Thursday, 30 July 2009
I was entirely stumped. I had heard about nothing like this. In England we have quite dramatic differences in the length of the day between summer and winter. From 8am to 4pm in winter and from 4am to 10pm in the summer. When I was a little girl I remember the fasts opened after my bedtime and it was very much an accepted fact for me that those long fasts would come round again as an adult. I felt that we were very lucky that we got the short winter fasts during our formative years, so that we could handle better the longer fasts of summer.
Our weather is also quite mild, mixing sunny days (maxing at 30C) with rain showers. When I think of my family in Pakistan fasting in temperatures of up to 45C and not being able to drink water, it puts the whole issue into a different perspective.
I believe that when we fast to please Allah (SWT), he makes it bearable for us. I am thinking of fasting in Ramadan and how easy it is and then how hard it is after Ramadan. I don't think He asks of us more than we can bear. I’m going to aim to do the long hours and with the relish and pleasure that self-denial brings in this time of over-consumption we live in (and if I lose my post-baby fat in the process, I won’t complain at all).
Sunday, 26 July 2009
So I thought it would be nice to celebrate my brother-in-laws graduation from his MBA course and decided to throw a barbeque. I reminded my husband last week to buy a barbeque, then again six days ago, then again fice days ago...you get the picture. This afternoon he turned up with one at last, just when I thought I'd have to put everything on the cooker grill.
I marinated the lamb chops (recipe to follow) and chicken tikka pieces (using this recipe) the (mid)night before, and also prepared the mince for seekh kebabs (using the same recipe as for these).
The bunting I made earlier in the week came in useful again.
Neither I nor my husband were expecting the food to turn out that well. It was my first attempt at many of the things and also we assumed this whole barbeque thing would take practice (some burnt, some raw in the middle). Surprisingly though, everything tasted good.
This was the first time I had tried making naan (I used this recipe), and the turned out okay.
Ended up with a good meal overall, which we shared with my parents and sisters.
I tried to order a fresh cream cake and left it too late, so cheated by buying a tray bake cake and writing on it with icing pens.
Mum saved the day though, by turning up with a proper cake. Of course, the barbeque took a traditional English turn when it drizzled on us through most of the afternoon.
My favourite were the sweetcorn, which we left at the end, whilst we ate, to slow cook. They were delicious and I cleared up and waited for everyone to go in before sneaking back out with my sweetcorn to sit on my little bench in the rain and savour it. I managed three before my mother-in-law warned me to stop or I'd get stomach-ache.
I found myself something nice to wear (to go with the nice olive Indian slippers I borrowed from Long-Suffering Sister about two years ago)
and headed over to my mum's, whose garden seemed the perfect place to play at parties.
The banner I made the day(s) before got put to use:
Fashionista made sure there were plenty of sweets...
...which the kids totally overdosed on:
Between us, we managed to lay out a good spread (the chickpea salad was mine):
Saturday, 25 July 2009
I printed the letters off of the computer in colour, cut them out and glittered them with glitter pens spread out with a paintbrush.
Any idea what they spell?
I cut out triangles in different patterned cardstock t contrast with the colours of th eletters and pasted the letters down.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Most people apply this to their career or life-goals and I had thought about this, but then came to the conclusion that the area that really needs the most work is my faith.
A long period of illness earlier in the year has meant that I had dropped the habits of reading from the Quran or of trying to read any Islamic books and have only been praying the basic fard (obligatory) prayers. I don’t think I have lost my iman (faith), in fact I feel like Allah’s (SWT) promise of ease after difficulty has been proven more than ever for me. However, I also feel that it is the nafl (non-obligatory) prayers and actions that strengthen our iman and help it to grow, perhaps because they are over and above what we have to do. I also feel like omitting these things had made a difference in other ways – forgetting to say a prayer before I leave the house or when putting the kids to bed, something I would never have done before.
With this in mind, I wanted to see what changes I could make, perhaps read a little Quran in the morning, or after esha prayer, perhaps read the nafl prayer after maghrib (evening prayer), maybe start learning some new dua’s or memorising parts of the Quran my dad taught me as a child and I have forgotten since. Looking at the matter this way has made me realise that faith isn’t something that you are either blessed with or not, but something you have to ask Allah for and work hard on.
Another suggestion I found was on this post on 100 lists which basically states that you should take a topic or problem and then lists 100 answers or solutions to it. The first thirty are supposed to be easy, the next 40 is where your subconscious mind becomes engaged and some more abstract solutions start coming through and the last thirty on the list is where the gems are supposed to be and where the possibility of a shift in perspective exists. I might just give this a go with “How Can I be a Better Muslimah” as the heading.
What suggestions can sisters out there give me to increase my iman and taqwa (god-consciousnes)?
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) related from Allah Most High that He said “… And my servant continues to draw closer to me by voluntary actions until I love him…” [Bukhari]
Thursday, 23 July 2009
We had to wander through Surrey University’s maze of a campus to get to the Cathedral which suddenly appeared looming over us at the top of a hill. The campus is one of the most pleasant I have seen with absolutely lovely accommodation for the students - it felt like walking through a student village.
The cathedral was rather gothic, even without a spire and the surrounding area was lush and green. The ceremony began with rather deafening and tuneless organ music which suddenly gave way to the tune of Sting’s Fields of Gold. All of the deans of the college then walked up in a column two-wide, looking as if this was no big deal and they did it all the time (probably do), except one very old, hunched-over man who walked along scowling with what looked like a sceptre in his hand.
