Monday, July 29, 2013

Be back soon.


Just a little note to let you guys know I’ll be away from this space for a little bit. Will be back very soon, more excited and inspired than before ;).

Stay blessed and thank you so much for reading. Much love.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baby be kind.


I often wonder, as we try to teach our kids to say please and sorry and thank you, do we model what these words are supposed to mean? Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, Sorry – simple small words, but they signify much more than what it seems. As we teach them good manners, I think we forget that what we are trying to teach is much bigger than that. Aren’t these words to show we care and to show our concern? And are we living our lives so that they learn these traits from us?

 Because truly how can we raise kinder kids till we ourselves learn the lessons we are trying to teach them? Don’t we need to open our hearts to people, be kinder in our relationships? Don’t we need to make more time for those we care for? Don’t we need to be more empathic to those around us, don’t we need to feel their pain, to understand them better? Don’t we need to change our focus, to place more value on the insides than the outsides? Don’t we need to do more for the unfortunate around us? 

We might be saying Thank you and Please but more than that we need to raise kids that understand the need for these words. Lets go deeper. Because more than well mannered kids, the world needs kinder kids. And the best way to teach our kids, is to live. To be the example.

Just something on my mind that I wanted to write down.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 22, 2013

WHAT WE WORE Monday Blues and an outfit share.


Anya has been under the weather. What started as fever turned into a cough that has been making her throw up quite a few times. As a result, things have been a little low, and nights are a bit hard, trying to make her feel better. However, during the day, she is our same old naughty little one. Running around with mischief in her eyes and making us laugh and go a tad bit crazy. So yeah, that was a bit of an update. Also that having a sick kid reminds you of the huge blessing of good health. I think of all the babies in the world that have health issues, that have scary illnesses and my heart breaks. To have a child that is healthy and happy, is the biggest blessing in the world, mA1. Help us Allah in never ever forgetting that and keep our little ones safe in Your care. Ameen.

These pictures are from a few weeks ago. Anya’s hair was super long and all over the place and right after these pictures, she finally got a haircut :)




Anya wears: Tank and Skirt from Old Navy, Denim cropped leggings from Carters, Silver Sandals from her dadi2 from Minnie Minors, Flower from Target (Anya styled the skirt herself and moved the clip from her hair to her skirt, lol)

Mama wears: Pleated skirt and graphic t-shirt from Urban Outfitters, Sandals from H&M

Hope your weekend was amazing.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!


1 mA stands for MashAllah. and means God willing. It is commonly used by Muslims whenever they are appreciating something to show that all good is from Allah.
2 Dadi is paternal grandmother in Urdu. Bilal’s sweet mother is Anya’s dadi:)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ramazan Traditions.


Hello all of my Muslim readers. I hope your roza’s1 are going well. Fasting is hard this time of the year but its amazing how once your body gets used to it, its not bad at all and you quickly get used to the new routine. You probably know of my love for family celebrations and traditions and making memories, and I realized this was a great time to focus on creating some traditions of our own for this month. All of us reminisce a lot about the ramazans2 we spent at our parents house, or back in Pakistan, I talked about that once before, here, or together with family. We miss those good old days.

But just imagine, your kids are probably going to talk about the ones they spend at your home, their parents home. So its never too early to start our own traditions, unique to our your own family and lifestyle. Specially when we are living in a non-Muslim country, it becomes even more important to make our ramazan feel more special at home. Some of these traditions we might have had at our parents home and love them so much we want to keep doing them, and some can automatically become a part of our own family. Others you can consciously add.

I thought I would share some little routines that are becoming a part of our month and that I could see becoming our own ramazan traditions.


Preparation. A friend gave this idea and it was our second year doing this. we got together before ramazan and made an occasion of making some snacks for iftaris3. Between the four of us, we made some samosas, spring rolls, chicken patties and shami kababs4 enough for four families. Even though I made a fuss about it because I don’t enjoy cooking much (!), we had good fun and its so much less stressful knowing you have a freezer stocked up with some chatpata5 treats.

Sehri6 My husband and I have our own preferences for sehri, so together we each make our own while we discuss one thing or another that is on our minds or that we’ve seen on TV or the news. It is becoming a nice little routine for us.

Iftaris For iftari this year we are keeping it simple. We eat our usual simple dinner and I make a couple of the frozen items we have stacked up on with our dinner. Since its summer, I love to keep a pitcher full of iced water infused with fruit or just lemon slices, with of course our mejdool dates to break the fast. I am also trying to dress up a little before iftari in my desi kurtas7 just because it feels more festive to me. It is natural to feel drained and tired by the end of the day when you are fasting, but I realized that this month is a blessing and we should celebrate it and be excited for it, and dressing the part helps.

