Goodbye 2016

Over the past few days, I keep seeing posts on Facebook that talk about how much 2016 sucked. There were definitely some sad and appalling things that happened this year, especially considering media-wise and politically. But it wasn’t all bad! At least not for me.

A year feels like so long, but it can go by in the blink of an eye. And when you look back on the whole year, it can seem so hard to remember what happened in those 365 days.

As I was sitting down to write this post, there were 2 distinct things that were obvious accomplishments for me this year. Other that that, I was drawing a blank on what else happened. But then as I began searching for my goodbye 2015 post, I saw a bunch of posts that reminded me all the other things that happened this year. Thank God for blogging, right?

Last year was an especially difficult one. It was my first year of marriage, my first year of living apart from my family, and my first year of being an adult. There were also 3 major deaths in my family, which I wasn’t present for. It was a year of challenges and struggles.

2016 was also a year of challenges and struggles, but in different ways. There were also lots of really good things that happened in 2016.

We started the year off moving into our first official home. It was so nice to have a place of my own, a place where I could organize and decorate to my heart’s content. I went a little DIY crazy with spray paint and house accents. My husband and I also started to renovate the powder room downstairs, which still sits unfinished, unfortunately.

Soon after that, one of my dreams came true: I got an agent! It was through my other blog, but it was still a dream come true. I spent a few months working with my agent on a book proposal. Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected several times and hasn’t been picked up yet. But I’m still so grateful and thankful to God that I am one step closer to my dream of becoming a published author. Here’s hoping I hear some good news in 2017!

Despite my setback with my nonfiction book, I still decided to self-publish my adult novel Aisha after releasing a chapter every week on my other blog. In fact, it was Aisha that first got my agent’s attention! After the positive feedback, I decided to release it as a Kindle ebook. It hasn’t exactly broken any worldwide records, but it still warms my heart to read the messages and comments from readers who loved the story and related to the characters. Maybe one day it will be released as a physical book…

In terms of baking, I managed to try a few new recipes, but didn’t get around to really sharing that much, unfortunately. But one thing that I did learn to bake that I was most excited about were macarons! I have been obsessed with these French delicacies for a few years now and have been dying to learn how to make them. I took a baking class and brought home a box of my very own handmade macarons that I proceeded to devour in a matter of days. It was such a fun class, and I loved learning all the little tips and tricks that help in taming these difficult-t0-make cookies! I also tried once at home, but wasn’t that successful. I’m definitely planning on trying again soon!

I also picked up a new skill of photography! I still don’t know a lot, but I spent some time practising with my DSLR camera finally and did this with my food- my favourite thing to photograph! It was so much fun to be able to style the pictures and get some professional-ish looking shots that were a thousand times better than my old point and shoot! It’s been a few months since I picked it up, but I’m hoping I get back into it.

Another skill I picked up was brush calligraphy. I sort of became obsessed with this after learning how to form letters to make them beautiful. Eid and birthdays became so much more fun as I loved lettering everyone’s names in calligraphy. It was something I wasn’t so good at in the beginning, but with lots of practice, I definitely got better! It’s something else I haven’t done in a few months, but it’s something that once you know, you remember.

2016 was also the year I found out I’m going to be a mom! I found out in August, but kept the news pretty quiet on social media for a few months. Those were months that were super challenging as I tried to get used to my ever changing body. But nothing about the changes stayed the same; each week was an adventure unto itself! And it still continues that way. But it’s all worth it, especially as I can’t stop daydreaming about holding my baby in my arms in a few short months inshAllah. 🙂 <3

Phew! That was a pretty busy year! To be honest, when I was thinking about what happened this year, I could barely remember anything. But as I went through my old posts, I remembered all the things that I did and that happened throughout this year. Things that I had forgotten, but now that I remember, make me oh-so happy.

As important as it is to look forward, it’s also important to look back at everything you’ve achieved. It’s not a way to be proud, but to think about how far you’ve come. And how much farther you still have to go.

So I hope you all had a fabulous 2016! And an even more fabulous 2017 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Being pregnant is an amazing feeling. Once I got past the first trimester and when my belly slowly, but surely started to come in, things started to finally sink in. I’m going to be a mom! There’s an actual human being inside of me! One that has to come out eventually! Eek!

It’s definitely equal parts excitement and fear, especially the first time, and there are days when it’s either one or the other, and also both.

Being 6 months pregnant means that I’ve had plenty of time to Google the heck out of what I’m feeling and whether it’s normal or not. But there’s still lots of stuff that you would think is obvious, but is not…

You might not have all the popular symptoms 

I blame movies and TV shoes for this one. I was so convinced that morning sickness and crazy cravings were a mandatory part of pregnancy, that I started thinking something was wrong with me when I didn’t have those symptoms. Instead, I should have been counting my blessings, but they have been so ingrained in me that when they didn’t arise, I started to worry (as usual). But apparently, not every woman gets morning sickness. And I just happened to be one of the lucky ones!

As for cravings, that’s one symptom I do feel cheated out of during my pregnancy. It seems like such a rite of passage to go deliriously crazy craving things and I was kind of excited to see what sort of weird things I would crave. But alas I never had them! So I never had that funny situation of making my husband running out in the middle of the night for a tub of specific ice cream. People keep telling me I might still get them, but they still haven’t come in yet.

You might not get any of the so-called benefits

The same goes for the ‘benefits’ of pregnancy. Again, I’d heard so much about the glowing skin, the thick hair and nails that I was so excited for them! Who doesn’t want to be told that they’re glowing and to have their hair grow in thicker?

But again, I didn’t get any of these! My skin has actually gotten worse, so I don’t feel like I’m glowing, and my hair and nails stayed the same. So sad.

You feel like a baby

Ok, this is kind of a weird one, but it’s so true. You might be having a baby, but pregnancy suddenly makes you feel like the baby, especially towards the end. I’ve started needing help putting on my shoes because it’s harder to bend down. I also need help walking across with all the ice and snow, and because my balance is totally off. I get tired much easier and can’t get half of what I used to get done in one day. I take naps constantly.

So it feels like you become a baby to have a baby.

You’ll grow overnight

It honestly feels like I did! Ok maybe not overnight, but literally over the span of one week. From a tiny baby bump that was so easy to hide to a blooming belly that pops out of my clothes now. 2 weeks ago all my clothes fit and all of a sudden none of them do! I went from wondering if I looked pregnant to knowing I’ve reached the stage where I can’t. And as big as I feel right now, I know I’m only going to get bigger.

 

Pregnancy is such an amazing, but weird time. There are so many things that are happening with and inside your body that sometimes it feels like there’s an alien inside of you. And sometimes your body feels like the alien, as it changes and morphs into something you barely recognize.

But when you feel those first flutters of movement in your stomach, your heart begins to swell with love and excitement, and it all seems worth it.

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Hello December

Hey guys!

Remember me?

I know, it’s been 2 months since my last post and it might seem like I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. But I assure you, I haven’t. I’ve been busy, but not busy in just any old sense.

I’ve got a baby on the way!

Lol. This is not exactly how I wanted to spill the news, but after wanting to blog about this news for literally the past month, I’ve decided it’s time.

The past few months have been a crazy, crazy whirlwind, and I imagine the next few months will get even crazier! I’m 5 months along right now and due in April.

The first trimester was definitely an emotional one. I feel like no matter if the pregnancy is planned or not, there’s just so much going on that it becomes overwhelming to deal with. Especially the first one! There were so many changes that started almost as soon as I found it, and it was so exciting, but also weird to see my body start changing almost instantly. I can’t help but think about all the ways my life is about to change. I was filled with nervousness in those first three months, because they’re apparently the most delicate time during the pregnancy. I’m generally a nervous person anyways so I couldn’t help but wonder at my symptoms and kept questioning whether they were normal. And then I would stress about the lack of some of the most common symptoms (like morning sickness) and kept wondering if something was wrong with me or my baby!

I’m well into the second trimester now, with the first trimester fading into the background like a distant dream now. My body’s changing even more now, week by week, and I finally have a teeny baby bump! As much as many of us hate putting on weight, it’s so exciting to be able to finally see a sign of what’s being going on inside for the past 19 weeks or so.

I’m almost halfway there and can’t wait to meet my baby! With that being said, I still have moments of nervousness and doubt, as I wonder if I’ll be a good mom and how my relationship with my husband will inevitably change once baby is here.

Add in the fact that we’re moving in January, and I’ve got my hands full! Between packing up house, doctor’s appointments, and necessary naps, I barely have time for anything else. Blogging has taken a backseat, as have so many other things. I don’t feel as tired as I did in the trimester, but fatigue is definitely part of the whole package, along with a bunch of different aches and pains. So these days my motto is to take it slow. If it gets done, great. If not, I try not to beat myself up about it (too much).

So what’s new with you guys? The holidays are almost here, but it hardly feels like it! This is the first time I’m actually wishing for snow because it seems so weird that it still hasn’t happened yet. It’s hard to feel festive when it feels like spring outside! I still can’t believe the last month of 2016 is here…time is definitely flying! What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Anyways, that’s it for me. Hopefully I get to post for often as things progress 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Hello September

Yes, I know! This Hello September is kind of late (17 days late to be exact), but better late than never, right?

