Parenting

4 Arabic resources for preschoolers

January 17, 2017

arabic resources preschoolers

If you’ve been on the hunt for suitable Arabic resources for preschoolers that are fun, engaging, inexpensive and have multiple uses – you will love this list! I’ve compiled four of our favourite Arabic resources for preschoolers along with plenty of photographs and details about why we like them and how we use them in our home. You will also have an opportunity to win one of these resources, so stick around until the end of the post!

Here are the four Arabic resources we use on a regular basis for our preschoolers:

  1. Alif Baa app

 

alif baa app

This app has four different activities – tracing alphabets, putting them in the correct order, vocabulary and choosing the correct alphabet. The pronunciation is correct – I think pronunciation is crucial and I check for it before I use any resource with the kids. There’s no point in a resource that uses incorrect pronunciation, resulting in you needing to correct it. Yusuf loves tracing on the iPad and it’s one of the few apps he is allowed to use. I like that it covers so many aspects of learning the Arabic alphabet and isn’t just a alphabet – vocabulary app for instance. It is one of our favourites and I can see us using this for years to come. If you’d like to win access to the app, keep reading!

2. Arabic Alphabet flashcards by Creative Motivations

arabic flashcards

My sister (check out her blog here) bought these for the kids a really long time ago and we LOVE them. I am learning so much vocabulary from it myself, and although I know people frequently say that flashcards are a really boring way to teach children, I find that mine really enjoy it. Using these has really helped with alphabet recognition and the cards will be so useful even later on once he has mastered the alphabet because they contain so much detail on them. They demonstrate what the alphabet looks like at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle and at the end, and they cover three vocabulary words per alphabet. There is so much to learn! They have also included a handy transliteration key for those whose first language is not Arabic as well as a grammar and pronunciation guide for short vowels and nunations.  This is created by Creative Motivations – I’ve only just realised that there is a free PDF that they offer with these flashcards but their shop appears to be closed at the moment so I haven’t been able to download it. It’s on my list to get in the future though!

arabic alphabet flash cards

 

arabic alphabet flash cards

3. Arabic Alphabet Sound Puzzle by Desi Doll

This sound puzzle, in my opinion, is a must-have. The kids play with it nearly every day. I bought it for Yusuf as an Eid present when he was 2 and it helped with hand-eye coordination, colour recognition, sounding out the alphabets and as an added bonus, he got so much better at puzzles. We love this resource – you can tell ours is very well-used! This is produced by Desi Doll who make fantastic sound puzzles. They have a phonics version for the English alphabet and the kids are picking up phonics SO quickly and having fun doing it!

 

4. Fun Dough Arabic Letters by Desi Doll

I had been eyeing this for ages and snapped this up when Desi Doll had a sale recently. I wish I had bought it earlier! There are tons of play dough tools in this handy little bucket and you can create alphabets with all the little cutters. They can also be used for little cookies and icing and anything that is multipurpose is BIG in my book. It comes with five different coloured pots of play dough and several cutter shapes and tools. Yusuf’s favourite is the plunger! This is perfect for sensory play and children who have a physical learning style.

If you haven’t signed up to Desi Doll’s newsletter already – you can get 10% off your purchase!

GIVEAWAY!

The Alif Baa team have been kind enough to offer three readers a free app! To enter – pop over to my Facebook page and leave a comment on this post to say what you favourite Arabic resource for preschoolers is, and tag two friends you think might enjoy being a part of my little community on Facebook! I will pick a winner on Thursday, 19th January at noon (GMT). 

I hope you’ve found this list of Arabic resources for preschoolers useful! If you know of other resources, please share them in the comments below and tell us what you love about them – I’m always looking for more resources that we can benefit from!

Organising

Living LAGOM: How we spent our £300 budget

January 10, 2017

live lagom budget post

Not long ago, I wrote about the Live LAGOM project that I am currently working on with IKEA. The project is focused on helping us live more sustainably and whilst we already do quite a bit (more on that in a future blog post), we knew there was still lots more we could be doing to reduce our carbon footprint, our bills, and to teach our children how to create less waste, recycle more and live more healthily.

A large part of the project involves a personal shopping session at IKEA following a home visit, where we had the opportunity to pick up £300 of products that would help us on our journey to living more sustainable lives.

Here’s what we bought and why:

Bedding, Textiles & Rugs

RODTOPPA 7.5 tog duvets – £40

LJUDLIG & HEMMAHOS duvet and pillowcase sets – £16

Why?

