Saturday, September 24, 2011

A New Beginning...

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Autumn's here.

I love the rain, the wind, and the coolness in the air, ahh... and the colours too. I have to admit that I love that this season is here already. I enjoyed my summer and did a lot of fun-outdoor activities with my husband and children: We visited countless parks in our city, visited the capital city (Ottawa), went camping right after Ramadhan when one could already feel the slight coolness in the air, oh we had some fun this summer.

But time has come for us to spend more time indoors, which means more cooking and baking, more sewing and reading, more family-centred time. Don't we all love that?

:: Finally, I might just have the time to bind off that quilt I started ages ago but hat to put away for sometime when I was suffering allergies.

:: Finally, I might just get on track with my home-made bread that I stopped baking during Ramadhan and took me weeks to make a new batch.

::Finally, I might just give a second glance to my abandoned sewing machine, my sweet stash of fabric and my lovely patterns that have been very neglected.

:: Finally, I am back here in this little corner of mine sharing about the things I love and wish had the time to do more often.

How is the arrival of Autumn (or the season you're in) affecting your life?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Blessed Month...

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I think I've been MIA for long enough. And, the main reason is Ramadhan (the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, during which all adult Muslims are to fast from dawn to sunset)

Not surprisingly, I have been away from my sewing machine. And even though I miss it, I know that there is a time for everything, and right now it's time for worship and any extra energy is put to use in looking after the house and children. We're all having a good time. To our amazement, we're enjoying outings to parks and the river. And, since we're not so concerned about eating we are enjoying just being out there, the warm breeze, the water and just everything non-food related. It's so good to have this freedom.

Ramadhan is a busy month of fasting during the day and praying at night. I love this month; in this house we call it the reset button. We give up bad habits and hope to trade them for good ones. The first three days or so caffeine withdrawal and headaches, dizziness, hunger and thirst are an ordeal. But once I overcome this phase, I go about my days as normal and again can function perfectly, alhamdulillah (praised be Allah)

We're now in the last ten days of this holy month, and as Ramadhan slips out of our hands, we wish we had done more. More good deeds that will weight immensely on our scale on a day where every tiny good we did will count. We will miss you Ramadhan, and can't wait for you next year.

To my Muslim readers, I pray that you can fully take advantage of what's left of Ramadhan. I shall be blogging after this month is over with more updates.

Ramadhan Mubarak!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A School of Its Own Kind

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Today I want to share something that has touched me deeply. A project of a woman-a Muslim woman, a mother. Someone who through hard work and constant effort is reaching her goals. And, these goals are truly selfless and generous, mashAllah. She envisioned a school and worked hard for it. And today she shares where all her efforts have taken her, her project (a school) and the people in her community.

I want to share this as it's still a work in progress, and much help is needed. The project began to take form in the fall of 2010 with only 15 students but as of now 40 potential students want to benefit from this school in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

If you're interested in learning more about the project you can read Itto's post on her blog where she shares an article from Sisters Magazine where she has been featured, mashAllah!

You can also visit École vivante (the lively school) to learn more about the project, submit your questions and donate to this cause if you like.

May Allah (God) help us all to strive towards our goals and may we have a selfless soul like this sister's. Itto, you truly are a source of inspiration. May Allah almighty shower you with his mercy and blessings and make this project of yours heavy on the scale of good deeds, ameen!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ahhh... Choo!


Most things that can be suspended at the moment have been untouched: Blogging, sewing, knitting. And, not voluntarily, as I itch to do some everyday but sadly allergies are getting on my way. I can't think much other than, "where is my tissue box?" Or "Maybe it will all be gone before I know it" But weeks have gone by and I still have allergies. See, this is the first time ever I'm affected by this nuisance.
I am being proactive; don't get me wrong. Schedules are being made with the allergist, I'm taking propolis, got a nasal spray, and I'm looking into unconventional methods of dealing with this issue. I just want to find out what's causing it and in the meantime I'm trusting my instincts and avoiding those things that make me reach for my tissue box more often. Ahhh choo!

There are, of course, things that can't be put on hold. Life continues, with allergies or not. My vegetables are doing fabulously; home-schooling, thankfully, at the age of my kids doesn't require a lot from my part; home-keeping is sort of becoming second nature; and, well I'm back here updating this blog.

The one thing I am missing a lot right now is working at my sewing machine. I have countless of projects waiting for me to tackle: My very first quilt needs to be finished, I have an Amy Butler Camisole I can't wait to start working on, a jersey drape top from Sew Hip Magazine, skirts for the girls, pants for Teddy and his dad.... I'm really looking forward to it all, I am!

I hope you're having a wonderful productive summer and for those with allergies this has helped me significantly Now Foods Propolis 500mg, Capsules, 100-Count There are plenty of brands out there and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. The reason why I'm taking this one is because it was given to me by a dear friend of mine. The only thing I do is empty the contents in a spoon and take them with OJ as the capsule has gelatin from bovine and porcine sources, which I don't consume. Just beware that if you're allergic to honey this would not be for you otherwise it's worth giving it a try.

Sometimes we have to be affected by some ailment to make changes in our lifestyle; I'm going to try and take this as a sign from my body to change a lot of habits that are not beneficial for my health. I'm thinking more exercising, less caffeine and sugar, more health promoting foods. I'm not necessarily on a junk food diet but there are a lot of things that I consume everyday and that I don't that impact my health and thankfully I have an idea where to start.

Want to take this journey with me?

Disclaimer: The advice given here is my sole opinion and not to be taken over the advice of a health practitioner.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We're a homeschooling Bunch


Homeschooling is a subject very close to my heart. I strongly believe that children need to grow up under the care of their parents, especially their mother for the first 7 years, if at all possible. I'm also aware of the influence peers can have on others, and although sometimes can be a good influence, in most cases, it's a negative influence which affects children for a very long time until they, on their own, find their identity.

Today, however, homeschooling is hard on parents because 'the norm' is to send children to school at the age of four, or even earlier. Parents, especially mothers, look forward to this milestone in their children's development for many reasons. They believe their children are going to be socially adept by being around other people, and learn valuable things essential to the development of their intellect, among other benefits. But in a lot of cases, mothers want their children to attend school because they don't have the patience to have them around all the time not because they think or believe school is the best choice to their children's needs. Here is where net-working with other home-schooling parents plays an important role. One can share experiences and be there to support one another when times get tough. In this way, I believe most parents can face the challenges of home-schooling successfully. 

I've been meaning to write about our homeschooling approach and our experiences so far with it. We implement the delayed approach, in which children are not introduced to formal homeschooling until the age of seven. Before that they should engage in as much unstructured play and should be read to for an hour a day minimum.

Unstructured play takes in all forms and shapes. Here are a few of the ways I home-school everyday:

We Play outside with a pile of soil and let our imagination unfold:

We play with home-made play dough and "make what we dream of making when we grow up"

Reading is the other fundamental thing right at this age. I try to read to my children in the morning and afternoon and I can see how much love they hold for their books. I hope I can continue to instill love for literature well after this stage. But to be honest, I believe it is in our human nature to love reading; it just sometimes gets forgotten due to over-stimulation from the technology of these days. We try our best to stay away from TV watching and I have no one video-game available at home.

We also spend time outdoors doing what the family likes best: Soaking up sun, visiting interesting places in our surroundings, visiting and going out with friends, you name it. The important thing is to get out there and be in touch with nature as much as we can.

I can honestly see the benefits to this approach as I see my children learning a lot of things out of their own interest. They don't write or read yet even though my oldest will be five in two weeks but the things they're learning is what I believe fundamental to their development at this stage of their lives. Once they've outgrown this stage there won't be coming back to it. Imagination it's at its wildest and liveliest right now and what can be learned from it is truly a treasure.

I am sharing this to inspire you to take a look at the benefits of this approach in the up-bringing of our children, our treasures.

Happy home-schooling!

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Very First Quilt: How It All Begins


I am having such a fun time trying new things, especially when it comes to sewing. How did it all start anyways? I'll spare that story for later. For now I want to share what's brewing in my sewing corner. I have, in the last week, been working on my very first quilt. How exciting is that!

It was tough to decide what would my first quilt be, especially with all the inspiration that's out there in the online community of sewists (I don't think this is a word but I like how it sounds). Anyhow, I decided for The easy lap quilt from Bend the Rules by Amy Karol. So far it's been a smooth ride but I'm a bit intimidated by the binding. She recommends to use the machine and hand-sewing technique and I'm going to be a good pupil and follow her advice. Apparently, it's time consuming but worthwhile if you don't want your binding to bunch up.

I'm using quilting cotton (two solids and two prints for the top, and an adorable print from Robert Kaufman for the back) all purchased from my local fabric store.

This is what I envisioned

But after playing with it I went for this

So far I have the top all sewn up and ready to pin it to the batting and backing, then I'll do some 'stitching in the ditch' (ha, I'm even using seamstress vocabulary already) and a few stray stitches on each row to keep the batting in place. After doing all that, I will make the binding from leftover fabric pieces and bind my very first quilt!

If you want more details on this quilt you might want to take a look at Amy's Bend the Rules. I own a copy and have quite a few projects from there that I'd like to try sometime in the future. It's a very good resource for those wanting to embark on this adventure called sewing.

InshAllah (God willing) after this quilt and when I get my hands on the Modern Log Cabin Quilting book I plan on making a quilt for my bed, and hopefully one for each of my munchkins: Cooks, Teddy and Fats.

A little step at a time...

I hope you're enjoying something special made by your hands and that it brings pleasure and joy to you and yours.

Happy weekend to all

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Tale of Sewing and Having Fun


In my sewing corner there has been some finished projects: A dress made from a pillowcase for Cooks:

And, a pair of shorts/underwear I made for Teddy with the fabric I won in the 'sew mama sew' giveaway that I mentioned here

Gladly, I have more projects in line to take form and shape, which, of course, I'll be sharing here along the way. But, to be honest with myself, I'm going to have to give up big chunks of sleep to accomplish them because it is plainly too nice outside to spend the days at home.

Somehow between having some good times in the backyard:

Visiting the beautiful spots this city has to offer:

And, of course, riding bikes in the neighbourhood:

I'm going to have to be very organized and creative to find time to spend here:

But, frankly, I don't mind taking a long time to complete a sewing project. After all, this is not some sort of race or competition; it is plain pleasure.

How are you incorporating your hobbies into your life? 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Urban Life


Today I want to share images of what's been growing in my containers. This is all so exciting to me and my little crew; we're seeing life unfolding right in front of our eyes. So, even if the wildlife gets the best of the highly anticipated harvest we're okay... 

I planted white beans, oregano, parsley and cucumbers. I labeled each container with the names of the vegetable seeds sown in them but the rain erased them. Now I'm left guessing as to what's growing where. I thought that since I marked them I didn't need to make an effort to remember what seeds went where, which would have been a lot wiser considering I'm only gardening in about 5 containers. I guess it's all a learning experience, including the little nuisances.


I'm so thankful for the little sunny backyard this house has and for the opportunity to share this wonderful experience with my children. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sewing and Knitting for Their Delight


Ah! I have made Ted Teddy - upon his request (5-year-old boy) and Cooks (3-year-old girl) each a little something. Something to make them feel special and loved by mom.

It was about time to knit Cooks something since last winter I only managed to make Teddy a hat. So I went for something small and useful, naturally. She liked it and stuffs it with toys and whatever she thinks appropriate regardless of its weight ; of course I have to just breath, relax and try hard not to think of the hours put into it.

