subhanallah, this summer we were lucky to be gifted with a free stay at one of the most beautiful hotels in Marrakech: les deux tours – a green lush osais in the palmeraie of the red and hot city.
two days of luxury and comfort, of beauty and delight, of joy and laughter, of laziness and being together as a family, alhamdulillah!
the hotel is high class and I first feared if our natural wild children would be able to behave well – but subhanallah, after some basic lessons in city-behaviour (with the help of the good old Knigge) they acted so well and did it so great and the hotel stuff was so nice and gentle with them.
to my pue joy our big appartment had its own private pool and I was happy like a child to be able to swim with the kids and to freely relax without hijab.
the food in the restaurant was mhhhm and the huge green garden with all the colorful flowers, plants and with the swings and different wild places to relax was incredibly beautiful. the architecture of the hotel was traditionally done by one of the best known architects of Morocco and was itself very nice to see.
now autumn came to our valley and the summer’s warm is almost gone, but those wonderful memories of our stay in the lovely oasis of “the two towers” fills us with pure joy. after an extremely hard year of school with many challenges and changes this stay was the most beautiful gift we could have recieved and it gave us the chance to fuly relax and the power and energy to continue work well, inchaallah.
thanks to our dear friends D.and I. for this enormous gift! xxx
postcards found in Marrakech, from chabichic.com Guéliz, KEEP CALM- MAKYN MOUCHKIL
homemade summer ice tea for nice breaks in busy times
a little update:
when it is quiet here, real life is busy, as you know – I think we all go through the same and as I see the comment section of this blog being quiet as well, I guess you are all busy too.
after vacation and a nice timeout in marrakech, I am now back to work, busy preparing school and the start of the new schoolyear next week.
internet got newly installed in the valley and is muuuuuch quicker now, alhamdulillah!
but the electricity often goes away as usual and my computertime is limited anyway, so my list of emails to respond is still long (sorry to all those waiting for my response) and time to blog is rare … but I hope to soon be able to report a bit about our days in the red city, inchallah.
until then I wish you a nice indian summer and a happy september – stay well friends!
“beyond boredom lies the true self” (Gill Edwards)
here I sit, with a cup of iced coffee, some chocolate
and in my head I ponder on the wonderful books I read and sources of inspiration for family-life and self:
Gill Edwards “Pure Bliss”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh “Gift from the sea”
Amanda Blake Soule “the creative Family” and “Rhythm of Family”
the simple yet lovely necklaces Brooke made for me
Today I have the honour to introduce you to my dear friend Brooke and her work.
I met Brooke online through this blog about 6 years ago when she was still living in Alaska.
In the meanwhile she moved to Morocco and lives since two years in my neighbourhood, with her Berber husband and their six children. We became friends and if time allows (which is not as often as we’d like to) we sometimes have coffee together, do a little walk or simply meet to have some exchange from expat Muslim woman to woman.
Brooke is a homeschooling mum, a writer, a famous editor for Sister’s Magazine and a maker of beautiful things. Recently she came to offer me one sweet little necklace she created, alhamdulillah. Over the last fifteen years I haven’t worn any jewellery at all, except my simple straight sliver wedding ring. But I immediately felt in love with the boho-style piece she offered me and I wear it since then day and night. I liked it so much and really began to enjoy wearing a necklace that I even asked her to make me a second one – I think I became addicted to her wonderful work, mashaallah, I love to browse her etsy-shop or to visit her and go through all her tiny little beads, pearls and supplies; and I might even begin to wear bracelets and earrings though it still makes me feel like a decorated Christmas tree, but who knows, maybe this changes one day…
Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty – so why not beautifying ourselves sometimes a little more, just for the sake of beauty itself?
‘Id el kebir is coming soon and maybe you want then to offer some beautiful Muslim-made gifts for your beloved ones or offer something to yourself…
So here I invite you to read a little interview I had with Brooke and to have a look at the stunning pieces in her etsy-shop or follow her facebook page for special discounts, like this coupon for 20% off (enter FANDF at checkout).
Itto: Salam aleikoum dear sister, first I would like to know what brought you to jewellery-making?
