbage bin the next day.

Waste not, Want not

It simply means knowing what to buy, where to buy and choosing your menu carefully. I used to overstock my pantry as I seldom have time to shop leisurely lately. Too much fresh perishable foods in the fridge may be wasted if we decided to eat out for a few meals.

Eating out can be great too

Sometimes eating out is great, a wonderful treat when we eat with family and friends. But there had been times where we felt regret for spending a lot of money for poor quality food. A whole bowl of noodles with a few scraps of chicken and 2 tiny prawns, some vegetables. That may cost up to RM13, excluding extra vegetables and drink. An average meal for 2 may cost between Rm20 to Rm30.

DQ Organic Chicken?

For Rm40 we can buy a small DQ organic chicken and some fresh vegetables. And that is enough for a simple meal for up to 4 - 5 persons. Just increase the variety with something cheap and nutritious like eggs or fried ikan bilis or a quick soup tofu veggie made from some bony parts of the chicken.

Eating Well

I had been reading on frugal cooking and realise the food can be as interesting and tasty as some expensive cuts of meat and exotic vegetables and fruits. I also learnt that its better to eat food grown locally as Allah has created food good for us within our own vicinity. He is Most Wise, Kind. Even needy folks can have healthy, tasty nutritious meals from their backyard. We have become so sophisticated that we end up paying lots of money for imported food that may not yield us maximum benefits.

Blessed with lots of great fruits and vegetables

Just think papayas, pineapple, mangoes, watermelon, yams, sweet potatoes and even local avocado and promegranates. Lime, starfruit, coconuts, mangosteen, guava, rambutan and pomelos are all rich in different nutrients. we do not have to travel the world to look for our vitamins and antioxidants.The problem is we usually do not have time or inclination to eat with discipline, wisdom and care.

Colourful Palette

A simple guideline is to look for a colourful palette when we choose our fruits. Every colour has its own special qualities. We can also enjoy sweetness with gula melaka.

Even local produced fruits and vegetables are no longer cheap so imported ones are even more so. Lots of fresh and raw live food and less meat and white products like refined white flours, rice, sugars etc. We cannot guarantee good health or long life but at least we can make an effort to care for ourselves and our loved ones on a daily basis.

Quality food and healthy cooking

Frugal also means choosing generally less expensive foods and products without sacrificing quality and enjoyment. Buying quality products that can last longer and provide more satisfaction .

How to

Good to steam, bake or stir fry our food. Soups and salads are easy and quick to prepare.

Cheap does not mean economical

Sometimes it is frugal to buy a more expensive product if it is of superior quality and within our budget. Just make sure we make good use of it and not let it collect dust in a corner.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Really hard to say 'no' to someone

Is it easy to refuse to help someone?

Is it easy to say 'no'? Does it give us a sense of power to refuse someone's request or appeal or cry for help? Having that power or ability is a heavy responsibility. It doesn't have to be something very important but if we have to make a decision it may mean responsibility and accountability in some cases.

Like when students appeal for scholarships, people who ask for credit because they need to put food on the table for their children, people who cannot pay for their car instalments though they need the car for their work.

Why do I accept this responsibility?

Some of us take on the challenge or rather, burden of accepting donations and zakat contributions from friends. They ask us to distribute them to genuine needy cases, people who do not know how to apply for help at official avenues, such as Bait ulmal or the local religions departments. We do this because we are seeking Allah's pleasure and rewards.

Great Responsibility

It is such a heavy responsibility. It feels real bad to say no to someone when we do actually have some cash in our pocket for charity. If its for zakat we need to make sure its given to the eligible recepients or else we are guilty of misappropriating the funds. If its just normal charity then we can give to anybody, even those who are not yet Muslim. Or obvious non believers, in the hope it can alleviate their hardship and soften their hearts. Just any needy person.

A lot of tension in trying to say 'no'

The past few days I had been getting many sms from 2 particular persons. Among the many people we distributed zakat and seqedah, these two received the most, perhaps 4 times as much as some others. I gave them my own and my family's zakat and sedeqah. Since its my own contribution I felt free to give to whoever I want. I gave to them because I know them and really feel sorry for their difficult situation. As they do not earn much and have so many responsibilities, once is never enough.

Besides that I also gave when I received extra from friends. In Ramadhan both of them were recommended to receive zakat from a bank, via an ngo. They claimed they received only rm500 and not rm1000 which I was led to believe.

It is still a huge amount, considering most of the others received only perhaps rm200 for the whole of Ramadhan, except for the 10 or so people who probably all received rm500. This is certainly much more than one can ever hope for from Bait ulmal during Ramadhan. They have to give a lot more to many thousands of people.

A great deal of whining?

It sounds a lot of whining but what I am trying to say is its really stressful when these people keep on asking for more and more even through Shawal. They feel that they have a right to receive and so they are very persistent.

It is good to help whenever they genuinely need assistance but that is the duty of Bait ulmal, the official body that collects zakat from all over the country. We are just individuals who try to help out in a small way.

If we have only rm1000 for distribution, and there are 50 people out there, what can we do? RM100 cannot pay for much these days. I realise its not much help but its still a means to meeting some expenses. Even I have to juggle my own expenses each month and who do I go for help?

