25 Aug 2017

Jasmine In The Wind ~ Book Review

Today I read another long awaited book Jasmine In The Wind by Ayesha Desai.

Jasmine In The Wind is a quick read. It is a story of a little girl from Syria.

Author - Ayesha Desai
Cover art by Jenny Reynish

This 40 page novel clearly expresses the feeling of a refugee. This young adult fiction is all about the challenges, trials, and unending optimism and strength of a young Syrian refugee. We all are aware of what is happening in Syria and Jasmine In The Wind allows us to peek in one of their lives.

The story follows a young Syrian girl, Afraa and her harrowing journey to safety and freedom. Whilst she learns to love her new home, a part of her heart will always be buried in the roots of the jasmine bush outside her parent’s room window in Syria.

‘… Nostalgia is smelling the scent of Jasmine in the florist shop, and remembering the great bush of white flowers outside her parent’s room window, that fragrance that danced in the night breeze, and carried with it the sweet possibility of hope.’

About the Author - This is Ayesha Desai’s debut novel. We get to see her love and passion for things close to her heart. Ayesha is passionate about reading and this has evolved into a love of writing. Whilst this is her first published book, she has been writing for the last 20 years, and blogging since 2013. She lives in South Africa.

Ayesha's narration is beautiful and emotional. I loved her writing style. With each words, she has painted the picture of the challenges that every Syrians face and, I was moved by the entire story.

Jasmine in the Wind is a touching tale of Afraa who was traveling out of Syria. It is all about her journey and how she deals with her situation. She was safe in another land but there was a hollow in her heart, as she misses her home. Far away from her home, being a refugee in another country, she was trying to accommodate while she still longed for the scent of her home. Also she never missed an opportunity to educate herself and to make a better tomorrow. This short novel is a nice read.

I particularly loved the poem in the end.

....Tell me whirling swirling wind
Do you carry messages across the lands?
Can you take my Salaam to Aleppo and Homs?
Can you take my prayers to Gaza?
Can you convey my solidarity to Myanmar?
Can you tell the world we care....

The story ends with hope and it is the beginning of a new life. The story and the poetry both poignant and touching.

Jasmine In The Wind is a heartwarming tale and it is sure worth the read.

Buy this book at Amazon India

17 Aug 2017

From Kodaikanal

A stock photo from my brother's Kodaikanal Trip.

Follow me at Instagram for more beautiful scenery and my memories.

3 Aug 2017

High Five - Happy Birthday, A Rat’s Nibble!

Wow. I am still here after five years. Alive and kicking.

This year no cake, as I am on diet. 
So join me for a Tea party!

Today, my blog celebrates its 5th birthday, but I am not sure what I felt when I first realized. Was I happy? Proud? Content? Accomplished? Or do I feel as if my life has changed? Well, I have gone through so much, learned a lot and applied what I have learnt in my journey.

I have changed for good. I am not like what I was 5 years ago. Personally and Bloggingly. I have learnt a great deal. The past 5 years marks a very important phase in my life history. Good, Bad, Beautiful, Ugly, Love, Betrayal - I have seen them all. Also, I believe I handled them in a balanced way. Alhamdulillah, for what I am today!

My blogging journey was quite accidental. Okay, umm, let me call it sort of a planned accident. But that's a happy one. When I look back at my initial days, I can see how naive I had been. But all the while, I am glad that my writings have entertained you, brought some smiles, spread some cheer. I can see my blog has changed over these years. However, I don't get to stay active as much I did in my earlier days, still I am loving it the same way.

Blog is where I let go of myself, my feelings, my happiness, my sorrow, and everything else. Here is where my loneliness turned into solitude. Here is where I regained my sanity. I have many hobbies but most of them are seasonal, but I understand my blog is not. It is much more than just a hobby. In this 5 year beautiful journey, blogging has evolved with me, allowed me to stretch my wings, and even helped me to establish my identity.

When I realized that I have written over 300 posts and shared some 200 plus photos in my Instagram handle, I am surprised as well as overwhelmed. From poetry to reviews, I have touched various topics.

