Baking tips · How-to · Kitchen tips · Recipes · Sterilising · Tips and Tricks

How to sterilise glass jars

It is always a good idea to use sterilised jars to store your homemade goodies. Give the jars and lids a good wash with warm soapy water and rinse well.

Pop them on a baking sheet into an oven preheated at 140C and let it dry out.

Make sure the lid and all parts are not made from any material that CANNOT withstand dry heat. 

Note to self: remind people that a glass jar that has been heated in the oven will be hot to the touch and not to attempt grabbing it  with bare hands, but I’ll take the liberty of assuming my readers are saner than yours truly.

Chemical free · Cleaning products · DIY · DIY Cleaning products · Natural alternatives · Nearly Natural Alternatives · Undomestic goddess

DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener

For someone who associates “clean” with the smell of antiseptic infused with a fruity or flowery fragrance, accepting the fact that “clean” has no true smell was a tough one.

Dishes were deemed clean only if they were slicked with the tell-tale fake lime fragrance from the dishwashing soap, floors had to emit an essence of cinnamon but most importantly, clothes just had to be coated with that fresh flowery scent of fabric softener.

Whilst the fresh fragrances of laundry let me pretend to be one of those women in the commercials, laughing as they hung clothes to dry and have their dreams come true because of their choice of fabric softener, little did I know that all those fragrances were actually toxic.

I am not sure of how much of toxins they leave behind on the fabric but this is about the smell. They were keeping the linen fresh but harming our lungs with their gorgeous fragrances.

This discovery led me to look for natural alternatives. Although I did find a non-toxic brand, the store was not very consistent with stock and the price tag was not very reasonable.

After surprisingly few trial and error, I settled on this recipe. I did not actually come up with the solution but read about another who had but that did not work out for me. The following mix is an altered version of the original that I liked and I call it nearly natural because it still contains some undesirable ingredients in the hair conditioner. You may opt for a natural kind but I used a more economical one; this batch lasts me quite a while and can be mixed in no time at all. I was surprised at how simple this actually turned out to be!

The DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener contains just 3 basic ingredients: white vinegar, hot water, and hair conditioner

The vinegar is the active ingredient and the hair conditioner is essentially for the fragrance; you can customize the mix till you find what works for you. Try it out and feel free to leave suggestions below.

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DIY Nearly Natural Fabric Softener

  • Servings: Nearly 2.5l
  • Time: 5 mins
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

900ml white vinegar

1.5l hot water

360ml hair conditioner(get a bottle with the exact measurement for ease of use)

Large bucket

An old long handle spoon or a whisk

Funnel(to pour the finished mix into container)

Bottle to store(I used an empty softener bottle but looking out for good glass containers)

Directions

Squeeze out all the hair conditioner into the bucket and add the hot water. I pour some water into the empty bottle to shake out any remaining conditioner too but do be careful since it can be too hot to handle.  Once the hair conditioner is completely mixed in, add the vinegar and mix again. Let it cool and pour into the bottle using a funnel. Use as regular store-bought fabric softener.

 

Easy Dinner · One Pot Recipe · Quick Cooking · Recipes · Undomestic goddess · vegetarian

Cream of tomato soup: fresh and quick

When the clock strikes 5pm, the only cuckoo bird rushing out will be me because it means that I need to have dinner ready in an hour. The temperamental little beings I am nurturing like seeing their hot dinner ready by 6, complain about it till 6:30, pick at it till 7 and start eating it once I turn from Mary Poppins to Professor Snape (I promised them to control my yelling but didn’t make any promises about toning down the glare). This cream of tomato soup is a nourishing but quick recipe that saved one such evening.

Despite their eccentrics, they are kind souls and never fail to give their honest opinions, albeit kindly.

Soup is always a reason for moaning because my eldest does not like certain textures but I knew I was on to a winner when she drank it without a peep. She did tell me not to make it everyday but I’ll take my compliments wherever I can.

