Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Made with Love. Anya’s toddler room.

I have been wanting to share this little part of our place since forever. This post will get a little long, let me warn you. Lots of pictures and so much I want to share about it. This room is full of love and lots of stories behind every single thing that sits here and that is my favorite part about it. That it brings happy memories, reminds us of loved ones, and is the place where our little girl discovers herself and the world around her.

Come and finally take a peek?


The crib is Gulliver by Ikea and one we have loved since the first day. The blanket that hangs over, along with the pillows that sit in her crib are a gift from someone who was like family back in the days before I got married. Her name is Rashida and she used to help us with household chores and stitch clothes for us. She specially made this set for Anya and gave it as a gift and I love having it in her room.


My husband and I come from families of art lovers. I love how art always has stories behind it, about who made it, where you found it etc. Nothing like art to bring personality into any room. For this room, along with the framed art wall, I also wanted to have one where I could easily change what it held. This wall is also the first thing you see when you enter it. I also love how anything can be art when displayed well. 

About the art: ABC art from Land of Nod. I love you to the moon, made by my sister Waliya. The Sweet Dreams art is from a calendar I found in my dad’s papers. My dad was an aeronautical engineer and this art from a Boeing calendar that he had kept, reminds us of him.

Rocker from Ikea, DIY blue pillow made by me (shared here), White Crochet blanket is handmade for her by her nani1 and another favorite in this room. Trousers Hangers from Bed, Bath and Beyond.


I always knew I wanted to incorporate our baby pictures in her room. So the black and white picture of my husband as a baby and the one of me with my dad that my mom took sits on the shelf. Its funny how Anya has looked so much like us at different times of her little life, mA. The shelf also holds our growing collection of fairytales and folktales. Most of these were Bilal’s along with one that is from my childhood and even a Russian Fairytales that was my mothers’. 

Alarm Clock, Bird sculpture (actually a tealight holder), Lampshade and the 4 by 6 frame from Target

Lamp was a 4 dollar find at my first ever thrift store buy and made to work thanks to a sweet friend’s husband.

The large frame is from ZGallerie and the square frame from Marshalls.


This little illustration was made by my sister, Waliya along with a little place for Anya’s bangles and her never ending hair accessories.


The shelf, Expedit from Ikea is the perfect place for Anya’s books and toys.

Most of her toys are gifts from family, her grannies, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and sweet friends. Her growing little book collection also contains books passed on from her cousins and some are from my childhood and I specially love that. To know that these same books were enjoyed by others before her and then lovingly passed on, makes them even more special.



The art: (Top row) Mushroom digital art drawn by Bilal. I’m still learning art made by Anya’s Waliya khala2. (Left most) Kitty cross-stitch made by Anya’s youngest phupo3. (Second row) Red Birds print bought from an art fair in Leavonworth, WA on one of our trips, Owl print bought from an art fair in our little town, Sketch my mom made of me sleeping as a baby in ‘84. (Third row) Asian mom and baby art made by my sister-in-law again. Colorful collage art made by my sister, Anya’s Nadiya khala2. (Bottom most) inspired by paint chip art, a card I made for Anya’s 2nd birthday framed.

The frames are from Ikea, Target, Michaels, and some spray painted white to go along.


Because this room functions as a guest room whenever there is need, we keep the queen bed in here and this little cushions plus stuffies collection sits atop.

The cat and hen pillows are made by Anya’s older phupo3, my older sister-in-law. The Tweety Pillow I made with a TShirt my dad had got for me on one of his trips. The knitted penguin is from my childhood and my nani1 knitted it specially for me when I was a baby. I was ecstatic to have found it in one of the boxes back home last year. The yellow Ugly Doll was my first buy for Anya when I found out we were having a baby. The bicycle pillow on the front is from Francesca’s. The heart striped pillow, my mom bought for Anya. The duvet cover on the bed is from Ikea.


Fox Stuffie from Anthropologie and the burlap bear was a lucky find at Safeway at one of our grocery trips.


