Sunday 27 June 2010

More Ramadan and June Cards

English Summer Weekend

This weekend was a scorcher by English standards (30°C) after the wet spring we have had, so we decided to make the most of it.

I usually avoid going out in the evenings with friends as it takes even more time away from the children and I fret about missing prayers. But with the long days and encouragement from mum-in-law I managed to get out on Friday night for a Thai meal with some very funny ladies and have a good laugh.

Saturday was Ladies Day in aid of Algerian Action and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I met bloggers Sister Rainbow, Emma, Umm Imran and Ammena at the event, much to my delight and enjoyed browsing through lots of eye-candy.

Little Lady got her henna done...

...and we ate lots of yummy food:

Sunday, myself and hubby headed off into the countryside at dawn whilst the kids were still asleep with their gran to watch over them. We came back with lots of fruit, some card-making books, a tan and probably mild sunstroke.

Sunday was also the day of a Sisters Summer bazaar. It was too hot to stick around for long, but we managed to fit in samosa's, bouncy castle and a little shopping (a sweet lady sold us two brand-new heavily embroidered suits for £5 in total - one for Little Lady to wear on Eid, the other for Kooky Little Sister). The kids got their faces painted, whilst I got told off by a Sister for letting them put crosses on their faces....

Judging by the look on Gorgeous's face, he had already had a premonition of the results of the game.

Having spent all weekend skiving, I thought I would be a good little desi housewife and make a good old-fashioned desi dinner: spinach and split chana-daal and mango milkshake (tinned mangoes, ice and milk whizzed very briefly in the blender).

It's now barely time for Isha (night prayer) and the kids are still awake and I have to still get everyone's things ready for Monday morning. Work is rather stressful at the moment, but only because I am being given lots of interesting things to do - I just have to rise to the challenge insh'Allah.

In the meantime, I am off to pray, get everyone their bedtime drinks, find myself a Monday-morning-start-the-week-right-hijab for tomorrow, ignore the luandry that is still hanging in the garden and the bathroom I didn't get round to cleaning and read in bed.

Friday 25 June 2010

Friday Crafts

I had today off of work, so whilst the older two were at school and Gorgeous decided to sleep all day, I had plenty of time to craft:

(This is the box of gems I dropped and now am wondering how to seperate the colours again)

I had the mum-in-law to keep me company and plenty of ideas fizzing away in my brain.

I hope you are having a good Friday too. Jummah Mubarak!

Ramadan Cards

With Ramadan not being far away, I thought I would turn the focus of my crafts towards it and indulge in all things crafty and green (my fave colour).

The first two cards, I punched out the lettering and arranged the words. I found this tedious and messy so soon gave up in favour of simpler, stamped banners.

All of these cards and more will be on sale at the Ladies Day in Aid of Algerian Action at The Harold Road Centre in Upton Park, London tomorrow (Saturday 26th June 2010). Sisters are welcome to attend (only £1 entry).

If there are any left, they will be on sale at a sisters-only Summer Bazaar on Sunday 27th June 2010 (11am to 5pm), at the Eton Road Centre, Eton Road, Ilford, London (again entry is only £1 entry).
I look forward to seeing you at either.

Hijab Bargains: Summer Sales

A number of sisters have asked where I buy my hijabs from, so I like to share news of a bargain when I find one. This week, my mum directed me to a shop I wouldn't normally expect to sell hijabs: Anne Harvey. I found the pashmina-type shawls below reduced from £15-10 to £5-6. The giraffe print one in particular was my favourite (leading to much eye-rolling from people who know of my penchant for animal prints).

The other pashmina I found on sale was this soft, light-weight one from Evans which I bought for my mum-in-law to £7 reduced from £12.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Boot Loot

It had been a while since we had been booting and since mum-in-law was here to mind the kids and brother-in-law is also here and also enjoys bargain-hunting we thought we would visit Dunton.

We headed out after fajr (dawn) prayer and it being so early managed to bag some finds. We got back for 9.00am and went back to bed for an hour or two so we would be fresh for the rest of the day (I have a barbecue to host today insh'Allah).

I managed to find a working sewing machine for Little Lady for £2 which she loved (please try and ignore the ridiculous pile of books on my bedside table in the background, I think I have read about two chapters of each one).

I found this little set for myself for £1.

These items are all small size and sample size cosmetics, including Lancome, Dior, Clinique, Virgin Vie, Avon and No7, which I picked up for under £1. I stash these throughout the year for party bags to give away at our annual Eid party.