What reason do I need?

When I still have extra zakat and sedeqah in my purse, I feel I ought to give it to them because they genuinely need it. Yes, I can give it for that reason.

But what about the many others whom I just discovered? Many of them also have good reasons why they need the extra help. And they did not ask or bother their friends about their money problems.

A test from Allah

In Islam we are supposed to seek out such humble and dignified people and offer them help. They try their best not to burden others and are shy to put their hands out to receive. Alhamdulidllah! They still accept their hardship with patience and carry on working and striving to improve their livelihood. They know it is all a test from Allah to see who are best in their deeds and action.

Dignified in times of calamity

Dignified even in hardship. How I admire such patient people. May Allah help them and reward them.

Do I need to toughen myself up?

Should I say 'no' to those who insist on asking for more all the time? Should I think of their poor innocent kids and relent? Or should I toughen myself up and keep on saying 'no' so that I can extend a helping hand to some other brother and sister?

Giving In is easy

Or should I just give, because we are supposed to help anyone who asks for help? Do we want for our brother what we want for ourselves? If I can afford to have a proper meal daily, should I decide to deprive my brother the right? If I give it to A, am I fair to B and C and D?

I had to say 'no' to two people today

Today I had to say no to two persons. They had received the most zakat and sedeqah for the whole of Ramadhan. Including the bank zakat ,they must have received around Rm1500 each, not counting zakat from other ngos etc. Yet they are the only ones who are asking again and again in Shawal. I feel very disturbed and sad to say no but I am thinking of some stranger who is out there, crying to Allah and waiting for someone to stretch out his or her hand to help someone in need. It may be someone whom we can motivate and show that someone cares.

Different situations, different needs

Many women with children need help because the husband left them, or had fallen ill, or lost his job and business. Today a friend mentioned a lorry driver who lost his lorry and business suddenly. He has 5 children to support. Another lady has a useless and mean revert husband who beat her and ate from her earnings and yet did not appreciate her at all. Yet another revert is in depression because the husband is irresponsible. A revert brother who has 9 kids had been in hospital because of heart trouble. All these people need help too. if I try to help A, what about B, C and D?

Is helping people spoiling them? Don't we spoil our loved ones?

Is that the same? Or different?

Had I been spoiling the both of them for the past many years until they become so dependant ? I know they also received zakat from others but they cleverly kept quiet about it. Now they want more, sometimes for genuine reasons but the point is they did not plan wisely and save for their needs. Telling me to pity his two daughters because he could not pay their bus fare for sekolah agama is supposed to make me feel guilty. Yes, I do feel extremely guilty. He succeded the last time when I gave in to his demands.

He is repeating it again. Many people earn about the same and yet did not get any extra help from friends. They still managed. They survived and they did not have to resort to multiple sms requests and reminders to put money into their bank accounts via atm.

Yes, they do not even bother to come to ask. Its all via sms and telling us which bank to go to.All of them have different banks, and I have to accommodate. It never occurred to them that we are only volunteers and do not have the time to drive all over the place to find parking etc. I have two personal cheques that needs to be banked into my own account for weeks and I still have not found time to do it. Yet I have to do it for them on demand. Ironic isn't it?

Mental Strain

I do feel mentally tired by all this. To make it easy I guess I will just have to give the whole amount that's been entrusted to one single needy person and not bother to answer such sms demands for some time.

Sometimes someone may say things like their family situation is so bad, all the burden is on them, children are disobedient and husband manipulative, on and on. Whenever I say no they say they feel like ending their lives because they see no future or way out.

Like a vicious circle I have to advise them and hope they do not do anything really foolish or desperate. Reverts have no help or support. They do not know where else to go. I am just afraid if I did not respond I may have to answer for my lack of response. How am I going to live with that? A great challenge and test....

I need to take time out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nice to be back!

Great to be back - been too distracted to blog

As Salam everyone! Phew! the days just flew by, so many activities, commitments, work and more work, trying to make it the best Ramadhan ever! Yes! We all do try and while we succeeded in some aspects, we still could not make our Ramadhan as good as we hoped.

Its the effort and intention that counts

Its the effort and niyyah that counts, I hope. Sometimes we were just too tired, trying to please so many people - just as they were trying to please others too. All for the sake of Allah, so no effort or kind thought was wasted insha Allah.

Alhamdulilllah! We completed Ramadhan

Alhamdulillah we were given the chance to complete our fasting and ibadah for the whole of Ramadhan. We do not know when our name would be called and its a great loss to miss out on the many blessings and rewards of Ramadhan. Anyway Allah knows best and He rewards whom He pleases.

Missing loved ones very much

This Ramadhan I especially missed my parents who have passed on, insha Allah relieved of their worldly pains and burdens. I miss my dear beloved sisters and friends who are no longer here with us. Their participation in our iftars, sharing their delicious home made food, their advice and worshiping Allah together, praying for peace, good health and forgiveness.

Kindness never forgotten

Though all our beloved family members and friends can never ever be with us again, their goodness and kindness. Their love and caring, their infectious joy and laughter can never be forgotten. What we experienced with them was also a blessing and gift from Allah, loaned to us for a borrowed time.

