Friday, 30 October 2009

Sweets and Friendship

This week was the last week for one of my colleagues who has also become my friend. I sit next to H every morning (we both get in super-early), I give her advice and she lets me bask in her coolness and feel cool by association. She welcomed me to the team when I was new and always makes me feel good about myself. She is moving to another team, which is only on the other side of the building, but everyone decided to amke a fuss anyway.

She loves coconut, so I made her coconut macaroons and bought her some jalebi which is another one of her faves.

The bags I used for the macaroons were the cellophane bags used to package cards, but a larger size than I usually need. I tied them with rubber bands which I covered with ribbon. The orange and pink ribbon was then used to co-ordinate everything.

She liked her gifts, although she complained I was making her fat (which she is not, but being a girl she won't believe me) and we had a lovely last day stuffing ourselves silly with chocolates. We almost made her cry with her leaving gifts (the office bought her a studded clutch and leather gloves) but she managed to stop herself when we started making fun of her. I suppose I will just have to go visit her at the other end of the building on Monday, catch up for breakfast on Tuesday...

Birthday Cards

As it was both my brother's and sisters birthdays this week, my mum asked me to make them some cards.

The rainbow ribbon and glittery blue lettering for this one was sent by iMuslimah, the racing car embellishemnt is from K & Company.

The paper for this card is from DCWV Spring 2009 Cardstack and the lettering (same as the numbering in the first card) I ordered from Etsy which is my latest place to browse for cheap supplies.

Fashionista Sister did say she liked her card. I also made two more (one similar to the girly one above for a work colleague but forgot to take pictures.
Another colleague asked me to make one for her sisters baby shower, so I will have a go this weekend.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2009

As it was the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month for this year, my office decided to allow people to wear pink if they donate £2. I found a silk pink scarf that Kooky Little Sis had given me to wear with a brooch that Long Suffering Sister had given me.

We were also encouraged to bring in baked goods to sell, so I made some cupcakes which went down well (I only remembered to take a picture after I had cling-filmed the cakes). It was nice to see everyone in pink (even many of the guys) and everyone was in an upbeat mood.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Children and Dealing with Prejudice

My daughter said something a few days ago that stopped me in my tracks. We were out walking after dinner when we walked past a group of Roma standing in the street. As we passed them Little Lady held her nose and then let out a breath saying, “Phew, good job those smelly gypsies are left behind”. I was tempted to start telling her off. I hate racism, it is un-Islamic and inhumane in every way and makes my blood boil. Then I had to stop and consider that children are not born racist, they pick up their attitudes from those around them.

I am very aware of people from ethnic minority communities in this country being very vocal in their criticism and prejudices against the Roma. Every time someone opens their mouth to dismiss them, it makes me wonder why they cannot see the parallels between how they treat this new community in our midst and their own experience of coming to this country.

I accept that the way they live is different to what we are used to, but the way we live is in some ways different to what people were used to when we first came here. That’s not to say that whatever a person does we turn a blind eye, but Muslims and people from minority ethnic groups might have a got a grasp by now of how it feels when someone with the same background as you does something wrong and you are faced with the injustice of the whole community being tarred with the same brush.

In the end I explained to my daughter that when her beautiful, elegant grandmother first came to this country, she had to put up with people telling her that her clothes were funny, that they and their food smelled funny and that they should go home. I tried to give her an idea of how they were paid less for doing the same jobs as others and how often they had to do the worst kinds of jobs and live in not very nice homes with not much space. That now that the Roma are coming here, they are in a similar position and that she needs to consider if she wants to become like the people who were not very nice to her grandparents.

This is not the first time I have had to discuss matters relating to race with her, I remember when she had questions about darker skin and hair, but it was the first time I have heard her say something so overtly racist. I hope I have made her think and re-consider, because hating someone because of their ethnicity or background not only makes us incapable of being a fair and just individual, but also shuts you off from a world of culture and experience which would bring so much colour and learning into your life.

BTW - If you would like to learn more about prejudice towards Roma, a good blog I read sometime is Pesha's Blog.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Keepsake Boxes

I finally got some time this morning to sort through my children's baby things I had saved as keepsakes. I only had the boxes below for now which are roomy but not very strong. Hopefully at some point I will get my hands on small wooden chests which I can decorate (butterflies and flowers for Little Lady, motorbikes for Little Man and maybe clubs for my little caveman).

