me Life and Times of the Fireflies: June 2016

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Maxi Shirt Dress

It's no secret that I love maxi dresses! Not only does it hide a multitude of flaws; it's also one of those wardrobe staples that has one looking a bit more put together without much of an effort. Maxi dresses, for me, has always been an item of clothing  traditionally reserved for the Summer season, but I'm loving how one can basically wear anything any time of the year these days! With just a few simple additions, our wardrobe has the ability to transcend through the seasons. Having clothing that you can wear throughout the year, or at least can be adjusted through the seasons, is definitely a money saver and makes the decision of investing in an item of clothing a little bit easier to do knowing that you will get good wear out of it!


Which brings me to this Maxi Shirt Dress, a ZARA piece I picked up a few months ago. When I saw it, I knew I had to have it, but was so two-minded about paying the price. But the more I thought about the multitude of ways I could wear it, it was as if the heavens opened and up from above and told me that it was really equivalent to buying seven items of clothing in one go!

Buttoned up, it can be worn as a traditional maxi dress. With it's flowing fabric and small slit at the end, it has a very whimsical, modest and bohemian feel and a perfect Autumn and Spring outfit. Add a pretty sandal and you're good to go. By adding opaque tights, boots and a leather jacket as I have done, this dress has you ready for Winter! Gosh, one could even unbutton it partially and pair it with jeans! Heels, flats, sandals, pumps and even boots and a fedora. There's no one way to wear it...and quite frankly, I plan on wearing it every single way I can!

P.S.  Don't forget to enter our photo shoot  Giveaway. See here for details!

Dress : Zara
Leather Jacket : Forever New
Boots : Edgars
Photographs : 2Cherries Photography

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Photoshoot Giveaway with 2Cherries Photography

Life is made up of millions of moments and memories that shape us into who we are. The trials and tribulations, coupled with the imperfectly perfect; the scars and the moments of splendour all rolled together to make up our life and our memories. The human in us hides the scars from the world, but the good moments...aaah, the good moments! Those we freeze, in our minds, in our hearts and sometimes, if we're quick enough to have a camera at hand, we freeze them in a photograph (cue Ed Sheeran's song - Photograph)  and then, of course, share them with our friends on the internet ;-)
It's no secret that I love taking pictures! Not so much the "selfies" kind, but the one's that freeze my memories. The one's that capture the moments I want permanently imprinted in my mind and  etched in my heart. The times that I never want to forget...that when my memory starts to fade, the picture brings it back to life again.  The kind, that when I look back on life, highlights the greatest moments with my family.

In May this year, my Blog turned 3! That's three whole years of recording and sharing my memories! Three years that so many of you have been tagging along on my journey without much of an offering from me...besides, of course, the stories that I share. I've never been big on giveaways, but only because I never really found one that was suited to the theme of my blog. Until now! And I'm extremely excited to share this prize with one lucky reader!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that there are few things very important to me - my family mainly, capturing all the precious and sentimental moments with them on camera,  and then preserving my memories with them in the form of this blog! You may also have noticed some fantastic new images accompanying my latest posts taken by 2Cherries Photography. And because we understand all to well the importance of preserving memories (and also how us mom's are often left behind the camera instead of in front  of it), we've teamed up with them to spoil one lucky reader with a photo shoot to the value of  R 2000!!!

Want to know how you can win this incredible prize AND a chance for your story to feature on the Blog??  Follow the prompts below!

  • You must LIKE both 2Cherries Photography (here) and Life and Times of the Fireflies (hereon Facebook.

  • Tell us why you deserve to win this prize! We want to know why you want to preserve this moment in time...You could have just overcome an obstacle in life, reached your goal weight, stepped away from a relationship that was draining, conquered Cancer, gone back to study...or just because you're awesome! It can be anything. Tell us why we should choose YOU! The most inspiring story will be chosen.

  • You can either email you entry story to me (doesn't have to be long) OR comment on the original post on the Life and Times of the Fireflies page.   No entries on shared posts will be accepted.

  • SHARE this post on your Timeline.

  • You have until the 15 July to enter. Winner will be announced on my birthday, 22 July 2016 

  • Once you have completed all the steps...comment DONE on the original thread and your entry will be processed.
*Unfortunately,  this competition is only open to Cape Town readers.

