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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

A couple of weeks ago the Los Angeles Times ran the article Better Sleep, Better Living, which I found very interesting.  I meant to blog about the subject matter for that week’s Wellness Wednesday.  However, I ended up blogging about the post-election chaos in Iran instead, as it was heavily on my mind.

What type of sleeper are you? I used to be a deep sleeper. Somehow as I have gotten older that has changed.  I am not a morning person, yet, I have never been one of those people who can sleep in or sleep until past noon.  When I used to have a regular 8 to 5 job I always struggled to get out of bed in the morning, yet when the weekend came around I could not sleep past 8am, a whole two hours later than my usual wake up time during the week.

Interestingly, my sleep patterns do not reflect the outcome of the study presented in the article. As I have gotten older my sleep patterns have also become affected about how I feel. If there is something that bothers me profoundly, I will lose sleep over it. I have been known to toss and turn all night unable to sleep.

There are also other things that can have an impact on my sleep. I won’t talk to you about the hardship falling  asleep and all the nightmares that I would have the night before any exam.  The nightmares were always the same, I either never made it to the exam because I get lost or I had no means to get there OR I just sat there and because I forget everything.

I have found that there are also other factors that can affect my sleep. I know that it is in my best interest to stay away from coffee or strong tea in the afternoon, as well as not have a heavy dinner.  I have also found that Chamomile Tea works like a charm. It completely relaxes me and I eventually fall asleep.

Two other points of interest for me about the article were “cooling the brain” and “happy, rested couples.” I kind of chuckled at both.  Cooling the brain, yeah, I really have an issue with that. Sometimes, there are so many things going on in my head that I don’t seem to be able shut down my brain at night.  It is crazy how at times I have solved issues in my sleep simply because my brain just didn’t stop working.  Point and case,  last Friday morning I woke up and had a solution in regards to what to do with our dog while we are going on our road trip.  I woke up with a plan for the pending logistics of the last two days of it.

Now without reveling too much…my comment to the following quote was: YOU DON’T SAY!!!!

The quality of a couple’s sleep and relationship tend to follow the same trajectory, researchers said. On a day-to-day basis, a couple’s relationship affects how well they sleep. And how well they sleep affects how the relationship functions the following day.

Holly mother of God if that ain’t true, I don’t know what is! I have spent a few sleepless nights when I was furious with my significant other.  If things were bad the night before, then you better believe it that they are not going to be any better after a night spent tossing and turning!!

They always say that sleep can have an effect on your mood, alertness, state of mind, and weight.  I always try to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep.  I find that if I go past that, I don’t feel as good.  I also know that it is not as easy for me to go back to sleep once awakened in the middle of the night. I hate being awakened for this very issue.  You may be so amused to know that The Sous Chef works nights and gets home around 3am.  So needless to say that I don’t really get the luxury of having continues sleep because I get awakened by his not so subtle entrance. Or that he complains about the fact that The Dog and I have left him no room on the bed or there is not enough covers for him.  Or the latest? He woke me up one day last week at crack of dawn telling me to stop pinching him. In my perplexity over the accusation all I could utter was, “how can I pinch you if I was asleep?” But he was convinced and angry that I was pinching him.  Seriously, I had better things to do, such such as sleep! In retrospect, it may have been true, it must have been my subconscious mind telling my fingers to pinch him for waking me up as much as he does!!!!

Have you ever pondered about your own sleeping patterns?

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Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters gathered in Freedom Square to protest.

Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters gathered in Freedom Square to protest. Source: guardian.co.uk

I had a completely different post in mind for this week’s Wellness Wednesday than what you are about to read. It has never been my intention in any shape, way, or form to talk about politics on this blog. My purpose for creating this blog was, and still is, to introduce Persian cuisine and culture to anyone who cares to read about it. However, today I feel the need to talk about something that has been heavily on my mind for the past few days. Forgive me for the long post, but there is a flood of emotions running through me.

