Tuesday, January 8, 2019

THE VOICE OF ABBIE: January "Happy The New The Year! How Are You?"

Greetings! Fellow Potterheads, Middle-Earthlings, Freaks & Geeks, 
& All Those Who Madness Seek!
I MADE IT!!! Phewww! 2018 had SOME baggage! It was tossed out the Abbiesville door to bring in 2019 with beaming high spirits, a renewed battle cry of a life's warrior; gone a little weary last year, and positive energy! *STRIKES RAFIKI POSE*
----- I have done the honors ------ 2019 Goals have been set ... yes, the same ones we set and end up breaking along the course of the next 365 days. But, Ah! I have been good with most of my promises in 2018 and done good with most. 
My new year arrived when I was sitting in the lobby at floor level M2 of the Fairmont Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Makkah and I was in transit via Saudi Arabia to Washington. I had already typed the resolutions before traveling because I was practically technology-less there. No laptop and sluggish Internet that wouldn't even upload an Instagram photo at my convenience. 
I landed back in Washington to a very sleepy, sweet, still festive USA. As expected, everyone was in sleep mode on the 1st of January after celebrating New Year's Eve the night before. When I stepped out of the transit bus connecting the Saudi Airlines airplane to the Dulles arrivals terminal, I saw a Christmas tree lit up. I had been missing home SO much! Saudi Arabia is a strictly Islamic country so there were no decorations there, not even Winter. I adore the celebration of seasons in the US. And even though I don't do Christmas, or Christmas trees, this little tree seemed to be welcoming me home. I sneaked in quietly, making my way through customs and baggage claim. There it was, STARBUCKS COFFEE standing there at Arrivals to receive me. 



Happy New Year January how are you? My new year arrived when I was sitting in the lobby at floor level M2 of the Fairmont Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Makkah and I was in transit via Saudi Airlines to Washington, the love of my life. These hot chocolates were the first drinks Sara and I got *raises toasts* as we emerged from Arrivals. There’s Starbucks everywhere, there was one in Madinah opposite Masjid Al Nabawi, and one in Makkah inside the Abraj Al Bayt Mall in the Royal Clocktower. But when I come home and I see it here it is MINE. 2019 has taken off and all omens have been good so far. Alhamdulillah (Allah Be Praised). I am for the most part getting back to jamming with work life but jet lag is pulling the strings in an opposite direction. For me, jet lag doesn’t go away in a week’s time. It’s a month. I am battling sleep very successfully during afternoons while Mannee and Huffs (the nieces) sleep at 5pm and wake up for a baby party and parents meltdown at 3am! Haha! The joy! 2019 goals are up! I enjoyed using my Bitmoji on them this year. And Sisterly Yours, my Muslim lifestyle blog, now has a funky new look. It has a Moroccan tiles wallpaper and some Agrabah style monthly newsletter graphics to boast. Afifi the she-camel is the mascot and my About Me avatar photo also has a camel ๐Ÿช. That’s a display at the Duty Free Shop at Jeddah international airport for camel milk chocolate. I did not buy those by the way. January works demand urgent attention. Some repairs and reno projects tug at my sleeve, and a rental home needs to be sold. Up ahead are some family festivities (birthdays and anniversaries). I’d start doing my taxes early this year as well because April might be chaotic. 2019 is the ultimate battle plan! #happynewyear #2019 #starbucks #newyeargoals #photooftheday
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A recap is a must whenever a new year begins. So, I summed up the Food Journals and Potterhead Chronicles to the best of my abilities. That's the best I can do at recaps, okay! 
January has taken off on an emergency note. A weak spot in the foundation outside has caused water to seep into the basement - just a wee bit - but the remediation and all is taking its grand time. Jet lag was not quite over and the contractor gave a daily schedule of being 'available' at 9am. That means being awake like the rest of the normal people and taking the morning Chai so my monster face goes away. Hopefully, by the end of this month, all contractor work would be sorted (Ha! I wish!).

FOOD JOURNALS 2018: THE YEAR OF EATING OUT & SELTER SKELTER KITCHEN









Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019 NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS: THE ULTIMATE BATTLE PLAN

I cannot bring myself to believe ( actually I can, I have been waiting for it) that the ball dropped at Times Square and 2019 is IN!!! 2018 --- the curse is over --- and it's a new leaf now that I will, God Willing, use to gather strength and pick up full speed. 2019 needs to be the ultimate battle plan.