Looking forward to all your inspiring stories!

Good Luck!!



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Father's Love

I often wonder what it must be like to be a Father, to be an observer to the things only a Mother can give. I wondered what it must be like witnessing the evolution of your children, but not knowing what it must feel like. Wondered  if your love could equal mine, since I'm the one who carried them when you were unable to. Bound together for nine long months before they cut them free, before you were finally able to hold them as your own. I often wonder if your love can measure up to mine even though you were not the one who felt the pains of separation at birth, not the one given the gift to nurture them as  new born, not the one making the sacrifices.
I always thought my love was superior. That my heart weighed heavier with love. That my soul was inseparable from those of my kids. But today I feel a little envious of a Father's love...of the kind of love you have for our children.
 I'm envious because I've had to let go of them multiple times as they grew up, had to separate myself numerous times as they reached new milestones, readjust myself countless times as their dependency on me diminished and I'll have to let go plenty times more; while your Love remains the same.
I'm envious because I find it so hard to let go, to separate my own identity from my role as a Mother. That my thoughts are tangled up with what they need from me and guilt of not doing enough. That I'm more frazzled than bedazzled...yet the time you have with them is never riddled with chaos and stress, that it's filled with laughter and fun and you make the moments you have with them count... and I'm jealous about that because they see a better you than they see of me.
I'm envious that my love holds them back, spots dangers and pitfalls in almost everything, leans towards an extent of paranoia; while your love has no boundaries, sets them free, gives them a platform for adventure....erm ok, not so much envious now that I've written it down, but it certainly creates a balance to my psycho tendencies!

And I'm envious because, all this time I had a possessiveness over them, claimed to hold the magic key that unlocked their true spirit and potential...and daily, you prove that theory wrong; from the way only you can make Saafiyah laugh, to discussing business plans with your have a magic connection to them that is  tender unique.
And yes, I'm a little envious that you don't have to bear witness to the constant bickering, that you don't have to decide on a whim who is right only to find out you're wrong, that you don't get taken to the brink of hysteria and then force yourself back into reality, that you get to watch TV at night while I find sleep to be the only escape! YES! That's a quality unique to father's indeed!
I'm envious that that kind of Love exists. That you can love with your whole heart without having the need to smother them. That you might not be there every waking moment, but you are there precisely when you are needed. That you carry the responsibility as the head of our family without letting it weigh you down. That as they grow, it is the kind of Love they will need more of, and that all this time, you have loved them that way from the very beginning.

 A Father will never know a  mother's love, but a Mother will spend her whole life learning to love like a Father...and still we fail. I guess what I'm trying to say is that though I always thought my kind of  Love was superior, I now know that it's just different, and just as important as the love of a Father. And that it's when the two kinds of love work together, that we create the magic that is a thriving family unit!!

I don't say it often enough, but I want you to know that we appreciate all that you do! I know our love cannot be measured and pitched against each other...I'm just glad you fill all the gaps and spaces I cannot. We are not forces that work against each other, but rather ones that work together to make a mighty strong team <3
Love Always,

*PHOTOGRAPHS BY : 2Cherries Photography

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Not Just Another Milestone

It seems like just the other day that I was being wheeled into theatre to have you...a small little bundle who  was able to fit in the crack of my arms. It seems like just the other day when you started to crawl and then walk and then run havoc through the house. Just the other day when words started stumbling out of your mouth...and the words became sentences and the sentences became a million questions that never ceases to stop. It seems like just the other day that you were still little, and now look at you, starting to grow up!
Today, you turn 7 and to me, 7 is not just an ordinary milestone! It's not the same as when you turned 4 or 5 or 6! It's not the same as learning new words and figuring out new things. It's not the same as making new discoveries or being fascinated about evaporation and the phases of the moon. It's not the same...because I know that once you've reached this age, once you've passed this milestone, there's a new transition that begins and that  the time from here onwards scurries along too quickly to 8,9 and then 10...and once that happens, my little boy will be gone and in his place will be standing  a big boy!

