Sunday 24 April 2022

L’Occitane Ramadan Mubarak Beauty Calendar

 A rather thoughtful soul gifted me the Ramadan calendar from L’Occitane at the start of Ramadan. I am a fan of their hand creams and was curious about their skincare range, but it was a little outside of my price range, so it was nice to get a range of products to try out.

The box itself feels sturdy and beautifully put together. Split into ten sections covering three days each, each section slides out and is itself split into three boxes. Each box contains a little treat.

I opened the first few and found a mix of classic, instantly recognisable products and newer skincare offerings. The classic, shea butter hand cream, the cherry blossom hand cream (my favourite) and the verbena range. I was surprised to find they do perfume too, including a perfume version of the cherry blossom scent. 

Some of the products were a good size, like this toner which is 30ml. I have been using the Clarins green Purifying Toner for the last twenty years and love it, but I am curious enough to try this product from the Immortelle range. I visited the L’Occitane shop in the Ashford (Kent) shopping outlet last week and saw the whole Immortelle range showcased in the most gorgeous packaging and left with them on my mental wish list (the Immortelle night serum was also in the calendar).

I love a good skin oil, and this Almond Supple Skin Oil was also a good size (15ml). It was the first product I tried and smells amazing. A few drops in the palm of my hand and then massaged into my face left my whole face feeling moisturised and dewy, but not greasy. I could smell the scent for ages afterwards (I still can as I write this). You only need  a few drops at a time, so this should last ages.

I didn’t take pictures of all of the products as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone else that has bought, been gifted, or wants to buy this. There were 30 products in total, split into seven body (hand and body creams), eight face (my favourites and the ones I can’t wait to try), eleven bath and hair and four scents (the most generous I thought). The sizes are great to try the products or for travel.

The L’Occitane Ramadan Mubarak Beauty calendar costs £99 (with a product value given as £130) and is available from their website.


Is this something you would buy? Do you use or have you tried L’Occitane products and what do you think of them?

Jazkah’Allah khairun to the kind soul who gifted me this, I will enjoy trying out the different products and creating little moments of self-care for myself.

Saturday 23 April 2022

Eid Shopping the Hard Way

It was a loooong day today. I had made plans to get lots done today and I asked Allah SWT to put barakah (blessing) in my time and help me to get all of my tasks done. I usually do my Eid shopping before Ramadan so that it is out of the way and there is no last-minute panic and I can focus on my worship during Ramadan. This year that just didn’t happen. So I made plans with the kids to get it done today. I got up early and did the housework and laundry first thing to get them out of the way and then dragged the kids out of bed at 9am.


We started off at the shopping mall (Westfield Stratford City) for the boys to pick tracksuits and new trainers. Gone are the days when I would pick them preppy little chinos and cute shirts. Now we have to sit and discuss the pro’s and cons of rows of trainers that all look the same to me. That’s before we start on the technical points of football trainers (Astro, soft/hard surface, metal vs plastic studs, sock boot) and I just want to go “eeny, meeny, miney, mo – just pick one!” I tried to bring the price range down, they both tried to bamboozle me with reasons to get the more expensive ones. My older son managed to get a pair of football boots in too. When the younger one tried to get a Liverpool shirt and goalkeeper gloves I drew the line – this was definitely not Eid shopping.

(First stop: Westfield Stratford City)

We sent both boys home on the bus and Little Lady (19) and I made our way to Green Street in East London to look at Asian clothes. I wouldn’t recommend doing both places while you are fasting and in a rush to get back home. We started at East Mall and I found lots of hijabs and abaya’s I liked but I decided to leave them and focus on Eid shopping. We saw quite a few nice outfits, but didn’t end up settling on any. Instead, we made the trek up and down the length of Green Street and made our way methodically through the shops.  There was a lot of the same type of thing: bling long after it has fallen out of fashion, dresses too heavy for little girls, fabrics that are too delicate for the embroidery on them and probably wouldn’t last many wears because the beads or gems catch and create pulls in the delicate fabric.  But in between the shops full of samey things, we found a few gems: Chiffonz stood out for their styles and prices, also Imaani and Maahir. I had to check the receipts for the names of the shops where we made purchases from - UR Boutique and Fashion Designer, bith independent little shops tucked away amongst the larger stores.

