Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime…Please, treat your garlic with respect…Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.” ― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

My husband’s grandmother, aged 92, peeling garlic lovingly!IMG_3441IMG_3447IMG_3431

And at home, when I cook, I do use the garlic from the jars because it’s so much easier and because I don’t have time. Hence, why I like to take photos of my grandmother peeling garlic!

The Calm Before The Storm…


With schools closing early and things being cancelled all around me, I love the peace that comes before the storm. I love seeing the world blanketed in white looking all fresh and new. I don’t know if it will actually snow, but hoping for snow. When I used to live in Abu Dhabi, I would be mesmerized by the rare rain falling and the way drops would gather forming scant puddles here and there. In Atlanta, I am spoiled. Rain is a common thing and I no longer am as mesmerized by the constant fall of rain. However, when it snows in Atlanta, I am newly mesmerized all over.


  • a cancelled gymnastics class became a time to bake brownies and facetime my grandmother in Pakistan
  • an early pick up at school became more playtime for A&Z and a time to blog
  • the birds! The birds have been feasting today at my bird feeder which makes me wonder if they are stocking up on food before the storm comes, or simply extra friendly 4 (12)
  • Instagram: In the past, I used instagram, but didn’t want to waste time by allowing followers or following people. Recently though I was told, “Isn’t instagram made for people who take photos like you?” so I now have an account that I follow people with and love the inspiration I see on there. Facebook for me is sometimes overwhelming, but Instagram is a nice way to see fellow bloggers work in a quick scroll. My cousin Ahmed or karachichaiwalla has the most amazing Pakistan photos – you can follow him here if you are an instagrammer or simply click and look through his images. Here’s a screenshot photo below!
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  • yarn again. I really want to crochet something warm in the next couple of days!

    My computer is acting up so can’t delete the extra crochet photo. Ignore!

  • Love the confidence of 5 year olds! When we practiced for the spelling bee, Z kept spelling DOG as D-O-O-G and then as G-O-D! and WET as W-U-T and the list goes on! But she still thought she would win the spelling bee. I heard about a basketball player holding a basket ball asking kindergartners if they could throw a 3 point shot and they all raised their hands saying, “I can!” Such is the spirit of a 5 year old.

    Even with all her mistakes, Z said she wanted to win and tie the spelling bee with her cousin. She came back from school misspelling the first word she was given, Hand; she spelled it with an E. Her cousin misspelled the word ‘cow’! But she was still happy!

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    I also love knowing what words people love. Z loves spelling the word M-U-S-T and the sound of it. I love the sound of the word ‘tapioca.’ It just sounds so lovely.

     Target with ‘A’ below!

A new gallery  wall! My uncle Zia Zakaria’s painting is the first orange calligraphy one. You can look him up at Zakaria Ink here. I love his work.

Cozy Reading Time! I Love the blog A Beautiful Mess and was inspired by their book above. I also just read The Nesting Place book about having an imperfect home and LOVED it.

  1. Paint, 2. Cut paintings into strips, 3. Loop the paintings together to make a bedroom banner!

Jeni’s Icecream – lavendar flavor Z loves!

9 Non-Goals


Last year, I was inspired by blogger Erin Loechner, who instead of writing resolutions wrote non-goals in 2015 and 2016. Gentle ways in which you reflect back on your year and think, what did I do well in? Of course there are always things you could do better, aren’t there always?

What are the things that you slowly thrived in?

Here’s Erin’s last year quote:

“You know the drill by now, it’s non-goal time. In a month where we’re encouraged to pick apart bits of ourselves – more of this, less of that – sometimes it’s just refreshing to take a step back and see the landscape for what it is. To swim in the grace we’ve been given; leap in the forgiveness we’re granted. To just keep walking, one foot then another, without searching for a new route that might offer a quicker arrival to a destination we were never intended to seek.” – Erin Loechner

Here are my 2015 Non-Goals!

Below are my 2016 Non-Goals!

  1. You Read Lots of Books
    Reading for me is a must. When I read, I get a mini escape from my world. I was just reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and I loved seeing how her point of view. Books help you decompress, and when you need a bit of silence, and escape from the hubbub of your world, a book is one way. I don’t read every single book word-for-word if I don’t want to. I read picture books, chapter books, books for people my age with hard covers and squished up words. I have books on my dining table, books in the cabinets, books on the coffee table, books in baskets, books everywhere. I leave a few books on my dining table for me to browse through while I eat a snack now and then, and love the drawing in of words.

