Sunday, 24 June 2018

Healthy Office Pot Luck

Someone at my office had a nice idea of hosting a healthy pot luck lunch.  I am always up for any work social occasion, especially if involves food:

A colleagues made these mini wraps and someone on Instagram has asked for the recipe, I will see if I can get it to share.

I made this salad that I tried at my brother’s house on Eid and loved.  It contains salad greens, cucumber, celery, pine nuts, apple and grapes.  Sounds strange but tasted fab, I will share the recipe including my dressing when I get a moment.

What is your signature dish?  What do you take to a pot luck or one dish? What would your healthy contribution be?

Picture of the Day 15.06.18: Beauty Blogging

I got a bit of a treat on Eid day when a box full of cosmetic and toiletry treats arrived:

These are from Beauty Base and include the new vegan, halal friendly products from W7 for me to try and review.  I have been trying these out with Little Ladies help and will do a full review soon insh’Allah.

Eid-ul-Fitr 2018/1439: Day 2 - Hosting and Visiting

On the second day of Eid I spontaneously decided to host lunch so invited anyone that could get to us in time for lunch.

I wore this outfit, which I found really pretty and which was cool and comfortable with a lovely fit:

The babies wore these rainbow dresses which I picked up for a bargain £13 each at TK Maxx, I loved how pretty these looked on and they looked fab in photo’s too.  Our Eid décor this year was inspired by these.

I ended up making plain pilau rice, lamb curry, chicken curry, roast chicken, seekh kebabs and some shammi kebabs Fashionista’s mother in law had sent us to freeze and use when we want to.

I never got quite as far as making dessert so served up watermelon slices and sweet Pakistani mangoes which went down a treat.

For dinner we were invited to my favourite uncle’s house.  I knew there would be non-mahram’s there, so I switched to this loose abaya-like outfit

We explored my uncles garden – he is an avid gardener and will pick whatever he can lay his hands on and give it to us to take home: cucumbers, tomatoes, greengages, figs, plums, cherries, apples, even green chickpeas one year.

The babies enjoyed playing outside in the twilight.

The food was good and the company interesting, the various uncles and cousins locked horns over Pakistani politics while the ladies rolled their eyes, we ended up staying late into the night chatting and sharing dessert.

I hope your Eid was pleasant and enjoyed with those you love insh’Allah.

You can see more pictures at Shutterbug Sisters blog and Instagram or at Harlequin Sisters blogs here and here and Instagram

Eid-ul-Fitr 2018/1439: Day 1 - Family, Feasting and Fashion

After a Ramadan with long days of fasting, an intense job and hubby being away, I was more than happy not to be hosting Eid lunch for the family.  My mum insisted she would cook for everyone and no one objected.

I still had to cook so that we had something to eat at home: sevaiyah (vermicelli in milk dessert) for breakfast, tandoori chicken legs and channa chaat for guests and lamb curry for dinner.

Not doing a full meal for the whole family meant that we had time to get ready instead of rushing as usual, or worse, me in the kitchen with slippers and an apron over my new clothes while everyone turns up in heels and full makeup.

Hubby bought me something new to wear at the last minute (1am the night before Eid):

It's a lovely grown up shade of dusky pink and looked really elegant with the gharara-style trousers (type of trousers that flares from the knee and looks almost like a skirt when worn).

The babies for the prettiest rose-print dresses that my mum bought for all of the little girls in the family.

As always, the most important thing to the boys was their new socks, Gorgeous has a proclivity for loud socks and calls these his bumble socks.

Dinner at mums was the very flavoursome lamb pilau that gets made for Eid with kofta curry, chicken breast curry, lamb kebabs, tandoori chicken and accompaniments.  Fashionista Sister made us cake for dessert, rich, dark and slightly bitter:

The afternoon was spent opening presents, admiring outfits and pestering little people for photo sessions:

This box of scarf cupcakes was a gift from my aunt, I thought it was a nice little idea, the scarf colours were lovely too:

This ring is from shutterbug sister and is the best present ever: jewellery, green, sparkle, natural motifs, all of my favourite things in one.

I laughed when I saw my dads gifts, everyone seems to have bought him scent, the box on the right is from me

Late afternoon my brother invited us all back to his house for a barbecue.  Sister in law is a fab cook and her mum who made us all lamb pilau is even better.  I liked the way they planned the meal – everyone in her family brought a dish and one person is not lumbered with all the work.  Plus the barbecue meant that the men got off their bottoms and helped out too.  I think I will suggest something like this for next Eid.