Last week we flew to Seattle for our friend Winford’s graduation from University of Washington. I have known Winford for about twelve years. We met in an economics course while we were both pursuing our undergraduate degrees. I was there for his undergrad graduation and lucky me, I was able to be there for his graduate school graduation.

Friday night Winford had a party at his house and I was able to meet his new friends in Seattle. I enjoyed talking to every one of them, but one of the most memorable conversations was with one of his friends Jason.  I was rather surprised when he asked me if I was excited about the elections in Iran and how I felt about it. My first reaction to this question was: wow, he knows what is going on in Iran and he is not Iranian. Perhaps, I may have disappointed him when I truthfully told him that I had lost hope many moons ago about what would become of Iran. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed talking to him and learning that he has always had a fascination with Iran, follows the news about what is going on there, and that someday he would like to visit.

You see, that simple statement touches my heart in ways that I can’t describe, because it is very refreshing for me to meet people who look beyond politics and see Iranians as people. What I mean by that is the fact that we are always associated with the word “terrorist,” and people that don’t know better think that we are all a bunch of ignorant fundamentalists. Sadly, such people don’t ever take the time to reason that the views of a government are not necessarily the views of the people of that country.

I have lived the majority of my life outside of Iran and have been treated as someone from a third world country more times than I care to admit.  I find this to be a huge misconception about my people because there are many highly educated Iranians around the glob.  Additionally, in United States we are the one minority, or immigrants, who are highly educated and successful professionals. Additionally, being religious and following your religion does not in any shape, way or form make you a fundamentalist. What makes a person a fundamentalist, or a fanatic, is when they use religion as an excuse to hurt or kill others.

I would be a liar if I said that people’s reaction to my nationality have not bothered me. They have. Profoundly. In ways that I have resented being born in Iran and Muslim.  When I left Iran for the last time in the mid 80s I swore I was never going back. I planned to ask my mother to let me get baptized, and I secretly wished that I could change my last name to my step-father’s Italian last name. I never ended up doing either, because for one thing, I have never been religious enough to want to pursue a whole different religion, and well, changing my last name was too complicated.

This resentment followed me for many years and it wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I started feeling more comfortable with who I am, as a whole.  I came to realize that regardless of what happens in my life or where I live, I will always feel an emotional attachment to my birth land. I also started focusing on the good memories and attributes of being Iranian, verses the negative events that had shaped my life while I lived in Tehran.

I have always felt that I have been lucky enough to have left and given the opportunity to live in countries where I have a voice and freedom of speech.  Yet, at times I feel a deep sense of guilt for having had this opportunity while many others have not. In the eighties I always prayed, and let me be brave and say that I believed, that one day the fundamentalist would leave Iran because no one was happy because they made everyone’s lives miserable. By 1989, their tenth anniversary, I was left disappointed and bewildered by the fact that they had been in power for ten long years. By the time the twentieth anniversary rolled around I had lost all hope, because it had become evident to me that people in Iran had absolutely no voice and if they chose to speak they would be imprisoned, tortured, or killed, without any reservation.

This past February marked the 30th anniversary of the revolution. Thirty years of my life I have lived resenting what has become of my birth land. I have resented them for putting us through a war for eight years, brain washing people, taking Islam to a level that in my heart I firmly believe that Prophet Mohammad never intended for it to be, have killed many innocent people, and have ruined the reputation of our culture and history. And most importantly, I resent them because they punished members of my family for having worked for the previous government on both my mother’s and my father’s side. I resent them for having executed two of my aunts’ husbands on my father’s side for being high ranked in the military leaving eight of my cousins fatherless. I resent them even more for imprisoning my favorite uncle on my father’s side for having been in the military, only releasing him for poor health nine years later. Unfortunately, he left us soon after due to leukemia leaving behind two young sons. Fortunately, on my mother’s side no one died, but many were stripped of everything they worked for and humiliated.

So when I was asked what I think about the elections, these are the things that come to my mind. Ironically, I found out about the results of the elections as we were sitting on the plane waiting to take off Saturday night. I was watching CNN and they announced the results and people’s reaction. This was yet another disappointment and slap in the face. Just when you start thinking that there might be a chance, one small opportunity, it all goes up in dust.