Brooke: Aleikoum salam sissy, Hmm, I’m really not sure. My earliest memories of jewellery making are making fancy hair clips with flowing ribbons and beads, and selling them in the school yard. Maybe it was all that Camp Fire Girl crafting that looped me in! From then on I was always trying to make something, gathering up beads and findings, making a mess with glue and using a butter knife to set sequins into prongs on my shoes and clothes. In addition to jewellery making, I love embellishing- I mean adding little details to otherwise plain things.
Itto: what do you especially love about working on so tiny detailed things with your hands?
Brooke: It’s pretty amazing when you become so familiar with the materials and can do these seemingly complicated things that other people say, “Oh, I could never do that” but of course I think they could. And beautiful things- I love making beautiful things that please the eyes and the soul.
Itto: Many of your pieces are very colourful, in one in a different way, so what is your favourite actual colour scheme and style?
Brooke: This is a hard choice. My colour scheme ideas have pretty much exploded the last couple of years. I blame that on the influence of living in very colourful and artistic Morocco. But if I had to choose… ok I love grey striped/blocked with other colours, especially green, orange and pink.
But my favourite for these days I would have to say is blue with orange, especially paler sky blue like Amazonite, but brighter and deeper blues like Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli are also appealing. It’s a contrast that is both vibrant/warming and calming/cool at the same time.
Style is much harder for me to pin down. I like big chunky pieces because they really showcase the gemstones and beads… but… lighter pieces are easier for daily wear, so I also enjoy making delicate little things that add just a pop of sparkle to people’s adornment.
Itto: Oh yes, like the wonderful pieces you made for me, Alhamdulillah!
Brooke, you are also a Muslimah and dress fully covered; nobody in public comes to see the beautiful pieces you wear, so why do you think it is important for Muslim women to beautify themselves anyway?
Brooke: I have had many non-Muslim women make similar comments, such as “Oh, it’s such a shame no one can see your beautiful jewellery.” But the thing is, I don’t wear my jewellery for other people to admire, I wear it for me. I am a beautiful creation and Allah tells us to enjoy his creation and even adornments (with moderation of course), so I do- no guilt!
The things that I make are truly only reconfigurations of Allah’s beautiful creations. In a way they are little praises and definitely inspire me to ponder on His magnificence. Bracelets are my very favourite thing for this reason, they are easiest for the wearer herself to see and enjoy them. Though I have also started making long necklaces for the same reason…
Itto: Great, I think the next piece I order from you will be a bracelet, inchallah.
What do you think of the metaphysical properties of gemstones, metals and rocks? Do you believe they can help to heal or better the energy of a person? Like amber for example that is said to be able to help reduce the pain of a teething baby.
Brooke: I am really on the fence about this. I am very drawn to certain rocks, while others will have little or no appeal to me and I have to remember to use them as they may work with certain colour schemes, but otherwise I would never pick them up. There is also a hadith (a saying of the prophet) about a rock that interacted with the Prophet (sas) and another in which a tree wept for the loss of being able to view the Prophet giving his sermons… so this makes me wonder about the unknown with relation to what we have been told are inanimate objects. But, I also need to have a healthy dose of fear of shirk (worshipping others than Allah), so for now I leave off this aspect of metaphysics… but if any of your readers know more about Islamic views of these things, I would love to hear about it.
Itto: thank you Brooke, barak Akllahu feek for these insights, I really appreciate your faith–related thoughts and your careful Muslim attitude, mashaallah! May Allah bless and make successful your work and accept the Ibadat (divine worship) you wish to offer through it.
And thank you for the wonderful idea and recent efforts you’ve made to gather all the Muslim sellers on etsy. I think this is really a great idea and I hope it helps the Muslim-ummah to support each other and I hope it even acts as dawah and shows non-Muslims how incredibly creative, modern and stylish Islamic and Muslim art is.
Ramadan is over and the second half of our summer holidays began. That means for me to be a full time, homeschooling, and stay-at-home-mom again.
It also means that I have to redefine those roles for myself because I haven’t really had them since we opened the school in 2010. So it is for me now quiet a new challenge to care 24/24h for four children (including a teething toddler) without babysitter help.
It was important for us as a family to have now some private time without other people at home; it was important for us to enjoy the new house exclusively as a family and to keep out the different energies non-family-members sometimes bring into home. So it was a conscious choice to spend the holidays without maid and babysitter and to take on again the role as a housewife. I mostly enjoy this, alhamdulillah, and most of the time it really feels good.