The DIY bird mobile now hangs over the crib. And so does the DIY yarn wrapped A from Anya’s 1st birthday celebration. The rug in front of the crib is handmade in Pakistan, a gift from my parents’.


The shelves from Ikea are our happy place to keep our treasures. I love using flash cards for Anya so decided to hang some below. These ones I found at Dollar Tree and are as good as any more expensive other. The white crate is from JoAnn’s and holds Anya’s growing collection of stuffed toys.


Top Shelf: left to right: Paper flower garden made by Nadiya khala2, The little pirate in front was made by Anya’s Shafqi phupo3 many many years ago. The birthday hat is from Anya’s 2nd birthday. The little chalkboard in the back, my sister-in-law brought for me in Pakistan and I painted it yellow. The wooden train is from Melisa and Doug. The Abacus by Melissa and Doug also was a gift from a sweet friend.

Bottom Shelf: left to right: Ceramic Owl bank from ZGallerie, Vintage Lady and the Tramp book found in Pakistan was a childhood favorite, Carved Wooden camel bought from Bahawalpur, Yellow Elephant from World Market, Sketch of Anya made by my mom. Anya’s baby sneakers were a gift from her Waliya khala2. Pink frame from TJMaxx with a picture taken by Muqu, a talented photographer friend, stuffed owl I made for Anya before she was born, a get well soon Minnie we got for Anya from Walgreens, Little glass ball is my husband’s, Initial mug from Anthropologie, a gift from a friend. Adventure Stories for girls, is my mom’s from her childhood.

For me, the best part about decorating any space is incorporating items that mean something to you. That involve a particular memory or remind you of loved ones and this room is full of these things. Whenever someone asks me what they should get for Anya, I always ask them that I would prefer something handmade for her and her room. I love that this room reminds us of all the sweet people that love our baby and who go out of their way to make her feel special.


Hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by.

Go here to see what this room looked like before.

FYI: 1Nani is maternal grandmother. 2Khala is mom’s sister, 3phupo is dad’s sister.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On troubled times, fear and hope.

It feels like I’m doing these posts almost every week. Just a few days ago this happened and then yesterday a tragedy of another kind back in Pakistan. Tourists were targeted and killed in an area thought to be much safer than the rest, and known to be one of the most beautiful in the country. My heart goes out to those that lost their loved ones. It is heartbreakingly sad. This attack reminded me what is even more disturbing. How accustomed we from Pakistan have become to such tragedies. Back in Pakistan since 2001, some estimates suggest that over 35000 people have died in terrorist attacks of different natures. These have happened in all types of places from shopping markets, mosques, schools, buses, airports, even hospitals. The Pakistan I left behind when I moved to the States has completely changed now.

Just the other day a friend of mine who is going to be visiting Pakistan later this year, asked me if I feel scared while I’m there, specially now that I have a baby. And it went straight to my heart, because of course I get scared, but then, I have been scared since I moved away. Because in the seven years that I have lived here in the States, security situations in Pakistan have gotten worse every passing day. I have been scared for my family and loved ones who live there through it all.

Sadly, I am also familiar with the feeling of it becoming so normal that you hear the news about an attack, you ask where it happened, the casualties, make sure you don’t have any loved ones close to that, and then you go on doing what you were doing. That is how often these attacks take place. My family lived just a couple of miles away from the attempted assassination on Benazir Bhutto in Karachi that killed more than a hundred people. My mom and sister were having coffee in Islamabad where just outside Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own security guard. They heard it all, hid under tables as it happened outside. Writing these things, just reminds me again how panicked I can get if I let my mind go down this path. Of course I am scared.

But there life goes on, and what looks so scary from here is just every day life there. The endless security checks on the roads, outside shopping malls, offices etc. is just daily business. Of course, there are those sudden moments of gripping fear, when you’re at an airport surrounded by people, or in blocked traffic with endless cars all around, or you’re in a shop and there are people everywhere, and suddenly you glance around, at the faces around you and fear that one of them could be them. Some times you just cant stand there anymore, and as fast as possible, you try to put as much distance between yourself and anyone that looks suspicious, other times you tell yourself if it is going to happen there isn’t much you can do, that our lives are predetermined and you try to ignore these dark fears.

In Pakistan, to survive, sometimes you just leave it to Allah. You decide that you cant stop living, you cant stop going to work or school, you cant stop shopping, you cant stop going out, you cant stop hanging out with your friends. You cant put your lives on hold, because of this fear. Because to do that, would mean that these deranged people would win, and Pakistanis wont let them. So everyday they will pick up the pieces of their broken hearts, take a deep breath, hide their deepest fears, put on their brave face, and step out. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is scary, to have the ones you love the most, so close to horrific tragedies like these. It is scary when you visit them with your baby, but millions of babies and kids will spend each day of their lives there. Human life is precious, whether it is theirs or ours. I wont stop going back to see my family, my husband’s family, because they live there, and a piece of our heart is with them even when we are safe oceans away. I wont stop going to Pakistan, because millions there deserve a better/safer world too and I will believe and hope alongside them. Hope for a better peaceful day for Pakistan and the rest of the world.

Pictures taken by my sister, Waliya Najib.

But at the same time I have come to realize something. I will continue to pray that each one of us, in the words we say, in the things we pass on to our kids, in how we try to empathize and understand will try to break this cycle of violence. That those in power, will try to figure out another way to deal with this violence. Because is there really an end to this, this killing on both sides? Our kids deserve better. Let us all figure out another way. There has to be, this has to stop. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What we wore and some thoughts on this series.

Happy Monday morning sweet people. I’m back with another outfit post but today I also wanted to share why I even do this series here.

Even though I love clothes and dressing up, I don’t like to throw our money on it too much. Yes, I’m pretty cheap like that ;) So I am learning to look at our closets differently, I am learning to mix and match to come up with new outfits with what we already own. So in this series, you probably will see the same pieces over and over again, worn differently. Being a creatively expressive person, I am trying to bring it into how I dress myself and Anya. I am trying to say that its okay if you don’t want to spend too much money on fashion, you can still be stylish. And it is also okay if you are conservative like me, and don’t believe in baring too much skin or wearing revealing clothes, you can still be stylish. I truly believe that we feel more confident in our abilities and our strengths when we dress the part.


So I do this series to inspire you and myself. That we all are beautiful and we all can feel beautiful if we take a little time for ourselves, if we experiment with the pieces in our wardrobes and find out what feels most like ourselves. For those many stylish moms (and non-moms for that matter) out there, thank you so much for inspiring us. Find out your style, gorgeous women and follow along as we experiment with ours.


Anya wears: Top from Gymboree, Denim skirt and Shoes (from the boys section) from Old Navy, Leggings from Carters.

Mama wears: Top and TShirt from Target, Printed skinny jeans from Old Navy. Shoes by Steve Madden from Ross.

Much love, and thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Baby, I will love you for who you are.


Kelle Hampton wrote this a few days ago, ‘I've learned a lot this year about letting my kid be exactly who she is.  No more "don't be shy"s.  Just "be you."  And if shy is you, then be gloriously, wonderfully shy.  And I will love you.  Your shyness, your hesitancy, your intently focused little face.  I will love you for who you are.’ And it reminded me of my daughter. I see this in my daughter a lot as we go out and interact more with the world. My baby has such a bold personality at home, loves people, loves talking and being the center of attention. But outside sometimes, in new situations, or in social interactions with unfamiliar people, she acts completely different. She will cling to me, whine constantly and be just completely moody.

And usually I let her be. I’ll say Hi for her instead, and just try to include her but respect how she feels. Because my husband is quite a bit of an introvert, just recently when I see her personality transforming as soon as we are around people, I see him in her. And I’m okay with that. Of course, she is a piece of both of us, she will take things from both of us. Being shy and quiet and taking your time with people is not a bad thing at all. In fact it might be a good thing even.