So today, I would like to ask you to keep all the Iranians who are fighting for their vote in Iran in your prayers. It is heartbreaking to watch what is being unfold and the violence. I feel helpless, but I am choosing to be hopeful for the Iranian youth who has shown so much courage in the past few days. Statistically, 70% of the population in Iran is young; I truly believe that they hold the future of Iran in their palms. I am cheering for them and keeping them in my prayers. Of course it is easy for me to say go on, go out there and risk your life, as I am sitting here at my desk typing this post in the safe haven of the South Bay. But there is nothing I can do. All I can do is make sure that people understand that those out in the streets protesting are trying to fight for a change and demand for their votes.  The footage seen all over, either on YouTube or pictures, is gruesome. But please understand that it wouldn’t be this way if the government didn’t exercise their violent antics. The Iranians out in the streets are crying out to the world that they want change. There has been, there is, and there will be a lot of blood shed, but I am hopeful that this time it will lead to a change for the better.

In conclusion, I would like to share a couple of sources for information about the latest news out of Iran:

On Twitter:

One of my favorite Twitters with up-to-date info about Iran and all things Persian: Persian_Twitts

Selma Twitting: Salma1

Worth reading:

Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement Time.com

Fresh protest under way in Tehran – BBC

guardian.co.uk photo gallery

Last but not least, I ask you to pray for the wellness of all the protesters seeking a better Iran while leaving you with this powerful song, “Imagine, Iranian peace song. The song is in Farsi with subtitles in English within the video.

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june 2009 (Small)

Happy Wednesday People!

Today’s post is about laughter. I am a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine for the soul. I love to laugh and I can be heard from a distance when I laugh. It is good to laugh!

I love comedies and totally love movies that make me laugh out loud. The Sous Chef and I laughed quiet a bit last Friday night when we went to see “My Life in Ruins.”  I may have snorted a few times from laughing so hard too… :)

If you liked “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” you will probably enjoy this new movie by Nia Vardalos. It was especially funny for me as we just came back from a month long backpacking trip in Europe.

Hey, can I tell you a little secret? Come closer.

If you go to the watch a movie at the Del Amo mall, you can get discounted tickets at the Jhonny Rockets with the purchase of a hamburger, fries, and soda.  Not only that, you can take your food inside the movie theater. We didn’t know until after we bought our tickets, but it is a pretty sweet deal. ;)

So go on out and have yourself a good laugh!

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May 2009 073 (Small)

Last week I learned through a twitter update from Pinch My Salt that King Arthur Flour was giving away free flour for Bake2Share. So not to be the one to miss out on an opportunity to do something that involves doing good by giving to others, I went to the website and filled out the necessary form.

I ordered a bag of flour for myself and one for one of my favorite people who I thought would enjoy partaking in something like this.

Much to my excitement the bag of flour arrived today! Now I need to decide who I am going to bake for and what I am going to bake!!! :)

Sometimes the littlest things lift your spirit and that of others.

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May 2009 027 -2

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my favorite exercise: surfing, the web that is.  I came across a blog, which I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was, where there was a post about the decline in the bumble bee population.  Then last week I was curled up salivating over reading Sunset Magazine and there it was again.  A column on the left side of the page, where advertisements usually are displayed, the same information about the detrimental consequences that our farmers may be faced with the decline of the bumble bees.  You can read all about it on Help The Honey Bees. There is a lot info on this site so click away. It is a bit slow but well worth the time.

A quick Google search lead me to many different sites and I found out that this by any means is not a new issue. In fact it has been a concern since about three years ago.  I find this very sad that many of the members of the animal kingdom nowadays are becoming distinct and the blame is to be put on no other than us humans.  This is yet another reason to look around us and how by our actions we contribute to the destruction of our planet.

Maybe we all need an extraterrestrial to come down to earth and give us a nudge just like it happens in the movie “The Day Each Stood Still.”

