Saturday 25 February 2012

My Darling Camelia

The weather is turning milder, in fact warm enough to have an argument with Gorgeous about whether is was spring (me) or summer (him). I had planned to wait a week or two and see if the mild weather holds before getting out and clearing the graden and planning what to plant.

The kids had other ideas and begged if they could go out and clear the garden. Not one to give up an offer of someone doing some cleaning for me, I let them out. Little Man came running back in to tell me about the roses that were growing outside: "they're so beautiful mum!"

I ambled out to take a look and found he was talking about the Camelia plant which had finally flowered. I've had it for six years and it has been growing very slowly, every year I hoped for flowers and had to make do with pretty, waxy deep green leaves. This year the little plant is covered in rose-like blooms and fat buds.

The garlic mum-in-law planted in autumn is also doing well, not sure how long to leave it there, will have to ask mum. It's nice to think that something has been growing away in winter whilst we forgot all about the garden.

The strawberries are running riot again and the little apple tree is also starting to set forth buds.

I'm looking forward to doing somethig wwith graden this year. As with every year it is a mess and full of junk, but as with every year I am hoping for lots of things we can use in the kitchen and a pretty little sancturay to spend summer relaxing in.

Gratitude Journal 25.02.12 - The Fruit of Patience

I have had this Camelia plant for six years and this year I sauntered out into the garden and got a surprise when I saw it had finally flowered for the first time. I was rather pleased to see the big, bright rose-like blooms and the buds all waiting to explode. Rather worth the wait I think.

Friday 24 February 2012

Gratitude Journal 24.02.12 - Friday Pretty

I have been working from home this Friday, so decided to make an effort with a blingy outfit...

...some matching bangles...

...and the kohl my friend brough back from hajj the year before last and sis still going strong (talk about hajj barakah!)

Little Lady was in on the act with her new t-shirt from Shutterbug Sister and pretty beads.

I think it was the new shoes from Kooks and rainbow dotty socks from mum that really made the outfit though.

I'm off to enjoy my lunch from work with hubby - veg curry, nan, kebab and some lovely peace and quiet.

Have a wonderful Jummah day insh'Allah.

Friday 17 February 2012

Trip to Epping Forest

The kids had last week off school with half term, so thought I would take them somewhere easy and cheap. Our first choice was Epping Forest. This has a few visitor centres, but we opted for the one at High Beach, Loughton which has a small animal feeding area which attracts forest creatures which you can spot through a large window (we didn't spot any).

It was lovely to follow the trail around through the trees, ambling along, spotting birds and treasures for our nature basket, sycamore seeds are a favourite at the moment, I am sure this is the wrong season for them but we have had a mostly mild winter and the trees didn't all seem to do the things they usually do in autumn (still some with leaves brown hanging on).

We were hoping to spot animals, but only managed a couple of playful rabbits from the car window on the way. I did see one mum building a den with her boys and another strolling along with her baby buggy, what a nice way to spend an afternoon. I think there will be more trips here, perhaps some further off the usual trail and lots of creature-hunting this summer.

This burrow was one of many dotted around that fascinated Little Man, I would never have imagined a child of mine would be so animal-crazy.

The kids enjoyed their amble. Little Lady showed herself to be a true city girl at heart though with her comment "Its just trees and horse poo everywhere!"

Friday Brekkie

I bought myself a juicer at the end of last year and have been making myself some interesting concoctions. After trying various ingredients (apples, pears, celery, spinach, kale, blackberries, pomegranate, blueberries, cranberries), and enduring two days of nasty cramps in the beginning, I have settled on apples, celery and carrots. At some point I will get some books from the library and do some research for what is the best, but this is okay for now.

With the healthy stuff out of the day, because I had the day off work, we made pancakes for breaakfast. I used Delia Smith' s recipe here and added plenty of sugar.

Some turned out rounder than others, but all tasted good, and we had soooo much fun flipping these (as the bunched-up evidence below shows).

Why is it though, that whenever we try anything new it means piles and piles of dishes. I especially love how they wedge the dishes and pans in right up to the tap! Any way I am going to enjoy the pancakes and think about the dishes later (maybe Saturday or something).

