Expat Moms and Kids · Freedom · Homeschooling · Homeschooling whilst Unschooling · Islamic Homeschooling · Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Muscat Mom and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Unschooling · Way of LIfe

To School or Not to School

“What school does she go to?” asks a well-meaning person about my almost 5 year old.

“She doesn’t yet. We are homeschooling at the moment” I reply in weary apprehension, expecting another tirade of shocked expressions and 5 minutes of a lecture on how they know what would be better for my child. You know, because, they have seen her couple of times and have children of their own, they automatically become self-proclaimed experts on my child too…(mini rant over)

To be honest, the above scenario does not happen as often as I claim it to but the after effects of such a confrontation and the willpower it takes for me to not respond in kind, has me agitated for a while, and thus, prone to a lot of dramatics.

Most people are genuinely curious about what homeschooling is all about and their questions are always welcome because they are merely asking without assuming the worst or telling me how “wrong” I am.

What exactly is homeschooling?

It is basically the education of a child at home, primarily by the parents.

Then what in the world is unschooling?

It is a more radical form of homeschooling where conventional school systems and curriculums have no place; the learning is experience based on each child’s preference.

Is it legal?

Yes, depending on the country you live in. Most governments require parents to educate their children but they do not govern what kind of education that would be.

Do you follow a syllabus?

Not at the moment, I pick up on my child’s changing interests and we focus on whatever that maybe.

So, you are unschooling?

No.

Then you are simply being a teacher at home but for one child?

No.

What exactly are you doing?

I am helping my children learn in any way that they want to, without allowing the constraints of a label restrict our learning.

That is what we are doing.

Going against socially expected norms and the “done-thing” is much harder than I thought it would be. The inner turmoil I face at wondering if I am doing right by my children keeps me up most nights. Then I Google. And I panic even more.

It is always scary doing something different, especially when it comes to your children; there is absolutely no way of knowing if you are doing the right thing till it is too late. There have been many days when I have wanted to throw in the towel and do what we are “supposed” to be doing but I always backed out after a frustrated husband finally looked about ready to agree with me.

After many prayers and contemplation, things started coming into better perspective.

Homeschooling was introduced to me accidentally through a video from a lovely site called Rahmah Muslim Homeschool . Intrigued, I started researching on this since providing a wholesome Islamic education was absolutely important for us. After sifting through a whole plethora of information on the net, I was muddled as to what I should be doing. I decided to pick a site, and start off from there. Although I am unable to remember the site, it did have quite an extensive list of homeschooling activities that included teaching sight words. Jumped  right on the sight word train and spent a night cutting and pasting words intended for my then  2+year old little girl to memorise and start reading because a certain list I picked up on another site claimed she should be reading by the time she was 3 years of age.

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This method may work and she was quick to memorise the words. It took even longer time helping her forget them to help her focus on sounds.

Needless to stay, sticking to a rigid schedule whilst trying to tick off everything in my “list” took its toll on us and I felt it was just too tough because I was not a qualified teacher. After audibly questioning my decision to move into finance instead of education after leaving school, I started looking for online education degrees. Long story short, I came to my senses before paying for a full degree programme that I never would have completed.

Then I began to look into local homeschooling families and to my surprise, there was a whole community in Muscat! I began this journey in trepidation with absolutely no support system but meeting this wonderful group helped by reassuring me that we were doing just fine. One mother in particular fascinated me with her attitude towards learning and living, and she helped me finally figure out how to let go of social expectations and focus on what would be best for my family. You can follow her journey on Raggamuslims.

I have been meaning to chronicle our journey but kept putting it off till I read a well thought out piece in Happiness Is Here and realised how our journey could help another family make their decision to create their own path.

Homeschooling for us is now merely a loose label that we use for sake of ease when having to answer a question about school for our children.