(Second stop: East Mall, Green Street)

The other thing about Green Street is the throng. It was a Saturday and two weeks from Eid, so there were crowds along most of the length of the street (about one and a half miles long), in some places too thick to easily get past. I also find that there is often a lot of barging through people and people blocking the way (shop entrances, the road, passageways in shops), completely oblivious to anyone else. I tend to try and be polite and say excuse me to people, my daughter decided to say excuse me in the most aggressive way she could, tell people off for trying to barge past without saying excuse me and generally not put up with the usual behaviours I find when I go to Green Street.


On the plus side, the good thing about Green Street is everything is cheaper than my local shops and the variety for Asian clothes is crazy. We managed to find sharara suits for the little girls, although not in the colours we wanted as the style had sold out except for the last few sizes. My daughter bought a very pretty pink and white salwar kameez with elegant thread embroidery and unexpectedly, picked a sari. I was planning to wear something I already had, but spotted a dark sea green suit in a window and fell in love, so treated myself.

My daughter was luckily keeping one eye on the clock, so as soon as I had my suit, she pushed me to make my way home. By this point my feet were aching and the bus journey home was a welcome sit down. I was in a rush because my youngest daughter (Baby, 7) had an invite to a birthday party – at a trampoline park miles away. I didn’t fancy making the trek on the bus while I was fasting and so close to iftar time (4:45 to 7pm and fast opens at 8pm), but she rarely gets invited to parties and her friends mum had made a special effort – and the little Wildling has my heart and there was no chance I was going to say no to her. So on getting home I did my prayers and my oldest got her little sister changed, hair done and helped her write out the birthday card.


Then we were straight out of the door. I have to admit, I struggled through the two hours or so we were there and had hoped to leave earlier, but she was having fun, the guests were gracious and sometimes you just have to suck it up. As soon as they finished the trampoline session and the cake was eaten, we were out of the door. 


I got back home, prayed and then set off to parents for iftar. I brought fried masala fish and a Turkish platter with me. Mum made kebabs and prepared lots of fruit (there is something extra yum about the fruit my mum cuts for us alhamdulillah).

After we had eaten and prayed, I vegetated for a little while, while my sisters cleared up and played games with my children. Once I had a little energy back, I gathered my kids and led them back home and to bed.  The girls wanted to read in bed with me for a while, but the Wildling couldn’t fall asleep fast enough after all that jumping and excitement.


It was a long, busy, exhausting and fulfilling day alhamdulillah. I have been praying to Allah SWT to place barakah in my time so that I can fulfil all of my responsibilities and do everything I need to do as a mother, wife, daughter and Muslimah. Today felt like a day that I got a lot done alhamdulillah.

I think I might go a bit slower and move a bit less tomorrow 😊

Monday 18 April 2022

Ramadan Sleepover

Growing up, I used to listen to my school friends tell me about how they spent their holidays in towns far from London (Leicester, Preston, Blackburn, Manchester) spending weeks with cousins, at family wedding, having sleepovers. I felt like I missed out because we had such little family here and none my age, being the oldest of my generation in the UK.


My oldest three were the first children grandchildren in my family, so also didn’t have peers, but had my sisters to treat them and take them places.


In contrast my youngest two (Darling 9 and Baby 7) find themselves with a squad of little cousins around the same age - all girls, all sassy attitude and all good friends (most of the time). I’ve treasured the fact that they are growing up with so many wonderful, shared memories like family trips, holidays and special occasions together and sleepovers.  


They have had a few sleepovers together and I have hosted once or twice, but not the whole squad of five girls. So when my sister Fashionista mentioned she was coming to stay at my (nearby) parents for Easter break, I thought it would be nice for her oldest girl to stay at mine. As Ramadan started at the beginning of the two week holidays, we hadn’t really had the chance to do much with the girls, so this was a chance for them to have some fun as the break drew to an end. I invited my brother’s daughter (aged 9) and my little cousin who is the same age too.  No one needed to be asked twice.