The kids have been using their crib bedding which is a lot smaller and Yusuf in particular was growing out of his. Now that they are in single beds (we have the KURA midsleeper) we figured we’d get them larger single duvets that were a good tog – suitable for both summer and winter – and bed linen to go with it. Yusuf loves his – he often names all the vehicles on it and Nusaybah’s is so quirky – it’s basically little hand drawn graphics of IKEA products so it has been fun pointing out lamps, beds, rugs and other household items to her. I don’t like ‘busy’ prints or gender specific prints so these were perfect. It also means that if we have a guest over, they can use the duvet too. It serves multiple purposes and we now don’t have several different kinds of duvets/ bed linen sizes taking up room that we don’t have.

We laundered the kids smaller duvets and bed linen and donated them to a charity collecting items for the Syrian crisis.

VIVAN curtains – £10

GLANSNAVA curtain liner – £25

Why?

A while ago our bedroom window was vandalised by people whose idea of fun seems to be damaging others’ private property. An entire pane of glass from our double glazed window was shattered which made it considerably colder in the winter in our room. I refuse to have it repaired until we are close to selling/ moving out because I worry they’re just going to do it again. So in an effort to cut down on the drafts in our room and switch on the heating less, I bought the GLANSNAVA curtain liner that helps to block out light as well as provide a thick layer of insulation so we won’t have to switch the heating on as high as we have been. The liner hooks on to your curtain so you could take it off and use it in a different room if you’d like to in the future. I love it when products can be used in multiple ways. There was quite a bit that we had to take off the bottom, so I am saving that fabric for a future project.

 

HAMPEN rug

Image courtesy of the IKEA UK website

HAMPEN rug – £40

Why?

I umm-ed and ahh-ed over this for a while and then decided to get it because it was so much cosier and warmer for our living room than what we had. I got it in beige and it took me over budget by £13.50 which I was happy to pay. We love the look of our living room now and are working hard on keeping it clean and having a strict rule that means that no snacks, drinks, food are to be consumed anywhere but the dining room table!

Lighting & Batteries

IKEA LED bulbsRYET LED bulbs – £60

LEDARE LED bulbs (GU10) – £30

KOPPLA B22 to E27 converters – £1

Why?

None of the bulbs in our home were LED bulbs. I don’t consider our electricity bills high, but an electrician pointed out we were running six 50 watt bulbs in the kitchen for instance, which cost a fortune. We had terrible spotlight fittings in the kitchen – we literally had only 3 or 4 out of 6 fittings working properly and it was so frustrating cooking under lights that were hot and uncomfortable and that didn’t even work or worked only sporadically! I purchased some fittings elsewhere and got GU10 LED replacements at IKEA. We LOVE how much light there is now and the ceiling looks so much better. We have the same ceiling lampshades around the house for a uniform look and each fitting contains two bulbs so we went with a 1000 lumen bulb and the difference it makes is remarkable. We replaced 10 bulbs around the house, along with two others that were in pendant lamps. I happened to find a spare LED bulb when I was reorganising our boiler cupboard and I used that to replace the bulb in the boiler cupboard too! We used KOPPLA B22 to E27 converters which were only £1 for 2 – and that was all we needed so it was perfect.

STORHOGEN battery charger and storage

8 LADDA AA rechargeable batteries – £5.50

4 LADDA AAA rechargeable batteries – £2.75

12 LADDA AA rechargeable batteries (high energy capacity) – £16.50

STORHOGEN battery charger + storage case – £25

Why?

We use a lot of batteries in this house – I didn’t realise how many until I started counting. Remotes, game controllers, the kids sound puzzle boards, my keyboard and mouse – the list is extensive! I’ve had rechargeable batteries in my mouse and keyboard for a while and if I was buying regular batteries, I’d have generated a LOT of waste by now. I’ve got IKEA’s LADDA charger which is £10 and charges 4 at a time but have always wanted to splurge on the STORHOGEN. I love it! It stores the batteries and charges them, and when charged – goes onto standby mode. It will charge and store both AAA’s and AA’s and since I bought my husband the high energy capacity batteries which are great for game controllers, cameras, toys etc – there is no arguing over which batteries belong to whom. I am also no longer asked where they are when he needs them as they are all stored in one place and charged and ready to go.

 

HARTE LED work lamp

Image courtesy of the IKEA UK website

HARTE LED lamp – £15

Why?

I can only often get work done .in the evenings when the kids are in bed. Since my husband is up early for work, he tries to get to bed early so sometimes I’m still on my desk getting  things done – the lamp has been super helpful with me not having to strain my eyes or switch on the pendant light that uses more energy than the lamp does. It’s also SO small and I love how not clunky it is. I move it between my desk and bedside table and it doubles up as a lamp for both.

KOPPLA extension with usb port

Image courtesy of the IKEA UK website

KOPPLA 3 way socket with 2 USB ports – £13

Why?

