Saturday, 19 August 2017

Musings / Everyone Needs a Sophie

The only thing I'm going to miss about summer this year, is the ample amount of daylight
we were blessed with. Not that I took advantage of it. You know what they say; 
you don't know what you got until it's gone. I'm looking forward to cold nights, warm duvets,
and layering clothes. Also, can we petition for Costa to bring their winter hot spiced apple
tea back, please!

In the meantime, I'm still seeking little moments of escape from the daily grind.
The other day I got my husband to take me and Little One to a dessert place
because I just wanted cake. I had two delicious desserts and don't regret either one of them.
I think until the rest of the family get back from their holiday, I'm
going to carry on feeling a bit lost. Or maybe I'm just using that as an excuse to
hide from the imminent 'your child is growing up, what are you planning on
doing with your life now' conversation, that everyone is so keen on starting with me
all the time.

Well I want to take a twelve month holiday, Abdul. How do you feel about that?

Jokes aside, I had a long talk with my best friend which gave me clarity.
 Sometimes all it takes is a conversation with a loved one to feel re-charged and optimistic. 
I can openly speak of my fears, confusion and ideas with her and she always gets it. 
Our conversation is usually one says something and the other replies, 'OMG ME TOO!' 
or 'OMG DO IT!' or 'ARE YOU DUMB?'. We use 'OMG' too much, I know. 
Theres no room for faux niceties in our friendship. It's always refreshing to hear her 
thoughts on my musings. If you're reading this, Soph, everyone should have 
someone like you in their life. You're a pillar in my life and I'm grateful for it.

Okay this post got too deep. I need some tea. 

p.s yes I ate all those chocolates. I needed the wrappers. It was for aesthetic purposes.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Musings / Now If Time Was A Turtle...

You know when you plan things, but they don't always work out? Well that's exactly
what this summer has turned out to be for me. With half of my family abroad for the 
holidays, I thought it would give me much needed time to create, make and blog.
However with a house to look after and construction work pending, there just 
hasn't been enough hours in a day. But it's okay, I'm optimistic for the remainder of this month. 
So, what have I been doing in any given free time? Mostly I've been trying spend moments with my daughter.
She's becoming very independent as a toddler and speaking clearly. Conversations
with her are a mixture of delight and surprise at the new words she's learning everyday. 

A surprising hobby to add to the list; horticulture. I've been enjoying looking after the houseplants
in my Mother-in-law's absence and also taken to keeping chilli plants.
My Dad has the best chilli plant collection and I seem to have caught the bug.
For ages we were all baffled as to why Dad had grown a collection 40+ plants, but I
totally get it now. My aloe vera plant is ever growing and I love that it was my Dad
who gave it to me. Every time I look at it, I remember him and miss him more. 

The great dressmaking journey has come to a halt at the moment, but it will be back. 
In the meantime I've been sketching things to make, sourcing fabric, learning about colours, 
fabrics and construction. This Pantone book is my current obsession. 
It's been an interesting read on the origins of colours and the images are wonderful to look at. 

My room is a perpetual mess but I still try to do little things here and there to add character.
The latest addition is a bonsai tree. A firm favourite is still the little camel, a souvenir from Dubai. 
When I haven't been standing in front of the mirror and overanalysing the latest breakout 
on my face, I've cleared out both mine and my daughters wardrobes. It's healthy to
consider giving away items every few months, especially ones which haven't seen the light of day!

To treat my breakout I went back to the Tea Tree Night Lotion by The Body Shop.
I used this years ago for a similar breakout which left a lot of scarring and it didn't disappoint 
once again. I've also been directly treating big spots and blemishes with their Tea Tree oil 
and it's done wonders.

Ah, tea and coffee. And I hate that I do it, but it's become a comfort to make a cup and sip at leisure.
When I'm bored; coffee. Feeling down; a cup of tea with biscuits. Getting overwhelmed; coffee
I see or hear someone else drinking tea or coffee; I have to make one too. It's only fair.

I haven't ventured out much this summer, which is largely due to construction work taking place in our garden. 
Husband and I have been taking romantic trips to Asda and Lidl, does that count? We 
also attended a wedding a few days ago. It was a nice distraction from the mundane routine we've 
dug ourself into. Blogging wise, I mostly open the laptop and sit with my planner. Only to 
end up buying random things online and then deciding I hate myself for being unproductive.
However in the midst of writing this post, I've grown slightly amused at the fact that I have
been productive. Just not in the way I wanted to have been. What have you
been doing this summer? Please say you've had a more fulfilling July/August than I have!

For the seven of you reading this, I will start posting regularly. 
Don't abandon me just yet. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

What I Wore / Modest Wedding Guest Attire

Over the weekend I attended the wedding of one of my oldest friends. 
We go way back to the tender age of seven. I thought she was a snob at first
and I'm not sure what she thought of me, but we made it in the end anyway!
She was a big part of my life during college and university. We both started 
wearing the hijab around the same time during uni. Prior to that we would have hours 
and hours of conversation just about wearing the hijab. I've seen her grow into a 
wonderful, classy young woman and she has the best modest fashion sense to boot.
I can't believe she's married now! I wish her and her husband lots of happiness 
and goodness in their marriage. 