I think bees are cute.  They used to scare the heck out of me when I was little because of people’s reaction when they got stung by one. As I child I remember being told to sing a song that rhymed with the word vinegar in Farsi, serkeh, in order to keep them at a safe distance from you.  I am not really sure if this is really true or just myth. But one thing is sure, I have made it three and half decades without…oh no I am not going to to say it because I might step into the garden and you know what? It might happen…. because, I am proud to say that we have plenty of bees flying around in our garden right now since our three Bottle Brush trees are in full bloom as seen in the picture.  All you hear is bzzz…bzzz, bzzz.

I must admit that after reading various articles, the buzzing is now music to my ears! I can’t say I have always felt this way! I remember once as a child going to the South of Iran on a small vacation near a river. I have no idea where exactly, but you know when one scene of your life gets stuck in your head? I remember  sitting outside chatting in the evening when the temperatures were cooler with various family members on my father’s side of the family.  Many of the cousins were there with us along with some family friends who had brought their kids.  Somehow that evening a few people were stung by the bees.  Here is the funny thing, I remember one of my cousins rolling up her pants and sitting and waiting to be stung by the bees because she had heard that it was good for rheumatism.

So here I am surrounded by people who yell and scream when bees come around. Then every so often they get stung and what follows is  crying and hollering from pain. All the while this other  person is sitting there waiting. Ironically, her wishes didn’t come true that night which resulted in the usual nagging that most Persians are so good about! So needless to say that the presence of bees has always created such a fuss around me.  Maybe I would have reacted the same way had I been….you know…had an encounter as such. Or had I stepped on dead ones while walking on the beach like my sister has, twice! Don’t tell her I told you this, but she hates bees, they even get to her while dead! :)

According to the Help The Honey Bees website you can help stop the decline in their population.  It is simple, all you have to do is plant seed that will grow into plants that will attract the bees.  You can find more info by following the link above. There might even be an added bonus for those of you ice cream lovers!!! :)

Or you can read this informative article from Concord Monitor.

Do you have a garden? Have you ever thought of starting your own garden?

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Chaghaleh Badoom 1 (Medium)

During one of my posts I wrote about my love for Gojeh Sabz and how exciting it was for us kids when spring came around back in the days in Iran. That post was solely dedicated to Gojeh Sabz because that’s what I personally like.  To tell the truth there was and still is something else that kids and adults look forward to with the arrival of spring. One is my beloved Gojeh Sabz and the other is Chaghaleh badoom, unripe almonds.  The almonds during this stage of their growth are enveloped in a green soft and almost fuzzy like skin.  Just like the unripe plums, these are eaten with a dash of salt.

The other day while talking to my mom about our abundance of gojeh sabz and how to make Gojeh Sabz Khoresht (recipe coming up next is posted!), she mentioned that one can also make a khoresht with unripe almonds. I seldom think about unripe almonds because I was probably the only kid who didn’t like them. Inevitably, for reasons that I can’t even explain, every time I see or think about unripe almonds there is always this traumatic, and in retrospect amusing, memory attached to it. Of course, the memory is traumatic because I witnessed and experienced it through the eyes of a child.

This event happened a good two and half decades ago when I was in elementary school in Iran. This was during the early eighties and just a few short years into the Iranian revolution when everyone’s lives turned upside down. By this time I was back in Iran after having lived in Italy for a few years. Going back to Iran was a tough adjustment given that not only I was accustomed to the westernize world, but also because until then my education had taken place in a French Catholic school. Those who have gone to French Catholic schools should be given an award for having survived the experience. Good God they were strict. You see, not only we had to study and get good grades, but they also took an active role in our manners. So much that when you sat at the lunch table you could never have your elbows on the table, your left wrist sat on the table next to your plate, and of course careful attention was paid to the way your held your utensils and how you ate. If for some reason your wrist was not in the correct position or your elbows landed on the table, the lovely nuns would stick a book under both of your armpits to make sure that you kept a correct posture. Now if the book fell…Or you got up from the table and didn’t clean the table…yeah…not a good thing.

