Sweet Tooth

One of the things I’ve always struggled with (or enjoyed, depends which way you look at it) is my sweet tooth. I am a complete sucker for all things chocolate (except dark chocolate, not a fan!) and can easily finish a ‘family’ bar of chocolate by myself. One of my favourite things to do on a quiet weekend, or on a Friday after work is to run to the local sweet-shop, buy a bag of junk and curl up with a good book or two, a good movie, or just a little while messing around on computer games.

As much as I’ve enjoyed doing this since I was a teenager though, I don’t get to do it as much any more – one, because there’s always something to do in the house (don’t we all know it!) and two, because my fast-burning metabolism has finally caught up with me, and I can’t just eat any crap anymore.

I’m one of those people who either has to have lots of chocolate, or none at all – I really can’t do inbetween. Really, it’s a sign of being greedy and lack of control, which is something which probably started as a young age. My sisters and I often agree that it always felt like we didn’t get enough chocolate as kids – my mum used to ration them out to us each week and we always looked longingly at what we called the ‘sweets cupboard’. I guess as a result, now that we can buy our own, we go a little overboard.

One of the things I’m really enjoying about Ramadan is the idea of not eating more than we need to – there’s so much junk I am not eating because I am focussing on simple, clean, healthy meals which is enough to satisfy my hunger. Plus, there’s limited stomach space, and you don’t want to waste it by filling it with sugar! Usually it’s a huge struggle for me to go cold turkey and cut out chocolate completely (I won’t lie, many a time I have ended up overindulging instead!) but this month I’m keeping it simple, and the usual craving for chocolates has really not hit me.

Must be doing something right, hey?

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Making the most of Ramadan

As the next few weeks progress, the special month of Ramadan is something we all want to make the most of. I’ve not been the best in the past in doing this – usually I often struggle to do more than my daily salah and a few pages of the Quran, along wish full-time work and my usual chores at home. I think we were lucky this time around to start Ramadan on a long weekend, which has given us time to get used to the long hours and make the most of the time, as well as get enough sleep!

One of the things I wanted to explore this month is how to make the most of the month and also make it easier for ourselves. I’ve put some goals below, as well as ideas on new things to try. I’d love to see what your goals are for this month too, so please comment below and let me know!

Food ideas

  • My sister posted a long list of 200+ food ideas here – so have a look and see if there’s something new to try!
  • Looking to eat out? There’s a few food bloggers who have posted places in London which are iftar-friendly, sehri-friendly and offer prayer spaces – you can see a list here and here.
  • Make it fun! My sisters and I always send iftar pictures before/while we eat to show what we eat – it gives all of us ideas and also makes the eating side of it more enjoyable.  It’s always fun for someone like me, as it’s usually just me and my husband for dinner, so it feels like the whole family is there!

Spiritual readiness

  • Reading the Quran – we all know it can be difficult to read the whole Quran in 30 days (I certainly struggle to). I’ve seen a lot of ideas on how to break this down to make it easier for ourselves – one of the ones I really liked was reading 4 pages of the Quran after each salah.
  • Set goals for yourself, and keep them realistic. Learn an ayah a week, or look at the English translation of a verse to truly understand what it means. Look at the proper Arabic pronunciation of the words so you can read them properly
  • Read the English translation of the Quran . I’m lucky in that I’m a pretty fast reader (in English!) and this would be a good time to learn from the Holy Book, take lessons from them and to reflect.
  • Do something different – go to an Islamic talk or lecture, meet with prayer circles, host a gathering to share knowledge – it can feel pretty amazing.
  • Do what you can. A lot of people (myself too) feel guilty that we don’t make enough time to pray, whether it’s doing all 20 rakats of the Taraweehs in the evening, reading the whole Quran, or just doing simple dhikr. We are all human, and it is our intentions which count the most.

Energy

  • Eating well really makes a difference with having energy – look for slow-releasing food for sehri and nutritious food for iftar. Since I’ve been married, my husband and I have cut down on fried food (*sob* samosas!) hugely, and have noticed an equally huge difference – less bloating, our complexions feel clearer and it’s less havoc on our stomachs. We make a point of always having fruit – something like watermelon which is perfect for the heat, and is full of water.
  • Try to get enough sleep – easily said if you have work, housework, children (or all three!) but the good thing about the long day is that you can sneak a nap in somewhere!
  • Exercise – one of the things I want to carry on doing during Ramadan is exercising. Usually I don’t bother, and feel unfit by the end of the month (although those long evening prayers do help the legs!), but my aim this time around is to do some light exercise – walks before dinner, light exercise on the treadmill, or just simple stretches – it can be done!

Chasing away boredom

  • As much as we all try to do as much as possible to pray, read the Quran and go to Islamic talks, sometimes we need a break. So go for a walk. Look for things you wouldn’t normally have time for – art exhibitions, events in London, or just an afternoon with kids in the park for a battery re-charge.
  • If you’re anything like me, you use your free time to blog! Try your hand at a hobby, whether it’s blogging like me, or something like photography, drawing, cooking for iftar or just reading a good book.
  • One of the things a lot of my friends and sisters who have children are doing are Ramadan-related activies for their children to make it more fun and understandable. I love all of the ideas out there – whether it’s Ramadan calenders, getting children to help them with food preps, Ramadan-themed books and games, or just simply taking them somewhere like the mosque to learn something new.

The one thing I would remind everyone is to take it easy in the month where possible, don’t get too caught up on things like social media (guilty!), getting ready for Eid (also guilty!) or letting yourself get too lazy (although we’re all entitled to have some relaxing me-time!)

I would welcome any more tips any of you have, whatever they are – what will you being doing that is different this Ramadan?

Ramadan Mubarak…!

Wishing you all a blessed month of Ramadan, full of good deeds, delicious food and a IMG_20170325_190102417memorable month of fasting, prayers and charity.

I’m still debating whether I should take part in the yearly Ramadan Journal challenge held by the wonderful Neelu who initially started a lot of bloggers doing this. I’ve taken part in previous years, but am still in two minds about whether to do this, mainly because I want to make sure I can spend enough time on this, and also because I have been a little lax with my blogging lately. I’ll make my mind up soon and decide, but in the meantimer my elder sister will be taking part in the challenge so please do follow her progress!

I’m hoping to do something different this Ramadan for my blog – post some inspirational content or a series of Ramadan-related photos and art – let me know if you have any ideas!

Ramadan Mubarak and may all of your duas be granted x

Making Time for Prayer

I’m sure you have noticed that I am blogging a little less these days, which is mainly due to the long hours of fasting, as well as being kept busy with work, food preps and taking time for quick naps!

One of the biggest parts of Ramadan when fasting is prayer – not just the five times a day worship, but other forms of prayers as well. Fasting is not enough on its own, for a lot of Muslims there is no point starving yourself of food all day if you do not understand spiritually why you are doing this, and how it can help us. It is this which makes our fast more meaningful, and also more likely to be accepted by God as something truly offered in Ramadan

Unfortunately, in today’s busy society, we all have pretty lives – I know my sisters and I all have full-time jobs and household responsibilities which can take up a lot of our time, and even in the long hours of Ramadan, we find ourselves busy. We also find ourselves tired, running on less sleep and low energy which can make it more difficult for us to make sure we put some time aside for ibadah and prayer.

My goal this month has been to spend more time reading the Quran, as well as looking at the English translated copy I have, which I have always enjoyed reading because of the detailed background it gives to so many stories. It’s ironic, when we were all little and learning our letters, being taught the Quran by our father, we were never that appreciative and we always tried to hide from our lessons or fall asleep in them (me!). These days, when we want to do these things, we feel like we just have no time for it, let alone free time to ourselves. We all try to set goals for ourselves every Ramadan – but meeting them can be a little bit of struggle. Equally, a lot of women who aren’t fasting due to pregnancy, or nursing children, or even busy mothers who keep fasts but are unable to pray, often feel guilty because they feel their contribution isn’t enough – I think I can agree with those who say that raising your child and nurturing them is a form of worship to God, and that feeding and looking after your family shouldn’t be underestimated.

I’ve been lucky enough this year, however busy I have been, to be helped a lot by my husband, who often takes the time to cook after work, or clean around the house (he still doesn’t pick up his coffee mugs though), which leaves me with more free time. I’ve been making an effort to make more time for prayer and looking a small duas that I can incorporate. As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, each night becomes more special, and even though I’m pretty sure I’ll get busier (that Eid shopping won’t get done by itself!), that special atmosphere in the air, that sense of camaraderie will make it more of a reason to take the time to count our blessings : )

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A Chunky Chicken and Potatoes Curry Recipe

I thought I’d post a quick chicken and potato curry recipe that we made yesterday, which I thought would be quick and easy to throw together! I’m looking to be more creating with recipes this Ramadan, so will post any new dishes I make!

