It is with great sadness that I watch another Ramadan come to an end.  For a while now, I felt that I had been gradually declining spiritually- both in spiritual connection and acts of worship. So this Ramadan came when I needed it most. Of course, it was met with some apprehension initially as I wasn’t sure that I would succeed at fasting 18 hours.

Herein lies the two biggest lessons I learnt this Ramadan:

1) I have to have more faith

2) I have to have more faith in myself

Not only was it relatively easy to fast these long hours but I was probably the most productive I had been in a long time. It made me reflect and realize that eating takes up a lot of time. I also cut out music, TV and reading (books, magazines) during this time. Needless to say without distractions, a lot can be done.

I felt that this Ramadan was one of my best. Not because I did any extra spiritual duties but rather it turned out well because I was consistent in the little that I did do. And it definitely helped that I started planning well ahead of time for this month. I am a last minute person and this is a lesson that I will carry forward inshallah.

Perhaps, what I worked the hardest on this month was getting to know and understand the Qu’ran. Everyone has one dimension of faith that they gravitate towards. The Qu’ran has always been a challenge for me. So I worked on reading it, listening to it, learning about it. Alhamdulillah, I feel like I have a much better connection with it now. The scholars say that there should be one habit that you should carry forward from this month on.  Retaining a connection to the Qu’ran will be what I take with me for the rest of the year.

As I worked on the inward, I worked on the outward. I made a real commitment to eat well. I had my own vegetable and herb garden and one of my favourite Ramadan memories will be using my home grown produce to make iftar.  Connecting to the earth that way was extra special! I will also remember the lovely iftars that my friends hosted including one by candelight,.

Taraweeh prayers are always special and this year was even more special because I witnessed dedication first hand. There was many children present this year despite the prayers starting at 11 pm and ending close to 1 am. But there were these two little girls who came every single night. One was 11 years old and she fasted every single day and stood in prayer for all 20 rakats. Her little sister was 5 and would do her best to pray but sometimes would fall asleep. Their dedication (and spirit) was so inspiring. Taraweeh was also special this year because I got to pray with my mom a lot and see some very good friends every day that I went. The qari who led prayers this year was also another source of inspiration- he was 25 and had beautiful recitation. When he was about to finish the Qu’ran, he just broke down into sobs. Out of all of us, he probably had the closest connection to the Qu’ran, he led us through this journey and here it was coming to an end.

Ramadan was definitely a time to focus on the inward and to truly reflect on the ayat (verse) of the Qu’ran “Where then are you going?”.  I hope you had a meaningful Ramadan where you also had ample time and opportunity to evaluate where things are headed. It was definitely a month of hard work but  #we did it.

I hope you have a wonderful Eid with your family and friends. Celebrate, enjoy and hope you get lots of presents.

Best wishes always,



One of my goals for this year is to work on my “personal life”. I’m 31 and still single. I have decided to put in real effort to working on this aspect of my life. I certainly have no issues working hard for my career so by the same token, I thought I should employ a similar strategy for my personal life. I am very familiar with the saying “it happens when you’re least expecting it” but when you’ve been single all of your life, you are always expecting it…it’s got to be your time sometime right?

This meant really being open minded and trying new things- which I have done quite successfully. It was fun, I gained confidence and I learned a lot.  BUT it also made me realize that I have compromised on so many of the things that used to be so important to me. I thought may be I was being too narrow minded so I thought loosening up the criteria would be a good way to go.  But some things should never be compromised.

It is cliche and wrong to say “there are no good guys out there” because there are- I am just not meeting them…. yet. And sometimes it is very hard to even get the very basic things like respect, dignity, reliability, consistency and honesty. When I forget what I am looking for because I have convinced myself that sub par and settling is reasonable, I look at Lupe Fiasco and realize there is a better option out there.

Of course I don’t know Lupe Fiasco personally (may be someday I will inshallah- I am seriously going to start praying for it….and you can come to our wedding) but the point is to focus on the qualities he embodies. Yes he is a celebrity and  you are probably thinking “should he really be the person you should be looking at?”. I don’t know any guys in real life that are a better example so Lupe it is.

