Saturday, June 18, 2016

Guest Room/Office Combo, and How to Make Guests Feel Welcome!

Dual purpose spaces become a necessity when living in an apartment. Today I'll show you how I've combined our guest room and office space to make the room multi-functional. Apart from that, I'll also be posting some ideas on how you can make your guests feel very welcome in your home during their stay!

Even though space is tight in apartments, I ended up getting a queen sized bed for the guest room for the sake of comfort. This is especially important if you have couples or families staying over. By positioning the bed sideways against the wall, I was able to create a daybed looking effect and there was more space to walk around in the room this way. I also added in an arm chair for relaxing. To the right is the closet. When I have guests over I try to empty a portion of the closet for them and leave out plenty of hangers for their convenience. I also keep an electric fan and heater in the closet just in case the guests are feeling too hot or cold during the night. 

The bed faces the other side of the room, which is where the office is. The majority of the desk is cleared off if guests are over so that they have space to work on. However, I try to keep out some pens and a notepad in case they need to jot down anything. I also have a sleep pillow mist which is lavender and vanilla scented on the desk in case they need it. A clock is also placed on the desk, and there is a trash can under the desk for their convenience. These are small things that can sometimes be forgotten to be placed in the guestroom, thereby making things inconvenient for those staying over.

I try to make my overnight guests feel special by providing a simple basket filled with goodies and other essentials on the bed. Here I have some fresh towels, snacks, water bottles, toiletries, some pain relievers, cough drops, a washcloth, and I also keep a slip of paper with the WiFi password on it. If you have Muslim guests, you should try to include a paper with prayer times, a prayer mat, Qiblah direction, prayer beads and a copy of the Quran in the room too.

Whenever we have guests over and they see this basket upon arrival in their room, they have the biggest smile on their face and really appreciate the effort put into it! It definitely makes them feel welcome!

Finally, to make their trip extra memorable, give them breakfast in bed! Waking up a little early to whip up a quick breakfast is a gesture that will brighten their day and start it off just right. The above picture is an example of what I've given guests. Adding a small flower arrangement on the tray doesn't hurt either :)

I hope these tips were helpful to you! Let me know what YOU do to make your guests feel special! I'd love to learn more! 

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Organizing Toys

In an attempt to organize my 3 year old's play area, I went out and bought 2 wheeled carts from Target ($25 each) and labeled each section with very simple sketches. We've had this system up for a few weeks and my son knows exactly where his toys go! You could also try printing out images for categorizing. A bonus with these metallic carts is that they are magnetic, so you can get creative with them! The wheels also make it easy to move from room to room if you need it for that.

Here is a close up of the labels. Very basic, but the main thing is that it's easy for him to understand!

I have labels for pretend play (laptop, phone and medical kit), cars, books, baby toys (mainly for guests during play date at this point) and blocks. 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! I'd love to hear about how you keep your kids' toys organized as well!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nightstand Organization

   As the new year rolled around in 2016, I wanted to update my bedroom decor to give it a more elegant and serene feel. Here's a quick look at the before and after:

The before was a more fun and ethnic style of decor, whereas the after is going for the more sophisticated style. I didn't have a headboard initially, and created the illusion of having one by using pillows and a low wall hanging. For the new look, I ended up buying a new headboard, bedding and nightstand. In this blog post I'll give you a closer look at how I organize this space!

The top of the nightstand has a few essential items...a water bottle, tissue box, and some nighttime lotions and pillow mist. I have had issues with insomnia and I can assure you that the sleep pillow mists from Bath and Body Works with the lavender and vanilla scent are one of the few things that actually work! You can also check out the rave reviews on Amazon here.

Moving on to the inside of the nightstand:

I am using this space as something that is both functional and fun. I have items in here that I would reach for on a regular basis, along with some stationery items. It's very easy to make your nightstand a junk drawer as you stuff random things inside while cleaning your room. It becomes out of sight, out of mind. However, if you consciously think of what you want to do with this space, it can end up being a very practical area in your bedroom.