I really needed this in our bedroom – I’ve got a desk lamp that doubles as a night light (I just move it from my desk to my bedside table at night) that needs power, as well as a phone charger, computer, printer, a FitBit and other USB devices that need to be plugged in. I’m going to try extending this to a spare shelf that I have behind the desk so I can have a little area set up for our laminator and printer.

 

LOTTORP clock timer thermometer

Image courtesy of the IKEA UK website

LOTTORP clock, alarm, timer and thermometer – £4

Why?

How fun is this? It was originally going to be used as a timer for us to take shorter showers. I take quick showers (every mother on the planet does) and my husband ‘thinks’ he’s quick but he isn’t really! This is going to double up as a timer for when the kids brush their teeth so it’s fun for them, and act as a timer for us all so the kids learn about wasting water and how important it is to be quick in the shower/ turn off water when we’re not using it.

Recycling & Indoor Gardening

 

DIMPA waste sorting bag

Image courtesy of the IKEA UK website

3 DIMPA waste sorting bags – £6.75

Why?

I do not recycle. None of the places we have ever lived in have had any facilities to recycle – just a general bin store where all the rubbish goes. I’ve also been lazy and tend to think it’s okay because everyone else recycles. The project has made me realise how important it is and since we still don’t have recycling facilities, I’ve discussed putting these bags in our bin store with my neighbours, to help us with recycling. Now we’re able to pop downstairs and separate our recycling from the large wheely bin things, and when the bags start to get full, we will take them a few buildings down to empty them out into the large recycling bins that are collected by the council. I’m really hoping this encourages the rest of our neighbours to recycle too and makes it easier for the ones that already are!

FROER growing pots and seeds – £1.50

VAXER seeds – £1.50

Why?

Because they were £1.50?! These are fantastic! 3 little pots with 3 seed sachets – you can chose whatever herbs you like. I got coriander (because if I’m able to grow this and stop spending on it, I will be THRILLED!), purple basil and lemon basil. The pot came with basil, parsley and mint – very excited about the mint!

I’ve been hard at work putting things where they need to be and there are still a few things we need to sort out. As soon as it’s all put together, I’ll do another post with a walkthrough of where everything is and how it has helped us! Do you own any of these products? How have you found them to be helpful in your home?

 

Eating

Instant Pot Cardamom & Ginger Cheesecake

December 19, 2016

instant pot cardamom and ginger cheesecake

One of my favourite whole spices has got to be cardamom. It’s subtle – so not overpowering like the clove, it doesn’t have cinnamon’s heat, or star anise’s hint of liquorice – it’s just a lovely, wholesome flavour that almost envelopes you as you devour it. So when I saw a cheesecake recipe for the Instant Pot, I knew I had to try a cardamom version. Inspired by Jo’s lemon and ginger cheesecake, I used a gingernut biscuit base for this, followed by a creamy, rich cardamom filling and topped with crushed pistachio nuts and toasted coconut for texture. This really is a delight to eat and the texture from ‘baking’ it in the Instant Pot is quite  possibly the best I have ever tasted.

You will need:

A 6-inch or 7-inch springform pan

Foil, to make slings to lift the pan out of the Instant Pot

Trivet

200 grams of gingernut biscuits

50 grams of melted butter

560 grams of cream cheese (I used full fat Philadelphia)

100 grams of caster sugar

125 ml of double cream

2 teaspoons of freshly ground cardamom

2 tablespoons of cornflour

2 eggs

A handful of pistachios, coarsely crushed

2 teaspoons of desiccated coconut, toasted

Method

Blitz your gingernut biscuits into a fine crumb in your food processor. If you don’t have one, put the biscuits in a ziplock bag, top with a tea towel and take a rolling pin and go.to.town! Once you have a pile of crumbs, add in your melted butter so you have the texture of wet sand.

Decant the biscuit base into your pan and evenly distribute it across the bottom and up the sides. I like a thick crust so this was perfect for my 6 inch pan. Using a glass helps me do this quite easily. Set it aside whilst you work on your filling.

using a glass to smooth out cheesecake base

Using a mixer, whip your cream cheese until it’s nice and fluffy. Then add all the rest of your ingredients and whip for no more than 30 seconds. Use a spatula to incorporate any bits left out and then leave the mixture alone to avoid overworking it.

kitchen aid mixing cheesecake

Pour your mixture into your biscuit base – tap it gently to ensure the filling settles nicely.

Now, prepare your Instant Pot. Begin by switching it onto Sauté mode to heat the pot. Pour in 1.5 cups of water and pop in your trivet. Thread a foil strip through each trivet handle and then lower in your pan. Cover the cheesecake with either several sheets of kitchen towel, foil, or a silicone (oven/microwave safe) lid, and then put on your Instant Pot lid.
adding the cheesecake into the pot

Ensure the valve is set to Sealing, then choose a manual cycle on High for 30 minutes. When this is complete, allow the pot to naturally release pressure for 10 minutes. Then release the rest of the pressure. When you remove the cheesecake, check that it is mainly set, with a little wobble in the middle. After cooling it on a rack, pop it in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight if possible.

When you’re ready to dig in, top it with your crushed pistachios and toasted coconut. Then savour it – it is a dream to slice and like chai in a cake. You’re welcome.


instant pot cardamom and ginger cheesecake

 

Recipe adapted from Every Nook and Cranny 

 

 

Thoughts & Reflections

Blog Anniversary Giveaway! (Closed)

December 11, 2016

blog anniversary giveaway

 

This month, my little space on the Internet is a whole year old. I can’t believe how quickly 2016 whizzed by but I have enjoyed building a little community and interacting with you all over the past year. I haven’t blogged quite as much as I wanted to in 2016 but I have been hard at work planning content for 2017 and I’m looking forward to sharing lots more with you in the new year inshaAllah!

Whilst planning content for 2017, I would love to hear what you enjoyed most in 2016 and what you are looking forward to seeing in future posts. I write content that I think others will find useful and beneficial and only review and recommend things that I use regularly and love. That being said, I would really like to hear from those of you that read my posts regularly and those of you that are new to the blog, to tell me what you enjoy so I can continue doing more of it, what you’d like me to do better and what you’d like to see that I haven’t explored yet!

To say thank you for your feedback, support and encouragement, one of you will have the opportunity to win an Instant Pot Duo 7 -in – 1! This is my most loved electrical appliance and I’ve benefited from using it so much that I think one of you should too!

instant pot

This prize isn’t sponsored – this is a product I wholeheartedly recommend and purchased myself for this giveaway.  You’ll find a helpful post on the Instant Pot here and a recipe that you might want to try, here. You’ll also find entry details and terms and conditions below. Please read them carefully before entering.

Remember to comment below to let me know:

      • What did you enjoy the most about the blog this year?
      • What would you like to see in 2017?

Thank you for all your entries! Congratulations to Cee J Williams – you are now the proud owner of an Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1! I have emailed you to notify you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends 25th December 2016 at 11:59 PM GMT.

The prize will only be posted within the UK, however the giveaway is open internationally to anyone with a valid email address if you live outside the UK and would like to gift your prize to someone within the UK instead.

The winner will win one new Instant Pot Duo 7 -in – 1.  

Enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget above.

The winner will be chosen through random selection and be notified by email.

The winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. 

Facebook and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway. 

If you are under 18, you must have parental permission to enter.

By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not share or sell information and will use any information for the sole purpose of contacting the winner. By entering your email, you agree to sign up to the And then she said newsletter for regular updates. 

Organising

Live LAGOM – Our journey to sustainable living

December 7, 2016

Live LAGOM sustainable livingLive LAGOM – those words didn’t mean very much to me until I read an email from the IKEA FAMILY team in October, inviting me to apply to participate in the nationwide project that would involve £300 worth of IKEA products, expert sustainability advice and a personal shopping session.

LAGOM is a term the Swedish use to refer to ‘in balance’ or ‘just the right amount’ – not taking too much but not going without either.

When I read the brief for the project, it seemed like something right up our alley and I applied immediately (anyone that knows me knows that I do not ignore anything IKEA!). A few days later, I got an email saying I had been successful (I did a little happy dance) and was invited to an induction session due to take place at IKEA Wembley in November.

I wasn’t sure what the induction session would be like, but couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. It was scheduled early on a Saturday before IKEA was even open (side note: IKEA with no one in it, is bliss) and so off I went, with Nusaybah in tow. She isn’t even 2 yet, but she can sense the excitement and loves IKEA (start ’em young I say!).

We were ushered in through the staff entrance and taken to the cafe where we were treated to a lovely spread. Nusaybah ate her way through the whole induction. We were also given little gift bags containing a lunch bag, water bottle (I was actually going to buy it after the induction session when I picked up a few other bits so was super chuffed!) and a lunch box – which is really great for separating different kinds of foods.

Our Live LAGOM leader Damilola took us through the ins and outs of the project and we got to hear from each other about what we wanted to gain from the project and what our current challenges are. A lot of us had similar challenges, such as:

Inability to recycle: Whether through lack of space, or facilities based on where we live

Energy wastage: Overheating homes, loosing heat through windows that are poorly insulated, not switching off appliances on standby or lights, etc.

Food wastage: Through improper food storage and lack of meal planning.

