In Memory of our beloved Papa

One of the things I am most proud of is something I had zero control over. It’s being my Papa’s grand-daughter.

I am, and will always be, #teamPapa.

It’s been almost two years since we lost the gem and patriarch of our family, but his legacy is something I hope I will carry forward for the rest of my days.

Our beloved Papa passed away at the age of 86. Otherwise, today he would have been 88. In honor of Papa’s birthday, and in his memory, my brother Faraz has created a fund to raise money for a disease that doesn’t just effect one physically, but more so mentally.

Like Faraz notes, Papa was always there to help others and one of the ways we can carry this trait forward is by funding research for a cure to helping others who are fighting Alzheimer’s.

From the onset of finding out our Papa had Alzheimer’s, it’s been a cause that has been near and dear to my heart. It’s a cause I hope many more people will get on board to support. It’s a cause I hope we can find a cure for in our lifetime so other families don’t have to watch their loved one go through what we had to. Watching your grandfather slowly lose his memory and not recognize his own kids or grand-kids is something no one should have to go through.

Why has the prevalence of dementia/Alzheimer’s increased so significantly? Or are the numbers the same and we just hearing more about it now because more people are “officially” being diagnosed? How much is our diet playing a factor? Let’s face it, our ancestors were eating organic and not any of the artificial food we consume regularly.

The circle of life, surely ensures nothing gold can stay… but the way our Papa was taken away from us slowly is a pain that’s hard to explain. I despise Alzheimer’s/dementia and what it did to my Papa.

I choose to focus on the countless good memories, for it is them that truly exemplify who our Papa was. It is those memories that remind me what count most in life. It’s those moments of inspiration that remind me how I want to raise my precious Arham.

I pray Allah SWT grants Papa the highest level of jannat.

I miss you Papa, today and always.

If you would like to join us in funding research to beat Alzheimers, in Memory of our Papa, click here.

 

What’s for Dessert: Oreo Cheesecake

Going through my list of recipes, it’s no surprise that I love (a good) cheesecake.

One of the desserts I made for Thanksgiving was this Oreo Cheesecake. Or perhaps you want to call it a Cookies and Cream Cheesecake. Either way, it was delicious and a crowd pleaser!

What I used:

  • 5 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Oreo cookies
  • 2 [8 ounce] packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream
Here’s how I made this cheesecake:
  1. Preheat your oven 350 degrees. Tip: adjust your oven rack to a level lower than the usual middle position it is usually in (to make sure the cheesecake doesn’t brown too much from the top).
  2. Spray the base of your springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Finely crush about 20 Oreo cookies (using a food processor).
  4. Mix your melted butter and Oreo cookie crumbs well, before pressing them into the bottom of your springform pan [to form your base/crust].
  5. Bake [in your preheated oven] for about 9 minutes. Let your base cool while you assemble your cheesecake filling.
  6. Blend your cream cheese and condensed milk together until it is smooth.
  7. Next, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Do not over beat the mixture, just until it is all incorporated.
  8. Crumble 12 Oreos with your hands and gently fold them into your mixture. Again, do not overmix.
  9. Pour your batter over your [cooled] crust.
  10. Bake in your [preheated] oven for about 50-55 minutes.
  11. Let your cheesecake set for an hour, before decorating it.
  12. Decorate as you prefer: here’s how I decorated mine: I spread a layer of whipped cream on top, and piped the whip cream around the edges of the cheesecake and a big dollop in the center. In the middle, of the piping I sprinkled crumbed Oreos. I also put a Oreo cookie [whole] on top of the middle piping.
  13. Refrigerate for several hours at the very least, but overnight is ideal.

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P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Arham Turns Two

Happy SECOND birthday to, my pride and joy, my dearest Arham beta,

SubhanAllah I can’t put into words what these past two years have been for me. You are my world. That’s the only way to even attempt to put into words the impossible way to describe you.

You bring me happiness that I can’t put into words and happiness that is simply a blessing from above.

It seems every time I blink, you have gotten a little older and a little wiser, having learned something new yet again (mashAllah). It’s a constant battle between enjoying the moment vs. capturing the moment.

The best thing about being a mama? Even in the darkest of days, Arham beta, you have been the shining light. You light up every room you enter with your smile, but you have lightened up my life from day one.

In a world of crazy and unknowns, you have been my one constant.

Your hugs and kisses are the best things. You calling me Mama melts my heart in a way that I can’t describe. Your cuddles are time-pausing.

I love your smile and your energy (mashAllah). I love your persistence and determination. I love you. And who you make me.

