Tuesday 26 December 2017

Free Instant Download: The Muslimah Life Planner 2018

I created the Muslimah Life Planner 2018 by taking the best of the techniques, tools and planners and journals I have used over the years to try and manage my life better. I have built on previous versions to make this the biggest and best version yet insha’Allah.

This year The Muslimah Life Planner 2018 is 449 pages long and includes:
  • Space to reflect on 2017
  • Vision pages to brainstorm or collage your vision of your future
  • Planning pages across a 20 year span and longer
  • Detailed planning pages for 2018 across different themes
  • Monthly overview for every month
  • Daily pages including daily schedule, goals, daily review and gratitude journal
  • Pages to look back at the end of 2018 and reflect on achievements and lessons learned.
  • Space to capture notes for 2019

I am sharing it the hope that Sisters find it beneficial in helping to set wonderful goals and feeling inspired to achieve them. I hope it gets Muslimah’s thinking about how 2018 could be an amazing year for them full of clarity of purpose, gratefulness and creativity insha’Allah.

“There is no intelligence like planning.” ~ Hadith Ibn Majah (via Provisions for the Seekers - Zaadut Taalibeen)

This planner will help you to work through listening to your inner voice (Vision Board exercise pages), deciding what the most important things are for you in the greater scheme of things (Life Planning pages) and then focussing on the parts that you can realistically do over the coming year (Daily Pages for 2018). 

The Daily Pages will give you lots of space to dream, explore, plan and review how you will make these things happen. The act of setting them down on paper will mean that rather than vague ideas they are laid out in black and white where they can be prioritised at the start of your day, included with your days work and reviewed at the end of your day.

I hope the journal also offers a safe space for introspection and for reviewing ourselves each day in order to learn and improve. I also hope it helps Sisters to find something in every day to be grateful about and to help cultivate a deep sense of gratitude in their everyday lives.

“And when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]” ~ Quran (14:7)

Please do download and print, you can keep the journal in a ring binder folder. I have tried to keep the formats simple so that they are print friendly. There are some parts where you may need more than one copy of a page because you have lots of goals to plan out or because your vision is so expansive alhamdulillah. Simply print the extra pages and slot in where you want. This format is also conducive to adding in drawings, cuttings, art work, collages and articles you might want to save to inspire you.

Good intentions count for so much in Islam and planning ahead to maximise our good deeds is the first step in making those intentions.  After finding myself overwhelmed with everything I had to do with five children, a busy household and work, in the end it was using a daily planner that helped me to start managing my time better and understanding where my time stealers were.

If you find it useful, please make dua for me and my family. If you find the Journal useful or have suggestions for improvement I would love to hear from you at umm_salihah@yahoo.co.uk or in the comments and perhaps I could incorporate some of them into an updated version for next year.

Making Space to Work

Two years ago I had the bright idea of creating a space for myself for blogging, crafts and working from home for the office.  It was such a nice idea.  Hubby bought me a nice white desk and a lockable white cabinet to match.  I even had flights of fancy about an inspiration board and putting some artwork up.

What happened in reality is that everyone took over the space.  My husband set up the family computer on it, the kids did their homework at it, half the time it served as a mini dining table for the kids’ version of Netflix and chill (or in their case YouTube and chips).

When I worked from home, I ended up working from my bedroom where the Wi-Fi is temperamental.  Now that I am starting a new job and will be working from home sometimes, I thought this would be a good time to try again to set up a proper place for myself. I cleared the cabinet and the top of the desk, made space for my laptop and in the process got a lot of my filing cleared and my paperwork organised.

I had a highly therapeutic time clearing everyone’s junk out of my cabinet and setting out all of my stationary and supplies, including index cards that I use to make lists and inserts for my Filofax.

The bottom draw has more space and I am using it for my journals and art supplies, with the Sharpies hidden at the bottom in the hope that the Babies don’t get their hands on them.  In the past I have had to find every pen and pencil in the house and hide it out of reach to stop our youngest from drawing on every surface in the house.  I am hoping she doesn’t get any bright ideas in the time it takes me to find the key to the cabinet.

Setting up the space was the easy bit, the hard part is getting everyone to get away from my desk long enough to let me work.  Otherwise the other option is to go and hide in the library for some peace and quiet.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Baby Picnic

I have been promising the babies a midnight feast or a picnic for ages, mostly to get them to stay in bed at bedtime.  I used to do these a lot with my older three children and we all really enjoyed them.  They have outgrown them now, but I get the chance to do the nice parts of being a mum again with batch two (collectively known here as “The Babies”).

On this occasion Darling had felt poorly all day and I wanted to cheer her up.  Baby wouldn’t sleep the night before, so I told her we would have a midnight picnic if she stayed in bed, she tried her hardest to stay up until midnight, but feel asleep about half an hour after her bedtime.  I woke her the next morning for nursery and she excitedly asked if it was midnight yet.  I felt guilty and promised her we would have a picnic after dinner.

I managed to use the promise of a picnic to get then to do all sorts of things including eat dinner and put their things away.  At this stage, I thought I had better deliver.  Gorgeous saw the food and suddenly took an interest in helping me lay the food out.  This was always my favourite part of our little feasts.