Various parents dropped their girls off through the day with growing chaos and excitement. Gorgeous (aged 15 and old enough to know better), decided that this was a good opportunity to cause mischief and teased the girls at every turn. By the time it was time to break our fasts, there had been various arguments and sulks and Darling had already thrown herself at me in the kitchen and declared she couldn’t cope with so many people in the house and that no one was listening to her. I explained she was the host and the girls were her guests so she had to look after them and listen to them too.


As soon as the dished were cleared, we got some of my husband’s sleeping bag collection out and started making up beds on the living room floor. It took me about two hours to get everyone to lie down and try and sleep. Ten minutes after I left them, they were all up again and complaining. Gorgeous had stuck his head in the corner and told them a story about a family that was apparently murdered in the house and that at night the ghosts would come out of the storage cupboard at one end of the living room and kill them all. What followed was half an hour of trying to find an acceptable order for everyone to lie down so that no one was nearest to the cupboard. In the end Little Lady had to come down and tell them off and make them lie down again.


Next morning, I woke them up early and got them all ready to leave the house. I figured, if I got them out, the rest of the household who were fasting could sleep a bit longer in peace. We headed to the park to meet with the gardening group I volunteer with on Saturday mornings. We gave them a tour of the spaces we had created, including a nature trail with bird feeders, a stag beetle and bug hotels the group had created. 

Then I equipped them with litter-pickers and I got them to pick rubbish across the park on their way to the playground. They seemed to really enjoy it. We filled a bag of rubbish, got lots of nice comments from park users and then had the park ranger come over to say thank you to the girls for helping to take care of the park. I was holding the rubbish bag open and I think I spent most of the time telling hem to point the pickers downwards and trying not to get hit in the face by one.

After a good play in the park and taking lots of pictures under the gorgeous blossom trees I took them home to rest, get cleaned up and get ready to go out again. We headed to one of my favourite places in my area – our local library.


They had a mini art exhibition that the girls enjoyed giving their opinions on – they thought the painting of the horse was particularly impressive.

I got them to pick books and let them read for a while, until one of the librarians invited them to join in a dinosaur hunt game which they loved. On completion they got stickers, activity sheets and a medal. So that just made everyone’s day.


After an hour in the library, I took them shopping and let them choose a jigsaw to so together and a toy each to take home. They were all fasting, so I let them choose some snacks for after iftar (fast breaking) as well. They were super excited by their toys and snacks and took lets of pictures posing with their toys.


By this point they were starting to tire, so we took the bus home and I encouraged them to rest. They decided to build a den to play their jigsaw in. How can I describe the number of arguments, sulks and tantrums that this led to – everyone was the expert in den making and wanted to do it their own way. After an hour of squabbling, I suggested they did some painting in the garden instead.

The painting and doing the jigsaw got us to almost the end of the day and iftar. With half an hour to go, I got them to help get the table spread ready and the sit down to make dua for their parents. They were flagging a little by this point as they were hungry and a little tired, so iftar time was very welcome. Of course, as soon as they had eaten and then attacked their snacks, they were full of energy again and ready for another sleepover. Maybe next holidays.

Spring Blossom and Joy

I am sure I am not the only one whose spirit is raised by the greenery, new flowers and better weather of spring.  I am loving the blossoms everywhere on trees, the flower bulbs pushing through including the ones I planted with my youngest two with our gardening group in various spots across the park and public green spaces.

I love gardening and watching things grow and I love to go out first thing every morning to check how the plants are growing in my garden and enjoy the new flowers coming through. I make a point of getting up early, going outside and taking a few minutes before waking the kids or logging onto my laptop for work.

I can’t wait to plant more flowers in my garden and enjoy watching them grow. I look forward to the longer, warmer days of summer, and the warm, bright evenings alhamdulillah.

Thursday 14 April 2022

Edible Blessings

One of the many things I love about Ramadan is the sense of community, including the way many of us express this through food and feeding others. We tend to pick a day or two in Ramadan and then cook multiple dishes in bulk to send out to friends and family. When my teens were little they would look forward to those days with excitement at the thought of being allowed to take platters to various houses on the street. Now they are older, I have to threaten and cajole them to get them to do it.


