Friday, 25 July 2014

Three Steps To Improve Your Concentration In Prayer

Concentrating on my prayer is something I find extremely hard, especially since I had my baby. Any mother will know that unless they are being looked after by someone else (which isn't possible at every prayer time or any for some people) they are either grabbing your legs/skirt/hijab, destroying something they're not supposed to be, eating something they're not supposed to be, or crying. In any case, you can't help but watch them out of the corner of your eye, or rush to finish your prayer to stop them crying (or even attempt to pray and hold them at the same time!). None of this is very conducive to concentration!!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

This Really Made Me Think

I recently watched this khutbah and a few of things he said really made me think about my own actions as well as what I have witnessed from other. In a discussion with a Non-Muslim at the beginning of Ramadan I was sad to hear about this person's Muslim colleague, who has been in a 'foul mood' all day due to having to fast. What a bad impression to be giving of Ramadan! I think it is really important not to complain about how thirsty or hungry or tired we are and made Non-Muslims think that Ramadan is some sort of extreme barbaric practise. Instead we should do our best to highlight the benefits of this amazing month, alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

To Fast Or Not To Fast... While Breastfeeding???

Fasting and breastfeeding at the same time was something that worried me at first and a lot of people I know are unsure of what to do or worried about it so I thought I'd share my experiences.

Since Ramadan is in the middle of summer at the moment and we have to fast around 18 hours here in the UK, it seems a long time to go without eating or drinking when I am losing a lot to a hungry baby at the same time.

I was also worried about the Islamic rulings as I had been given conflicting advice and read a range of differing opinions online. Should I:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Fellow Muslim

A poem written by one of my good friends, excellent reminder for Ramadan

Fellow Muslim, I see you there
So quick to judge, but never fair

I wonder much, do you not see
Muhammad's (pbuh) way is gentle, free

Of malice, scorn, so crude and vile
Such spite, your own soul does defile

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Stop Motion Blu Tack

Randomly found this stop motion animation I made with blu-tack when I was at uni, thought I'd share! Ahh I miss my time at uni when I had time to do things like this!! I also miss having time to pamper myself, have a relaxing bath (on my own), and to spontaneously go out to the cinema or some event at the last minute and just take my dinner with me in a sandwich!

However, I would never want to swap my gorgeous baby and husband for making stop motion animations, and hopefully at some point he'll be old enough to make them with me! (baby not husband).

This seemed like a good idea at the time...

One date later..... enough said!

We did manage to finish them in the end, 2 days past their best by date! Somehow fasting makes me feel justified in eating whatever I want in those 5 short hours between iftaar (breaking fast) and suhur (starting the next fast). Especially after watching that programme about the fast diet where you can apparently eat whatever you like in-between fasts.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Aaargh!! Muslim Phobias!

After reading this article about 5 frightening Muslim phobias it made me think of writing my own list. It seems that there's more than one irrational fear prevalent in some Muslim communities, some of them more amusing than harmful but others are downright unislamic and do nothing but give Muslims a bad reputation! So, without further ado, here is my list of Muslim phobias:

Anuptophobia - Fear of Staying Single
Is it just me or do Muslims have an somewhat unhealthy obsession with marriage? We all know that it completes half your deen, and of course we all want to find a loving, committed relationship, but reaching the age of 25, or 30, 35 or older without being married is nothing to be terrified or ashamed of! Please, enjoy your life in the meantime, stop feeling so sorry for those poor old '30 year old pensioners who surely must be infertile by now', and once you do get married, we're happy for you, really, there's no need to show off with hundreds of wedding photos and lovey-dovey status updates....*shudder*

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

World War Z

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*warning some spoilers*

A rare movie for me - 5 stars!! This has just the right amount of action, suspense and kept me on the edge of my seat for 2 hours; there wasn't really any 'this would be a good time for a toilet break' moments. It was kinda like an extreme version of The Walking Dead (to which I am somewhat addicted) - zombies taking over the world due to the spread of some virus, except unlike most zombie films, these ones can *run*.... Which makes more sense, and makes it more scary!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Islam - Positive or Negative?

A while ago on facebook I saw the picture below appear on my timeline. I'm going to give whoever made it the benefit of the doubt and assume they ad nothing but good intentions to remind women of how to behave in a good manner as required in Islam. However, my first impression of it was very negative - and to tell the truth it made me feel rather angry and upset. I see the reason for the use of the street signs to communicate 'street etiquette' but to me all it does is reinforce the negative stereotype of the oppressed Muslim women, a stereotype I do my best to dispel!

Now, I'm not saying that the information on the poster is false (well, I found that some of it has more evidence than others in my research but overall most of it has at least some grounding), but what I object to is the way in which is it presented. I often find this in Islam, something that is actually good is presented in a very negative way. So, I decided to make my own version to show that the same information (I excluded the less well evidenced stuff) can presented in a positive light and that actually women are not oppressed but highly respected in Islam. Let me know what you think!

"Women have an honoured position in Islam. Allah and his prophet provide specific advice to women to help them maintain their respect and dignity. Among these things is to dress and behave modestly, to avoid attracting attention to oneself, to respect each other’s personal space in the street, and to save your love and beauty for the man that is committed to you. Equally men are taught not to check out women in the street, not to speak to them disrespectfully, to protect them from harm, to provide for them, to make them happy. May Allah guide all of us to be the best to our husbands, our wives, our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters in Islam. May He put strengthen and bless our relationships with each other, let us see the best in each other and don’t let us divide the Ummah"

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Pacific Rim (2013)

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I really enjoyed this movie too! Seems like I'm seeing some good movies recently, another action/sci-fi type so somewhat like Elysium. No inappropriate scenes or bad language so great for family viewing. I just took off one star because there were a few too many fight scenes for me. I know I know, it's meant to be like that, but I felt like I was squinting to see what was going on a lot of the time especially as it all seemed to be in the dark - don't the Kaijus ever come out in the day?? I would have liked a little more story, and also the geographer in me was somewhat unsure about the whole concept of aliens coming out the ring of fire... ok yes I know it's made up of course, but as far as I could tell these monsters were coming out somewhere near Japan, in which case how were they coming out of a destructive plate margin?? Surely they should have been coming out of Kilauea or something, now that would have been much more believable!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Elysium (2013)

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I really enjoyed this movie! Husband did too until the end when he decided he hated it... ok so there were a few things that could have been better - the bad guy wasn't scary enough (according to my husband) and there was one scene in particular which was pretty unrealistic. In fact, the whole plot seemed a little weak - that a whole 'planet' could be reset with some sort of computer virus - they were so advanced they could cure cancer in 30 seconds yet their security systems were totally flawed. However, in a way it kinda reflects today's technology reliance - what would happen if the internet was hacked into/shut-down on a large scale. And I liked the geography theme with the over population and environmental destruction. But nah, couldn't give it 5 stars due to the plot weaknesses but, it is a movie and I did enjoy it, so I reckon it deserves 4 stars, let me know what you think!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

End of Watch (2012)

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Haven't done a movie review for ages!! And I've actually watched quite a few movies since my last review (well, it was a loong time ago!) so thought I'd add the last 4 I've seen. These were not at the cinema as I have sadly stopped going since having a baby. I just never seem to have time and feel bad leaving my lo for 3 hours to see a movie when I already leave him when I go to work! Now and then is ok I admit but the other reason is we bought a projector last year so we have a kind of home cinema experience in our lounge - since the projector cost us around £250 I want to make use of it! It's not perfectly clear like the cinema by any means but it's good enough for me, plus it's free and I can sit in my pyjamas, have intervals whenever I want and home made snacks! 

So my hubby chose this movie, I'd heard of it before but it's not something I would automatically go for. However, it turned out to be pretty good. There wasn't that much of a storyline compared to say, Elysium or World War Z, which are on a much bigger scale, but it's main strength was how realistic it was, just two normal cops in LA and the experiences they face. I would say it's an action thriller, lots of action but kinda scary edge-of-your-seat stuff too. The acting is excellent from the two main actors (Gyllenhaal and Peña) they have great chemistry between them you really feel like they're best friends. 

I minused a star due to the unnecessary amount of swearing (mainly the f work), apparently it comes in
top ten for movies that use the f-word, a bit ott for my taste! I have this thing about swearing that the more you do it and hear it the more normal it becomes, when it shouldn't be, it's horrible and I don't ever want to become immune to it for mine and my lo's sake. But other than that I'd definitely recommend it, just don't go and watch the other 9 movies all at once!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Memory Jar

I saw this idea posted on facebook and decided to try it, sounds like a nice family tradition to give you something to look back on and hopefully laugh/smile about and remind you of the good things in your life. However, without the time required to keep a diary, which I used to do but can never find the time for anymore. Even the baby book I was planning never materialized, but this needs only a minimal amount of effort. I also like the way the notes are secret, only to be revealed when the jar is opened at the end of the year/when it gets full, and that anyone can post a note inside, all the family can contribute and you're not influenced by reading what other people have written, like you would in some type of book. Actually this could be a good alternative for a wedding guest book! You could even ask guests to your house to contribute if they wish. 

Making the jar in the first place does require some effort, unless you don't mind it plain or you just buy one, but I wanted to save money and I wanted it to look pretty, so this is what I used (everything was stuff I already had):

Large pickled onion jar
Dried flower petals
Wooden clothes peg
Instant coffee
2 cotton face pad things (ordered these accidentally one time thinking they were something else!)
Pendant from an old necklace
Bit of ribbon from a clothes tag
String of beads from an old broken bracelet
Piece of white felt
Pomegranate tea bag
Elastic band
Coloured sugar paper

I put some flower petals at the bottom of the jar, discarded the lid and covered it with a piece of pink felt (it was white but I dyed it pink with the pomegranate tea as it had gone a yellowish grey colour having been lying around in my cupboard for years!), secured in place with an elastic band. I trimmed the edges and also secured a wooden peg (dyed with coffee, though this didn't work too well and it hardly changed colour, i originally wanted a dark brown peg but never mind).

I hung a pendant from an old necklace along with two cotton face pads dyed pink/brown by threading a piece of ribbon through them. I then covered the elastic and felt edges by wrapping round a long string of tiny beads (thanks Hana!) and draped the last part down around the jar. I cut a hole in the felt for posting and secured pieces of different coloured sugar paper (pink/red/yellow/orange/brown) to the side with the peg.

I plan to attach a pen to it too when I find a nice one, maybe wooden, but haven't got that far yet! You don't really need to attach a pen or the paper but it just means it's easier to use and hence people are more likely to use it, no one will bother if they have to hunt around for a pen and paper first!

Please tell me what you think! I realise most people won't have the same things at home as I did but I hope I've given you some ideas about to make your own, let me know if you do I'd like to see it!


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Depression Cake

It was the day before our big monthly shop so we were running low on food and ingredients, no biscuits, no fruit, no cake to have with my tea! Fortunately, I did have some flour, sugar, cocoa and vinegar, which is all you need to make this amazing cake!!

Check out the recipe here, it is so easy, you don't even need a bowl! (although i used one cos i wasn't sure if I could mix it properly in the grease proof paper). It doesn't take quite as rich as a cake with milk and eggs, but it's really soft and moist and definitely chocolatey! Great for people with dairy/egg allergies too. You can also make other flavours, might try the lemon one next...

Oh, and it's name - this is the last thing that would make you depressed! Although maybe it's supposed to be made for depressed people to cheer them up? That would make more sense, but the name actually comes from the Great Depression in the US, which is when this cake was invented, I guess necessity really is the mother of invention! Now just need to wait another 1.5 hours before i can break my fast and eat some!

Fresh out the oven...

Ready to enjoy...!