Give thanks all the time

Alhamdulillah, its good to give thanks and be grateful for the special moments shared than lamenting our loss. Soon we too will leave our beloved family and friends. Even when we are not ready. No one is ever quite ready to leave this worldly life.

Where will we go when we have to go?

Where will we be going? What kind of journey will we undergo? How to prepare ourselves so we can face our imminent journey with patience and great hope? Lets be strong and support each other though words of encouragement, support and love.

Forgive each other when we make some mistakes or were weak. Do not keep your anger as its harmful for all parties. Do not keep finding fault in others as that may lead to contempt and contempt may eventually lead to arrogance.

Let us depend on Allah's Mercy as all the good deeds of this world cannot guarantee our place in Jannah.

Humbly asking for your forgiveness

People should not feel shy or akward to ask for forgivness all the time. Sometimes we ask for forgivness not because we are guilty of any wrong doing but because we are afraid we have sinned without realising it or have been careless and weak. And sometimes because we had sinned knowingly and I not blame shaitan for that. It just feels good to ask to be forgiven sincerely as it will insha Allah improve the friendship and love between each other.

Forgive me my dear brothers and sisters for any mistakes or wrongdoings. Being human makes me weak and susceptible to making mistakes and sins all the time. I do need to clean my slate as much as possible.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What to eat for iftar when everything is hard and frozen in the fridge?

Its going to be maghrib in less that an hour. Thinking of what to have for iftar. Today I have only leftover carrot and vegetable pumpkin soup. We already ate that twice so we are trying to have something extra to go with it. The chicken is still frozen as I forgot to thaw it.

My son mentioned he saw some instant noodles in the box and I thought that would be nice. We had not had instant noodles for ages. We know such stuff is not real food as there is practically nothing except empty calories and carbohydrates - flour, oil and seasoning plus additives and food enhancers. But a little once in a while is perfectly fine for me.

Instant Noodles! Easy Easy :)

Its really easy to add water or soup stock, vegetables and maybe an egg or two. Just shred some leftover roast chicken and thrown in some chopped spring onions and raw onions, chillies, coriander or whatever that is in the fridge.

Today I will add some finely julienned capsicum, red, yellow and green. We must go for colours of the rainbow to get maximum variety of nutrients. Have to go to the kitchen soon but first I want to tell your of our DF iftar...

Dates and more dates

Just came home after collecting more dates - this time Mariami A, dry and chewy but not hard. Many people like this as we can leave it in the box for months without losing any flavour. This time we are planning to repack 12 to 18 kilos of Mariami into smaller bags. They are to be placed in the 60 goodie bags for our Persatuan Darul Fitrah Malaysia iftar.

I may bake a cake or make some yoghurt jelly etc. But its definitely not enough to feed 150 people! May it should be reserved only for those who stay back to do qiamul Ramadhan. Then we can have hot teh tarik, bru coffee and special desserts. Greedy!!!!

Iftar on the road - really carefree and casual

We are going to set up canopies and tents and 50 orphans from Gombak will be joining us insha Allah. We have to hire a bus to transport them as it is quite far away. Besides the children we will be inviting family and friends to join us for breaking of fast.

This time it is also to be held on the road. It should be fun and a great way to meet our friends, share our food and perform prayers with them. Alhamdulillah!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ramadhan is here!

Ramadhan is here at last!

Alhamdulillah! Finally we commenced Ramadhan after waiting for a long , long time. Been waiting for it since we finished the last one.

We were of course happy to be able to celebrate the day of Eid but so sad that all the special privileges and benefits of Ramadhan were no longer there for us anymore until the next Ramadhan. All those benefits and rewards for a whole month, just waiting for anyone who is interested to reach out for it.

Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT has answered our duaas to be given the chance to participate in yet another Ramadhan. So here it is - what are we going to do about it? Trying our best to fulfil our obligations and peform extra extra ibadah and sedeqah. Abstaining from food and water is just one part of the whole process of fasting. Fasting of the tongue - minding our speech, our manners, our actions, our thoughts, our anger, our judgements on others .... so much to do and so many opportunities to gain extra rewards. :)

Jumping back into fasting mode after 2nd day after Eid

Right after the Eid festivities (actually on one day celebration) many people would begin to pay back any missed days of fasting during Ramadhan. It was really tempting to accept all the wonderful open house invitations by friends and neighbours. I suppose it is alright to visit them after we break fast. At least to have a drink and meet their families.

It would defeat the purpose of fasting and discipline by eating our way into the month of Shawal and beyond. We were actually learning the art of self control, restraint, patience and discipline for an entire month.

Surely we have to try our best to change our poor eating habits and wicked indulgences. After detoxing and losing some excess weight we should value our newly gained healthy lifestyle. No more oily fried food and overly sweet drinks. Why are all the delicious food mainly deep fried or creamy? Even the simple fried keropok and fritters which should be off limits are so tasty and yummy.