As for Ted, I'm in love with his tote. I'm constantly reminding him of how special it is and he has to hear me more often than he would like saying "please don't leave it where everyone's going to step on it." The reason why it is so special, to me anyways, is that it's made from a pair of old jeans and an old shirt. 

I love re-purposing and reusing stuff so instead of throwing away those jeans with holes on the knees I kept them and when the perfect old shirt came along I whipped this up. Maybe some day I will write a tutorial on how I made it. 

Oh yeah, I thought I shared this with you because I'm so excited! I was a winner from the giveaway organized by sew mama sew and will get this lovely goodies in the mail anytime next week.

photo from mooncalf's blog
Thank you so much mooncalf!

And just to keep the creativity going and make another little person happy I'm thinking of making Fats (2-year-old girl) something but have not decided yet what that should be. 

Any ideas?

Children's real names are not given. A little gesture of my part to respect their private life a little.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Banana Bread Recipe


Today I want to share a treasure of mine: my banana bread recipe. I call it 'mine' because I got ideas from here and there and customized it to suit my family's needs and likings.

I make this banana bread with the same flour I talked about before and it's delicious! You can customize it to your liking, it's a very flexible recipe. I've made it with walnuts as well and it adds a touch of crunchiness that's irresistible. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup of sugar but I use between 1/2 to 3/4 cup and nobody has complained so far. The one thing that my family can't do without is chocolate chips. I use 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

The best part is that making this bread is a family joint adventure.

Enlarge to read recipe:

Enjoy with your favourite beverage or alone.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Schedule it is!


Formal Homeschooling is around the corner. It's been on our minds a lot the last couple of days since we started acquiring the books we'll be using. I'ts overwhelming to think about it and I hope and pray that doing it will bring joy and balance to this household.

I'm thinking right now that I need to start, seriously, working on organizing my time and daily activities so that when formal homeschooling starts I don't have to worry about how I will do everything else related to keeping a house and nurturing a family. The idea is that if I have a few years of good home-keeping habits up my sleeve then they won't get interrupted by formal homeschooling once it starts.

I want to clarify that I use the term formal homeschooling since I believe that before the age of seven children should be allowed to have plenty of unstructured play instead of actively pursuing academics. They should be read classic children's books everyday to instill in them love for literature. So aside singing ABCs songs my children won't be taught in a structured way for about two more years.

Going back to my rant about schedule and good home-keeping habits. I'm thinking about  what a household needs to run smoothly:

  • Nourishing meals and snacks
  • Cleanliness and organization
  • Well-fed, well-rested children
  • Clean clothes
  • Happy mommy and daddy
And this wee list includes all the basic things that need to be prioritized before pursuing anything else.

I'm hoping to:
  • Come up with new healthy recipes to add to our repertoire
  • Assign specific tasks to each day of the week
  • Cut down on time guzzlers, i.e. the internet
  • And, make sure I leave time to do the things that keep me going
I need help from my creator to get my act together. I want to, specifically, work on a schedule. I dread the word but let's face it I can't possibly escape from it if I want to succeed on this path of mine.

So schedule it is!

Somehow I want to work this in it:
  • Cooking
  • Reading to kids
  • Exercising
  • Cleaning and laundry
  • Grocery shopping
  • Sewing and knitting
  • Blogging and Internet (sparingly)
  • Personal reading
  • Gardening and outside keeping
  • Playing and doing crafts with kids
  • Outdoor activities
Some of these will need to happen everyday, others once or twice a week. Hopefully, I can assign them to specific days and make a chart to post on an easily accessible place (fridge door.) I also want to keep an agenda to jot down appointments and things of the sort to not lose track and avoid planning things that conflict with priorities. 

I can't wait to work on such schedule for the sake of my sanity and the happiness of this family. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Farmer Within- The Sequel

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

My post "The Farmer Within" somehow got deleted.