WORK ON BULLET JOURNALING
BuJo is my 2019 game, folks. I couldn't organize my words. And, I couldn't do justice to the storm going on in my brain demanding to be put down on paper. I have discovered bullet journaling and I wish to give it a try.

WORKOUT
Simple word. Heavy duty commitment. I am bad at commitments. I cannot keep any. Little steps. This goal will fail.

UP THE LANDLORD GAME
Tenants have been taking me for granted. I have been leaving some loopholes in screening them and then keeping a tight check on them. Things need to be sorted. A serious, strict, disciplinary plan needs to be implemented.

RE-ATTEMPT VLOGGING
*Shields eyes* --- *covers ears* --- No promises here --- It takes guts to take time out for myself, let alone vlogging. When I say RE-ATTEMPT, it is an attempt only. This goal will fail.

FINISH READING HARRY POTTER SERIES
I am re-reading book 5 --- Order Of The Phoenix --- I left off years ago when my O'Levels started. Would I be able to read 3 books this year? There is a will, and so a way.


CATCH UP READING THE QURAN'S EXEGESIS
In 2018 I started reading the meaning and exegesis of the Quran because that is the universal codex of life for a person of Islamic faith. I need to fully understand it. I left off somewhere mid year due to the chaos of work and personal life. 2019 needs to be full speed in reading it.

MAKE BUTTERBEER HAPPEN
Tough one. This will take a miracle.

NATIONAL POETRY WRITING MONTH
April will be NaPoWriMo. I'll work on "Black In My Rainbow" - my poetry collection. 

POTTERIFIC JULY
Sara launched and successfully hosted Potterific July on Instagram in 2018. Ah! 2019 will be a sequel!

OCTOBER PHOTOGRAPHY MONTH
Fall will once again magically take off with the photography challenge in October.

NOVEMBER JOURNALING MONTH
I'll be writing NoJoMo 2019 as well! The pressure will be low. More hard hitting personal exploration entries.

MAKE A HARRY POTTER THEMED BIRTHDAY CAKE
I'm thinking Weasley's Wizard Wheezes right now. It would take extra skill. I may re-think, re-plan. So far, it's the mischief and fun I am after.

SO! GOALS SET! LET'S ROLL 2019. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

FOOD JOURNALS DECEMBER 2018: "Arabian Appetite, Kingly Breakfasts, & Dates"

