Friday 22 July 2016

Turning a Miserable Day into a Great One

I had rather a miserable start to the day yesterday. I woke up with a nasty cough and to find that I had lost my voice completely (my husband asked if this meant that I had to stop talking and try listening instead). I got to work and decided to treat myself to a breakfast of latte, hash browns and toast, only to find that the hash browns were cold and cardboard like.  All of that I could have coped with, except, barely had the day started when I realised I had had a little accident… I got up from my desk to find that there was a pretty little pinkish design on the back of my brown abayah, I had managed to ruin my clothing like a careless teenager. This is something I am very paranoid about, but also super careful about, so I was horrified. I legged it to the bathroom and called my husband to come and rescue me. The poor man left his breakfast to come and get me and drive me home to get changed and drop me back to work again.

The funny thing is that almost no-one noticed I was wearing a different colour abayah and scarf (definitely black after that little incident). One of my colleagues had kindly covered for me, when I got back to my desk my manager even asked me how my meeting had gone.

With the heat, my cough and lost voice and the embarrassing incident, I decided to take my day in a different direction. I am a big believer in trying to make the most of each day and bringing a little bit of joy and pleasure into each day. I believe that we should work hard for the future goals that matter to us, but that the day to day journey towards those goals should be beautiful also.

So after I got home and got changed, I touched based with each of the children and my mum-in-law to ask how their day had been and to see how they were. I spent a little time putting the house back in order as I find this very soothing. Then I grabbed Little Lady and was back out of the door. We went shopping, I bought her some new dresses as she seems to outgrow things over night. I bought myself a lovely statement necklace which Little Lady has her eye on:

I bought a ton of ice-lollies and ice-creams for everyone (about 50). Everyone else seemed to have the same idea as there was a scrum by the freezers in the supermarket.

I got home and made everyone dinner (my friends the leftovers ). Then hubby and I went for a walk. It was one of those balmy evenings, where after a hot day, the evening had a beautiful cool breeze. Perfect walking weather. We always talk and catch-up and plan during our walks and I just love them. When we got back, he went out again with his mum and the kids to the park and for slushees. This meant that mum-in-law could take a walk too (at a slower pace) and the kids could get knackered out before bed time. It also meant that I and Little Lady could hang out together and enjoy the quiet for a little while.

By the end of the day, it just felt as if I had had a beautiful day and I felt so content alhamdulillah. Sometimes the smallest things make all of the difference. A change to your routine or a decision to give yourself a break and unshoulder some of your burden: letting the kids go to bed later, or ordering take-away instead of cooking. Treating yourself to something nice, enjoying a food you love or catching up with a good friend. At any given time, we can make the decision to change the trajectory of our day by taking steps to make a day that is not going well into a great one.

Who’s Body?

We are now two weeks out of Ramadan and well into summer. Most of Ramadan was characterised by cool, rainy days here in London, including some significant torrential rain and thunderstorms. It turned out to be quite a blessing during the long June days of fasting.

Now that we are out of Ramadan, London is finally getting it’s summer, with a mini heatwave and everyone melting in the heat. I wonder if I am the only one who has taken quite some time to get back into a normal routine. My body seemed to take such a long time to get back into the non-Ramadan sleeping and eating patterns that for the first two weeks I felt almost as if I had no control over it.

This has segued into a nice little cold I have picked up in the middle of summer which I treated by ignoring it, shouting over the noise at my Eid party and having lots of cold drinks out of the fridge. This has left me with no voice, which has been a source of hilarity for everyone both at home and work. As someone commented at work having no voice has not stopped me from continuing to try to talk to everyone.

The messed up sleep, no voice and bunged up head are quite strange in a heatwave. It’s like having a body and not much control over it – you talk but you have no command over your voice, you can’t think straight, you can’t stop falling asleep and you are so hot and sweaty that everything seems twice the effort.

The only thing to do is give up. Lie down in a shaded room, switch on the fan and let the babies jump up and down on you until the fog subsides a little. I always find the best antidote to heat is stillness. When I was a kid I read about an exercise that was designed to teach you how your mind can influence your body. This involved being still, closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a very cold, icy place and feeling the chill creep up your body from your toes. It works better sometimes than others.

The thing I do like when it is very hot, is when people look at my scarf and abayah and ask “aren’t you hot?”. I always reply “Cool is a state of mind”. I love the look of confusion I get in return! 

Today is a bit cooler and I am getting my voice back, although still not giving it much of a rest. I am back to normal sleep patterns and not eating during Ramadan means I am now finding it easier to manage my eating and have smaller portions as well as say no to junk food. I have gone back to walking again which I cut down in Ramadan and stopped in the post-Ramadan Eid busyness, although it doesn’t feel as easy as before. Alhamdulillah it’s good to get a reminder every now and again that your body is a trust from Allah (SWT) and that our ability to control it is a blessing and a gift that can be taken away at any time.

