Archive | February 2015

For the love of Cake

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It’s easy to get caught up in the details, lose sight of purpose and obsess over the little stuff; but not really when you have a recipe, a fool proof recipe… Being a “Bake Off” fan through and through, I know one thing, that no matter how inviting a show-stopper looks, it all falls down to what’s on the inside. Hint, this article holds more food for thought than baking tips and tricks.

Earlier this month, we had planned a party for our little one. Since one of his first few words was “beep-beep-cars”, I had the theme all in mind. Spread over days, a few hours glued to YouTube tutorials on ” how to bake a car cake”; in fact, a Lightning McQueen Cake! Of course reality check had me reconsider the prospect of my cake cutting skills given that this would have been my second celebration cake to bake, ever, in my entire life. So two cakes later, prep and practice, I hit a quite obvious revelation, it’s all in the taste. You see, to meet those elaborate plans for the 3D car, I had to compromise my favourite tried out recipe for another not too springy solid sponge cake, and worse, buttercream to hold form. If there’s one thing a sweet tooth like me ever finds sickly it’s buttercream! So would a party of four plus one fussy taster forgive this untried venture for a Facebook post picture perfect pastry? I thought not. And so it was, I tuned down the plans to keep it simple, to keep it tasty, and more importantly to keep me sane. A few cookie cutters there, my usual round cake pan and voila, mashaAllah! Don’t take my word for it, ask them , I humbly declare it was delicious.

As we got through with our forks, I had a more profound revelation, seriously this time. I imagined how much time and effort we spend on perfecting our image, our body and foresake our inner self, our soul. Hence, the metaphor explained; we move about life with tried out recipes for success, be it Allah’s SWT divine spiritual guide, Prophetic example, history or previously worked out experiences; yet we sometimes push the recipes aside in fake confidence of cooking up a masterpiece. With no real practice or focus on what matters most, we lose the taste of what’s on the inside in favour of appealing to applause. As a Muslim, there’s an ever reminder of how it is the soul that matters, the purity of intentions to please the Lord of the worlds, not the worldly crowd.

I know it might be ironic to reflect on cake, sometimes nicknamed as a ‘guilty pleasure’; but really it helped me for a moment to put things in perspective. The trick is, like a bake, life is meant to be a recipe walkthrough, though unexpected events might always arise. And like cake, we need to be constantly reminded of our essence within. Of course it wouldn’t hurt to have a gastronomic glam, but it definitely won’t make up for an inedible one. In a world of snarling social media, we are often entrapped in a competition to boast ourselves, that we so much so overshadow our self esteem with the aftermath of “likes” or lack of them. And more crucially we risk our good deeds with a pinch of Reyaa’, a dangerous lurking flavour that has a bitter after taste.

So next time I’m in the Kitch, I guess there’ll be more on my plate than a dessert. It’s a fine balance of priorities that I pray to find and act upon. Hope you enjoyed this extra slice.

P.S.: tune in to the comments for the recipe, for real.

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SISTERS Magazine: Reader’s Review

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I had heard about it first from friends with “Likes” of the Facebook page. As an automatic response to social media peers, I “liked” it too, but then began my brilliantly bibliotherapeutic experience.

The name SISTERS captures the essence of the pages, as it feels most like a delightful tea party with sisters chit chat, only very interesting and intellectual. The closeness of a spiritual sisterhood is clearly what I felt, as the common grounds of Islam unite readers and writers together through the celebrated diversity of cultures and backgrounds. The words of the talented authors ring honest and true as a wide variety of topics are unraveled.

The articles are balanced between current trends and everlasting themes, all in an engaging outline for each issue. Family, Lifestyle and Voices are but a few of the subcategories that unfold into topics to appeal to almost all sisters interests. And each writer’s short bio gives a beautiful sense of  acquaintance with the person behind the lines, building further introduction to this literary bond. Reading through the pages, I have come through helpful tips, life changing experiences, and dwelling debates from my sister’s lips. It even somehow boosted my confidence in writing, although I remain modest, but it is that “similar to me” effect of each written word which makes it relatable and extremely relevant.

Pointing out pressing matters are presented in the light of the faith of Islam, with authentic quotes and expert advice across politics and parenting. It brands Islam for what we truly know it to be, a holistic approach to life that is both modern and moderate. Speaking of which, it’s also nice to see that business branding is in no way overflowing the pages, with only a few ads to the target market.  It cuts through the stereotype of Muslim women to an empowered stance of Muslim feminism, where food and fashion are just the tip of the iceberg. With a monthly book review, the magazine guided me to increase my library shelf space with recommendations I am proud to pass on.

