My Photography

Monday, November 30, 2015

Giving thanks

Othman and I were planning on a quiet Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us, but seeing as I was already cooking and that friends Jess and Ahmed left today on a trip, we decided to invite them over for dinner rather last minute. 

It was a an approximation of a Thanksgiving dinner, but I was quite pleased with our chicken (too few for a turkey!), mashed potatoes, green beans, and cucumber salad. Ahmed had soccer after and didn't want to eat that much, so I packed him a photogenic doggy bag to go.

The food was yummy, but the best part was the conversation of course!

Dessert was a pumpkin pie I made and some goodies Ahmed picked up from a nearby bakery. Delish!

We found out that Noor loves pumpkin pie! A kid after my own heart.

We've been meaning to get together for ages now to do another family photoshoot, but it just hasn't happened. So I took the opportunity of them being around to snap a few photos, despite the bad lighting.

He was fascinated by my camera strap and kept trying to grab it!

Feeling thankful on this chilly November evening for good food, a cozy home, wonderful friends, and a loving husband. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Out for dinner!

A week ago today (I'm not the best at timely blogging) Othman and I went out to celebrate his birthday with friends. He had his choice of cuisine, and seeing as I can eat more wheat now he opted for Italian, which we hadn't gone out for in years. Luckily we have a bona fide Italian in our group of friends, so Gioia chose the restaurant, called Bacco e Venere (Bacchus and Venusthose Italians aren't bashful about their priorities!). The six of us had a really lovely evening celebrating Othman's birthday, good food, and great friends.

While we eat out, or in, with these two couples relatively often, we don't have many pictures of such occasions. I don't bother to bring my Canon to a meal out and we are't a smart-phone infused crowd. When we decided to document the night this time we chose Ahmed's phone as the one with the best camera, but the waiter still struggled a bit to get a clear image. This is the best one we got, but even though it's pixelated the happiness and friendship shines through!

So thankful on this Thanksgiving weekend for wonderful friends, who truly make our life a better one to live.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tessie turns 15!

It's this beautiful girl's birthday today!

Tess-bo-bess can you really have been born 15 years ago already?? You're still supposed to be my tiny, little, adorable sister who would show off her new reading skills by reading books to me over Skype! That little cutie (who-knew-she-was-cute, let's be honest here) who would contribute the most adorable drawings in my college care packages! You're growing up fast Tessie, but I guess you're doing it pretty well. I'm especially happy your freshman year of highschool has been so great for you so far! Band season, choir concerts and a musical and we're not even at Christmas yet! Congrats on being superhuman. Speaking of super, let's remember those glorious days of summer and a certain DC vs Marvel feud:

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, and happy that you get to have almost everyone home to celebrate with you! Hope the year to come brings you all sorts of beautiful surprises. We love you lil sis!

Friday, November 20, 2015

To read... or not to read?

It's no secret that I love books. My mom loves books. My dad loves books. My brother and my sisters love books. Our living room in our many houses growing up was always easily identifiable as the one mom and dad set up all the bookshelves in. So it's no surprise that my parents have a family subscription to Audible, and that they have an extensive library. And lucky for me, I get to use it!

But my Audible obsession hit an unfortunate peak recently. 

I got to the point that if I were doing anything that didn't involve reading or listening, I felt I needed those headphones in. Showers annoyed me. Having to reply to a friend's text annoyed me. Even my husband's conversation would annoy me! So I've been on a little break for the past week, and instead of having gone through an audio book and a half in that time, I'm not even halfway done with a paper book. Actually having to hold the book and not being able to multitask makes the going so slow!! But also I'm really not liking the story at all, which doesn't make for motivated reading. However, its lack of inspiration inspired me to write a bit about a few of the myriad books I've sunk my teeth into lately, and let you know that you should read them... or stay far away.

Gone with the Wind 
by Margaret Mitchell

Not gonna lie, I hesitated to begin this one. The audio book being 50 hours long is turnoff enough, but add to that a memory of thoroughly disliking the movie when I saw it ages ago, and it took some convincing to start this one up. But over the summer both my mom and little sis Maria were very insistent that I give it a try, so I took their word for it. Three hours in I was bored and uninspired, but Bia reassured me it would pick up, so I kept plugging away. Soon enough I was hooked. Who knew a book with not one character I actually, truly liked could invoke so much interest and emotion?? I honestly didn't want the 50 hours to come to an end, and that's saying a lot. Definitely a classic worth picking up if you've never read it. And let's be honest, you probably haven't.

