Umrah in Ramadan

First of all Ramadan Mubarak !

I always end up missing Gergion but it’s ok, there’s always next year…. or is there?

My husband and I flew to Makkah last week to make Umrah. Alhamdu lillah I hope all Muslims on this earth are able to make Umrah or Hajj once in their lifetime. We landed in Jeddah and drove to Makkah.

By the way, I highly suggest that you take a taxi, careem or Uber to Makkah because if you rent a car you will be stuck at the checkpoint as they don’t allow rentals in Makkah. We took Careem, it was fast, friendly and efficient.

Once we got into Makkah, we checked into our hotel room. We stayed in Al Kiswah Towers, it doesn’t have direct access to the Masjid Al Haram but they do provide loads of busses that can take you any time of the day. The hotel was really nice inside and the service was great. We had a view of the city of Makkah.

The hotels right by the masjid are very expensive but the again you have foot access to the masjid. Our cost was about 700 riyals.

We decided to make Umrah after Asr. Luckily we were Inside most of the time because me, fasting, and heat don’t do well together.

As soon as I entered the masjid, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. The view was beyond spectacular. It is actually indescribable.

It’s amazing how so many people from different countries can come together in peace under one roof. This is the Ummah that we all strive for.

We walked around the Kabba 7 times and then back and forth from Staffa and Marwa 7 times.

Alhamdu lillah

By the end of the day, my calves and feet were killing me. Thai goes to show that I am very unfit.

We went back to the hotel after Maghreb and had amazing Indian takeout that was plentiful for only 50 riyals.

The next day, which was Thursday, we slept in, rested, and went to the masjid around asr to pray and then did some shopping at the clock tower mall.

We broke our fast at the masjid and I was crazy as to say that I wanted to go back to the mall and get Starbucks. There were SOOOO many people on the grounds that that time, shoulder to shoulder. We finally got to Starbucks and thank God that I did because that coffee was soo good it helped me stay up all night so that we could catch our plane the next morning.

It was an unforgettable experience but there is one thing that bothered me a bit. People would bring their small children, even babies and make Umrah. Ma Shaa allah they will be rewarded for that but for me, I could never do that, it was hard enough to even walk through the crowds of people and I could see those children having to suffer holding on tightly so they wouldn’t get lost. I would wait until my kids are at least double digits to make Umrah with them. That’s just me and my opinion. Everyone is different.

I would like to know your Umrah story, comment below and share your experience.

This is Makkah many years ago…

Makkah now….

Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family.

Ma Salama

In between

Good afternoon,

I am sorry that I have been away for some time.

So far, We have moved to Dammam. I work at an Aviation Academy, where I teach English to females and males for two years before they move onto flight training. My thyroid levels are back down, I am losing weight and I have just bought a new car.

We moved to a good neighborhood in Dammam. it’s close to the mall and it’s in a very convenient location. I am part of a big group of women married to Saudis and some of them are even half Saudi/ half American or another nationality. We get together from time to time. My older son has finally made a few friends. He will be going to school in September. I’m still trying to convince him to go to school here because it is much safer.

I started working for CAE Oxford Saudia last year. It has been a great experience and I actually love it there. We are all a big family so it is more like my second home. I started teaching males a couple of months ago which, at first I was hesitant to do so, but I find it easier than teaching females, They are much more relaxed, respectful and grateful. We are on break right now for Ramadan, thank God for that becauseย  I told myself I would never work during Ramadan again.

As for my thyroid, my levels were at 40 and I found an amazing Tunisian Dr. who actually knew what she was doing. My levels are back down to .65 which is great to hear, Thanks be to God. She recommended that I start taking insulin to start losing weight since it is so hard to lose weight with hypothyroidism. It is supposedly a very popular weight loss scheme here in the middle east. So far, I have lost 2.5 kg’s in 4 days. I am happy because I desperately need to feel like myself again. I have gained so much weight in this country.

Finally, my car. I am a proud owner of a 2019 Dodge Durango RT.

It has some spunk to it and I am ok with that. I actually love it. For a woman in Saudi Arabia, you need to be seen in a nice vehicle and I don’t want to sound picky or self centered, but I don’t want to be seen in a car that I don’t like. Queens need to make statements and I have noticed that I am making statements.

I have yet to decide what comes next in my life, there is so much that I want to do but everything involves money.

If only money could grow on trees.

ma salama!

Carmen

 

 

 

A Day Full of Food

Oh my goodness!

Today was a day full of food.

My son made french toast for breakfast.

We usually just whip up eggs, dip the bread in them and fry them in a pan and eat them with Ketchup. (No sugar involved)

For lunch, I made muttabak with meat, onions and cheese. It’s really easy to make when you have the muttabak leaves already made for you. All you have to do is fill and fry them.