It was fitting to channel some of my friend's elegant style in my outfit as a guest to her wedding.
I wore this beautiful dusty pink lace gown from Inayah, with one of their modal 
hijabs. In keeping with a simplistic vibe I accessorised with just a silver teardrops necklace,
finished with heels from Zara and a clutch from Monsoon. The fit was perfect, I'm a 56" in abayas,
so I bought this in 58" to wear heels with it. It was so nice to feel free and comfortable
 as opposed to wearing something ornate and feeling restricted. Usually with a saree or salwar kameez 
I would spend ages trying to match a hijab and making the outfit as modest as possible.
 I love that with this dress I literally threw it on and tied my hijab and was good to go. 

The Inayah modal hijabs are some of my favourites as they are maxi size and you can't 
see a thing through them! Also a sign that Inayah are doing an amazing job being one 
of the leading modest fashion brands out there? So many sisters knew straight away where 
my dress was from by just looking at it. That's what you call making a mark in fashion design. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Places / Dubai Miracle Garden

Abaya - Souk Naif, Dubai / Bag - Kate Spade 

A belated Eid Mubaruk to those of you who celebrated. 
I'm sure many will agree Ramadan this year was an extremely testing 
time. So many tragedies unfolded in the UK with innocent people dying/being hurt
because of hate and bigotry. Even as I write this I'm following reports
on Twitter, of acid attacks upon innocent Muslims. In all honesty I could have blogged, 
but decided against it over the past few weeks because I couldn't see past the 
dark cloud that hangs over us. But how long do we put off doing things we enjoy
because we feel guilty, or fearful? All the more reason to live...right? 

So I think back to a happy time. The past few days have been hectic, which is expected post Eid.
Basically I could do with a holiday. Or two. No, Bangladesh doesn't count. 
Last year in April we took a 9 month old Little One away for her first holiday. 
Although, I am unsure of what our intentions really were; I'm inclined to believe that 
the holiday was more for us than taking LO on her first holiday!

One of the places on my list of 'must see' was the Dubai Miracle Garden.
I'm convinced the guys behind this brainchild created this place to bring to life
every Asians' dream. And that is to have endless opportunities to take pictures next to 
flowers/sitting on a flowerbed/posing next to a plant etc. If you're Asian and you know it,
clap your hands. We were advised by other guests at the hotel we stayed in, to
visit the gardens in the morning or later in the afternoon when the temperature was a little low.
We managed to get there around lunchtime and it was scorching. With a baby in tow it was
difficult to be up and ready for a morning visit. 

This place is a gigantic piece of land brimming with larger than life flower installations. 
Each one crazier than the last. If those flower clad houses were real I would live there. 
Absolutely, show me the dotted line. We tried to get a sneaky pic standing next to
one and I got yelled at by the security guard to stay off the grass. 

My only one regret was not getting a picture in front of the infamous red hearts.
Husband already flat out rejected any aspirations of taking a couple shot near them. 
The red hearts are that popular, there was an actual queue. 
Its okay I'm sure he still likes me, it's fine really. Who needs a photo next to red heart flower
installation anyway? I'll make one in my living room. No I won't.

There is a small area to sit and eat under floating umbrellas, no less. A few kiosks 
are open nearby selling food, cold drinks and ice creams. Take a few snacks and enjoy 
an ice cream whilst there, or better yet grab some food before you go. 
You may be disappointed with what's on offer depending on the day you visit; 
many kiosks were closed when we visited. The prices are also a little on the high side 
for whats on offer. Then again is it really a holiday in Dubai, if you haven't got 
money seeping through your fingers even when you're sleeping?

I highly, highly recommend visiting. A short walk away is the Dubai Butterfly Garden
(which I'll cover in a later post) and it's a great day out. Especially if you want a breather
from the shopping and high buildings. Don't forget your camera. 
I've got a massive stack of photos to show Little One when she's older!!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Ramadan / Books To Read

Firstly, Ramadan Mubaruk to all who are observing this blessed month!
For those who may be unaware of what this month means for us, Ramadan is
special month where as Muslims we keep obligatory fasts, increase worship, 
give charity and basically try to be extra strong in our faith, in the hope of immense 
reward from Allah. It's beautiful time to reflect and improve ourselves. 
It's also definitely a month to really appreciate and be grateful for what we have. 

I just wanted to share a few books I have been reading/I'm hoping to read this month.
If like me you run on little time to pick up a book during this month and need something
beneficial, but easy to process, these are my favourites.


The obvious first choice, reading the Holy Qur'an is a form of worship in itself.
This isn't so much a recommendation, as I would expect majority
of us will read the Qur'an this month if nothing else. 
I personally struggle to read fluently and it's taken me a long time to find a 
Qur'an that has lettering I can read easily, thus improving my recitation.
I've been trying my best to recite more, especially after prayer
This copy belongs to someone in my house, not sure who. But it's mine now until
they reclaim it!