Let us put aside the obvious- he is rich (and I would love to meet an independently wealthy man, I dream of the day that I will have a dual income household), famous, a good dresser and so cute. The most striking thing about Lupe is that he exemplifies Islam in a positive and balanced fashion. I have tried going out with and getting to know non Muslim guys…there were some great guys but honestly, I’m not sure I can do it. Of course humanity crosses all religious boundaries but I want my kids to grow up with Islam…and it would be great if their dad could teach them because I never had that.

Lupe’s dedication to Islam is admirable and it comes up in so many of his songs  and I loved how he tweeted about taraweeh and the Qu’ran all through Ramadan.  And even with his fame and status, he stays away from drugs and alcohol. Most regular Muslim guys these days can’t even seem to do that. He says he doesn’t like to overtly talk about religion because he doesn’t feel he is the example kids should be following. His humility is another quality that really draws me to him. His passion for social justice is absolutely attractive. He stands up for the truth, isn’t afraid to say exactly what he thinks and won’t sell his soul. He started the Lupe Fiasco Foundation targeting inequities in Chicago and he promotes literacy. Who doesn’t want a man who wants to change the world? He is amazingly talented, smart, eloquent and he doesn’t use the words bitch or ho in his songs because it “hurts his soul”.

In summary: I am looking for someone like Lupe who is grounded in religion but balanced, passionate, wants to make a change, modest, respectful, intelligent and inspires me (and bonus points for good looking, dressing well and being rich). So Lupe see you very soon inshallah, maybe as soon in a month, may be in Portland ( I know it’s not Paris, Tokyo, New Orleans or Chicago).

I have to keep my eye on the prize….and not fall off the track and settle for less. And my lovely single girl friends, I know it’s hard but remember there is a Lupe out there somewhere for you…he is as eager to run into you as you are into him……inshallah……..

As this year comes to an end, I wanted to do my own shout out list (Thank you Riz MC for the idea).

  • Shout out to all the amazing places I got to travel to this year
  • Shout out to officially being in a war zone
  • Shout out to seeing my country in a whole new light and seeing how productive our local NGOs are
  • Shout out to the Canadian health care system- we’re way better than the NHS
  • Shout out to non violent resistance
  • Shout out to “the protester” from the Arab Spring for being the person of the year on TIME magazine
  • Shout out to Occupy Wall Street
  • Shout out to interfaith art
  • Shout out to my new apartment where all this art will go
  • Shout out to the Canucks for trying so hard
  • Shout out to all the awesome concerts I went to this year (YMCMB + Taylor Gang)
  • Shout out to Lupe Fiasco for being who he is, for making me realize the standards I should maintain and most of all for making random tweets about the Quran having the “dopest” names of verses
  • Shout to the boys in London for your very hot accent, the confidence and for making me realize what my niche is 😉
  • Shout out to good friends in London who made the three months not only fun but one where I had the chance to grow into a better person (I hope)
  • Shout out to friends who come to London for 4 days all the way from the States…shout out for buying me a dress, shout out for getting me midnight snacks
  • Shout out  to friends who patiently wait 3 hours for me to come to dinner, cook me 3 courses and use herbs from their garden
  • Shout out to friends who call me long distance
  • Shout out to all the babies that came this year, some of whom I still have to meet
  • Shout out to friends in Vancouver who take care of my family while I am away
  • Shout out to friends who text my mom to let her know I’m ok when my phone runs out of credit
  • Shout out to friends who take us out to dinner even when we should be taking them out
  • Shout out to friends that buy me chocolates
  • Shout out to friends who will join meet up groups that I start even if they’re not really into it
  • Shout out to friends who comment on my FB posts and get into heated discussion
  • Shout out to friends who will answer my texts about medical problems and make diagnoses for me based on pictures I send
  • Shout out to all the people that gave us opportunities this year
  • Shout out to reaching goals and realizing dreams
  • Shout out to opening your mind  and being open to possibilities
  • Shout out to my grandfather making it home (even if he is back in the hospital)
  • And shout to our families who are the foundation of everything we are, but who we neglect, chasing dreams, that are waiting 4us at home.