There are many ways to find SISTERS, whether through online excerpts, subscribing to the e-version to your iPad or tablet, or having it sent to your doorstep. Since I remain a bit “old-school”, I’m enjoying the printed pages with their glossy feel and no battery life boundaries. You can browse through all the details on their website link below. I would highly recommend it to all my sisters, in your monthly dose of Muslimah reads.

http://www.sisters-magazine.com

Terrible Twos: A Walkthrough

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Alhamdulillah, with God’s grace, I have braved through two years of motherhood… It’s totally another-hood. An emotional rollercoaster of happiness and gratitude, mixed a little with some self doubt and “moments”… There were those times when I couldn’t really tell which one of us was having the tantrum, and then realised for all it was worth, I’m the one who started it. I must say, before being a mum, I had always secretly thought ” toddler tantrums” were overrated… I had to learn the hard way.

The stress of caring for a young person can be overbearing, but so is the joy. In retrospect of those couple years of change, I found myself fearing that very thing; “change”! Although it is as one quote puts as being the only constant, change is the very challenge of parenting. As a mum, I had to change, and so does my son as each day goes by. His likes, dislikes, pet peeves, tantrum triggers, giggle givers are shifting through his journey to exploring. Of course I might have claimed to be flexible in a job interview, only this job had none. But really, this is exactly what I am learning to be, flexible with my time, my expectations and my priorities.

Those spiralling senses of stress elevated mostly when I felt down to begin with, and it was contagious. If I didn’t give him that loving caring unconditional smile his mood would turn into a winy one. As I listen to advice from miracle mummies who’ve been through it all, I learn to enjoy every moment for what it is, a blessing. Even when the screams kick in, I simply put myself in his little shoes and imagine his frustration, even if it was because he wanted to reach for those shiny scissors and I denied him that “toy”. I envision the baby steps to big boy pants one potty trip at a time, explaining each icky accident and how to avoid it. Instead of frantically fearing failed attempts, I hope to focus on those little mummy milestones along the way. Cutting down screen time from mobile or TV has proven a golden advice I promise to try and stick to, it takes a lot of the stress off with the elusion of multitasking once I give undivided attention as a hands-free mum. I try to loosen up, enjoy the ride while keeping my eyes on what really matters of the road. And whenever duties get dreary, there’s always time for a hug.

Our Three Winners

I woke up to the news of a heinous crime, a true terror,  not technically on the news; but through a hashtag. Three young lives taken out of hatred and radical extremism; a punch line most usually ending with an “Islamist Attack”, yet this time the victims were Muslim, the extremist an alleged atheist.

It shows how far we have proven that terrorism has no religion, no stereotypes,  no public condemnations;  in fact I respect the moderate atheists and Richard Dawkins who have swiftly and sympathetically denounced the crime and distanced their beliefs from the murderer. Yet turn to mainstream media; the silence is defeaning. The call to coexist may seem well overrated when its a Muslim at the other end of the gun. The MP letters to fight radicalisation at the core won’t be finding their ways across communities as they had once reached mosques. And the public may well not hear about this as the word dies out as it had done before.

I am not one to draw comparisons,  nor do I selectively value life based on race or religion; yet clearly this is how the world works. This is as much as terrorism as the Paris attacks to put things in perspective,  and just as cold blooded. I hadn’t had the heart to right about it then, but sure did I sincerely condemn the attack on my personal account, declared that it was not in my name and reached to my friends of different faiths to clarify the true meaning of Peace in Islam. Yet somehow the media didn’t think it was enough, when Murdoch demanded that “Moslems” should apologise!!! We kept rightly reminded of the attack and its aftermath by the full mews coverage,  which was fine; really it was.

But today, there’s not as much mention of Chapel Hill in most top broadcasting services, while those who did cover the news use wording to down tone the killing into death. Well, thank God for social media, we make the news now. We shall be heard.

With all this said, I hold no anger in my heart, it is more of a longing for justice in an unjust lens. The media may well have an agenda to highlight some cases and lend a blind eye to others, but to me they are ALL equally crimes against humanity.

This may have turned into a dark post on an otherwise envisioned light-reading mummy blog; yet it is in the darkest of night that the light of dawn awakes. As a mother, I had to shed the light on this act with all its bigotry to teach my children on good and evil, may they bring more good to this world.

Finally,  what I really wish to do is celebrate the life of this beautiful little young family; the newlyweds and new graduate bridesmaid,  the glowing sisters and the charitable basketball fan, the friendly colleagues at uni who shall be missed by everyone whom their lives touched. They won’t be forgotten and their young legacy lives on. To Deah, Yusor and Razan; may Allah grant you Paradise,  and may your families friends and all of us find patience and peace.