To celebrate my five years of blogging, here are my five favorite posts, I would want you to read. They also happened to be the first post in its category. And they are close to my heart.

My first story - A Dreamer

My first photo post - The Minaret And The Moon

My first travel experience which was my 50th post as well. My Umrah Journal - Madinah

My first published story in an online magazine - Blessing Of Joy

Reading old posts and reminiscing the moments, that made me write them, make me relax. Five years. Phew! I feel like I have achieved something.

Give me a High 5 and join my tea party! Thank you so much for coming along and supporting me in my journey.

1 Aug 2017

Hijabs From Hidden Pearls

They say, a woman in Hijab is like a pearl in the shell. Women are precious and the modesty in her elevates her respect and value.

I am a Hijabi and scarves are my best companion. I have bought scarves from many stores both online and boutiques, and Hidden Pearls is the recent one.

Hidden Pearls is an UK based online store. They sell hijabs, under scarves, hijab pins, handbags and other Islamic gift accessories. They have a wide choice of colors and materials. They ship worldwide as well, for a nominal cost.

For me, it is important to choose scarves of good quality that suits my lifestyle. And naturally, I ensure that they are beautiful and comfortable. I also prefer the fabric breathable, because of the weather I live in.

Hidden Pearls sent me a couple of hijabs. I liked the way they wrapped the hijabs and especially, a handwritten note from one of the founders, which gave a personal connection instantly.

There were two Hijabs inside. An Everyday Chiffon Hijab and A Multi Toned Hijab.

They have different types of Hijabs, from Plain, Patterned to Embellished. I particularly loved their Crinkled Hijabs and Lace Hijabs. Their Multi Tone Hijab collection have good color choices too. There are different color shades from bright to pastel, earthy and dark. If you allow me choose an Ombre scarf, I would go for light and subtle colors that are harmonious to each other.

But this Peach, Burgundy and Chocolate Ombre Hijab, I received, has stronger gradient of shading. I did not know earlier that this strong ombre effect would suit me well too. The fabric is viscose and the scarf regular size. Did I say this hijab is accentuated with small stones all over? There was a small patches of color faded on one of the corners. However, it is a minute defect and goes inside when wrapped.

The Brown Chiffon Hijab is ideal for everyday use. This is a simple and stylish Hijab which matches with most outfits. Lightweight and airy, this Chiffon Hijab is elegant and sophisticated. When wearing this Hijab, ensure you wear an under scarf. Else the hijab will not stay proper on your head. The flow of the fabric creates nice folds and drapes. We can wear it for any occasion, when rightly accessorized. The Chiffon Hijabs are available in an array of colors.

Hidden Pearls have some nice collection of hijabs and accessories. Do drop in their online store and pick your favorites.

Website - Hidden Pearls
FaceBook page - Hidden Pearls

This is a sponsored post. However, the opinions are mine.

16 Jul 2017

Postcard From Seattle - Exploring Mount Rainier

Welcome to the third post of this Postcard From Seattle travel series. 

Needless to say, these pictures literally take us to the mountain. The view got better as we drive through the long roads. We get to see the wonders of the clear sky, the tall pine trees, the beautiful rainbow, the snowy pathways and at last the destination arrives.

If just seeing these pictures is a delight in itself, imagine how it will be like to experience it first hand. Exploring the Mount Rainier National Forest is a must on your to do list, if you are visiting Seattle.

As the title implies, let the pictures do the talking.

A Day Trip To Mount Rainier #2

The gorgeous white mountain welcomes us as we climb. With such beauty, no wonder this place attracts tourists from different parts of the world.

Finally, we set our feet, er, eyes on Mount Rainier. And the trip ends here. InshaAllah, I will bring in some more travel related posts with some nice photographs. 

Meanwhile, follow my Instagram for travel photos and more.

Pictures are copyrighted.

13 Jul 2017

I Will Not Clean My Room ~ Children's Book Review

I promised to read this Children’s book and share my opinion but I took a longer time than I wanted to. Better late than never, right?!

Good books are the best companions. And I Will Not Clean My Room is one such book that will make a great company to the little ones.