I found some corn for the barbecue, which I couldn't find locally and which were selling at a ridiculous price at the supermarket.

I bought these candles and tealightts for about £2 in total. There were more of the terracotta pots but I dropped the bag on the kitchen floor as soon as I got in and broke about four of them. I hope to have these all round the garden tonight.

I did try and control myself with the books, so only picked up these two:

I am off now, having had a nice kip which Gorgeous woke me up from twice, to clean, cook, find something nice to wear, get hubby in the garden with the barbecue (despite the cloudy weather) and find nice places to put those candles.

June 2010 Cards - Odds and Ends

Despite a busy week, I wanted to make time for some cardmaking. It takes me time to get all of my stuff out and start putting things together, so I htought I would finish some of my old cards instead which I had started and then left half-finished for various reasons:

I hope to be taking some of these cards to the Ladies Day on Saturday the 26th of June 2010 for Algerian Action. Please do come along for promises to be a fabulous sisters event.

In the meantime, I have started making some Ramadan cards, insh'Allah I hope to post soon with my thoughts on preparing for Ramadan.

Friday 18 June 2010

Observations on Joy - Little Man

This post is to share something positive every Friday insh’Allah. Not necessarily anything life-changing, but something small and everyday that we may take for granted but for which we should be immensely grateful to Allah (SWT).

The thought came to me yesterday as I was praying my Maghrib (evening) prayer and found Little Man waiting patiently near me. Little Lady and Gorgeous often have something to tell me when I am praying and either get annoyed and walk off in a huff as in first’s case or carrying on wailing/laughing/climbing on me as I pray as is the case with the latter. I cannot be annoyed at their impatience because I know who they get it from ;)

In contrast, it has always been Little Man’s habit to sit to one side patiently and quietly for as long as I take ad then as I finish climb into my lap or ask me for what he needs. Yesterday he waited to ask me to close the velcro flaps on his policeman costume and then shyly climbed into my lap as I made dua.

This has always been something which gives me immense peace: just sitting quietly without the compulsion to do anything, the smell of his hair and the weight of him in my lap, the healing power for both of us of in holding each other.

It really makes me think alhamdulillah for the small joys of motherhood and of life.

Book Review: Jasvinder Sanghera - Shame

Jasvinder Sanghera is the founder of Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports South Asian women suffering from domestic abuse and honour-based violence. This book details her own story and what led to her drive to set up a charity for Asian women in particular.

Sanghera describes her upbringing in Derby amongst the South Asian and particularly Sikh community with her strict, religious mother. She outlines what it means to be one of many daughters in a community that favours sons (something that I could relate to) and the sense of injustice that this breeds.

Her description of her childhood and teenage years effectively captures the claustrophobic and restrictive aspects of British South Asian culture for many people in the last few decades – not being able to engage in the same activities as your brothers or English friends and classmates, not being able to have the same aspirations for your future because everything has to fit around marriage.

Matters come to a head for Sanghera when she finds that she cannot face marrying the man her mother has picked for her as a teenager, especially after seeing the misery and abuse her older sisters’ married lives brings.

This prompts her to run away with a young man she has fallen in love with and begin a life of loneliness, rejection and poverty until she finds that there are other options open to her than those she was raised to look forward to.

This is no straightforward rags-to-riches type story. Sanghera doesn’t have a revelation overnight and then change her life completely. This is a gruelling and at times painfully honest tale of depression, rejection, abuse and the misogynistic views of many South Asian women to women in their own community.

Sanghera describes two failed marriages, her struggle to educate herself, her battle for acceptance from her family and her struggle to raise her children in difficult circumstances. I found that the book gets really interesting though when she explains how she became involved in community work and started meeting South Asian women who had undergone all sorts of abuse but were not getting the help they needed due to language barriers, racism and lack of cultural understanding on the part of support services. This led to her resolve to start a specialist service and Karma Nirvana was born.

A down-to-earth, honest and insightful book, written in plain language and straight from the authors heart.

Book Review: Glenn Cooper – The Library of the Dead

Every now and again I am partial to an un-taxing thriller. Throw in the promise of some twists, and plenty of conspiracy theories and I am game.

Often these are not particularly well-written or original (Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code springs to mind), but occasionally the writing is sharp and the plot tight enough to keep you gripped. I wouldn’t say that this book falls into either of the above categories but it was engaging enough to keep me reading to the end.

The novel follows disgraced, alcoholic FBI agent (roll of eyes), Will Piper as he is pulled out of his quiet pre-retirement countdown to hunt down a serial killer in New York who seems to have no discernible pattern. He is paired with a feisty, young partner (roll of eyes again) as they race to catch the killer before he strikes again.

