Friday, 14 October 2016

Beautiful... In Every Sense

I am writing up this post for a dear, childhood friend - Rathai, at Apsaras Fashions.

Last Eid, my shopping spree for sarees was made really easier. And rather than using the word easier, I would like so say it was made more comfortable, cosier and so much happier.

Much thanks to my friend, Rathai, who is now a new online business owner, at Apsaras Fashions. She is jointly running the business at home, with her very sweet younger Sister, Mythili.

Also a new Mom to a gorgeous Baby Boy, Rathai is now enjoying the new momentum as a Mum-preneur, and I am quietly proud of my friend. All her sarees above are my personal favourites from the selection that I went home with this last Eid. In-laws were all smiles with these, of course, as well as some friends I got them for (the ones with peacock print! I cldn't get them for Mum or in-laws because of these images but were just too pretty not to get for someone else).

Every saree she showed me ever so patiently turned out to be more beautiful than the other, and I was really pampered with so many choices. Well, but sarees are sarees, they will always be beautiful in some way, weren't they? What I actually want to share then is about what I believe makes Apsaras Fashion special.

I always feel that what a business really is about is or are the people behind it. When we started our humble ' Al-Barakah Abayas' business, AZ and I felt the business must reflect our values in life, and we will do our best to upkeep them.

Today, when I think of Apsaras Fashions, I think of Rathai, and her kind-hearted nature and demeanour. The patience she carries in her, and the sense of calm she always exuberates. Always, and I mean it.

I have my memories from school days to back me up. Rathai, in our blue skirt and white blouse - school uniform, holding hands with me as we both were among the first in class queue. We both were among the shortest in class , had two trademark plaits, and were probably among the most timid too. This was years ago (oh my!) in our first year at Primary One. I remember my late grandmother telling me every time she fetched me from the school gate, that I must learn to take care of this friend because she could see that she was holding my hands so tightly as the teacher has instructed till we meet our family members at the school's entrance. Now, I sometimes recall that image. Rathai is always the friend with whom I am able to reconnect even when we may have not met for many years!

Talking about grandmothers… like me, Rathai has been very close to her Grandmum too (her grandmum passed away very recently). I think we both have this thing about lovable grandmothers. And I found it especially sweet that Rathai gave some of her first saree arrivals to the sweet grandmums in our neighbourhood. She did not tell me this though, I just learnt it from the folks who live among us. Way to go, my dear!

(And for Muslim sisters, Rathai is sure to be sensitive to aspects of religion as she has clearly made a mental note on image prints. )

So, for sisters who live near us, you can be assured of a comfy shopping experience, and for others who are online shoppers, making purchases at Apsaras Fashions will be definitely make you a happy shopper. Well, Deepavali is just round the corner right? 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Eid... And Towards The New Year

We are on 27 Zulhijjah, Masha-Allah. I hope that this beautiful month gave us all abundance of blessings.

I also hope that many of us had the opportunity to fast and arrange for sacrifices this year for Eid.

Alhamdhulilah, all’s been well for us and work and family have been keeping me on my toes these months. I am not complaining, at all.

Amongst writing on this space, trying a new dish, planning a day out with friends, there are also these reads (below) that are shouting for my attention, or rather, it's been the other way round – I am the one battling  to make time for them all.

Our Islamic New Year is round the corner too, in fact, just three days away. A good time to start renewing our goals, intentions for the year ahead.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

This Is Home, Truly

We have just celebrated Singapore's 51st National Day yesterday. For us at home, it was a day of complete bliss, Alhamdhulilah. A day to just chill and enjoy one another's company, on a weekday. Mum made some simple, yet comforting food for breakfast and lunch that always soothes our souls. Dad slept in till much later than on usual weekends (we all did actually).

AZ and I wanted to catch up on some movies from the Internet, but we ended up with other activities - we both felt it wasn't just a movie day. AZ with his computer games, and I with my books. 

And Brother had a good break after his shift at work too.

Sitting back in the afternoon after lunch, and while waiting for the National Day Parade to come on 'live' on the television, I had some inspiration to bake. Especially since Mum had decided to make some lovely vadai for dinner. And so I made some cranberry muffins with a newly-bought muffin pan that (finally) fits our oven.

And as we munched into our very early dinner and immersed ourselves in the spectacular performances, a first for a parade held at the new National Stadium, humming along to the classic songs related to this place we call,Home - it sure was a time for reflection for me.

Thinking of my dear Mum's cute antics on insisting I take pics of her 'work of art' as well while I was snapping shots of my muffins, brings such a huge smile right here, right now. Bless all our Mothers always, Ya Rabb. Ameen.

