Monday, September 17, 2007

Basics of my Ramadan craft this year, edited 9/27/07 (photos added)

The basic idea that I was going for was simple. Kindness builds the community. My first thought was a masjid building block set that the kids would get a piece of every time they did a good deed during the month of Ramadan. But, that didn't work out because they were on backorder and I have not been able to get one. So, I did a fabric wall-hanging instead.

I took a .coloring book picture of a masjid and copied it onto fabric, and they will get a piece to iron onto the main scene every time they do a good deed. I made envelopes with the ideas for charity/kindness and in each one there is a new piece of the masjid.

You will need fabric, bonding paper, good scissors, and a pencil to draw the outlines with.

To make the whole thing I took a yard of my main fabric (sky and stars in my case) and then I ironed on a fabric bonding paper (you can find it at craft stores) onto 1/4 yard of a few other colors and 1/2 a yard for the main color of the masjid.

Then, you go to town making the pieces of the mosque by drawing onto the paper backing and then cutting it out. When you are ready to put a piece onto the wall hanging all you do is peel off the paper backing and iron it onto your main fabric.

Here is the basics of what it will look like with all the pieces just laid out over the top where they will be ironed on in the end.

Now, the rub with this one is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can use felt and glue rather than the iron on stuff if you want. Or, you can do what I am doing. I have a matching yard for the backing and a piece of batting so I can make it into a quilt in the end. Sooo, after the kids place the piece and we iron it on I will be sewing around the edges of each piece. Then, at the end of the month I will stick the three pieces together with some spray adhesive (saves pinning) and quilt around the design.

Does that make sense at all??? Insha'Allah

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Evolution of Ramadan

I was thinking (as I often do in the quiet time I have eating suhoor in a home with the children all sleeping and my husband at work) how Ramadan has changed for me over the years. I converted a decade ago… And it seems like I am so far from the place I started I wouldn’t even recognize my old self if I bumped into her on the street!

My first Ramadan I was teaching kindergarten at Crescent View Academy in Denver, CO. It was a great time for me, and I was really into the deen and it surrounded me in all aspects of my life. My work, my friends, and my free time were all tied to Islam. I will never forget making little paper lanterns with my class and filling the ceiling of the room with them. And going to work very early… Even eating my suhoor at my desk and praying fajr in the little musullah in the school so I could turn in all my paperwork by the end of the school day and have time for iftar with friends or tarawih at the masjid... It was a blessing to be in such an environment for my first Ramadan, alhamdulilah.

Then, I married my husband. It was during Ramadan, and people told us we were crazy… We told them it was a blessing. People broke their fast at our meager wedding party in December and we all prayed magrib and ate iftar together. And, that was my last Ramadan in a large community. I moved from Denver to a small town in Wyoming.

I would like to tell you now about Ramadan as a young married couple that was still getting to know each other… But I had our first daughter before the next Ramadan, alhamdulilah. We were new parents during that time, and I can’t say that I remember much about it… Other than my husband taking the baby with him when he got up for suhoor and me grabbing much needed minute of sleep while he prepared the food.

From the birth of our daughter on, I have missed many months of fasting due to pregnancy, or having a young nursling. So, Ramadan changed for me. It became about decorating the house, cooking, and trying to get the kids involved in the month. And I started to feel more and more isolated here in the Midwest. And every year I felt Ramadan slipping from my grasp. I felt the spirituality of it just sneaking away from me… All I thought of is what to cook for my fasting husband, and what activity to plan for the children that evening. Many nights I left my husband watching Al-Jazera while I went to tarawih with the kids and concentrated more on the grumpy old people in the masjid being annoyed by my children than the prayer. I came home from an Eid gathering crying one year..

This Ramadan my littlest is 15 months old, and with no other babies in the plans for the next few years I have started to fast again. So, I was excited for Ramadan to begin. But, I knew this year it was up to me to help it have some meaning in our home. I wanted to get the spirit back by force if I had to. So I went all out. I threw the TV into a storage shed and pulled out all sorts of games and crafts for the kids. And I put copies of the Quran in strategic places in the living room and our bedroom, so we can read it when we are relaxing or feeling a little tired. I have also decided that tarawih will be a family affair. We are praying tarawih here, where I don’t have to wonder what the kids are doing or who sees them doing it. And we are planning a vacation for Eid. And you know what? I feel more connected this year than I have in a long time. I feel the joy of preparing food for my fasting husband, I have achieved a calm and even state when dealing with the children… I feel like things are back in order.

It’s like those little geometric puzzles… You have to work with the pieces you have to make the shape you want, and there is no one shape that is right. I was looking for the pieces to fit together in the old way… But I have added so much to my life over the years that I had to make a new picture with my pieces.