When I received the book, the first impression was that why would a children's book have a title saying No. But once I read the book, I found the content very nice and colorful. Well, well, which kid would like to clean their room, after all? So, this rhyme book is a perfect gift to those who say 'I will not do it!'

Author - Saharish Arshad
Illustrator - Elsa Estrada

In this adorable book, little Musa’s mom asks him to clean his room. But he was bit lazy to do it and decides to imagine all the wonderful things that he is going to do in Jannah, along with his sister Leila.

The book is all about Musa's musings over the room cleaning, toys and chocolates along with good deeds, Jannah and love for Allah.

Children dream and imagine a lot, but they also should know the value of effort they put in to achieve their dreams. And that is what this book talks about. While at it, it also instills the love for our Creator. The book also rhymes about the importance of helping each other and working together as a family. The moral is clearly stated but in a fun way.

This is the first book in the series called ‘My Journey to Jannah’. The author has achieved what she wanted to convey. A simple idea and a great moral expressed in captivating illustrations. The drawings add rich color to the book. The illustrations are so vivid and the rhymes, simple and lovable.

A charming and colorful book to introduce your children and as a parent, this is a must have in your collection. I personally love stories and poems that rhyme. So I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and of course, loved reading it to my nephew. And he wants me to read it over and over again.

This amazing rhyming book is perfect for children who love to daydream while letting them learn that good deeds are really worth the effort.

Join little Musa as he dreams away!

This book is available on Amazon India.

Click the images for better resolution.

6 Jul 2017

Postcard From Seattle - Mount Rainier

This is the much delayed travel series from Abdul. He wrote the first part - detouring the city with Seattle City Pass. Then he got too busy to blog, leaving me with some beautiful shots he clicked during his trip to Seattle last year. So, I compiled this post as a Photo essay. Well, if only a short intro or an experience written, it would have been even more wonderful. But then I believe the pictures say it all. 

A Day Trip To Mount Rainier - Part 1

Mount Rainier is one of the highlights from his trip to Seattle. I found the fishing lake, the long trails, the beautiful landscape and the snowy mountain, so enticing. This is a great place if you love skiing, hiking and mountaineering, and perfect get away to go on a weekend. All I know is, not to miss visiting Mt. Rainier if I get a chance to travel to Seattle.

I let you take a moment to gaze at this majestic Mountain, because there are more to see.

Hope you like this picture post. Wait for more photos from Mt.Rainier. 

Follow my Instagram for more nice photos.  ;)

More breathtaking pictures at Exploring Mount Rainier - Postcard From Seattle

Pictures are copyrighted.

21 Jun 2017

Royal Evening Gown From Islamic Design House

FAITH. FUN. FASHION. Here comes my first Modest Outfit post.

While there are so many options to shop dresses online, I particularly chose this one site Islamic Design House dot Com for my Eid attire. Ever since I came to know of this website, I am so hooked to their gorgeous collection of Abayas, Hijabs, Tunics and Prayer Mats.

IDH decided to offer me one of their trending modest outfits. From their beautiful collection, I said Yes to the Silk Route - Royal Evening Gown, for I felt the name is so appropriate and the maxi dresses suit me well.

Women around the world treat Clothing in the form of fun and fashion. Islamic Design House offers us a chance to stay one step ahead of style with modesty, comfort and confidence. They serve fashion to women of all faith, as a mix of tradition and trend.

About Islamic Design House - Everyone loves an amazing fashion affair and that's what IDH celebrates. It is an UK based company and they love to pioneer. Their goal is to provide the trendiest range of unique products, prompt delivery and exceptional customer service with passionate sales representatives in every major country, including, US, UK, Canada, Egypt and India.

They say - ‘Faith’ sets the rhythm of our heart, 'Fun' is the flavor of our flair and 'Fashion' is what we do best!

I was very excited to receive the package from IDH. They sent me the Jilbab as well as a Hijab. Double Deal! And when I took them out of the cover my first impression was 'MashaAllah! Wow!'

