Birthday Reflections

If you know me well then you know I am the least celebratory person you will meet. If it wasn’t for my family reminding me every year, I would probably try to forget my birthday. I do however like to make a lot self reflection around my birthday in order to tune into what I have learned that whole year. Last year I wrote a post, “30 things I’ve learned in 30 years“. This year I have been doing deep reflection on building a better character.

One bad habit that I’ve been trying to tackle on, is stopping victimizing everything bad that has happened in my life. Putting my trust in God that everything happens for a reason and that better days will come. Complaining all the time can actually affect your mood and how people perceive you. I know this sounds very dramatic but I had the constant thought of wondering if people would miss me if I would die. I felt that I am always victimizing myself and complaining that people did not find me pleasant.

I realized my first bad characteristic was not listening to others and including myself and my heart. I have been practicing self pity for so long to the point that my problems were more important than other people’s problems. I stopped listening to advise because I always had excuses and the problem never arose from me but others. Consequently, I became a selfish person not realizing that other people might be needing help, or wanting to help and saw things differently. With that I have to stop assuming that I know the reasons to people’s actions and instead have conversations where I would be actively listening whereby my thoughts can be changed if that person is proven to be right or has defended their actions justly.

Another very important characteristic that I want to work on is being kind. I am generally a kind person and do not mean to harm or hurt anyone as most people I believe are. My concern however, is whether or not I am striving to be the most kind person I can be. My answer is a big fat NO. I mean kind to the point of getting out of your way to help others, to putting for 110% effort in exhorting kindness. I believe this type of kindness is revolutionary, it moves mountains it fights wars and unites us as humans. Most people say that you have to be kind to yourself before you can show kindness towards others. I have tried that approached and for 31 years I have not succeed. This year, I will do the opposite, I will be kind to others first, especially to my kids before I show kindness towards myself and see if that has some sort of fulfillment. Sort of like, trying to eat healthy will lead you to a more active lifestyle approach, rather than trying to have an active lifestyle will lead to eating healthy. Am I making any sense?

My biggest characteristic strength happens to be my biggest weaknessas well. One of the things I am secretly very good at is reading people and their intentions. I am very good at reading and understanding people but that can have its off sets as well. Reading people comes from high sensibility and vulnerability where I can easily empathize with anyone and deeply visualize their emotions. This strength is not something I can explain or show off on my resume but it’s something that I secretly know about myself. This is also why I very sensitive around people that I am not fond off and can be shaken by the environment around me. I realize that I have to stop internalizing and overthinking everything that I caught on about a person or environment and let it go. Knowing that people and cultures are what they are and I just have to accept it for what is it and nothing more. Instead use my strength and turn it to something positive, like helping people in need.

Now, I know it sounds as if I tackled all these characteristics but the truth is I am not even 1% close to where I want to be. This post is more of a reminder to continue to actively change. Even one action towards change can make a huge difference in our character. Also, the people that always telling us that we should change are the same people who will never see our good deeds and are quick to point their fingers when we fail. It is important to change for ourselves and not for others and never give up even if we fail a thousand times.

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Kitchen Makeover Ideas for Less

Makeover doesn’t need to break the bank. It can be even cheaper than buying a couple of used items in thrift stores. Sometimes just moving or painting a couple of items around the house can make a huge impact.

I have always loved interior design and if there was a carrer I could go into right now would be just that. I love the idea of making our spaces an echo of our personality. Just like style and fashion is away of expression, interior design can serve the same purpose.

My interior design style has a lot of influence from my history, lifestyle and passion. I am a stay at home mother (which means I am broke) whose passion involves understanding different cultures, traditions and travelling. This translates to, in the world of interior design that I want my space to be kids appropriate with a bohemian aesthetics and lots of ethnic and local handmade presence.

Since moving to Egypt the whole apartment needed/needs a whole makeover but my budget has been very limited. We started with pink walls in the master-bedroom (I wanted to ripe my eyes off every time I looked at the wall), lime green color in the smaller bedroom and the rest of the house was a combination of yellow and red (hello McDonalds). I am pleased to inform you that we now have changed the colors of walls to light cool gray.

The kitchen and bathroom are the too spaces that need the most work but take the most out of my budget. I am a strong believer that makeovers does not have to be expensive and require buying new items. Thankfully we now live in the era of Pinterest we can find a tone of diy projects and inspirations. I literally spend hours looking for kitchen makeovers and have created quite a board with a tone of inspiration that I would like to share with you.

