Monday, 20 August 2018

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Eid Mubarak!

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

I hope this Eid is a peaceful and joyful one for all of you, full of good food, good company and good deeds insh’Allah. 

Hajj Mubarak to those lucky enough to be invited by Allah (SWT) to His sacred house this year.  I hope your dua's are accepted and that you attain a complete and accepted hajj insh'Allah.  May Allah (SWT) give us the opportunity to visit his house again and again also insh'Allah.  

“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

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Product Review: Himalaya Herbals at Beauty Base

The nice people at online beauty retailers Beauty Base recently sent me some products to try out, a new range called W7 Very Vegan (review to follow) and some items from the Himalaya Herbals range that they stock.

I am a big fan of aloe vera and use it in gel form on y face every day, so I was happy to try the Himalaya Moisturizing Aloe Vera Face Wash.  I found it had a really pleasant, light scent and bubbled into a gentle lather.  I found the face wash to be gentle and it didn’t strip moisture from my skin.  This formula is a bit lighter than the more heavy duty face washes I tend to go for, but a good enough daily face wash for those who want to treat their skin with some gentleness.

I have to say I was intrigued by the Himalaya Tan Removal Peel-Off Orange Mask.  On principle I believe in embracing my tan/deeper colouring and encouraging others to do the same.  Little Lady didn’t have the same qualms and helped herself to the mask one day after walking home from school on a particularly hot day.  The mask applies easily and dries to a thin film that can be peeled off easily.  It has a nice citrus scent.  But more to the point, I was shocked to find it actually worked.  It seemed to remove some of LL’s tan on using it.  I wasn’t expecting such a visible result at all, but it seemed to work for her.

I tend to go for whitening toothpastes or miswak (tooth stick), so the Himalaya Complete Care Toothpaste was a bit different to what I am used to.  It is not minty, which is unusual for a toothpaste in itself, but it seemed to leave my mouth clean in enough.  I am undecided on this one so far.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost to me for the purpose of testing it for review. The opinions expressed here are my own and from my own honest experience of using the product.

Pakistan Independence Day 2018

The Pakistani Independence Day celebrations will be going on late into the night outside my house with hundreds of people thronging onto the main road, music, flags, traffic jams, fireworks and a smoke machine billowing green smoke of all things.  It’s not often the women and kids get a chance to be out late at night, so they are making the most of it.

Alhamdulillah, what a year for Pakistan.  As the celebrations go on late into the night outside my house, I am reflecting on how high spirits seem to be this year both here and in Pakistan.  Following elections and the change of government, there seems to be such a pervasive sense of hope.  I pray that the prosperity and safety that people hope for comes to Pakistan after so many challenging years insh'Allah.

If you need a reminder of some of the pain and sacrifice this country was built on, you can read a heart stopping account here on HeenaBukhari’s Instagram (thank you to Harlequin for showing me this).

Hajj 2018/1439: The Blessed Days of Hajj

Subhan'Allah, the month of Dhul-Hajj is upon us:

Rasulullah (sallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “On no days is the worship of Allah desired more than in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the ibaadat (worship) of each of these nights is equal to the ibaadat of laylatul qadr.” (Hadith Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah)

I keep reading and re-reading hadith above to motivate myself to step up the quality of my worship in the coming days and I pray that we are able to appreciate how special it is and try and get the most reward out of it.

I have written about the significant rewards and benefits of these first ten days of hajj before, some of these posts are listed below:

My Ramadan and Eid Planner 2018/1439 also has a section called The First Ten Days of Hajj and Ten Days to Eid-ul-Adha which covers Udhiyya (Qurbani or sacrifice), some resources to learn more and the sunnan (prophetic traditions) which relate to Eid-ul-Adha.

You can also read my hajj diary from 2005 here:

Alhamdulillah brings back so many beautiful memories.

I hope that you are all able to make the most of these special days and that Allah (SWT) gives you the opportunity to earn great reward and feel spiritually uplifted and closer to both Him (SWT) and our brothers and sisters during this time of worship and community insh'Allah.

Ibn 'Abbas (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." ~ Bukhari

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained how, “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Hadith Ahmad, 7/224].

Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) said, "There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of Arafah.'' [Muslim].

