Year of Firsts: Ramadan Edition

Hello Friends,

I’m still going with my Year of Firsts resolution. Every day I try and do something new, to keep me fresh and alive. Let’s dive back into it!

May 23rd

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Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had a Tropical flavoured Starburst.

24th

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First time seeing and buying Eid cards in a store. It felt nice to be included.

25th

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I’ve never had Guava tea before. I think the aroma was more guava-like than the flavour, but I’m not complaining.

26th

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This is the first time I’ve seen this ad. I’ve heard and read about CoolSculpting before and never really thought much of it. I did give a funny look at this poster when seeing the top lady and definitely laughed out loud by the “Don’t try this at home” disclaimer in small print.

27th

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This was my first time baking cinnamon rolls. Is there anything better than warm pastries? Because they were so warm out of the oven, the icing just melted and looks funny. Please disregard the old pan, it’s been through a lot, but it’s the best.

28th

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This is the first time I’ve used one of those apps to filter me into someone else, in this instance a pirate. The filter suggestions were… interesting.

29th

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This is my first lazy attempt at making energy/fat balls. Tastier than they look, I promise.

30th

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Many will try, but no one will ever make a peanut butter cup like Reese’s. Gave these Trader Joe’s version a try, they weren’t bad.

31st

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Usually, when we make Muhamar/Musakhan we go with a flatbread option, but this time we tried to make them into rolls to stay on the lighter side for Ramadan. Yummy.

June 1st

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First time having this variety of Icelandic water.

2nd

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Found these at the Dollar Tree. They were tasty but oh so salty.

3rd

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This is the first time I tried braiding my hair since my haircut. Having short hair is quite the adjustment.

4th

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I used to play around with copying Arabic calligraphy I found online all the time. I’ve been seriously out of practice. I tried giving this block type for the first time. It’s not quite what I want it to be. I should really practice more.

5th

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Don’t laugh at me. I took an old pic of my grandparents and followed this Photoshop tutorial. The photo actually looks a lot better than what it once was, but I’m not sure the techniques used in the tutorial were exactly what this photo needed. I’m trying to learn.

6th

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We were gifted a container of cookies and this was the only cookie with pistachios in it. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve had a cookie stuffed with pistachios, but it is the first time I’ve been gifted a cookie with pistachios. I wish there were more.

7th

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First time giving myself a flower crown. Everyone does it and it’s not really my thing, but I wanted to see what it looked like.

8th

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Usually, when making a salad I go for chicken, sometimes fish and occasionally steak. But this recipe for a ground beef based salad was pleasantly delightful even if it looks like a mess.

9th

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More sweets as gifts. This is a combination or twist of ma’amoul and harisa. So sweet.

10th

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This is the first time I’ve fasted all of Ramadan in the summer season. I  had to stop a few years ago because I was having blackouts while summer fasting. It’s still a struggle but I’m getting better.

 

Eid is upon us and if you’re interested, you can support my adventures or gift me some new items to try and add to my Year of Firsts.

Peace and Pistachios,

Heba

xoxo

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I’m embarrassed, but I need your help #please… I have a possible tumor and my insurance isn’t helping

I don’t do this often and the few times I have asked for help, I’ve never gotten very far. But I need to try because I don’t know what else to do.

I suppose this is a long rant about what’s going on with me and my life these days. I try to keep it quiet and distract myself with pretty things, but sometimes I need to let it out. And maybe you can find it in your heart to get through this and help me in some way. Anyway.

There are too many things going on. Too many things.  No one I know has money they can lend or just gift me. I have no money. My family of 3 lives off of $17k a year. I honestly don’t know how we make it.

Health insurance is denying my claims. I can’t pay my medical bills. I need a ct scan bc I have a tumour that may need chemotherapy (according to a resident at John Hopkins) and I can’t afford any of it. It may not need chemo or radiation. It could be nothing. It could be outright removed (even though we’ve removed it twice already) but I’ll never know until it’s too late, if I can’t get this ct scan.

I practically live on my asthma inhaler and I often wonder if I can even afford to “waste” another huff of it. My asthma isn’t bad enough to kill me or anything like that, just bad enough to torture me every day and send me to urgent care with the occasional asthma attack that requires being hooked up to a breathing machine.

