Thursday 23 August 2018

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Day 2: Family, Food and Photo-Shoots

The second day of Eid followed a familiar and much-loved routine, lunch at mums, followed by a day spent laughing and joking with siblings and doting over our clutch of little girls alhamdulillah.

I wore this blue kameez from edenrobe with white trousers and a silky royal blue scarf. My husband bought it last year from Pakistan but I ended up wearing something else when I tried it on and felt self-conscious.  I lost a little weight this year, so enjoyed wearing this:

I am really liking this type of Islamic geometric pattern I have been seeing all over Pakistani clothes in the last year or so:

I hadn’t planned to buy the babies new clothes this Eid as my mum bought them pretty cotton dresses from Monsoon which they wore on the first day of Eid.  I happened to come across these on clearance at a local shop that was closing down – the last two children’s dresses, in both my daughters’ sizes for a very discounted price.  I snapped them up and they got compliments all day alhamdulillah.

You know it is Eid in my house when the biggest pot I own gets dragged out from the back of our store cupboard.  This year I was tasked with making the lamb curry for our family gathering (recipe here).  Took ages but came out a treat.

My neighbour invites me over for Eid breakfast every year, but I never get to go. This year I wasn’t hosting and we moved Eid lunch from 12pm on the dot, to after Zoher prayers (after persuading my parents who are sticklers for time and routine), so I had some time to go and visit her.  The woman is an amazing cook mashallah and fed us halva, puri, channay, lamb curry and tandoori chicken for brunch.  May Allah (SWT) bless her home and family.

This was soon followed by our big Eid lunch at my mums.  Eid lunch was a joint effort this year, lamb pilau and kebabs by my mum, lamb curry by me, roast chicken by my lovely sister in law, chocolate cake by Fashionista sister.  Mums lamb pilau really is our treat for the year (or twice a year) alhamdulillah.

The cake really was good: moist, rich and with gooey choc icing:

Of course, after lunch is always the obligatory photo-shoot of the lovely outfits and the cheeky babies.

We spent the afternoon slowly clearing dishes, packing food and chatting with cousins.  We had to head home earlier than usual because we are heading to Bournemouth for day three of Eid for a short break and there is packing to be done.

These little peg dolls of us were a nice little gift from Fashionista, the artist used pictures of us to create them.  Little Lady calls them voodoo dolls and tells me she will poke my one next time I annoy her :/

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Day 1: Henna Fun

I have always wanted to be really good at applying henna designs.  I sued to do my own but in recent years I have been too busy in the kitchen or getting everyone organised to get my henna done.  This year I thought I would have a go myself and did my own and the babies’. 

It was kind of nice, Fashionista sister did her little girl henna herself and my sister-in-law did her daughters as well.  Fashionista got these fab Maybelline gold tattoos in her Glossy box and one sheet was enough for all of the little girls and some of the adults too, a nice embellishment to the henna.

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Day 1: Eidfest 2018

We were lucky enough to have an Eidfest event near us this Eid.  The event was organised by 1Eid whose vision is: “We will strengthen and unite local communities by reviving, celebrating and sharing the essence of Eid.” Which is kind of wonderful.

There were a couple of things I liked about this event.  The foremost was the beautiful halal and comfortable environment.  There were Muslims from all of our diverse local communities in their regional finery and I really enjoyed seeing what the sisters were wearing and seeing the kids all dressed up.  We could pray without thinking twice about it and there was space to make ablution.

Entry was cheap (£1 each), although the rides were not, the kids blew all of their Eid money on rides, soft toys and slushees and got an earful from their dad for it.  I browsed the stalls, buying halal sweets, including those cigarette sweets we used to love as kids but can rarely find a halal version of now.

I managed to get onto a ride with the babies that I thought was for little kids.  I have an intense fear of heights and no stomach for any ride apart from the tea cup ride or a carousel if I am feeling brave. I didn’t realise that the ride went up quite high and spun around very fast, so I spent the whole time with my eyes shut and praying to Allah to let the ride finish and promising to be good.  The babies were not scared at all and enjoyed themselves.

The fireworks were quite late and as it was cooling down and the girls didn’t have their cardigans, we ended up getting ready to leave before the fireworks started.  Luckily we had parked all the way at the other end of the park and got to the car to realise that this was where the firework display was and that it was about to start. 

I have never been to a firework display before and I was a little worried the babies would get scared.  We really enjoyed the display and the babies were thrilled (I wonder how a chicken like me has such brave girls).

The Eidfest was a really nice part of our Eid this year and I will look out for it in future years.