For this Eid, I am going sizzling black - The Royal Evening Gown with In Essence's Black Poly Chiffon Hijab. Choosing from their Elegant Abayas/Jilbabs collection is one of the best ways to look classy and elegant.

Chiffon material with Satin lining and long Bead Motifs gracefully adorn the yoke and shoulders. Nice fabric and the flow is lovely. I personally loved to see the beads are back in trend. The Satin lining gives a sheen to the dress, making it a royal affair.

There are many outfits I found as good buys at Islamic Design House, and this Silk Route's royal evening gown is one among them. This maxi dress is a signature for special occasions. From weddings to parties to friends outing or family dinner, it effortlessly makes you stand out from others in a simple yet stylish manner.

The chiffon gives a beautiful fall and the elegant bead motif on the top make this piece extremely desirable one. The convenient thing is that we can also pair this Abaya up with different colored scarfs for different looks.

Price might look a bit high for the Indian customers, but the products are worth a buy. I have purchased Abayas from Saudi and Dubai. So comparatively, I see the price range is moderate for the grace and style IDH offers.

Regarding the measurements, the size chart is precise. They offer different fits as well as different length options. Measure and choose your fittings appropriately, so that there will be no disappointment. I wore flats. So the length was perfect. But if you wear Heels, then I would suggest to order one length longer.

I have bought few Hijabs and Jilbabs from this brand at Amazon India. And they were classy!

At first, there was a mistake in the size I ordered. When I mailed them, they acted quick and made sure that I got my product way before Eid. IDH customer care is friendly and they strive to serve you better. Check the Return/Exchange policy for more details.

Islamic Design House has some stunning collections this Eid. Currently, there are lots of exciting offers and also, Sale upto 40% Off is going on. You don't want to miss this exciting opportunity.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your favorite outfits with amazing discounts at IDH.

Stay Modest. Be stylish. Happy Shopping.

Website - IslamicDesignHouse.com

PS - This is a sponsored post. However, the opinions are mine. The pictures are copyrighted.

17 Jun 2017

How To Make Our Children Understand The Essence Of Laylat ul Qadr

Assalamu Alaikum!

Looks like Ramadan just started and the time flies in the blink of an eye. Here we are at the edge of Ramadan, awaiting Eid. But the lessons and activities for the month is not over yet. Allah has given us many opportunities to do good deeds and repent our sins, and we are already showered with His countless blessings. Laylatul Qadr is one such blessing that Allah has bestowed upon us, and it is our gateway to Jannah.

When the Sahabas asked the Prophet (pbuh) that 'in earlier days, people have lived longer till 900 years and they were able to worship Allah for a longer period and thus, reaped the rewards.' They wished for an opportunity to have that sort of virtue and honour. That is when Allah has revealed the verse on Laylat ul Qadr to our Prophet (pbuh). Allah has mentioned in the Quran that ‘The night of Qadr is better than a thousand months’.

While we make use of this blessed night to the fullest, our children should also know the significance of it and the reason why we seek it. So make sure they are keen on prayers in the last 10 days of Ramadan. Encourage the children to do good deeds, like giving charity, being nicer to people, praying a little extra and helping others.

There are few activities to make the children interested to do it on their own, on Laylat ul Qadr.

1. Knowledge of Laylat ul Qadr - The children should know it is the very night, Quran’s first verse ‘Iqra’ was revealed to our Prophet (pbuh) while he was meditating in the Hira Cave. This night comes down as a gift from Allah, and this one night of worship equals to worshipping for 1000 months. And that itself explains the significance.

2. Memorizing Surah Qadr - It is a small and easy surah to memorise for children. So that they can recite the surah in their prayers during last 10 days. Also teach them its Tafseer, as a part of your storytelling session (Read Ramadan Activities For Children)

3. Duas and Supplication Printables - Saying the duas together will help the children to memorise the most powerful yet small Dua that the our Prophet (pbuh) has advised us to recite more during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Prepare Dua Cards and insist them to ask for forgiveness. For even the smallest mistakes they did, they should be aware that Allah is the Most Gracious to forgive them. So let them say Asthagfirullah Al Aleem after every salah.