Our learning journey at the moment is about listening to their (now 4+ and 2+ year olds!) interests and learning about them with them. However, I am a firm believer in the power of reading and the vast knowledge accessible to one with the ability to read, which meant that I could not adapt the relaxed method of “letting them learn”. Instead I looked into Jolly Phonics method and took their online course in order to teach reading.  We do not focus on traditional mathematical lessons because it simply does not interest them; they learn that through play. I cannot draw to save my life and so, skipped over teaching them how to draw. Instead, I made sure they have easy access to crayons, colour pencils and paper, and now, I am amazed by their creativity. My 4 year old wants to try out school at one point and we would let her if she is sure that is what she wants but for now, we are enjoying the journey  with a lovely unicorn learning her letter sounds and a curly-hair ball of sunshine with an interest in shapes and a love for gluing things.

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The unicorn is doing a Sound Sheet for letter “f” and her brother is doing a gluing activity with shapes, hastily drawn by yours truly

I have stopped worrying about what education should be and I am focusing on letting them decide their learning experience. Shedding all the preconceived notions of education that I was taught all my life is still a work-in-progress but I am slowly but surely coming out of that state of mind.

Our journey is not about schooling nor is it about not-schooling; it is about learning naturally and developing a lifelong love for learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Living by the Quran · Muscat, Oman · Muslim Mama · Paranoia · Quran · Quran and remedies · Quranic Verse · Reaching for Jannah · Sunnah · Way of LIfe

How to not catch cooties, Islamic style

Little children are sometimes the unkindest creatures to walk the planet. Their blatant lack of regard for propriety means brutal honesty. As quickly as they melt hearts with their smiles, they are capable of completely ostracizing or excluding another child for being different. A common problem in their tiny minds is figuring out how not to catch “cooties” off another tiny human, most often, someone of the opposite gender. They would talk to said individual and even maybe play a game but will screech at the thought of contact because of the “cooties”.

These children grow in body but almost always, never as a person, and roam the grounds as adults, silently afraid of catching “cooties”.

But only now, the dreaded imaginary germ is very real.

Hesitant to visit the sick for too long

Afraid of looking into the eyes of the poor and starving

Ill at ease in the company of those experiencing tragedy and heartbreak

For the cooties now mean more than physical discomfort; ill fortunes of others are feared to be contagious.

As with most, the cure for the worry exists.

When I told my Umamma(maternal grandmother)of a certain situation that I wished I never had to be in, she shared with me a one-liner that she assured me would shield me of all that I feared would be passed on to me: a cough, hair fall or even the fear of being married young. And it has always worked like a charm to quell the bubbles of fear as they begin to form in the pit.

[“Peace!”- a word (of salutation)from a Lord Most Merciful]  

Surah Yasin, verse 58

Mentally reciting this, sometimes with fervor to protect myself of whatever it was that I did not want to catch or experience has worked every single time. I have always experienced a sense of calmness as though the chanting of that line conjured up a safety bubble around me, not unlike the ones they cast over Hogwarts to thwart Lord Voldemort and his creepy followers. My enemy was scarier than any insecure cloaked man with a childish need of power and so, I remained secure in the ease I received at remembering the verse and ensured to recite it for myself and all my loved ones in mind.

I recited it out of fear when I visited an aunt diagnosed with cancer, with horror when I watched a widow cling to her young children in grief, and vehemently, when I heard of a girl having to marry young and “unaccomplished”.

I remained secure in my belief that I was able to ward off all that I least desired with a whisper of this verse. Till this morning.

It was very difficult for me to concentrate on my Fajr prayer today because I kept unconsciously pondering upon this verse and how fortunate I was to have been taught this.

And then I remembered I got married at 19, barely having accomplished anything since high school.

I answered a late night call twice in the space of a week when I was pregnant with my eldest, to be told that a beloved aunt and then a cousin had both been widowed with little children under their care.

The vicious claws of cancer grabbed two more beloved aunts.

This realization hit me with a force so intense that I had to pause before finding the courage to get the English translation out. I knew it was about peace, but did not know the depth of the verse.