There is never a dull moment, and you are constantly keeping me on my toes. Not to mention, constantly making me laugh. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You not only make my life meaningful, but you give my life purpose. Each thing I do, I do for you Arham beta… and for you, I would do anything (in my power). I am by no means a perfect Mama, but I will always have your best interest in mind.

All the hurdles and obstacles along the way have been worth it, for me to have you. You make me so proud.

You make everything better, you make every thing worth it.

You have defied odds since before you were born and I pray the only “statistic” you will ever become will be one to make us tremendously proud of you inshAllah. I have no doubt that with your strong-will personality and can-do attitude, you will achieve great things inshAllah.

I love how you come running to the door excitedly saying “Mama” and into my arms. I wish I didn’t have to be away so many hours, but the welcome home love makes up for the heartbreaking mornings. The hours away from you are difficult and heart wrenching in ways I can’t put into words, and I wish I didn’t have to work away from home, but I know I have to do it for you. And for you? I would do anything.

You are my reason for everything.

Last week at work, we celebrated a 100 years of Douglass empowering women… but this week is twice the celebration because Arham beta, in just a few short years, you have empowered me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

You have given me strength to fight when I have felt defeated.

You have given me reasons to smile when all I wanted to do was cry.

You have given me reasons to have faith for all the obstacles you have overcome couldn’t be explained in any other way.

You make me so proud, not only for who you are… but who you push me to be by reminding me what truly matters.

I wish there was a way to preserve the innocence of your infancy and toddler-hood, as it truly is going by too fast, but just the same it’s amazing to see you thrive. It seems like it was just yesterday you were too small for even newborn sized clothes and it amazes me how quickly each phase has passed.

Let’s see what this coming year brings inshAllah. … but if we can just agree to “terrific twos” instead of “terrible twos”…

I pray you always stay grounded. I pray Allah SWT keeps you under His infinite protection always. I pray He protects you from the evil and guides you to goodness always. I pray you use your talents and intellect in a positive manner always. I pray you are always a source of joy for others.

Forever your proud Mama,

Arham’s Mickey Mouse Themed Second Birthday Party

This past Saturday, we had an early celebration for Arham who turns two mashAllah! SubhanAllah, I can’t even express how fast these past two years have just flown by…

Arham adores Mickey Mouse, so fittingly the theme of Arham’s party was just that.

From the invitation which I created:

Address blacked out…

The Snapchat filter:

The Chocolate Covered Oreos:

The cake:

The banners:

The singing balloon:

The rest of the decorations:

Mickey Mouse Chocolate Covered Oreos

Arham loves Mickey Mouse.

For Arham’s [early] birthday party yesterday, I made homemade chocolate covered Oreos that looked like Mickey.

Arham loved them!

It involved a few steps, but were easy to make!

Here’s how I made them:

I used only these five ingredients:

  • Mini Oreos
  • Oreos
  • Dipping Chocolate
  • Icing
  • Cake Pop Sticks

To make them, what I did was:

    1. Take the mini Oreos, open the halves apart and scrape off the filling.
    2. Take your regular sized Oreo, also separate the halves (so the filling is on one half).
    3. On top of the filling, add icing as a binder for the cake pop stick and mini Oreos.
    4. Add the cake pop stick down the center.
    5. Take two halves of the scraped mini Oreos and place near the top of the Oreo to make Mickey’s ears.
    6. Place the top half of the Oreo (the icing you added earlier will bind everything).
    7. Continue the process for however many you are making.
    8. Refrigerate to let them set.
    9. When ready, melt your dipping chocolate.
    10. Dip your Oreo sticks in chocolate.
    11. Refrigerate again before serving.

I left mine as just chocolate covered Oreos. Of course, you could be as creative as you want – add sprinkles, use icing to decorate on top, make them red, etc.

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P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Imtiaz Chachoo

Too often we forget how limited our time in this world is and what truly matters.

We chase materialistic things, not realizing it's going to be meaningless after our short stay here.

We chase people who are nothing. We devalue those who are everything. We make trivial matters into big things yet diminish the value of what really matters.

You never know what lies ahead and tomorrow is never guaranteed. And tomorrow? People are not going to remember what you had materialistically. People are, however, going to remember you for who you are.

It's said that only when you are going through some sort of hardship do people's true colors come out.

What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? What will you be remembered for? What is the first thing that will come to people's mind when they think of you?

Sunday night, our family lost a beloved family member in Imtiaz Chachoo.

Cancer has no prejudice and takes prisoners without bias. It takes from us those we love dearly and doesn't care what lasting effect it leaves us to endure.

The first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of Imtiaz Chachoo is his jovial personality and his love for making people laugh with his comedic personality. That is something indeed that most people will fondly remember him for.