Watching the parade live at the Padang, Marina Bay or from home always brings on some beautiful emotions. As with recent years, it's hard not to drop a tear or two - either when reciting the pledge, mouthing the lyrics of the National Anthem or when watching with absolute awe when the Apache Helicopters salute the State Flag with such style and splendour it so deserves.

(I am sharing this link for fellow Singaporeans who may be reading this space - not that you have to agree with the author though. I did, every bit, and was beaming with pride as I was reading it. Seriously lah! ;))

Probably at this juncture, also because, I have had far too many things on mind (to complain about, and sometimes, compare with others about, Astagfirullah!) that I probably have forgotten to be thanking Allah for all that abundance I already have been blessed with. Instead, I have spent time on some weeks with some negative energy. 

AZ (May Allah bless him, Ameen) has been keeping me level-headed and reminds me to have sabr (patience), and even more than that, shukr (gratitude) every time we are tested.

Privileges are aplenty in this tiny dot that we live in and I should keep thanking Allah for everything that we have here - good homes, great neighbours, a good job, considerate and tolerant colleagues, and Bosses who appreciate flexi-work hours, and above all, a supportive family. Alhamdhulilah.

Everybody has struggles, only that they are all different.

May Allah keep us all in good Iman always, and may we all remember that in end, everything belongs to Allah. And this dunya (world is only temporary).

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ramadan Reflections 1437H/2016

I thought I should pen down my reflections that I had over the blessed month in Ramadan.

Days before Ramadan, I had opened up my duas’ list from last year. I realised that some ‘major’ duas are still in HIS hands, while there were others which HE had so graciously fulfilled for me, and my family.

While reading through the yet-to-be answered ones as a lil upsetting with some onset of tears too, I took solace in what AZ always tells me about. That Allah (S.W.T) probably has much bigger rewards in the Hereafter if HE doesn’t answer my duas now. SubhanAllah.

When thoughts on my unanswered pleas come to mind, sometimes, every single day in a week, I tell myself that they are only unanswered, and not ‘unheard’. Of course, our Creator is aware.

I was also very moved when one of the duas closest to my hearts was answered on the first evening of Ramadan. Alhamdhulilah is all I can say.

I planned to perform Tahajjud prayers; I didn’t make it till the last few nights and treasured those few hours dearly.

Let’s dua that all of us have another chance with Ramadan next year, In-Shaa-Allah, and upkeep the Imaan we have so tirelessly built up in Ramadan for the rest of our lives.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Blessings In Syawal... And Our Eid Moments

Hope Syawal's been beautiful for everyone.

It's chilly here with excellent weather (my kinda weather...) so far. Alhamdhulilah.

And yes, Eid Mubarak.

Yes, it's been a while since I wrote something here.

Syawal's been keeping me busy with lots of hosting and some visiting and hosting again, Alhamdhulilah.

Oh yes, and lots of feasting, which has brought with it a new awareness about my health and weight watch too.

Among all these, I am so glad that this Eid has opened up new opportunities to renew bonds with old friends and forge new ones.

As with every new year, this Eid has brought about some changed sentiments and emotions, maybe a little more than the previous years.

And of course, Ramadan has also set me reflecting on a number of aspects that have been on my mind, and at times, troubling me too.

I have found new solutions through prayer for these issues and I am totally aware that more consistent duas and more Tahajjud prayers are definitely needed. 

And by the way, here's sharing some of our Eid moments through these pics.

And I learnt some new dishes too - tried and tested by now.

Will share them soon, In-Shaa-Allah.

We bought Eid cards, after eons, at the Ramadan Fair/Bazaar, for a certain purpose. AZ and I ended up sending them to our loved ones. We plan and HE plans! SubhanAllah.

This was in preparation for a second round of hosting at our place. The pretty blue and green glasses are this year's Eid gifts from a new-found Aunt and the green crockery set are from IKEA - last year's Eid gifts from Mum's friends too. They all probably knew we (especially 1) love receiving these things as gifts!

Eid Cookies! And another cookie container which came as gift from another beloved Aunt.

Our 'new' Eid Cookie Packs Table.  Every year on Eid, I would tire myself by packing these gift bags for our guests and neighbours  - basically, I never planned how many bags and what went into them, adnd so, had to do so before a set of guests were leaving.

This year, with better planning and with AZ's help on even of Eid, we made this pretty table happen. This shot was taken before the frenzy began (Alhandhuliah for guests and to be blessed as hosts). Towards later in the day, the table was more colourful, with chocolates and presents from our dear guests and also with some colourful laddus from the Masjid that Dad had brought home from Eid prayers.
(Just that I was too tired by the end of the day to do anything but focus on cleaning up the kitchen and living room.)