4. Encourage to remain in I’thikaf - Women and Children can observe I’thikaf at home, but the Niyyath is important. Even stepping on our Musalla for a salah, with the I’thikaf intention is rewarded. Keeping the I’thikaf niyyath, every time we enter the masjid, will reap rewards for even the minimum time spent there.

Construct a small I’thikaf tent or set a prayer area in the corner of your house. Keep a small Musalla, a Quran, a Tasbeeh and few Islamic Children’s books to read and hang Dua cards. Thus the kids will understand that this place is only meant to remember Allah and not to play games or unnecessary talks.

5. Sadaqah and Goodie Bags -

Encourage the kids to save a part of their pocket money to donate during this night. This will also give the knowledge of Zakat calculating as well as the idea of sharing. While gaining rewards of the 1000 months. Also let them fill the bags with goodies. They will be happier to distribute to the people at masjid. This activity will also make them feel responsible as well as getting to know about the significance of the blessed night.

The night we await is arriving, but when? That remains a mystery, however we have given some indication that it falls on odd numbered days - 21, 23, 25, 27 or 29. But are we certain of our Day 1 of Ramadan? Hence, there are chances that Laylat ul Qadr could fall on the even numbered days 22,24,26,28 or 30 as well. So it is best to indulge in prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

May Allah give us the strength to stand for prayers, supplicate and seek Tawba on this night. InshaAllah, we will be rewarded with the best and our Halal wishes are granted. Aameen!

15 Jun 2017

Modesty In Style

Okay, here comes another Fashion related post from me. But you all know I am not a fashion frenzy blogger. I do it now and then, as I sit and relax. There are literally innumerable fashion bloggers in every nook and corner of the city. But there are only few Hijabi fashion bloggers in India who focus on Modest Outfits. Modest outfit doesn’t mean boring clothes or the old fashioned burqa, but then it can be accentuated and stylized like any other outfits. Generally speaking, Modest Fashion refers to looking stylish while relatively covered.

That being said, I agree I do not have the high end fashion knowledge but I do have some dressing sense to suit me. I am tall. Sometimes when my diet take a toll, I end up looking big, you know the tall and the fat ones. My personality is a bit of this and a tad of that. Delicate as well as a clumsy type. I am not ‘into’ fashion related scenarios but for every women, looking good is that one thing that comes naturally. After all, fashion is being able to mix and match different colors and patterns and pull it off together. All we need is some style.

If you think Modest Fashion is only for Muslims, well, then it's time to change your idea. Modesty in fashion means covering your body appropriately. Simple as that. Anybody can dress modestly whether they are Muslim or not, female or male. It is just a dress code. Being modest, to me, does not mean it has to compromise our sense of style. In my opinion, modest wear can be as simple as a maxi skirt, loose pants, a kurta & a scarf. Even a Salwar Kameez with nicely draped dupatta is modest. You agree with that, right?

Fashion evolves every day. It changes and progresses every minute. I’d say, fashion is neither the truth nor the fact but they are somebody’s opinion. And the perspective changes from one another. I am pretty conscious on how I cover myself. Especially, with the length of my dresses and the fitting of my garment. I prefer my own trend and identity but within the conservative parameters of my faith.

Big or small, slim or fat, fair or dark, there is no difference. Fashion belongs to everyone. It is the style that matters. In recent times, Hijabs and Maxi dresses are trending in the fashion runway. With my wardrobe full of scarves, Abayas and Jilbabs, the floral maxi dress and that denim shirt and the salwar kameez and sarees, I decide to take a dip in the Modest Fashion Blogging, and show some of my simple, comfortable and everyday styles.

To me, modesty in actions and behavior are equally important, as Allah says.

O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of God's signs, that they may take heed. (Quran - 7:26)

Being a Hijabi, I am trying to keep a balance between modesty and style. For sometime now, I have been pondering about sharing with you all on how I approach the whole dressing idea - modestly and with individuality.

Two third of the Ramadan has passed and we are already awaiting Eid. Along with fasting and prayers, there is so much plans ahead, and my first outfit post coming up soon…

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