The verses preceding this talk about the elation of the deserving after entering Heaven/Jannah and reaping the fruits of their lives, and getting all what was promised to them. Then they would be blessed with the greeting of “Peace” from the Almighty, because that is what they would have for eternity after facing the trials and tribulations of this world.

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How was this verse, as amazing as it is, supposed to help me from catching anything I feared and why had I not realized that my protective measure had not worked in most cases?

The answer lay hidden in the simple word of peace.

Albeit unknowingly, the assurance of peace after the trials and pain had kept me going and given me the strength to see reason and accept every situation I had prayed against.

This brought to mind something I had read about in Reclaim your Heart, by Yasmin Mogahed. She talked about the verse “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5) and about how the ease comes with hardships and not after or before. I would not do this topic justice if I was to squeeze it in here but the gist was to understand that nothing in this life is perfectly good or revoltingly bad; the aspect of perfection was reserved for Jannah/Heaven and Jahannam/Hell.

For all the times I uttered what my wise Umamma taught me, I was unsuspectingly warding off the fear and unease I had about handling the situation, should it fall upon me because that is what had happened. She had given me a lifeline when my paranoia threatened to suffocate me at the thought of any ill fortune or pain on my loved ones.

My beloved Umamma returned to her creator 5 years ago and all the “calamities” I described above happened in the space of 7 years but its proof of Allah’s infinite mercy that this realization hit me years after the pain and confusion. For had I realized then, I fear to think that my Iman/Faith would have been compromised at the thought of my “go-to-remedy” having “failed” me.

I had unconsciously been teaching myself to look at the bigger picture and reach for the reward of having the almighty bestow the salutation of “peace” and this I truly believe is what got me through my fears and change of plans that I assumed in my naivety, would do me no good .

I planned and I planned but Allah planned the best.

 

 

Expat Moms and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Restaurant Reviews · Reviews

Akdeniz, Centara Muscat, Oman

Despite blogging for quite a while, it would seem odd that I have steered clear of reviewing restaurants. For a person prone to having opinions on everything under the sun and struggling to hold in a snarky comment at every possible thing, it does take quite an effort to not write about something. 

Why this hesitancy, one may wonder? The fear of costing someone a job and reputation whilst maintaining integrity by not painting over the truth.

Which is why I was excited but apprehensive about being invited for a food tasting at a new restaurant at a hotel in town.

After much soul searching(what’s life without the dramatics?), I decided to accept the invitation and give this a go. Plus, I was keen to meet fellow bloggers and other social influencers in town too!

Let’s hope I do them justice!

Akdeniz Restaurant, is located on the ground floor of Centara Hotel, Muscat, and can be accessed directly from  the car park as well.  It specialises in Turkish cuisine with an international twist. In line with their theme, the decoration was a blend of tradition and modern undertones. The colourful Turkish lamps emitted soft hues that provided just the right amount of lighting for the tastefully set table. If there was a polite way of saying I could kick myself for not taking more pictures, that would be inserted here.

The lack of placemats meant the cutlery tried escaping the table but the rustic design of the plate made up for it. Detailed menus were placed by each setting and it looked promising despite the lack of a vegetarian main, which would be a disappointment to someone with the particular dietary requirement; they did arrange for a vegetarian meal for a guest when they were informed of this. 

After the initial pleasantries, we were introduced to the Executive Chef who explained that we will be sampling some of their regular dishes along with some new ones for their soon-to-be-opened roof top restaurant. This explained the size of the current seating area that only could be described as cosy. 

It came as a surprise that the chef specialised in Indonesian cuisine (which incidentally meant a promise of a delicious satay) but decided to let the food speak for itself. 

Sipping on Barbican, a malt drink, and wondering about the absence of fresh juice options, we awaited the food.

When the basket of pita bread was placed before us along with the starters (Hummus, Labneh & Honey Pide and Chicken Wing’s N Drum) I was slightly disappointed at not getting the freshly baked bread aroma but it looked good enough for me to pick one up and munch away. The nigella seeds scattered bread was fresh albeit slightly dense and not vey warm. The hummus I scooped up with my second piece of pita would have been just right with a little more seasoning. 

Although the chicken wings could have been more crispy, they were lightly coated with a deliciously smoked bbq sauce. I am not a big fan of bbq sauce but I would have loved to have seen more of this smoky sauce as a dip. What stood out and made the lack of dips and traditional mezze forgivable was the yummy Labneh and Honey Pide (a Turkish flatbread). It was oh-so-soft, cradling a layer of labneh slathered with honey: was a treat to smell and taste too! The only reason the carb-monster in me did not finish it all is to save space for the mains and to not risk the seams of my cloak falling apart at the task of holding in place all that flab. 

The mains  arrived in 3 bowls filled with Chicken Shish Taouk, Lamb Kofta, and Chicken Satay. They delivered exactly what the menu promised but it still was slightly disappointing not having any dips/sauces or sides to go along with the meat. The Shish Taouk was subtly marinated with Turkish spices albeit being slightly overcooked. I was slightly apprehensive about the kofta because I have yet to find one I enjoyed, and although I have still not been converted, this one had more flavour and was not vey dry. Chicken satay had skewers of succulent cubes of chicken dipped in a good blend of spices but missing the promised peanut sauce coating. 

The well presented desserts arrived shortly (Triple Caramel Cream and Mango Rice Pudding) but forgot to click a picture before digging in. I was expecting creamy and comforting rice pudding but alas, it was a different texture but this could very well be because it was a traditional Turkish rice pudding and not having a precedent to judge it upon, my opinion could have been distorted. Although some guests found the caramel cream bitter, I was actually delighted by the same because I like my caramel taken slightly further than usual which gives it that delicious bitterness. I was confused with the” Triple” aspect in the name and assumed it meant 3 forms of caramel but this could be a simple misunderstanding. The desserts had just the right amount of sweetness and with slight changes to the textures, would be a great way to finish up a meal.

The couches and cushions set around the quaint area lent to the comfortable ambience: the perfect setting for good conversations and mingling. 

The hotel is tastefully decorated with a pleasant colour scheme and would be ideal for a get away without having to actually leave the city. The staff at the restaurant were very attentive and ensured our experience was a positive one; looking forward to visiting them again with family and friends to enjoy their complete menu. 

Chemical free · Cleaning products · DIY

DIY: 2 ingredient all-purpose cleaner(natural)

Although I could never be convinced to fold up the laundry before it gets back to the hamper, I do consider my housekeeping skills to be pretty commendable when relating to cleanliness.

Believing that the harshest chemicals would do the best job, I have scrubbed away many floors and breathed in gallons of the strongest all purpose cleaners.

Until I was pregnant with my eldest…

The paranoid mommy features kicked in almost immediately and with the help of trusty Google, learnt of the toxic nature of the fumes I previously associated with cleanliness.

Turns out, cleanliness does NOT have a smell.

We have been taught to believe that the sharp smell of disinfectant is a sign of cleanliness but at what price?

After hunting through couple of stores, switched to organic fragrance free products. Turns out, old habits definitely die hard. I missed having a smell; switched to naturally fragranced cleaning products.

As beneficial as it was to the family and environmental health, including chemical free cleaners in our shopping list was eating into our budget more vociferously than we liked.

Since I already had a few toes dipped in the grand ocean of DIYing , began experimenting and researching on possible alternatives.

After several failed attempts, one that nearly blew up my test lab, sometimes known as my kitchen, I found the perfect solution that ticked all the boxes: easy to make, cost-effective, naturally fragranced and most importantly, a very powerful cleaner.

A few squirts of this on my oil-steeped stove top, and it shone with merely a wipe; this solution that needs minimum elbow-grease is made from just 2 ingredients, one of which would otherwise end up in the trash.

So what were those ingredients?