Alhamdulillah, for everything.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Ramadan Kareem 1437H / 2016

Ramadan Kareem, my Ummah.

We have been blessed with one more opportunity to make the most of this immensely special month.

Whether you are prepared, or not readily charged, I hope everyone finds strength and imaan to do our best within us to reap the rewards that Allah has let us earn.

Like you, I will also be battling within my means to honour this month to the best I can.

Please keep my family and I in your duas, In-Shaa-Allah.

Like last year, I hope to keep a journal of my Ramadan.  I had lots of inspiration from Sister Neelu's prompts in previous years. This year's prompts are here.

Will be back to space in Syawal, In-Shaa-Allah.

It was a lot of work getting the house in order before Ramadan, and now thanking Allah for the energy in Sha'ban, so that we could spend Ramadan in what we should be rightfully doing. Alhamdhulilah.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Preparing For The Beloved Month of Quran

SubhanAllah, we are less than a month away from Ramadan. 

With things settling down in the family, I am thankful there is some time at least now to prepare for Ramadan.

Managed to pen down the list of thing to get done, and polish up on pace of reading the Quran, I am struggling with this especially, and some other learning goals I had set myself, but I really hope to achieve them this Ramadan

Embarking on a cleaning spree (especially in the kitchen), packing re-usable items for giving away, planning leave and off schedules at work, settling gifts for family here and abroad. Somehow, it's always sprucing up the house that needs additional motivation as I dread it when some undone chores get pushed into Ramadan.

And of course, coming with a sensible Quran-reading plan that I can strive to stick to, In-Shaa-Allah. These are the top of my to-do agenda right now and pushing myself to get all these done at least a couple of days before Ramadan.

Please keep me, and all of the Ummah, especially those suffering in Syria right now in your duas. May Allah (S.W.T) shower his mercy on all of us as we prepare our minds and souls for Ramadan.
AZ and I were around Arab Street, where Sultan Mosque, is and had some quiet moments to ourselves.

Sharing Recipes

As mentioned in the earlier post, I thought I would share three recipes that I have made for the family in these few weeks. (Yes, another wannabe food blog post)

These were fairly simple and came out tasting very decent, so sharing for sisters who would like to add some South Indian vegetarian dishes into their menus. And nice recipes are meant for sharing, aren't they?

Baby potatoes masala
Vathal kuzhambu/Vathal curry

For a long time, I have always wanted to try cooking dishes with these two vegetables - baby potatoes and turkey berry (Vathal in Tamil).

And so, I made these on two different days and they did not disappoint, Alhamdhulilah. AZ loves potatoes masala.  In our family, besides the both of us, Mum is the other vegetarian food lover.
Brother and Dad will usually prefer that we have meat dishes to compliment.

Rasam is a must with potatoes masala for us, and we added chicken masala. And with the Vathal Curry, we actually had fish fry which made a nice combination with rice.

Vathal Curry
Coriander powder - 1tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Tumeric powder - 1- tsp
3 Cloves of garlic
Tamarind juice
mustard seeds
6 Small onions
Fresh turkey berries
Salt to taste

Mum always says small onions make dishes like these tastier, so I added this that day into the vathal curry. You could also add sundried turkey berries (more commonly) than fresh ones. Since Father had bought some of the fresh ones, we used them.

I could have been a little more generous with the tamarind juice as the gravy turned out a lil too thick. Other than that, it was a tangy dish and something I will definitely try again, In-Shaa-Allah.

Baby Potatoes Masala
Baby potatoes - slightly roasted
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves
2 Onions
Tumeric Powder - 1tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp

Mum helped to slice these vegetables for me and realised it would have been nice to have left the baby potatoes as a whole. Next time, In-Shaa-Allah.

And now coming to the main dish I have been wanting to share. During the first week of Mum's post-surgery recovery period, AZ suggested that giving her mutton leg soup, to ease her recovery process.

This dish is one which I would have thought takes up a lot of time and efforts and, is something which I would have never thought of experimenting with. But Mum gave me the confidence to give it a shot as she gave me instructioms from where she was seated.

And with Allah's mercy, the dish was lovely. I made it twice withion a span of two weeks. On both times, I did not take shots of the dish (only because I was too drained after all the household chores in those weeks).

I am not comfortable posting someone else's hard work as an image on my blog - even for example.
Will post an image if we make this at home again, In-Shaa-Allah.

Mutton Leg Soup
1/2 kg of mutton leg pieces
3 spoons of coriander powder
1 spoon of cumin powder
5 tbsps of ginger garlic paste
Spices - cardamon, star anises, cloves, cinnamon
Cashew and almond paste
2 big tomatoes and a combination of big and small onions.
Salt to taste and water as necessary.