Gaining Knowledge I try to listen to tafseer8 daily whenever I get the chance and I like to make notes on my Quran during it. One of my favorite explanations is by Amina Elahi and it is available here incase you are interested.

After iftari, once we are done with our prayers and clearing up the kitchen, Bilal and I watch a little talk or program by one of our favorite scholars. We love Dr. Javed Ghamidi and his knowledgeable approach to all things related to religion. His lectures are in Urdu9 and in case you are interested and wanted something in English, Dr. Khalid Zaheer is another favorite.


Some other things that I would like to include, would be decorating the house for ramazan and Eid, listening to some beautiful faith inspired music (I love to listen to Sami Yusuf), turning your meetings with friends into time for spiritual discussions or learning the Quran together, making a tradition out of writing and sending Eid cards. You could even get family portraits taken specially to add to your Eid card. There are so many other things that one can include to our days during this time, to make them feel special for our kids and our families.

Lets make this month a celebration while of course not forgetting what this month is actually about. Stay blessed.

Were there any Ramazan traditions at your parents house that you particularly miss? What are some traditions specific to your own home? Would love to hear some ideas.

Thanks for reading.


1 Roza is Urdu for a day of fasting.

2 Ramazan or Ramadan in Arabic is the month of fasting. Muslims all around the world abstain from food etc from dawn to dusk.

3 Iftari is the meal Muslims eat at sunset to break their fast.

4 We Pakistanis love our food, so Ramazan is a lot about food for us ;) Here are some versions of Samosas and Shami Kababs

5 Chatpata in Urdu means foods that has a hot-and-sour flavour. Yum!

6 Sehri is the Urdu word for the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting during Ramazan. The meal is eaten before dawn.

7 Desi is typically a word us South Asians use for ourselves and use it to refer to our food, clothes, music etc. The long flowing shirts that are in fashion in Pakistan these days is known as a Kurta and are worn over pants or leggings. Here’s one gorgeous one.

8 Tafseer means an explanation of the Quran. Different religious scholars have done extensive research to come out with their volumes and there are many different commentaries available.

9 Urdu is the language widely spoken in Pakistan and is also spoken and understood in other parts of South Asia and Middle East.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stories from Pakistan.

Now that we have settled in a bit with Ramazan1, I’m back with an exciting post. A little more than a week ago we found out that my mom’s book got published in the US by Rosedog Books. We got a glimpse at the first copies in print and as you can imagine it was such a proud day for our family, mA2.


‘This book is a refreshing glimpse into the life of people in Pakistan today. Seen through the eyes of the author, who keeps moving home every year or so, to live in different cities of Pakistan.

Most of these articles were printed during the last two decades in different magazines and dailies. Shireen Gheba Najib has a refreshing and humorous viewpoint of the incidents and situations she finds herself in. There are also interviews of prominent personalities from different walks of life. These articles fulfill the need to get out of statistics of poverty and illiteracy, and measure the charm and hospitality of Pakistanis.’

It brought so many memories back. I remember vaguely my mom writing her first article on the invasion of Kuwait and her memories of our time there, and I remember the day that article got printed. I remember how my father got us to wake mama up that morning with the newspaper in our hand. It was exciting and so began her journey.

I remember going with her whenever she had to meet newspapers and magazine editors, I remember those long corridors of the Dawn3 office in Karachi4 and the particular newspaper-y smells of them. I remember my mother taking the three of us with her for interviews, from TV personalities to artists and doctors and teachers and religious scholars and just every-day inspiring people etc. I remember finding her articles in the paper and feeling pride in seeing her name in print. There are just so many memories. Her first article was printed when I was barely 7 years old and I have seen her working on one article or another almost all of my life.

A series of her books on Cooking and Entertaining have been published in Pakistan already and are available in most large bookshops. These include Fun Cookbook, Kitchen Management and Its all about entertaining your guests. This collection is a perfect one for newbie married or working girls who are starting their own home lives.

She also started a blog where she hasn’t gotten round to posting much yet, but you can go here to read an introduction and maybe leave her some encouragement or messages to motivate her to get back at it.

This current book of hers is a collection of some of her articles that have been printed in different Pakistani newspapers and magazines over the years. It is a beautiful journey into the life of a Pakistani seen through her eyes that I’m sure would be an enjoyable read for Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike.

You can buy it here or the Kindle version on Amazon here

Thanks for reading.


1 Ramazan is the month of fasting for Muslims. More here.

2 mA stands for MashAllah. and means God willing. It is commonly used by Muslims whenever they are appreciating something to show that all good is from Allah.

3 ‘The Dawn’ is the oldest Pakistani newspaper in English and is still one of the leading dailies.

4 Karachi is the largest and most populous city of Pakistan and it’s main seaport and financial center.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I am Malala.

