We recently went on a trip to Spain with the kids. We found some super cheap tickets from New York but this airline would not allow anything besides a carry on or there would be an extra charge. I was caught in a dilemma, do I succumb to my cheap ways and just cross the Atlantic somehow or do I try to give up my diva ways of packing everything but the kitchen sink? Those who know me, know even when I was single, I do not travel lightly. I decided to challenge myself and go the backpack route. We had to travel through multiple cities and were taking buses, train and planes so it just made more sense. Hey, everything is worth trying once right?
First, you want to check the carryon luggage height and weight restrictions for your airlines. We went to the outlets and bought backpacks for each of us that fit the criteria. Packing was a bit tricky since we were going to be encountering very different temperatures in the south and north of Spain ( plus we had a layover in NYC). I packed layers and had the kids wear their jackets on the planes. You can always peel off layers if you get too hot but not much you can do if you’re cold. I used the roll technique for clothes and kept makeup and lotions to sample sizes. This will be a piece of cake I thought! I’ll just buy really small souvenirs for people or not buy at all and use my backpacking as a cheap excuse.
We flew to our first city of Madrid. We hadn’t really set an itinerary because we weren’t sure how jet lagged we would be. We stayed in the main area and we shopped and ate and then shopped some more. Uh oh, where are we going to put all of this shopping? So we ended up purchasing a luggage.
From Madrid, we took the train to Granada. The train only goes so far and then you have to board a bus. The train was a very pleasant experience. I still don’t understand how we don’t have more high speed rail in America. We absolutely loved Granda. Lots of halal options and of course the shopping is great. My daughter especially loved the Zara there. I feel that the quality is bit better overseas. After a couple of days, we hopped on a bus to Seville. We stowed our belongings in the bus depot and toured the city and then took a late flight out to Barcelona. We stayed there a couple of days. I had planned to do the laundry and had scoped out a couple of laundromats/ lavanderia close to our hotel before we left for the trip. My son did not like the idea of dirty underwear in his bag even though they were packed in small plastic bags. It was actually an enjoyable experience as we got to explore the area while the laundry was being done and interact with locals who helped us figure out that the machine comes preloaded with detergent. Of course we explored the shopping mall across the street and discovered that we could see ourselves living in Spain. Returning back to Madrid via train, we vowed to return one day. The people were warm and hospitable, the food and weather were perfect in April for us. We did have to pay for an extra luggage and realized a lot of our vacation is about shopping and that was how we bond with each other. Taking out the time to really explore those side streets and marveling at another culture. I do hope you and your loved ones visit Spain soon.
I have been at a loss since the recent New Zealand shooting. Anyone living in non Muslim countries knows there has been a rise in Islamophobia and numerous anti- Muslim incidents. The incident that happened is something I always fear will happen when at the mosque and I have always questioned, how would I react? Will we all be slaughtered since we do not have any means of fighting back? Our backs are turned away from the exit, we wouldn’t even see it coming. I pray for the heavy blow to the Christchurch community and their sense of security. Even the name of the town was meant to be a holy one. I hope the Muslim community wakes up and starts to prepare so we do not have this type of incident of this magnitude happen again. I pray for all the martyrs to be forgiven and patience for their families. May God protect us all.
I have recently been going through a bit of a rough patch. Life wouldn’t be life if it didn’t throw the unexpected your way. I have realized my rough patches in life have helped shaped me into who I am. There’s a saying, we wouldn’t learn to appreciate the sunny days if there were not storms. That’s what this rough patch has taught me to look forward to. When the days are bad, I looked for what I am grateful for. Even simple things like freedom, all my senses are intact, breathing without any health issues are all incredible blessings. Also, there is a rainbow after the storm. There is ease after hardship. Allah (SWT) has promised us that in the Quran that there is ease. We won’t feel the same way even tomorrow and time does ease the heart. A diamond is made by undergoing tremendous pressure and what comes out is very valuable. What are some things you have learned during your hardship phases in life? Share below please
I have not been blogging as much lately, I have been taking a break and had to take a long hard look as to what I want from my life. What brings joy and happiness to my being? What surprised me most was that when I asked most people, they didn’t have an answer to this very important question. What are we doing if we are not paying attention to our own lives? We are too busy paying attention to others- what they have that we do not. What the latest celebrity is wearing or whom they are marrying. I had to figure out what nourishes my own soul before I can speak about it. I am still on this journey but I also realized that blogging is an outlet and a joy too, not a chore. It’s helped me connect to so many amazing people in ways I may never have done. I feel there is still a space for my voice and that I can still offer something of value.