As the deans approached I am sure the organ music switched to the Superman theme tune, Fash says she heard it too, so I am not going crazy, before going back to its mournful dirge. The Chancellor was introduced as veteran BBC reporter John Simpson (the one that was sneaking round Afghanistan in a burka ) and the nasheed artist Sami Yusuf was awarded a Doctorate of Letters which he followed by a speech. He was very shy, but his speech was very inspirational, focussing on having the courage to follow your dreams (most of the audience were English so had never heard of him before).
John Simpson handed Fashionista her degree and I totally missed the photo opportunity, but got lots of pictures of her with her friends with their mortar-boards in the air. The university put on a lovely reception after the graduation with not much to eat or drink, but a very lovely atmosphere, one of the graduates’ wives commented that it all reminded her of the film Dead Poets Society (which I have never seen), it did look very like an English wedding though with the marquee on the lawn and everyone dressed up.
By the time we got home it was seven pm (we’d left at 11am), so we were exhausted, but it was a lovely day. I loved the pomp and ceremony and formality of the whole event and the surroundings were very pretty.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
I made the scroll on the card above by rolling up some textured paper and tying a small piece of ribbon around it.
This scroll was made in the same way as above.
The paper with the lettering used in some of these cards was from a Christmas papers cardstack that I somehow ended up with.
This last one I sent to my sister-in-law in Pakistan who just graduated, studying whilst she was pregannat mash'Allah. The others will come in useful for my brother-in-law who lives with me and just completed his MBA an Fashionista Sister who is now a teacher lady mash'Allah.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Alhamsulillah, I am reassured by the knowledge that Allah tests who he wills and keeps safe who he chooses and nothing we do will make any difference to what he has decreed. In the last few days I have been getting sent an e-mail with the following dua which I hope will be of comfort and use to others as it has been to me:
The Dua of Rasoolullah (PBUH):
اَللّهُمَّ إِنِّيْ أَعُوْذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْجُنُوْنِ وَالْجُذَامِ وَالْبَرَصِ وَسَيِّئِ الْأَسْقَامِ (رواه النسائي
'Allahumma inni aa-oothu bika minal junooni wal juthaami wal barasi wa say'y i-il asqaam.'
'O Allah I seek your refuge from insanity, mutilation, leprosy and from all serious illnesses .' (Nasai Shareef)
I try to ensure that my main focus is on improving my faith and working on my book of good deeds (insh’Allah), but food is also a focus. Planning food preparation beforehand also means that I get more time to do the things I would like to during Ramadan. One rule of thumb I have is to keep it simple – fruit, dates and a simple meal, when it is just us and something a bit more special if the in-laws are staying. This is because I can be a dictator regarding my own and my husband’s diet, but don’t feel it is fair if I decide what everyone else can eat. Guests for iftar also get the special food.
At the moment my mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law will be here for most of Ramadan, so I am trying to cook in bulk and freeze. This Sunday was spent making chicken spring rolls (I used this recipe for the filling) I did attempt one samosa, but it was very clear that nice neat little triangles weren’t going to happen (despite watching this excellent tutorial). I intend to wait until my mum makes hers (which are perfect of course) and then sit and copy her.
I will be attempting other recipes in the run-up to Ramadan and posting any that are decent. More than this I hope to find some motivation and inspiration to really improve my iman (faith) insh’Allah, get my children excited about Ramadan and make the most of this sacred month.
I can’t wait to see what other sister’s post about relating to this and would love to learn from sisters in the comments about what their goals for Ramadan will be and how they will achieve them.
I have been lucky in that my youngest child, Gorgeous, was a very good baby. He was the model of patience through my little dose of baby blues and mash’Allah he is a happy, cheerful little boy who loves to laugh, even when no-one is sure why, even when he’s fast asleep.
He seems to be making up for all his past patience though with a vengeance, or maybe he’s just training for his career as a daredevil? He particularly enjoys throwing himself downstairs if he sees someone coming up towards him, assuming completely that they will catch him. He scared the wits out of Fashionista Sister once, when he jumped from the top of the stairs as she was half way up. She just caught him and handed him over to me looking shocked saying “your kid is so thick!!”
His other past-times include poking his fingers into running fans despite our pleading with him not to and touching hot things like irons and the tawa (flat chapatti pan). Most kids will have a go at this at some point, but he seems not to learn and so does it again if your not watching him like a hawk. He recently hid the firelighters (for lighting the oven – our cookers ignition button doesn’t work) and refused to tell us where until the next day when we asked for them to warm his milk. He promptly opened the washing machines door and pulled them out. The same week he waited till I had to visit the loo and then stuck a firelighter into the fire under the saucepan and burnt the end off. He was copying what he thought we did and it was a lesson to me to switch everything off at the plug and then lock the kitchen doors and windows if I ever want to visit the bathroom again.
His latest little game is refusing to sleep. Although the older two children have been shipped out (and share a room with their grandmother), Gorgeous is still sleeping in our room. So I put him to bed at 8.30 and he runs off, I try again and go downstairs and can hear him running around upstairs again, climbing onto the top bunk of Little Lady’s bed and sneaking downstairs to see what I am doing. This goes on until about 11.30 when he either falls asleep on the sofa or tells me he’s tired, gets into his little bed (which he has broken the safety guard off) and asks for his blanket. Every time I try to tell him off he laughs, which just makes me melt.
Friday, 17 July 2009
I bought these pashmina’s yesterday in Wallis, they are linen mix, so good for summer and they were reduced from £18 to £5 (although the website is still showing £7). I wore the beige one today with chocolate brown abaya and pumps. The pink and blue will go to my sister-in-law in Pakistan as part of her graduation gift. (BTW – does anyone have any good ideas for graduation presents for both boys and girls?)
Thursday, 16 July 2009
The lady who asked for the card chose this one:
This was my favourite: