Catching up

Wow, another unexpected break from the blog! I definitely didn’t plan this long break, but as usual, it happened on its own.

I’ve been thinking about blogging for quite some time, but to be honest, it’s been hard. Despite being in quarantine since the end of March, not much has been going on. We celebrated Emaan’s birthday at the end of April, a day before Ramadan started, and then it was Ramadan.

As usual, Ramadan flew by and then it was Eid and we’re still in quarantine. Kind of, at least.

The whole world is opening up, but we’re still being safe and keeping indoors mostly. It’s really hard explaining to a three year old though why we can’t go to the park when it’s clearly open -_-

We have started going out for more walks, so that has definitely made her happier! Nicer weather also helps.

The past few months have definitely been a lot more difficult than I ever anticipated, and I know I’m so incredibly lucky. But when the whole situation started, I had this silly idea (and I’m guessing a lot of other people did too) that it would be over by summer. I never envisioned that it would go on this long, or how much it would affect my mental well-being.

For those who know me, I’m a self-proclaimed homebody. I like being home and sticking to my routine. But when I was being told that I had to stay home, it suddenly wasn’t so fun anymore.

I’ve always had lots to keep me busy at home, with my writing/editing, brush calligraphy, blogging, reading, but the past three months were more difficult than I had ever imagined.

I’m not exactly a social butterfly nor do I have a large social circle, but I really missed seeing my family, and even being able to go out to shop or to the mall. As a stay-at-home mom, that’s about the maximum amount of socialising I do anyway, so without it, I felt like I was going crazy!

It’s been nice to be able to start seeing out family again, but we’re still choosing to be cautious and only going out for groceries or walks during the week.

I finished writing my last WIP and even finished editing it, much later than I anticipated. It was a monster at close to 130,000 words and I had a difficult time bringing it down, but I got it down to 92,000 and I’m hoping it’s good enough. InshAllah!

I even started working on a new book idea, but then real life got in the way as usual. Ha! It’s not really a new idea, but an idea that’s been living inside my head for at least 5 years now, but might now have a chance to come to life. It’s very different from both Aisha and Farah, which were contemporary. Farah is teen, and this new story will also be teen but fantasy. I’ve always wanted to write fantasy/historical but it takes so much time to come up with the backstory and the larger plot. It’s supposed to be a trilogy so it’s definitely going to take some time to sketch it out.

But right now I’m working on a new project which I can’t wait to share with all of you! It’s a new business venture that I’m working on with my brother and it relates to one of my passions: baking! I’m hoping to launch it within the next few weeks, InshAllah. I can’t wait!

Ever since Ramadan ended, I’ve been trying to not gain too much weight. I found so much benefit in Ramadan and fasting this year that I decided to continue it after! Aside from the spiritual benefits, I found that fasting has really helped me curb my snacking habit. I’m a muncher and munch on things all day, never realizing how much I’ve eaten! Especially snack items.

So after fasting every a few days, ever since Ramadan ended, I’ve found that I forget about eating and only eat main meals and no snacks. I’ve lost 20 lbs so far, but I would like to lose 10 more inshAllah. So far I’ve been maintaining it, and have been having a few cheat items here and there (more so on the weekends) and I find it really helps keep me sane. I love sugar and it’s hard to stay completely away from it.

To be honest, it’s always been about self control. I have none. But I’m trying to change that and to really tell myself no when I want another bite of something (right now I’m battling myself over some chocolate covered pretzels haha). Not buying junk definitely helps with this, and eating healthy as a family is obviously important. The less we all eat of it, the better!

Another huge change I’ve made recently is working out. If anyone asked me 3 months ago what my version of working out was, I would say boxing class once a week and maybe some treadmill every few days or say lol. But since quarantine started, I’ve gotten in the habit of working out every single day for an hour.

During Ramadan, I did 30 mins every day so that I didn’t lose all my progress, and it’s been difficult to get back into the rhythm after Ramadan. There are some days I only manage to do 45 or 50 mins, or even some days (often weekends) when I end up skipping it, but it’s definitely a lot more than I have ever done in my whole life!

I’m definitely not a workout junkie and I don’t get a thrill out of doing it. But I do enjoy how I feel after, which is accomplished. It makes me feel good about myself and I do feel a bit stronger. Some days it still feels like a chore, so I have to find ways to make it interesting haha.

The world has changed so much in the past 3 months, and it’s hard to imagine when and if it will ever go back to normal. Is this our new normal?

Many of these changes were just waiting to happen. We can only hope that the media attention that Black Lives Matter got isn’t temporary, and that it incites a permanent change. Because it’s about time.

Anyway, what’s new with you? How has quarantine life been treating you?

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Quarantine Day 56457

Hey everyone! I’m back with another survival post documenting my 56457th day in Quarantine. ๐Ÿ˜›

Since I last blogged, I have watched 6456 Disney movies, listened to 439 Wiggles songs, watched Gossip Girl episodes for probably the 60th time, made 10000000 meals, and stepped out of my apartment 3 times. How’s your quarantine going?!

All jokes aside, this has been harder than I thought it was going to be. We are probably a little over a month in quarantine and it’s hard to tell the days apart now. I often forget what day it is and I probably would have forgotten what month it is, except my daughter’s birthday is in less than a week so we’ve been counting down to that! Her birthday coincides with the first day of Ramadan this year so we have two things to look forward to!

Honestly speaking, if we didn’t have either of these things to look forward to, then the days would have blurred together even more (than usual). It really helps to have something to look forward to so that there’s some sense of time.

I’m actually so excited for her birthday, apparently more than her, according to my husband! But I plan on cooking up a feast and baking a cake of course, so I can’t wait! We had planned on doing a little party at home, before this all started, but of course it won’t be happening. At this point, we’re just trying to do what we can to make the day special for our daughter.

My daughter and I have started decorating for Ramadan; I don’t have any store-bought decorations so I just tried to make some with her. If any of you reading this has a toddler, then you’ll know how impossible that is! I can’t wait till she’s a little bit older so I can do more crafts with her. I love crafts and have been collecting stuff from Michael’s for years. They’re finally coming in handy!

Ramadan is going to be so strange this year, especially since there will be no visiting family to break our fasts or go to the masjid. Eid will hardly feel like a celebration too since mostly likely we’ll still be staying home. But I keep trying to tell myself that God does things for a reason.

I’ve been cooking a lot, but nothing new or exciting unfortunately. Everyone else seems to be cooking or baking up a storm these days and I am so jealous! But I’m trying to stay firm in my goal to lose weight, so I’ve been eating pretty boring meals. I did make some pizza today for my husband and daughter though! I did have a teeny tiny slice hehe.

I’ve been reading a little bit, but have been watching a bunch of TV too. I ordered two books from Indigo a few weeks ago and finally finished the second one yesterday.

The first one was a teen fantasy one called Thorn which was a retelling of the Goose Girl fairy tale. It was very different but enjoyable! I haven’t read teen in awhile so it was fun to get back into it. The second one was an adult mystery/thriller called The Dry. This one kept showing up on a lot of lists and a lot of people seemed to enjoy it, but for me, it was just okay. It took me awhile to get into, especially because the first few pages mentioned a child being murdered, which freaked me out.

Now that I’m done with those two, I’m going to try and make a dent in some of the unread books sitting on my shelf. I can’t buy more till I finish them all apparently -_-

I’ve been trying to get back into my brush calligraphy but it’s obvious I need A LOT more practice lol.

I think I’m getting better at wreaths though!

Entertaining a toddler all day is a lot harder than it looks, so we’ve been trying to stick to a routine and then chill and watch movies on the weekend.

Anyways, hope you’re all staying healthy and safe during this pandemic. Here’s praying it ends soon <3

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Time for…

We’re on day 12 of quarantine here and starting to get a little bit of cabin fever. It’s especially tough with a toddler who has a bundle of energy all the time. We didn’t go out much, pre-quarantine, but I’m definitely missing our trips to the library, rec centre, gymnastics, and even the grocery store. ๐Ÿ˜›

Given the way we’re feeling, I thought it was time to sit down and list some of the things that we now have time for, since we’re inside all the time.

…reading

I’ve always made time to read because it’s one of my favourite things to do, but I find now I have even more time to do it! With my husband being home, I now find patches of time where they’re doing something else and I can curl up on the couch with my book. Granted, it doesn’t always last long, but it’s definitely a lot longer than before!

