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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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Family Friendly Activities in Puerto Rico!

Trying to plan a vacation that has something of interest available to all family members can be rather tedious. After a few weeks of research and keeping a budget in mind, I discovered that Puerto Rico had a lot to offer for all age groups! 

Puerto Rico is one of the minor U.S. territories, but its uniqueness makes it feel like an international vacation. This is great because coming from any part of the United States, you don't need to worry about visas, yet it feels like you're in a different country. Apart from the obvious relaxing beaches, there are also plenty of other things to see such as the rainforest, caves, historical forts, a charming city dating back to the 1500s, the bio-luminescent bay and a lot of modern areas as well. 

 As soon as we knew we wanted to visit this place, I got to planning!

Things didn't go 100% according to plan, but whatever we did manage to explore was a wonderful and cherishable experience! 

The view overlooking the capital city of San Juan as we landed was incredible. We could see the blues of the ocean, the greens of the land and the array of colors in the architecture. 

We decided to stay at Hampton Inn & Suites in Isla Verde due to its proximity to the airport, beach and city. They had great rooms, service and complimentary breakfast. The reviews are amazing online and I agree with all of the positive feedback.

Also, renting a car is essential in Puerto Rico, especially with children. Taxi services aren't available everywhere.

The Isla Verde beach was a mere 5-10 minute walk from the hotel. It was almost completely empty during a weekday. Kind of felt like we had our own private island!

If you want to go shopping during your vacation, Plaza Las Americas is the place to go! It's a really contemporary mall with a flare of Puerto Rican style, and has a huge selection of shops. If you're not looking for a modern vibe, head on over to the quaint city of Old San Juan.

This city had the earliest settlement in Puerto Rico, dating back to 1521. Every single building is painted a different color, making it a fresh and unparalleled experience. This was definitely one of the most charming cities I've ever visited. We had some lunch at Cafe Berlin here, which specializes in Puerto Rican, international and vegetarian cuisines. The food and service here did not disappoint! 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro) is a must-see tourist spot. The history-lover in me really appreciated this location. It is a fort that dates back to the 1500s, and it has protected the Puerto Ricans for centuries as they guarded their land from this specific area. Outside the fort is a popular place for kite flying. The wind is absolutely perfect for it. I bought a kite from Amazon beforehand, and even though we had no experience with flying kites before, it flew beautifully over here. It was great to join the locals in on the fun, and my toddler loved chasing the kite as well! 

The views around the fort are absolutely breathtaking.

Cannons were shot from this gaps as ships came to conquer the land. The stories these walls could tell! Just thinking about what the troops who stayed in these forts to save their country went through gives me shivers! 

You can spot these chameleons throughout the city. Kids can get a zoo experience while walking around in historical sites as well!

This is the view from The Head ("El Morro") of the fort. It is from here that the ships came towards the country of Puerto Rico in an attempt to conquer it. There are hundreds of signs inside the fort describing each section of the fort. Definitely recommend visiting this place. It is very child friendly. Just remember to keep hydrated because it can get hot!

We wanted to visit a place solely for our toddler as well, and Museo del Nino (The Children's Museum) had really good reviews. This place was amazing! I would say it's a must-see for children 10 and under. There is so much to see here. We weren't able to see all of it in 3 hours. There are both indoor and outdoor areas.

The indoor area has 2 large floors with all kinds of activities. There is an entire section for toddlers as well, so it was wonderful for our son! 

The outdoor area has a large playground, a mini zoo, airplane tour, duck-feeding area, jungle train ride and more places we were not able to see! When the toddler is happy, the family is happy! :)

The main reason we went to Puerto Rico was to see the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo, an hour away from San Juan. It is a strange phenomenon where organisms within the ocean light up and glow when touched. There are only a couple of countries in the entire world with this bay, and Puerto Rico is one of them, making it another must-see attraction. There are two ways to see the "Bio Bay". One is to use a kayak, and the other is a small electric boat ride. You will need to make bookings online far in advance. Since we had a toddler, we made a booking for the electric boat ride. Unfortunately, we missed the boat by 1 minute and were not able to see this fascinating place! Make sure to reach an hour before the time you are emailed! I couldn't take pictures myself because I didn't get to visit, but here's one from Google:

Picture Source
Another great site to visit is the El Yunque National Forest. It is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System, making it an experience to remember with the children. We had visited rain forests in Malaysia, so decided to skip this attraction. However, I'm sure it would have been an enjoyable experience if we went!

All El Yunque photography by Brett Ackroyd
As if all of this wasn't enough, there are also caves to visit in this area! Since we were only there for 3 days, we couldn't visit the the Rio Camuy Cave Park, which is a 1 hour 20 minute drive from San Juan. If you are able to go, make sure to where sneakers as the floors are slippery. As you wait in line, there is also a small playground for children to keep themselves busy.

I feel like we need to go back to Puerto Rico just to experience the things we've missed out on! There's truly so much to do there.

Our trip was based mainly in San Juan. I feel that this area is the most family friendly as there are lots of activities toddlers and older children can look forward to. If you are looking for more of romantic getaway, Vieques or Flamenco Beach are places to consider in Puerto Rico as they offer secluded beaches.

If you eat halal food, there are 3 places to choose from in San Juan:
-Ali Baba 1214 Avenida Ashford, San Juan

-Istanbul- 325 Calle Recinto Sur, San Juan  
-El Cairo- 352 Calle Ensenada, San Juan

There is also a masjid in this city.

Overall, our trip to Puerto Rico was incredible and I would recommend families with children to visit! Let me know if I missed out any must-see attractions in Puerto Rico or where you would recommend us to take our next family vacation!

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