Challenge to eat healthily

Its a challenge, isn't it? I am thinking of how to prepare more healthy meals and trying to eat more often at home. I feel we have to make time to eat well and avoid foods that are laden with msg, preservatives and other flavourings and artificial colours. Soups, salads and stews, steamed corn, baked chicken and vegetables and fruits seem to be a good alternative.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Looking back in time, a different kind of life

SubhanAllaah! Sweet Glorious Morning!

Birds warbling, some tweeting, singing. Are they making sweet dua to Allah? The street is quiet and air sharp and cool. Even the morning sun is gentle and not hitting the window panes at this time of morning. Alhamdulillah!

My mind drifted off to a time where I was having a slightly different kind of life...

Back in time, a different kind of life

I tried to live a quiet life for some years. Wanted to concentrate on just working and taking care of my family and caring for a little group of members and new reverts who are really family to me in the real sense.

Caring for each other

Not one day would I fail to think of them and look forward to classes and being with them during weekends etc. It was a safe little world, just taking care of a small part of society, and benefiting much in return.

Loving for the sake of Allah

Some of them have given me lots of support and motivation through a span of 2o long and happy years and they have in a way helped shape my destiny. Their growth and discipline, their love for Allah and their caring and sincerity is precious to me. Though there may be some differences of opinion from time to time, there is mutual love and respect for the sake of Allah SWT.

Trying to live a simple life

I had tried to be kind of a hermit for some years. Not that I secluded myself in some cave or house but I tried to be more ascetic. Gave up meeting people of the glamourous and sometimes pretentious life style. I do admit some of these beautiful people are indeed beautiful in iman as well, though we may have to look hard.

Giving up things we love for the sake of Allah

Even gave up dressing attractively inorder to become less distracted with the dunia (world). Started having a more sober wardrobe, throwing away cosmetics, gave up even a proper skin care routine (big mistake when you are already getting older...). I even did not bother to look into the mirror most days and became so busy that I had not much time for myself personally. I felt that was the thing to do at that time.That change in my life probably helped destress me and kept me focused.

Early years as a single mother

Now that its Ramadhan, I think of the times many years back when I would rush off to the department store after maghrib the night before Eid. Because there is no more tarawih prayers, I would find myself in the almost empty store, trying to find a beautiful dress for myself. Of course I could not find anything I liked. All the nice stuff had been taken by early birds. I wanted a new dress to mark the new Eid, to go to the masjid dressed in my best clothes. For Allah. Usually had to settle for the new telekung which I would buy early in Ramadhan.

Joy and Sadness

Those were the early years when my son was very young and I had a lot of commitments and responsibilities as a new single mother and also very busy with my baking business. I am grateful that Allah sent me many friends who gave me lots of support and love. I was never lonely or depressed or lacked love or attention. Only sad for my young baby boy and realised my lack of knowledge.

All that baking and cooking classes helped me buy my car and house. Alhamdulillah!

Tired of trying to mingle with 'beautiful people'

It was tiring attending meaningless functions and making small talk. Some do not even bother to have a conversation, maybe because they think we are some backward conservatives (a more polite term for fundamentalists, which actually is an honourable term for a practising Muslim). Once a while I had the good rezeki to meet some kindred souls.

Been there, done that

Is it because I did not dress like them? Its hard to ignore the obvious differences. One is all wrapped up like a mummy and the other is almost naked, in so called designer gowns and minis. Smile... What they did not know was I had been there, done that, and at a more extreme pace than they would ever imagine. Thank you Allah for helping your ignorant slaves.

I remember the times when I too dressed like them. I would have fitted in beautifully, as I too had different values during the wandering and wondering years. The right knowledge came real slowly but surely but there is still so much to learn, so much to improve.... O Allah, please forgive us and give us a chance to make up for our vain and silly behaviour. Please help our sisters who are struggling to improve themselves and please help those who are still wandering in darkness, dazzled by the bright lights of this worldly life.

'O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha'ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan'. (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings). narrated by At-Tabarani and Ahmad

I was reminded again at a talk yesterday to keep making this dua. Insha'Allah our duaa will be accepted by Allah SWT and our Ramadhan accounted for even if we should be recalled from this worldly life before we can perform our ibadah in Ramadhan. Allah so ever so Merciful, full of Wisdom.

No longer belonged

I just felt I no longer belonged. No, I did not feel I was really better than others. Just mixed feelings, where we reach a stage of being bored and tired of it all. After some time everything seemed artificial. Everyone needs to be loved and respected. Many people who behaved like that were just hungry, seeking love and approval. Sometimes from the wrong crowd.

On looking back now

I suddenly am very afraid to end up being condescending. I know my own weaknesses better now - who am I to judge or have a strong opinion? Probably many people out there are working much harder than some of us. They are always chasing pahala (merit points from Allah SWT). Many people have more knowledge, have done great deeds and sacrificed much of their time, money, blood, sweat and tears for the good of the ummah and society.

Who do I see? What do I know?

I once met a young woman who was amply exposed but she has a good and kind heart. Sometimes knowledge has not reached some people yet. After we do not know everything ... she may know something we don't.

Anyway, she had been attending proper religious classes and has the sincerity to want to improve her knowledge and to become closer to Allah. If we judge from her appearance, we would be very mistaken. Allah knows our intentions and may He guide and help all those who turn to him. I used to think I know something. Not so sure now. I learn much from people like this sister. A lesson in humility.

