Friday 20 August 2010

Ramadan Blog Hiatus


I will be away for the next week or two with hubby so won't be blogging until closer to Eid (probably won't have internet access). I hope to make the most of Ramadan this time and have taken leave from work for the month (will be my first time not studying or working through Ramadan).

Insh'Allah look forward to blogging and getting in touch with everyone again nearer Eid, with my mojo back in full swing (as a good friend call's it!) and lots to share.

Please remember me in your dua's and may Allah (SWT) give you the opportunity to make the most of this blessed month insh'Allah.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Pakistan Floods Crisis

I am sure I am not the only one watching events unfold in Pakistan at the moment, feeling horrified and helpless. Anjelina Jolie recently hit the nail on the head when she said that many people wanted to help but were unsure about the best way to help. Of course there are charities trying to get aid to the people:

Islamic Relief Pakistan Flood Appeal

Oxfam International: Pakistan Floods 2010

Muslim Hands: Pakistan Flood Crisis

Helping Hands: Pakistan Flood Crisis

UNICEF Pakistan Flood Children's Appeal

Disasters Emergency Committee: Pakistan Floods Appeal

Can any brothers or sisters advise as to what is the best and most effective way to help?

Monday 16 August 2010

Variation On A Theme: Verdigris

I have always had a thing about green, in any shade, so could not resist when I accumulated this selection of green prints (most are from the Papermania Verde capsule collection).

Variation On A Theme: Tropical Colours

I enjoyed playing with this girly colour-combination:

I think my favourite was the one that I made from the left over off-cuts of card:

Variation On A Theme: Floral Stamp

I decided to try my hand at stamping with this DoCrafts V&A stamp inspired by antique patchwork quilts.

I have long since learnt not to stamp directly onto blank cards as the design often doesn't come out right and the card is ruined. I used old opalescent blank cards which I had made mistakes on in the past and cut them into quarters to use the blank side. I then mounted them onto blank opalescent cards using sticky squares:

I tried a few different colours:

I also tried out some multi-coloured ink pads I had picked up a few years ago cheaply but wasn't usre how to use.

This last mix of colours, blues, teals, greens was my favourite. This method would also be good in future to create multiples of a design or to use for other papercrafts such as tags or decorations.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Ramadan 1431: Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Kareem everyone, may this Ramadan be full of forgiveness, blessings, spiritual growth and closeness to Allah (SWT) for you all insh'Allah. Ameen.

Muhammad Alshareef -Towards an Outstanding Ramadan video:

Monday 9 August 2010

Green Tasbih

I originally made this for my dad to give him at the start of Ramadan. I used quite chunky 8mm green rondelles, a silver-plated tassle and silver rhinestone balls.

In the end, this came in handy as a last-minute gift for a guest. I am making another one for my dad insh'Allah with the same materials but 6mm beads which will be lighter and smaller.

Anger Management and More Sleep.

This weekend and this morning have been a lesson for me. I realise I have not been my Happy Mama self for a long time. I spent the whole weekend moping, feeling tired and sad and getting cross with people. I spent most of Saturday evening working myself into a tantrum, aiming it at my husband and having one of the most miserable evenings ever. I apologised, but still let myself feel upset and angry.

I spent most of Sunday moping quietly and feeling mistreated and sorry for myself. Then I saw this 1-minute long video:

Sometimes the smallest things make such a big difference. Sometimes the things that we think are small are not. The few words on the video had the weight of the Quran and Sunnah. They totally blew me away. I made the decision to forgive and let go and it felt like a great burden was lifted from me. I enjoyed the rest of the evening spending time with Little Lady listening to nasheeds whilst I beaded and she scrap-booked and did word-searches before heading out with friends.