Saute the necessary spices and meat pieces in oil and mix all other ingredients and bring to a boil.
Simmer and leave on the stove for 3 hours.

Garnish  with coriander and mint leaves.

In-Shaa-Allah, if your family is craving for tasty soup in Ramadan, do try this dish, In-Shaa-Allah.
And when you decide to, please keep my family and me in your duas.

Jazak Allahu Khair.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Sabr And Shukr

It has been quite a while really. I decided to take a break from this space to tend to the family, but I didn't expect three months to fly by so quickly, Masha'Allah.

Mum underwent a minor surgery on two of her toes. Although the surgery was deemed minor, she had to rest at home, with a lot of pampering for two whole months. A well-deserved one, definitely.

Alhamdhulilah, from her pre-surgery checks ups to follow-ups, Allah (S.W.T) has showed us immense kindness by bringing warm-hearted people into our lives - from doctors, to nurses to friends.

In the days she needed complete rest on her feet, I had to try, and try, very hard to manage the household like she did. It sure wasn't any easy feat. SubhanAllah, for Mothers and what they do.

Every trial is a blessing. It helped that Mum stayed upbeat about getting up on her feet and encouraged us all to stay positive too.

Along these months, I picked up some very tasty (and healthy dishes) which I have made the niyyah to share on this blog very soon, In-Shaa-Allah.

Mum has been a very patient teacher on these days too (ahem...very unlike her!) and I have made good use of that and learnt many things.

During this time, AZ had to be on two-week trip to India to help resolve issues at home. So, it sure was quite emotionally draining (and physically too, for me) on both of us.

One Sister shared something very meaningful with me at these times - that we need to live on with two aspects. Sabr and  Shukr. Patience and Gratitude. SubhanAllah.

After two weeks of being on leave from work and working from home, Mum had to be home on her own, as by this time, she could walk up and needed that walking as a form of therapy in the healing process.

My biggest worry was on how she was going to fill that time before we were home - since she could not be doing any of the things she would normally do.

I thought hard on this,  and decided on colouring as a therapy for her.   And she loved it, Alhamdhulilah.

Mum's Thasbih, spectacles and her art materials which kept her happily occupied.
She really enjoyed colouring on these books, besides the time she spent on dhikir. This is one of her colourful pieces below. My close friend, D, who came to visit Mum, was pleasantly surprised that Mum has been into colouring too.

This book is based on the story, Jack and the Beanstalk. This is actually a children's colouring book, and not a book for adults as Mum found the latter too tedious and taxing on her eyes.
In all, she's been well, Alhamdhulilah. I have found some time off from work, to get some "me-time". And as always, splurging on books and stealing time to read them (every now and then) perks me up.

My Happy 'Pills' as always!
Of course, I have not completed all of them but started on some. For the past two months, I have been trying to spend more time with the Quran (in preparation for Ramadan), so have been feeling a lil 'guilty' whenever I am reading, especially a fiction novel.

Talking about fiction books, its been ages since I picked up one of these reads. Just some weeks back, a colleague of mine came back from lunch, grinning and shared with me her loots from this new-found treasure around one of the malls, near where we work at.

For the benefit of those reading this post from Singapore, this Bargain Books Corner is at Big Box (the mall near Jurong East). They have been stacking books outside the plaza area too at Level 1. It's hard not to see them on display. They are books of all genre, children's books included.

And I bought these from there too. For a time after Ramadan, Im-Shaa-Allah.

Simple things in life that make complicated moments easier. All of us are going through some trials almost every moment in our lives. When we thank HIM for all that we have, and have patience and faith in HIS plans always, life becomes more palatable, In-Shaa-Allah.

So, let's stay positive, spread good words and good thoughts and stay in duas.

At this moment, I remember all of our Ummah who are fighting their own battles and make duas that our Rabb makes our jouney of struggles towards Jannah a meaningful one.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Finding Peace In HIS Plans...

Assalamua'alaikum, everyone.

I have been wanting to pen my thoughts on  a couple of issues that have been on my mind.

Along these few weeks, I have also been planning for lots of 'me-time' too.

"But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners." Surah Al-Anfal (8:30)

How so true is this...isn't it?

A couple of things have now put been on my plate - at the homefront and at work; and I have been kept busy, so much so that it has been both mentally and physically exhausting.

I have been praying for strength, and thanking Allah (S.W.T) for every blessing he has given us, and me!

Will be back to this space in a while, In-Shaa-Allah.

Till then, please keep my family and me in your duas.

JazakAllahu Khair.

Source: Internet