Equally important, but on a way more personal level, what I will cherish forever is the kindness and generosity Imtiaz Chachoo, Neelo Chachi, Sara baji and Sarwat baji showed me and my family when we moved to Canada twenty-two years back. Even though my brothers and I were young at the time, it's something we will never forget.

I don't have the right words to express my sorrow or condolences to the immediate family. He was taken from us too soon.

I pray Allah SWT grants Imtiaz Chachoo the highest level of jannat. I pray Allah SWT gives the family patience and sabr to endure such a heavy trial.

Mother’s Day

This morning, a co-worker gave me such beautiful flowers for Mother’s Day [that is this weekend]. I love flowers! The best part about these particular flowers? They are to be planted… and I can’t wait to see them bloom.

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the Mama’s!

I hope we Mama’s use this day to reflect on and celebrate our child(ren) that made us Mama’s. My Arham is the biggest blessing/gift from Allah, and it’s just not possible to put into words… but something that I reflect on a lot.

A few weeks after Arham was born, when I posted his first picture on social media [from his aqeeqa], I wrote my feelings of how Arham “... gave me the proudest title: I became a mama. Each day since you have brought more smiles and joy to me than I could have ever imagined.”… and it is something that my Arham has proven to be true an infinite times over. I have never been more proud, and he brings such an indescribable joy that leaves me in awe. 

As I mentioned previously, while I never imagined working outside of the home when he was at such a fundamental age… what I have learned is this: being a mother is the hardest, but yet the most rewarding role I have ever had in my life. It makes me who I am, and it’s what I am most proud of.

So many people say don’t let becoming a mother change or define your identity. I understand they mean it in a positive way, but if you think about it … how can it not? Arham has changed my life, making it infinitely better, and so fulfilling alhumdulillah.

It was right around Mother’s Day in my pregnancy that I had the scare, and wondered if I would even get to hold Arham in my arms. I can’t begin to describe what the uncertainty felt like, but if anything–  all the time since has been a constant reminder to not take even a moment for granted.

I pray Allah SWT protects my Arham and guides him to be the very best version of himself.

Feedback on Hajj Posts

Three and a half years after I wrote about my hajj experience in 2013, it is still one of the most popular topics that brings people from all across the world to my blog. If not THE most popular topic that gets the most hits on my site.

Especially my post on packing for hajj specifically.

I still get random emails asking me questions, or for suggestions, or sharing tidbits. I get emails thanking me — that by reading about my experience, they were better prepared for their own hajj. Or a certain experience during their hajj experience reminded them of what I had written.

It’s an amazing feeling to not only get these questions, but even more so when I am told how helpful reading my posts were for them. The whole reason I wrote about my hajj experience back in 2013 was because when I was preparing to go for hajj, I was unable to find answers to my questions… and I was unable to hear/read personalized tidbits with specific details.

I pray Allah SWT invites us all for the remarkable experience that hajj is — not just for the religious and spiritual aspect, but on a personal and individual level too.

Take Arham to Work Day

Growing up, one of the things I loved was going to work with my Abu for “Take Your Child to Work Today”.

The tables turned today when I got to take Arham to work with me. While I never imagined working away from home when he was so young, life happens and for my Arham I can do anything.

While I was in work-related training for the better part of the day, I did get to bring in Arham for a little while later in the afternoon. He loved exploring my office. He was a natural sitting in my chair typing away while pretending my calculator was a cell phone. Ironically enough, he didn’t realize my office phone was a telephone considering he has only seen cell phones for the most part. He loved the treats the office had arranged for the kids.

I didn’t imagine this would be one of the traditions I would carry forward, but I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity too.

What’s for Dinner: Strawberry Trifle 

This dessert couldn’t be easier to assemble. And it is absolutely delicious. Like can’t stop eating it until it’s done and you still want more delicious. 

What you need:

  • Pound cake, diced
  • Strawberries, sliced or diced
  • Cool whip
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups of cold milk

How I made it:

  1. Make your vanilla pudding — basically blend your vanilla pudding mix with the two cups of cold milk for about a minute or two. Let it set for just  a few minutes and you will have your pudding.
  2. Fold into your cool whip.
  3. Now it’s basically just assembling your layers.
  4. Layer the bottom of your trifle platter with the pudding/cool whip mixture. Add a layer of cake, followed by strawberries. Continue the layers.
  5. Add a top layer of cool whip/pudding. Decorate the top of your trifle with a layer of strawberries. Maybe a dollop of whipped cream in the center to give it a finished look?

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P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes. Grab and share my button: