December 30, 2016

LIVE- Don't Just Exist- New Years/New You Resolutions

Let's be real for a moment.... especially since I am turning 30 in less than a month (trust me, I am in my most vulnerable state).

REALITY: You have ONE chance at this life... You have one opportunity to stand apart, make a difference.... So, don't think that there is any cheesiness in being reminded that New Year or New Life resolutions need to be implemented. So apart from asking yourself what you can do for the world, what global cause you need to be a part of, also take a look at your life because change truly begins with yourself.

Here are just a few starting suggestions on a ringing in a New Year/New You.




HEALTH- 10-40 MINUTE WORKOUTS-

Find a healthy hobby for yourself that involves movement of any kind. Studies show that movements for 10 minutes per day that get the heart racing can add years to your life, or at least make the years that you are living healthy ones.

However, if you can muster up MORE than 10 minutes... it might be better. :-) I started spinning, and with the right instructor, right vibes and ambiance, you will love it. I took a hiatus because work got busy, but I am making three gym bags (one for my office, one for my car and one for the coat closet by the door of my house)... there will be NO excuse not to go. Eat your lunch at the desk so you don't waste time and can get back home to cook, clean, read, work, cuddle with kids... etc.



TECHNOLOGY FREE HOUR

When Asad and I are around the kids in the room, the kids light up when we give them undivided attention and we learn so much about them when there are no distractions. So, if we can't give up phones all together (work emails are ringing in, amazon itch, CNN alerts, etc.), make one hour after dinner technology FREE.



INVEST IN YOUR DIVINE RELATIONSHIP

Like that technology-free hour, make it a point to read one page of Quran or your religious text (WITH meaning) per day, together. I find that turning to Allah gives us peace, humility and a moment to see that we are working in this life to please God, and work in his cause. This motivates me to give back to the community when I read about alms, or patience, or to focus on education when I read about the dangers of ignorance. The religious text is your ultimate.

I really enjoy the Study Quran book. Once you're done, it's a nice book to share with others.




















FIND SOMETHING AT WORK TO GET PERFECT AT

Having work or life goals that you set for yourself are extremely important. Oftentimes, we use the metrics that work creates for us and are forced to follow through. However, knowing that you have your own worth at work or in life that YOU are seeking to develop on and that you alone thought of, makes the fruits of that execution all the more fruitful!

.... there are so many more but I want to make some of these goals possible and having a manageable number of them makes it easier. Find someone you love to keep on check with you, make a whatsapp group. I have several different groups that help me keep in check with how I am with (1) family and husband; (2) realities of work-life balance, and (3) another one dedicated to eating home meals with my Instant Pot fanatics (you know who you are), and even a few more. We often meet when we can, so don't just be a whatsapp group...

December 29, 2016

BEAUTY FIND- Eye Shadow Artistic Palette for Desi Girls- $25 Steal

I came across a great deal from Sephora for a $25 "Make Up For Over Artist Palette Volume II- Artistic" eye shadow kit which would normally go for $144 at the separate shadow costs. It would then normally go for $44 as a kit, but it is even further reduced to $25.

I wanted to share it (especially for my desi girls). These are REALLY great pigmented colors that I think would be incredible for most Indo-Pak weddings function where we know eyes need to match-up to the crazy gorgeous outfits we wear with incredible colors (peacock green and sharp pinks)...

Sometimes when the eyes pop, the liner is "on fleek" as the kids say these days (:-P), it all looks incredibly professional-- and investing in a palette is worth it... ESPECIALLY for $25.

The top three are some of my favorite regulars. (HINT: Drop some water on your brush and get the colors even more pigmented and it also will prevent some spillage over your concealer).

The bottom two rows would be BEAUTIFUL for the functions that we have in our culture. These should work on most tones, but these would REALLY POP on desi skin tones and darker complexions.

Information from Sephora: 




Most of these colors are from this palette.


PRODUCT INFORMATION: 

What it is:
A collectible, eye shadow palette with nine must-have Artist Shadow formulas in neutrals and bright pops of color. 