I guess what I am saying is that I am doing my best to help myself evolve and adapt with my life. I have realized that I have been missing what I experienced my first Ramadan and it’s holding me back. I have to accept that as my life changes the experience of the ritual of Ramadan will change with it. There are new blessings, new opportunities and new joy… It is up to me to find it, and make every Ramadan the spiritually uplifting experience it should be.

(cross posted on Ramadanish)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Get ready, get set, Craft!!!!!!!

This years Ramadan craft will be posted late tonight,insha'Allah. I am in the final stages of working the photos into a tutorial instructions kinda thing. So stay tuned!

If you haven't seen them, here are the last two years:
Ramadan 2006
Ramadan 2005

And from other sources, here are some great ideas:
Farhana's cool ark suprise box
and her Masjid surprise box
Ramadan Craft Book PDF
Cookie sharing project @ Ramadan Joy
Surviving's no-sew gift bags
Farhana's gift bag tutorial

***Update on 9/16/07- Still working on the photo tutorial. I didn't manage to get it all finished before Ramadan, and now it's going slowly... Insha'Allah, soon!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cool Blog

Just a quick post to tell you check out Ramadan Joy. Full of wonderful ideas! Masha'Allah.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fall is here!

Go celebrate fall! I feel it in the air here in WY. And I love fall... You know how everyone has their season? Mine is definitely fall. So, time to get out the jackets and some seasonal foods... Here's one of my favs: Oh, and if you have never baked a pumpkin, get a little pie pumpkin and give it a shot. You will have enough puree for a few different things once you are done!

This pumpkin cookie recipe includes directions for making your own pumpkin purée.
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin purée, canned or homemade*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
sifted confectioners' sugar, for dusting
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg. Stir in the pumpkin purée. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Stir flour mixture into the creamed mixture along with the milk. Blend thoroughly but do not over beat.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for about 12 minutes, until set. Cool for a minute; remove to racks and continue to cool. Dust pumpkin cookies with sifted confectioners' sugar.

*To make pumpkin purée, cut pumpkin in half, crosswise. Remove seeds and membranes. Place on a greased baking sheet, cut side down, and bake at 325° for 1 hour, or until tender. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove pulp and place in blender or processor. Purée or process until smooth. Place in a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer or sieve and let drain into a bowl for about an hour. When dripping has stopped, put purée into a container, cover, and refrigerate if not using right away.
Makes about 3 dozen pumpkin cookies.

***These cookies are also great topped with cream cheese frosting, they are just harder to store that way!LOL

Friday, September 07, 2007

Don't let the dunya rule you...

And I mean that. Of course we all KNOW this but only in an intellectual way. All we have ever experienced is the dunya, hence it is natural to get caught up in it. Well, I for one am working on transcendence. But DH has a rope and is ready to tie me to it if he has to. He is all about money and jobs and planning for the future. Trust me, I think about the future but I have an all too real idea that the future I am planning for might be changed in an instant, I am not in charge. So when something happens, I move on. Lately DH just gets stuck in this circular thinking about how bad things are. So he is obsessing about work and money and investments... And I am planning for Ramadan. Today he told me "Wake up yah Amu! We have real problems!" Yes we do, we have four children who have to learn that Allah decides their fate... And I don't think he's even getting it!

The example that I give, and I'm sure anyone who knows me is sick of hearing it, is my father-in-law. FIL was a supreme court judge in Egypt. And, masha'Allah he was a good one who participated in many extra court sessions on illegal gains and had his contract extended many times beyond his mandatory retirement age. When he finally did retire from the Egyptian legal system he took a job in a gulf country. It paid well, very very well by Egyptian standards. The same year, my SIL was in a car accident and EVERY extra penny that he made went to medical care, lawyers, living expenses and all the other things that came up with her rehabilitation and her decision to live here in the US because of accessibility. Now, did my FIL do the right thing by pursuing an extra income for his family? Of course. Did it mean he left his family with tons of money to spare? Did he secure his kids (as I'm sure he intended)? Did DH have money to get married and live easy for the first years? No, uh-uh, nope.

I guess what I'm driving at is don't look at the outcome of your choices as something that stops here. There is only failure and unfairness if you are limiting your accounting to this life. And it seems to me that satisfaction in this life is a slippery little creature. The more you chase it the faster it runs.

Enjoy the gifts you have been given. Savor the moments of contentment when you find them. Wonder at the beauty of this earth. But keep in mind that we are not here only for this. And this is temporary in comparison what comes after death. So, if you want a long term investment... Don't build your bank account. Build your garden in Jennah, insha'Allah.