Foodwise --- December was a rollercoaster ride! When the month took off, I was enjoying the holiday mixes of Menchie's frozen yogurt and the warm deliciousness of Starbucks holiday drinks. And when it ended, I was enjoying a grand BBQ feast to celebrate my Umrah (pilgrimage) in the Arafat ground before Mount Arafat (Jabl e Rehmat). As I flew to the Arabian peninsula, I took my appetite with me! Shawerma, Kunafah, Umm e Ali, and so much more happened. Take it away. 
My holiday Menchies Mix flavors: Eggnog Cheesecake, Dole Whip Lemon Sorbet, Sea Salt Caramel Latte, & Swiss Miss Frozen Hot Cocoa. Yumm! i always put a kiwi for a tree.
Enjoyed the Starbucks Hot Chocolate and Gingerbread Loaf! That is a spiced slice of cake with candied ginger. The topping is to die for! It’s vanilla with some zesty orange hints. There can be nothing better than this topping.
SAUDI AIRLINES INFLIGHT FOOD COLLAGE. DAJAJ ANYBODY? OH NO WE'RE OUT!!!
I am a Business Class traveler for the most part but we decided to save big (since 2018 was an year of damages!) and traveled Guest Class. Saudi Airlines most definitely has the best Economy/Guest Class seats. They give you room to breathe. In fact, their Business Class is narrower than Qatar and Emirates'. The Guest Class food is definitely better than their Business. Yes, no fooling around. The ONE thing that is MOST annoying is how the crew HIDES the chicken! Yes! They start announcing midway down the cabin "No Dajaj!" That means No Chicken. Fortunately I was seated right in the middle so I was the cut off point for the Dajaj. The people behind me got other animals --- whatever they serve --- beef, lamb, camel (okay, no, there's no camel). They conserve the chicken SO much that when my brother (and other passengers) asked for beef by choice, the steward chirped "EXCELLENT CHOICE, SIR!" --- that made me with the Dajaj someone sub-standard. So I enjoyed my Dajaj both times - flying in and flying out. It was Chicken Rice (a toned down Biryani) for dinner on my way to Jeddah, and Chicken with veggies on the way back to Washington. Breakfast was omelet once and then scrambled egg. Desserts were delicious! They serve them without descriptive menus so --- mystery!
The Arab breakfast fares were as usual --- fit for a king (queen in my case). Actually, my hotels of choice were just brilliant. Madinah Hilton and Fairmont Royal Clock Tower Makkah. But typically, continental breakfasts at hotels offer a big menu, but the Arabs like to eat large at breakfast! Salads and hummus alone were spread over an entire counter. They like eating things by the block and chunks. Large tomato cubes, huge olives, large cut wet vegetables like beetroot, and various dips and sauces. 
Dates are an essential part of the Arabian diet. And why wouldn't they be? The sacred lands are blessed with the health and agriculture for growing them in copious volumes. It is also the blessing of Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him and his progeny) as he planted them himself and blessed particularly the land of Madinah. It blossomed to become an oasis in the desert. So, when you're there you are eating pure, organic goodness. 
It is normal to see dates for impulse buying in fridges at supermarkets. You can only expect to see ice cream being placed like that, no? And, in Madinah - the city of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) date shopping's the best. So if you're visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, dates are a staple souvenir and treat in one shot. If you board the Business Class you are served a date and Kahwa before take off! And if not, do not worry because if you sit after a prayer at either one of the Harams (Masjid Nabawi, or Masjid Al Haram) someone will serve you dates as a gesture of love and charity for Muslim brotherhood! How brilliant is that? And, Ajwah is the date to buy. Ajwah Aliyah grows in the gardens planted by Salman Farsi RA and they are reserved to be served in the two Harams only. They're funded by the royal family of course! 

Jet lag has limited my capability to go on. Food Journals will return with a new look! And I'd carry the Arabian tales forward! Afterall, there's still Shawerma and Mount Arafat BBQ to share. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

WINTER DIARIES: WELCOMING WINTER OF 2019, WINTER BUCKET LIST

Winter 2019 is here! 2018 shall not be mentioned and will not be given any credit. Something's missing this Winter. It is being welcomed quite plainly without the fireworks and Butterbeer toasts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Typically, I strategize being at Hogwarts each year for bringing in the new year. Alas! (spoken like Dumbledore) The Times Square Ball Drop this year will be watched without being in the magical land. December 21 is when Winter begins officially for the planet. But at Abbiesville, today was the official start of Winter. Yes, I am fast forwarding 2018 with great zeal.
๐ŸŽ„❄️✨๐Ÿฅจ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ›๐ŸŽ„❄️✨๐Ÿฅจ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ›
๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸŽžABBie FILMS ••• Mall Day •••


I said an advance goodbye to 2018 today with Sara ••• I’d be traveling when Abbiesville, Maryland will bring in the New Year. So this is the last of caroling I’m hearing, the last of holiday rush I’m seeing, and the last of Santa of course. I’ll be returning to a holiday hangover! ••• So, we strolled around the Mall today, enjoying the festivities. Sara and I have possibly seen a Christmas ghost too! This old man looking like Isaac Newton, wearing the same outfit each time we visit every couple months is always sitting there around the fountain area. Today, he just disappeared in seconds before our eyes. Also ••• don’t miss the special appearance by a Llama! ••• We were swept by the holiday rush, crazy swarms of people! Shopping shopping shopping •••
WATCH SNOW FALLING
I wish for a White New Year! But I want that to happen in the 1st week, the late 1st week of January. That's when I'd enjoy it the most. I'd just sit and watch it. The slowness. I need something like snowfall to slow the pace down for me. A slow start to 2019 will be appreciated.

DONATE BLANKETS
A warm blanket. A simple little thing. I feel the gesture will go a long away and make a difference. The cold is lethal, it hurts. I wish to give the gift of warmth. I am planning on researching some NGOs that do the task for people who wish to donate.

ENJOY HOT COCOA
A winter without hot chocolate is a winter wasted. Give me cups upon cups of hot chocolate. People get a beer belly, but I think mine is a hot cocoa belly. 