Picture of the Day 16.07.16 - Eid Party 2016

Last Saturday was the our annual sisters Eid party.
It was colourful, fun, loud and exhausting.
The food was so good.
Somehow we ended up with a LOT of kids.
We all got overheated.
I think next year we will have a small party.
Something a bit more relaxed, just family and neighbours.
No more big parties for a couple of years I think.
But then I always say that after our Eid party :)

Picture of the Day 15.07.16 - Colourful Cakes and Cake Recipe

Fashionista knew I would be a little sad that she couldn't come to my Eid party last week.  She is the furthest away of my sisters and the one I get to see the least, although we have our daily WhatsApp conversations and pics of my beautiful niece alhamdulillah.  She had a prior booking with her husband who does everything for everyone and never asks for anything in return.  Because of this I could not begrudge their family day, especially knowing he would have cancelled his plans if he knew I was disappointed.

Being a smart girl, she visited me the day before the party with her little girl to hang out and brought along the next best thing to her: cakes for the party to match our colour scheme:

The cakes were so pretty to look at:

The best thing was they tasted amazing too  - soft cake and mouthwatering icing, they went down a treat at the party. Everybody was asking for the recipe, which Fashionista was kind enough to share and I have posted here because someone left a comment requesting it:

220g sugar
220g butter
220g self-raising flour
4 eggs
Tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp. milk
Preheat oven at gas mark 4, cook for about 20 mins or until top is golden brown

Buttercream is 250g butter and 500g icing sugar

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Eid-ul-Fitr 2016/1437 - The Coolest Gift

I really enjoyed finding gifts for my sisters and sister-in-law this year.  They all got a cheeky Disney makeup bags like the ones below to reflect their personality:

Shutterbug Sister got Jungle Book, Fashionista got Ursula from the Little Mermaid, My sister-in-law got Alice in Wonderland and Harlequin Sister got Ariel from the Little Mermaid.  I filled them with jewellery, a small scented candle, little treats, mocktails jelly sweets and Swiss milk chocolate discs.

I thought I had outdone everyone until Shutterbag Sister handed everyone scented candles and told us to choose one we liked.  We all squabbled and exchanged until we had one we wanted and then she announced that these candles were special.  Inside is a ring valued at between $10 and $5,000.  We just had to burn the candle and wait for the wax to melt down to the ring.

You can bet there was some excitement and merriment after this.  Harlequins husband suggested that we microwave them all to get the rings out then put them back in the fridge to set again.  He was joking, but I was almost tempted.  You can bet I lit mine the same day.

I didn't get very far and lit the candle again the next day.  After a couple of hours, we (okay Shutterbug) spotted something poking out of the side of the candle jar.

I fished it out with a spoon and found it was a little foil wrapped package.  I was Whatsapping pictures to the girls (my sisters and sister-in-law) the whole time.  Fashionista suggested that with the spoon and foil it looked like I was doing heroin...

I unwrapped the littlepackage to find this gold coloured ring with pink and white stones:

The number attached to the ring is a code that you can enter on the website of the company that make the candles: Charmed Aroma.

I entered mine on the "ring appraisal" page, and the ring turned out to be worth $50, which is more than good enough for me.

I think Shutterbug Sister totally won at the gift-giving this time round :)

Abu Huraira (RA) reported: The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Give each other gifts and you will love each other.” (al-Adab al-Mufrad 594).

Eid-ul-Fitr 2016/1437 - Eid Henna

My lovely neighbour did our henna this year.  She did mine, Little Lady's, Darling's and both of the neighbour’s girls the day before Eid.  She is very talented and always so gracious about doing it:

I love that she always does Darling's henna too.  She did put a dot on Baby's hand to see if she would tolerate it, but Baby just licked it off, so that was a no go.

She always looks exhausted by the end of the day after putting henna on family, neighbours and friends.  I noticed also that her own hands get ruined with henna marks in doing everyone else's.  May Allah reward her for adorning all of our hands with the adornment of jannah insh'Allah.

Eid-ul-Fitr 2016/1437 - Eid Day

Alhamdulillah Eid day was lovely, with family gatherings, meals together and lots of presents for the babies.  I was so busy I didn't get many photos, so these are a mix of mine and Shutterbug Sisters pictures.

I started the day early by beginning preparation for lunch and cooking a traditional sweet breakfast of vermicelli cooked in milk (Sevaiya) as well as a snack that my husband used to have on Eid in Pakistan - channa chaat (chickpeas, tomato, boiled potato and onion with yoghurt and spices). 