I got put on prednisone. The side effects are weight gain, fatigue, foggy thoughts, pain, nausea and just about everything I don’t need right now, or ever.

My phone is dying a little more every day. I can’t make or receive phone calls or texts and data anything doesn’t work. I can only use it when I’m home and connected to wifi. It turns off randomly. Freezes. Even when at home, it can take forever for it to do anything. Battery life is an hour at rest if I’m lucky.

My mom’s car is busted. That was our only source of transportation and now that’s gone. We can’t afford to fix it. The closest bus stop is 5 miles away on the highway with no sidewalks. I can’t walk there bc I have nerve damage so severe that I’m on meds galore and still can’t walk longer than 15 minutes. And sometimes the pain is so bad that I can’t walk at all.

I have nothing in my name other than debt. What are these bill collectors going to take away from me? I don’t have wages to garnish. What do they want? I have nothing to give them. If I could dissect this tumour myself, I would maybe sell it to science or some weirdo on Craigslist. That could make some money, maybe.

Nothing is right or even close to it. Even if after 4 years of unemployment someone does want to hire me or even interview me, how would I get there? How do they call me? Even that doesn’t work out right.

I’m stuck and I need help getting unstuck. I’m so embarrassed to even be asking, but I really don’t know what else to do.

If you can find it in your heart to maybe throw a few bucks my way, I’d be so insanely and forever grateful. Maybe you can pass this along to a friend?

Thank you.

Peace and Pistachios,

Heba

xoxo

 

paypal.me/hebavsreason

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Available for 20 more days- Hebatullah’s Campaign #bonfire #tshirts

Times are tough. I’ve been unemployed for 2 years. I’ve been paying my dues and taking temp jobs here and there, and I’m alright with dressing up as unemployment for Halloween. What I’m trying to avoid is having to dress up as homeless for Thanksgiving. I’m not going to beg y’all to help me pay my rent. But we can get two birds with one stone… You buy a super-cool, limited edition shirt and I get a roof over my head for the holidays.

How’s that sound?

Peace and Pistachios,

Heba

xoxo

Get In Loser! We’re Going Shopping!

I Shop, You Shop, We All Shop For…Gumdrops?!?!

If only our material needs were so simple.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

Well, credit cards are evil, but that’s probably a story for another day. Hypothetically, If I could only shop at one place for all my needs, I have to say Amazon. Hands down. I’m pretty confident that you can get just about anything on Amazon.

If you are feeling kind and generous, perhaps you can help my unemployed self and surprise me with a gift? I LOVE GIFTS!

Paypal Donations

Wishlist- Amazon

Wishlist- Target

Wishlist- Walmart

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An entirely flawed system

So I just found out that NJ is cutting off my food stamps because I’m considered able-bodied. Food stamps has literally been the only thing feeding my family right now and the only way for me to continue getting food stamps is if I go to a 20 hour a week work program. I tried to go to the program and had to make an appointment for orientation months ago and they were so mean and dismissive of me. They wanted me to miss my doctor appointment to go to their orientation and I told them I couldn’t miss it. I was sick, I needed to see a doctor. So they wouldn’t schedule me for another day and that was that.

I can get out of the requirement if I’m caring for someone in my family, which I am, my mother who has been unwell. But why is she unwell, because without warning her health insurance was terminated because she was deemed to make too much money. My mom makes $800 a month from alimony payments. That’s it! How is that too much money? Because she doesn’t have health insurance, she can’t afford her meds and hence has not been the greatest lately. The only way to prove that I’m caring for my mother is if she gets evaluated by a doctor and deemed disabled. Again, something we cannot afford. And if she never had her insurance terminated to begin with, she’d have her meds and she wouldn’t need someone to look after her.  It’s a flawed system and I’m so embarrassed and sad and scared. I don’t know how to feed my family.

I’ve been trying to get a job for a year and a half now with no luck. I have a BA and two MAs. I’m clearly educated and should be capable of getting a job but no one wants to give me a chance despite my 10 years of experience. I really don’t know what to do. I really hate to ask, but I need help. I haven’t paid my credit cards off, we’re charging everything on credit and I’ve reached my credit limit. We’re not using the heat even though it’s so cold, bc we can’t afford to make the payment. I don’t have a cell phone line because we can’t afford it. How is my family going to eat? What am I supposed to do? Like we can’t even afford to pay rent this month. Literally, I have no idea what to do or how to keep us from being hungry and homeless. And I could kick myself for ending up in this situation.

