Thursday, 18 April 2013

Spaghetti and Gnocchi

Since we've moved house and I've been on maternity leave it's become my job to get dinner prepared, and although I though I had quite a good variety of recipes (by recipes I mean my own made up recipes as I can hardly ever be bothered to follow an actual recipe) I've soon realised that my cooking is starting to 'all taste the same' and become the same 4 or 5 meals over and over. So I've decided make an effort to branch out and try something new!

Last night we had tomato and basil sauce with sugarsnap peas, spaghetti with olive oil, salt and black pepper and morzarella and tomato gnocchi. I'd never tried gnocchi before or even heard of them. They weren't bad (they like little potato balls with fillings) but not as nice as I was expecting unfortunately. Still, it was something different, and my husband seemed satisfied so that was good at least! Took me about 30mins in total to prepare.

Post Natal & Mommy and Me exercises (playlist)

Love this playlist, I'm going to try and do some of these exercises with my baby every day! I've already done it a few times but was running out of ideas, so this is great. Isa loves it too so hopefully I'll start to get back in shape and have a happy baby!

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Interrupters (2012)


There's something satisfying about watching documentary films rather than just fictional movies once in a while. Particularly now when I'm not working I need something to stimulate my brain (!), so after a brief Google search I decided upon The Interrupters (see trailer). I was partly drawn to it because it is set in my husband's home city of Chicago. It follows a group of reformed individuals who have turned from a life of gangs, drugs and violence to help the very people they used to be like. Working for an NGO called ''Cure Violence'' (formerly ''Ceasefire'') they use their own experiences to try to connect with people who are at risk of becoming the perpetrators or victims of violence to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths that plague the mainly African American communities of South Side Chicago.

Before watching this I really had no idea about the level of violence that exists there. Having visited Chicago several times I suppose I'd never really thought beyond the tourist's impression of the city - Lake Michigan, the Sear's Tower etc. But this really interested me, particularly from a geographical point of view. It vaguely reminds me of a book I studied during my degree. I miss studying sometimes (even though at the time I'd probably have rather not read it!). But anyway, I digress, back to the point, Chicago apparently has one of the highest crime rates in the US, it's listed in the Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities and last year (in 2012) 506 people) were murdered (compare that to under 100 in London, a city with a population almost 4 times that of Chicago). So far this year 62 people have already been killed, including 6 month old Jonylah. As the mother of a 4 month old myself, I can't imagine how it must feel to witness your own baby being shot and killed, I feel worried when he just gets a bump on the head!

So, my point is, anything that can be done to try and prevent such events from happening is a very good thing, and I really admire the ''Interrupters'' in this film, who not only have turned their own lives around but are now risking their lives to help others. As a Muslim myself, It was also good to see another Muslim sister doing this type of work. I found it refreshing to see another 'type'' of Muslim, someone who, once they converted, did not turn their back on their old community, on the 'kuffar'' but went out of their way to be a positive influence, and did not let their new lifestyle and hijab get in the way.

In my experience some Muslims seem to want to keep away from ''fitnah'' by only keeping good company and thus shunning or judging those who's actions are far from praiseworthy. Of course it is good to seek the company of righteous and good people, so that you can be positively influenced yourself. And you should never hang out with people who are committing sins in a social context. I mean, how often have you heard of people getting into trouble because they 'got in with the wrong crowd'?

But on the other hand if the prophet (pbuh) had done that no one would have ever converted to Islam right? Surely it is our job to help misguided people to find the right path, and do so without judging them. This is what Ameena Matthews does. She was very understanding, and not judgmental. Yet she was also confident in her beliefs and convictions of right and wrong.

So, you can tell that I found the people and work they do inspirational. As for the film itself, I have given it 5 stars to credit the people in it, but I did find it was dragged out a little in places. Although this might have been because I couldn't quite understand what was going on in some scenes! Perhaps because I'm not familiar enough with the culture/accent/slang, but I understood enough to get the gist.

Well, if you've been inspired to watch it or already have, please leave me a comment and tell me what you thought. You can also see an interview with the director here.

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Mum & Me New Mum Stretch Mark Fader

During my pregnancy I applied Palmers Cocoa Butter Massage Cream for Stretch Marks every day to my growing bump, and for a while it seemed to work. In fact I didn't have any marks at all up to 38 weeks and I boasted about this fact to my family and friends... until one day my husband uttered a phrase I'd been dreading 'is that a stretch mark??'

'No, of course not!' I replied, 'it must be eczema or something'. I couldn't see very well as it was on the underside of my bump, but I had a quick look at it didn't seem too bad so I didn't pay much attention, convinced that I wasn't going to get stretch marks since I'd never really had a very flat stomach (despite numerous attempts to try and tone it!) and always been able to stick it out making it look I was pregnant long before I ever was! This must mean my skin is already quite stretchy so why would I get stretch marks? After all, there must be some benefit to not having a flat stomach right???

Unfortunately my theory was totally wrong as by week 41, despite continued application of the cream, the dark redish purple stripes had spread all over each side of my bump, and once the pregnancy was over, and I was left with a huge scar and stretched sagging skin... I was feeling a lot less positive about the whole 'pregnant bodies can be beautiful/sexy too' attitude and more thinking 'aargh my stomach is like a deflated stripey balloon! *sob*.