We had decorated the night before with banners and balloons.  I always wait for the babies to come down in the morning because their reaction is just so beautiful to watch. I remember when Gorgeous was tiny and would come down in the morning and would just in awe of the balloons:

This time round it was Baby, although she seemed more confused than anything else:

We spent the night before making these sweet tubs.  After the ridiculous amounts of sugar that the kids have consumed in previous years, I made them a bit smaller this time.  The stickers are these ones from theMuslim Sticker Company which I have been using for the last three years but still have plenty left.

This pot of Lahori style kheer (rice pudding) was made the night before, my husband looks forward to it massively for Eid.  Thank God I only have to make it on Eid because it takes about 4-5 hours to make and a few minutes of taking your eyes off it to burn and get ruined.

Everyone was invited to mine for lunch: my parents, siblings and their families and my uncle’s family.  On the menu was lamb curry, chicken curry, pea pilau, salad, mint chutney and tandoori chicken.  I was anxious about cooking for everyone as my mum usually does Eid lunch, but a bit of planning ahead and prep the day before meant lunch was ready on time alhamdulillah.

Fashionista Sister made us chocolate cupcakes for dessert:

The afternoon was spent hosting neighbours, clearing up after lunch and napping because our bodies are still in Ramadan mode.

We just managed to get up in time for dinner at my Uncle's, where the whole family met up again.  We feasted on good food and reminisced with the older ladies.  The guys watched Euro Cup football.  Alhamdulillah a sweet, happy and blessed Eid. 

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Eid-ul-Fitr 2016/1437 - Eid Mubarak Insh'Allah

Eid Mubarak everyone

Taqaballahu minna wa minkum.
May Allah accept it from you and us.

Kullu am wa antum bi-khair.
May you be well throughout the year.

May this Eid be full of blessings, barakah and joy for all of you insh'Allah.  There has been so much horror and sadness in recent years, I make dua that Allah (SWT) takes humanity along a path that brings us to peace and that we see an end to the bloodshed and suffering insh'Allah.

I pray that this Eid is a peaceful one for the ummah and that we are able to enjoy a happy an blessed day with our family and friends.

Please don't forget, this is a night of ibadat (worship) full of rewards and we should try to gain a little of that reward if we can. From "Shawwal: What to Do On Eid Night, Eid Day, and During the Month" by Mufti Taqi Usmani:

The Night Preceding 'Eid-ul-Fitr'

It had been the practice of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailatul Jaiza). Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramadan abiding by the dictates of Shari'ah, and all their prayers in this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to perform nafl prayers in this night. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have said:

Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die. (Ibn Majah)

To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship in this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires. 

Ramadan Journal 2016: Day 30 – Thank You

Subhan'Allah, there is so much to say thank you for right now:
That we got to see the blessed month of Ramadan again this year.
That we got to fast the 30 days of Ramadan.
That we got to pick up some good habits and let go of some bad ones.
That we spent time with the Quran this year.
That I feel healthier and lighter than I did at the start
That we tried our best to push through exhaustion and lack of sleep to keep fasting and keep up with our ibadah (worship)
That we shared food with our neighbours, family and friends.
That we are hopeful of a good reward tonight from Allah (SWT) insh'Allah despite our sins and our mistakes:

“When it is the last night [of Ramadan], they are forgiven, all of them.”
So a man from the people said, “Laylatul Qadr - Is it the Night of Power?” And the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied, “No, do you not see that if labourers work, when they finish their tasks, they are given their wages?” (Bayhaqi)

That we are about to welcome another Eid.

Eid prep for tomorrow:

Free Eid Printables: Eid Poster and Bunting

In the past I have crafted my Eid decorations by hand, this year I have been enjoying creating digital decorations that I can print off and put up.

This year I went for a bright summery colour scheme.  In the past I have avoided this type of colour scheme because it doesn't feel very Eid-like. Seeing as Eid has fallen in the middle of summer this time round and because I loved these bright colours, I decided to go with them anyway.  The print is based on the watercolours I did some time ago to create the elements of this blog and posters I created.

The printables are an A4 poster which can be framed and two sets of bunting which say "Eid Mubarak" and "Happy Eid".  They are accessible as a PDF file which you can download and print.  For the bunting you will need to cut out the triangle shapes and glue/attach them to ribbon, of course if you can think of a different way to use them you are more than welcome, I would love to hear what you tried.

The poster is here and the bunting is here.

You can see how these look after I have printed them off:

I have embellished the posters with sparkly gems and framed them.

I cut out the triangles for the bunting using my paper trimmer and pasted them onto green ribbon, with a pink gem at the bottom of each for embellishment:

Apologies for sharing these so late and so close to Eid.  Insh'Allah these and a few more designs will be permanently on the blog for people to choose from in the future.  I hope you try these and enjoy using them.  They do use up a lot of colour, so I found it more cost effective to get them printed at a print shop, where I got a better finish with the paper and colour too.  I'll post some more pictures when I have put these up insh'Allah.  If you try these out, do let me know how you found them.