…playing with my daughter

This is probably going to make me sound like a bad mother, but before, I didn’t have much time to play with my daughter one-on-one. With all the chores and errands in the day, I rarely found time to sit down and actually play with her. These days we seem to have endless time for doctor’s checkups, getting my makeup done with her, going grocery shopping in her shopping cart, and then checking out at her cash register. It’s so much fun to see her imagination at work!

…exercise

I know lots of people are finding comfort in food these days, especially since there isn’t much to do when you’re at home, but I’ve been trying to lose weight. Carving out time to exercise was so difficult before; by the time the day was done, I was too tired to do anything. But now, because my husband is home all day, there is ample time to work out.

…watching movies

My brothers, husband and I are watching Lord of the Rings together! Well not together but at the same time. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never seen them before (they came out at the same time as Harry Potter, and of course I picked HP) and my brothers have begging me to watch them for ages. With all of us at home now, it was the perfect time! We chat while we’re watching so we can pretend we’re all together but it’s a little less annoying than me talking throughout the movie. ๐Ÿ˜›

…other hobbies

So I haven’t started this yet, but I want to get back into some of the other hobbies that I used to enjoy and used to have time for, prior to Emaan being born. I have been doing lots of arts and crafts with her lately, but I want to get back to doing them for myself. I also miss doing brush calligraphy and plan to pick that up again. This is my second blog post in one week, which is a record for these days! But I’m definitely enjoying having the time for other hobbies like blogging.

…appreciating the little things

Now that now that we are home all day, we all have time to appreciate the little things. Things like going outside for a walk, going out for dinner, seeing family and friends, going to the park, socialising, etc. seemed like little things in our pre-quarantine life. But now, we realise that they weren’t little things. These were big things. We just couldn’t see it. And I have a feeling that when life goes back to normal, we will never take these things for granted again.

What are some of the things you’re enjoying having the time for these days?

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Let’s quarantine and Chill

Hey everyone! Wow, what a dramatic change of events since my last post, eh?

Never mind my last post, the last week has been insane and full of so much change and news. Every day has brought some new news and a lot more anxiety.

My family and I have been on quarantine since last Thursday when Ontario shut down all the schools. In that week, there was a lot of panic going around here in Canada as more and more cases of COVID 19 came to light. People had started panic buying, but to be honest, I didn’t get it. I thought they were overreacting.

It didn’t hit me till they shut down the schools in the entire province. I think that’s when I realised how serious this virus was and how much it had spread. School doesn’t just get cancelled like that. I was filled with anxiety for most of the weekend, as we visited our families one last time, and then hunkered down to stay at home.

Soon after that, the province declared a state of emergency, everything shut down, the whole country was told to quarantine, my husband, and many other people around the country, got sent home from work, and the US-Canada got shut down. This all happened last week.

To say that I’ve been feeling anxious is an understatement. With so much upheaval in our lives, I know many people have been having bouts of anxiety. My problem is that I have a very active imagination and I have read way too many dystopian novels. A lot of these novels document the end of the world or the start of a chaotic society, and pandemics wiping out huge chunks of humanity. So my mind keeps going there and reliving some of the scenes from those books, whether I want it to or not.

But before quarantine (and anxiety) started, I finished writing my current novel. It’s been exactly one week since I finished writing it and the feeling of being elated has only died down a tiny bit. I have been working on this book, on and off, for 3 years now. I got the idea shortly after my daughter was born in 2017 and I tried to write it in between some major life changes.

Last year was a bit of a stressful one, as I’ve previously mentioned, so my goal for this year was to finish the dang thing. And I did. It only took me 3 months once I hunkered down and made a schedule for myself. The last week was an intense one as I wrote both during the day, during my daughter’s nap, and at night, working late just so I could reach the end.

Writing the last paragraph happened last Saturday, exactly one week ago, as my husband was in the bathroom and my daughter had woken up from her nap. We were supposed to leave for my sister in law’s house as soon as she woke up, and I could hear her calling me from the bedroom, but I couldn’t break my stride. So I kept pounding the keys, relief flooding me as I heard my husband going to get her, and I wrote that last sentence. It was the best feeling ever.

I started writing novels when I was 10 years old and this is my 4th one that I have completed, but the feeling of reaching the end never gets old. It’s like climbing a very tall mountain, the peak of which you have been imagining and dreaming about for years, and finally reaching it. It’s exhilarating.