In turn, I love the days when neighbours and family members send us snacks, platters or meals. It means that I don’t have to cook as much, there is variety at our iftar table, I get to try something cooked by someone else and I feel the love and sisterhood that goes into these gifts of food.


Today my lovely sister-in-law called and told me not to cook, she was bringing iftar. She freed up my time normally spent in the kitchen cooking so that I could read Quran. May Allah give her all of the reward and blessing of the extra reading.


While we waited, my neighbours daughter came by with a platter of pilau rice, aubergine fritters and shammi kebabs:

She is an amazing cook and her food is always a treat and guaranteed to satisfy.

My sister-in-law got stuck in crazy traffic and tuned up exactly as we were opening our fast, with the most amazing box of food:


She had made chicken biryani, chicken wraps, kebabs, channa chaat, raita and added lots of fruit. But the way she had presented her food made me feel like she put in a lot of care and effort for us (not to mention crossing the river to get it to us). I enjoyed feasting my eyes as much as my taste buds.

Another neighbour who I am good friends with dropped by with various desserts – defo feeding hubby these, he stays behind at the masjid after taraweeh for a little while and usually takes a thermos of herbal tea and snacks to share. He can take this with him.

I usually try to minimise sugar during Ramadan, but today I bought myself some chocolate cheesecake to share as a treat for myself and the kids:

The gifts of food have left me feeling super blessed and grateful this evening. May Allah SWT bless all of those that think of us and share their rizq with us with every good thing, perfect health, closeness to Allah SWT and the acceptance of all of their dua’s.

It was narrated that Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.”  (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 807)

Monday 11 April 2022

My Little Hijabi’s

A few month ago my second youngest child, Darling, aged 9, asked me if she could wear her hijab to school. I asked her if she was sure, and on hearing that she was, I said of course she could.


I can’t lie, I hesitated for a few moments. Not because I don’t love the hijab and am proud of her, but because I know that perhaps people might treat her differently because of it. They may see her as a Muslim before they see her as a child. Some will assume that I and her dad made her wear it.


Of course, I said yes and told her I was very proud of her. Of course, the first day she wore it to school, someone told her she “looked like an Indian” and of course it being Darling she happily told of them and had them missing playtime for a week, much to her glee.


She has taken it quite seriously, both making sure she wears it every day and making sure she matches it to her outfit. My youngest seems to have decided she likes the idea as well and asked if she can wear it too.  She has adopted it in her own wild and dishevelled way, in contrast to Darlings meticulous neatness. On more than one occasion she has gotten half way to school and realised she has forgotten it. Most days most of her hair is sticking out of the front and her little hijab is lopsided.


I think a big part of their decision to wear hijab is linked to their going back to the masjid for Quran classes after two years of online lessons. They are in a class for two hours every day with other little Muslimah’s and two lovely young teachers who have recently graduated as Islamic scholars. These two teachers have been phenomenal positive role models for them, bringing them closer to the faith and bringing it to life for them, complementing teaching with stories, time to play, crafts and little gifts for the girls.


I pray that they love wearing hijab as much as their mum does for the rest of their lives and that Allah (SWT) is pleased with them, their teachers and accepts it from them and us.

Darling as a Sufragette (school dress up)

The girls dressed up for World Book Day (as Cinderella and Enid, a character from The Worst Witch book series - yes thats an abaya)

My messy little one rocking her matching purple hijab and fave kitten socks 

Ramadan Treats

 One of the things I love in Ramadan is sending iftar to neighbours, family and friends and people sending back treats my way. I like that we just make a little extra and send it out and Allah (SWT) blesses it and it is enough for quite a few others.


Over the last 10 days, I have been sent pakora’s, potato samosa’s, mince samosa’s, two lots of biryani, a Bengali platter (with rice, channa and sweet pua pitha), dhai bhallay and lots of dates.


Today we got a knock on the door and someone handed my son a bag telling us it was from a house number down the road:

I recognised it as the house of an elderly widow and realised she had sent her daughter in law to houses down the street. The bag contained dates and a little scented tea light.