Gratitude Journal 17.02.12 - Playing at Cowboys

The kids were off school this week with half-term and had to find ways to keep themself occupied after we decided to limit the amount of time they could spend on the computer.

It made my day to see them find their own cowboy costume of summer hats and a space blaster (the shirts were coincidence, but fit the bill too). Of course in the good old tradition of cowboys, these cowboys were hunting for treasure.

Of course I couldn't resist and had to join the treasure hunt and raid the nature bowl in the front room.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Aaila Magazine - January-February 2012 Edition

The latest edition of Aaila, the Muslim Family Magazine is out now. Mash'Allah as always brothers and sisters have submitted some brilliant articles and columns;

Our cover story is Sex and Relationships education (SRE): Do you know what your child is being taught in school? by Safura Houghton - something that is definitely an issue I have been mulling over and not one we can ignore.

Muslimah Dilemma: Avoiding Anger and Promoting Peace by Tasnim Nazeer gives Prophetic (PBUH) advice and inspiration for managing our anger.

There is further Prophetic (PBUH) advice in Back to the basics – some prophetic advice on raising children by Aaliyah Umm Ibrahim which resonates beautifully with some of the beliefs I hold about peaceful and gentle parenting.

Blessed Brides: A great project by Sumaiya Umm Imran (Editor) tells us about a wonderful Ummah Welfare Trust initiative that gives us the opportunity to help someone else. Married sisters who wonder what to do with their dress and all those sisters looking to get married and wishing for some barakah in their endeavours might want to check this out.

The lead articles include Making time for the future By Moshiur Rahman shares the brothers experience as a mentor and the need for us to invest our time in our children's future.

A Discipline Model for all Times by the amazing Grandma Jeddah gives us some guidance on discipline according to the tradition of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) - again gentle and sweet.

Dealing with pain by Ibrahim Mahmud explores how we respond to pain and grief.

Taste of freedom by Taskina Binta Mahmud looks at what freedom really means for a Muslim.

I also liked Is there a place for pictures and puppies in the Muslim home? by Hannatu Adamu and Sunnah of visiting the sick by Farhana Moosa who I have known for a short time, but love dearly for the sake of Allah (SWT).

Reviews on the site this month are:
Discipline without Disrespecting by Grandma Jeddah (By Sumaiya Umm Imran)
Review of Siratt LifeBook 2012 (Sumaiya Umm Imran)
Review of Seerat-un-Nabi (S.A.W.) by MI Yaqub Patel (Bint Ahmed)

Recipes shared this month are:
Pastéis de bélem: Portuguese custard pies by Umm Siham
Algerian chicken tajine with green olives by Kaouther

There is tons more on the site, including my column (Working mum Column: Keeping it Halal in the Workplace), my article (The art of living with your in-laws) and my reveiw (Book Review: The Poor King by Asma Iftikhar).

Please head over and take a look and leave your comments.

As always we welcome submissions, so if you love writing, are passionate about something you want to share or have some advice, a recipe or review that fits the theme of the magazine, please do get in touch with the editor Sister Sumaiyah Umm Imran at

Bake Sale Creativity

The kids had a charity bake sale at school that they wanted to contribute to and I thought that this would be something nice to do together.

I whizzed up some fairy cakes whilst they were finihsing off their homework with the promise they could decorate them once their homework was done (no nagging required at all for once).

The first batch collpased and I couldn't work out why until I went over the recipe a few times and realiesed I had put double the amount of butter into the batter.

I could have gone and got more butter, but as bed time was fast approaching, I decided to go and get three trays of fairy cakes and let the kids decorate them. I tracked down various cake decorations from the backs of cupboards and decided to leave them to it.

They had soooo much fun. Hubby was a bit surprised and concerned at my lapse in control-freakery and at the fact I was letting them make so much mess, but it felt rather good.

I mixed them some icing sugar with water to use as a kind of glue for the decorations. They really want to town and tried to fit on everyhting they could. Below is all of the stuff that fell off and had to go back into tubes and pots.

They took a box each. I have no idea how many sold, but apparently Gorgeous' class polished off his box before the bake sale even started!

Ghetto Snowmen

The weekend brought snow here with the usual disruption that that brings to this country. The one thing I love, love, love about snow is the way it brings all of the kids in the neighbourhood onto the streets and pelting snowballs, with many of the adults following suit.

