Friday, September 28, 2012

Toddler Activity: Stacking

So earlier today, I shared this activity with almost the same items, a couple of tin containers. Here’s the second one.
I gave her a couple more tin containers from my pantry, making sure all were different sizes. I showed her how to stack them once. And then the fun began while we watched some evening TV

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Another half hour of a busy baby and much needed relaxing for the mommy daddy before bedtime.

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Toddler Activity: Homemade drums

Hey lovelies,

Here’s another toddler activity for today. We tried two activities with almost the same items. Here is part 1 of that. The homemade drums.

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So I gave her a couple of tin containers from the kitchen in different sizes and added a cake tin. And wooden spoon worked for the bang bang. The best part is when I laid out all the items and banged on the tins a couple times to show her what our ‘activity could do’, her eyes started twinkling instantly. Realizing this would be a noisy activity, exactly like toddlers like it to be:p haha

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After a while the cake tin turned into a stool, and that turned into an activity on its own. Silly little baby minds. So cute.

She played with this for maybe 20 minutes or so. Not too bad, I’d say!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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PS: Will share the second activity next.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ramblings: Why I blog

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I blog because I have this strong need to document this life.

I blog because motherhood is beautiful and challenging and sometimes moms need a bit of motivation and perspective to get going. I blog because I want to share and document my journey.

I blog because I believe in the power of the handmade. I blog them here.

I blog because this is my voice. I blog because life is unpredictable and when I’m not around, a part of me might remain. I blog because my daughter might read this many years from today and know me a little better.

I blog because I want to live an inspired life. I blog because too many people live uninspired/unhappy lives. I blog because this life is precious and I want whoever stops here, to feel that. I blog because I want to inspire and be inspired in the process.

I blog because I have experienced loss. I blog because the way tragedy changes you nothing else can and there is so much to learn about yourself and others at a time like that. I blog because there is always hope and reasons to smile. And I blog because I want to pass that on. 

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I blog because I’m a proud Muslim/Pakistani-American and feel its my responsibility to speak more about my religion and culture. I blog because it saddens me when the only voices heard about Islam are the ones that are most ignorant about it. I blog because they don’t represent the beautiful religion I was raised in. I blog because its my responsibility to protect my religion and to pass on its beauty to those around us. I blog because I have yet to come across a Muslim/Pakistani-American voice in the lifestyle blogging world. I blog because I feel there is a strong need for one.

I blog because politicians and those in power can never bring us together, but I believe individuals/words/creativity/art can. I blog because there is beauty in each culture and we have so much to learn from each other. I blog because America is a beautiful country full of beautiful people and opportunities just like Pakistan is, and and if we took the best from both these worlds, we’d be so much richer. 

I blog because at the end of the day we are all more alike than different and I want us to be able to see that. I blog because where there is hate I wish to see love, where there is fear I wish to see understanding. I blog because it is really important to me that we leave a better world for our kids, and this might become my tiny contribution.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another Toddler Activity


Last week, we tried this activity, when I really needed to occupy her busy little mind for a bit.

I filled three three tiny tupperware containers with different grains, (lentils, rice and macaroni worked for me). I closed the lids, gave her a larger tupperware to put them all in, 2 egg cups, my ceramic yellow egg tray and a funky little spoon.



As usual as she started to explore, instead of doing what I had to, I kept taking pictures of her. I love watching her as she explores new things, her little tongue peeking through the tiny little mouth, busy little fingers, perfectly using the spoon to transfer contents here and there and then back again. Its one of my favorite things to do, watch this baby girl, explore!

And this little exploring activity? It was a super-hit. She played for a HALF HOUR, which in toddler time, is maybe 2 hours! lol. We will be doing this again, totally!


Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On loving the place you call your home

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When I was growing up, we used to pack our stuff and move every 2 years or so, sometimes even before that. My dad was in the air force in Pakistan, and we lived in all types of houses. From Quetta where we lived in an almost antique hut-ish house with scorpions running around (yes, scary). To Karachi where we lived for almost a year in a small temporary housing which didn’t even have a proper kitchen, and then moved to a long corridor of a house that had served as a hospital at some point in the second world war. To Peshawer where our growing family of five lived in a tiny American style 2 bed, 1 bath rambler. And many many more such homes which were probably far from my parents’ dream homes.

But one thing was common in all these homes, my mom decorated them with more love than possible. She would creatively disguise and cover up all the ugly corners. She would divide rooms into more rooms with her arrangements, whenever and wherever the need be. She would fill up the walls with beautiful art that she made herself or that she had collected. And every season she would change it all up. Meanwhile my dad, who loved his gadgets, would make sure that our house was well connected, the computers, the phones, the TVs, the intercoms, and later on the internet etc. And together they made the unlivable, very very livable! In short, we saw our parents loving these temporary, sometimes ugly, places that were our homes. And so when moving day arrived and we had to say goodbye to what had been our home, we would be in tears.

This is something I have been thinking about a lot. In these times, it is very easy to keep dreaming about our perfect homes. We can watch home network TV all day. We can drool over design magazines and design blogs and keep this ever growing mental list of all the things that we want in our house. We hear it all the time, what the latest trends are and what is outdated. And that is fine, trust me, I love my design blogs and all. They’re the biggest source of inspiration for myself. But it’s just that sometimes this dream gets in the middle of enjoying our own homes and most of all, loving our own homes.

Because of how I have been raised, I really believe in the power of decorating with love. I believe that these spaces, these little dwellings that we spend a major part of our days and nights in - should be close to our hearts.  I believe that whatever space you live in, be it rented, a tiny apartment, an old even ‘outdated’ (so called) home, can be made beautiful when decorated with love. And that if we love our homes, if they make us happy, if they’re totally ‘us’; then it doesn’t matter what style it is or isn’t and what features it has or doesn’t.

I thought I’d share a couple of tips I’ve learned from my parents and that mean the most to me when I decorate our little place.

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1. Surround yourselves with things you love

For us that means lots of art, lots of photo memories, books and tied together with gifts from loved ones and flowers to liven it all up. I love having things around that remind us of a precious memory, of our loved ones or just of things that inspire the creativity in us.

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This little truck was a gift from Bilal’s nephew and reminds us of our family and our roots at the same time. It proudly sits on our mantle these days.

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I love sunflowers or just flowers in general. I try to have some around the house at any given time.

We do not travel a lot but when we do we make sure to pick up some artwork as a reminder of some vacation memories.  

I also love all things bright and colorful. So I surround myself with all the color I can squeeze in, because it really makes a grey Seattle day much cheerful for me.

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Our hallway art wall (that photographs awkward because of the tight space in front of it), is a collection of collected art as well as some made by family. It keeps changing as the mood strikes.

2. DIY-ing

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The DIY wreath project for the front door.

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The DIY picture wall in the dining area.

I believe something happens when you make something with your own hands, when you do a home project yourself. I am so inspired by people who are able to take on home improvement projects on their own. As for myself, I love doing little DIY's and using what I make around the house. These days, we have such easy access to fantastic DIY ideas, making it even easier. Spend some time on Pinterest and find a project you'd like to try. Make sure you don't get lost in the world of ideas though (like I do, so often). If its your first project, start small. And if you’re a pro, the sky is the limit.

If you are new to DIY-ing, don’t be intimidated. Start really small, I myself am mostly good at smaller projects since I don't have much patience for projects that last more than a day (nor do I have the talent for bigger projects I think). 

The best thing about many of these projects is that they're inexpensive and if you don't like how they turn out, you easily throw what you made and start another project.

I promise you, every time you pass by that lovingly handmade item, you will fall in love.

3. Make happy memories/Start traditions

Something that is very important to me, more so now that I am a mother is the power of family traditions and memories. I am myself still working on this. Some traditions can automatically become a part of your home life and others can be easily incorporated.

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For spring, I love bringing in some cherry blossom branches.

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For me, crisp white linen says SUMMER.  

Change your bedding to white for Summer. Celebrate spring with flowers in the house. Plan birthday surprises for your loved ones. Decorate your house up for celebrations. Stop missing how things worked at your parents home and start making your own little traditions for own little family. Skype with your family every Eid, put a little Pakistan flag up for Independence day. Watch a favorite show cuddled up on the couch. Have a family cooking night, Arrange coffee parties for your girlfriends in winters. Have friends over for lunch/or tea or snacks. Celebrate the first snow of the season with coffee in bed, or coffee by the fireplace, Use a tripod and take a family picture when everyone is dressed up for any occasion. If you have kids and they’re old enough, have a family movie night complete with popcorns every Saturday where the kids get to pick a movie. Every spring or summer or winter, have one meal in your backyard. Whatever works for you. Find out what inspires you and make your own little traditions.

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Decorating the house for Eid ul Azha 2011

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Celebrating Anya turning one.

Because we probably wont remember how our houses were decorated twenty or thirty years from today, we'll only remember what we did in these houses, we'll only remember the memories we made! And because a house with happy memories is a beautiful home.

4. Change it up

It is probably human nature that we easily get bored with the same things. So when you start feeling that way about your place, of if its starting to not excite you or make you as happy anymore, it is time to change it up! You could even change things every season. That doesn’t necessarily mean going on another shopping spree in search of more items. Better yet is looking at what you’ve got with a new eye. I love moving objects around our home. The mantle in our living area is my favorite place to change every couple weeks or months.

The easiest way to change up a room is with cushions, art, and decorative items. And if your larger items are pretty neutral, they are also the easiest way to completely change the color scheme for your room. These changes hardly require any big investments and they renew your love for your home.

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Mantles are easy to change up. I change mine every few months.

5. Work around it

We all have problem areas in our homes, areas that are a challenge to decorate. Some of us have updates we’d love to do, but cannot take on at that particular time and place. We might’ve had to compromise with our husbands in purchasing items we don’t necessarily love. That is when you got to learn to work around what you’ve got.

My mom has always been the queen of this and my biggest inspiration for this.

We haven’t been able to update our kitchen or bathrooms yet but I don’t let that bother me too much (of course that doesn’t stop me from dreaming:p). I love filling them up with art and color and beautiful items that take the attention away from other areas!

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I accessorize my kitchen with happy little items to distract from the other not so attractive features:p

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Our 2nd bathroom and my love of collected branches as well as some art.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions of your own to add to this list? I would love to hear them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Anya’s Room : Phase 1

Hey lovelies,

Anya's room has been undergoing its latest transformation as Anya has finally moved into her own room (after spending her mini vacation in a corner of our room). I thought it would be fun to share what the room looked like in its different stages.

Today I'm sharing the first phase of her room, what it looked when she came into our world and through the first year or so of her life. Before then, this room had evolved from guest room to exercise room and finally the room that collected all the junk:p. So it was finally cleared out and done up for Anya/our guests. The best part was this room was done with almost no new purchases and using the things we already had.

Since Anya's crib was in our room (Yes, we're amongst the parents that believe in co-sleeping till at least the first birthday), and she didn't really have much toys, this room basically housed her closet and her changing table etc. Since we live in a smaller rambler, this room is also our guest room, hence the queen size bed that we have to work around. My mom and sisters came to help when Anya was born and this was their room for a couple of months:).

I could've waited to do it up but I really really wanted this room to start looking like hers from the start. Because we did it up, we have been spending time as a family in her room since she was a couple months old.

Welcome to a little peek into her room (or what it looked like till some months ago).

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(left)My sister Waliya, put these up on a 'Its a girl' balloon, when we came home from the hospital. I cant part with it so it hangs on her door.

(right)The hen and cat shaped cushion made by my sister-in-law and the pom poms that were made for a friends baby shower many years ago. Anya loved staring at them.

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The art wall was probably my favorite part of the room. My husband helped put it up a week before Anya was born. On it is beautiful handmade art by my sister-in-law, my sisters, my husband and some that I found and fell in love with.

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This paper flower garden was made with love by Anya's Nadiya khala, my sister!

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the DIY paper bird mobile share here.

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I made the little owl for Anya.

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These embroidered pillow covers were made by my grandmother, many many years ago and passed on by my mother.

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This was right above her changing area. The sweater was crocheted by my mom for Anya and the painting was also made by my mom in ‘92 and used to hang in my room at my parents house.

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This beautiful shawl is one of my favorite items, crocheted by my mother before Anya was born.

This was just a start, and when I did it up, there was so much I wanted to change (like the molding that went across) but decided to go step by step. This room gets some beautiful bright sunshine and we used to spend many sunny evenings in here when Anya was a baby.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek. The next tour of will follow soon!

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Where many summer evenings were spent in 2011

Thanks for stopping by!

Toddler Activity: Another messy sensory tub

Hey you guys,

So this activity I'm going to share was sort of a fail, because it took more time preparing than Anya actually playing. But anyways, I read this recipe for edible paint, since she's still at an age where she tastes pretty much everything. You basically mix water in flour till you get a paint like consistency, and then add food coloring to make your own colors.

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Anya ended up just feeling around the 'paint' and just pouring it here and there. I didn't really mix the food coloring because I wanted her to discover how the color changed, but she didn't really notice that!

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She loved it for about 5 minutes or so, and then she was ready to go! hehe.

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I guess I'll try it next when she's a bit older and hopefully will enjoy it more!

Thanks for stopping by!

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PS: I let her do these activities on the kitchen floor with a plastic tablecloth underneath. Makes the cleanup a bit easier!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY: Summer of ‘12 Wreath

Remember when I told you about the wreath that hangs on my door? The one I challenge myself to change every season? That was last summer, Summer of 2011. and then I finally gave it a new look for this summer.

I was in love with pinwheels this spring and ended up making a couple using tutorials I found on pinterest along with a little yarn wrapped wire ‘hello’ and attaching them with wire. Here is what it looks like.

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As you can probably tell by now, I love projects that are simple and easy to make in one setting, involving supplies I usually have in the house. Most of my projects are usually made on a whim. Of course some don’t turn out how I want them to, and end up in the trash, but that is always expected with DIYs. That being said, I don’t mind little imperfections in the results either, like here too. I sort of ran out of wire and you’ll notice the ‘o’ in the ‘hello’ is quite rushed. Sigh. Anyways!

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Thanks for stopping by:)

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Toddler Activity: Noisy box of randomness

Another last minute activity to keep her busy for a bit so I can cook. A tin cookie box, filled with random stuff and a serving spoon for her to make all the noise she likes!

This gave me about ten minutes or so for her to explore it with the lid on and off. Enough for me to get my last minute preparations for food done.

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Makes a happy mama and baby (for ten minutes or so, lol)!

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Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

DIY: art for Anya’s room

Hey you guys,

Today I thought I’d share a little peek from Anya’s new room. Her nani and khala sent her a darling little doll a little while ago and the wrapping paper they packed it in was adorable and yellow and I didn’t have the heart to part with it. I kept thinking of how they must’ve lovingly gone to select it for this little gift they were sending. Yes, I get very emotionally attached to things that way, but that is the story for another blog post! hehe

So well, I decided to put it in in a pretty little white frame.

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and hang it up on the art wall in her room. It looks quite sweet there, don’t you think so? And every time we look at it we are reminded of the loving family that lives in our hearts but across the world.

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Hope your day is going awesome. Thanks for stopping by!

(FYI: in Urdu, nani means maternal grandmother and khala is your mom’s sister)