I had shared my love of maybe one day living on a farm and my experience with gardening in a small backyard in the city. I had also said that I would give container gardening a try. Somehow 'blogger' thought inappropriate or perhaps too cool and took it away :( Not cool considering I blog at the most twice a month.

Oh well, time to re-invent my post and perhaps add a kick to it.

I planted, with the help of my little troop, basil, white beans, chamomile, cucumber and oregano.
I had a beautiful hibiscuits plant that left outside through the winter and, of course, did not make it; and a pepper plant that was my joy in the garden last summer.

I'm using the pots where they were and a few more for my little gardening adventure. I will share photos of them when/if they germinate. I consider this a baby step towards my dream of growing some of my own vegetables.

Have you considered growing your own vegetables or herbs? Even if you live in the city you can do it. Container gardening is for the city folk since it can be done even on balconies. Bet you heard of it already. All you need is some containers, soil, some sunshine and a bit of time to tend, water and feed your plants. I'm no expert by any means but am eager to try and learn from this experience. As a bonus, I can involve the little ones in this project and teach them that vegetables don't grow on shelves in the grocery store but on plants. It can be an mazing learning experience.

I love it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let the Sewing Season Begin!

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

I've been meaning to write about a few new passions that are bringing so much joy to my life and as a bonus are making my little ones very happy: Knitting and sewing.

Of course I had not blogged about it because I have happily been busy taking sewing lessons, sewing at home, reading up on it, having sewing parties with a friend and when I take a break from sewing there's always baking and knitting to do.

I got this amazingly simple skirt pattern and have made each of my two girls a skirt so far, and am planning on making more inshAllah.

It's heart-melting to see the joy that such simple things can bring to little people. So, I'm hooked! And, to make things easier I've turned a corner in my kitchen into my private sewing studio where I can go and work on projects whenever I want without having to clear things away-as it was the case previously when I was using my dining table for sewing.

As for now, though, the drawers of my sewing table belong to my 2-year-old who uses them as her dollies' beds whenever they need to take a nap.

I'm loving this new passions of mine, alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Charge of What Comes Out of Our Mouths and In Our Ears

Bismillah (In the Name of Allah)

We, women, have a tendency to share a lot about the way we feel about things; we're intuitive, sensitive, emotional, and all of these necessary to be the nurturers. How could we be mothers if we were cold and calculating? Allah is most wise about the way he created us and the jobs he assigned to each one of us.

We value friendship and hold it very dear and sometimes believe that in our friends we can find the comfort we need when going through hardships. It's true in most instances, however, we must learn to control our tongues and, even harder, our ears from backbiting.

As humans, we like to complain about things we don't like in our fellow humans; as for women, backbiting our husbands is our top weakness in this regard. This leads to a whole lot of sins written on our list of deeds, a troubled marriage, and most times we even lose the good friends we might have if they're pious and want to avoid listening to backbiting.

In most cases we backbite our husbands when we're upset with them. What most forget is that wives and husbands get upset with each other and sooner or later we apologize to one another or make up in some way. After forgiving each other, for whatever is that happened, most women feel completely different about our husbands than when we were upset with them and wish we had not said all the bad things we said about them to our friends.

I'm not assuming that you (my readers) are backbiters. But since this is a horrible epidemic in our society I want to invite all of you to stay away from backbiting in all its forms and shapes: active and passive. Because the sin of the person who backbites is the same as the person who listens to backbiting.

May Allah strengthen us and may He be the one to whom we turn when we need to be heard.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Two More Days

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

Only two more days till winter is officially over,of course that doesn't mean that it actually is but it does bring one some hope for warmth and sunshine. We've been opening our windows more and the children are asking if the geese are back. I did enjoy the winter and I'm sure I'll be looking forward to the snow and the whole winter gear by the end of November but for now I'm excited about what's to come.