But I have to confess that there are moments when I really struggle with all the duties and the energy-level fulltime mothering requires. After one day of past Ramadan extra-fasting I quickly gave up the idea to make up the missed days from last year because fasting in Ramadan is a blessing but outside the holy month it asks for a lot of extra effort and strength which I fully need now to put into my mothering-role in order to stay sane and positive, inchaallah. So at the moment our days are a constant changing, up and down, inhaling and exhaling, feeling well and exhausted, a mixture of happy-relaxed-summer-moods and a yelling-crying-arguing-bored-fatigue, mashaallah: Carrying the whining baby a LOT and not having free hands; trying to respond to the many different needs and interests from children of different ages from one to eleven who are with me the whole day, preparing food for everyone everyday nearly five times from scratch, fighting the never ending piles of laundry and dishes and a house to clean…while feeling guilty not to spend enough quality time with the little ones but at the same time feeling frustrated not to work down my “have-to-do-list“ or not to be able to have me-time and to do something of my “want-to-do-list”… – mothers, I think you know what I am talking about – we have the hardest job on earth!
To stay positive I’ve put together some of the things that help me going through the hard times and to find bliss in the everyday – I thought it might help some of you as well.
Happy blissful mothering to all of you! Take care and never forget to be good to yourself!
10 ideas that help me surviving these summer-holidays-at-home:
- Aiming to complete every day ONE thing of my to-do-list:
I don’t aim for more, but also not less. My aim has to be achievable beside all the things that have to be done during a day with four little ones (all the mundane household chores). So when I succeed in doing one thing of my personal list it gives me a feeling of deep satisfaction to strike through at least one thing every evening instead of looking at five things I wanted to do but couldn’t.
- Taking breaks:
we take them often during the whole day, to stop, to inhale and to recharge my batteries, with iced coffee, tea, homemade frozen lemonade, waffles, cake, melon or some other yummy thing.
- Accepting that piles of laundry and dishes are a reality and never will end:
I try now to see these chores as worship and as the important and blessed work of a housewife.
- Going out at least once a day:
going into nature, leaving the house, breathing fresh air helps me a lot to keep a good mood, even if it is only for ten minutes. And going on adventure every now and then, gong on a longer walk, an expedition, a trekking, swimming or fishing…
- Surrounding myself with beauty:
it fills me with infinite joy to live in a beautiful environment and to keep my home nice, alhamdulillah. To use natural, handmade, crafted everyday objects nourishes my soul and gives me positive kicks throughout the day. Serving drinks in an antique glass jar instead of a tetra pack, or using a wooden bowl instead of a plastic basket, to use the nice linen table cloth and the good old porcelain from grandma, to put on a nice dress, to decorate the table with fresh flowers and to give the kitchen a new look with fresh colours on pillows and candles, all of that is bliss!
- Setting the right priorities:
I have to remind myself to focus on the real important things of holidays and not getting distracted by unimportant mundane stuff: the kitchen doesn’t have to be swept every day and my water tabs do not have to be polished… I try to spend quality time with one of my little ones instead. The dished do not have to be washed right away when baby just felt asleep and when the bigger ones play outside – I can use that unexpected free time to read a book or to sew something for myself which makes me happy and helps me being a more patient mom afterwards…
- Staying offline and unplugged:
one thing I’ve learned over the years is that switching the computer on to go online, trying to read or respond to an email during day and while being with the kids just doesn’t work for me: Because I don’t work well nor am I a good mum then, I either get angry with the PC or with the kids… So I decided to go online only when they sleep, which is by night or in the early mornings.
- Rhythm and structure:
Holidays have to be different, the living has then to be an easy one and days feel best when we are able to flow with the moment, to relax and to live free without all the duties of normal life. So I try not to structure our days too much: We sleep after fajr until we wake up without an alarm clock, we eat when we feel hungry and we simply decide every day to do what we want to do… but to keep some rhythm and some structure helps me to benefit even more from these lazy days, to stick to some routine and some family rules makes the easy living much easier for everyone and helps me to stay sane.
I pray everyday for guidance and ease, for Allah’s help in all the responsibilities I carry and for wisdom in all things I have to do and think about.
- Being thankful and trying to see the positive in everything, especially in the gift of being allowed to have so many beautiful little souls under my care, subhanallah!
Maybe you have some other ideas to add?
new pillow – new colour scheme – carpe diem – enjoy the moment.