Cook Thangs

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (we used half a kilo)
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 1/4 spoon of chilli powder (use more or less according to your preferences)
  • 1/2 spoon of salt (use more or less according to your preferences)
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of garam masala
  • Pinch of black pepper (optional)
  • 3 cardamoms seeds
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1 tsp of mashed garlic paste
  • 1 tsp of mashed ginger paste

Method:

  • Warm some oil in a pan
  • Chop the onions (it’s up to you how big/chunky you prefer them) and cook in the pan until golden brown
  • Once they are brown remove from the pan and drain. leave the oil in the pan
  • Roast all of the spices together with the garlic and ginger paste and the cardamom seeds in the remaining oil for about 10-15 mins
  • Peel and chop the potatoes, wash the chicken pieces and chop the green chilli – we trimmed the chillies at the end and left them as whole pieces
  • Chop the tomatoes – again you can keep these chunky or blend these like we did. We also put the onions in with the tomatoes for a smoother sauce, but you can leave them chunky if you want a thicker sauce
  • Add the chicken pieces to the spices and cook in the sauce until half-cooked
  • Add the green chillies to the pan
  • Once the chicken is half-cooked, add the tomatoes and onions mix back to the pan
  • Add the chopped potatoes to the pan
  • Cook in the sauce for a little while
  • Add water to the pan and cook for a few minutes
  • Put the lid on the pan and let the steam cook the potatoes
  • Once the potatoes begin to go soft (about 15-20 minutes later) the dish is ready
  • Serve with rice or with naan/pitta/chappatis and enjoy.

Ramadan Mubarak…!

I’m a bit late in posting this (only a couple of days late!) but I’d like to wish everyone a blessed month of Ramadan, full of good deeds, delicious food and a memorable month of fasting, prayers and charity.

I debated whether I should take part in the yearly Ramadan Journal challenge held by the wonderful Neelu who initially started a lot of bloggers doing this. I’ve taken part in previous years, but decided not to this year to focus on ibadah (prayer) and spending more time at home to make the most of the month rather than stressing about posting every day. As much as I always enjoy the challenge, I’ll be taking a break this year, although I will be continuing to post where I can!
However my elder sister will be taking part in the challenge so please do follow her progress!

In the meantime, here’s an idea of the beautiful sunsets we’ve been seeing lately. the sunshine has finally hit London and it’s made our skies all pastelly pink and blue. I’m off to break my fast soon, which we’ve been busying ourselves in the kitchen with, so enjoy the lovely summer that’s finally reached us and I’ll be posting again soon! : )

Ramadan Mubarak and may all of your duas be granted x

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#CHECKTHELABEL

“There’s a Palestine that dwells inside all of us, a Palestine that needs to be rescued: a free Palestine where all people regardless of color, religion, or race coexist; a Palestine where the meaning of the word “occupation” is only restricted to what the dictionary says rather than those plenty of meanings and connotations of death, destruction, pain, suffering, deprivation, isolation and restrictions that the country has become injected with.”
― Refaat Alareer, Gaza Writes Back

Every year, Israel exports millions of pounds worth of dates to the world, which many people unknowingly buy and use to break their fasts. These dates are often grown in illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. By buying these dates, we are helping Israel to continue it’s illegal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. With your hard work, dedication and support the #CheckTheLabel campaign has grown significantly over the last 8 years.  The campaign has gone to the heart of the communities in cities and towns across the UK to ensure no one buys these dates.

When buying dates for Ramadan this year, please check the label and make sure they have come from free settlements and are part of a fair trade community. One of the biggest reasons we fast is to recognise and understand the suffering which unfortunate people undergo, and these fasts could be undermined if they are opened with food which becomes a symbol of oppression.

For more information, please visit this site.

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Our Eid!

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We had a lovely Eid weekend (which was a 3 day affair for me) starting with dinner at the sisters, then dinner at my mum’s, and ending with an Eid Fair at a local park (with lots of screaming on the rides!). Here’s a few shots of what we did this Eid, you can see a little more here  as well, but the general theme was lots of good food, energetic toddlers and yummy cupcakes!