At the same time, one of Pipers old university room-mates, Mark, is involved in something top secret in the infamous Area 51 and you soon realise it is not anything to do with aliens but something perhaps even stranger. But where is the link with the seemingly random murders at the other end of the country?

The book jumps back and forward between modern day America, and the early twentieth century and the dark ages in Britain. I have come across the format before and it can be very annoying and somewhat confusing, but when used well it can really crank up the tension and make the unfolding of the plot absolutely gripping.

In the case of this book it, again it was neither. In places the flashbacks were fascinating and had me hooked, particular the back story from the middle-ages, in places it felt slightly odd and perhaps unnecessary, as with the scenes from post-War Britain.

The plot twist itself was a good one, although I had worked it out long before the ending. In all nothing new or amazing, but perfectly readable nonetheless.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Mum and Muslim Request

Mum and Muslim magazine are now online at We have had fantastic feedback from readers both positive and constructive alhamdulillah and are keen for more.

Better yet we are re-launching the magazine shortly with a new title and an updated new website insh’Allah. We are keen to make the magazine inclusive to fathers as well as mothers and we are eager for the magazine to reach as wide a readership as possible, so that the wider world can see how positive, effective and spiritually-rich parenting based on the Quran and Sunnah can be.

Why am I telling you this?
Because we would like the voices represented in the magazine to be as varied as possible. We want to embrace the full beauty and diversity of our ummah and learn from as many people as possible and hopefully pass that wisdom on to others.

Accordingly we need new contributors – anyone keen to share their experience or their literary work – articles, poems, short stories, how-to-tutorials are all of interest to us. Although our magazine is centred around parenting, we also publish material that may not be directly related to parenting but may be useful to parents – so recipes, lifestyle, product reviews, crafts and creative writing, again, are all of interest to us.

We would also love to get on board photographers – you don’t have to be a professional, you just have to have some clear, crisp shots that we can use to liven up our pages.

So, if you are interested in writing for us (fi’sabillah for now), submitting something you have written or sending us some photographs that we can use, please e-mail us at Bloggers are welcome to send us material they have used before if they think it is particularly relevant and we will link back to your blogs insh’Allah.

Please do have a look around our website and get a feel of what we are aiming to do and take a look at the sections to see if there is knowledge, experience or wisdom that you have to offer. If you aren’t able to contribute at this time, please do have a browse and leave a comment. Your feedback is invaluable to us so that we can learn what is useful and interesting to readers and what is not.

Bloggers – we will soon have a button for our site to place on your website or blog and we would love if you could mention our site or display the button. More news on this once it is ready insh’Allah.

In the meantime, jazakh’Allah-khairun for your support, ideas, kind comments, e-mails and enquiries, please do keep them coming.

Monday 7 June 2010

My Brothers Wedding - The Reception

My brothers wedding reception was held at Ingatestone Hall in Essex. We stopped at the gates and had a dhol-player lead the grooms party in.

The bride and groom had decided on a marquee in the grounds and the brides family were waiting to receive us.

The bride had picked the colour theme, the table settings and the centrepeices. She filled the favour boxes herself with the "bidh" we provided. This is the traditional mix of nuts and dried fruit that we give out handfuls of once the nikah or wedding ceremony is complete.

The cake was gorgeous - a layer each of rich chocolate, sponge and carrot cake and a fourth I can't remember.

We had agreed our colour scheme for the grooms party beforehand with the bride so that we didn't clash (her side wore navy). We had the same colour in different styles. A long dress for Kooky Little Sister, an abaya for me, a churidar dress (fit and flare) for Fashionista and a cigarette trouser and long jacket combo for Long-Suffering Sister.

(Kooks, me, Fashionista and Long-suffering Sister - I wish you could see the face Fash is pulling in this picture).
Kooks henna:

The boys wore grey suits with purple shirts. I spent all day tucking this one's shirt in.

I got the little girls to wear white dresses amd tied purple ribbon as sashes with purple flowers I had bought. Little Lady's dress was a floor length ball-gown type affair which was reduced from £110 to £20 at TK Maxx.

The bride was walked in by her parents and looked stunning.

Alhamdulillah, we had a wonderful day. The food was amazing, the whole family was together and everyone helped out. As with the henna night, my boy cousins ran around for us. We managed to dump about 100 boxes of confetti on my brothers head and we made so much mischief that we are still laughing about it.