I definitely am not done my work with this novel though. It needs some serious editing. As usual, I tend to over-write and ended up with a grand total of 133,000 words by the time I was done. I need to be somewhere near 70,000 to 80,000. -_-

But I’ve sent it to my beta reader, the same one who helped me with Aisha, and am hoping she can help me cut this beast down. I spent the last week polishing it up a bit before sending it to her last night and am on a bit of a break before I get it back from her, probably in a few weeks.

So my first week of quarantine wasn’t too bad, since I was mostly working on editing my book, which kept me busy.

To be honest, staying home doesn’t bother me. I’m a homebody and always have been. I have always been busy at home and often have various projects that I’m working on or can work on. This time will be no different.

I already have a loose schedule and routine that I have created for myself ever since Emaan was born, so we usually have lots to do in the day, regardless. I’m not going to lie, not being able to go out is still hard. We are both missing going to the library, gymnastics, and going to the rec centre. And of course just the ability to be out and about. So it’s definitely tricky, especially with her, but I bought some new workbooks to keep her occupied. I also want to do more arts and crafts for, and other things that I often don’t end up having time for.

Everyone is discovering their inner chef it seems, going by all the delicious pictures of food being cooked up every day on Instagram and Facebook! And I’m doing the opposite. I’ve been on a quest to lose 20 pounds and had been enrolled in a boxing class that I drove to Oakville for every week. With everything shutting down, the class moved online, and the girls’ only gym that the class belongs to, started offering lots of online classes. When the mini gym in our building (which only consisted of 3 machines) closed down this past week, I was so bummed out about how to stay active. So when the gym started offering online classes, I was over the moon. I’ve done a workout every day this week and am still baffled at myself. Who am I???

So other than working out, I’m hoping to make a dent in the million unread books (according to my husband ha ha) on my bookshelf, some of which have been there for years. The libraries have shut down, which really sucks, but I have more than enough reading material for awhile.

I really want to bake more, but given the fact that I have ZERO self control when it’s in the house, I’m trying so hard to resist the urge. My husband is at home and can’t take the stuff to work, and we’re not visiting anyone either. So if I bake it, I will most likely eat ALL OF IT.

Other than reading, working out, trying to keep my daughter entertained and not baking, I’ll just be watching some Netflix and Disney+, cooking (as usual), doing some new arts and crafts, and maybe blogging some more. Who knows how long we’re stuck in this situation? It’s best we make the most of it.

What are you doing to keep busy in quarantine? Let me know!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Crinkly Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Crinkly Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you ever seen a recipe online and become obsessed with it? I have. These crinkly chocolate chip cookies have been haunting me for quite some time now.

I have been seeing these gorgeous cookies all over the Internet for a few months now, along with their slightly unorthodox method of baking. The are unforgiving in their size and have beautiful crinkly tops and crispy edges.

Making them is a bit weird: you literally bang the pan on the counter to get those beautiful crinkly edges.

I am not kidding; my family thought I was nuts as I kept banging the pans against the counter every few minutes. But they didn’t have anything to say when they took a bite of that crispy on the outside, ooey-gooey on the inside chocolate chip cookie.

Crinkly Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are not for the faint of heart. The original recipe called for 1/3 cup of dough per cookie, but I thought that sounded too big so I scaled back a bit to 1/4 cup. But they were still big and wonderfully chewy and crispy. They are about the size of Starbucks cookies and one will set you back for your sugar intake for a week (or day, let’s be honest).

They’re called chocolate chip cookies, but they actually have chocolate chunks. If you haven’t made the switch from chips to chunks, do it now! Look at those gorgeous rivers of chocolate running through that cookie. I use Ghiradelli baking bars, but you could use any kind of baking chocolate you like.

Crinkly Chocolate Chip Cookies

The key is to chop the chocolate yourself and not use the pre-chopped chunks. The pre-chopped chunks are definitely easier and I love to use them too, but it’s worth it to go the extra mile on these bad boys. Trust me.

I ended up using semi-sweet chocolate but you could also use bittersweet or a combination of both. I also added a generous sprinkling of chopped pecans because nuts make everything better. I loved the added crunch and texture in these cookies.

Enough chatting, let’s take a look at the recipe!

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