This morning I started to feel down again (should have ate less last night and slept more). The question came to me: “What things can I do right now to make this day the best ever?” It totally lifted me. I worked for half an hour on an application, ate some chocolate, got in touch with some friends at work and actually did some work too. A little bit of serendipity: a previous colleague got in touch to say that she was doing a community event and that there would be free stalls for crafters to sell their goods if I was interested. I am not here around then, but a friend is interested in selling cards and jewellery on my behalf so I will see by Friday if I have enough stock to consider doing this.

Spent the rest of the evening chatting to Kooky Little Sister and her friend, making more bracelets, giving the kids the loooongest bath ever (I swear they come out of the bath about eight shades lighter), eating leftover's (no cooking!), calling my mum, doing a double-take at hubby looking dapper in his grey top, reading Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune and shopping online for Eid gifts.

The only other thing is I am still trying to get a blood test to find out why I get dopey and tired sometimes. I have been calling to book a test and getting a busy line for two weeks solid, so need to find another way, although it might have to wait till after Ramadan now. I also need to take a serious look at my sleeping habits as I think this might be playing a role too. 12pm and 1am seem to have become the norm and now that the night prayer is getting earlier, that’s no longer an excuse (you should see the scene at our house at dawn with my mother-in-law knocking on everyone’s doors and shouting at us whilst me and hubby elbow each other in the ribs. Then hubby gets up and shouts at his brothers. Have no idea how the kids sleep through this). I just have this ridiculous urge to always want to do more. Now if I worked less and had the time to do stuff I liked more… as my husband says, I have to think about what is important and what has to be given priority and I have to value sleep and rest more.

Sunset Long Necklace

I have never liked orange much, but this hijab inspired me and I seem to be seeing shades of orange I really like everywhere.

I call this the sunset necklace.

I actually like the opaque white and red beads more than the crystal ones. The top quarter of the necklace which comes under the hijab I used smaller crystals for in the same brown shade.

Fashionista didn't think muh of it until I showed her it next to the hijab (which I wear with a brown abaya - my plain canvas), then she agreed it was okay. I like it anyway and have worm it out to dinner.

Friday 6 August 2010

The Heart of Our Home

It’s funny isn’t it, how you think of your home as rooms, doors, furniture and belongings, when really it is the people who live there that make it home. I remember when my grandmother passed away last year, for ages after, when I visited my parents home where she lived, it felt as if there was a great emptiness and that home wasn’t quite a home anymore but just the place where a collection of us lived or gathered. Alhamdulillah our memories are short and we have such capacity to move on, we soon forget.

That is until now. Mum is in Pakistan caring for my grandfather who is very ill. The first time I visited after she flew out, it felt as if the heart had been ripped out of the house again. How we have all missed her. It made me understand how much a mother is more than just the person who raises us, cooks our dinner and nags us to find a spouse. She is the glue that holds us together, the sanctuary we keep returning to, when we need some piece and good food.

I am usually around her place every weekend, testing her sofa, checking the remote control works and safety-checking her food, but in the month she has been away I have barely dropped by. Little Lady misses her Nan and partner in crime terribly (they are best friends and both gang up on me).

She will be back next week in time for the start of Ramadan insh’Allah. Her health and the heat in Pakistan would mean that she would not be able to fast. At the same time she will have to leave her terminally ill father with the knowledge that she most likely will never see him again. The last time I spoke to her, he was in severe pain, refusing to stay in the city near a hospital and insisted on going back to his village. Our old people are like that, they won’t leave their village and if they do, the first hint of illness and they are back (I remember my grandfather leaving the UK to go back home whilst he was still perfectly well with a parting shot of “there’s no way I am going back to Pakistan in a box”).

In any case I feel terrible for her, what must it put your soul through to watch your parent die? He is distressed much of the time and upset when his children are out of his sight (mash’Allah he has 13, from 3 wives (not at the same time!) and they are very close). It will be difficult for my mum to leave him and for him to see my mum go. Everyone here is maudlin with the thought that they will probably never get to see him again.

Please remember them both in your dua’s insh’Allah.