Last year the our attempt at making snowmen wasn't so great, the snow wasn't dry enough to stick and it took ages and the things kept falling apart. This year the snow was slightly damp and held its shape beautifully - who knew there was a such a thing as the right kind of snow and the wrong kind of snow to build snowmen/

My kids tried building one in our garden, but everytime the pile of snow got high enough, Gorgeous, in his attempt at helping would whack the top and make it collapse.

These below are my sisters attempts.

The one at the front is by Fashionista.

I love that it has gold teeth and a Mohican - that Kooky decided to spray-paint gold! Who do you know that spray-paints snow? Who would have thought that you can actually spray-paint snow?

This is the one that Kooks made with my children.

More gold things going on and for some reason an upside-down moustache. This poor, depressed snowman just leaned over after a while and stayed lopsided for the rest of the day. Finally enough, these two snowmen, remind me of my sisters - see the resemblance girls?

(The building in the back is the dodgy eye-sore shed my dad brought home one day to install in my mum's lovingly-tended garden and is now full of junk, we lovingly refer to it as the cow-shed. No-one wants it there, but it was so much work to get in and re-build, that no-one wants to dismantle it).

Saturday 4 February 2012

The Best Laid Plans

The Plan:
Spend the day with my bestest and her beautiful babies.

The Intention:
Gorge on pizza
Go window-shopping

The Reality:
Gorgeous wakes up with tiny red spots and blisters around his mouth and on his hands and feet.
Call NHS direct and get a diagnosis - "Hand, Foot and Mouth disease" funnily enough.
Cancel bestest's visit
Spend the day on mum's sofa discussing wedding plans with Fashionista.

Poor Gorgeous isn't having the best time at the moment.
Yesterday was Little Lady's 9th birthday mash'Allah and last week was Little Man's 7th mash'Allah. Gorgeous has to wait another week or so for his 5th (I know, they have good timing!) and has been making some very grumpy faces at the attention they have been getting.
Last week he brought home a letter from school saying he was an exceptionally talented footballer and was invited to a local try-out attended by scouts from football clubs. He has been going to weekly football coaching sessions before school and telling us every week how he was the BEST, much to our amusement - we just thought he was being big-headed. I thought he was too young, but filled in the form and gave it to his teacher, only to be told he was too young! Gorgeous is not having it and is insisting he is old enough becaause he is nearly 5.

Thankfully he isn't showing any other symptoms of the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and is up to his usual mischief (he just dropped Little Lady's beads all over the kitchen floor, so waiting for the screaming to start). I'm off to enjoy the snow, it'a 9.30pm and everything is being carpetted with a sprinkling of white.

InCulture Parent: Islam's Take on Children and Kinship Ties.

My latest post is up at the wonderful InCulture Parent: Islam's Take on Children and Kinship Ties. There is an excerpt below:

Preserving kinship ties is considered to be a very important part of Islam. This generally refers to maintaining good relationships with both your close and extended relatives and upholding the rights Islam gives to them. There is a prophetic tradition in Islam that says, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.” (Bukhari) As most people with large families know, this is easier said than done. When you add children into the mix, it can become even more challenging.

During the first part of my childhood, I grew up in a large extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins (12 of us at one point), all under one roof. I remember these early years with fondness—friends to play with, lots of attention and many people to bother. Once my parents moved out, life became quieter, but I always missed the chaos of the big house full of people, the constant stream of visitors and my cousins and favourite uncle around to play with whenever I wanted.

As an adult, I resolved that I would run my home as my grandparents had. We have an “open house” of sorts, welcoming guests, always making room for one more person to stay for dinner or the night, and never turning away family. This is pretty much the way my husband and I have “played house.” We have guests stopover throughout the year and extended family come and stay with us for six months at a time. Friends that have been new to this country have stayed whilst they find their feet, our local mosque sometimes sends guests here and we hold study circles and lectures when a speaker is visiting the mosque. When my grandmother lived with us and then my mother-in-law, we had guests late into the night, with the family gathering for dinner, including my parents or uncles when they heard that a certain guest has turned up. Often on weekends, visitors would sit past midnight, reminiscing with cups of cardamom-laced green tea in their hands and plates of sweets and nuts.

You can read the full article here.