September always feels like the beginning of Fall, because I always associate it with the beginning of school. Beginning of school=Fall. Especially after Labour Day. But the weather for the past few years has been warm in September, so that the start of September doesn’t exactly indicate the start of Fall.

I can’t wait to get cozy with my sweaters and boots again though. As a hijabi, I layer up 365 days a year so it’s not like I layer any more once Fall starts, but there’s just something about that crisp Autumn air that gets me in the mood to reach for my cardigans more and more.

Have I ever mentioned my love for cardigans? Seriously, I’m OBSESSED. There was a point when 70% of my wardrobe were cardigans, I kid you not. I’ve been trying not to buy as many anymore, but it’s so hard to resist the different styles and colours that hit stores as soon as Fall starts.

I’m not a fan of pumpkin flavoured things, which some people crave as soon as the cooler weather hits. My flavour of choice for the Fall is apple. As soon as Fall hits, my fingers start itching to make a delicious apple pie. Unfortunately, my husband and in-laws aren’t big apple pie fans, and I don’t want to have a big pie sitting around to tempt me so I’ll probably be sticking to apple turnovers this year. Or I could also figure out a way to make my favourite apple pie smaller and more compact.

This past month has been crazy busy because of two things: kids and kittens.

My brother in law and sister in law went on Hajj in the beginning of September, and so I’ve been helping out watching their kids. I don’t have kids of myself yet but spending all day with them definitely gave me a taste of what it would be like!

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The second thing: we got a kitten! My husband brought her home one day randomly because someone he knows had kittens at their house, and he decided to get one. We named her Oreo.

I’ve always wanted a kitten, ever since I was little, but I’m also scared of animals. I’m not used to them at all, and I used to be so scared of my aunt’s cats ever since I was little and my grandma’s birds as well. But I always still wanted a kitten because I thought they were adorable.

So when my husband actually brought one home, I had mixed feelings. Being alone with the kitten was hard at first because she is so jumpy and playful that I never know when or where she’s going to come from! Because she’s only 2 months, she wants to play all the time, which is tough because I can’t play with her all the time. Even when I’m in the kitchen or trying to get some work done, she comes and pounces on my feet because she thinks we’re playing. Which is still kind of scary!

It’s still a challenge getting used to living with her, but here’s hoping it gets easier! Any cat people out there reading this? Do you have any tips for me?

Anyway, that’s it for me. Here’s hoping the rest of your September goes well!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Learning to Write Again

This past Monday, I began writing my fourth manuscript. The last time I wrote a full length novel or fiction manuscript was in 2011, which was Aisha.

Even though I’ve had the idea for this one even before Aisha, it took me more than 5 years to finally get around to writing it. And now that it’s been 5 years since I last put my fingers to the keyboard in this way, it’s quite difficult, I have to say.

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on this story, on and off. It’s constantly on my mind, and its persistence in never leaving my thoughts is the reason why I know it should be written. It’s a different story from the last one I wrote, and it requires a lot more work. It’s been roughly planned in my head for a few years now, with several gaps in it, and I’ve been at hard work over the past month in filling in those gaps so I can FINALLY start writing this thing. It happened this Monday.

None of what I wrote so far is magical and nor does it flow well. It’s awkward and my fingers feel crippled as I type the words out. There’s no beauty at all in the language. Every word I type reminds me how long it’s been since I’ve done this and makes me feel guilty about why I waited so long.

I miss the time when it was easier to put my fingers to the page and get my ideas down. There were of course hard days, but it never felt like it was as hard as it is now. It feels like I’m pulling a tooth out of myself, trying to get these words out of head and onto the page.

It honestly feels like I’m back to being a beginner. It’s like I’ve forgotten everything I had learned over my 15 years of experience. I honestly feels like I’m learning to write again.

There are times when I get stuck staring at the blank page, wondering how to phrase things and lose track of time, before I remind myself that at this point, I know the story. I will come to a point where the story is unknown and I will naturally have to take a break, for now, I know how this story begins. So I better get it out before writer’s block really strikes. Because it definitely will.

For now, my goal is to try and write everyday. It’ll definitely be a challenge, but consistency is the only way to get back into this and get some practice again. Otherwise I’ll just get rusty again! So it’s time for me to take a break from my other hobbies and really start to focus on writing again. So that means no more baking or scrapbooking.

Here’s hoping I don’t lose my focus!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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