I remember years ago during my teens I asked my Dad to take me to
an Islamic book shop so I could purchase a translation of the Qur'an.
It was a time when my interest in Islam peaked and I needed to know 
what I was reading. We bought a version that used outdated english
language, which was okay enough, but I always knew I would
be on the search for something more modern.

Finally I came across this brilliant translation whilst working at a book store, knowing
this is what I needed. The language is extremely easy to follow.
 Included is an opening introduction of the history of the Qur'an and life of our
 Prophet Muhammad (saw). Each chapter/surah is headed with a small paragraph on
the background of the chapter in question. And on each page you'll find footnotes with
further explanation of the above content, where needed.
And the best thing? This book is available in paperback form at an accessible
size, so it's great for travelling. 

Next, is this pocket sized wonder book of invocations from the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Some years ago a good friend of mine put this in the post for me and
I have incorporated it into my life ever since. It has every kind of invocation/dua
a Muslim needs, the size is brilliant to memorise from and carry around. 
I used to keep this in my bag whilst at uni, just because. 
Theres no unnecessary waffle which makes it that much easier to memorise invocations.  

by A. Y. Ali

This is another pocket sized publication. It contains the whole of Surah Yaseen
and Ayatul Kursi. I love how accessible this book is. I would imagine it would
make memorising Surah Yaseen much more convenient, than constantly referring to 
a whole Qur'an. I actually memorised Ayatul Kursi using this book. I have to 
warn, if you are able to get hold of this particular copy (there are others available
from various publishers) there is a section at the end which speaks of 'Attributes
of Surah Yaseen', but I'm not completely sure how strong all these virtues are from a 
scholarly point of view. 

Last but not least, a biography of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw).  
I think alongside learning about how to lead a life as a Muslim, whether from Qur'anic
 teachings or recorded narrations/hadith, it's important to learn about the ways and life of Prophet 
Muhammad (saw). To know what lengths he went to and the hardships he overcame 
to spread Islam in this world, to learn of his ways and his character are equally
as important. At a glance, I like how the events that took place in Prophet Muhammad's 
(saw) life are broken down in chronological order through chapter by chapter. 

Some mentions of other books I would highly recommend (I've read these on my kindle):

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dressmaking / The Grey Abaya

At the start of 2017, I made a a list of a few objectives I want to complete during the course of this year. 
At the very top was to teach myself how to sew my own wardrobe. 
My biggest sewing and creative inspiration is undoubtably my mother. From a very young age 
I've watched her teach herself to tailor clothes, often making little dresses for me and 
my sisters to wear. The majority of clothes I wore during my teen years and well 
into my twenties, were made by Mum. Even now when I visit home, 
I badger her to make me new salwar kameez because obviously I have nothing in my wardrobe. 
It's a common passion for creativity we both have and I love that I share this with my Mum.

Mum tried on a few occasions, in between my studies, to teach me how to cut and 
sew simple dresses and I regret not learning more from her. 
She also tried to get me to learn how to knit. But ain't nobody got time for that. I am rubbish at knitting
I'm still a major amateur who is happy to make something with wonky seams and wear it myself. 
And having been given a new sewing machine by the other half, 
I've made it a mission to take up sewing more regularly. 

Coat - Miss Selfridge / Bag - Kate Spade / Shoes - Next

So I decided to cut and sew this grey fabric into an abaya. Abaya is an arabic term for overgarment
one which is loose in size and covers the body from the shoulders to ankles. 
It's an Islamic form of modest dressing I personally observe, alongside wearing the hijab (head covering). 
I'm not sure but I think the fabric I have used is known as chambray, next
time I'll take notes at the fabric store on what I'm buying!

I think I must have become a little too ambitious design wise, because I was adamant 
that this abaya had to have a zip and pockets. Two things which I have never sewn 
into any garment before. Even my Mum was baffled when I told her. I used a pre-made 
New Look pattern to make the abaya and then adapted it during the cutting process to add a
 pocket and long zip at the back. The idea I had in my mind was of a smart to casual abaya, 
one which just reached the ankles so I could throw it on for errands and rainy days. 
Abaya girls, you know the deal when it comes to rain and long abayas getting soggy, right? 

The pattern is extremely easy to cut and the instructions to sew are probably intermediate level. 
I cut the pattern one size bigger than my usual UK size and added 6" on the length.
I'm rubbish at following instructions, so the sewing was all guess work because I'm stupidly impatient. 
The puckering on the shoulder seam is probably a testament to that. Nevermind, lesson learned for next time! 
The fit turned out just right, wearing this was a proud moment. I was pleased to 
have made something which is comfortable and easy on the eyes. Any ideas for my next make? 

To everyone observing Ramadan from next week, I wish you a great month ahead for you and your family!