Crime and Punishment 
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Having parents who are ardent admirers of great literature (and a father who now routinely teaches a Russian literature class to my younger siblings and friends), I grew up hearing the titles and authors of the Russian Greats tossed around in conversation frequently. The images invoked by this particular title always conjured up grandiose scenery peopled by royalty and aristocrats, so by the time I got to the second sentence I was already experiencing something of a let down. However, the story was gripping, despite being slightly tediously preachy at times, and it is one that will stick with me. It's definitely worth picking up, if for nothing else than an interesting introduction to Russian lit. In the past year I've been delving more into Russian literatureAnna Karenina and Dostoyevsky's The Idiot last winter, recently Turgenev's Fathers and Sons and now Dostoyevsky again— and have discovered that in its essence lies not in its stories but in its particular approach to storytelling as well as its timeless characters. Its charm is still rather mysterious to me, but I certainly have enjoyed what tastes I've had thus far. My dad is pushing for War and Peace next... we'll see when I can work up the courage to tackle that!

The Martian
by Andy Weir

Living in Morocco, I rarely hear the buzz surrounding new books or movies. This can be poignantly illustrated by my toting around The Help by Kathryn Stockett a few years ago while on a meandering trip home through Chicago, and upon being asked by a friend what I thought of it so far, was very confused why he knew so much about the story. It had simply appeared in one of the "I'm leaving the country, here are all my books" dumps by friends not long before, and I had picked it up randomly. (Yes, I did love it.) This book and its recent movie, however, did not escape my attention, thanks to my big brother explaining the premise to me over breakfast in Chicago this summer, saying he thought Othman might like it. Well he hasn't read it/listened to it yet, but I did. In all of five days. The science was just science-y enough, the character was realistic but stopped just short of being annoying, and the story and background were just plausible enough. All that put together made for a thoroughly satisfying and gripping read. It's light reading, but good light reading, and I even learned a thing or two about botany! Now to watch the movie...

The Yacoubian Building 
by Alaa Al Aswany

Don't be fooled by the "International Number One Bestseller" scrolling atop the cover this book doesn't have much of anything going for it. The story takes place in modern-day Cairo and follows the exploits of the residents of a large apartment building in the old downtown. It's a premise with potential, but the writing is uninspired, the themes are repetitive, and the characters who don't invoke sympathy are far too many to keep track of. This is the book-book I'm reading currently, and it's one that made its way to my bookshelf at some point but I rather wish hadn't. Perhaps many of my qualms stem from the author's seeming confusion the common maxim Show, Don't Tell, which he got backwards. While the book is meant to be a social and political commentary, I just call it boring.


There are many more I could talk about... I could expound on the graceless aging of Herzog by Saul Bellow, Turgenev's equally tender and melodramatic Fathers and Sons, Oliver Sack's interesting but endlessly repetitive Awakenings, the non-fiction Storm of War by Andrew Roberts which was a long but superb recount of WWII, and many more. But the reliving of each story as I write up my feelings about them has been exhausting, so I think I'll leave it at that for now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Othman's big 3-0

Othman turns 30 today! We had his family over last night to celebrate, so of course as part of the preparations I asked him to buy some flowers for the house. But once he brought them home a realization made me giggle-- essentially he bought flowers for himself!

We prepared some nice little appetizers and got out a new tablecloth from the US!

Family dinner! Carrot soup, cucumber salad, mushroom risotto, mini meatloaves... we all ate well!

Cake time! He requested the blue buttercream icing, and it was harder to spread than I expected, so I made a Cookie Monster-esque cake!

We all joked that it either looked like his beard or his ever-disheveled hair.

Gifts from the family-- a new panini maker which he uses for sandwiches or to warm up bread on a daily basis, and winter gear for our Christmas trip to France!

Happiest of birthdays my love. I'm so thankful that I have you by my side every single day. Here's hoping that the next decade will be slightly less crazy, even more beautiful, and just as filled with love than the last!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Life has been happening lately, and blogging hasn't. So here are some random updates:

1. I was sick for about three weeks and am finally feeling back to normal as of yesterday. Yay! I was beginning to forget what it felt like to be well.

2. Thanks to our mini vacation in Marrakech a month ago I found out that eating a wheat-filled breakfast didn't kill me, so I started experimented with eating more wheat. After not observing any negative reactions, I talked to my allergist and she gave me a go-ahead! Thus this was duly sent to my mom and sisters yesterday, with the caption "Guess what I'm eating!".

Othman made the sandwich for me the night before, and it was such an easy lunch, and so, so yummy. He's certainly the more qualified sandwich artist, given that despite having worked at Subway earlier on in my college career, I hadn't made a sandwich since studying abroad in France 6 years ago! Eating it was pure joy.

3. Finally, today is a happy happy day in my life because it's my "friendiversary" with my lovely bestie, Alli. I loved seeing her this summer when she came and slept over for a night at my parent's house in Brookings, making us feel like teenagers again. Here's us last year at the beach outside of Casablanca (because yes she came all the way here for my Moroccan wedding):

She's actually at Notre Dame right now working towards her PhD in Philosophy, meaning she's pretty much a baller. Plus this just appeared on my newsfeed a few days ago:

Disembodied animals? Definitely a title that piques the curiosity! A sight better than disemboweled animals at any rate. :D Love you Al, happy anniversary!