In my heart, you are still my little baby, but when I look at you, my eyes tell me a different story! They tell me that my heart is wrong and that my baby is growing up too fast! And my arms...the arms that cradled you as a baby, and just last year was able to carry your sleeping body up a flight of stairs...they tell me that either I'm old or that you are rapidly outgrowing me, or a bit of both because I can barely pick you up anymore. And my bed that used to be empty even with you in it; is now filled with long limbs that keeps me warm and moves EVERYWHERE!

I know that sometimes you are in a hurry to grow up. To lose your baby teeth, get a phone and be able do the things that Appa and Rocky can. I know that you sometimes struggle to find your voice amidst Appa's  teenage needs, Rocky's bossiness and all the grown ups. I know that growing up is inevitable, but I want to ask you not to rush it. I want to revel in your innocence a little bit longer and I want you to still want me a little longer than that too!

I know it sounds dramatic seeing as you're only 7, but I know how ruthless time can be and though I can't see into the future, I  know, to a certain extent, the developments that the next few years will bring.  As you enter this new stage, as you start to grow and find your place in the world,  I want to tell you to never lose your enquiring mind, never stop asking questions, never stop investigating! Sometimes I think you are a little too timid to stand up against the harshness of the world, but be firm in your beliefs, don't be afraid to get things wrong, never lose heart, never lose hope...but please, ease up a bit on the nagging!

Love you lots,
MOM <3
*Photographs by : 2Cherries Photography

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Chilli, Butternut and Chickpea Soup

I thought the extra cold Autumn we emerged from was just an early start to Winter...that's how cold it was; but by the looks of it, Winter is going to be ruthless!!

 There's something about the onset of the winter chill that always has me thinking of soup and my brother! It was always his request on the first rainy day of the season (kind of like my husband and a hot, chocolate, self-saucing pudding)  and though I do love my brother, the same can't be said about soup!

Soup making was always a "go big or go home" affair that entailed cleaning lots of vegetables to fill a massive pot that we could nibble on all day! Sure enough, it's healthy and a warm way to keep your vegetable intake up in the winter months, but the traditional barley soup is not my favourite thing (to make or eat)! My kids however, take after their uncle and love soup!!

Now if I'm going to be honest, my mother and mother-in-law usually fulfil all their soup needs and fantasies; but the freshly cut soup packs from Woolworths had me feeling ready to tackle soup making once again! This combination had me at "Chilli" and the end result has officially converted me into a soup lover by managing to satisfy the Indian me with the added spicy kick of flavour! This soup is the perfect healthy starter for Iftaar (breaking fast), is super quick and easy to make and I even make it in bulk and freeze it to take out whenever I need.

For those who don't have access to a Woolworths, the soup comprises of a good portion of Chickpeas which has been tossed in dried, red chillies; butternut, onion, carrots, spinach and celery. The pack does come with instructions on how to make it, but I did make a few minor adjustments...

  1. I quickly sauté the veggies for a bit in a knob of butter.
  2. Next, I top up the pot with boiling water (enough water that all the veggies are submerged in it) and cook veggies until soft. I don't really use stock in my kitchen, so I left that out.
  3. Once veggies are soft, I blend it until smooth.
  4. Lastly, I add a generous amount of Coconut milk (about 1/3 or 1/2 cup to one pack of soup...I don't really measure) and the soup is done. You could, alternatively, use fresh cream; however, I feel the coconut milk compliments the flavours better.
  5. An optional extra would be to add chicken pieces to the soup. For this, I cube chicken into small pieces and sauté in either olive oil, coconut oil or butter with some garlic and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper (and for the more adventurous, I seasoned with a tiny bit of tikka masala.)
  6. Add chicken to the blended soup and allow that chilli to heat you up in this cold ;-)

Thanks for reading and keep warm!