White vinegar and orange peels

That was it.

I popped orange peels (make sure they are pulp free) into a large bottle and filled it with white vinegar that I buy by the gallon. I let this steep for a week or two and strain it into a spray bottle. If I had forgotten to steep a new batch, I would use the mix with a few drops of citrus based essential oil in the spray bottle.

A glass spray bottle would be ideal and be completely chemical free but being a gifted klutz made me resort to plastic.

I have been using this product for over an year and use it all over the kitchen, the floors and amazingly, on windows and glass tables. It works much better than any commercial glass cleaner I have tried. The only product we purchase to make this is the vinegar and half a bottle of this is enough for an entire month’s supply  of the product; the remaining is used in my DIY Nearly Natural Fabric softener.

Here’s to toxin free cleaning on a budget! 

Expat Moms and Kids · Muscat Kids Play Areas · Muscat Mom and Kids · Parenting · Reviews: Kids

Review: Patterpillar, Baushar, Muscat

There are lots of things that bring on the dreaded mommy-guilt and reading lists of expected skills and knowledge a child should master before turning a certain age, never fails to drag me down the bottomless spiral.

Want to know of something that could drag me even lower?

Lists and sublists of activities categorized by age that I should be doing with my children (activities for 4 year olds, 1 year olds, fetuses and etc…).

Those lists cannot be viewed in one screen and the links almost always had links to even more activities. Just about then the dread that had threatened to engulf me at the title, takes over me.

I blacken out at the sight of all the gross and fine motor skills specifically catered for my almost 5 year old that I should have started making her do as soon as she learnt to control her head.

What brings on the heebie-jeebies in double time has always been the messy play activities. It is supposedly very important to allow children to learn through mess and feel different textures; it would also be a good idea for moms to get their hearts checked out in preparation for possible shocks at the aftermath.

I allow the guilt to take over and spend a night getting together supplies to set up a fun messy play session for the kids for the next day and it does start out well. But when I eventually end up cleaning up more than I bargained for (think splattered pantry cupboards!), I tell myself that they have had their quota of required messy play and I could avoid it till the next guilt trip.

An aftermath of a day that began full of learning possibilities; what do they say about mothers and optimism?

Then these purple and green advertisements about a messy play area started popping up on social media. Since they had not mentioned a location but were popping up at events, it fell off my radar.

Figuring out a way to help our little girls spend time together before summer holidays led another mommy and me back to Patterpillar, and we were treated to a messy play session at their unique concept spot, tucked away behind Costa Coffee at Lamar, next to Panorama Mall, Baushar. I say “we” because although the treat was for my IzGirl I am pretty  sure my delight as I entered this outlet trumps her joy at being asked and not forbidden to make a mess!

Allow me to elaborate!

When I saw all the coloured water with little containers to pour and squeeze, the slime like goop, shaving foam and a whole plethora of colourful equipment to move and mush them around, my natural reaction was to call out a list of instructions on how she was not supposed to let the mess move beyond a certain area.

But I stopped myself for a glorious realisation had just settled.

I did not have to clean up the mess.

Another mommy whom I have met couple of times high fived me across the room as I verbalised my glorious realisation. In this relaxed state, I sat back with my hot chocolate that I was too paranoid to drink at the cafe whilst my girl was occupied in a safe space a few metres away, and observed.

Patterpillar Oman at Lamar, Boushar is a unique kids play area that also sells messy play products and sets up activity stations at parties and events. They are the first and only (as far as I am aware) mess based play area in Muscat. They do not just throw some paints and goop at the kids but painstakingly arrange different activities and stations for every single session they host.

On this particular day, there was a water and sand table with several compartments; each one had a different material (goop,coloured water,shaving foam and etc…) with lots of toys to assist. Within a few minutes, the kids managed to mix all the elements and it took great strength to not squirm and allow my inner OCD-like symptoms get the better of me. Despite the newly created concoction, the kids played at this table longer than at any other station.