The lamb pilau was one of the best I have tasted and so full of taste that it didn’t need anything with it, I added salad because it was a very nice salad, I have recreated at home and will share the recipe soon insh’Allah

It was a very nice Eid alhamdulillah  

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Eid-ul-Fitr 2018/1439: Eid Decor and Crafts

I didn’t even try and be creative, or trendy with this years Eid décor and just went with my favourite theme for Eid: rainbow pastels.  I figured that it’s a summer Eid so I couldn’t go wrong.

As with the Ramadan decorations, Little Lady helped with cutting and assembling what I asked for.  The banners are made with DCWV textured plain coloured card stock with wooden letters on then that we spray painted silver (these are the letters I use and this is the spray paint I prefer).

The framed pictures are with more of the same card stock and smaller spray-painted wooden letters (we used these).  The two frames we created were embellished with a range of adhesive gems from various sources.

The children filled the large plastic drink cups with sweets and wrapped with squares of cellophane cut from a large roll I have, the tops were tied with old loom bands.

The table cloth is a pretty scarf of mine, my dad-in-law saw the display and asked “isn’t that supposed to go on your head?”

Eid-ul-Fitr 2018/1439: Belated Eid Mubarak!

A belated Eid Mubarak everyone.  Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

I hope everyone had a happy, peaceful and blessed Eid insh'Allah full of sweet moments, good food and the company of loved ones.

“Anas ibn Malik reported that in the pre-Islamic period people (in Madinah) people used to celebrate two annual days of festivity. When Prophet (PBUH) came to Madinah he said, “you used to have two days of celebration, Allah (SWT) has replaced them with two better days: the day of Fitr and the day of Adha.” (Nisai’, Sunan al-Kubra’, 1, 542; Sunan al-Sughra 3:199).

The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "The days of (Eid) are days of eating and drinking and of remembering God, the Exalted." ~ Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 2, Number 153

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Picture of the Day 19.05.18: He's Home

My better half came home the night before Eid (Chand raat) after six weeks of doing dawah work in California.  As always there was relief and tears on my part and the sweetness of coming home to your loved ones on his.  But always as always there were the small recriminations tucked away in my heart.  Of being left to deal with it all by myself, of unruly boys and little ones and in-laws to look after.  Of the barbed comments from people about his leaving that I have had to endure so many times. Of feeling like my life is on hold every time he goes away.  Of feeling stronger every time, but resenting having to be so strong.

He dropped off his bags, we broke fast together and then took me shopping at 1am despite my protestations that I have something to wear for Eid.  As it was chand raat the shops were all open and there was a really celebratory vibe everywhere.  I found something I really liked and then he insiste we find a scarf to match it.

We had a beautiful Eid alhamdulilah and as always when he returns, he has been at his kindest and most understanding, waiting for the complaints to subside and helping me as much as he can.  Knowing I am tired, he gently reminds me that he could not do what he does, if we did not do what we do, and what he does is so important to us.

On my part I have to remember the importance of his dawah work, the value of it in the sight of Allah (SWT) and the benefits.  He tells me the people he met in California were soft hearted and listened to him, many were concerned for the iman (faith) and upbringing of their children and were thinking about how they could ensure faith remained a part of their lives.

In any case, I am glad to have him home and I am thinking about how I can reward myself with a break of some kind, if not physical, then mental at least.

Chocs from America, I look forward to taste testing these :)

Monday, 28 May 2018

Risk Assessment for a Nap

I have been managing to keep well through Ramadan and wake for suhoor and then again in the morning for the school run and work, mainly thanks to my daily short nap after I get home for work.  Usually this is about thirty to forty minutes and the kids are allowed internet access to do homework to keep them busy.  I get both of the youngest to lie down with me so that they are not causing havoc and we get some cuddle time (which is as comforting and soothing for me as it is for them).

This week I hosted an iftar for my family and found myself utterly exhausted.  I decided to give myself the luxury of a longer afternoon sleep.  Usually this means I have to carry out a little cost-benefit analysis of whether the potential mischief that will happen will I am unconscious and the work that it will create afterwards, is worth the bit of extra sleep and rest.  Yesterday I came to the conclusion I was tired enough and had earned it to the risk.  A very nice sleep it was too, despite the heat.

I woke to find the cost of my little nap:
The front door was open
Darling had decided to hold onto the washing while she used her brothers skateboard and broke the washing line – with the slightly damp washing still on it
Dad-in-law had ended up on Netflix log in page and was looking at the screen wondering where he was (I suspect the kids were trying to find a way to get in)
The sink was full of dishes and the kitchen counter full of bread crumbs and chocolate spread smears (Darling again)

I think the kids were shocked that I hadn’t lost my temper at them.  It’s a wonder what a good nap can do for your mood.