But as moms, we are inherently competitive, noticing what our kids are doing/not doing compared to others around them. And that can make us push our kids sometimes, to be what they truly are not, to give them the message that they need to be a particular way to be accepted. Recently I have noticed myself doing exactly that sometimes, mostly because I feel that this world is kinder to those that are able to express themselves more around people, and of course as a mom I would want my daughter to be accepted and loved. But reading what Kelle Hampton wrote above, reinforced what my heart had been telling me. 

It is perfectly okay for our babies to be who they are. Its perfectly okay for you to be shy, my baby girl.

I will keep encouraging her to be polite and smile and reach out for people but I will accept what comes naturally to her. I will let her be. I will accept the way she is and just love her for that. Because whoever she is, she is beautiful. She is my baby. And I want her to know that, always!

collagemama hug

Pictures from an evening in Fatima Jinnah Park in Islamabad, Pakistan in November 2012. Of course taken by my fabulous sister, Waliya.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Anya’s room. The in-between phase.

Remember Anya’s room when it looked like this? I am embarrassed to see the date on that post because it is almost a year later and I still haven’t posted about her room! ANYWAYS. I finally took pictures and I’m happy to tell you, it will definitely be up next week. So do sure to check back if you'd like to take a look.

For today, I thought it would be fun to show you the in-between stage. Here are a couple of shots from before the paint job and after removing the molding running across to discover the room had been once been blue.

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And here it is when the paint was done. It was a slight change but one that made a world of difference. I ended up repainting the white too with a brighter shade and then the accent wall in my favorite shade of grey. I was so proud of myself for doing it all on my own! Hehe.

We just did up the room a little bit for guests that were going to be staying for a week soon after. Here are some glimpses of our makeshift guest room.

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Check back next week for what her room looks like now. Here is the slight teaser I posted once.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What I learned from my father

Happy Fathers day to you, your daddy and, if you have kids – the daddy of your beautiful babies. Very early on in our lives, our fathers become our first heroes and for us girls it is hard not to compare any man that comes into our lives to our first hero.

As I watch my husband with our daughter and this beginning of a beautiful lifelong relationship inshAllah, I think of my dad a lot, and all the things that made up one of the most beautiful childhoods one could’ve asked for. Our fathers are special to us and so was ours. He was the one that had our back always. Whatever came our way, this world never felt unsafe, because of course we had Papa, and he was always just a phone call away. He was the one that believed in us, always. He was the one that wanted us to dream bigger and higher always. In a country where many consider it unfortunate to have only daughters, he treated us like we were better than any sons and always told us that there was nothing we couldn’t do. Without him, today, it actually feels like we lost a part of our backbone and our support. Life changed forever in the instant that he left. 

On this father’s day I just wanted to remember all the things that were a part of him and all the things that he passed on to us. Whether he is with us or not, he lives through us in the many pieces of him that are within us, our thoughts and our personalities.

Papa, this one’s for you.

Things I hope to learn/have learned from my father.