I keep trying to crawl us out of this hole, but I keep failing.

This is so embarrassing, but I need help and I don’t know where to turn. I’m so embarrassed to ask and hate myself for getting to this point. If you could spare anything, even just $1, I would appreciate it so much. https://www.paypal.me/hebavsreason I swear, I’ll never forget your generosity and 100% promise to pay it forward. I’m just so scared and so unsure of how to make ends meet. I’m so embarrassed and I’m so sorry for asking. Maybe you could pass this around, reblog it. Any help would be so important and I’d be so thankful.

#LoveMe Challenge: Day 15

Day 15

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Something you have done right:

In the summer of 2006 the Middle East was ravaged with war between politicians and factions in which innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians paid the deadliest price. The images of maimed children, dying youth and pain stricken eyes not only moved me, but it shook me. It quaked my soul and threw my body into a spiral of grief that I refused to allow to continue. A group of students who were as stubborn as I was to make a change came together to try and plan a benefit concert at NYU. The concert wasn’t the most successful, but I couldn’t accept failure. Failure wasn’t an option— I manifested my guilt in failing and used all my energy to organize a fundraiser of sorts through the help of Life for Relief and Development. I asked my local ISCJ to provide a room to collect donations. ISCJ made announcements to its congregation asking for non-perishable foods, new or like new clothes, first aid supplies, diapers, feminine products and other necessary needs refugees and the wounded could use to rebuild their everyday lives.  I also advertised online and emailed local houses of worship from every religion. We received so many donations in the room we were storing them in that the piles were taller than any of us. I enlisted some 20 volunteers to organize, label and load the products onto a 18-wheeler flatbed tractor trailer container. We filled the entire container. The boxes that Life for Relief and Development weren’t enough. My family went out and bought more boxes out of pocket. We even had products that we couldn’t fit in the container because the container was at capacity. Those products we then chose to donate to local charity bodies suggested by the ISCJ.

Urgent: families in TQ2

Wow. Last night, 20,000 38 Degrees members sent emails to their Conservative MPs – just before they all faced George Osborne for a late-night crisis meeting about cuts to tax credits. Here’s what happened →

 

That tweet was sent by a senior journalist at the Telegraph. It proves that our pressure is working.

But it can’t stop here – MPs will be voting on tax credit cuts at lunchtime today. Your MP, , Kevin Foster, has a chance to speak out and derail Osborne’s plan to punish working families. Please can you add to the pressure email him now?:

 

 

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/please-vote-against-tax-credits?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:300px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Here’s yesterday’s email, in case you missed it:

——

On Tuesday your MP, Kevin Foster, could vote against George Osborne’s cuts to tax credits at an important debate. [1] He could speak out against taking money away from millions of low-paid families. But he’s unlikely to, unless enough of us email him today.

Some Conservatives are already wavering. Boris Johnson has already spoken out – and behind the scenes others are rumoured to fear the cuts go too far. [2] So public pressure, from us could tip the balance and get more Conservative MPs to speak out.

Osborne can’t pass a plan with all politicians against it. And tomorrow your MP has a huge chance to speak out. Will you email your MP, Kevin Foster, now, asking him to turn up and vote against cuts to tax credits on Tuesday? It’ll only take a minute:

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/please-vote-against-tax-credits?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:300px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Slashing tax credits like this is unfair, unjust and unpopular. It’ll punish people who work hard, but still don’t have enough to cover the essentials. [3]

Just last week, a Conservative voter, Michelle Dorrell, wept on live television as she spoke to energy minister Amber Rudd MP:

“You’re about to cut tax credits after promising you wouIdn’t. I work bloody hard for my money to provide from my children. And you’re going to take it away from me and them … Shame on you!” [4]

The vote’s likely to be early on Tuesday afternoon. So please send your email before then!