What it does:
This palette features the coveted, easy-to-use Artist Shadow formula for endless eye looks—ranging from beautifully natural to highly artistic. With its advanced gel-powder formula blended with ultrafine pigments, each shade leaves a smooth, even finish that leaves lids ultra-saturated with highly-blendable, lasting color. The shades are organized in trios so you can effortlessly create playful, bold, and sultry looks. This palette includes an illustrated, step-by-step application techniques by MAKE UP FOR EVER’s founder and creative director, Dany Sanz, to help you sweep on a number of artist-inspired eye looks. 

This palette contains: 
- 9 x 0.06 oz Eye Shadow in I-872 Pearly Pink, ME-910 Electric Magenta, S-924 Purple, D-552 Crystalline Gray Beige, ME-232 Turquoise Blue, ME-302 Peacock, ME-512 Golden Beige, ME-700 Amber, ME-930 Black Purple 
- Illustrated step-by-step application tips

December 28, 2016

Faithful Foodie: Art of Eating (and a kickoff recipe :-))

Other than believing I was born to be believer of all things beautiful in God, this world, and with each other, I was born to eat. Shall we call it "Foodieism"....

I understand that it just went from deep spirituality (God and beauty) to something so shallow (feeding myself).  Don't get me wrong. I believe I was born for the religious aspects, but everything in life has taught me that there is something else so great surrounding us-- the fact that we can be creators and masters of something that causes so much joy. It isn't about sustenance, it is about so much more.

I really cannot help but feel that there is something spiritual in a food experience, whether it be cooking yourself or exploring someone else's creations.

I feel that all people can be foodies if they start seeing, understanding and appreciating what they eat. You can eat to live or live to appreciate the art of eating.

I ate egg drop soup and miso soup as early as I can remember because my father explored. He wasn't a crazy food explorer -- but he was a simple guy with a DEEP passion in finding enjoyment in everything, and that included food.

I try to instill those qualities in my children. While it is a struggle with Zakariya who likes the good basics, his fan-favorites and nothing too "different" (Asad often pleads that some nights the dinner not be "too different" if you catch his drift which I often don't), however, Ilyas, a reincarnation of my dad (and me), likes everything with a kick, the yogurt with the spices and mint (raita), the cucumbers with some sea salt and pepper, and rice with something added, just something that makes it... different. :-)

But balancing everyone's interests makes it all the more special... because when you make that meal, or eat out around the table where you all met and gathered, and we all collectively show our complete satisfaction (the "wow" moment), there is an elevation of mood. That is the spiritual sense of food.

So here it is! Let's start on my first recipe! Braised Spicy Rack of Lamb

(TIP: Get halal New Zealand lamb from Costco or TJs- at select locations) 

MAIN INGREDIENTS

  • 1 rack of lamb- take off excess fat where you see it (PRO TIP-  If you are not a fan of "LAMBY" lamb taste, the fat is the culprit) 
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cups of roughly chopped carrots 
  • 1 cup of chopped potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 onion (red or white) sliced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Tspon Crushed red pepper
  • 1 Cup of Broth or Water
  • Small handful of dried parsley or 1 tspn of mint (garnish) - depending on your end flavor interests




MARINADE 
  • 3 green chilies or jalapenos (I find any pepper will elevate the taste here, leave seeds in) 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika or paprika
  • 1 1/2 tspn oregano (PRO TIP- Try the 21 Seasoning from TJs, it has a little bit of everything that will elevate the taste in ANY dish) 
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds or crushed cumin
  • 1 tspn of cinnamon powder 
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (I would put 2.5-3, I like it garlicky) 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (PRO TIP- Costco has a good quality one) 
  • 1 tspn Sea salt and 1 1/2 tspn of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon meat tenderizer or papaya (this really softens the meat) 

  • STEPS
  • 1. Mix all the ingredients in the marinade. Mix the spicy chilies (most work and figure out how spicy you want it), smoked paprika, oregano, cumin seeds, cinnamon, garlic, 2 tablespoon of olive oil and seasoning together. After taking off lamb fat, cut small slithers and rub the mixture into the lamb so that it is well flavored.  Put the papaya or meat tenderizer (mine is from Shaan but I am looking for organic alternatives). I marinated mine for 48 hours but I like mine VERY soft. I think 24-36 hours is fine too. I know folks who have done it for a few hours with the tenderizer and its still fine
  • 2. I sear the meat this point in a large dutch oven or Le creuset with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the lamb in it for about 6 minutes until nicely browned but not sticking. Then add whatever remained in the marinade.
  • 3. Add the sliced onions, carrots, and potatoes for 5 minutes together. Put the lamb on the veggies. Add the diced or stewed tomatoes to deglaze and then add the liquid of your choice. Let those work its magic together. I add some additional cinnamon at this point and pepper. TEST FOR TASTE at this point. Here, I usually add crushed red pepper (I like it spicy). Reduce it after a few minutes of cooking together and transfer the dish to the oven to cook for 1 or 1.5 hour uncovered (check to see that the liquid still remains). 
  • 4. After it cooks in the oven, I check the carrots and potatoes. I put it back on the stove and let it simmer a little bit longer (10 minutes). At that point, if its too much liquid, I will take out the rack of lamb and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with water. Put the meat back in after the liquid mixes and gets a bit thicker. 
  • 5. Garnish as you like (cilantro, mint or parsley)
  • 6. Serve over mashed potatoes or with bread and garlic butter. 

(finished product)

(Cooking stages)



January 28, 2016

BabyMAN + Musings + South Africa + Traveling Tips

I tend to have LONG hiatuses before returning to blogging. The reason for this hiatus came in the form of a little caramel munchkin named Ilyas.


I love sharing advice on my favorite beauty products, baby products, home decor, baby advice, foodie experiences, or recipes.... but I also LOVE talking about travel. I think it is great for the soul to take a break from whatever is happening and go on that weekend getaway, or even that ONE night away in a city nearby, or a small town inn that you have been meaning to visit. It is refreshing! 

So here is my comeback 2016 post on traveling encouragement and tips. 

WHY TRAVEL? 

I will be honest and say that my sweeeet sweet angel Ilyas was extremely irritable for 3 full months of his life. As soon as 4 months hit, the heavens sang their most beautiful songs, full of chirps, waterfalls and any other heavenly sound (I may have even heard a harp). To get through that those irritable baby days, and driving my older one to his school (which helped a lot with allowing individual attention for my baby and a different KIND of montessori attention for Zakariya). Sometimes I wanted to take a break when the baby was napping and dream away--  an escape into my alternate reality- one I foreshadowed and dreamed of (i.e. the journeys I wanted to take).

I decided it was time to stop merely perusing through the Travelzoo deals, Conde Nast lists, the NYT collection of "36 Hours in [name city]" every time my precious fell asleep.

My sanity has always come from family time, good food, planning the next adventure, and then the amazing adventure itself. I don't consider myself a material person in that when I get "things"... I like them, but when I can gain different experiences, I'm ecstatic. A number of articles cover this concept. Including The Atlantic, Elite Daily, and WebMD to name a few.  

Here we were, I knew that my baby's colic phase was coming near its end, and that I had a 6-month maternity leave (a lengthy leave I will forever be grateful for but definitely earned). OBVIOUSLY, while others thought I was crazy (which I am), what other time could we do something where I did not have billable pressure or clients expecting things (true story- during poolside time in Aruba, I had an "emergency call" to my hotel room asking for where a document saved to the system was for a client 20 minutes before my prepaid scheduled massage appointment- like HOW was I supposed to enjoy my day that day knowing they had trouble finding of my most key documents.... this was NO way to vacation).

SO, we took this as our opportunity to do something we considered rather difficult with kids, because the more kids we had, the harder (and more expensive it would be). Zakariya had already turned 2 so he was a plane ticket, but Ilyas was almost free on flights... So we were deciding between Australia and South Africa. South Africa was a trip that Asad and I  had been meaning to take, we played around with our budget, the dates, and deals, and after 5-6 weeks of discussing it, we booked it!

I was asked a lot about my trip to SA and travel tips in general, so I wanted to compile the top thoughts that came to mind.


TRAVEL TIPS WITH KIDS
(and some specific tips if you are planning on South Africa)

BEFORE YOUR TRIP:

-- Purchase a GOOD stroller to take with you- We took an all-terrain Uppababy Vista, and were thanking Allah every new terrain we met. If you are in the mood to sell your old one, and want to make a trip more comfortable, think BIG storage necessary and all-terrain wheels, good lock system, and fast fold. There are many others in the market, I have just been an UB fan since before the year Z was born :-O



I even went through the headache of selling our old UB Vista to get the new one when we knew it had more features to add on a second and third child to its stroller. So, think about selling yours to offset the cost of a brand new one.

-- Get the baby used to a carrier-- I ABSOLUTELY loooooved my Solly Baby Wrap - I tried EVERYTHING from Baby K'tan, Ergo Baby (which I also loved in Cali for Zakariya but was too bulky and didn't fold well), infantino mei tei (I also liked this one but it was too thick for summer), and maybe one or two more I can't remember that I returned back to amazon with a scathing review. Of course. Ilyas LOVED LOOOOVED the baby wrap.... it was a pain away from colic and I technically didnt have to get him "used to it" before we left, but some babies do need to get into the groove of being wrapped up and attached to mom for at least a week before your trip because it WILL be your savior ON your trip.

 
(I don't know WHO I think I am here, but I think it's to show you some sort of dramatic mom ballerness and happy sleepy child)


-- PAY extra for that lens (you will use it TIME and time again)... I know the cost of the Canon/Nikon itself is still bothering your soul, but if you could do it then, get a nice lens - visit B&H or some other specialty camera store, compare prices and just CLICK ORDER.

--Avoid connecting flights- It is WAY more irritating (especially with kids) to catch connecting flights by navigating an entirely new airport, rearranging flights if you missed your connecting flight, going through extra security lines in many cases, and getting kids out of what became a comfort zone in their flight seat. 

-- In-Flight Baby Bassinet- If you have a baby under 6 months, as SOON as you are booking your flight, request that you have the first aisle with the infant seat- it is EXTRA legroom and perfect bassinet for the baby. It is worth the extra money for pre-reserving as some flights require it.



-- Purchase travel pillows to take with you! It will come in handy in getting the kids comfortable, getting you arranged, from blocking a seatbelt hook or uncomfortable seats... its just bound to help many times on the trip. (Our experience: Skip Amazon for these... TJMaxx or Ross usually have a set for $10.. no need to get the fanciest ones if you are going to get a bunch. 

-- Solicit advice from travel agencies (just don't use them- they have their prices 40% what you can get on your own)-- tell these agencies you are traveling with kids and are looking for family friendly options so they can give you their thoughts on complaints or raves from former clients. But, ask several different agencies so you know that they are speaking with honesty and not because they get a larger commission out of recommending certain resorts. (Our experience: We specifically wanted a malaria-free safari zone and a safari resort that catered to kids EXTREMELY well, and there were a LARGE number of options which was surprising to many. But I have been researching this, and my family being from the region, it wasn't shocking to me which is why I was comfortable. (Our experience: If you are thinking South Africa, we highlyyyyy recommend Madikwe's Lelapa Lodge (Lelapa actually meaning FAMILY). 

-- Search for unconventional options for your stay- We chose to search for an apartment style hotel that didn't lose out on luxury. (Our experience: Check out Cape Royale in Capetown or MORE Quarters). The fact that these rooms have kitchens for the kids snacks and are usually near small supermarkets for you to get your kid's favorite foods (eggs in the morning were a must for Z sometimes, croissants were another favorite...milk was also nice to have at all times of the day). I would recommend either getting a kitchen in that room OR making sure you had a package with breakfast included because it will make it a LOT easier on your body and for the kids to have ample options before you head out for the day, rather than looking for that "famous" brunch spot. Trust me, as a foodie, that was HARD. But you can always do the foodie dinner or high-tea during the kids' nap times (IF they ever coordinate). But, the best thing about staying in a city for more than 5 days is to make sure you have a kitchen!




-- Take an extra suit case within a larger one -- One suit case should be dedicated to the kids needs. Don't skip out on what they need and this includes a humidifier, if possible, especially if your kids are susceptible to allergies. Take ALL the gripe water or gas drops you can get because YES, although you are not always going to a third-world country and you can get these things if have to, it is MUCH easier to just open up a bag rather than worry about needing to search around those shopping marts.