Behind this area was a row of easy access taps to let them fill their pretty containers or in our kids’ case, wash their sticky or sandy hands before sticking them into other messes (side effects of living with moms who squirm at the thought of slippery bubble liquid bottles in tiny hands).

They had a sand station with sand coloured quicksand or moon sand along with shells and beach toys; this was however not very popular or maybe it was just this session. The kids did enjoy using the long tongs to pick toys from the sand play area and move it to their table of magical liquids.

What I loved the best was the water play area, a winding lazy river like set-up, filled with water and fun toys. Although you are not allowed inside the water, they had enough activities to allow children to make a splash. It also helps settle the guilt at the memory of barking at the child for turning the bathroom into river Nile after every bath.

Through a small doorway in a cottage set up is the painting station where you can paint the walls of the “cottage”. However, the girls did not want to spend long inside because they claimed it stank, which I assume was the smell of paint and poor ventilation.

Tucked away behind all this and shelves of goodies that we could purchase if we were ever struck with the insane idea of setting up a messy play day at home(slime is not actually a bad idea), is a small area with a screen, tables and chairs. A few kids were having their snacks and I assume they use it when hosting birthday parties at the outlet.

Their strategic location made cleaning up the kids so much easier since the washrooms were right next door; you can dress the kids in old comfortable clothes or swimwear. They may wear their own crocs(the surface gets slippery) or borrow a pair available at the outlet.

Whilst the kids run around whisking shaving foam mocktails on padded surfaces their guardians/care takers can pretend to be giants in the land of Lilliput, perched on colourful, tiny but sturdy chairs placed all around the play area.

The assistants are present throughout the session but a care taker is required to remain to supervise or join in the fun.

They charge OMR 5 per session and provide sibling discounts and also have a membership package with unlimited visits per month.

Each session lasts 2 hours (they have 2 sessions per day)and their timing and rates can be double checked through the following links:

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/patterpillar/ or

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/patterpillar_om/

When I mention the price to anyone I was gushing about this to, I was met with mixed responses; it is quite high when comparing with most play areas but well worth it as an occasional treat.

Incidentally, I came across a gift coupon/voucher sticker for a free session at Patterpillar that my Izzybug got at a contest held by Muscat Mom N Kids (https://www.instagram.com/muscatmomnkids/) at the Muscat Grand Mall; hurray!

They regularly update their social media pages with recent additions and are quick to respond to your queries. We are certainly looking forward to trying the new activity stations very soon.

I think I speak for all the messy-play-avoiding guilt wrecked mommies in Muscat when I say, Patterpillar is on to a winning concept. Armed with a solution to the painting area (my kids dearly love to paint but I dearly love my sanity), I can see this becoming a regular play-date option.

 

For more reviews: Reviews: All about the Kids 

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; I say it as it is. There is no guarantee with my reviews and I will not be held responsible if you decide to purchase an item/experience and you are dissatisfied with it; my product reviews are simply my opinions.

Homemade · Homemade condiments · How-to · Preservative free · Quick Cooking · Recipes

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

7 years ago, I had no idea mayonnaise could be made at home. 

Mayonnaise was something that came out of a jar and later on, in squeezy bottles. The first time I was introduced to fresh mayonnaise was at a diner when I was pregnant but that was only to learn that I could not eat my sandwich that was slathered with it since it contained raw egg. Since the bottled kind was not off limits, I managed to forget about this “novelty”.

Whilst binge watching 2 seasons of Masterchef after the birth of my second, I learnt mayo-making was a tedious task of trickling oil into a processor; I am more of a chuck-everything-in-one-go-and-hope-for-the-best kind.

And then one day, my interest was piqued again after watching mayo being made with an immersion or stick blender. The blender was lowered into liquids and when lifted out, it became creamy and spreadable; the moment was as magic would be to a completely naive person (or a “godayata magic wagey” moment, in Sinhala).