Also, how amazing is a library? A place where you can go and leave with a bag of books for free. Yes, to be returned, but then you get more in exchange!

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2. You Were a Little More Social

Last year, I was happy to be a little less social. I was home bound for some time when I had a health issue. I found that I had to flourish at home. Being a homebody, I was fine. However, I found that when I am well and able, being social can be good. People get happy to see you. You get happy to see them.


3. You Are Trying to Go on Nature Adventures

This year I actually went apple picking, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I got to go the Atlantic Ocean as well as the mountains, so it is nice to be able to reflect on the natural world around me.


4. You Went to Coffee Shops

The wifi stopped working so ‘A’ and I went to a coffee shop. And then another. I don’t drink coffee (I don’t like the bitter taste of it), so we enjoyed our hot chocolates. I do love the smell of coffee though! I may try to go again to get actual work done. We’ll see!

5. You are Trying to Make your Home a Haven

I am trying to declutter. Trying to make the home even cozier and make peace with the things I need, the needs of 2 little ones, and the peace of the inevitable mess.

6. You Had to Promote Your Book which Meant Talking to People and Being Out There!

When you are always out everyday as a teacher, and all of a sudden become more-at-home as a mother, it is a little odd to suddenly be out more than what you’re used to. To board a plane and to meet eager minds at libraries. To receive hugs from eager-reading-children is rewarding!


7. To Not Force It

This year I just didn’t feel like crocheting a lot. I didn’t feel like blogging as much (had other writing tasks to focus on). Different demands took my time. I didn’t like the guilty lingering feeling I had and am trying to make peace with it. Making peace with new hobbies or lack of hobbies are good.

8. To Keep Trying

I’m itching for another book to author and am trying my hand again at writing. I am happy that I keep trying especially when giving up is so easy in the uncertain world of publishing. I also was really excited when Lailah’s Lunchbox landed on the 2016 ALA Notable Books so praying for more notable books!

9. To Appreciate Health

To know that when I am healthy to appreciate it.

When health fails, as it can do to anyone at any time anywhere to take it in stride, to turn to God, and pray your heart out.

To Appreciate health with a capital A when it returns.



And things I want to do this year and remind myself of and mini-goals:

  1. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift.
  2. I want to do a proper cartwheel.
  3. I want to write beautiful stories. Bonus: Get Them Published!
  4. I want to enjoy cooking more. I love making playdough or baking cookies, but I want to view cooking less as a chore and see it more as a joy.



  5. I want to be better about driving places that are further from me or when Atlanta traffic strikes, but understand if I don’t feel fine with going somewhere or doing something, that it is totally fine to opt out to regain myself to go out another time.
  6. I want to continue to be okay with children mess around me, to join in it as necessary, and to clean, clean, clean if I ever feel the need.
  7.  Like a spider spins a safe cocoon of a web around itself, I want to spin a web of ease, blessings, peace, health and all the good stuff around me. And with prayer and persistence, anything is possible, right?
  8. I want to frame my children’s art work and post it more in my home.
  9. I want to give away many more things that I do not need.
  10. I want to have weekends that are slow and lazy and sunshine or clouds and be at peace.
  11. I want lots of nice, white daylight streaming through windows.
  12. I want to understand the Quran meaning word for word.
  13. I want to give time to myself, to my family, to my work, to my religion.
  14. I want to be the best that I can be and appreciate all that I am and all that I ever will be. That sounds nice, not sure where I got that from?
  15. I want to eat less raw cookie dough from my freezer
  16. I want to be a pro at stretches
  17. I want to meet deadlines I create for me
  18. I want to be 5 minutes early for things
  19. I want to write mostly everyday
  20. I want to look at the sky everyday!

ALA’s Notable Children’s Books – 2016


I’m still learning the ways of the publishing world since I’m a first-time author. I always get a thrill of excitement when I learn that someone likes my book or if it’s on a book list for something good.

I got an email from the Tilbury House publisher saying that we were on the list of titles to discuss at the ALA (American Library Association) midwinter meeting in Boston last weekend which was exciting since the ALA is the official go-to site for librarians and educators. And then later today, Lea Lyon, my illustrator wrote this:

‘The official list of 2016 ALA Notable Books has been posted and “Lailah’s Lunchbox,” made the cut. It is listed under “Middle Readers” and we are very pleased and honored. (The previous list was the discussion list for the ALA MidWinter Conference. now it is official and real.) Thanks to all of you who congratulated me. Love you all.