Cream of tomato soup with fresh tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

• 8 medium size ripe tomatoes (I used Roma but the vine ripened ones will be even delicious),chopped

• 1 medium onion, sliced

• 4 cloves of garlic, minced

• 2 carrots, roughly chopped

• Handful of corriander leaves with stalks, chopped

• 1litre of vegetable or chicken stock (use homemade or  organic stock)

• 250ml thick cream (you can reduce this according to your palate and dietary requirements)

• Salt to taste

• 2 tbsp regular olive oil

Directions

Heat a saucepan with the oil. Add the onions and garlic and let it cook till the onions are golden brown. I let it caramelise a bit because it adds more depth to the flavour.

Throw in the carrots, toss it around for a minute, add the tomatoes and corriander leaves, and pour in the stock. Season it and let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Take it off the heat and blitz it with an immersion blender, stir in the cream, correct seasoning and heat it slightly before serving.

You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream or regular thick cream on top but we just had it with a side of toasted bread because this mommy was exhausted to even consider garlic bread or croutons.


Bon appetit!

baby prodcut review · Bath essentials · Parenting · TummyTub · Uncategorized

Baby product review: Tummy Tub

If the thought of correctly holding a fragile newborn seems a daunting prospect, think again about the process of bathing/washing such a tiny bundle.

Quest to quell my fear of the unknown led me to sign up for a prenatal class when expecting my first child, where they succeeded in further confusing me with labelled buckets and several steps.

While researching more on safer bathing equipments geared towards mothers looking for closer to nature options and requiring minimum assistance, stumbled upon the TummyTub, a product that I have never regretted spending good money on.download

TummyTub is essentially a deep tub that could easily be confused for a mop bucket due to it’s deceptively regular looking exterior. In fact, it is far from being ordinary as the tub is molded to resemble the shape of the womb and provide comfort of the familiar first home for the little beings. It comes highly recommended by midwives and encourages mothers to independently care for their babies.

The transparent tub that comes in few colours indicates the maximum level of water to be filled before the baby is lifted into a foetal like sitting position that they practised for 9+ months. As for any other bath tub, constant vigilant supervision is required but all you need to do is hold the little one under the chin to prevent the head from slipping in and the baby will do the rest.

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This is the positon the baby will be in the tub; can be used from infancy till toddler stage.

Along with the obvious advantages of easy handling and usage, what won me over was the pure contentment and the blissful smiles of my babies as they floated in their natural habitat of the yester months.

It was a lifesaver especially during those cranky evenings of growth spurt stages or being annoyed at me, the milk-lady forgetting to change a dirty diaper; strip the angry squealing being down to the birthday outfit and lower into the tub and lo behold! calm as a cucumber. Or as calm as the few minutes of silence before they detect I am about to sip a hot drink.

The other feature that would appeal to most mothers would be that it does not require any heavy lifting or an opportunity for the man of the house to flex his muscles. You can use a stable platform or purchase the stool that is specifically meant for this and fill it up in few minutes. It scores more points for not using up a lot of water.

If nitpicking for drawbacks, it would be the price of the product coupled with the delivery charges and the fact that it is quite difficult to wash the hair.

The latter was not an issue in our case since the TummyTub was almost always for the evening wash; hair gets washed only in the mornings at our home although an occasional wash was required on the nights when the tiny individual decides to headbutt the bowl of mushy bananas. Not very sure about how long the product can be used but we used it for more than 8 months and despite appearances, the tub can hold a chunky baby quite comfortably too. We packed up the tub only when it got difficult to prevent the giggling attempts at escaping from the tub.

With every baby comes new joys and ridiculously expensive products that do not see the light of day after a couple of uses; for us, the TummyTub was thankfully not one of those products.

It would not be ideal if one prefers a more regular bath routine or prefers to wash the hair at night but it would be worth including it in the list of essentials if you have a history of having to deal with the dreaded colic.

Ideally, I would credit the place I first saw the TummyTub but that would mean having to admit to stalking a profile for several weeks to scrutinise the use of the new contraption; will allow my good intentions to rest for the timebeing.