 

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I learned so much just through our induction – swapping to LED bulbs and remembering to turn off appliances instead of leaving them on standby could save us about £60 a year on electricity bills and if everyone in the UK switched to 3 minute showers, we’d save enough water to supply 1 million homes every day! The IKEA Hidden Gems brochure has tons of ideas for products that will help you live more sustainably too and our copy has been very well used through this process!

Living sustainably is a huge part of Islam too and I realised that whilst we do quite a bit (more on that in a future blog post), there is still lots more we could be doing to reduce our carbon footprint, our bills, and to teach our children how to create less waste, recycle more and live more healthily. This is a planet they will have to live on and raise future generations on after all.

The project runs until summer next year, but I am currently nibbling on bits of dark chocolate with some herbal tea, finalising my list following a home visit from our Live LAGOM leaders. I’m excited to share what changes we are hoping to make for the new year, as well as tips for how we currently Live LAGOM!

I’d love to hear about the challenges you have in your homes. How do you work towards living sustainably?

Eating

Instant Pot Masoor Daal

December 2, 2016

instant pot masoor daal recipe

Masoor daal is one of my absolute favourite daals – it’s richer and more filling than the split version, is inexpensive and with my Instant Pot, it’s a dream to cook and ready in minutes.

Here’s a step by step guide that will hopefully eliminate the guesswork to give you a great result even if you’re new to Instant-Potting!

You will need: 

  • Oil (enough to thinly cover the base)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger paste
  • 225 grams of crushed tomatoes or two medium sized tomatoes chopped
  • 1 green chilli (chopped or whole – we leave ours whole because of the kids)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder (this is optional, we used to add this before the kids ate with us, we don’t now)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala powder
  • Salt, to your taste
  • 1 cup of whole masoor dal
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of cream (optional – we use Oatly cream for a lighter but creamy finish)
  • Coriander leaves, chopped finely

Method:

  1. Before you begin to chop your onion, switch on the Instant Pot to Sauté (on Normal not High) – this will bring the pot to temperature and it helps to get things going so you’re not wasting time.
  2. Add a thin layer of oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan and when the oil is shimmering, sprinkle in your cumin seeds.
  3. When the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add in your chopped onion, garlic and ginger pastes and let them get nice and golden brown – this is key to getting a really flavourful daal.
  4. Once you are happy with the colour (I let it brown for a little longer than photographed below), add in your crushed tomatoes. My husband hates bits of tomatoes and the skin etc, so I always blitz tomatoes before using them. Pop in your green chilli now too.
  5. When some of the water has evaporated and you have a nice thick tomato paste, add in your powdered spices; chilli (if you’re using it), turmeric, garam masala and salt.
  6. Whilst that is incorporating, rinse your masoor daal in a colander (ensure you use warm or hot water, adding in cold food brings down the temperature of the pot and it takes longer to come to pressure).
  7. Add your drained masoor daal into the pot and stir until it is coated in the spicy sauce.
  8. Add 3 cups of water to this – ideally this should be three cups of boiling or very hot water – for the same reasons stated above.
  9. Seal the pot, select the manual function and start a 18 minute cycle on High. If you have soaked your masoor daal prior, you can probably cook this for a shorter period. I am usually in a hurry and prefer to just cook from the bag without having to soak.
  10. When the cycle is complete, push the steam valve to venting for a quick release of the pressure.
  11. Once you’ve opened the lid, put the pot back on Sauté and add your cream if you’re using it. Just stir it through for a minute or two and then switch off the pot or leave it on Keep Warm.
  12. Garnish with coriander before serving – this is lovely over basmati rice or with naan.

 

If you try this, I’d love to hear how you get on! You can always amend the recipe to suit your tastes; i.e. remove certain spices or add more of others. If you do try it, please tag me on Instagram @imanblogs so I can take a look!

Eating, Reviews

Help with your new Instant Pot

November 27, 2016
help with your new instant pot

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.

 My Instant Pot was an Eid present from my husband (bless his soul!) – he heard me go on and on about it after some friends in the US introduced me to it, and decided to surprise me with it. To say I was overjoyed was an understatement. We were both initially apprehensive about it, especially since I really didn’t want to have something unnecessary cluttering my worktop, and an expensive item at that, but it has lived up to every expectation I have had and more!

I have the 7-in-1 6 litre version and when I received it, I put off opening it until the kids were in bed, but was then too exhausted and finally opened it the next day, 15 minutes before I wanted to start dinner! I glossed over the manual, skipped the water test (don’t do what I did!) and went straight to cooking. I made a chicken pilau in it for the very first time and it turned out well for a fraction of the time it takes on the stove top.

To say the Instant Pot is useful would be an understatement. I’m able to cook without babysitting the pot on the stove, so if the kids are fighting or someone needs to go to the bathroom, I can walk away without having to worry that my food is going to burn, or that one of them will climb the worktop and burn themselves with an open flame. I still cook on the stove of course, but I do most of my cooking in the IP and it has cut down massively on the amount of gas used, and the washing up required.