-- Purchase an ENTIRE kit of Hyland's Homepathic for Kids - I bought this and LOVE it. It has one for bruising (made from honey), one for colds, another for fever, and a number of other ones.

Keeping that toddler busy on the plane!!  

-- Stock up travel toys and snack- Go to the Dollar Store - and get several small toys to wrap up in small gift paper and give your toddler one gift every 30 minutes to one hour. We had a 14-hour direct flight and survived... Of course we had to give the iPad sometimes, but generally he was great with coloring, organizing his cars, and eating his favorite snacks. (Our experience: We purchased organic Vitamin C lolipops for Zakariya to have on the plane and during travel which we thought was great because he would suck on it for an hour and a half, and all of it was natural juices that would protect him against germs. Just be sure to take on a travel size kit with for toothbrush so you can do it before they sleep on the plane. Download a bunch of drawing games, tracing alphabet, and work on the ipad/iphone together so you don't think you are throwing him into tech trenches... all that screen time can make them irritable and angry so careful to limit the screen time and/or monitor and make it interactive.

IN COUNTRY:

-- Consider getting a private tour driver or hop on/hop off- We used a private tour company that customized a package for us for three of the five days we were in Capetown. They made frequent stops, had car seats for us ready in the car, were not bothered when we wanted to stay 2 hours at one spot, and 10 minutes at another. Plus, we always had someone to be a personal photographer which was important because you did not travel across continents with two babies to not have anything captured! SHOP around for prices, and DON'T be afraid to negotiate before you get there. Make sure you check ratings of tour guides and tour companies on TripAdvisor also.

If the private tour company doesn't work out, we LOVED using the hop on-hop off buses on our other trips. Asad and I used one in San Francisco when Zakariya was 4 months old and loved his carrier. We didn't think it was feasible with a toddler and a baby, so just weigh things out for yourself and MAP your stay out before you get there. If you don't do ample planning beforehand, you will not enjoy your trip because you will allow the city to overwhelm you and not be in control.

Also, consider getting an uber account. In SA they had uber cars everywhere and you needed to request a carseat in them, and voila.

-- Make reservations to your foodie spots! MANY major popular spots book fast, and/or you had a plan to go to one but you later discovered they don't allow kids. Email restaurants or reserve space online before you get there. South Africa's main city, Capetown, had halal at MANY places but I wanted to make sure before we got there which ones had it. (Our experience: Check out one of the MANY outdoor food markets for an amazing well-rounded and fun foodie experience). Also, make sure that you can get 2-in-1 deals with these dinners (i.e. dinner with performance of whirling dervishes in Turkey, drumming performance with multi-course meal in South Africa or Kenya), Hawaiian Luau with music and dinner buffet on the beach).



-- Have low expectations that you will make it through your "Top 20 things to do" - do NOT put that much pressure on yourself to do EVERYTHING mentioned on Trip Advisor's MUST SEE list... make a list of what you really want to do, and then rethink it with kids in mind and their comfort. Once you get there and still want to attempt it, don't be dismayed when it doesn't go perfectly.

What really counts at the end is when your eyes are awake, you aren't exhausted, you have moments to breathe and take the amazing air in, when you can count the stars with your toddler until you can count no more, when you can smile at your baby out of their baby carrier and see them flail their arms in comfort and freedom, and when you can just hold your husband's hands to say together Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), Mashallah (God has willed it), and Subhanallah (Glory be to God), that his World is a beautiful place, and he has provided us means to explore it.

Take time for yourself. Explore new places, and take a break from work, school and put aside some money every year to make sure it happens. May Allah bless all your journeys.. wherever and whenever they may be.

September 15, 2014

Turkey

I recently visited Turkey with my husband and 16-month-old. I had planned a trip in 2012 with another couple (love you Y&Y) but it was cancelled so we could go to Pakistan for a wedding and to visit Asad's grandparents.

I, alhamdulillah, had a chance to visit Turkey for a full country tour during college. We went to both sides of the Bosphorus, hiked in the mountains of Cappadocia, spiritualized in the tomb of Rumi, and witnessed the meeting point of two seas.