CHECK OUT HOLIDAY LIGHTS
As I type down the Winter 2019 bucket list, I have already seen my fair share of holiday lights around the city. They came before me on their own (not a focused drive around wanting to see them like I always do) while I was playing the landlord role. 

BUILD A SNOWMAN POTTERHEAD STYLE
My snowman (if we get a good truck load of snow) will be a Gryffindor!

SET 2019 RESOLUTIONS
Oh yes! Winter is the New Year. 2019 Resolutions will be pretty tight. And I intend on working on them bit by bit.

WINTER CRAFTS
Snowflakes, snowmen, snowglobe, warm fuzzy bits --- my Winter crafts will be sparkling, warm, and flavorful as usual. 
ENJOY HOLIDAY MUSIC IN STORES
Jingle Bell Jingle Bell Jingle Bell Rock! --- Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart --- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer --- All I Want For Christmas Is You --- these classics imitate the feeling of being in love. It is an illusion, but I enjoy it.

BINGE NETFLIX CURLED UP IN A BLANKET IN PJS
Hmm --- I wonder which show am I going to binge watch if I get a chance. I have Riverdale sitting on the list for too long. But each time I go back to Netflix, I resume Supernatural! Let's see. Even Gilmore Girls has been sitting idle for too long. Gilmore Girls is definitely something I would want to endlessly indulge in while in pajama mode in winter.

HALWA PURI BREAKFAST
Ooh! I am looking forward to this as I am typing this out. Halwa Puri is a Pakistani/Indian breakfast delicacy. The Halwa is a semolina pudding, and Puri is a deep fried, flatbread, and both are served steaming hot. I mostly make a brunch deal out of it and add chickpea curry (cholay bhaji) to the menu.

ATTEMPT BULLET JOURNALING
Lately, words have failed me. I feel bullet journaling will be a good strategy for me. No pressure. 2019 should be the perfect start for BuJo. So, this is a New Year resolution as well.

ORGANIZE CLOSET
I won't be surprised if a sasquatch comes out from the heaps of disorganized stuff in my wardrobe. I need to grab the sasquatch by the horns and get things in order for sure.

ENJOY POPCORN
By popcorn I am thinking caramel coated type gourmet popcorn. I am not planning on popping the kernels (ain't nobody's got time for that, folks!) but I want to give the microwave popcorn a gourmet makeover.

MAKE SOUP
Nothing like a delicious, piping hot goodness. I haven't upped my soup game as yet. I think I'd be trying out a soup recipe. Now, half the household has gone dairy free so we have tossed cream based soups out the window. So, my options are broth based or starchy vegetable based recipes. I need to research some recipes and then pick one!

Wishing everybody a dear, warm, enjoyable winter 2019.
Winter Diaries are happening at Abbie's Adventure Diaries. 
Keep reading, stay warm.

Friday, December 14, 2018

2018 In Review: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

2018 was a CURSE. Starting from the toilet throwing up sewage at a rental property to the tenant causing drain clogs and getting us to file an eviction, the year was full of CRAP. In between, there  was a fraudulent contractor, a lazy construction company, a broke tenant not paying rent, and medical insurance complications. The birth of my second baby niece Huffington Chunky Chunks and Potterhead merchandise were the candy bits in this tasteless mix.  

2018 GOALS IN REVIEW: ACCOMPLISHED! & FAILED!
I didn't set the 2018 goals too high and I am SO thankful I spared myself the trouble because I was in a mad, mad rush and couldn't focus on anything in detail except for Hot Topic *WINKS* Come to think of it, I pulled off a reasonable number of creative blogging projects despite the halabaloo happening at Abbiesville. 

ROOM MAKEOVER ACCOMPLISHED!
The Burrow (my study/office where I exist!) was transformed to a Potterhead's lair in 2018. I didn't officially present it to the world but Instagram photos certainly had volumes to convey. The changes made included the following:
  • A bookshelf was converted to an HP themed display with each tier being a different theme. The 1st shelf is Harry getting his letter and boarding the Hogwarts Express. 
  • The Gyffindor crest tapestry was pinned up on the Main Wall to announce house pride.
  • The desk was transformed to a Wizard's Desk with wizarding essentials: feather quill, time turner, Hogwarts journals, HP tea cup, and etc.
  • A real, metallic student locker was decked up with DIY HP magnets to look like a Gryffindor's locker (assuming Hogwarts got lockers installed).
  • The sofa was given HP cushions.
  • A Potter themed floor seating area was put together.
  • The day bed became a Gryffindor Common Room lounger
  • The crafts desk was changed to look like a Magizoologist's work desk with all the magical creatures.
  • The pin board was redone to show the Wizarding World of HP mementos and other merch.
  • The Adventure Board got HP magnets and a Hogwarts student's bulletin board look.
YEARLY CREATIVE EVENTS ACCOMPLISHED!