Here's a look at the top shelf. I got the striped bins from the Dollar Spot at Target, and the calendar was handmade at a Paper Source craft workshop. The area in the back holds some notebooks, post-its and some books I'm currently reading. 

I've kept two bins on the top shelf with a few nightstand essentials in each. 

In one of the bins I kept all of my medicine which I take regularly or that I might need at night time. Pictured are my multivitamins, melatonin for sleep aid, Tylenol for headaches or other pain, and some allergy relief medication.

The other bin has some moisturizing body lotion, lip balm, nail cutter, nail file and nail buffer, along with my toddler's nail scissors. I also kept a couple of hair clips here for easy access in the mornings.

The notebooks and notepads at the back of the top shelf are standing on a letter sorter I purchased from Target for $3. 

Moving on to the bottom shelf, I have a few more items that I might need or are stationery related. On the far left I keep a hot water bottle for aches or cramps. In the center is an organizer with some ear buds, colored pens, washi tape, paper clips, sticky notes and other basics. 

 Finally, here are the last few items in the nightstand. I have a mini version of a few stationery supplies such as stapler, hole punch, tape etc, a reading light for books, a torch in case of power outage, a bookmark, and a collection of cards for various occasions to send out if the need arises! 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! I'd love to hear what else you keep in your nightstand in case I'm missing out on something.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Blizzard/Power Outage Emergency Tray

Blizzard tip: In winter it's always a good idea to keep a few things readily accessible in case of a power outage. In a tray here I've kept a lantern with new batteries, a candle, lighter, small torch, scissors with a few extra gadgets in it and a solar power phone charger, fully charged. One more thing I would add to the list is a  battery powered radio to keep up with the news on weather. If you have any other tips then let me know!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Organize Jewelry for Under $5!

If you're one of those people who have their jewelry stuffed in a drawer somewhere with all their necklaces and earrings tangled up, then this tip might be useful for you! I found some products at Target that can help in keeping everything in its place:

The divided tray which looks acrylic (but is actually plastic!) only costs $1, while a set of two accessory hangers cost $3.  

This organizer perfectly fits in a watch and a few earrings or rings. At $1 a piece you could buy several according to your collection. It would definitely give your closet a boutique feel to have it all laid out. You can read more about how to give your closet that feel in my post here

The hanger works great for necklaces, bracelets and hanging earrings. With everything in front of you, you are more likely to use what you have instead of forgetting about it. Just make sure you don't display your valuable jewelry in this manner, just the artificial pieces :)

If you're unable to find these organizers at Target, you could try some other stores. Not sure what the price difference will be but they get the job nicely done! 

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reuse Contact Lens Cases in 3 ways!

Recently I got the chance to go to a Henri Bendel store for the first time. I know, I'm pretty late to the game! I particularly liked the hardware and detailing of the products. I happened to come across this cute contact lens case, and I couldn't pass it up because it was on clearance!

The problem? I don't wear contacts. Yeah.

It took me a while to figure out what I would need it for, but I came up with 3 ways this handy case could be used. 

Traveling with Jewelry:

The contact lens plastic case can easily hold a pair of earrings and a ring, while the zippered pouch can fit in a bracelet and necklace. That would make a complete set for a dinner or other gathering! Nothing gets tangled up this way either. 

First Aid Kit for Purse:

The pouch can also hold a few basic healthcare items. 

Here, I've kept one Band-Aid for adults and one for my toddler, an alcohol pad to disinfect, and medicine for allergies and pain relief.

I've kept 3 of each type of medication, which should be enough for any regular outing. I also labeled each side with a sticker. If you use this method to use your contact lens case, you need to make sure children are not able to get a hold of the case because it can open easily.

Makeup touch up:

A few basic makeup supplies can be added to the storage case for quick touch-ups. 