That extra mile

We are so busy and constantly rushing from point to point, sometimes making commitments we cannot keep up with. So difficult to say no and so much in need to do that little bit extra to make up for our lapses.

What do we know, really?

We know nothing and all knowledge is in the hands of the Almighty. Yet sometimes we are on the verge of judging and thinking ill of what we do not approve. I have to remind myself very often these days that what we see may not be what we imagine it to be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So nice to be able to listen to the adhan

I love to hear the call of the adhan as it is a 'timely' reminder 5 times a day. I usually wake up a little before the adhan. Its better that way so I do not have to jump up from bed and rush to do my ablutions or wudhu. And I do not like to be wakened by the very loud and shocking volume.

Right now I can hear the verses of Al Quran being recited. SubhanAllah! Such a privilege and comfort to listen to Quran. This new residence is in a way much better than the old one at Tropicana as I had to strain my ears to listen for adhan at the approximate times.

Just now they were making dhikr and it sounded so lovely and peaceful. Ooh! The adhan just sounded loudly - my heart nearly missed a beat. What a shock! There seemed to be several people calling the adhan over here. Right now it sounds rather melodious. Sometimes ear and nerve wrecking - wonder why.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Making the best of the situation

An important meeting was postponed today

I find postponements often throws a wrench into the works! Sometimes it is unavoidable so its better to make the best of the situation. That also saves frazzled nerves and annoyance. What is fated to happen will happen so why fret about it?

What I did instead

I decided not to go out or make any new appointments. 'Wisely' or rather lazily decided to make the most of my day at home, a rare moment indeed. Nearly everyday there are some chores or meetings or other work to be done. It is more like a treat, to be able to check my email and to catch up with some writing and sharing. And no driving and no traffic jams. :)

Work can be fun too

A business client dropped by and that was an interesting meeting. Everyone in the garment business loves beautiful clothes and like to exchange ideas. It was fun discussing new trends and ideas.

Quick cooking

I even managed to cook mushroom soup and stir fried some extra mushroom in some olive oil and butter and garlic. I so kindly gave some soup to my friend and then realised I forgot to add the milk! No wonder it tasted a little unusual! I thought it was because I did not use any meat or stock cubes. Anyhow it was kind of simple and nice - organic mushroom vegetarian soup with a bit of tomato cherry and onion for flavour.

Recycled dinner - feels good not to waste

Dinner was mushroom soup again, this time improved with milk - definitely tasted better! Made toasted garlic bread from the left over French loaf from the freezer. I did not know it would be still nice - used to throw away all the uneaten French loaves. What a waste!

Shared some fried chicken, hot from the mini toaster. There was so much food that we had to freeze the burger buns which I thought we might eat with the Gouda cheese and salad. Been using the same salad recipe since yesterday as all I had left was the same vegetables. Added garlic bits for a bit of a bite.

Actually we rather enjoyed the dinner too as it was homemade, no preservatives or additives and we could eat to our heart's content! To top it I suddenly had the urge for a cup of hot chocolate and some dark hazelnut chocolate. Yumm!!!

Lepakking (Hanging around doing nothing much)

Well, this is what we would eat on a lazy quiet day so we could get back to what we enjoyed most - tidying the house a bit, reading, writing and surfing the net for new information etc etc. Lepakking in the house can be both fun and indulging.

Still rearranging my house bit by bit. Finally hung up my new curtains - the morning sun is so bright that its just too warm and glaring. I found my original light brocade curtains too see through to shield the bright sunlight.The curtains for the reading room will have to wait. Too lazy to climb up to change the curtains.

Multipurpose tea cum reading room

Actually my little reading room is also my mini library and my tea room. Also a place to display a few of my Chinese long dresses in case some sisters want to purchase something special. Alhamdulillah for such a relaxing and peaceful day.

Working on some new Muslima designs

Tonight I planned to bake some cakes but I think I will work on some new designs for my Bahasa Malaysia version of 'The Beauty of Covering Up'.

My production manager just asked if I would be coming out with a new range of designs. I immediately decided yes as that would update the book and give readers some new ideas for covering up modestly with style and grace. Why not, indeed!

Of course that would mean a lot of drawing and designing, redrawing until I like what I see. A lot of work but really interesting and enjoyable. Its not hard work but work nevertheless.

Counting my blessings

Looking from a different perspective

Just saw a comment that we should avoid comparison with others. It does not have to be a bad thing. In Islam we are supposed to look at those who have less than us, the less privileged, the ones who are suffering from illness, financial woes and family discord. Do not attempt to compare ourselves with those who have more than us in every way.

We are always never satisfied! True or False?

We can never be satisfied even if we can outdo them all. The nafs in us, all the vain desires will never let us be contented. Do not even blame shaitan for this weakness. Its inherent in us and it is only knowledge, wisdom and guidance from Allah that often saves the day.

If we look towards the suffering, the poor and downtrodden, we are indeed so blessed. We take so much for granted and yet are never satisfied.