And thank the wonderful publisher Tilbury House for continuing to publish such worthy, socially conscious books for children. When I was hired to illustrate my first book with them, “Say Something,” by Peggy Moss, which has sold over 70,000 copies, they said “We’re very small, only publish a few books per year, but they tend to win awards.” And the four books I have created with them certainly have.’ – Lea Lyon


The ALA site was under construction, but when I went back later on today, Lailah’s Lunchbox is there on the ALA Notable list for Middle Readers, ages 8-10 year olds. It is great for my story to be among such great other ones and I can’t wait to check out the list in more detail and to start placing the other notable books on hold. According to the site:


Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.


And Tilbury House was excited too!

tilbury ala2I’m so glad the book is being enjoyed! It’s here and in the libraries and more! Another fun thing is the book’s supporting character is a librarian. The librarians tend to enjoy that part. I hope the librarians continue to spread the good word about the story to their fellow libraries and schools. Yay for being notable! Hoping for many more notable books!

Thank you to you all for your support!



Salty Fix


The very below picture is one of my favorites. It’s my 3 year old ‘A’ running to her grandparents and cousins. Right now, I am in the sweet spot of my daughters having all their grandparents.

Annie Flavin, a blogger and poet whose work I love, recently lost her mother-in-law, and reading this post about how she had that ‘sweet spot’ of having all parents and now not having them is real and raw. I hope all those who have lost parents and family members both recently or long ago find peace.

I so appreciate having wonderful family on hand whether they are less than an hour away or a long road trip away. Just having them and knowing they are there is an amazing thing. To have little children form relationships with your parents and to bond with them is something I never get tired of. My girls’ chuckles get gigglier around their grandparents.

I hope that one day at the right time I get to be a grandmother with lots of people around the table, games being played, laughter being heard, and so much more!



When you have 3 cricket-loving brothers, a father, a husband, and 2 male cousins you get … cricket on the beach!




And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record. (Quran 6:59)

Round Up: My Favorite Blogs, Books, and Podcasts!


“It’s lunchtime again – Brian’s least favorite part of the day. Another twenty l-o-n-g minutes of kids talking and laughing with everyone else … but him.” – The Invisible Boy, book info below!

Wanted to list my favorite Reads!

I gravitate to family lifestyle photography blogs which means natural unposey photos of real-life family. The messier, the better! I realize I have a trend for reading blogs of moms with 5 children who homeschool. I admire how they have big cozy families and a love for at-home-learning. My mother is one of eight, and my father one of five, and I am one of four, so I love watching big families interact.

Without further ado…


Enjoying the Small Things – Kelle’s photos say it all! I love her bustling family, her photography angles, her outlook on life, and love reading how she raises her 3 children, especially Nella who has Down Syndrome.print52_zpsdb045967.jpgprint38_zps5b766b2f.jpgblog15_zps5820dae7.jpg



Design for Mankind– Erin’s writing is consistently beautiful! It’s laced with emotion and has gorgeous little lessons or epiphanies here and there.





Sham of The Perfect – photographers who capture their imperfect lives and houses just as they are, very refreshing!elliot_nov20_0001.jpg


My Favorite Chapter Book at the moment and it has a sequel!:


Discovered this book from the ADL Book list where this book was featured as book of the month. My book Lailah’s Lunchbox was featured as November’s book here too!


Wildflowers Photography Blog:

A mother of 5 I believe, and a mother who photographs beautifully! and homeschools!



Ashley Ann Photography – mom of 5 also who homeschools! One of her children is adopted and loved reading the story about it.



Drama Mama – from Karachi, lives in Dubai, has lived in Toronto, and is moving to Karachi! Passionate about literature, children, and homeschooling! Writes with beautiful emotion!


Confessions of a Muslim Mom – unschools her children, her children learn naturally and beautifully, lots of nuggets of wisdom, honesty! I love glimpses of her home life and watching the learning and love unfold!


Little Life of Mine –

Palestinian American mom of 4 daughters who documents life and the little snippets of it! Honest and real!541827_269020883186637_481567332_n.jpg12244826_904996416255744_6120118265258307828_o.jpg


Sarah Reinhart’s blog: Little White Whale, another mom of 5 who takes beautiful photos and has warm posts!