I’ll give you my recipe in another post.

For dinner, I made Waraganab. Waraganab is my all time FAVORITE Saudi food. It’s so comforting and delicious. It takes along time to cook but it’s so worth it at the end.

I’ll also give you my recipe in another post.

My kids made Gluten Free, Vegan Peanut Butter balls for dessert.

It’s really easy to make. Here’s the recipe:

1 cup (really good ) peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla powder or essence

1/2 cup oat flour (you can use gluten free)

5 tsp maple syrup or agave syrup or date syrup or honey (honey is NOT vegan)

*I used agave syrup in the recipe*

*I also used Vegan chocolate protein powder from IHerb*

1) Mix the peanut butter with the vanilla, syrup, and oat flour and any other ingredients you may want to add.

2) form into balls. It will be soft and your hands will get sticky so don’t worry.

3) refrigerate the balls for about 30 min. Until they are a bit harder and then form them into balls again. ENJOY !!

Today was different because I don’t usually cook a lot during the day. My housekeeper makes food for my kids (breakfast and lunch) and I make dinner. I also cook on the weekends as well.

I was in the kitchen all day and sometimes that is frustrating because I don’t get to relax and spend time with my kids.

I also had to have a shower and wash my hair again because my kitchen smelled like fried food almost all day. ๐Ÿ˜ซ

I remember your trick Amal, boil cinnamon and cloves with water and it did take away some smell but my older son didn’t like the cinnamon smell that much so I burnt bakhoor and he enjoyed that.

When I’m in the mood to cook, I will spend all day in the kitchen but when I’m not, don’t expect anything from me ๐Ÿ˜….

How about you?

How do you feel about cooking?

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

COMMENT below ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

Ma Salama,

Carmen

Saudi Vegetable Market

Hello to all of you, I hope you’re having a good weekend so far.

We went to to the veggie market today.

We like to buy our veggies and some fruit from the market and farms because it’s fresh and from local suppliers.

You can find lots of different fruit and vegetables here and Al Ahsa seems to specialize in Watermelons ๐Ÿ‰ because you see people selling them everywhere.

I took some pics from the car to show you a glimpse of what it looks like, it’s not proper for a woman to walk around so many men and you don’t see any women here anyways, just men. It’s kind of strange, because I’m so used to picking my own food and groceries because I’m the one who cooks the food, but here, you will see a lot of men doing the grocery shopping and outside domestic duties. Yes, of course woman do it, but you will see a majority of men doing a woman’s job.

If you’re ever in town, I would recommend going to the market for your vegetables.

Happy weekend and Jummah Mubarak!

Ma Salama.

Carmen

Free Courses for You!

Yes YOU!

Did you know that you can take college/ university courses for free?

Many of us can’t even think about going to college/university due to high tuition rates. Fortunately I have my Bachelors degree but I have no idea how I’m going to afford my Masters and PhD without accumulating lots of debt. The downside of it is, I’m not sure that I will even find a job in today’s job market.

Well, I found a temporary solution to your problem and it will benefit you and your Resume/CV which is really nice because employers always look out for extracurricular activities and courses.

Here’s a list with small descriptions for you.

1) Harvard University

Yes, Harvard along with some other Ivy League universities are now opening up their doors to FREE or extended courses at a reasonable price.

There are several FREE courses to choose from, however, if you want a certificate, you will have pay a reasonable fee to receive your certificate.

They also offer extension courses for a few which differs from residential and non-residential students…. yes, it is a bit expensive but it’s better than dishing out thousands and thousands each semester.

2) EdX

EdX is a website which offers FREE courses from many colleges and universities from different countries.

Their mission to extend high quality education to everyone anywhere in the world.

The courses are FREE, however, like Harvard, you will have to pay a small fee if you want a certificate.

3) Open University

Open University provides hundreds and hundreds of courses for FREE and even better, their certificates are free as well.

You can find a course in any subject and enter into the course by signing up.

4) Alison

Alison is much like Open University but it’s not a university, it’s an independent educational website that offers thousands of FREE courses in any subject as well.

You have to pass your course with 80% or higher and you have to pay a small fee for a certificate from that course.

keep in mind, there are many other websites that you may know of and I may not, so please feel free to comment below if you are using a different website and itโ€™s working for you.

I hope that these options will help you in your present and future career goals.

As a matter of fact, I plan on starting a course or two on the Harvard University site soon, In Shaa Allah.

As a Muslim, it should be our personal goal to always acquire knowledge when it is available to us whether it is Islamic knowledge or general knowledge.