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Afternoon in Barking Park: Splash Park and Peddle Boats

There are some beautiful parks not too far from us (ValentinesPark being one of the best), but those that are nearer are unfortunately generally either a little grotty or feel slightly unsafe. Barking Park is one we have taken the kids to on a rare occasion, but doesn’t stand out as somewhere we would go to specially. Recently Fashionista Sister came to stay in London with her lovely little girl and suggested we take them all to the Splash Park in Barking Park. I had never heard of such a thing, so had to look it up and it looked fun. I happened to buy the girls UVA protection suits and aqua shoes recently (£3.99 and £2.99 from Lidl respectively) as we are going to Bournemouth soon insha’Allah, so these came in handy.

I sent the girls ahead to the Splash Park with their aunt and took the boys and their grandfather to check out the pedal boats on the boating lake which seem to be new. As with everything when you want to have a nice day out, they were a bit on the pricey side - £10 for 15 minutes. We let the boys pedal and dad-in-law and I chilled and slowly roasted in the glare of the hot sun. It was a very pleasant 15 minutes and it was nice to see the lake from a different perspective.

Afterwards I headed to the Splash Park feeling a little confused, you have to pay to go in (even if you are standing at the side to watch your kids) and you have to have swim wear to go near the water. Gorgeous brought his UV top and his swimming shorts, but Little Man decided he wasn’t interested (until we got there and he changed his mind). In addition, I could see into the Splash Park area and see lots of people sun bathing in bikini’s, I didn’t really think it was appropriate for either the boys or for their grandfather. I was still trying to work out what to do, when my sisters and sister-in-law exited with the troupe of wet little girls much to my relief.

The kids wanted ice cream and we wanted to get out of the sun, so we headed for the new cafĂ© that has just opened in the park. This tuned out to be a lovely little treat – clean, a nice menu, friendly staff, space and toys for the little ones to play and…a book swap area! We ordered slushes and ice cream and chatted and browsed books just long enough for the sun to lose its edge a little and us to go home. Now I really, really, want somewhere to go and swap books.

Bowling Babies

One of my sisters (or sister-in-law) had a brainwave for us all to go bowling together. This isn’t something we have done as a family, the last time I went was when my high school took me. I was more than up for it and we decided to make a day of it with lunch afterwards and afternoon in the park.

My sister-in-law booked us a game at Hollywood Bowl in Dagenham and was kind enough to treat everyone by paying for it as well. We rocked up and took two lanes – one for the babies and me to supervise them and one for everyone else, i.e. the serious players.

The babies had a great time climbing all over the ball machine, dragging heavy balls over and rolling them down the helping frame and generally causing havoc running around and hugging the sweet machines.

I didn’t expect very much but I scored two strikes and some high scores and the babies had the buffer and frame to help them, so we ended up scoring much higher than the “serious” team, much to their annoyance.

On our way out, I tried to get the kids past the arcade machines and through the door as quickly as I could but failed completely. There is something about shiny, noisy games and young boys, that fast exit just wasn’t going to happen. The boys and their dad hopped onto a motorbike game. Seeing as we were not going anywhere soon, Little Lady and I decided to play the Jurassic Park, dinosaur shoot-em-up until they were ready to leave.

Capel Manor Gardens - Summer Blooms

One of the reasons I wanted to come back to Capel Manor Gardens again after my visit last year, was that last time round we visited in October, when the weather was already cooling down and the best of the blooms had already gone.  We were surprised to find so much still blooming then, but I was keen to see how much lovelier the place might be in summer. We weren’t disappointed, there were some really beautiful flowers and a few unusual ones. 

I thought the colour of this rose was so intense and captivating, there is something quite uplifting about this shade of orange 

I often see poppies in colours other than red, but I don’t think I have seen this streaked variety before.

This rose is called Nostalgia and gets my vote for the most beautiful flower I saw that day:

Friday, 10 August 2018

Capel Manor Gardens - Summer Visit

I have been trying to keep the kids busy during the summer holidays and returning to Capel Manor Gardens was an easy option for us. We visited last year and it was not too far way (all five of my children get car sick), entry was very reasonably priced considering we are a big family and there was lots to see and do.

The place is a mix of formal gardens, green spaces, wooded area and gardens where students of the attached college try out their design ideas and grow plants.  Some of the special features include a maze, faith gardens, lake and Japanese-style garden

The wooded area is one of our favourites, with lots of sculptures and structures to explore and a fallen tree to climb.

The children’s favourite features were the maze and the animals, especially some of the are ones: the Patagonian Mara and the wallaby.

We happened to be at Capel Manor during a fuchsia show.  There were some beautiful entries and some lovely colour combinations.  We only managed to catch the tail end of it and didn’t get any pictures, except for this one of the winning flowers.  

A really nice, easy-going day out for a family, if you haven’t been, I would recommend a visit.