 
Cheeky giggles does not get monetary compensation to review all products.  On occasion, companies will send a sample product for review on the site. I pick and choose what products appear and will never recommend something I would not use on/for myself or my own family. Receiving product samples does not influence the review. There is no guarantee with my reviews and I will not be held responsible if you decide to purchase an item and you are dissatisfied with it; my product reviews are simply my opinions. 

 

 

 

 

Muslim Mama · Parenting · Uncategorized · Women

8 ways to ask a sancti-mommy to take a hike

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I do not own nor hold any intellectual rights over this picture and it has been used under the impression that it is a free image; if otherwise, a quick message would suffice to discontinue use.
  1. Forgive me for failing to congratulate you on getting your medical license since I was too busy keeping my child underweight and malnourished.
  2. Actually, I plan on renting the room right by the toilets at my children’s future universities to be there to change their diapers but thank you for the book on toilet-training-boot-camp.
  3. I took lessons in wrapping my baby wearing shawl to hold my 16 year old for her school-drop offs since my wearing her as an infant would have clearly spoilt her for the act of walking.
  4. Yes, the only reason I cover when nursing is because I am ashamed of my body and using it for the purpose it was created for. It is also because I am a coward and do not want people to judge me.
  5. No, I do not cover when nursing because I have no morals or respect for the discomfort it causes for other adults in the vicinity.
  6. The only reason I bottle feed is because I was not smart enough to have tried all the options you just stated, not to mention me being lazy to nurse.
  7. I know I run the risk of raising a narcissistic attention seeking monster by running to my child at every cry but I just cannot curb the urges of my selfish maternal instincts.
  8. One day, I will be filled with regret at causing strife in my child’s marriage because of his/her need to have me next door to rock and sing him/her to sleep since I did not pay heed to your instructions of letting him/her cry it out as an infant.

*This is intended as light reading and not to be tested out in actual situations; I shall not be liable for any damaged property, noses or relationships.

** I appreciate and highly value advice from all those with a genuine concern and goodwill towards my family; please do not worry yourself into thinking that your help annoyed me in anyway.

***This is based on commonly fought-over mommy-issues and do not indicate any personal experience.

Islamic parenting · Muslim Mama · Parenting in Ramadan · Quran · Ramadan · Ramadan Tips · Surviving Ramadan with kids · Women

Ramadan tips in the era of Facebook-worthy parenting

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If you have ever felt gutted while browsing through the zillions of Ramadan related crafts and activities people share,  or felt guilty at not giving your children and family the magical Ramadan that your neighbor is giving her family, step into the boat and we shall row far away from the wrath of the perfect parents.

The updates started to roll in, slowly but surely. Blogs and posts of extensive Ramadan decorations and crafts that threatened to crush my airway with their sheer difficulty were all over the social media.

Suhoor and Iftar menus were documented and recipes were exchanged. Children were presented with Ramadan baskets filled with handmade items to keep them occupied during the month as the mothers occupied themselves with preparing vast meals with intricate garnishing and memorized the Quran along with it.

Every single tidbit was photographed and plastered all over the home page to possibly motivate moron-mothers like yours truly.

I watched all the preparations with a sense of foreboding that increased as the first day of Ramadan approached. With a folder full of ideas and recipes, I was all set but for the sheer energy or time.

Mustering up the motivation to change out of my pajamas by midday is an achievement; the idea of making ocean themed pastries with finicky pastry is laughable when my belly is full let alone while fasting.

After finally stepping out of the baby bubble this year, I was faced with the prospect of fasting the entire month whilst homeschooling a highly inquisitive 3 year old and a 1 year old who puts the energizer bunny to shame.

Although the month began in trepidation, this Ramadan has been one of the most productive and calmer ones in recent memory, with the help of a few small but necessary adjustments to my mindset.

Alhamdulillah!

