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Travel: Discovering Balat and Fener

It’s been ages since I’ve travelled across the Golden Horn for good old fashioned sightseeing so on a rare mild weather day recently, we headed over to explore the historic neighbourhoods of: Balat & Fenner in Istanbul, Alhamdulillah. I had this on my bucket list as it's usually cited as the slightly lesser known tourist spots as well as being interested to see yet another different side to this rich, captivating city!  Situated near Eminonu, on the European side of Istanbul, there are several buses headed in that direction and we took the 99 Bus. Being a random Monday, there were tourists milling around but it was crowd free and restaurants were quiet making social distancing easy and feasible everywhere we went.  Equipped with a  guide book and Google maps on our phone, we walked around the area, stopping for breakfast and later snacks (Pancake house). Here’s the highlights from our 3 hour self tour: Breakfast at Balat Antik Cafe  - beautiful garden setting with a great menu

Our recent FOREST EXCURSION to Kemerburgaz Kent Ormani

FOREST EXCURSION: Alhamdulillah, we took a much needed nature break recently. It’s been a long winter holiday home so we enjoyed a day out in nature for fresh air and a welcome change of scenery!  ­čôŹKemerburgaz Kent Ormani We have been here before, but this time we discovered more as we went by car, whereas last time we went by taxi and therefore saw just what we could on foot! Check my previous post for details on that visit. This time we explored these areas:   Lake (Gol):  It's so beautiful to sit near and take in. There are just a few benches and tables near the lake to sit at for a picnic, as well as benches to sit on to view though its on a hill.  However there is a long pathway alongside the lake where you can probably find more places to sit. Forest : We drove along a little deeper into the forest this time, where it was super isolated. There are even playgrounds here- almost for our private personal use! We had our picnic  lunch here as well as nap and quiet time amongst

Lockdown Birthday : Family Zoom Party

PART TWO: FOURTH BIRTHDAY ZOOM PARTY  With our family split across 3 countries, the best way to have everyone join in our celebration was through a family zoom party! Never did I think I would get dressed for a screen appearance but there you go!  This was the covered pancake stack & party table (Remember to set up a great zoom backdrop! Pancake Stack cake Recipe-   #sugarfree  and  #colourfree   I used the recipe from  @tableforfivedubai  but left out the sugar. Use a large frying pan so there’s space to flip. Sandwich each pancake with unsweetened cream and fresh strawberries  The cream is coloured with natural beetroot powder (post coming soon) Decorate & eat! Stacking in progress! sandwich with cream and strawberries. Inside the stack once cut. Very exciting for the kids. Delicious treat for everyone. Since we had a cake for part one of her birthday (see previous post), it was great to do something different for this occasion- thanks to  @zaakira1  for the inspo and on the

How to throw a kid's birthday on budget- lockdown style

We recently had my pre-schoolers (ie no longer toddler!) fourth birthday celebration. Alhamdulillah Given the lockdown context, and observing social distancing we did it in two parts : a small party at home with 2 friends and a family zoom party during the weekend. Double the fun, double the cake!   We were sad not to have our usual bigger crowd to share in her happy day but given the cold weather we had to host indoors and therefore kept it safe with just 1 family to join us this time. And let’s face it, my two little ones make a party by themselves already! Having it at home also meant zero venue costs and fortunately I have the space to host this way. She chose the theme : Kitty cats which was cute and easy to work with. My aim is to keep costs low, and fun factor high! I enjoy the little touches to bring a theme together and have also realised that keeping it simple makes it more enjoyable for the kids as they can enjoy all the elements - and easier for me (to not get overwhelmed a

How being grateful and positive in the time of crisis can help you through : A promise from the Quran

While studying the story about the Prophet Moosa (May Allah be pleased with him) in our weekly halqa, I came across a beautiful lesson from the Quran giving timeless advice on being positive in the time of crisis. The ustadh in the video I watched explained that as human beings, when we are in a difficult situation, we tend to focus on the problem. What we learn from this story that when faced with a testing scenario, if we want relief and a turnaround of things, we should stop thinking of the problem and focus on what would make us grateful to Allah.  Context  In the story of the Prophet Moosa (May Allah be pleased with him), he led his people who were tortured and humiliated in their homeland to escape through the split water. Whilst they were now safe from Pharaoh, on the other side, they were all alone in the burning desert- they've left their home behind and now have to face a new path and set up a new life with nothing at all. Moosa (May Allah be pleased with him), gives the

Teaching Toddlers : Kindness and Making Friends

For playgroup in Week 3, we focussed on the theme Kindness & Making Friends.  Our playgroup ranges from kids between 18 months to 2.5 year olds. Around this age, children start to notice other kids and are curious to learn and interact together. So this week, since we had the kids meeting regularly now for 3 weeks, we focused on learning names. Here are the lessons for  Week 1  and  Week 2  which I posted previously on this blog. We have paused our playgroup for now due to coronavirus measures in Istanbul, so I'm sharing what we did before we closed to inspire and help Moms of little kids with ideas for teaching islamic concepts since I know there isn't alot available online focussed on under 3 years olds and I had to make it up as I went along :) We always begin our playgroup with Salaam song(  Omar Hannah ) and "Nabil & Noura say salaam" each week to build consistency. Related to the topic this week of  Kindness & Making Friends , we chose these concepts

Teaching Toddlers: Bismillah

Bismillah Activity  For playgroup in Week 2, we focussed on the theme  Bismillah:  "In the Name of Allah" For Moms: By saying this before we begin anything, it is a  way of remembering and thanking Allah. It is a practical way of making us more mindful of Allah. When we get into this routine, then we remember Allah and always try to do things that please Him. We get maximum benefits from whatever task we are doing by remembering to take Allah's name before it. Aishah [R] related that the Messenger of Allah (´Ě║) said: "When one of you eats food, then let him say: 'Bismillah.' If he forgets in the beginning, then let him say: 'Bismillah Fi Awwalihi Wa Akhirih (In the Name of Allah in its beginning and its end.)" [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1858] A simple act, such as eating becomes a source of blessing (by the permission of Allah) and an act of worship.  Additionally, various Hadith and saying from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) show us that saying this phrase enables