What a proud moment. I could feel a lump in my throat as I heard this brave little girl, standing in front of the UN general assembly on Friday and speaking up so beautifully. Today I am proud.

If you don’t know her story, here is a brief version.

And incase you missed it, here is her full speech.

I loved how she said, ‘we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.’  It is true, those of us all around the world, that have not had to fight for good education, do not realize its importance.

Even in Pakistan, many of us were the privileged ones that never had to struggle for education and who were able to go to good schools and universities. We did not realize the value of it till much later. Sometimes when we have to struggle for something, when we see our rights taken away from us, the value becomes much more obvious.

I love how she encouraged women to use their voice because their voice, their words are powerful. What a courageous little girl she is. In a country where most women know they have to follow ‘social norms’ and are not encouraged to stand up for themselves, at barely 16 years of age, she stood up for herself knowing she would most probably be targeted for it. Huge credit goes to her parents for standing by her and for raising such a remarkable girl.

I also love how she talked about peace and pleaded world leaders to find other ways to counter terrorism. And when she said that despite it all, she does not hold anything against the Taliban that killed her. ‘The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society.’

I love that she talked for Pakistan and Islam and showed that whoever did this to her does not represent Pakistanis or Muslims whatever name they give it! I wont forget this day in a long time and I wish the absolute best for her and her cause. Truly education is a right that must be given to every single person. Let us all play any part we can in this global struggle and may this be the change we so need in Pakistan and around the world. Go here to support the offical Malala fund.

And if you haven’t heard it yet, listen to the song I am Malala below. Such a proud moment for this 16 year old girl, when her fight and her struggle becomes the voice of so many. I can so clearly see her becoming an inspiration for young girls and this song signifies just that. She is an inspiration for them, to raise their voice, to stand up for their rights, to realize the importance of an education, and to realize the impact of their words and to be brave in the face of their worst enemies. It is truly an empowering moment.

I Am Malala.

do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. –Malala Yousufzai

Thanks for reading and for stopping by. Much love.

Just as the joy of this day, there was immense sadness and shock at the abuse and slandering this little girl has faced from none other than her fellow Pakistanis on social media. I was appalled to read stuff I never should’ve. Just shows that Pakistanis as a nation are becoming more and more skeptical of the west and any one of them that is supported by them, they automatically assume the worst of them. If you’re one of the skeptical ones, I urge you to keep your heart open and not to hate. She hasn’t done anything to deserve this from you. She is fighting for your cause, for our cause. If nothing, keep your conspiracy theories to yourself for the time being. Let us be proud and cherish this moment. Let us hope. Give her a chance. Be happy for one of you that got recognized. I know there are thousands of such Malala’s in Pakistan that make us proud. This day is for all of them. (I’m sorry but I wont publish any hate comments on this post, just because how strongly I feel about this.) Read this defence of Malala to get some facts clear.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Welcome Ramadan.



Ramadan Mubarak1 to all my Muslim readers. May this month be full of blessings for all of us and our families.

I might be slow at blogging the next month, because I want to use this time to strengthen my faith and get more knowledge about this religion that I was born into.  I do have a few ideas for some guest posts though for this month, and hopefully if they go as planned, it’ll be exciting. So do check back :)

Are you excited about this month? Any special plans to make the most of it?

Thanks for stopping by.


Ramadan or Ramazan (as pronounced in Urdu), is the month of fasting for Muslims and celebrated by Muslims all over the world as a time of getting closer to God. It is followed by Eid ul Fitr. Go here to see some beautiful images of Ramadan 2012 and a little more about this month.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

To grandparents and the endless memories.

Picture Credits: Waliya Najib, my sweet sister.

It was my grandparents wedding anniversary some days ago, and it reminded me of their beautiful love story that one day I will write about. But also that I have never talked about these two biggest inspirations of my and my family’s life. My nana jaan and my nani jaan1 have made us what we are today. Without them in our lives, and without the love that we have received from them every day of our lives, we would never have been the same people. 

My earliest memories are of going to their house in Lahore2 and being so excited that we couldn't contain it. The love that we were showered with in that house can never we put into words. Even though we went there for a month or two in our summer vacations and then for a few days around the rest of the year, it was like their house was our second home. At their house there was a place for our own books and toys and they would take care of them with all their hearts, when we were away. They even let us choose the color of the tiles for our bathroom when it was being made. And outside their beautiful home, in their garden, they built a mini version of their house specially for us, complete with a fan and light inside. It was the most beautiful piece of our childhood where many afternoons and evenings were spent.

nads 036

nads 047

To this day, not a birthday has passed without a beautiful handwritten card from our loving nani and nana jaan, and in days before the easy phone calls, her letters that she always wrote on the same blue colored letter papers, arrived routinely. Their visits to our house were something we looked forward to for days. Every time they would come, their car would be just full to the brim. One little suitcase of theirs and bags full of stuff for us, from Eid3 clothes for all five of us (when they'd come for eid), to our favorite treats from Shehzan (our favorite bakery near their house in Lahore), to gifts, and chocolates and candies. And more than any of that, their hearts, that would be full of love for us, and that has not changed even one bit even today. Nani jaan stiched and knitted for us till her fingers did not have the strength to do it anymore.