  1. Curb the need to shine on social media. You choosing not to parade your kitchen success on your profile does not mean you feed your family sticks of butter. This constant need for approval in the form of “likes” can be indulged in all other months but let it go for now.
  2. Keep your meals simple but packed full of nutrition. Simple additions to your diet, like a glass of water with a couple of dates soaked in it for 12 hours can go a long way to keep acidity at bay. A plate full of watermelon at Suhoor keeps you away from being dehydrated. This is the month of fasting and not feasting, no matter what tradition may say. Stick to your regular dinner meals if possible.
  3. Keep your phone on you as much as possible. Use an authentic Quran app to sneak in a couple of pages of recitation whenever you are excused from pretending to be a horse or patient at the hands of your little minions.
  4. If you are homeschooling younger children, let these last few weeks be focused entirely on teaching them Quranic stories. We opted for a word-a-day activity to last the entire Ramadan (there will be more on this in the near future). Children love stories and the Quran is brimming full of enchanting ones.
  5. When you feel boredom or restlessness creeping in, listen to short but relevant lectures by orators who are gifted with the power to awaken your need to learn. A personal favourite would be Br. Nouman Ali Khan and his hilariously concise analogies.
  6. Try and get the children to stick to their regular sleep schedule as much as possible. This leaves you ample time for focus on yourself and your relationship with the Quran.
  7. It would be preferable to have finished all the Eid shopping before Ramadan but not everyone sticks to plans or remembers to take carefully jotted lists when stepping out of the house. The final ten days are around the corner- rush out and get all the clothes and gifts before they dawn upon us.
  8. Do not spend the last few days getting ready for Eid. Need decorations? Begin now or simply print out a bunting banner and you are good to go. The spirit of Eid al Fitr cannot be dulled by the lack of finicky decorations.
  9. Keep a record of things you want to achieve before the month comes to an end. The Satan is locked away and cannot hinder you from turning on a new leaf. Use these weeks to rid yourself of habits that you are not too proud of because this is the easiest time to practice doing so without the buzz of the devil.

Tendency to indulge in a spot of gossip? Make a vow to dedicate a prayer for each time you re lapse.

Easily hooked on to shows and prone to binge watching? Reward yourself for every day you go without it.

  1. Handling children: This is a tough one but a breeze once you actually stop and think about it. Our progeny hold the immense power to make us go from benevolent mothers to scaring the wicked witch of the west in a few seconds.  Short from having them on a leash (no pun intended), there is nothing we can do about it. Give them a free pass for the month. Let them have lots of unstructured playing whilst you sit in the same room (a witness is always required when you deal with more than one) and catch up on your recitation. It is entirely up to you if you feel that they need a structured time but this will require your already sparse energy too.  When they squabble, make it a point to begin a long talk and they will learn to figure it out themselves (happy dance*).

 

Our religion is a natural one and we creatures have been exhaustingly making it as tough as it possibly can get.  Mothers place undue stress upon themselves to live up to the insane standards set by individuals who are either blessed with amazing energy levels or have help at home; it is never possible to have it all AND feel a sense of satisfaction.

You will always have to forgo something.

It just does not have to be your sanity or your sense of achievement.

The mercy you show your children when you clean their snotty noses, the struggle you face in trying to coax food between their adamant teeth, the mini-asphyxiating episode you face as you wait for them to get off your head whilst in prayer, and even your funny faces to bring on a smile on their face is being recorded and rewarded a heap of times more than on any other month.

If the first part of the month was less productive than you would have liked it to be, let it go. You have the final 10 days to look forward to and make the most out of. Use the few days before those days to prepare yourself and your family to enjoy the rewards they come with.

In a highly materialistic world that places deep values in the opinion of society, it is difficult to stand up and do anything differently. Do it for Allah and remember that every family and their needs differ and you will surely be blessed with a sense of contentment, something even a zillion “likes” will never bring about.

O Mothers of the social media Ummah, you are the Queens of your households; reign as freely as you wish to!

Ramadan Mubarak!

 

 

 

hospital list for labour · Muslim Mama

The magical list to pack THE hospital bag

What’s the next best thing to finding out you are pregnant?
Getting to select adorable miniature outfits, setting up the nursery and…packing the bags!

It does not matter how many times one has had to pack those bags- it never fails to undo even the calmest of mothers.

What if I run out of clothes for the baby? Will the hospital take my baby away if I fail to pack enough clothes for him/her?
Should I pack just one more receiving blanket?  Maybe throw in another night-outfit. And get another bag or repack as the bag looks more pregnant than me!