Amazon has been running a Black Friday sale on the 7-in1 version for the brilliant price of £69.95 only and some of you who follow me on social media have bought it because of my multiple posts gushing over it! I thought I’d put together a list of tips of things I have found useful with my IP and links to resources I have found informative. This post is a work in progress so I will keep updating it as I try new methods and continue to test out new recipes.

Storing

When storing your Instant Pot away or when not in use, rest the lid upside down on top of the pot or prop it up on the side to air it out. The silicone ring will air out and the lid is less likely to smell of the food you last cooked when you use it again.

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Accessories

There are several accessories that will work with your Instant Pot to make it more efficient. If you need to purchase spare sealing rings or a spare inner pot – these should only be genuine Instant Pot ones, sold by Instant Pot. Anything else will compromise your unit.

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If you are looking for a glass lid for your Instant Pot, the IKEA STABIL series (the 24cm lid will fit the 6 litre inner pot perfectly) is just as good at a fraction of the price.

For steamer baskets, I would recommend these from the STABIL series. This one is one we already had and will fit into any saucepan so it serves various functions.

 

There are also accessories that will enable you to cook multiple things at once or to cook directly in the dishes you intend to serve/ store the food away in. I will cover these below.

Building pressure

You may see recipes that will say 5 minutes cooking time, or similar. The ‘cooking time’ refers to the time the food takes to cook from when pressure has built, to the end of the programme. You need to factor in additional time for the pressure to build at the beginning and then release at the end.  So bear this in mind when you are cooking if you need to have food prepared by a certain time.

To cut down on the time required to build pressure, you can do one of two things.

  1. Put the pot on sauté mode whilst you get your things ready. This builds the temperature of the inner pot so that when you programme it to build pressure, there’s already a considerable amount of heat in there as opposed to beginning from scratch.
  2. When adding any water, to rice or soups or anything else that you’re cooking, ensure this is warm or boiling water, and not cold – this will help to build pressure quickly.

Cleaning 

Here is an excellent video that demonstrates how to clean your Instant Pot correctly. Flo Lum’s channel also has a fantastic playlist of Instant Pot recipes – so you may want to check those out too!

To get smells out of your silicone liner, I would recommend washing in Milton sterilisation fluid or using Milton tablets which are inexpensive. You could also use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. I have three rings in total which I switch out when making particularly smelly food – for instance if I’ve made curry and will then be making yoghurt or a dessert. These will wear out with time (as they would with any pressure cooker) so I recommend keeping an eye on these and purchasing them when they go on sale.

Pot in Pot cooking

Pot in Pot cooking, or PIP as it is referred to in most Instant Pot community groups, is using another pot within the inner stainless steel pot to either cook directly in the container you intend to serve/ store the food in, or to cook multiple items at once by stacking two pots in the inner pot.

You can only do this with oven safe glassware or stainless steel containers. Pyrex is great for this and I have a set of these three glass flat bottomed bowls with lids – that are very affordable and perfect for using in the IP. You can cook directly in them so there is NO washing up (the inner pot would just have water in it that you could just toss out after) and any leftovers can go straight in the fridge – just pop the lid on.

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Pot in pot cooking instant pot

Indian style dabbas, like these, are great for this too – if you live near a store that sells Indian spices, food items, cookware etc, you will most certainly find one. Stainless steel conducts heat quicker than glass, so although pot in pot cooking means you may need to double the cooking time, your food will cook quicker in stainless steel than it will in glass. There’s a lot of trial and error with this, but I think it’s worth it once you’ve mastered it all.

I’ll keep adding to the list and would love to hear from you if you have any tips you find handy. If you haven’t got an Instant Pot yet and want to take the plunge – Amazon still has these on sale in their Black Friday Reloaded sale that continues all day today or until stock runs out. Purchase one here: http://amzn.to/2fnOjnv

Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link, which means that I may get a commission if you use it to make your purchase. However, it costs you nothing and enables me to keep bringing you great content. I only ever recommend products I use and love myself.

Organising

Baking Cupboard Organisation

November 19, 2016

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Over the past couple of years, my baking cupboard organisation has fallen short. I used to bake on a weekly if not daily basis before I had children. When I was pregnant with my first, I completely went off all baked goods. Cake was disgusting and I barely baked at all. I couldn’t stand the smell (shocking, I know).

Here's what the shelf looked like before ...