In the contact lens case, you can add a bit of foundation and concealer in each. The remaining products are all samples. I added a few lip gloss samples, a perfume sample and an individually wrapped makeup remover wipe. You can easily switch these up to whatever makeup you use most frequently!

I am sure there are many other uses for this small contact lens container. Let me know if you come up with any creative ideas! I would love to hear them in the comments.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Quick Tip: Fruit and Vegetable Storage

Today's quick tip is about preventing fruits and vegetables in your fridge from sitting in the back and rotting! After doing groceries or the day after, thoroughly rinse all of the fruits and veggies one by one in a colander. Get rid of any which are rotting straight away, because they tend to spread to the remaining container. Chop them up and store in airtight containers, which keeps them fresh for longer. Your fruits and veggies are now ready to eat, and you are more likely to grab them for a quick snack as compared to junk food! Enjoy :)

Hope this post helped you out in some ways! Let me know in the comments below of any tips you have for keeping food fresh for longer!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ramadan Activities for Toddlers!

Ramadan starts tomorrow inshaAllah, and what better way to prepare for this special month for our children than having an activity for all 30 days! It can get quite tricky if your little one is too young. My son is 2 and a half mA, and I thought I'd share some ideas with what you can do for this age group!

Here's our "Celebrate Ramadan" setup!  

And a closeup: 

I wanted our main focus to be activities for the little one this year, so I purchased a few books and got an Advent Calendar for Ramadan. I would have loved to add fairy lights and Ramadan banners, but I will keep the decor ideas for next Ramadan inshaAllah! :)

Here are links to the Islamic books:

I purchased a Ramadan Advent Calendar from HafsaCreates Etsy shop. I believe it's out of stock right now, but you could always make a DIY version!

An advent calendar has small boxes for the 30 days of Ramadan, and you can put treats in them for each day. I have included toys, stickers, candy, and most importantly, a slip of paper with a good deed of the day.

The boxes are really small, less than 2 inches on each side, so you would need to ensure that the treats are smaller than that. 

Here are some things I added to the boxes: 

The next part was coming up with small activities for each day.

I wrote up all of the rewarding deeds on a scrapbook paper

And then folded them up so they fit inside the advent calendar boxes! Here are all of the activities we will do each day inshaAllah:

                               1. Read new Islamic Books
2. Offer dates and water to Mama and Baba for iftaar
3. Discussion: Allah is One
4. Give toy cars to 6 boys at masjid
5. Get flowers for neighbors
6. Make dua with Baba
7. Pray in congregation with parents
8. Practice Arabic letters
9. Watch Islamic cartoons
10. Discussion: Allah created everything
11. Make Islamic shapes with PlayDoh
12. Discussion: What is the Quran?
13. Help clean the masjid
14. Say "thank you" and shake hands with a cashier
15. Discussion: What NOT to do when someone is praying
16. Make Eid cards for grandparents
17. Help mix fruit chaat
18. Learn Surah Ikhlas
19. Get donuts for masjid volunteers
20. Help Mama pack suitcase for trip
21. Skype with Great-grandmother
22. Dhikr: Kalima (10x)
23. Discussion: Being Thankful
24. Make wudhu
25. Recite "Rabbi zidni ilma" 5 times
26. Discussion: Love for Allah
27. Discussion: Love for people
28. Listen to nasheeds
29. Repeat Adhaan
30. Prepare for Eid!

Special thanks to family and friends who helped give age-appropriate ideas for my son! This is the first Ramadan in which he is able to speak and understand mashaAllah, so I am sure he will learn a lot iA!

Hope this post helped you out in some ways! Let me know in the comments below what you will be doing with your children for Ramadan and Eid this year iA!

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ramadan Planner by The Organized Muslim

Edited in 2016 to add: When I wrote this post in 2015, you were only able to download this planner. In 2016, you are only able to purchase a hard copy of the planner, which takes around 3 weeks to ship from Sri Lanka! On to the post...