We had so much fun looking through old things, the kids wanted to play with their baby toys again.

I have kept their baby announcement cards, greeting cards, school books and first toys. Even the crib card and bracelets from the hospital.

The yellow going-out outfit was from mum and the vest is absolutely tiny. I also kept each child's first pair of jeans. My mum bought the little trainers too and the trainer socks are so small, about one and a half inches long.

This is Little Lady's first party dress which I bought before she was born.

This is her first little kurta which she wore with jeans when i took her to visit my office before returning after maternity leave. The pink slippers are from her first trip to Pakistan and the black and white bangles are smaller versions of ones I had.

This outfit was for her second Eid (she was born a few days before her first Eid) and was sent by her Grandmother in Pakistan. I thought it was beautiful and a bit crazy to have so much delicate work on an outfit for a toddler, she did look gorgeous in it though.

With Little Man I had less things because I had a big bag with the newspapers from the day of his birth, his first clothes and all of his cards and hopital bits that I remember stashing behind a sofa never to see again much to my consternation.

The All-Star tee was from Kooks and the red tracksuit from my brother. We laughed every time he wore it and thought he looked hilarious, until Kooky photoshopped a picture of him wearing it by adding a big gold chain and a music system in the background.

I managed to find one of his announcement cards though and keep that. They were sent to friends and family with boxes of Indian sweets.

I came home from work one day to find Little Man wearing this claret and blue West Ham united strip. Most of my family support West Ham and a cousin had come round with the outfit for my husband to change him into. He may not support the Hammers when he is grown, but I am never going to let him live this one down. The white top is his first kurta and the green t-shirt was from Kooks, it says cutie pie on the front and has his name emblazoned on the back (she did the printing herself which was very sweet).

I still had Gorgeous' cards (the one on the front is from Long-Suffering Sister and has a real mini knitted sweater and is my favourite). The black beaded bracelets were from Pakistan. A cousin sent them because in Pakistan it is believed they help to protect from "nazar" or the evil eye.

Baby's jeans and jumper outfit is my fave, but like most of his clothes, he hardly got to wear them because he was such a big baby (9.2 lb). The vest was newborn size and fitted for about a week. The red and white outfit is the England strip from the time.

I had forgotten all about this. I can't even remember where it came from, a mini dishdasha. The slippers were from my mum and looked hilarious over his socks.

I am going to pack these up and stick them on top of a cupboard to add to now and again. Insh'Allah they will make nice gifts to bring out when my little ones get married one day or have little ones of their own.

Kidding Around

Hubby was away for the weekend and it usually falls to him to keep an eye on the kids whilst I catch up with my sleep on a Saturday morning. Without him to supervise, I asked the kids to keep the noise down and I'll be up in half an hour. That was at 8am, the next time the clock swam into vision, it was 11.45, I couldn't believe I had slept through the morning. I jumped out of bed to find the kids watching cartoons on the computer (I have just put the password back on) and eating custard creams.

I did feel very guilty, then decided not to feel guilty but to make sure they enjoy the rest of the day. We went on what felt like an epic shopping trip (supermarket at one end of town, butchers at the other and grocer somewhere in the middle). I usually don't like dragging kids around the shops, but the mention of a trip on the bus is enough to keep everyone happy.

On getting back I asked them what they would like to eat and got a request for pasta from Little Lady and rice and chicken from the boys. This gets made a bit too often in our house, but no-one seems to get bored of it.

The kids had homework for the half-term break and I thought perhaps this time we might not leave it till the day before going back (I want them to do well in class, but I do think half-term is for catching up on playing and not work). Baby insisted that he didn't want to colour and wanted one of Little man's exercise books too.

As a treat I made them fruit salad with the fruite of their choice.

A long bath, a flooded bathrom and an early night followed (they'll run upstairs if I let them sleep in my bed), leaving me time to make a few cards (pics to follow) and enjoy my chocolate-covered peanuts in peace.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Taking it easy

Getting picked up from work by the hubby.
Getting a burger on the way home.
Having left overs for dinner
Taking the kids for a walk.
Ice-cream at the new parlour.
Exhausted kids falling into bed.
A quite night with a good book.
Knowing I have tomorrow off from work.