As easy as it seemed now, the raw egg still put me off, till I found free range eggs from hens that were vaccinated against salmonella. I did not do much of research into it after finding this; when has my incessant googling ever failed to increase my state of panic?

The stamp on the egg box spelt it out for me and that was enough for the moment.

After reading oh-so-many recipes, I was concerned about the wasted whites because almost all of them called for just the yolk. The whites could be stored and used later but I am very aware of a shelf in my fridge where good intentions go to die and end up in the bin, after weeks of sorry chilling.

Then I was concerned by the amount of oil used and fell off the healthy wagon and right into the waiting arms of the bottled kind.

Eventually, gave it a go with olive oil and sunflower oil but was not too convinced.

And then I tried this version and lo behold, it looks and tastes much better than any of the store-bought kind. I have now made a vow to never buy a bottle again and if you ever see me pick a bottle off the shelf in haste, do remind me of all the harmful additives I’ll be adding to my sandwich along with the taste.

I used a mix of good quality coconut and sesame oils; the coconut oil is what gives the creaminess that is hard to replicate with other oils. Mustard is the usual stabiliser but in this recipe, I have used a mix of lime and raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (preferably one with the “Mother” floating around) to act as the stabiliser.

Garlic crushed with pink salt was used to flavour it but plain salt would do.
I like to add the things in the same order every time because I am not sure how it would turn out and used eggs both at room temperature and straight out of the fridge too; same texture either way.

Add the salt with crushed garlic
Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar
Add the egg and the oil. Wait for the yolk to settle in the bottom
Notice the used measuring jug and spatula? Although the immersion blender fit into the jar, I had failed to think of the result of trying to whisk a nearly filled jar. Measuring jug to the rescue!

Although people claim to store this for over a week, I would advise to use within 4-5 days and to ensure that utensils are cleaned before use and kept well chilled to prevent contamination. Sterilising the jar is a good idea too. Check out: how to sterilise glass jars

Most recipes call for a cup of oil but using 3/4 cup of mild flavoured oil works with this. I have only used it as a spread but assume it would work well with salads too.

Give it a whir and leave your suggestions below or feel free to send me a message.

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

  • Servings: Fills a 7375g jam jar
  • Difficulty: Surprisingly Easy
  • Print


Ingredients

1 whole free-range egg

1 tbsp lime juice(fresh,preferably)

1 tbsp raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (you can use a regular kind if you can’t find this)

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup of coconut oil

Salt

1 clove of garlic, crushed  (optional)

Immersion blender

Measuring jug or deep dish to make it in

Sterilised jar for storing  

Directions

If your immersion blender can reach the bottom of the jar you plan on storing it in,you are good to go. Otherwise, use a measuring jug or any deep dish.

1. Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar, add the salt (and crushed garlic, if using), add the egg and then the oil. The order does not really matter but for some reason, this is how I like to do it. 

2. Wait till the yolk settles at the bottom (takes few seconds) and lower in the blender till it covers the yolk. 

3. Switch it on and just hold it in place. In few seconds, you will be able to see it start emulsifying. Give it 30 more seconds or till its completely emulsified but has a layer of oil on top. 

4. Without switching it off, slowly start lifting the blender with a slight swirling motion. Do this slowly till all the oil is blended in. And that’s it!

5. If you made it in the storage jar, you are done as soon as you pop the lid on. If you made it in another container, use a spatula to transfer it to your storage jar.

6. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.
PS: Homemade mayonnaise is NOT advised during pregnancy.

Eid · Equality · Humanity · Islamic parenting · Islamic society · Islamic values · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Ramadan · Rights of the young · Role of Masjids · Sunnah

How our Ummah is being failed by the beautiful Masjids

Picture this scenario.