* * *

Ramadan is right around the corner, and now's the time to start preparing for it! The month is not only about refraining from eating from dawn to dusk, but is also about changing negative habits and living a better life. How do you plan for such a change in your life? I have tried out the Ramadan Planner by The Organized Muslim and firmly believe that if you are serious about trying to make a difference in your life during this month, the planner will only make things easier for you! Although this planner was sent to me, all opinions are my own.

The planner consists of 105 pages and is downloadable. It is to be printed on B5 paper. My local printing shop did not have this sized paper, so I used the standard letter size. It still turned out nicely! I asked the cost of printing it in color and it was a whopping $60. I decided to print out the title pages in color and the remaining in black and white. I could add colors in myself with things I already had! Also, even though this planner is targeted towards women, I don't see why men can't use it. Just print everything out in black and white! :)

This is the table of contents page. As you can tell, the planner has a lot to offer. The various chapters help you work on different aspects of Ramadan and Eid. 

The Ramadan Planner starts off with virtues of the Holy Month, spread over 2 pages. I found this to be a great reminder, because we tend to forget as we get older and have so many things to think about and take care of. It helps to go back to square one and ponder on what Ramadan is really about!

Giving gifts increases the love in one another's hearts, and what better time to give gifts than the joyous occasion of Eid? There is a chart included in the planner over 2 pages for gifts for loved ones. It's better to get this done with before Ramadan begins so that you can focus on worship during the blessed month.

Here's the main part for having a productive Ramadan: setting goals! A box is given to brainstorm what you would like to achieve during this month. It can be absolutely anything. Be creative!

After that, a few pages are given to break down your vision for Ramadan, making it more manageable. You can even set an amount you'd like to donate and jot down where you will be giving a certain amount of money. If you have goals, you'll be able to accomplish a lot more in Ramadan compared to having no goals in advance.

Ramadan is one of the best times to make prayers and ask Allah (SWT) for anything. The planner consists of 2 pages for a list of duas. I chose to have a list of duas for Deen and Duniya. You could also break it down by writing duas for yourself and duas for others. 

Ramadan is about refraining from sin as much as it is about refraining from food. That's where this accountability chart comes in use. You can keep track of any bad habits you might have and strive to improve. 

The Salah chart is also very useful, where you can attempt to go beyond the usual obligatory prayers and increase your Sunnah and Nafl prayers. There's always going to be that urge of increasing the ticks on your chart in this one!

You can then get into the details of how will you spend your day during Ramadan. There is a section for hour by hour planning, high energy deeds, low energy deeds and meal planning on one page

On the second page of the first day, there is a detailed section on Quran recitation, along with boxes for accountability and gratitude to Allah. This really makes you reflect during the end of your day. There's also a to-do list for the next day. 

At the end of the Ramadan planner, there is a checklist of sunnah acts to do during the day of Eid. I love how there is a step by step list so we don't miss anything out! 

The planner also includes 3 bonus sections. The first one is Meal Planning. 

In order to get the bulk of groceries out of the way before Ramadan, there is a long list where you can add things you need to buy for this month. 

Here's a look at what the meal planning pages look like. Plenty of space! 

The next bonus section is a collection of easy-to-do deeds to get more rewards during Ramadan. I found this to be a great idea because sometimes when we get busy as adults we tend to forget ideas of what MORE we can do during Ramadan. There are many ideas in this section. 

Here's a sample of just one of the pages.

Finally, the planner ends with a list of general duas. 

Overall, I am definitely impressed with the content of this planner. I must admit, before I saw it, I thought the price was a little high for a downloadable planner ($29). After receiving it though, I can see that the planner has a LOT to offer and covers all aspects of Ramadan and Eid. It has a minimalistic look but is in-depth at the same time. Ramadan comes only once a year so we need to make the most of it. This planner can, without a doubt, make yours more productive! 

Click HERE if you'd like to purchase the printable planner. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

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