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/please-vote-against-tax-credits?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:300px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Thanks for being involved,

Stewart, Amy, Sarah, David and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Tuesday’s vote is known as an “Opposition Day Debate”. These votes aren’t binding, but it would be hard for the government to press ahead if the vote went against them. So Tuesday is a real chance to start turning the tide on this cut – please email your MP now:

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/please-vote-against-tax-credits?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:300px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

NOTES

[1] Tuesday’s vote is part of an “Opposition Day Debate”. That’s a debate organised by the Official Opposition (currently the Labour party):

http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06315#fullreport

[2] BBC news: Tax credit reforms must protect low earners, Boris Johnson says:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34573602

Independent: George Osborne facing pressure from Conservative MPs:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osborne-facing-pressure-from-conservative-mps-to-rethink-tax-credit-cuts-a6698971.html

[3] Mirror: How will the Budget affect my tax credits? Everything you need to know about George Osborne’s raid:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/how-budget-affect-tax-credits-6031675

[4] Guardian: Tory MPs increase pressure on Osborne to soften tax credit cuts:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/oct/16/david-cameron-spokesman-respond-question-time-tax-credits-complaint

38 Degrees is funded entirely by donations from thousands of members across the UK. Making a regular donation will mean 38 Degrees can stay independent and plan for future campaigns. Please will you chip in a few pounds a week?

Start a direct debit

Say His Name, Aylan Kurdi

Aylan, the toddler who drowned yesterday fleeing Syria, was just three years old. His town was under attack by Isis. His five year old brother and his mum also died trying to reach safety. [1]

Yet our Prime Minister has just said ‘we won’t take any more refugees’. [2] He thinks that most of us don’t care.

But 38 Degrees members do care. We don’t want Britain to be the kind of country that turns its back as people drown in their desperation to flee places like Syria.

So let’s stand up for Britain’s long tradition of helping refugees fleeing war. If tens of thousands of us write to our MPs, demanding no more drownings, we can force the government into action.

Please can you email your MP now? It’ll just take a minute but it could be our best chance to force the government to help people fleeing from war and violence. There’s some suggested text to help you write your email if you’re not sure what to say:

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

If MPs hear from lots of their constituents today, they’ll realise that lots of us don’t agree with David Cameron: we want the UK to do its bit to help refugees fleeing war. And if enough MPs start speaking out, Cameron will feel isolated and start to change his tune. Pressure on MPs today could help stop more children drowning as they try to get to safety.

The tide is starting to turn against the government. Some MPs are already starting to call on them to give immediate sanctuary to refugees. [3] Every message we send to an MP today helps pile the pressure on Cameron.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Britain has a long tradition of helping people fleeing war. It’s part of being a civilised country. And 38 Degrees members have a strong record of standing up for a Britain we can all be proud to live in – whether that’s through defending the NHS or our countryside, or by making sure we do our bit to help refugees.

So let’s speak up today and tell David Cameron that we won’t stand by while he lets children drown.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis?js=false&amp;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

 

In hope,

Nat, Laura, David, Amy, Megan and the whole 38 Degrees team

PS. Tonight, 38 Degrees members across the country will be lighting a candle in their window as a sign of remembrance for those who have drowned trying to reach safety. Please join in if you feel moved to.

Many of us are also putting signs that say ‘refugees welcome’ in our windows to show the kind of place we want Britain to be. You can find a ‘refugees welcome’ poster to print and put in your front window here:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/refugees-welcome-poster

Or, if you want to donate money, the British Red Cross is running an emergency fundraising appeal to help victims of the Syrian crisis:

http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Emergency-response/Current-emergency-appeals/Syria-Crisis-Appeal

But first of all, please contact your MP and help build pressure on our government to do the right thing:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-your-MP-refugee-crisis

NOTES

[1] The Independent: Refugee Crisis Aylan’s life was full of fear – in death he is part of humanity washed ashore:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/refugee-crisis-aylans-life-was-full-of-fear–in-death-he-is-part-of-humanity-washed-ashore-10483670.html

[2] BBC News: David Cameron: Taking more and more refugees not answer:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34130067

[3] The Guardian: Migration Crisis: Pressure mounts on David Cameron to relent on taking more refugees:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/03/migration-crisis-pressure-mounts-on-david-cameron-to-relent-on-taking-more-refugees

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