You are 4 years old and day after day and night after night, you listen to stories of the bounties of Jannah. You yearn for Jannah and learn of all that could take you there. You learn that prayer is on top of the list and make sure to watch people in prayer at every possible opportunity. You practise praying in your very own prayer mat. You can’t even reach the handle of the door but you squeal in delight at the thought of praying in the Masjid only to be told the beautiful Masjid does not want you there. You pray outside by your mother on a worn and dusty carpet, and wonder if you had been “naughty” and that’s why they didn’t let you in.

Or picture this.

You are 5 years old. It’s Eid! You wake up at the crack of dawn and rub your sleepy eyes with your tiny hands. Bathed and dressed in matching Abayas, you go to the Masjid as a family for prayers. But alas, you can’t enter the prayer room at all. So you sit on a straw mat outside the carpeted prayer hall, squashed by similar peers and wonder why they wouldn’t just let you pray inside. 

Now picture this.

So now you are 10 and suddenly you are not shooed away like scum. You reluctantly wrap your shawl on and apprehensively enter the prayer room. It’s the soft carpet you always wanted to touch and feel. You are now bathed in the glow of the twinkling lights you once sneaked a peek at before being told to move away. You pray dutifully but your heart is heavy. Your mind is filled with the rejection of the yesteryears and you feel watched. Your heart throbs in fear and shame at the thought  being told to leave again. Finish your prayer and return home and slowly start giving excuses to not go there again. You worry about your prayer there because you just could not focus with all your thoughts. You stop going to the Masjid altogether because you are tired of feeling like you did something wrong.

At school your friends talk about their Sunday at church and you listen in surprise to how they pray together. You are surprised to learn that children attend their prayers and hear their stories of fond memories through the years. What a nice God they had, you think to yourself, ashamed to say it out aloud.

The rest, I leave to your imagination. 

Your mind and tongue can wag a million reasons on why children should be banned in Masjids but all I ask you to remember is that no problem exists but with a solution already devised for it by Allah swt. 

Noise? Have a separate room for moms and kids instead of pointing them towards mats thrown outside in haste.

You want to maintain the carpets because that trumps inculcating love of prayer in children in priorities? FINE. Hang a sign that forbids any food and drinks in the prayer hall and have the person who is stationed to shoo away the children to monitor the prayer hall and remind people violating that rule. Have a spot to change diapers in the washrooms and strictly forbid it in the prayer hall; the children shooer can monitor that too.

For almost all of the “reasons” children are heartlessly banned from prayer halls, there are solutions. The simplest one is to remember that children are people and feel all the emotions too.

There are a handful of Masjids that still welcome children and we have been blessed to have them around. This rule that blatantly ignores the example of our beloved Prophet (PBUH)’S love for children is generally found in the new and beautiful structures.

What most people fail to realise is that banning children is essentially, banning the mothers too. 

Why would a mother, who can pray in peace in the comfort of her own home knowing her children are by her side, want to hand over her children to a complete stranger along with many other children to pray with a heavy heart and fear(for the children’s safety) in a Masjid?

Naturally, the mother stops going to the Masjid too. Disheartened by the rejection from a place she thought would help her raise her children, she would look elsewhere for the support and open her family to being misguided.

I write this with a heavy heart after I had to once again console my little ones who did not understand why yet again they had to only look inside the beautiful prayer hall from outside when we stopped for prayers after a fun day out. Telling them it is because they were little made me feel as if I was telling them that being little was wrong.

Instead, I looked at my little girl’s face and said, “Love, you need to make duaa everyday for Allah to help you build a Masjid that welcomes children too”.

Nodding her little head, she ran off to focus on something else, like children usually do but brought it up again without fail at bedtime, proving she felt deeper than she let on.

How are we going to shake out of the state where it has become normal to prioritise the maintenance of a creation over developing the faith of the Ummah?

May Allah swt guide us through these scary times!



Disclaimer: I do not intend to pinpoint at any particular place nor do I assume to be more informed than those of higher authority. I am simply a heartbroken mother, wondering how to explain to her children on why they are not allowed into a prayer space to pray to the One who loves them more than I ever could. 

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
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
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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
  • Difficulty: easy
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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!