I think this aunty has the right idea. You could slave over a three course meal, or send a single date with sincerity and the intention to please Allah (SWT) and the reward is the same – that of the fasting person who broke their fast with your food.


May Allah (SWT) accept this Aunty’s efforts and be pleased with her insha’Allah.

Saturday 9 April 2022

Turning Complaints into Gratitude

Alhamdulillah, a week into Ramadan and I have found this Ramadan and fasting an interesting experience. The nights are longer and the days shorter, so these fasts are a little easier than previous years.  Working from home also means I can start work later, so for once I am not feeling lightheaded with sleep deprivation (although I did have a nice little nap in the middle of a lecture in the masjid this week, I heard someone let out a loud snore, so I wasn’t the only one).

My parents’ in-laws are not here this year, so that means a little less work and thinking of someone else, but also less good company, especially from my mum in law who is a bit of a cheerleader for me.


Despite not feeling sleepy, hungry or thirsty, I have found fasting difficult. The first few days were accompanied by sugar and caffeine withdrawal headaches, subsequent days have been filled with intense muscle pain that have disrupted my sleep and made it difficult to get through the day. I suspect this is caused by the loss of nutrients and sodium, so I am trying to manage it through my diet until I see a doctor. After a week of trying to work and manage home through the pain, I felt exhausted by it.  I sat on my prayer mat in the quiet time after taraweeh prayer and mulled over how I felt. It struck me that Allah (SWT) forgives our sins for the smallest discomfort, even the prick of a thorn. From that perspective, the aches and pains are a blessing, a means of forgiveness and with patience (sabr), also a means of reward.


I have been praying recently for a grateful heart and contentment with what Allah (SWT) decrees for me. I realised one way was to take my complaints and turn them into gratitude:

I am tired becomes I am grateful for a full day

My back hurts becomes alhamdulillah for my mobility

The kids misbehaving becomes gratitude for your children.


The shift in perspective got me thinking about the challenges I have had with my children through their teen years and how that sometimes left me feeling so low.

I remember when they were babies praying to Allah (SWT) that if He tests me, to make it with my wealth, but not my children. Now I realise that He could test me with my children (through loss of some kind) or through my children with the challenges parenting them brought up for me. It made me think that Allah (SWT) accepted my prayers – my children are healthy and whole Alhamdulillah, but they are also a handful. In being so they have forced me to grow, become more understanding, more patient and turn to Allah (SWT) more often. I never had the strength for tahajjud until my children drove me to despair on occasion and I needed to seek solace and help from Allah.


Once again my complaint turned out not really to be a complaint, but as challenging as parenting three strong-willed, irreverent, quick-witted teens is, this challenge is part of a journey to becoming a better person insh’Allah and turn back to Allah (SWT).


I am trying to hold onto this way of thinking, so that it becomes my default. It has made me feel more peaceful and happier and helped m to cope with all sorts of situations.

Friday 8 April 2022

A Year On (2022)


I realise it’s been a year since I last wrote and in that time I have had moments when I yearned to write and others when I wondered if I ever would again.

Then today I realised I have this little pocket of time for myself every day between clearing up after Iftar and before taraweeh prayer, and maybe writing is a better use of my time than scrolling through various social media feeds full of nonsense.


The last year has been intense, exhausting, rewarding and often deeply overwhelming.  My mind is stretched in every direction, leaving me with no mental capacity or energy to do anything creative like write.


The children have settled back into a routine with school following two lockdowns, during key school years for the oldest two (GCSE’s and A’Levels). Little Lady is now an adult (19 alhamdulillah) and in her first year of her law degree (never was there someone more born to be a lawyer subhan’Allah). Little Man (17) seems to have come through the worst of his angry young man phase (most of the time) and is going to a football academy, having turned into a gym bunny. Gorgeous (15) is well into his angry young man phase, although tempered by his very irreverent sense of humour, He is in the first year of his GCSE’s and is adamant he doesn’t need to study – he can just turn up and pass them. I am inclined to believe him, but I am not telling him that. Between the three of them there are days when I am in awe of the people they are turning out to be and days when I want to knock some sense into them.