I enjoy listening to

The Mom Hour – humorous and honest podcast about parenting! Refreshing as it doesn’t sugarcoat! Nice to listen to when stuck in traffic.the-mom-hour-large.jpg

and Edit your Life – peaceful and short, full of warm advice on how to edit your life! Real life tips are given!


A’s favorite book at the moment: she’s aged 3! ‘A’ loves the pictures of main character Charlie struggling to sleep in his own bed. The crayon art is lovely and the message of sleeping in your bed is nice and clear! Great read for a toddler who moves into a big-girl or big-boy bed!

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Z’s favorite book at the moment! She’s aged 5!518MV3HMHCL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


A beautiful Picture Book I stumbled upon from the ADL’s book list.

The Invisible Boy is a warm book about that child that blends in and that you sadly don’t notice. Great for teachers, children, parents, etc! The illustrations are amazing. The main character starts of black and white, and as he gets more noticed, turns into a beautiful noticeable water color.



Note: all the photos above are not taken by me, but are taken by the bloggers! Posted them so you could see their beautiful work! If you like my photos, you will probably enjoy theirs as well! I love reading other people’s blogs. The way I keep up is if I stumble upon a favorite blog, I will bookmark their page on my phone and every now and then read their work and get reinspired when I have a chance. Enjoy!

Readers, if you all have any favorite blogs, reads, podcasts, stories, books, do share! I love stumbling upon something that really resonates with me!

Reassuring Weight


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

There is a reassuring weight in good things.

The other weekend I got to go to Houston, TX and read my book over there. Holding my book and reading out loud to the eager first graders felt natural and right and fun. The first graders wore bright orange T-shirts proudly saying, “First Grade Rocks! Kindergarten is so Last Year!”

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Reassuring Weight of the Library Stamp on this book!

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I loved the the flier was in both Spanish and English! Thank you to the Houston Libraries for having me!

Another exciting thing for Lailah’s Lunchbox , the books were given away in a raffle at the Islamic Speakers Bureau gala. Mayor Shirley Franklin, the mayor who served Atlanta last time got a book. Do check out the ISB’s initiatives about making a difference/anti-bullying for Giving Tuesday–a great article here about it!

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Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin with my brother Talha and my book!!

I used to travel alone quite frequently back and forth to Karachi, Pakistan. I forgot how reassuring the weight of holding your own bag is, no one else’s, and pulling it behind you and hearing the sounds of your bag’s wheels clickety-click on shiny floors felt. I enjoyed a weekend at the Doubletree Hotel and was glad to receive my warm gooey chocolate chip cookie upon checking in and to eat it all by myself.

Being on your own, getting your me-time, is a beautiful thing, but once you’re back in your own home, and you have little children clamoring for your attention and needing constant feedings, bathroom stops, and needs, you can feel like your day dissolves around them. The back and forth to school, the packing of school lunches, the constant pile up of dirty laundry followed by the occasional putting away clean laundry. The trying to find pockets of time to write and churn out manuscripts. But there is a reassuring weight to that lifestyle too. A repetitive routine that can be soothing.

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Reassuring weight of this beautiful book-The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


I had another trip, a road trip this time in which I was responsible for not just my bag, but for the bags of others.


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Was also responsible for the coats, hats, boots of others!

I was responsible for holding little hands clutching tight across the road, for squashing bags of clothes into the already-packed car. Not as glamorous as the first solo trip, but grateful for family, beautiful mountain views on the road, the peek-a-boo sun that stopped being shy, and for leaves, leaves, everywhere.


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I enjoyed both trips, although vastly different from each other. One trip, I was an author, a sort of professional person, a person the first graders took delight in greeting. A person with my own scannable-neon-green lighted-hotel-key, bathroom, and room.

On the second trip, I was a mother, a wife, a grand-daughter and daughter-in-law.

Back home, it is reassuring to be home, but I forgot what it feels like to be in charge of one’s home, to be responsible for making meals, buying groceries, filling up an empty gas tank, depositing a check in the bank.

Trying to find little bits of happiness and peace here and there that make me feel like I’m exploring new places or going on a journey, even if it is a mini-one to Target or a new coffee shop, or an actual real journey like apple picking! photo 2 (13)





–Hopefully, more sooner rather than later!