Here’s what the shelf looked like before …

Now the children are older, I have a little more time to bake and I’m not horrified at the thought of cake.  I often have more ingredients in, and I’m trying to get back to baking more. Flats in London, though, are tiny and often the smallest rooms are the kitchens, which gives you very little space to organise with. Our baking cupboard is more a ‘baking shelf’ and until this morning, was a hot mess with half empty packets of flour and a few items that were out of date as well as several duplicates of things because I’d end up buying things twice because I wasn’t sure if I had any.

Last week, I sat down and worked out a plan for the shelf. It looked a little like this:


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This is part of my re-organisation process. I rarely walk into a store and just pick jars or storage containers off the shelf. I need to have already measured the space, looked up containers, visualised them within the space, draw them into the space (in a little sketch like the one above) and then I make purchases. That way, I don’t have to stop mid-process and I haven’t wasted money on anything or time having to return things.

Once I had everything I needed, I cleared everything off the shelf and then gave it a thorough clean.

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I then put some of the containers in just to visualise how I was going to position them.

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After decanting everything into the containers and throwing away things that were out of date or ruined and putting other things where they actually belonged, I was left with this:

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Here’s what I used:

Lakeland storage caddy – At £4.99 this was an absolute steal. I knew I needed something that would keep small bits and bobs together, but that was easy to pull out of the cupboard when I needed it and would also fit my very shallow cupboard without taking up too much of the width. This was perfect.

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IKEA KONCENTRAT and KORKEN jars – These were also very inexpensive and they have an excellent seal, so I used the KONCENTRAT jars in two sizes to store chia seeds, flaxseed and cocoa powder. I would have loved the same jar in a taller size (straight and narrow) but the only alternative was the KORKEN jar which I was happy to get at £1.75 a jar.

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OXO Good Grips POP containers – I LOVE these containers. They are a little more expensive but they have this fantastic seal when you press the little button in the middle down and to release the seal, all you have to do is pop the button up again. We had a nasty weevil infestation once and everything was ruined. I’d like to see them try get past these!  They come in a variety of sizes as well so no matter what you have to store, you should be able to find a size that is just right for your space.

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I then needed to label everything and was umm-ing and aah-ing over chalkboard labels and printed labels – If you’re on my Instagram, you probably saw the poll! I ended up going with printed labels because I had some longer things to type out and they just wouldn’t fit the label properly using the chalk marker I had. I also think the size of the printed labels is perfect and doesn’t overwhelm the jars.

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I am thrilled with how this turned out and even happier that I was able to get it done with a relatively small budget. I can now see everything on the shelf at any given time so making shopping lists is quicker, taking things out to bake with is quicker, and it just isn’t an eyesore anymore.

Do you have a shelf you need help with or recommendations for how to organise your space? Leave your question in the comments below – I’d love to help! I hope you enjoyed the baking cupboard organisation process and hope that you are inspired to tackle a drawer, shelf, cupboard in your own home to have it looking great and working better for you!

Reviews

Discovering New Blogs – Liebster Award!

October 1, 2016

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I was recently tagged in a post by the lovely Nina over at Ready for a Cuppa, nominating me for the Liebster Award which is a great way to have readers discover new blogs and for more bloggers to get to know one another! It works a little like this:

  • I respond to the questions that Nina posed to us in her post,
  • I then come up with 11 new questions for other bloggers to respond to,
  • and I tag 5-11 new bloggers in the post who will go on to answer the questions and write their own posts with new questions.

Here are Nina’s questions:

  1. What or who inspired you to blog?

I have always thought of writing as a release and paper (or a computer screen in this case) as being the place to go to express what you think, feel or just what you’d like to share with other people – whether informative, creative, critical or just for fun. Parenting is a huge part of my life, as is eating and organising and I wanted to be able to share with others things that worked for us, things we love and my reflections. 
Bloggers like Jen over at ‘I Heart Organizing’, Amnah from ‘Little Life of Mine’, and Saira from ‘Confessions of a Muslim Mommaholic’ are some examples of bloggers I have been inspired by.

2. Who would you invite to a dinner party?

This is a tough one, but I would love to host (and not just for a dinner party) someone that has been affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. 

3.  If you had to give up one what would it be out of Tea, Coffee, Alcohol?

I don’t drink alcohol, so out of tea and coffee, it would probably have to be tea. I love coffee.

4. What’s your favorite view?

This isn’t a stunning view or something particularly out of the ordinary, but I live in a little development and the view from my flat is unobstructed so I see this great, absolutely massive tree on a daily basis. I watch it year round as its leaves change colour, fall off and as it becomes bare and then whilst new leaves grow in the spring. It’s difficult to explain, but I almost find it comforting.

5. Who is your inspiration in life?

My children. I know that’s a cliche, but they inspire me to be better in so many different ways on a daily basis. They are also my biggest challenge!