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Day 1: A Quite Eid and Fireworks

Eid was a little different this year.  I was too preoccupied with gobby teenagers, work and preparing for the next school year for it to catch my attention early enough.  I didn’t mind this too much as we had a simple and relaxed Eid.  We used decorations I had made for a previous Eid.  We mostly wore our nice clothes that we already had.  I made one snack (dhai bhallay), one sweet for breakfast (sevaiyan or vermicelli in milk) and one dish for lunch (achari-style chicken and bell peppers) and didn’t offer to host anyone this year.  I didn’t do much in the way of gifts.  It was not that I was not bothered, I love Eid and I always try to create excitement and a happy vibe for my family.  It was more that I liked the idea of enjoying myself and having a relaxing Eid for once and was grateful for the opportunity to slow down.

Ours was one of the families that had Eid on different days, so a few of us celebrated one day and the rest a day later.  This used to upset me, but I am practical about it these days.  I make plans with the people who are celebrating the firsts day and save the best outfits for the second day as everyone usually gets together.

This Eid, we took our time getting ready and the boys came back from early Eid salah and promptly fell asleep on the sofa mid-morning, as did their dad and grandfather.  We had a lovely barbecue lunch at my favourite uncles and spent the afternoon lazing about at home followed by an evening at the Eidfest celebration that was happening locally, with rides for the kids and fireworks.

I wore a pretty outfit from a previous year, but spent most of the day in a sparkly velvet abaya and my fave red heels (accompanied by my signature dark red lipstick of course):

The girls wore pretty cotton dresses their nan bought them:

How was your Eid?  Did you celebrate quietly or go all out?

Monday 20 August 2018

Eid-ul-Adha 2018/1439 - Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak everyone.  Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum (May Allah accept it from you and us).

I hope this Eid is a peaceful and joyful one for all of you, full of good food, good company and good deeds insh’Allah. 

Hajj Mubarak to those lucky enough to be invited by Allah (SWT) to His sacred house this year.  I hope your dua's are accepted and that you attain a complete and accepted hajj insh'Allah.  May Allah (SWT) give us the opportunity to visit his house again and again also insh'Allah.  

“Anas ibn Malik reported that in the pre-Islamic period people (in Madinah) people used to celebrate two annual days of festivity. When Prophet (PBUH) came to Madinah he said, “you used to have two days of celebration, Allah (SWT) has replaced them with two better days: the day of Fitr and the day of Adha.” (Nisai’, Sunan al-Kubra’, 1, 542; Sunan al-Sughra 3:199).

The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: "The days of (Eid) are days of eating and drinking and of remembering God, the Exalted." ~ Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 2, Number 153

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Product Review: Himalaya Herbals at Beauty Base

The nice people at online beauty retailers Beauty Base recently sent me some products to try out, a new range called W7 Very Vegan (review to follow) and some items from the Himalaya Herbals range that they stock.

I am a big fan of aloe vera and use it in gel form on y face every day, so I was happy to try the Himalaya Moisturizing Aloe Vera Face Wash.  I found it had a really pleasant, light scent and bubbled into a gentle lather.  I found the face wash to be gentle and it didn’t strip moisture from my skin.  This formula is a bit lighter than the more heavy duty face washes I tend to go for, but a good enough daily face wash for those who want to treat their skin with some gentleness.

I have to say I was intrigued by the Himalaya Tan Removal Peel-Off Orange Mask.  On principle I believe in embracing my tan/deeper colouring and encouraging others to do the same.  Little Lady didn’t have the same qualms and helped herself to the mask one day after walking home from school on a particularly hot day.  The mask applies easily and dries to a thin film that can be peeled off easily.  It has a nice citrus scent.  But more to the point, I was shocked to find it actually worked.  It seemed to remove some of LL’s tan on using it.  I wasn’t expecting such a visible result at all, but it seemed to work for her.

I tend to go for whitening toothpastes or miswak (tooth stick), so the Himalaya Complete Care Toothpaste was a bit different to what I am used to.  It is not minty, which is unusual for a toothpaste in itself, but it seemed to leave my mouth clean in enough.  I am undecided on this one so far.

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.

Pakistan Independence Day 2018

The Pakistani Independence Day celebrations will be going on late into the night outside my house with hundreds of people thronging onto the main road, music, flags, traffic jams, fireworks and a smoke machine billowing green smoke of all things.  It’s not often the women and kids get a chance to be out late at night, so they are making the most of it.

Alhamdulillah, what a year for Pakistan.  As the celebrations go on late into the night outside my house, I am reflecting on how high spirits seem to be this year both here and in Pakistan.  Following elections and the change of government, there seems to be such a pervasive sense of hope.  I pray that the prosperity and safety that people hope for comes to Pakistan after so many challenging years insh'Allah.

If you need a reminder of some of the pain and sacrifice this country was built on, you can read a heart stopping account here on HeenaBukhari’s Instagram (thank you to Harlequin for showing me this).