I tried to mostly go for healthy options.  I told the kids we would be having a healthy holiday with less junk and more fruit and healthy meals.  The older ones were not impressed and have been moaning at me ever since.  Even more reason to be a mean mum and offer them vegetables.

After helping me set the food out, Gorgeous seemed to want to hang around and help himself.  He was adamant that he was only staying for the food, but I know that he is a big baby at heart and loves anything fun.

He did seem to help himself to most of the mini cookies though:

The Babies loved the indoor picnic and Darling was adamant we could not pack up while there was any food left.  I had to clear one tray and then distract them while I cleared the other and then convince them to get ready for bed.  I didn’t promise any more midnight feasts if they went to sleep, but will certainly find more reasons to treat them to one.

Chronicles of a Little Tornado - Volume 2

My youngest is a handful at the best off times, but recently Baby seems to have gotten more bolshy, more rebellious and even a bit meaner.  I wonder if it is the result of being the youngest and having to fight to hold her own.  Or perhaps she just inherited some of the spite that seems to run in my family.  Either way, she manages to keep all of us busy.  

Currently her busy schedule includes:

Refusing to sit the whole way through any single meal
Turning every room she walks through upside down
Demanding to help with the cooking and trying to climb on things to get to the kitchen counter (I am terrified of her getting near to the cooker)
Insisting on helping roll out chapatti's and rolling them hard enough to make them stick to the worktop
Pestering her nan for sweets as soon as she sees her
Accusing her brother of having smelly feet
Spilling every other cup of water she gets her hand on
Refusing completely to put away her toys 
Switching my laptop of while I am working on it
Opening the taps in the bathroom and getting her sleeves wet and knocking the loo roll and towels off of their place (every single time she goes in there!)
Jumping off everything.

The older kids have complained that they seem to be picking up after her numerous times per day, so in the end we confiscated most of her toys and put them in a black bag while she thinks about changing her ways.

The kids have named her Ramona the Pest after the book because of her hair style and all of her mischief and she seems to like the name.

The girl is lucky she has those big, innocent eyes and I have a soft spot for fierce girls, or she would be spending a lot more time on the thinking chair (our kitchen chair).

The good news is, she finally made a friend after a whole term on playing alone at nursery.  She is a bit of an introvert and likes to be left alone to explore (and wreak havoc) for stretches of time. Happily this friend is actually real and Baby even knows her name.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Product Review: Modestrove Mystery Box

I have always liked the idea of treats coming through the post, whether an unexpected gift or a subscription box (like the cosmetic ones that are popular right now).  So when Modestrove asked if I would like to try one of their Mystery Boxes, I jumped at the chance.

It all seems rather glamorous, something which I don't feel at all.  Having to do wudhu regularly limits how much make-up I can wear and spending time running from school, to work to kitchen means practical shoes and clothing for me.

I received the box through the post within a day or two and it came well packaged.

The Modestrove Mystery Boxes all come in this sturdy pink box with the Modestrove London logo.  Little Lady had asked if she can have it to keep her things in afterwards.

I liked the details, like the wrapping paper and the greeting card in the box.

The Mystery Boxes come in £10, £30, £60, £90 and £100 versions.  The website doesn't give any hint of what is in the mystery boxes, so I was super curious to find out what could be in them.  I received the £30 version to try and this was what was inside:

Three scarves in differing textures and colours.  The scarves were a nice quality and size, the smoky taupe coloured one in the middle is my favourite as it's quite a neutral colour and will go nicely with party outfits.  The scarves are not ones that are on the Modestrove website to the moment, so these seem unique to the boxes.

The Taherah soap (normally retails at £4) looks ordinary at first glance, but is described as containing vitamins A, C & E, clay, mineral salts such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium, seaweed, palm oil and sandalwood.  I haven't tried it yet, but look forward to it.  Little Man is started to get his first spots (in time for turning into a teen next month), so I may let him try this one.  The sandalwood means that the smell is not overly feminine and quite fresh. 

I am a fan of matte stay-on lip glosses, so liked the addition of this.  This colour (the Miami Rose shade which is normally £12) looks like a slightly corally pink on first look and the swatch is consistent with this, but went on a very bright pink (more like a bubble gum pink).

It was a really nice treat getting a Mystery Box through the post.  The contents of the box were not necessarily items I would have bought myself, but I enjoyed receiving them.  Perhaps a good gift idea for those that like surprises, the girl who has everything or for the gift giver who can’t decide what to give.

You can check out the Modestrove Mystery Boxes here.

Disclaimer: I received this product at no cost to me for the purpose of testing it for review. The opinions expressed here are my own and from my own honest experience of using the product.

Monday 18 December 2017

End of a Chapter: Last Day at Work

Last week saw my last day at my job after 10 years of service.  As you can imagine I had mixed feelings.  I leave behind some wonderful people, some who I count as friends, others who I have a lot of respect or and have learned so much from and others still who I consider mentors and people who opened doors for me or believed me to be capable enough to act as advocates of a kind for me.