Explaining Niqab Badly

I have to say that I have heard some pretty awful explanations of hijab and niqab in the past, including by the Muslim women that wear them.  I especially cringe when words like rape figure in any such conversation.

I think part of the problem is that sometimes people are not good at articulating themselves or feel uncomfortable discussing this type of topic.  Other times, I think people have a clear thinking about hijab but are taken by surprise by a question and don’t quite have a short, clear “elevator pitch” ready and explain it badly or say the wrong thing.

I found myself in an interesting situation a few weeks back during some Unconscious Bias training at work.  One of the sections of the training analysed different religions and their approach to diet, dress and prayer.  The trainer mentioned that Muslim women wear a hijab and a thing on their face called a…hijab?  I told the trainer it was called a niqab.

At this point someone asked why women wore it. I remember the tone of the question rather than the question itself.  The whole training had been not good enough in my view, so this was one more thing that got me going.  I explained the difference between hijab and niqab and acknowledged that it was an emotive subject for people.  I also explained that it wasn’t about hiding away, protecting yourself from assault or being better than anyone else.  It was about your relationship with your Creator and about your interpretation of a command to be modest and present yourself to the world in a way that you are judged on your good deeds and good character and not your face or body.  I explained that there was a multiplicity of ways Muslim women interpreted the injunction and wore hijab and that what was really important was talking to them to understand why rather than assume why.

I think I probably went on a bit too long and slightly embarrassed myself.  But as I said to someone at a Diversity workshop in the city recently: I have held my tongue too often and that means that young women that will follow me will have to deal with the same ignorance I have.  I have never actually held my tongue before and will talk your ears off at any opportunity that Islam is mentioned, but it sounded more dramatic 😊

Perhaps the answer is to have a clear elevator pitch (a concise, clear explanation) about why you wear hijab or niqab and share it with others. It doesn’t have to be a “right answer” but just one that is true to you.  Certainly, I think niqab is misunderstood and wrongly maligned, I feel very protective of my niqab-wearing sisters because quiet a number of my friends wear it and I get an insight into what amazing, beautiful people they are, but also how much abuse they face because of it.  In any case, I love it when people ask questions because I feel it’s a million times better to ask a question and expand your thinking than to make your mind up and refuse to consider a different person’s position.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Picture of the Day 19.05.18: Soul Food Iftar

We wait all year for my mum’s amazing iftar food, especially her soft, over-stuffed samosa’s.  The minute the hot pot opens there is a mad grab and she has to intervene and portion out the food, adding more after everyone has said enough.

I was going to call this post Healthy Soul Food Iftar as a joke, then thought better of it.  I don’t want to wrongly direct people to this post when they are looking for healthy options for iftar.  Clearly mum's iftar is amazingly yum, but anything other than healthy.

Ramadan Work Panel

I am sure I am not the only working Muslim that gets asked lots of questions about fasting as Ramadan approaches:
Why do you fast?
Can you not eat anything?
Not even drink water?
How many hours?!?

So this year I organised a staff questions and answer session open to everyone in my organisation to ask us questions about Ramadan.  I left a notice in the prayer room asking for panel members with different experiences of Ramadan – fasting, not fasting, can’t fast and spoke to the Muslims I knew.  Alhamdulillah I got a good response and ended up with a large panel.

On the day of the staff panel, the turn out included staff, managers and directors.  There were some really sensible questions:
How can we support you in the workplace?
Do you mind us eating in front of you?
Is it ok to offer Muslim clients water?
Is it wrong to book client appeals on Eid day?

I typed up all of the questions and shared them on the company message boards for people who couldn’t attend.  It was a lot of fun and a really nice chance to network with people.

Baby Iftar and Granddad Intervention

We had a bright idea on the first day of Ramadan of giving the babies an early iftar of their own and sending them to bed.  The rest of us could then eat in peace and I wouldn’t have two people hanging off me and harassing me through dinner after a long day of fasting.

We set them out a portion of our food and got them excited about their little picnic iftar.

Alhamdulillah it worked a treat and they went to bed happy.  Except they came back down at iftar time and caught us having our own “picnic”.  There was a lot of angry protestation, but everyone was quite firm that they must go back to bed.  If we had stuck to this then we would have been sorted for the rest of the month.  But everyone didn’t include dad-in-law who kept telling us to let them stay and that iftar was joyless without children.  The babies were marched back to bed and told to stay there.  Dad-in-law then proceeded to stand in their room looking sad and saying “poor girls”.

The next day we just let them stay and they have been joining us for iftar ever since.

Eating her grandfather’s pani puri.