Naturally we want to improve in our living standards, to be healthier, to be more secure and comfortable. We cannot deny these natural needs and aspirations. Without that we would never improve ourselves or excel in our interests and careers.

We can never have everything as our
keep changing with time

What I am trying to say is we must know we can never have everything. Everyday there will be new challenges, new delights, new sorrow. Life is full of ups and downs and we never know what Allah plans for us. Whether we like it or not, be certain He wants good for us.

How do we achieve goodly rewards?

The way we achieve good may be through great rewards and recognition. It can also be through trials and tribulations, suddenly our lives being turned upside down! It is part of a purification and reward process. A life's journey.

Alhamdulillah for everything

What can we say except Alhamdulillah! Everything must bow to the will of Allah SWT. When some calamity befalls us, some of us will say "Why me?" "I had always been a good person, why do I have to suffer this difficulty? Why not my neighbour who is such an evil person?".

When something wonderful and happy happens to us, do we ever say "Why me?" "Actually I think my friend deserves this reward or moment more than me". However we may just grab the moment and savour it with joy, forgetting everyone spontaneously.

Never question the will of Allah

The point is, we do not have much choice actually. Everything is as Allah wills, and sometimes we ourselves made some mistake along the way but did not realise it. Many things happened because of what we had done.

Wake up! Wake up!

We can however consider it a wake up call from Allah. As long as he grants us another day to live, we can still try to make the best of the situation and take a lesson from it. Out of every hardship will come relief. That is a promise from Allah.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fasting outside Ramadhan

Dinner at Damansara Utama

Fasted today after a nice dinner last night with sister Nurin and kids. Fish bihun (rice vermicelli) in salted vegetable and milk soup. Sounds rather weird, if you try to imagine what it tastes like. Well, its seasoned with tomatoes and maybe some vinegar to make it lightly piquant. I prefer lightly cooked fresh fish slices but most restaurants often deep fry the fish fillets.

Milk and Fish

Milk is optional but its rather nice with the chicken stock. Maybe fish stock but it didn't seem fishy. Did read somewhere that we should not mix milk with fish - probably some adverse chemical reaction.

Crazy Packing of Dates at 5am

Suddenly woke up at 5am. Full of energy and decided to repack my box of dates into individual 1 kilo packs. Loose packs usually sell well as some people like buying a variety of dates for the home. Guess its more fun that way. Decorated some with bits of satin ribbon and lace to give it a festive touch. I charge a little extra for this time consuming exercise but its solitude and peaceful. Gives me time to think and plan. This year I seemed to be so busy that I did not even have time to inform some regular customers that I have dates for sale.

Go with the flow

Think I shall just go with the flow - whoever needs dates may give me a call. Sure I appreciate the extra business but I do not like to make people obligated. People who call me are people who really are interested to purchase and they are interested to give me support. After all, they can buy any kind of dates from many shops and supermarkets anywhere. Alhamdulillah! I appreciate their patronage and kindness. You all know who you are! Thank you, jazakallahu khairan.

Minimum orders only

This season, though its before Ramadhan, sales have picked up. It really feels great to get decent orders - not the usual one kilo Mariami, 2 small boxes of Samin rotab or a box of Lyna. People are ordering by the carton - maybe because I appealed for orders of at least minimum half a dozen or half a carton. I do not like to increase the price although petrol and toll as well as time is affected. Alhamdulillah some people do give very BIG tips! Super!

Maybe they know its kind of heavy work carrying cartons and cartons of dates all over the place. One carton can be 6 lbs or more. But its good exercise and carrying heavy loads can be good for strengthening our bones. Allah is so Merciful - he rewards his slaves who have to do heavy physical work with endurance, good health and strength, insha Allah.

People do not have to go slow in Ramadhan

Just do what we had been doing all year and even more in Ramadhan! I decided to sell dates to earn extra income since I do not bake anymore. It has its own challenges but definitely I have more time to do my ibadah and also make it affordable for me to give away dates to share during iftar. I try to maintain my prices year after year. It is a form of good deed too, I want more people to afford to buy good tasty dates easily. What great opportunities to earn extra pahala. When I give away a tray of cakes, maybe only 20 people may get to share it. Extra income in Ramadhan helps us to do more charity and be more generous to friends and family.

Big returns insha Allah

Dates? Many people can have dates for a small sum of money. So when we offer dates to people in hope of reward from Allah, give good quality dates, not ask what is cheaper and yet nice. Cheap and nice seldom goes together as the supplier knows about supply and demand. Rotab dates are nice but do not go for the sticky sweetened dates sold in a huge pile. Not natural and not healthy. Eat less eat better.

Give what you like for yourself

Do not give what you yourself do not like to eat. Poor people also deserve good food. Halal and toyyibah. Just because they need our charity does not mean they should get cheap stuff. Are they not your brothers and sisters? Give less, give better!

Preparing for Ramadhan

Ramadhan around the corner, once more

Alhamdulillah! These days there are numerous ways to get good information relating to how to prepare for Ramadhan. It comes only once a year and the best chance for us to make up for all our mistakes, excesses, failure, sins and weaknesses. It is also the best time to double and triple our efforts to race with one another to get rewards from Allah SWT.