I'd like to leave you with a few glimpses of what went on in this past winter in my house:

Happy Spring to all....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chemo or Alternative Medicine

Bismillah (In the Name of Allah)

I have so neglected this blog. One good thing that came out of this is that now people who read here know how much I slack at posting and won't expect much activity here. This lets me relax and just do it at a comfortable pace. sigh...

I've been pondering about something insightful to blog about and started a post about simplicity and living a slow-paced life. After working on a draft for a couple of evenings I realized that I still have to find my place in this area; there are things which I dream of doing but don't know yet if I'm ready to undergo what it takes to live more simply than what I do now. As I grow in this area and find my balance I will share. Perhaps, you can grow along with me into a more simple person.

For now my post on simplicity will have to wait...

Something happened today: I learned that a Muslim woman I know has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. It made me think of what would I do if I find myself in her situation. Had I nobody in my life I would probably not undergo chemotherapy and try alternative medicine and see if it works. If it did, then I would let people know and encourage them to not resort to chemotherapy and conventional medicine as their first means in fighting this disease. If it didn't I would not be leaving loved ones behind thinking: "Had she only done what doctors told her to."

Having a family, however, I feel this would be selfish of me to do. I feel I'd be following my desires and my ideologies against the procedure that's endorsed by the medical community and putting my life in jeopardy without need.

Of course, I understand that only Allah knows when we're going to meet our death and how that's going to happen and I'm at complete ease with this in my mind, alhamdulillah. What I'd like to have more certainty about is the way I'd deal with a disease of this kind if I happened to be affected by it.

Perhaps, it should be a decision taken by the entire family and not just by the affected person. This is a very sensitive matter that here and there we should contemplate.

What are your thoughts on cancer and the methods out there to treat it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Update

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)

It's been a while since I posted here. I've been so busy taking up new interests and trying to keep up the old ones. I have to admit I yet have to come up with a plan that helps me include all my hobbies and obligations in my weekly routine so I don't feel frustrated for not having time for the things that help me relax and the things that need to be done to have a household with three children under five years of age running smoothly. Now, that was a run-off sentence!

As I have shared here in the past I started making my own bread from my very own home-milled flour. It's been a very satisfying experience but like anything worthwile it requires time. I'm more than willing to invest the time needed thus a plan needs to come into effect so this new chore blends in smoothly with all the existing ones.

I have also started speaking my mother-tongue with my children inspired by Itto and it's going well but it could be draining, mashAllah. I don't speak Spanish much since my husband doesn't speak it and I have very few friends who do, whom I see rarely. I started to read Don Quixote de la Mancha not so much to polish up my Spanish vocabulary but to fall in love with the language of Cervantes once again; I think that'll help me get the encouragement I need. I'm also going to be watching the news online from a Colombian news channel. InshAllah that goes well and I can gift my children with bilingualism.

Oh yeah, last but not least, I've taken up knitting :o) and I made a hat for my oldest one after about two weeks of practicing over and over the knit and purl stitches. The actual hat only took a week of knitting in the evenings. What can I say? I love the craft! It's relaxing, satisfying and you can make things you and your family can wear. I would have loved to have that done for me when I was a child and I can see that my son was very happy and proud of his new hat, yay! Now I have to hurry and make something wintery for my two girls before the season is over.

InshAllah, I also want to take up sewing partly because I have a sewing machine sitting in the box it came in for about three years but mainly to ba able to make skirts for my little girls and maybe thowbs (Muslim men's long robes) for my husband and son.

I want to try and keep it at this for now, perhaps for the next year or so. I am craving making things with my hands, things for the home, the family, but I have to be realistic with the season I'm going through right now in my life: The child rearing season. I want to savour it and live it. I want my kids to grow up to have fond memories of their childhood and also to have good characteristics and love for Islam. And, yes it can be done! We just have to put our minds to it; but foremost we have to put our affairs in Allah's hands and never underestimate the power of our dua's (supplications.)

InshAllah you all are having a productive and blessed week.