  1. Hard work and dedication. My dad was the hardest working person I have ever known. Through example he taught us that when you do your job, do it with purpose, with your whole heart, without worrying if it will pay off or not. He taught us to go the extra mile. I especially remember his dedication to any task he was on. I remember the many nights he’d be working on presentations or his speeches till late, making sure they were as close to perfect as could be. Before my sister’s wedding, we were making this video for her and all of us hurriedly wrote a few words for her, but I remember when I went to Papa, he took his time. He wrote a rough draft first and then came up with the most beautiful tribute ever. That was just how he was.
  2. Responsibility and dependability. He was the kind of person one could depend on always. Not just as a dad, but whenever anyone needed any kind of help from him, they knew he’d go out of his way. And as a dad, I remember how every night he would check all the doors, I remember how if we had to travel alone, he would even print out maps of the transit airports for us so we don’t get lost, I remember how he’d tell us that he had insured our educations so incase something happened to him we’d be able to continue. Being from humble backgrounds and making ends meet on a limited government pay, he managed his finances such that he’d be able to give us the best educations available and save enough money to build the house he wanted for our family.  
  3. Raising daughters. Being from Pakistan, where many still believe it a bad omen to not have sons, he never let us feel any less. He instilled in us the importance of a good education and always motivated us to be our best possible selves, educationally and professionally. He believed in us and kept telling us we could do whatever we put our mind to. I remember how excited he was, when the Pakistan Air Force starting including girls as engineers and pilots, because he truly believed women can do anything.
  4. Driving. My mom always said he was one of the best drivers around and he I don’t remember him losing his temper much while he was teaching us. I especially remember how he had more confidence in us than ourselves, stopping the car in crowded Karachi streets and telling us to take the wheel. Despite our reluctance, he would always insist we can do it. When I drive now, his voice is in my head continuously, as I remember the little things he taught me. Papa also insisted how important it was to know what’s under the hood too. He taught us basic things like being able to check oil life, pointing out the parts under the hood, even changing the tyres. I was going to take more lessons from Papa on my next trip and we had talked about it on the phone, but that could never happen.
  5. DIYs. My dad loved fixing things, cars, computers, electronics/appliances etc. He was an engineer at heart and despite his busy schedule would find time to attempt to fix many of these things on his own. He’d always try to involve us in the process, explain the workings, what he was doing etc. I remember so many weekend mornings where he would be in his overalls, surrounded by his tools and busy fixing one thing or the other.  
  6. Importance of routine. All of his forces life, Papa had a regular routine that he followed. He was particular about what he ate, about exercising, about sleeping on time. He used to be the first one up in our house. Before he went to bed, I remember his knock on our doors, asking us what time we had to leave the next day, and suggesting we sleep on time, before he said good night, hugged us and went to his room. A proper routine gave him a way to include much more in his days.
  7. Sports and Health. He loved his sports and all my life I saw him involved in one or another. From Squash in his younger days, to Tennis and lately Golf. I remember how much he’d encourage us to get involved in some sport too. I remember how on one of his trips to the US,  he brought us tennis racquets instead of the usual things that people would bring. He was so proud of my sister, Nadiya, because she took his love for tennis and was a great player herself. He and both my sisters loved watching tennis together on TV. He also loved his morning walks and I remember when I had sinus headaches he told me that the fresh morning air helps. I started going with him in the mornings and he was right, within a few days the headaches were gone. Even now, I think of his advice when I start getting headaches.
  8. A principled life. In Pakistan, where everyone tries to find a way around the law, Papa would refuse to let us use the cars he would get for his official use, even though everyone around us would be coming to school in them. He would always follow what the rules said. When we complained he would tell us that just because others were doing something wrong, didn’t mean that we could too. He only let us use the cars and drivers that were given to him, when they were officially allowed.
  9. Patience in adversity. I remember my dad as nothing but brave. Always. We saw him go through various hard times during his life, but never saw him give up or lose hope. He was always ready to fight. During his last two months, in the terrible condition that he was, I never heard him complaining or losing hope. He still tried to joke, love us and still kept asking us how we were.  
  10. Photography. Even though he didn't officially teach us but he truly inspired us. The way he and my mom together recorded our childhoods, the pictures he took, the creative videos he used to make, inspire me today as I record my baby girl’s childhood. He bought his first video camera when I was a little baby, and loved experimenting, trying out new edits etc. Some of the video projects he did are still famous amongst his friends. 
  11. Organizing. Papa was one of the most organized people I have seen. He had a file system for literally everything. Now when we look at it, it is amazing, how he took time to label everything, make separate files for all kind of things, and that is why he was able to manage everything so well.  As we move on and settle in our own lives, we take these lessons with us and try to apply them in our own homes. Besides these physical filing, he was an expert at databases. He used to tell us how he uses Lotus to organize all types of important records. It was one of those things that I wanted to learn in detail from him so I can use it for our home, but didn’t get that chance in the end.
  12. Moderation and Balance. Papa had travelled all around the world and had many friends from different countries/religions during this time. He was regular with his prayers, patriotic but a true modern man in his views and would never impose his opinions or disrespect others’. He was able to maintain the perfect balance.  