WORK ON MY PERSONAL JOURNAL FAILED!
I did not get any time to attend to my personal journal. I kept planning and planning. But I couldn't find any time to attend to it. Alas! 2019 should be a redeemer.

LESS WRITING PRESSURE ACCOMPLISHED!I didn't take writing pressure. In fact. I eased off on the creative projects as well. Quality versus quantity for me. I also stopped writing for a publication I lost comfort with. 

CREATIVE BLOGGING CHALLENGES OF 2018
MONTHLY BLOG SERIES

POTTERHEAD CHRONICLES OF 2018

OH! WHAT A FANTASTIC YEAR OF THE POTTERHEAD WAS 2018. I INTRODUCED POTTERHEAD CHRONICLES MONTHLY BLOG SERIES THIS YEAR. A LOT OF POTTERHEAD LOOT WAS BAGGED!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Tis Been A Heartless Frozen Fall

Well ... apart from the highly panicked (planned in the middle of immense chaos) birthday bashes of the season, it has been a heartless frozen Fall. Even those pumps have seen too much. The long abandoned backyard pavers project finally took off and was completed. A contractor had tricked us in the Summer and the rains that followed caused major delays. Finally, just in time before a raving mad chill took over, the pavers were complete.
๐Ÿ‚ The last tier of Fall is slipping away. It’s so frozen cold it’s funny saying it’s autumn. The fallen crunchy leaves are still sitting around. But the temperatures have fallen like crazy. I am already doubling pants and PJs and layering winter wear. I'm the famous snowman of Abbiesville. And speaking of snowman ...
⛄️ Winter is knocking at the door.
I found this guy on the door of my mother’s pain management office. People aren’t being too friendly with its nose. I’m SO not ready for snow! Am I? I have a good trench coat to layer inside my north-pole-frozen-cold snow coat.


I’m getting the holiday act up ASAP.
2018 is set to drop fast! Can’t wait! It’s been a curse contractors and destructive, disrespectful tenants ...
 
The chocolate samples are everywhere!
Best time of the year to hit Costco is December’s end. 
The lady handing it out was being all Santa Claus and calling me ‘Sweety’ and ‘Honey’. Holidays do that to the biggest of devils. She was generous to hand out TWO truffles per person!
••• it shines through the blistery cold and the barren landscapes. The show goes on. And that’s how each person should be.

❄️๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ Snowy, Wintery Fall Rolling ••• 
The golds and burgundies gradually turned to browns and blacks as the frost burned Fall down. Even before Thanksgiving was anywhere near, Christmas and Winter displays appeared in stores. I was unable to enjoy the season to the max because of the crazy disasters of 2018.

❄️๐Ÿงฃ☃️๐Ÿงค WINTER DIARIES ARE ABOUT TO BEGIN
Winter is always a welcome affair because I adore the sweatshirt and jacket weather. Of course I am seen fussing around about getting frostbite. But, the cosiness of snuggly blankets, crispness of the piping hot tea, and deliciousness of seasonal flavors is way too precious than anything.



๐ŸŽž๐ŸŽฅABBie FILMS๐ŸŽž ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป Santa’s Wardrobe Malfunction ••• 
••• Each year, our heroic fire department brings Santa to the neighborhood. The curse of 2018 is true! Santa had a wig and dress malfunction. He stood there in front of my driveway, fixing his hair, fixing his Pjs, and trying to pull it together. In the end he did put it together as best as he could and rode off.



๐ŸŽž๐ŸŽฅABBie FILMS๐ŸŽž ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿป Santa Claus Came To Town, Dress Malfunction Bound •••
••• like the mantra of 2018 ••• we managed to pull through and put up a show despite the malfunctioning ••• nothing breaks the spirit! Show must go on.