I leave behind ten years of knowledge and experience I built up of the organisation and the chance to be part of the story as the organisation goes through significant change.

At the same time I am grateful and excited for a new opportunity and a new job.  Often starting a new job feels like starting all over again: proving yourself to be capable, building up your knowledge, convincing people about what you can do and building new networks.  But this time feels different.  I feel like I am taking my knowledge and experience with me.  The last two years of work have been challenging ones for me, but the challenge brought exponential growth in so many areas of skill and even character – I outlasted numerous people walking out because they couldn’t handle the work environment.

So this time I don’t feel like I am starting again.  I feel like I am bringing everything I have learned and done with me so that I can build on it insh’Allah.  The only thing I will miss will be working by the London Docks and my beautiful daily walks along the waterways.  Instead I am looking forward to making new friends and finding interesting new walks.

For my last day, instead of the usual leaving drinks (because I don’t drink…), I invited people to a pot luck lunch.  I brought in samosa’s, spring rolls, kebabs and roast chicken and a lovely friend brought in lots of pizza and cake.  I had friends from across the organisation come to with me well and even some that had left come back to see me off.

I took great pleasure in writing my good bye e-mail, I cleared my desk and made sure all my work was finished or handed over and I switched on my forever out-of-office.  I wished my colleagues goodbye and promised to keep in touch, I will e-mail them on the first day of my new job and let them know they are welcome to get in touch whenever they need to.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Picture of the Day 10.12.17: Snow Madness

We had snow recently, not much, but enough to make snowballs.  I don't know what it is about snow and children, but mine go a bit crazy.  I stalled mine as long as I could, but it wasn't long before they were all in the garden making snowballs and trying to make a snowman.

For the babies it was their first proper snow, they loved the idea of it until their mittens got wet and their hands too cold and they had to rush back in.  The boys had friends around and spent the whole day in the front garden having snowball fights and making stacks of snow (none of which seemed to result in a snowman - I think they were too busy piling it up and kicking it over).

I spent the day telling them to shut the doors and stop going in and out and mopping up the sludge they were tramping through the house.  Darling innocently asked me why grown-ups don't like snow.

Friday 8 December 2017

Author Interview with Zanib Mian

Zanib Mian is a Molecular Cell Biologist and Founding Director of Sweet Apple Publishers. She grew up in London, where she still lives with her family. Zanib wrote her book The Muslims in response to the surge of faith-based bullying as, reported by Child Line and the NSPCC. She hopes it will help counteract some of the negative stereotypes of Muslims.

Many people dream of becoming writers, what made you put pen to paper and actually write a book? 
When I had my own kids I realised that there were little or no books available that were representing them or other kids of minority ethnic backgrounds and that’s why I decided to start writing. I gradually then moved into writing Islamic books

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you and your writing? J.R.R Tolkien, Patricia Highsmith, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss – I used to read their books a lot when I was younger and I absolutely loved them (and still do!)

Other than books, my kids and all other kids that I have interacted with have great influence on my writing.

What inspired you to write your book? I think my 9 year old son gave me a lot of inspiration to write The Muslims – I wanted kids of his age to have a book in which they could see themselves – and a fun and exciting book at that, something that would represent them and help them to be more comfortable in their own skin and with their identity. I couldn’t find a children’s book that was about a main Muslim character, so I thought Omar in The Muslims could potentially be a young boy that other Muslim children could relate to and laugh with.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? I’d say I’m very much in touch with my inner child! Ideas can come to me from the simplest daily things that I might hear or say myself. For example, my son came down the stairs one day wearing two un-matching socks which gave me the idea to write my book Oddsockosaurus. It’s very rare that I will sit down and think about things to write about.

What do you love most about writing? Making kids feel and consider things that they might not have maybe otherwise felt. Opening windows for kids into different worlds that they might not have explored yet.

For the Islamic aspect I try to develop a deep love of Allah in kid’s hearts in a way which I haven’t currently seen conveyed in kid’s books. I love the idea of making Islam relatable for kids, be that in a book about hadith, duas or stories of the prophets. It’s phenomenal if the books are able to impact a child in such a way that it can influence their life and relationship with Allah.

Do you ever suffer from writers block and if so, how do you overcome it? If I ever feel like I am experiencing writers block I take myself to a place where I can work on the task at hand without any distractions, like a café maybe. This helps me to get into the right frame of mind.

What have you learned about yourself or your world through the process of becoming an author?
That I’m very much in touch with my inner child. I learn quite a fair bit of Islamic knowledge too for example I learnt a lot of the various prophets when writing Migo & Ali – Love for the Prophets.

When writing The Muslims, I felt it helped me become more comfortable with my own identity as a Muslim, that I don’t have to hide who I am, for example I don’t have to be shy about asking for a place to pray if I am out of the house.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Be yourself, write how it comes naturally to you. Your voice is unique!

Do you have a final message for your readers? Thanks for all of your love and support. Be Muslim with confidence!

You can find out more about Zanib at the website for Sweet Apple Publishers and about her latest book The Muslims here or even watch the book trailer here.

We have a copy of The Muslims so look out for a book review to follow.

See also: