Quirky Giant Tea-cup Full of Flowers Mondays

Just something pretty to start the week off, this is something I saw on the way to work this morning, which I thought was extremely cute!

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Ramadan Mubarak!

I hope this month is truly the blessing for us all that it should be, and that we all make the month of this special months, samosas and all. Here’s to a month of asking for prayers to be answered, sins to be forgiven, and guidance to the right path. And as we experience hunger, thirst, heat and lack of energy, it is a good time to remember our brothers and sisters across the globe for whom this is a daily struggle.

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I really enjoyed the Journal Your Ramadan challenge last year, but I don’t think I will be managing to blog throughout this month, and didn’t want to spend too much time behind the computer in this month, which flies by so quickly. I will be posting about my Ramadan though, so don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of random posts which should be interesting!

I also like this blogger’s take on how we can blog, and also the different challenges we can set ourselves, definitely ones which are more productive in the short term of Ramadan as well as the long term.

So Ramdan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem all, hope this is the start of a beautiful month.

Harlequin Tea Set x

Giant Paper Flowers: A Tutorial

I came across a tutorial a while back about making giant paper flowers, and thought they were beautiful. They make unique bouquets for brides and they look striking, big, pieces of colour which can make a whole picture and also add a bit of fun.

I found the idea of giant paper flowers pretty inspiring, and my hands itched to try making one for myself, so I did and here’s how it turned out. I didn’t realise how fiddly the whole thing is though, so be warned! And you also need a LOT of floral wire and glue, and lots of patience, as it took me a few hours to make this rose (mainly due to waiting for glue to dry, pieces to be lined up etc etc.)

So here’s my tutorial on how to make a giant rose, although I can’t take all the credit as there was a very good tutorial here by Green Wedding Shoes, which was easy to follow, as well as the original step-by-step by the Martha Stewart blog. Please ‘scuse the carpet background, pictures were taken in the Spare Oom (which is currently unoccupied in my house and has decent lighting), it’s a good thing you can’t see the mess all over the floor and the newspaper scattered around.

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You will need:
• 1 Roll of floral tape (I found mine on eBay)
• 6 x 18-gauge floral stem wire (again, from eBay)
• 4 x sheets of doublette crepe paper for petals, size is 10 x 49 inches per sheet (I bought mine here, but you don’t HAVE to use doublette paper because it’s not cheap, plain crepe paper works just as well if you don’t want the two-tone effect)
• 1 sheet of Doublette crepe paper in green for leaves, calyx, stem
• 1 round pencil (any colour, I don’t mind)
• Craft glue (I used a standard crafts glue which seems to work on everything, including my fingers)
• Crepe paper templates (download from Martha Stewart)
• 3 x copies of teardrop template
• 8 x copies of the heart-shaped template
• 2 x copies of the leaf template
• 1 x copy of the calyx template (the zig-zaggy one)

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And here’s a baby for scale, and my finished rose. She wouldn’t let go of the carrot, too busy nibbling it, but I like to think that it adds character to the whole picture.

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Let me know if this is something you ever end up trying – I’d love to know how your attempt went!

My newest niece, a baby Princess

We had a beautiful arrival a few days ago, a precious little girl who blessed my family, and who is my sister’s first baby. She’s a had a short stay in hospital for a few days after not being very well, but now she’s home with her parents who are, quite frankly, over the moon.

Being the youngest aunt, or ‘khala’, I get special privileges in spoiling her, of course!

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May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala give the new baby a long and pious life and may she stay on the one and only true path of ahle Sunnah wal Jamah, and may she also be the cool breeze for her parent’s eyes.

Weekly Odd Compliments Links

Weekly links time! Here’s some silliness for you.

One of the funniest Bollywood re-caps I’ve ever read – how to ruin your childhood and all those movies we watch.

A job application from a toddler. Looks okay to me.

Lessons on patriarchy and losing your tail for a silly reason by The Little Mermaid.

An alternate reality of Batman, where his parents become Batman and Joker. Love this idea.

Satellite pictures from around the world – some of these are amazing views. Not sure why saudi Arabia looks like a bunch of vinyl records though.

Pictures of famous cars by Jesus Prudencio – see if you can guess them without reading the captions!

Brilliant adverts which are shocking for some people, but these are amazing.

A website on finding movies and TV shows according to the genre, actors, run-time, etc – try it and see whether you like it!

A daily odd compliment. For those of us who like to be more awkward than usual.

Things you don’t need to know pushing out other stuff in your brain.

Celebrities with tiny hands. I don’t even know.

Remember these? Who needs weed when you can trip out on these?

Stop versus Go – battle of the little men.

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Let the *real* Hunger Games begin.

It’s that time of the year. Making, stocking up and freezing a couple of hundred samosa or so for that special time in a mere few days, Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting). Time to make promises about not eating too many oily fried stuff, or too much sugar and time to stock up as if there’s an oncoming seige and we’re about to be locked in our cellars. It’s a strange in-between feeling right now, that anticipation building up of what to expect, how to behave and how to make the most of this time.

But at the same time, as much as I try not to be negative about this special time, I can’t help but worry about the heat, the dehydration, the long days and not-enough-sleep feeling. Last year Ramadan time wasn’t easy because of the thirty-plus degrees weather and long days without water – one day in particularly stands out as a day that I felt really thirsty and weak, thinking about a nice cool glass of water all day.

But I know I’m lucky still. I can’t complain, when we have electric fans and AC in the offices, when there’s a huge feast for us to break our fasts , and when the heat is nothing compared to that in India, Pakistan, Africa. We choose to fast to understand what the less fortunate go through, and it helps us appreciate what we do have. There are many who don’t have the luxury of fasting for a month, and instead go without much food or clean water for a lot longer than just one month because of their poverty and poor living situation.

It’s when I remember this that I remember what Ramadan really teaches us.

So yes, it’s a strange in-between feeling at the moment. not quite there in the period of fasting, and not quite binge-eating either. In the mean-time, enjoy these samosas being made by my mum, ready to freeze so we can fry them later on. Made of two simple ingredients, spring roll sheets and mince filling (and my mum’s magic fingers making them into perfect equilaterals).

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Green Trees and Blue Skies = A Day at the Park

We’ve been catching plenty of rays these days, so we decided to spend a sunny Sunday at the local park to gawk at ducks and watch my niece run around and chase her own shadow. Here’s a few snaps that I took, it doesn’t quite capture the fresh air and landscape the way I hoped, but you CAN see all the little spots that we discovered and the little secret greenery we found.

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Tyson Murphy’s Disney Light Studies

I saw these recent;y and thought they were amazing – illustrator and artist Taylor Murphy has taken scenes from a couple of movies and added layers of colour, light and texture to give a details, beautiful scene which adds much more depth and character. It must have taken hours, and you can see the beautiful penmanship the artist has – which really adds another dimension to these films.

I LOVED this take on a scene from Disney’s Sword in the Stone (one of my and my family’s favourite Disney movies, and not just because we watched this film on repeat) – now he just has to re-draw every other frame in the film and the 3D version of this film will be ready to watch in 20 years time.

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This is another scene which he re-drew, again adding light, colour and detail which makes the scene seem much more alive and magical. While the original Disney animation is pretty good, comparing the two feels like crayon drawings next to an 3D masterpieces. Having said that, I won’t undermine the work of the Disney animators, but you really can see the difference here.

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This is another piece that the artist did, showing the step-by-steps taken to get from a simple line drawing to a in-depth, textured pieces which is made more alive with colour and layers.

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You can find more of Tyson Murphy’s work on Deviant Art, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook.

Harlequin Oddities Found About Town: Music Cassettes and VHS Video Tapes

Isn’t it amazing how much of a relic these things are these days? Twenty years ago, VHS and music cassettes were a normal craze; where winding up cassette tapes with pencils and the magic of recording TV shows on black video tapes were our versions of the iPads and mobiles of today. Oh, except we had funkier, bigger hair and questionable bumbags.

I saw these in a local shop a few days ago, and had to take a sneaky shot (the shop-owner didn’t realise I’m just trying to be “ironic” and also probably doesn’t read my blog, so I had to be sneaky about it). It made me smile because we used to stalk this shop every weekend when I was a child to rent out the latest video to watch, and which was a big event in our house because it meant we got to pick something WE wanted to watch. Even though there wasn’t much to pick from, the films weren’t very new and we usually had to pick from Rambo, E.T. or Hellraiser (or something of the same calibre), it was still a thrilling evening for us to pay £1 (or £2 for the weekend!) to borrow a video tape.

These days the shop seems to just display them for fun (plus the layers of dust kind of shows that it’s been a while since anyone knew what to do with them), and they’re all Bollywood and Tollywood tapes, which are kind of redundant now that the big world of The Internet has shown us how to watch these.

Still, they’re a nice reminder of the simpler things in our childhood, and the terrible films we used to watch.

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