The babies (Darling 9 and Baby 7) are enjoying primary school, and enjoying the fact that I work from home and can do the school run every day or spend all of the holidays at home with them.  I am grateful every single day for these two, their chatter, their hugs, their unconditional love. I love the fact that they are still at that age when they think mum is the best. A beautiful counter-balance to the acerbic tongues, mean jokes and cynical attitude of teenagers.


The pandemic took its toll on various members of my family. Alhamdulillah, I cannot find words to express my gratitude that I didn’t lose a close family member when so many around me did. Despite this it took it’s toll on many of the older generation. I can see a change in my parents with my mum having gained weight and slowed down a little and my dad developing an irregular heartbeat and diabetes. I think for both of them this was the result of two very active people having to be fairly sedentary during lockdown, I pray for their long life and good health, but I feel more protective than ever of them.


Work took my life over for much of the last year, seeping into my evenings and never fully letting me fully clear my mind. It affected my health, my clarity and I started to think it would affect my iman (faith) and the quality of my worship. Much as I loved my job, I knew it was time for change. Last week I took a promotion into another department with much higher pay and a clearer remit, which means handing over all of the work that was overwhelming me, delegating more and the ability to say no to anything outside of my remit. A week into the role I feel calmer, clearer, I have more of my time back and feel much happier. I think that may be one of the reasons I am wiring again, because a week in the fog caused by overwhelm has lifted and I feel able to do something more than just sit there looking at social media mindlessly. I am super excited by the new role and the chance to make it my own.


I am in the second and final year of my Masters, with less than six months to complete my dissertation and my portfolio of work. I am really excited an inspired by my dissertation subject – I just struggle to find the time to study and properly conduct research. I feel these last few months will be the making or breaking of me!


I am enjoying being involved in my community. I litter pick and do gardening once a week with a local group along with my youngest two and sometimes hubby and I was honoured to be invited to join the board of an anti-racism charity. Once a week I host the sisters halaqah for the masjid (they have a Urdu, Bengali and English circle, the English circle is held at my home). Every now and again my husband volunteers us to cook for guests or events at the masjid, which I am grateful for the chance to do.

Planting flower bulbs

In all life is full – full of good things. They are often hard things (the days when the teens are more than I can manage), exhausting things (days when I am running from school run, to meeting, to madrassah to grocery shop, to kitchen), but they are blessed things – the things that make up a life worth living.


Did you miss me? Shall I write more often? What kind of things should I write about?

Ramadan Kareem 2022/1443


Ramadan Kareem,

I hope this Ramadan has started well for all of my brothers and sisters and that you are making the most of it.

I am deeply grateful to see this blessed month again.

I find Ramadan is always the month I find myself again – it takes me back to my purpose, my self and my Creator Insha’Allah. This year has been no exception. Once again I find myself having to pare back to essentials so that I can manage fasting, worship, family, home, work and community. Everything non-essential falls away just so that I can manage.


I was speaking to my bestie about goals for Ramadan and hers was to get closer to Allah (SWT), she encouraged me to set a goal for myself too. I reflected on how I was managing and what I needed to make the most of this month. I have found that I have struggled to get through each day of Ramadan, struggling with painful, cramping muscles. I have been obsessing with my weight for the last few months too. So I decided that my intention during Ramadan would be to get healthy with the intention of being a better Muslimah. Better health would allow me to worship better, serve better and generally fulfil my duties better. I have been trying to eat well, move more and move my focus off of my weight and onto feeling good in myself and taking the best care I can of myself.


Another part of me understands that discomfort, illness, personal challenge are all things that help us turn back to Allah (SWT), seeking His help and finding comfort in His faith:


“Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it”. (Muslim)


That leaves me feeling grateful and positive alhamdulillah.


I hope that my Muslim sisters and brothers are making the most of this beautiful month and finding that opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. May Allah (SWT) bless you all with the best of health, perfect iman, an abundance of halal rizq and the acceptance of all your dua’s.


I make dua especially for those of my family, this ummah, that are suffering or struggling with injustice, war, illness, debt and doubt. May Allah (SWT) relieve your hardship and send you joyful days insh’Allah.


Do you set Ramadan goals? What are they? How are you finding this Ramadan?