They have had their share of hard times, on their own, and together too. and even at this age, they face many a challenges. But through it all, I have never seen them be unfair, cruel, bitter, resentful EVER. In fact, through the toughest of times, I have seen them finding humor in things and finding a reason to laugh. I've seen them giving more love than is even possible. Their faith is unending and their belief in Allah's ways is the biggest source of their strength.

And when Anya came to our lives, if it was possible, this love grew even more. Being the age that they are, it wasn't possible for them to go shopping, but Nani jaan managed to send some beautiful knitted items but kept mentioning how she wish her fingers had the strength so she could make them herself for her great grandchild. Nana jaan talks to me every few days and wants to know all the latest about Anya, everything she says, does, everything. And then smiles and laughs at her antics and keeps saying: this girl is just so brilliant.

They both are the biggest strength in our lives. Even when Papa was sick and in the hospital and we were running frantically from here and there, our hearts breaking in a million ways, Nana nani's home was our shelter, it was the place that still felt normal in all that craziness, the place that gave us hope through the hopelessness of what we were going through. Its not every day that you meet people like them.


Pictures from the good old days, credit to my parents. (Top)1985 in Lahore. (Middle)1987 in Murree. (Last) 1994 in Peshawer.

They're getting old now but their hearts are as young as they used to be, full of love and all things positive. Their relationship is exelplary and one we look up to and can learn so much from. It is an honor for us to be their grandchildren, to have spent a lifetime surrounded by their beautiful personalities to admire and to learn from. I pray everyday for their health and happiness. May Allah reward them immensely for all that they have done/do for us and those around them.

Nani jaan and Nana jaan, if you happen to read this, you have given us more than we can ever give back. Thank you so much for your love. Hugs.

Do you have any special memories of your grandparents?

Thanks for reading and for stopping by.


1Nani is for maternal grandmother and Nana for maternal grandfather. Jaan is a term of endearment that means Heart and is used for close relations.

2Lahore is the capital of the Punjab province in Pakistan and a city famous for its culture, history, food, art, entertainment and life.

3Eid is the Islamic equivalent to Christmas and the biggest celebration of the Islamic Lunar Calendar.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends. As I read more about what this day signifies, I realized that more than anything, this day signifies democracy. Also these words below,
Let the images from Egypt remind us of what we are celebrating, and how far we have come... With wonder and awe we saw the fireworks tonight in our own land, standing shoulder to shoulder with people speaking different tongues. We may belong to different groups and have conflicting beliefs, but at the least, we recognize the hopes and ideals of freedom and democracy are enduring......and worth fighting for.

It is beautiful. Truly a reason to celebrate and for immigrants like us from countries that have suffered under dictatorship and that still suffer their affects, it is even more valuable.


I love that the USA is proud of its diversity. I love that if we choose to live here, my daughter will grow up with others from different religions, speaking different languages, coming from completely different backgrounds. I love that this diversity forces us to expand our horizons, to not judge, to accept differences and to learn from each other. 

Hope you guys are doing awesome. Be back soon.

PS: Love this article about what the Americans are actually celebrating and what has changed since the day the declaration of independence was signed.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Celebrating loved ones.


The hardest part about living so far from your family is not able to be there for the little and big occasions of our lives. Weddings and birthdays and anniversaries and family reunions etc. I have finally made my peace with it though and accepted that since that is not possible, we have to figure out our ways to celebrate our loved ones from far.

So I am constantly on the lookout for ideas. Specially little surprises that are easy to mail across the world. I specially love ideas that are small enough to fit in a regular envelope with a greeting card, because of course it is much more affordable and because it adds that element of surprise to your card. I saw this via pinterest and knew I would try it. Last week was my mom and sister, Waliya’s birthday, and we made this tiny birthday banner for them to send with a handmade birthday card.

Here is Anya showing you the little banner. Check it out.


If you like the idea and want to make your own, go here to see the tutorial. We used just regular felt, super glue to stick it, scrapbooking paper, and taped skewers to the ends, for our version.

Do you celebrate loved ones birthdays from far away? Would love for you to share your ideas.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


PS: Sad part is that this never made it to them on time, and actually still hasn’t reached. Hope it does at some point.