Anyway, so this was what I lived with every day and I am sure I received a fine education. With this said, the nuns would be horrified to see that now I have accustomed to the American way and the table has not seen my left wrist, oh for a long time! My experience in Iran was a complete opposite of what went on with the lovely nuns. Heck no one cared how you ate. But what they cared about was that you prayed everyday and they took special care in brain washing you into believing their religious propaganda. Oh, and let’s not forget that they made sure that our uniform was not a centimeter shorter than it should have been, and that our scarves stayed on our heads without any hair picking out. ‘Cause you know, it is important to obey God’s will that women should cover themselves.

One fine spring day I had a very bad stomachache. So bad that I could not stand being in school and wanted to go home. In order to do so I had to go to the main office which was a long rectangular room where at the end sat our school’s principal. Once you entered the room, there were a few rows of desks on each side where the school administrators sat. Our principal was a nasty and huge woman who always wore a black chador.

So that day I made my way down the room toward her desk passing all the other crow looking women sitting at their desks and diligently working on their stuff. They all looked the same, with their black chadors. I remember trembling inside as I had to come face to face with the head crow. I finally approached her and explained that I had a bad stomachache and that I need to call home.  So she, the evil huge crow, looked at me dubiously, perhaps wondering if I was lying. And then she said sarcastically:

“Did you eat too much choghaleh badoom?”

“No,” I said trembling. Paused for a moment and added, “I don’t like them.”

“YOU DON’T like chaghaleh badoom??? How is that possible, what child doesn’t like chaghaleh badoom?”

I trembled inside and had to exercise a good amount of self control in order to remain calm and not burst into tears in order to avoid  making a fool out of myself. Now everyone was looking at me and I felt smaller and smaller, while the evil crow looked bigger and bigger. She then let me use the phone on her desk. Her fat fingers inserted a coin in the coil slot and I dialed my home number while my finger trembled as I dialed each number.

I may have been very young during that time period but I often wondered what I was doing there and God, the French nuns may have been strict, but this? This was ridiculous. My whole life, and that of others, was ridiculous.  I just hated it all. I would have gladly gone back to the French nuns and their strict rules.

All these years later I have never had the desire to try chaghaleh badoom. But the other day after my conversation with my mom I was at our local Persian store. There they were, waiting to be bought and enjoyed. I thought to myself that maybe it was time to try them and see if my taste buds had changed all this time later. I bought a few and came home, washed them, took a deep breath, as this was an important moment of truth, I took a bit and……

YAK!

Never again. The End.

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eshgh1

I received an email about today being the day of Sepandarmazgan.  I don’t think I had ever heard of the existence or celebration of this day before. I am copying and pasting the narrative (with some minor edits as some parts of the original did not make much sense as it looked like the info came from various places) that came with the email. This is really cool! Enjoy!

Sepandarmazgan is the celebration day of Love, Friendship and Earth in ancient Persian culture.

According to Iranian tradition, the day of Sepandarmazgan was held in the Great Persian Empire in the 20th century BC .  This day is registered on Bahman 29th in the Iranian Calendar, only 3 days After Valentine.

Persians have a rich culture with many great feasts based on natural occasions that have been mixed up with happiness &  joy.

In the feast of Sepandarmazgan, Earth was worshiped and women venerated. On this day, Women and girls sat on the throne and men and boys had to obey them and bring them presents and gifts. In this way, men were reminded to acclaim and respect women.

Sepandarmaz is another name for mainyu (earth) meaning Holy, Humble & Passionate.

Also Sepandarmaz is Earth Guardian Angel. It is the symbol of humbleness, it means modest toward the entire creation. These are the qualities attributed to Earth that spreads beneath our feet, thus the symbol of modesty and love. As human beings, there are creatures that we find unpleasant and repulsive, but Earth is not like us. She embraces all creatures the same and loves them the same; like a mother who loves all children alike, even when they are ugly. In our ancient culture, mother is symbolized by sepandarmaz or earth. Have you ever seen a Love more sacred than Mother’s Love to children?

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