In a hadith, narrated by Anas Ibn Malik, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “ Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim”

Source: Sunan ibn Majah 224 (Authentic)

ุนูŽู†ู’ ุฃูŽู†ูŽุณู ุจู’ู†ู ู…ูŽุงู„ููƒู ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ ุฑูŽุณููˆู„ู ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุตูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุณูŽู„ูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ุทูŽู„ูŽุจู ุงู„ู’ุนูู„ู’ู…ู ููŽุฑููŠุถูŽุฉูŒ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ูƒูู„ูู‘ ู…ูุณู’ู„ูู…ู

224 ุณู†ู† ุงุจู† ู…ุงุฌู‡ ูƒุชุงุจ ุงู„ู…ู‚ุฏู…ุฉ ุจุงุจ ูุถู„ ุงู„ุนู„ู…ุงุก ูˆุงู„ุญุซ ุนู„ู‰ ุทู„ุจ ุงู„ุนู„ู…

3914 ุงู„ู…ุญุฏุซ ุงู„ุฃู„ุจุงู†ูŠ ุฎู„ุงุตุฉ ุญูƒู… ุงู„ู…ุญุฏุซ ุตุญูŠุญ ููŠ ุตุญูŠุญ ุงู„ุฌุงู…ุน

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, feel free to send me a message anytime of the day. I am here for you.

Ma Salama,

Carmen

Climbing Sand Dunes

The Desert

No, not the California’s Death Valley

I’m talking about the immense and stunning Arabian Desert.

There are many kinds of deserts in Saudi Arabia.

and

I LOVE THEM ALL!

I have seen the desert from trips to Dammam, Riyadh, Al Qassim, and the Arabian Gulf

They all differ somehow but they are all unique and breathtaking.

There are 3 main deserts in Saudi and they are called: Rub’ Al Khali ( The Empty Quarter), An Nufad, and Ad Dahna’.

Have you ever been to the desert?

It’s so much fun!

We sometimes go to the desert on weekends for some fresh air.

I usually pack some food, Arabic coffee and tea with dates.

When we get there, my children love to build forts with water, run around barefoot and slide down the sand dunes.

We like to walk around, climb the sand dunes and relax.

The sand feels so good under your feet and in your hands, it’s so soft, it feels better than any material you could wear ( in my own opinion). I feel free like a child in the desert, the world is mine for a few hours.

The desert is full of peace and serenity, you can actually clear your mind of all things here and that’s what I love since I’m not able to make it to the masjid most times.

We usually leave before it gets dark because it gets chilly at night and we don’t know what critters might be lurking around since we don’t have a tent to take cover in.

In Saudi, it’s common to go camping in the desert with your family, 4- wheeling, picnicking on the side of the road, or simply driving around.

It’s so much fun to see different types of camels along the way.

I absolutely LOVE camels! Really… I do.

**photo credit: Getty**

I have a big dream and I’m set on it, you might think I’m crazy as a Westerner but maybe you will too one day dream this once you visit this desert.

I dream that I will one day own land, build a small home, own a few camels and date trees in the DESERT.

So…

Have I convinced you yet?

You need to visit some sort of desert in your lifetime in order to hopefully experience what I do every time I come out here.

Now… back to sleep

Ma Salama,

Carmen

Would You Rather….

Would you rather be a stay at home mother or a working mother?

I have been both at separate times and I wish I could be both at one time.

What’s the difference?

As a stay at home mother, I was and still am constantly catering to my children’s needs (as well as my husbands) and I hardly EVER get time to regain my sanity, I have a degree and I feel like I’m wasting it because I spent so much money and I have so much school debt so I feel that I need to work in the field that I love in order to accomplish what I love and pay my school loan. I am also not able to make money unless I work at home which still requires a lot of will power and patience. The bright side to staying at home is that I ย get to see my children grow and mold them as I want and no one is expecting me ย to turn something in at 5.

As a working mother, I would wake up and TRY not to wake up my children, work from 9 am to 9pm and then come home eat dinner with my family, get everyone ready for bed and go to sleep around 11ish. I hardly spent time with my children because I was always at work. I was home on the weekends but sometimes I worked on Saturdays. I have a housekeeper to take care of them but she doesn’t discipline my children so they have become spoiled because she does whatever they want. The bright side is that I was able to buy my children something every month, buy my self something and take care of my family financially, I was also able to have some me time during the day and socialize with others.

Again, I wish I could pick both, but I can’t, it’s either one or another.

So, from your experience and/or opinion, would you rather be a STAY AT HOME MOTHER or a WORKING MOTHER?

Comment below, I’d like to find out what you prefer and why.

Ma Salama,

Carmen