Here’s to 2012 being a year of health, happiness and growth.

Although there are only a few days left, it’s never too late to make an effort to eat healthy and support local and sustainable food. I hope this month has been one of building connection with your food and building community through sharing.

I am posting the recipes that I have used this Ramadan. They are healthier variations of common dishes. I call  them “superfoods” because they pack in both nutrition and flavour. These recipes got me trying new grains and vegetables.

Click on the title for the recipe.


1. Fancy Dates 

These were so yummy. Instead of creme fraiche, I used devonshire cream with a bit of sugar.

2. Zucchini cornmeal pancakes

These can be served with a homemade salsa.

3. Kale chips

There are many recipes for kale chips. Everyone from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow are making them. I’m posting the recipe from my favourite blog My New Roots

4. Indian inspired hummus

This is my favourite hummus recipe handsdown. Comes from Rebar in Victoria.


Chick Pea Salad

This is one the easiest recipes and my go to recipe. Drain a can of chickpeas, add olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, cajun seasoning and lemon juice. I also add in diced tomates, onions and cilantro.


1. Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes and garlicky kale

Really delicious and combines a few superfoods. I suggest sticking with spaghetti. I used a wider pasta and it’s not the same.

2. Penne with white beans and roasted tomatoes

Another quick dish: roast tomatoes and garlic with salt and olive oil. Drain penne over a can of white beans (to heat the beans up). Toss pasta and beans with roasted tomates and fresh basil.

3.  Beef barley pilaf

This was a hearty dish but I would use more tomato paste than what the recipe states.


1. Banana Oatmeal Cookies

My favourite cookie recipe. Only 80 calories per cookie.

2. Six minute chocolate vegan cake

The best chocolate cake ever! Use brewed coffee instead of water.

Enjoy xo











A little late but hopefully, still helful.

This is the first post by a guest blogger. Tisha Alam is one of  my very best friends and a passionate citizen.

Happy Voting

by Tisha Alam

A few weeks I met a diehard NDP-er who explained that no matter how bad the NDP candidate in her riding, she would always give them her vote because as she put it, “my grandparents voted NDP, my parents voted NDP, and I will vote NDP until the day I die”. As much as I love Jack  and am grateful to Tommy Douglas, that is exactly the type of flawed rationale that we should avoiding using when we head to the polls on May 2nd. Politics is not a religion, it’s not faith based, and for a democracy to work, citizens must engage and do their homework.

Step 1: An approach that works well is to find out who the candidates are in your area. Who are they, what have they done, and how effective do you think they can be in advocating for the things that matter to you. Pretend you’re on the hiring committee for a job interview, do your background checks, and attend or read up on what they have to say during candidate debates.

A couple of weeks ago, after doing some surface research on the candidates in my riding, I came across an article where it talked about how the NDP candidate was a strong advocate of stronger regulation of the Canadian Mining industry…this being an issue close to my heart, and me looking for any excuse to vote for Jack, I made up my mind on the spot, emailed the candidate, and asked him to put up a sign on my lawn. And even though he addressed me as MR (i have a very female sounding name) in his response back, it did not deter me. About a week later though, I came across an article on the all candidates debate in my area, where this same candidate talked about how the criminal code should be changed to include Holocaust denial as hate crime (since when are we in the business of thought control?). To top it off, it was the Liberal candidate who actually seemed to be espousing views at this debate that seemed more in line with my own.

Step 2 is a bit trickier: A vote for your candidate of choice is also a vote for their respective party platform, and sometimes the two agendas don’t mesh. Referring back to my example, I like the NDP platform, but not so much some of the views of my candidate. Here is where you have to weigh the pros and cons. Do remember though, a party is only as strong and credible as the members it is composed of.