Lessons from 10 Years of Marriage

Alhamdulillah at the end of last month I have been married for 10 years. When I try to imagine a woman who has been married for 10 years, I think of someone matronly and responsible, someone serious and sensible. But in reality, although my responsibilities have grown, I don’t feel very different to that girl of 20 who said “I accept” at the nikah (marriage vows). Ten years have gone by in a blur and so much has changed: pregnancy, children, house moves, job changes, deaths and pilgrimage. I look back at those years and I am amazed at the way time slipped past so quickly. What I have left after those 10 years is what I have learnt from marriage:

1. A marriage has its stages and its ebbs and flows, you can’t maintain the honeymoon period forever, but something as good or better, will replace it. So the first year my feet didn’t touch the ground and the second year we fought often because we were living alone for the first time and getting used to each other. In the following years we worked as a team as our children came into the world and we became more aware of our responsibilities to our wider families. Now at the end of our tenth year, alhamdulillah as our children get older, it feels like we are almost getting to know each other again.

2. Don’t assume what the other is thinking. I have sat there stewing on many occasions thinking my other half is annoyed with me, that he disagrees with something and isn’t saying or thinks badly about me for something I have said or done. On finally asking him, I have found that he is thinking about whether he should change the tires on the car and has no clue on what I am fretting about. I have no idea why we make ourselves suffer in this way.

3. Each day, in every moment we are in, we have the opportunity to forgive and move on. It’s our own choice whether we are willing to let go of our ego and false pride and be big enough to stop apportioning blame or want to hold on to petty things and keep on hurting ourselves and each other.

4. A little bit of kindness and sympathy goes so much further than a pretty face, nice gifts or expensive outings. I realised after a while that a sympathetic word meant so much more to my husband than wearing something pretty. I also know how much a thoughtful word or asking me how I am means when I need it most.

Perhaps after another 10 years I will look back and disagree with all of the above and have a new set of things that I learned, but who is promised tomorrow

Career Advice from the Boss

I have a funny relationship with my manager. Sometimes she drives me crazy and at other times she is very helpful and offers good advice .

The other day, she decided I could do with more advice. She suggested that when you follow a “professional” career your route is set out for you – a doctor, lawyer or engineer usually knows what they have to do in terms of training and experience to get to the next stage of progression in their career, which is also usually fairly clear-cut. When you choose to follow a career that doesn’t have such a prescribed path, such as civil servant for instance, you need to manage that path more effectively. The ways to do this are:

1. Take the time to be clear about what you want in the long term. Get to know where you want to go.

2. Know what you want out of your current role – what are the skills and experience you can pick up and how are you going to ensure you do this.

3. Look at the next few roles up and try to determine what are the skills required. The ones she suggested would be useful included: people management, finance knowledge and budget management, strategic knowledge and report writing (and another that she could not remember).

4. If you don’t have these skills, offer your assistance for work that looks like it will help you to gain that skill. This is also a good way to engender good will.

If she has any more gems for me, I will be sure to let you know.

Monday 2 August 2010

Crystal Bracelets and Experimenting

One of the things I have been doing recently which I find quite therapeutic is making these bracelets. They are all 8mm glass crystal beads - some opaque, some very sparkly.

I have been seeing these slightly flattened crystal-looking beads in a few shops (like this one) and really like the look of the beads (although perhaps not the price). I have been using an 8mm sized bead. I also found these pretty charms with the same beads at the end of them (although I am struggling to find more of these) and liked the effect.

Little Lady modelling:

In all I have ended up with a nice selection to give away and "test" with different hijabs (ahem). I eventually hope to make more and sell these in sets of three possibly if the current batch stand up to the wear and tear well.

They are a nice heavy weight, but the last time I wore about six or seven (with the hijab below) and they were slightly too heavy.

I wore the hijab and bracelets below today (but only three, the opaque yellow and green which were both a perfect match and a sparkly grey one).