New leaf

Allah is sure Generous and Merciful. Take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Not that most of us were deliberately bad since the last Ramadhan, If we reflect honestly, can we sincerely give ourselves top marks for performance of our ibadah?

Do we spoil our own good record?

Made any silly mistakes lately? Uttered some unnecessary words? Made some unkind or angry comments? Some of us could have committed one or two or even all of the above. I'm talking from experience, trying hard to improve but not quite there yet.....

Only human, forgetful and careless sometimes

We are only human and we do fail sometimes. Get up and try again. Walk tall and if we stumble, its only a hiccup in our journey of life. Allah is forgiving towards those who are kind and forgiving to others. People who hate and are too proud to forgive do not realise they in turn may not get Allah's forgiveness .

Pride and Arrogance

Is it our pride or our bad attitude that prevent us from obeying and respecting Allah's commands? Sometimes it is ignorance of our own spiritual responsibilities. Most of us knew nothing until Allah guided us.

Please forgive me!

I also take this opportunity to humbly ask my friends to forgive all my mistakes and sins, done knowingly and unknowingly. We are all tested daily and sometimes we fail miserably. Sometimes without even realising it.

May Allah guide us and forgive us. May He accept our ibadah and niyyah.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finding time to cook in Ramadhan

These days I do not seem to have the mood to spend time in the kitchen. Some of the vegetables have to be thrown away periodically. Its such a shame!

Eat more vegetables!

I bought some beautiful fresh mushrooms the other day but I got ambitious so I also bought pumpkin, baby tomatoes. fruits, capsicum and cheese. Managed to make a quick pumpkin soup - low fat and vegetarian. Insha'Allah I will - I have to use up all my mushrooms before they turn yellow and dry.

Fresh Mushroom Soup and Buttered Mushroom with garlic - yummy and quick

Perhaps a clear mushroom soup if I am too tired or a creamy one if I have time. The balance will be stir fried in some butter or olive oil. Just a smashed pip of garlic or sliced onions. Some left over frozen french bread.

Tasty Salad

Easy to make a fresh capsicum, onion and tomato salad in apple vinegar and little olive oil and salt and pepper. use any crispy lettuce available - just tear it up. That's going to be really quick.

I discovered I did not have to add any honey if I used apple vinegar. It is sweet and just the right flavour. Maybe I will whizz up some hummus (blended garbanzo beans), tahina (sesame paste), fresh lemon juice and a spalsh of olive oil, pepper, garlic.

I did give an offer to have a cooking session before Ramadan but so far the timing may not be right. Suddenly there is a committee meeting on 23rd July so that means only 24 afternoon is available. Ipoh visit on 30th though I am not sure if I can make it.

Fancy Pumpkin Seafood Soup

I saw a cooking show from Taiwan in someone's house (no, I do not subscribe to Astro as it really takes up too much of time) that suggested the addition of fresh fish fillet, mussels, mushrooms and silken tofu to the pumpkin soup. The chef also made a roux (white sauce and added some cream), Looked interesting but a bit too rich and fancy for my simple taste buds.

Maybe for a fancy dinner and possibly just a small dish of soup each, not the larger helpings in the case of a more rustic and basic pumpkin soup.

Tonight's dinner

We had pumpkin soup tonight. With the fresh salad and steamed brown rice. I also served store bought prawn sambal petai and some fried tahu cooked in coconut milk. Dinner was unexpectedly pleasant and I threw in the extra cheese and baby tomatoes over the steaming rice. Cooked rice in 2 small shallow dishes in layered electric steamer.

Easy steamboat or hotpot

Actually its rather nice to cook a pot of chicken stock with some bones and drumsticks etc. Add a few tomyam cubes or paste or leave it plain and naturally sweet. If you add stock cubes there will be a lot of msg in it, whether we like it or not.

Just add your favourite vegetables, prawns, chicken and fish fillet. Fresh squid and mushrooms are great too. Throw in some lemon grass, limau purut leaves, chili padi, onions and galanggal or lengkuas for tomyam soup. This can be made more extravagant when you have special guests or just have it simple with some quality prawns, fishballs and yong tow foo.

So much time and preparation for a meal

Marketing, cleaning, preparation, cooking, cleaning, serving, clearing up, cleaning, storing etc etc. That's a lot of work for just one meal. But the satisfaction is definitely greater when we share a nice meal at home. Especially when our family sees their favourite foods on the table. Mothers know all about that, waking up and cooking for sahur - I really salute them.

Microwave - thing of the past

I was only adept at reheating food in the microwave. Can't do that anymore as I stopped using microwave many years ago for health reasons.

Super simple sahur

Good thing my son really likes cereal and fresh milk. Alhamdulillah! Even when he was primary school aged, he would set the alarm clock and prepared his favourite sahur. When I was really tired and sleepy I would only wake up for dates and water. So long I had sahur. following the sunnah.

Train children from young

Do not let our children demand or tell us what to do or what to cook, especially for sahur. If they requested very nicely, any mother would not be able to turn down their appeals. If kids simply expect to be served or must have freshly cooked meals for sahur, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Why be slaves to unappreciative little people? You may end up doing that for the rest of your lives. Not a very exciting thought.