Below is a list of the key points in each of the three main party platforms…and the following is a link to an excellent article on what a coalition government would look like:

 The  Conservative “Here for Canada” plan focuses on five key priorities:

  • Creating jobs through training, trade and low taxes.
  • Supporting families through our Family Tax Cut and more support for seniors and caregivers.
  • Eliminating the deficit by 2014-2015 by controlling spending and cutting waste.
  • Making our streets safe through new laws to protect children and the elderly.
  • Standing on guard for Canada by investing in the development of Canada’s North, cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces.

 The centerpiece of the new Liberal Platform is the “Liberal Family Pack” – a five-point plan to strengthen families:

  • Canadian Learning Passport – to help families pay for college and university
  • Early Childhood Learning and Care – to create more high-quality affordable
    child care spaces
  • Family Care – to help family caregivers take time off from work to care
    for sick loved ones, and to help with the costs of caregiving
  • Stronger Public Pensions – to enhance the Canada Pension Plan to make it
    easier to save for retirement, and provide more help for low-income seniors
  • Green Renovation Tax Credit – to help families save on energy costs while
    helping the environment

The NDPs “Practical First Steps” to get Ottawa working for Canadian families:

  • Hire more doctors and nurses We’ll start training more doctors and nurses, and give doctors that have left Canada incentives to come back home.
  • Strengthen your pension We’ll work with the provinces to double your public pension and offer you more choice over your retirement savings.
  • Kick-start job creation We’ll give small businesses a 2 percentage points tax cut, and bring in targeted tax credits for companies that hire here in Canada.
  • Help out your family budget We’ll cap credit card fees at prime+5, take the federal sales tax off home heating, and give consumers control over cell phone bills.
  • Fix Ottawa for good We’ll stop the scandals and commit to work with other parties to get things done for you.

 Happy Voting!

Venture to Main and Terminal and you will find two local gems.

Forsya: A boutique-gallery that features mainly Vancouver designers but will have Canadian designers from elsewhere. The owner Julie is super nice and will accomodate your fashion needs. Alterations are free.

I discovered a fabulous Vancouver handbag company while there called Five Left.  Beautiful structured leather bags. Clutches are $100 and bigger bags range from $250-350. The clutch I got is the one in the picture above. I wanted a strap with it to wear it as a cross body. Julie got in touch with the designer and is making it happen.

Adhesif: Just opened recently and uses new and recycled materials to create original pieces. There are handbags, vintage and new belts and lots of jewelry. Again, mainly aims to have local designers and tries to have eco-friendly fashion. I bought the dress below from Veronica Trost, a graduate of the Vancouver Institute of Fashion and Technology.

And to end off, here is a link to some good blogs on Vancouver fashion including our local version of the Sartorealist.

There is a lot to do around Vancouver this month.

1. 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs : Date TBA

Cautiously optimistic – I know they won the President’s trophy but I don’t want to be disappointed. I’m hoping to buy tickets from a guy who bought 20 and apparently looking to sell. We’re “discussing” a deal next week.

2. Good Food, Bad Food: April 15, 16

I love movies about the ethics of food production. This one looks interesting. Playing at Vancity Theatre.

3. Kerrisdale Antique Fair : April 16 and 17

Looking forward to this especially the Paris chic accessories.

4. Vancouver Sun Run: April 17

Too late to register now.

5. Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj: April 27

I paid $320- better be worth it. I refuse to pay anymore to upgrade my ticket to a “VIP package”. They’ve had an afterparty in every city. Hoping there will be one here.

6.  Health Workers in the Movement for Social Justice : April 28

The Alliance for People’s Health presents this event to hear first-hand testimonials about health professionals who have joined in the struggle for social justice.  

7. Amy Goodman: April 29

She will be speaking at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Gala. Tickets are $75 each.

8. Wayde Compton: April 29

Play Chthonics presents a stellar evening filled with inspiring voices as writers Lee Maracle and Wayde Compton share their energy, art, and creative thought.