Hajj 2018/1439: The Blessed Days of Hajj

Subhan'Allah, the month of Dhul-Hajj is upon us:

Rasulullah (sallahu alaihi wassalam) said: “On no days is the worship of Allah desired more than in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the ibaadat (worship) of each of these nights is equal to the ibaadat of laylatul qadr.” (Hadith Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah)

I keep reading and re-reading hadith above to motivate myself to step up the quality of my worship in the coming days and I pray that we are able to appreciate how special it is and try and get the most reward out of it.

I have written about the significant rewards and benefits of these first ten days of hajj before, some of these posts are listed below:

My Ramadan and Eid Planner 2018/1439 also has a section called The First Ten Days of Hajj and Ten Days to Eid-ul-Adha which covers Udhiyya (Qurbani or sacrifice), some resources to learn more and the sunnan (prophetic traditions) which relate to Eid-ul-Adha.

You can also read my hajj diary from 2005 here:

Alhamdulillah brings back so many beautiful memories.

I hope that you are all able to make the most of these special days and that Allah (SWT) gives you the opportunity to earn great reward and feel spiritually uplifted and closer to both Him (SWT) and our brothers and sisters during this time of worship and community insh'Allah.

Ibn 'Abbas (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even jihad for the sake of Allah except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." ~ Bukhari

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained how, “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed during them.” [Hadith Ahmad, 7/224].

Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallahu Alaihi Wassalam) said, "There is no day on which Allah sets free more slaves from Hell than He does on the Day of Arafah.'' [Muslim].

Saturday 11 August 2018

Afternoon in Barking Park: Splash Park and Peddle Boats

There are some beautiful parks not too far from us (ValentinesPark being one of the best), but those that are nearer are unfortunately generally either a little grotty or feel slightly unsafe. Barking Park is one we have taken the kids to on a rare occasion, but doesn’t stand out as somewhere we would go to specially. Recently Fashionista Sister came to stay in London with her lovely little girl and suggested we take them all to the Splash Park in Barking Park. I had never heard of such a thing, so had to look it up and it looked fun. I happened to buy the girls UVA protection suits and aqua shoes recently (£3.99 and £2.99 from Lidl respectively) as we are going to Bournemouth soon insha’Allah, so these came in handy.

I sent the girls ahead to the Splash Park with their aunt and took the boys and their grandfather to check out the pedal boats on the boating lake which seem to be new. As with everything when you want to have a nice day out, they were a bit on the pricey side - £10 for 15 minutes. We let the boys pedal and dad-in-law and I chilled and slowly roasted in the glare of the hot sun. It was a very pleasant 15 minutes and it was nice to see the lake from a different perspective.

Afterwards I headed to the Splash Park feeling a little confused, you have to pay to go in (even if you are standing at the side to watch your kids) and you have to have swim wear to go near the water. Gorgeous brought his UV top and his swimming shorts, but Little Man decided he wasn’t interested (until we got there and he changed his mind). In addition, I could see into the Splash Park area and see lots of people sun bathing in bikini’s, I didn’t really think it was appropriate for either the boys or for their grandfather. I was still trying to work out what to do, when my sisters and sister-in-law exited with the troupe of wet little girls much to my relief.

The kids wanted ice cream and we wanted to get out of the sun, so we headed for the new cafĂ© that has just opened in the park. This tuned out to be a lovely little treat – clean, a nice menu, friendly staff, space and toys for the little ones to play and…a book swap area! We ordered slushes and ice cream and chatted and browsed books just long enough for the sun to lose its edge a little and us to go home. Now I really, really, want somewhere to go and swap books.

Bowling Babies

One of my sisters (or sister-in-law) had a brainwave for us all to go bowling together. This isn’t something we have done as a family, the last time I went was when my high school took me. I was more than up for it and we decided to make a day of it with lunch afterwards and afternoon in the park.

My sister-in-law booked us a game at Hollywood Bowl in Dagenham and was kind enough to treat everyone by paying for it as well. We rocked up and took two lanes – one for the babies and me to supervise them and one for everyone else, i.e. the serious players.

The babies had a great time climbing all over the ball machine, dragging heavy balls over and rolling them down the helping frame and generally causing havoc running around and hugging the sweet machines.

I didn’t expect very much but I scored two strikes and some high scores and the babies had the buffer and frame to help them, so we ended up scoring much higher than the “serious” team, much to their annoyance.

On our way out, I tried to get the kids past the arcade machines and through the door as quickly as I could but failed completely. There is something about shiny, noisy games and young boys, that fast exit just wasn’t going to happen. The boys and their dad hopped onto a motorbike game. Seeing as we were not going anywhere soon, Little Lady and I decided to play the Jurassic Park, dinosaur shoot-em-up until they were ready to leave.