6. Whats the best piece of advise you’ve been given?

Never complain about your spouse to your family. You love your spouse and can forgive their flaws, but your family won’t. (Of course this does not include situations where emotional, physical or mental abuse is taking place).

7. What is at the top of your bucket list?

Making the annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj). 

8. Is there anything you would do differently if you could?

I’d try to be less anxious and relax more, taking things in my stride.

9. What’s the one place you would love to see if money were no object?

The Amazon rainforest.

10. What would you do with a lottery win?

Build a multipurpose Masjid with adequate prayer facilities for women and mothers with children, as well as space to hold engaging activities for young people. London is sorely lacking in building facilities like these – where the masjid is somewhere that accommodates everyone and somewhere that young people spend their time, instead of hanging out on street corners.

11. How do you relax?

A lit candle, YouTube or my favourite show, and chocolate.

That was fun! It’s my turn to nominate other new bloggers, so here’s my list:

Simply a Mama

Blogs by Amna

Thinkaholic Mom

The Sarah Effect

Arabic Seeds

A Muslimah Misunderstood

Muslim Mommy USA

And here are my questions to them:

1. What have you found most challenging about blogging since you started?

2. What’s your pet peeve?

3. Have you ever considered changing your name? What would you change it to?

4. What is your biggest accomplishment?

5. How open are you to trying new foods? On a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being not at all and 10 being always!

6. What would you do with your last £1? (or whatever currency applies to you)

7. Who is your favourite author and why?

8. Describe your home in three words.

9. What is your guilty pleasure?

10. What’s the best blog post you’ve ever written? (Link it below too!)

11. If you have to pick one season to have the entire year – what would it be?

I look forward to reading your posts! I’d also love to hear from my readers – comment below if you’d like to answer any of the questions I’ve posed!

Just a little reminder of what the rules are:

RULES

  1. Write a blog post about your nomination, displaying an image of the award.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked you in his/her blog post.
  4. Nominate 5-11 other starting bloggers who you think deserve this award, and come up with 11 questions of your own for them to answer. I’ve actually got 13
  5. List these rules in your blog post.
Creating

DIY Eid Mubarak bunting: Guide + Free Printable!

September 10, 2016

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We’re only a couple of days away from Eid ul Adha people – it’s crunch time. For some reason, I feel like Eid ul Adha is celebrated with a lot less enthusiasm compared to Eid ul Fitr and that is just pants. I’ve been trying to make sure the kids enjoy Eid this time around just as much as they did Eid ul Fitr and one of the things I got them excited about was bunting!

Sure, you can buy Eid bunting relatively cheaply and be done with it, but it’s a LOT more fun to make your own. You could then keep it to use year in and year out or pull out to show the kids what they helped to make years from now. Creating this bunting is so easy, I almost hesitate to call this a ‘guide’.

All you will need is:

  • Scissors
  • Glue or white tac or whatever adhesive you want to use that will not bleed through paper
  • String, ribbon or twine – whatever you want your bunting to hang from
  • A stapler
  • Eid Mubarak letters – print these using my free printable
  • Scrapbooking paper or any coloured paper that you’d like to use

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Start by printing out this bunting template and cut out the triangle.
  2. Choose your coloured paper and the order you’d like the prints to appear. Then, using the bunting template as a guide, trace the outline of the template and cut out 10 triangles.img_6365
  3. Cut out the Eid Mubarak letters using the circle guides in my free printable and place them on your triangles. Lay them all out on the floor, check that you like the arrangement of colours and letters and then once you’re happy with it all …
  4. Glue everything to the triangles – this is where the kids can help and will really enjoy glueing the bits of paper. (Excellent opportunity to recap the alphabet here)img_6370
  5. Once you have your individual triangles ready, fold down the top part. This is marked ‘Fold’ with a dotted line on the template. Turn the triangles over, interlock them and staple them together so they all stay together. The staples are usually never visible unless you’re using plain white paper, so don’t worry about them. If you’d rather not staple – you could always glue them together.img_6374img_6375
  6. Then thread a piece of twine throughout the triangles and glue it underneath the fold in various places. I used ribbon for my Ramadan banner but decided to use twine this time.
  7. Add embellishments. I used some silver foil stars, you could use paper tassels or anything else you have lying around.dsc00030
  8. Hang it up! I love using easy stick-on hooks from Poundland – they don’t mark the walls when you pull them off and are so affordable at 6 for £1!dsc00031

I hope this guide has been helpful for those of you who would like to create your own decorations. This took me less than 30 minutes to make, the kids got involved and it’s a fun, inexpensive way to mark Eid in your home. If you try this, I’d love to see your photos – please tag me on Instagram (@imanblogs), Facebook (@andthenshesaidblog) or Twitter (@imanblogs) – Eid Mubarak to you and yours! <3