I would like to learn, what brings you joy? Comment below ⬇️
Hijabi at the beach
I have always had a love/ hate relationship with the beach. I have always enjoyed the sounds and sights of the waves crashing into the shore. The feel of the sand between my toes. I always marvel at the endlessness of it all and reminds me of how Allah swt knows how many sea creatures live in there. How even if there were multiple oceans and they were to turn into ink and write the attributes of Allah, there will never be enough ink to finish praising Allah. I hate how polluted some beaches are and how hot it can get. I am not a fan of how skimpy the outfits can be and how people stare if you are not skimpily dressed too. I never understood how prying eyes want you to undress so they can judge your body. I see how other middle aged women struggle to balance between the undress and covering up tactfully. For most of my life, my mom and other “aunties” rarely got into the water due to wearing ethnic/Islamic clothing. I always dreamt of a Muslim beach where we could go and frolick without judgement. Luckily, times are changing and with the introduction of modest swimwear, Muslim women are able to partake in more swim related activities. I don’t know about European beaches but stateside, I have never had any issues with anyone harassing me for covering up at the beach alhamdulillah. There are other blogs out there that have extensive modest swimwear reviews that you can check out.
I hope that the general public gets more and more used to a more modest dress at the beach as these are public spaces and everyone is free to wear what works for them.
I recently attended a tea party to honor a friend that has joined the 40 plus club. It was a beautiful afternoon full of laughter and joy and celebration. The birthday girl had requested us to dress up in hats and gloves and we obliged. I did some research and learned a bit more about fascinators. Ever since Princess Kate and now Megan Markle has joined the royal family, there has been more focus on the fashion these ladies wear and fascinators are almost always included.
Doing a bit research, I found that traditionally Christian women covered their hair and this is how the fascinator has evolved over the years. Here’s a more in depth read on it.
As a hijabi, I was bit worried about pulling this look off. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a piece I might not wear again. I found a cute piece from Amazon and went with a basic color in case I needed to wear it again.
Here is the link for the fascinator
Here is the link for the dress.
The birthday girl wore her dress and fascinator very elegantly. Here are a couple of her pics.
I hope this post inspires you to try new and different hijab styles.
I recently traveled to Detroit for a family wedding. Each time I have been to Detroit, I had never been able to venture to the city center. I am so glad I was able to explore a bit of this diverse and up and coming city.
I had asked for recommendations for a brunch spot and was able to visit the Dime Store. There are no reservations so we tried to get there as early as possible. The 30 minute wait flew by since the restaurant is situated next to a gorgeous lobby in the building. We all loved the decor, our server was super nice and helpful. We all ordered different items and got to sample each other’s food. The food was absolutely delicious. Presentation was instagram worthy.
Portions were generous (yes that is Canadian maple syrup). Here is the link, I highly recommend for you to try this place out.
Satiated, we ended up walking around a bit and stumbled across the Guardian building. It is one of the most striking examples of Art Deco in Detroit and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. They have tours of the building but the security guards allowed us to roam and take photos in the lobby.
The surrounding area has lots of cool sculptures and sitting areas and was not far from the riverwalk.
I had to save the riverwalk for the next morning since we had family events to attend. The riverwalk was so charming, we could not believe we were in Detroit! It almost had a Cali vibe to the area.
There was a carousel, ice cream, sand trap and fountains for the kids to splash in.
We then drove a couple of miles to Belle Isle. It is a popular place to picnic and bike with the family. They also had a botanical garden and other sites that we will have to save for next time to check out.
We headed to Dearborn for some halal grub. This area is home to a large Arab- American population and you can find a variety of restaurants and dessert spots. We visited the Islamic Center of America. This mosque is very beautiful and the people were welcoming and gave us a short tour. I had never visited a Shia mosque before and was pleasantly surprised as to how organized the community was.
We then headed to Shatila bakery since it came highly recommended. It did not disappoint!
Here’s the link
We had a great visit and hope to be back soon!
Ramadan is right around the corner! Every year I am filled with self doubt, how will I survive the long, hot days and make time for taraweeh and still be able to function at work? Somehow though, every year I still find the strength to pray and fast. I forget about the miracles and blessings that exist during this month that don’t the rest of the year. If you are feeling sluggish like I am at the thought of Ramadan, here are some tips,
1. Remember that Allah does not place a burden on us more than we can bear. I always think about how people keep their fast and work outdoors in some countries and do so happily because they are blessed with another Ramadan in their lives. We are capable of more than we think and limit ourselves to.
2. Try to make it more about others than ourselves. Instead of focusing on our own suffering and hardship, try to meet and speak to others in much harsher circumstances. Try to give back in your own way, even if you are not able to financially, just sitting and visiting with others and listening to their stories is an act of charity.
3. The obvious advice of eating healthy meals and calories and staying away from too much salt, sugar and fats will make the day go by easier.
4. Focus on the recitation and study of the Quran, remembering what the month is all about.
5. Try to sneak in naps whenever you can
6. Remember time flies and before you know it, the month is over. Don’t let it pass by without gathering some of its many blessings.
What are some of your tips for Ramadan?
I recently took a mommy trip to Miami with some friends. I had never been and it did not disappoint. We were only there for a day and a half but we were able to get a few fun activities in. Our day was full of kayaking, swimming and some good seafood and a quick spa break before we flew out the next day. As mommies, we are always putting everyone and everything else ahead of us. If you’re able to take a quick break from daily life, please do it. The family will appreciate a well rested and relaxed mom.
Here are some of the outfits and links to the outfits I wore.
Hijab: Voile Chic
Use code NewShades for 10% discount
Caped jumpsuit: SHEIN
Swim top, pants, cap and hat: Amazon
We recently visited the Holy cities in Islam, Mecca and Madina for what is called umrah. Umrah can be done anytime of the year versus the main Hajj, which is done at a specific time of year and consists of a lot more rituals spread over specific days. We decided to bring our children along in order to increase their love for these holy places and to make tangible some of the historical places of the beginning of Islam. I will not be sharing fiqh or ruling tips as there are plenty of scholars that have outlined those. These are more mommy tips.
Moms of boys, make sure you buy them a proper ihram belt. I made the mistake of listening to my husband that any old belt will do and come to find out, it won’t. I also wish I had special snaps sewn into the ihram because it can be a hard for a young boy to manage the special two pieces of cloth, especially if you are coming through Jeddah and straight to perform the umrah. It was super windy while we were getting off the plane and I was carrying luggage and couldn’t help the poor kid navigate the stairs and the wind and cloth ( the current Jedda airport does not have gates but buses to take you to the airport). Best advice would be to start off at Madina first and then head to Mecca. The lines at the airport for customs are ridiculous so make sure everyone has used the restrooms and have some snacks and water packed for the little ones. That’s probably the number one advice for the trip would be to always carry enough water and snacks for the kids. There are plenty of food options and most tours include meals but there may be off times when the kids are jet lagged and you can’t make it to the buffets. We were lucky to be able to travel with family and it made the trip much more memorable and fun. There are wheelchairs available to rent for the rituals that you can push smaller children in as they can get tired from tawaf and saee. We had the kids listen to lectures about umrah and tried to explain the rituals in ways they could understand. You can also try to make it more tangible in ways and ask them “do you think Bilal RA had the same view of the mountains during sunset?” in Madina? Sometimes it was necessary to split up as prayers were segregated. Marking clear meet up spots is essential due to heavy crowds in both masjids. Let them see the masjids during less crowded times and soak up the ambiance if possible. Have empty water bottles for zamzam water refills and thin bags with straps for everyone to carry their shoes in. Do any touring of other areas early morning as it gets quite hot during the day. There are pharmacies all over so you can always pick up meds if needed. Moms of little ones, always have a hand on your baby. I found a lost toddler and the guards could care less about helping to find the mom. There is a large building for lost children in Madina but no one wants that worry and heartache. Try to rotate with your spouse for some one on one worship time. Last piece of advice that’s not kid related is the shopping is cheaper in Madina. Leave any additional advice below, would be happy to hear it!