Cortinas decorativas para la cocina | Decoración

etagere murale cuisine de couleur blanc pour la cuisine blanche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your kitchen is lacking some cabinets like my is than this is a perfect fix. You can literally cut off some extra fabric or curtains you already have around the house place a curtain rod under the counter top and voila, you have yourself an easy project.

Here is another example of curtains under the sink which leads to the next hack which are, shelves. Open cabinets are so trendy right now and one of the simplest and cheapest makeover.

Tablillero abierto con tubo para guindar Make It Work: Smart Design Solutions for Narrow Galley Kitchens e8c8a76b0fd0111a264a28e228ca480c

Open shelf can make such a drastic change into your kitchen, it also makes the kitchen look more spacious.

 Large cast in situ one piece polished concrete worktop

Remodelista: Sourcebook for Considered Living 

Kitchen counters and cabinets can be so expensive and time consuming that a simple wooden shelves all over the kitchen might just be the fix in less the cost.

Before and After: Grody Tin Shelf Gets Pottery-Barn-Style Makeover » Curbly | DIY Design Community ich will eure wohnung sehen.... - Seite 449 - erster, erster, erster!!! :jumpy: her mit den bildern. ich mach welche, wenn ich aufgeräumt habe :oops: 8-[ jaaaa...den thread gibts im... - Forum - GLAMOUR

Another cost effective kitchen makeover is creating extra storage. A storage shelve can be purchased cheaply but it can also be a diy project.

-PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SALVAGING CABINETS. THIS IS THE EXTREME EXAMPLE. I LIKE IT. USUALLY THOUGH YOU ARE ABLE TO GET A WHOLE SET OF OLDER CABINETS FROM NUMEROUS SOURCES...JUST HAVE TO GO LOOKING WITH A LITTLE CASH IN HAND..ALWAYS REMEMBERING YOU HAVE: LIQUID SAND 'PAPER', PRIMER, PAINT, BITS OF UNMATCHED HARDWARE TO ADD TO WHAT YOU FIND

Lastly the most gratifying way to a kitchen makeover is to paint all cabinets. This might have the most drastic change and cheapest method to a makeover.

Bellow are some other inspirational pictures that might help achieve a kitchen makeover for less.

tips-deco-cocinas-pequenas-distribuir-cocina-espacios-pequenos cocina-madera-recuperada  Half of the Rye kitchen in London is comprised of stainless steel workbenches and appliances. For more see Kitchen of the Week: An Artful Ikea Hack Kitchen by Two London Foodies.

Kitchens that improve with age Kitchens that improve with age

 

Eid Mubarak, 2018

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Happy belated Eid!

As many of you might know a couple of days ago was the celebration (Eid) of the end of Ramadan. Ramadan for those who might not know, is a holy month in Islam where the revelation of the Quran was sent from God by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohamed (saw). During this month all Muslim are prescribed to fast from dusk to sunrise, abstaining from food, water,intercourse and provocative behavior during this period of time. Those who are sick, old, pregnant or nursing can opt out from fasting if one fears of his own health or the health of the baby. Those who cannot fast, should according to some Islamic scholars feed the poor for everyday of not fasting and if your reason not to fast is due to pregnancy or nursing than making up the missing fast is also recommended at a later time. However, there are differences of opinions on how a breastfeeding/nursing women should complete her missing fast, so I would make your own research if that is something you are interesting in knowing more about.

In this month, all Muslims are encouraged to increase their prayers, recitation of Quran and overall spiritual level and relationship with Allah (God). Also, in this month it is better to give to charity, ask for God’s forgiveness and His blessing and conduct good morals and overall behavior. However, being a mother of multiple little ones, all of the extra worshiping that should be done in this month can be a bit intimidating since we are already cramped for time. This is why I came to write this post to encourage us mommies and give tips and tricks, that I hope can be useful to you for your next Ramadan. As a nursing mother, I was scared of the impacts that fasting might have on my baby. I had concerns on whether the baby would loose weight or worst if my milk supply would finish.

The age of your nursing baby should be the first step on deciding whether to fast or not. My youngest was 9 months and I personally felt comfortable to fast as she is eating and drinking liquids. On the other hand if your baby is younger, feeding on demand and not eating, it would have been a serious factor on whether or not you would want to fast. With that said, there are people who still fast and are nursing their newborn. Personally, I found that fasting with babies that are 6 months or younger is harder on the mother but the baby will be fine. With all the research that I gathered from scientific to experience is that the milk will adjust to the fasting and will not impact your baby. With that said, mothers are the best of judge, so be super alert and attentive to ones body is the key. What I would recommend is to fast a couple of days before Ramadan to see how your body and baby reacts to the fasting.