Less I eat, the less hungry I become

I find the more I eat for sahur, the faster I would become hungry. Maybe the gastri juices would be overworking and demanding for more food. A piece of toast or a egg or cereal is more practical for me.

Iftar is not for stuffing ourselves after fasting all day

Iftar should be moderate and best to avoid sweets too often. The temptation may be great especially if we attend a lot of iftar with friends. They really try to feed us too well. If people actually put on weight in Ramadhan, something is wrong somewhere!

Go easy on the extras

Better take some dates and drink and complete solat maghrib before commencing dinner. Sometimes I do eat my dinner right away. In a way it is good as I do not have time to eat too much and do not have time for any appetizers or dessert. Just a simple main meal and perhaps some light snack or morey after tarawih, eating with friends before we part.

Best of Ramadhan

The best part of Ramadhan is when we break our fast from not merely eating and drinking but abstaining from evil thoughts, bad deeds and poor etiquette. And a supercharge of energy and faith when we stand together in worship of Allah SWT. SubhanAllah!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why we need to write

Document! Document! Document!

'Ooooohhh! I never saw it that way before. Yes, I do feel I have somethings to share but surely they can't be that important!'. Well, maybe its something simple to you, (now that its over), but that little piece of information or experience may help someone else change his or her perspective and understanding of certain situations.

Be confident - not over confident!

My friend used to tell me I should not underestimate myself when I generally responded in a simple humble manner. After all, we should not be over confident and think too highly of our own work. But then again, if we are not confident. how are we to proceed to a higher level and meet greater challenges? Moderation in everything, Islam is the middle way.

We do not say things like 'We are the best of the best' - in whose eyes, anyway?

Remember to be humble, with quiet confidence

I wanted to say, "My dear, I was just being humble as Allah SWT may not be pleased with my over confident and egoistic manner". But her words gave me more confidence as she was someone who spoke with expert experience. This friend of mine had helped my writing and confidence grow through the years. May Allah SWT reward her for her patience and kindness.

I do know I had put in a lot of time, research and effort to write a special chapter but there is always sooooo much room for improvement. Many a times I had scrunched up all my drafts as I felt I could have done better. So why be so pleased with a so called 'finished' draft? Someone else may just come along and be talented enough to improve it 100 percent in 10 minutes flat!

Time for improvement

Maybe I should consider improving further, with more seriousness as I am feeling a bit lethargic and mediocre right now. :( Guess I need to put in more time as I had been really busy with work. Hard to think when there is always a long mental list in the head, waiting to be ticked off.

Committing myself again

Yes, I think I have to commit myself publicly again, just as I committed myself for the last book. Its like forcing myself to adhere to a loose time frame to come up with some workable material.

Insha'Allah wisdom will prevail

That is what had been keeping me back. What to write, what not to write and how to do it. May Allah SWT guide me and give me wisdom to serve Him by sharing a part of our long and lonely spiritual journey. I need to get my niyyah (intentions) correct. To do so only to please Allah SWT and to serve Him by sharing hopefully some good with His creation.

May Allah SWT make it easy for me and guide me so I do not forget myself and my purpose. May He give us rezeki halal through our work and our writing. Not to get rich but to earn enough to continue writing and sharing. All wealth (rezeki) comes from Allah so insha' Allah we are happy to accept what he plans for us.

Sharing is caring

Actually it is indeed good to document. We are losing lots of great ideas and keeping back tons of valued insights of our past experiences in locked trunks, dusty and musty, to be forgotten and lost forever when we depart from this brief stay in this world.

I met many people who write really well. Are they going to start writing soon? We can also start a writer's club (mini one) to motivate one another.

Remember, we can write on anything - hobbies, homemaking, parenting, education, travel, crafting, cooking, health, family, photography, art - just anything that can add some quality to our lives and can help us appreciate the beauty of Allah's creations.

What good can we leave behind?

Not many people will miss or mourn us. What good advice and secrets of life we could have imparted would be buried with us very sadly. Perhaps it would not be a bad idea to share our experiences, our wisdom and our mistakes so others may benefit if they wish. It is amal jariah if people accepted what we shared and practised and shared with others. Why not leave this world with a trail of goodness and love?

Power of Supplication

It would be a real shame to just have people pray over us and bury us, with nothing to share with them. At least when they benefit from our sincere effort, they may remember us kindly and remember us in their daily supplications.

We need our children, our family and good practising Muslims to supplicate for us. We need them to ask for Allah SWT's forgiveness and rewards of Jannah for those who have gone before them.

We ourselves too must make supplications daily for those who have left us, for those who are here with us and those yet to come. We want to leave this life after making worthy contribution towards a better ummah.

Loving the sunnah of the Prophet saw

If we emulate the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad saw, he had said 'my ummah, my ummah' - he loved and cared for his ummah until even the last moments of his life. Do we love our fellow Muslims and fellowmen?

His ummah also means all mankind, regardless Muslim or not yet Muslim. He was sent as a mercy to all mankind. How big hearted and loving was our dear Prophet sallalaahu alayhi wassalam.