I need that kind of an evening every now and again.

image source

Breast Cancer Awareness Coffe Morning.

Yesterday saw my office raising funds for Breast Cancer Awareness month with a coffee morning and book sale. I decided to don pink hijab as I do every year and turned up to work to find everyone else had forgotten.

A colleague bought me a pink cupcake and we had a look around the table full of books people had brought in. All of the books that looked interesting I had read (A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Brick Lane by Monica Ali). The Chief Executive sneaked up behind us and asked me if I had seen anything I liked, I replied "No, I should have come here earlier" and ran off much to my colleagues amusement.

One of my colleagues reccommended the two Jodi Picoult books, I have never read anything by her, so am curious. Accordian Crimes by Annie Proulx I have read before and enjoyed so thought I would re-read and pass on.

P.S. Don't forget Pink Hijab Day next week on the 28th October 2009 which raises funds for breast cancer research.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Happy In Purple With Odd Shoes.

I decided to wear something nice to work today and felt rather elegant in my plain purple abayah, the nice two-tone scarf Kooky gave me and some pink diamante bangles.

It was only when it got to mid-day and I took my shoes off to make wudhu (ablutions for prayer) that I realised I was wearing two different shoes.

I just did a double take, I couldn't believe I had done it.

Surprisingly no-one noticed all day, I showed one colleague and she commented that once someone sees my hijab, they don't even notice my feet, I wasn't sure what to make of that. I think it helped that my abayah was so long.

Anyway, it was a good day at work. I bumped into another lady who used to manage me who moved to the Children's service. She told me that there was a job coming up in her team that she would like me to go for when she submitted the post to HR to advertise. It's a higher post by about three grades from where I am, so that was a nice thought.

Aside from that I spent the day helping another team to survey residents to ask about the quality of our services. I expected lots of abuse, but actually got to speak to ALL sorts of people, most of whom were very nice.

I came home in a good mood with the intention of getting lots done: cooking, Arabic with Little Lady followed by selling practice, blogging, catching up with e-mails, a lovely conversation with Sis Rainbow which just made my day and . Now for that pile of laundry, or maybe not... maybe the last of that milk chocolate bar and my book beckon (A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle). In any case, I will certainly be checking my shoes at the door before I leave the house from now on.

Busy Sunday

A very nice colleague at work who gives me occassional advice about gardening, suggested I get the tomatoes in as the frost will spoil them as the weather gets colder. I got the kids to pick what they could find, the half shown below went to my mum who likes to freeze them whilst still green and use them in veg curries (although someone has suggested they are good with lamb too). The other half went into the fruit bowl with the banana's as this turns them red.

I also decided I could no longer get away with ignoring the garden which despite my regular attempts to create some order has turned into a junk yard again.

Mash'Allah the soil in the garden is so rich that left to it's own devices, everything grows like crazy all over each other.

I put the boys both down for a nap and took up Little Ladies offer of assistance.

We cleared out the beds, although there is still work to be done, they are almost clear enough to be dug up and left ready for next spring, although I am debating putting in one or two winter crops.

I cleared the weeds out of the pots, ready for next summers displays.

Though it was nice to still have some flowers left to brighten the garden up.

Some of the peper plants still seem to be yeilding the goods too, including the birds-eye chilli plant.

I'm just pleased that there is a clear space for the kids to play now even though there is still lots to do - get the grass out from between the tiles, weed the beds properly etc. In all we managed to fill seven refuse bags full of garden waste and dumped rubbish. I just have to convince the other half to get rid of the door, door frame, exercise bench and various other junk he likes to collect and store in my little garden.

That done, there was still the laundry to ignore for the time being (three lots washed and needing folding, one out to dry and another two sitting in piles in my bedroom seemingly growing by the minute), but at least I had help with the cooking:

(Gorgeous running off with the ingredients)

The kids ask for rice every time I ask what they would like for dinner.

I finally got some time to wind down with my bead box and some beads for sorting.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Cards: Blooms and Butterflies

I haven't been near ny card-making stuff since before Eid, so I thought I would tidy my things up to get back in the mood.

I came across a few cards I had made before Eid from bits and peices.