Let’s say you are a nursing mother who has decided to fast and you and your baby are completely healthy than keep reading for some tips I have gathered that will help you throughout your fast.

First tip I would suggest, is regarding time. How can you use your time wisely? What are some things I can do to give more time to read the Quran and make extra efforts in Ramadan?

  1. Cut out social media platforms. If you are like me, I used to spend time looking through my Instagram while nursing. During Ramadan what I used to do instead was reading the translation of the Quran on my phone while nursing and I was able to finish the whole translation.
  2. When kids are playing and distracted try to read 1-2 pages of the Quran in Arabic (if you know how), at a time.
  3. Plan your iftar (breaking of the fast) ahead of time.
  4. Stalk up on groceries, especially during the first week where your body is still adjusting to the fast.
  5. Make goals for Ramadan. What would you like to accomplish and reflect on how that could be done throughout the month?
  6. Organize your house so it can be more efficient and less time consuming.
  7. Go out, don’t stay at home but do activities where the kids can play and you can sit down and retain some energy while you supervise, like the park.
  8. Change your kids bed time to later at night, so you don’t have to wake up super early. If you kids are older, you can wake them up to eat suhoor (breakfast) before dawn and they can try to fast with you ( all depends on the kid’s age).
  9. Make sure you nap at some point in the day, especially if you live in hot areas like Egypt, the heat and sun can have a big toll on you if you do not rest properly.

The next couple of tips are related to nutrition, how to eat well and stay hydrated.

  1. Never, never, never miss suhoor (breakfast before dusk). I know when you were young, you could sleep through Ramadan without waking up for suhoor but as a nursing mother that is impossible. Put 2, 3 alarm clocks if you have to, in order to be on the safe side.
  2. Eat suhoor with protein dense food. My suhoor would be something like; eggs, fool (egyptian beans) with bread, homemade granola that I made with oats, nuts, seeds and raisins on yogurt. Believe it or not that kept me very full throughout most of the day because of all the protein and fiber.
  3. This should be a no brainer but still people can undermine it, is drinking enough water. Being hydrated is the key to fasting while nursing. We are not our young teenage selves anymore and taking care of our bodies is a necessity
  4. Don’t forget your vitamins. I would take my multi vitamins in the morning for suhoor and calcium vitamins for iftar (dinner).

The next several tips are about refining a deeper connection and relationship with God especially during the month of Ramadan.

  1. Pre-plan what you want to achieve during Ramadan. For me, I wanted to finish reading the Quran either it would be in the English translation or the Arabic.
  2. I wanted to get the most out of Ramadan, so I disconnected mostly from social media and social outings.
  3. I wanted to make dawah (invitation) towards Islam. I spoke highly and passionately about Islam but most importantly, I wanted to encompass the examples I was preaching.
  4. I wanted to pray as much as possible, so I made sure I prayed the sunnah and taraweh prayer.
  5. Reciting the Quran was a prominent goal of mine during Ramadan.
  6. Making du’a and dikhr at all times.
  7. Paying close attention to my conduct being reflecting on my flaws and how I can work towards change.
  8. Increasing my knowledge in my faith in all type of aspects such as learning Arabic, memorizing the Quran and listening to lectures.

This was all possible only by prioritizing what was most important for me to accomplish during the month of Ramadan. I cut out the hours I was wasting in social media and watching tv. I also disconnected from my social atmosphere. I wanted to focus mainly on accomplishing all that I wanted for Ramadan and anything else could wait afterwards. I also redefined what I wanted to accomplish after Ramadan. Self growth was a huge goal of mine in the month, trying to pay close attention to my conduct and developing healthy habits. If you are like me, with little kids, nursing and wanting to have a deep connection with God in Ramadan than know that it’s ok to change the rules in your household, for example, letting your kids watch a little bit more t.v so you can concentrate properly in your prayer or rejuvenating your energy by taking a nap. This month is not about spending all day long in the kitchen so it’s totally acceptable to eat left overs and ask for help from your spouse and relatives if you feel like you cannot manage a proper iftar.

I hope all our prayers, fast, du’ah and extra efforts get accepted. I hope Allah alleviates all our hardships and blesses with ease. May He forgives us for our sins and shortcoming and may He keep us in the right path. May we see another blessed Ramadan! Ameen.