The packing and repacking continues to irate an otherwise pleasant task.

What exactly do you pack for the hospital?
Am I a bad mother for not knowing what I need? Where do they teach you all that? Surely this is more important than learning about where an ancient pharaoh is currently rotting away!

Having had my babies in two different countries and circumstances, I have finally come to a conclusion about the magical list.

It does not exist.

Unpredictability of life extends to the hospital bag requirements. You could take the safe option of packing every single thing you purchased and earn the silent curse of the one handling the bags or use a regular hospital list and add/remove items as you go. As with most parenting hacks, this is one of the sanest options.

Mama Bear
3 or 4 outfits (ideally shirts that button down the front or nursing shirts and wide wraparound skirts)

3 or 4 night gowns that provide nursing access

10 dark coloured underwear

3 or 4 nursing bras

Maternity sanitary napkins or extra absorbent regular napkins

Breast pads

Hair brush and ties/clips or anything to keep the hair off the face

Non-toxic deodorant

Gel based cologne (liquid is fine too)

Moisturiser (it doubles as massage lotion for your tired feet!)

Tooth brush and paste

Liquid body soap and shampoo (small bottles)

Towel

Oats based snacks (for milk production)

Dates (you need the energy)

A good book

Phone charger

Comfortable slippers

Special tips for Muslim Mama’s who wish to maintain their Aura:
Pack one or two elastic caps that could cover your hair since any shawl you use is bound to come off your head at the most inappropriate time; pinning the shawl is not an option most of the time. This way your hair remains covered.

Make sure that whatever outfit you pick to pack covers as much of your aura as is medically allowed. Check your hospital policy as I was told to avoid full sleeves since it interferes with the needles.

Baby Bear

10 full body suits that button down the front
      Or
10 short sleeved onesies or baby shirts(depending on the country)

Going home outfit

1 set of mittens/socks/cap

4 swaddling blankets

1 or 2 baby shawls, depending on the weather or air-conditioning

1 hand quilt(do not let the baby be held by anyone other than the new parents,  without the barrier of a swaddle and hand quilt or suitable substitute)

New born diapers (large pack)

Baby products including a soft bristle hair brush

2 or 3 Hooded towels

Baby wipes

THE Labour/Delivery bag

This is the bag that should be packed and safely hung by the door or stowed in the car from the moment you hit the 7th month. There is no legal nor medical reasoning; plain paranoia and the need to be ready for any instance is what prompted me to do this and never regret it. Take this bag wherever you go as one can never be too prepared.

All the medical records

One comfortable outfit for Mommy Bear

First outfit for Baby Bear (full body suit, cap and mittens)

Receiving blanket and swaddle cloth

Travel pack sized bottle of Zamzam water and dates for Tahneek

Something to listen during labour  (Mishary Al Efasy’s Yasin recitation is highly recommended by yours truly)

*Use Ziploc bags to pack the baby’s things
** Wash and iron all new clothes

For Papa Bear

Clothes

Toiletries

Snacks

Patience

Ability to handle stress

Ability to not take offence at any hurtful statement blurted during labour

Something to gather his wits as he will come undone at the sight of the precious bundle

This list is merely intended as a guidance; please use your instincts to judge your requirements. When in doubt, consult your doctor/hospital and save Dr.Google for the final option.
Congratulations on the imminent arrival of your bundle of joy!

Capsicum · Mushrooms · One Pot Recipe · Pasta · Quick Cooking · Quick pasta · Recipes · vegetarian

One pot Mushroom and capsicum pasta

A love for eating does not necessarily lead to a love for cooking. In that context,a love for cooking does not necessarily result in a love for cleaning up.
My averison to cleaning up is such that I would go to extremes to find recipes that call out for the least number of utensils and pots.
Pasta is a staple in our house for its relatively versatile options that could be covered with just the right amount of bechamel if an experiment of flavours goes awry.
The process of boiling and draining the steaming pot by my clumsy self would be the only drawback, if nitpicking for problems in my current pasta cooking methods.
Keeping an eye out for a solution in the videos flooding the social networking pages brought me to one particular video that seemed to be the answer. Having heard a success story from my lovely aunt who was quick to test it out, here is my version of the one pot pasta wonder.