Tuesday, 7 June 2016

How to Nurture Kids to Fast in Ramadan

One of my greatest concerns as a mom has always been instilling good Islamic values in my children. But how was I going to instil in them the love for Salah and Fasting and the Quran when I myself was struggling and imperfect? And it was a struggle after having find my focus, concentrate and silence my brain while having little toddlers tearing you in different directions all the time. Having kids has been the greatest distraction from the things that are important; but they are also the driving force behind me wanting and needing to come back stronger than before. It's why I love Ramadan so much, since it gives one the much needed time out for reflection and growth. (Read my previous post on Ramadan here )

This year, Zaydaan turns 7 during Ramadan, which means questions are flying around as to whether or not we are going to let him fast the full month. When the older kids started fasting, my approach was very much trial and error. Their personalities were so different from each other which made their pace at grasping the concept very different too! For me it was probably one of the hugest hurdles to conquer, more especially with regards to my son since he was a child who was constantly hungry and had such a huge appetite. It was a daunting task as a mother to deprive a child like that of food, but it's also made me more confident in my approach third time round. Here's what I've learnt along the way...

Kids Learn from observation: We are our children's first encounters with Faith which means they are observing, learning and copying us from a young age. It's the same with fasting. Kids start to learn that there is something different about this month from young because they see a change in our daily pattern and routine. Even if we finding difficulty in it as young parents, they still sense that there is something special about Ramadan and soon they become curious and ask questions, and the way we answer will instil in them love for this blessed month and a desire to participate in it.

Let it be gradual: We don't just wake up a week before Ramadan and decide that this is the year our kids will fast and then do everything in our power to get them through the month. NO! Fasting a full day should be a gradual progression. I remember, when the kids were young (about 4 or 5 ) we made them fast the last 15 minutes before the Athaan. This was a hard task for them as there eyes bulged at the iftaar treats on the table. But they eventually learnt to sit quietly and patiently. This was probably their earliest encounter with what it's like to fast. As the years passed we gradually added different no luxuries till Maghrib, or only water and no juice or cooldrink, or only eat at meal times and no snack in between. Sometimes they couldn't follow through with them the entire month and we didn't force the issue. Eventually we progressed to a half day and then, when they were ready, to a full day. Each year they experienced a version of fasting that was eventually prepping them towards fasting a full day.

Each child is different : My eldest son and daughter are a year apart. This means that they do a lot of things together, but it also taught me that each child is special and each has a different strength. For my daughter, fasting was much easier than it was for my son. As a parent I knew that comparing my son to his sister was not going to be a good way to motivate him and that, in his case, it would have the opposite result. We let him get into it at his own pace and Alahamdulillah, he got there in the end. So I'd say it's important that we don't compare our kids to others. Each child is different and everyone progresses at a different pace. We should just be a vehicle to motivate and encourage them along the way.

It's not compulsory:  In all the excitement to get kids to fast, we sometimes we forget that it's not compulsory on them until they reach puberty. I find it especially prominent amongst the old Indian community. Cut the young ones some slack! We want them to look forward to Ramadan and so we should always approach it in young ones with compassion and care. Teach them, guide them, encourage them, but don't force them. Kids have their whole lives ahead to fast. What's more important is that we are instilling in them the concept of growth.

Make a fuss: Now that the kids are older, we are veering towards simplicity; but when they started out, I always made a fuss of things. Making something special of their choice or buying them a treat; it was something for them to look forward to at the end of the day.

Love this motivational chart that Zee got from school!

Set Goals :  I've said it before and I'll say it again; sometimes people merely just starve their bodies of food and do nothing more. Although Zaydaan is only starting out, the older two have completed quite a few Ramadans already and although that was sort of the goal in the beginning, I realise that it doesn't end there. So this year  I've implemented setting goals. We have sat down as a family and discussed the areas of our lives we wish to improve. Whether it was trying to be more punctual on salaah or striving towards completing the quraan or even just grasping one concept and living that out for the rest of their lives... even if they fall short, it will be a stepping stone towards improvement. It was important for me to share my own goals with my kids and to also confess my flaws. I want them to know that nobody is perfect and that we are all struggling to improve. I also want them to capture the true essence of this month; to strive to be better and to always allow themselves room to grow.

Right now, Zaydaan is laying next to me sick with the flu. I will take it as a sign that this might not be his year, but we will continue to encourage him to participate in whichever way he is capable of doing. And so we embark on this month full of hope to conquer our set out goals. We might have to battle our Nafs plenty as the month goes along, but I sincerely hope we all achieve what we've set out to do.

Ramadan Mubarak to all!
Thanks for reading.