Alhamdulillah my cute little baby did take my mind off it a lot, and, even though I really did not want a c-section and still wish I hadn't had to have it, I am very grateful to have such a beautiful baby. However, this doesn't mean I don't want to just leave things the way they are! So after the birth I continued to apply Palmer's cream until it ran out about 3 weeks ago so I went to Boots to look for some more. I decided to try out something different. Perhaps Palmer's cream had made a difference and they would have been worse without it, but I didn't have much faith in it at this point! I'd heard that Bio-oil was supposed to be amazing so thought I'd try that. However, I found that it was only one of many different products available for stretch marks and scars. I decided to buy Cussons Stretch Mark The main reason was because the Cussons looked so much easier to apply! I've tried using oils on my skin before and I always get fed up when it gets on my clothes/drips onto the carpet/the bottle gets all greasy/you have to wait for a long time for it to be absorbed/you hands get all greasy etc. I wanted something easy so that I could keep using it for a long time without any hassle (trust me, when you have a new baby the last thing you want is another thing to do every day!).

So, finally, onto the review! I really like this product! I love the applicator - it's a smal metal roller which means you can apply the serum directly to the areas you need to and massage it in with the roller (I tend to roll it back and forth around 20 times for each application). The metal feels nice and cool against your skin and you don't have to waste any on your hands. It's a serum rather than an oil so it doesn't drip or spill or anything, it moisturises and absorbs quite easily. It also smells nice. I've been using it twice a day for 3 weeks (almost!), I leave it out by my bed so I won't forget and my stretch marks and scar definitely seem to be paler. The redness has reduced a lot and in the bedroom light I can hardly see my stretch marks any more. Even my husband has noticed, which must be a good thing!

Whether my stretch marks have faded due to the serum or it would have happened anyway is question I can't answer, but it says on the bottom they've done some proper trials on this product which have shown results, and I have no reason to disagree. I figure it must be doing some good to moisturise and massage my skin regularly.

My stomach has also gone down a lot since giving birth and now I look back to normal when I have clothes on. I've been exclusively breastfeeding since Isa was born so I'm sure this has something to do with it. Unfortunately my skin is still stretched and my abs are not exactly in great shape having done no exercise for months and months (my plan of antenatal exercise sadly failed, but at least I had an excuse then since I worked full time up till 39 weeks!). I

 am well past the '6 week post csection' mark now (my baby is 14 weeks!) so now I really need to start working on core conditioning exercises, and exercises in general! I want to get back in shape and also help my muscles to recover from being cut into, especially if I want to try for more children in the future inshaAllah. I've been meaning to do so every day since week 7 but so far haven't had the motivation to really get started so that's the next step! But yes, using this product is definitely a good thing! And now I'm going to work on my next goal - going to bed early!!!


Pros :)

  • Ease of application
  • Reduces appearance of scars and stretch marks

Cons :(
  • None!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Django Unchained (2012)


Last night was our weekly movie night so my husband picked this, which I had never heard of before. I quite liked that I'd never heard of it though 'cause I enjoy watching movies where I have literally no idea what it's about, what genre, who's in it or anything till it actually starts.

However, it obviously has to be a good movie for me to enjoy it! This is difficult to do since it requires that someone else pick the movie whose judgement I trust. My husband manages to pick out some good movies most of the time though. One time I got him to pick a movie at the cinema and I made sure I didn't find out what it was till it started - that was fun, I definitely recommend it. At the very least I don't like to see trailers till after I've watched the movie, or at least not the whole trailer (sometimes need to get a feel for whether I'll like it or not if I'm paying to see it!). Some trailer just totally ruin the movie for me (e.g. for a comedy it shows the funniest parts, or a thriller it gives away key features of the plot - an example would be Quarantine - so glad I saw the movie before the trailer!). 

Anyway, I'm totally going off track here so back to Django. It starts out following a group of half naked black men chained together by their feet as they walk through the forest, so immediately I figured it must be to do with slavery and set in the past. Which it was, but I was also expecting it to be rather more serious and factual that it turned out to be. While the main theme and issues addressed in the movie were serious and based on fact (set in the 1860s btw) the storyline and things that happened were definitely not, which made it very entertaining and quite humorous in some places. A nice balance between the two. Be warned however as there is a high level of violence, a bit too much for my taste I have to say, but it didn't really detract from my overall enjoyment of the film, I just think it was a bit unnecessary.

The characters are really interesting and make you want to get to know them better, while the storyline is simple but intriguing and it kept me guessing about what was going to happen next. There were no parts in the movie where I was bored or felt that this would be a good time to nip to the loo or make a cup of tea. There's quite a few 'uh, that would never actually happen' moments (e.g. 'how come he's suddenly riding a dressage horse?? or 'that is such an inappropriate moment to be kissing!') but in general there were not too many of them and most of them I liked, made it fun to watch. 

So, I definitely recommend it, but if you're still not sure and you'd rather not follow my strategy of watching the movie first and the trailer after, here it is to convince you. Please leave me some comments on what you thought if you've seen it. 

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