Do not exclude the capsicum in this recipe because it is necessary to accentuate the flavour. If you are not a fan, I implore you to give this quite overlooked green capsicum a try.

One pot Mushroom & capsicum pasta

Ingredients (serves 4, comfortably)

Half packet of pasta, uncooked(around 2 and half cups)
1/2 cup of cooking cream
Box of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large capsicum, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. butter

1. Melt the butter in a large pan with a splash of regular cooking oil to stop it from burning.
2. Brown and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of salt.
3. Toss in the onions, garlic and capsicum. Pour in the cream and add the uncooked pasta.
4. Mix well and check seasoning. Add water till it just about covers the contents of the pot. Leave to cook covered for few minutes.
5.  Once the pasta is softened, turn up the heat and cook uncovered till the liquid is fully absorbed.

Tada!
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You could gobble it up as a meal or accompany it with a juicy lamb chop or any protein you fancy. A tangy salad would work too.

Happy Eating!

Equality · Freedom · Women

To the women…

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To the women who fought for the rights,
And to the women who are still denied them.

To the women who achieved their dreams,
And to the women whose dreams were quietly squashed.

To the women who received a heartfelt wish today,
And to the women who received none.

To the women who hold their heads up high,
And to the women whose heads remain bowed in fear.

To the women who stand up for themselves,
And to the women who need to be sheltered.

To the women enlightening in freedom,
And to the women living in thirst of education.

To the women enjoying a life of equality,
And to the women forced to obey.

To the women who rejoice at their gender,
And to the women cursing the same.

To the women blessed with the joys of motherhood,
And to the women clinging on to hope for the same.

To the women able to leave a life of abuse,
And to the women helplessly tied in one.

To the women shrugging off judgments,
And to the women cowering against them.

To the women with a house to enter,
And to the women fleeing theirs in fear.

To the women who are aware of such a day,
And to the women who would wonder at its existence,
Happy international women’s day!

Moving house · Undomestic goddess

17 steps to move house: confessions of a serial unrealistic domestic imposter

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1.  Say “yes” to the house without remembering that you were only “window-shopping”; sprawling kitchen and a zillion windows are successful enticers.
2. Return to current house in a state of escalating panic at the realisation of the imminent shifting amidst the organisation of a double celebration on a single day for two different personalities.
3. Curse at the lack of space to put things away in current house and be glad of the move.
4. Number and list out the major and minor tasks ahead, and split them up into two. Include the purchasing of essentials such as dainty tea cups to sit amongst the existing but rarely used cups and bottles of essential oils to concoct some potion or the other, for one has all the leisure time in the world.
5. Lose list.
6. Realise the predicament of list when digging through an overstuffed diaper bag.
7. Blame the situation on the spouse as you see fit and jog through the aisles of over scented shops and return with yet another baking pan and more sheets.
8. Experience the dreadful sinking realisation of the things left to pack and gobble up dinners in an effort to begin immediately. Watch through half a season of an enticing contemporary drama and call it a night. Do not blame yourself; you had to learn the fate of the heir of the abbey.
9. Make another list. Tear up list since you forgot to begin with Bismillah.
10. Call your mother to ask a recipe.
11.  Sip on decaffeinated coffee, also known as, gunk, and make another list.
12.  Send a message to spouse to get boxes. Call to emphasise message and discuss yet another scary piece of legislation in the papers.
13. Begin sorting things meticulously  into boxes and tape boxes before labeling them. Stick the printed labels anyway and hope for the best.
14. Slap yourself for forgetting a cupboard. Dump entire contents of said cupboard unceremoniously into a box and faithfully put off unpacking it as long as possible.
15. Get emotional about saying goodbye to the kitchen you never failed to complain about.
16. Forget to bid adieu to your neighbours and return to do so, two months after moving away.
17 Take your sweet time to settle in and ensure to not unpack previously mentioned box. Find reasons to miss your old house and remind yourself to shut the zillion windows at the new one.