And there is so much more besides this list, because the little things we learn from our daddies are endless and this is just a little attempt to summarize the important ones. What have you learned from your father?

Hope you celebrated your daddy today, and if yours has gone to that better world, pray extra hard for him and celebrate the memory of him. He is proud of you, know that.

Thank you for reading and for stopping by.

Go here to see the things I have learned from my mother, that I shared earlier on Mothers Day.

Love like this. Happy Fathers day.

Excerpt from a letter I wrote to Anya in June 2012. Happy Fathers day to you and yours.

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picture taken by my sister, Waliya when Anya was still pretty brand new.

Dear Baby, Fathers Day is here and I wanted to tell you something about your father today. It is not often that you see a father love his kid the way your baba loves you. What I see in his eyes is something more. They say that it takes a while for daddies to bond with their babies, they say many things. But what your daddy felt, was instant love. And there has not been any looking back.

He was the first one to hold you between the two of us when you entered this world, he is the one who has rocked you as you cried nonstop on those frequent sleepless nights, he is the one who has not once lost his patience with you, he is the one between the two of us that never gets angry with you however tired he might be. He is the one who can always calm you down no matter what. 

And love like this? It can only grow stronger. And I can't wait to watch it grow iA.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baluchistan, I feel your pain.

Deeply saddened by what happened in Baluchistan1 yesterday and my heart literally hurts. The burning down of Jinnah’s2 historic residence in Ziarat where he spent his last days, followed by the attack on a bus carrying female students killing 11 of those girls on the spot. The tragedy continued as terrorists blew up explosives at the hospital where the injured were being taken to, took hostages and killing at least 11 more people. Go here to read details of the tragic events.

The historic building where Jinnah spent his last days has been a national treasure. Source of image: Unknown.

My heart breaks for all those that were killed, for those girls that were going to college, for their parents, for the ones that lost their loved ones, and for the lives that changed forever. My prayers are with all those that are hurting because of this tragedy. How long will this cycle of violence continue, I wonder. So many lives lost, so many lives changed. Such hatred, such disrespect for human life. It is heartbreaking.

Wishing for a safer world for our kids. Thanks for reading.

FYI: 1Baluchistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. 2Jinnah, or Quaid-e-Azam as he is lovingly remembered is considered the founder of Pakistan.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celebrating Summer.

I absolutely love Seattle summer. The sunshine and its warmth is just the right amount to hang out outdoors and I thought it was finally time to have a ladies get together in our backyard. Today I thought I’d share some pictures from this celebration we had. Here is a little glimpse into it.




The picnic table was inspired by this image found via pinterest. I used some wood planks lying in our garage from the previous owners and used wood crates from JoAnn’s to make our own makeshift picnic table. I loved how it looked with the rug I dragged from our living area and the pillows from all around our house. I picked up a mixed bouquet from the grocery store and my sweet friend Ayesha did the flower arrangements in the assortment of glass jars that I keep collecting. I wanted to keep it colorful and bright so I used some of my dupattas1 to cover the tables. Also kept an activity area for the kids with a basket full of basic toys as well as markers/crayons and lots of paper to keep them busy.

For the food, I kept it really simple. Some chips and salsa to nibble on, a pasta, sandwiches, pizza, lots of fruit, a dessert and ice cream to end it all. Followed by tea of course, because a ladies afternoon is incomplete without that.


It turned out to be quite a lovely afternoon spent with good friends. One of the joys of life is celebrating the little occasions with our family and friends and we forget sometimes what an honor it is, to be invited to loved ones’ houses and to be able to invite them over. Hope this inspires you to celebrate whatever occasion is around the corner, with your loved ones.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!


Pictures taken by my sweet friend Ayesha.

FYI: 1 A dupatta is an important part of the 3 piece Pakistani outfit for ladies. It is basically a long scarf that can be worn a variety of ways. Go here to see a beautiful fashion shoot that shows it worn in a multitude of ways.