While it was a tour involving understanding some socio-political undertones and a bit of a cultural awareness trip, I was ready to visit with Asad this time and take my baby on his first international trip. 

I fell in love then... but this time, I fell in love all over again.

This post will cover a few things for friends and family who plan on visiting Turkey (or re-visiting).

Destination: Old City
I think the best thing we did was stay in the Old City, also known as the Sultanahmet Distict.

It is a spectacular area full of cobblestone, caf├ęs, history, major landmarks and the sounds of at least 4 masjids. Their Four Seasons was in the MIDDLE of the district, took its own street, an interesting history, gorgeous rooftop, and amazing staff. If you're into splurging, think about this place seriously! If not, Sura Hotel had it's own garden area, a very Ottoman style feel and extensive breakfast. TripAdvisor will be your best friend in choosing a hotel.

There are MANY other options, but from what we looked at, the more you searched the more you realized this was Europe and hotel rooms could be VERY small.

Wherever you stay, ask for a balcony or a view of the masjids and/or sea. Also, always ask for upgrades and milk everything for what it's worth! You're paying a lot- try to get everything you can! You would be surprised what happens when you say "is there an upgrade available?" Even if it's for a small fee, it often means extra amenities, at least 100 sq ft. More.

June 9, 2014

Top June Product- Organic Tinted Moisturizer

I want to continue highlighting some favorite products of mine since I'm
always googling award winners and reading reviews before I ever purchase anything (and I mean everything).

I like exploring beauty finds, health food finds, good books and just items that I think can uplift people.

The product I chose for June is for women (sorry brothas)! 

I've chosen to highlight organic skincare, and specifically organic makeup. 

While I am not a huge fan of foundation or anything heavy, I do appreciate light coverage and tinted moisturizer usually fits the bill. 

I may also preface that I'm not a hippie tree-hugger either, but when it comes to taking care of your skin in your 20s and 30s, everyone should be a hippie organic loving yogi. But not like the Haight-Ashbury-SanFran-California-homeless kind. As usual, I'm side-tracked... Now, getting back to it!



Physicians Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer is an amazing product.

It's readily found in almost every major US store, and OF course on amazon prime.

Price Point: Very reasonable.
It's $9-$12 and will last about 8 months of daily use. 

Amount Needed: For coverage, you only need two nickle-sized amounts on your cheeks and then blend it. I actually pick my exact color for foundation/TMs so that I don't need to put it on my forehead since I don't want to risk the oiliness increasing and turning y T-Zone into pre-teen pizza face. 

Skin type: This is for combo skin, so really for the average person I would say.

I've used Shiseido and have always recommended their tinted moisturizer but it's no longer sold, and was a bit on the pricy side. 

There are still many options out there, but this is truly a product that is great for the skin and offer coverage for non-party everyday wear.

HIGHLIGHTS: It's all organic, GMO free, no parabens, and no harsh chemicals. 100% of this makeup is made from natural ingredients.

I don't think your skin can thank you enough! It has light coverage but it lasts a long time- at least 8 hours.

LOWLIGHTS: SPF is only 15, so I'd suggest wearing a high SPF moisturizer underneath

The smell is very plant-like and earthy (not like roses and lavender kind of way either). I actually don't mind it, smells like a lot of organic spas and natural oils and plants that I've been surrounded by but it could bother others since it is pretty strong. But, it's for a few seconds! Once it blends, it's gone.

There are only three colors. For those who personally know me, and feel like our skin color matches, I recommend the fair to natural, as the next color made me look like Snookie, on vacation ... near the equator, without sunblock... You get the point.

Since there are only three colors, they do a pretty good job of having quite a few colors close to mine good for  the "fair to natural" range. So, if you've never considered yourself "fair" I would still give that color a try if you're even 1-2 shades darker on a 10 scale. It does a good job of adjusting the tint.

-------------------------------

If you have a recommendation for partywear foundation that's still good for your skin, recommend it to me! I'm still looking for a good one. Although, I will probably always be married to Shiseido's Moisture dual balance foundation since it feels like nothing and adds moisture throughout the day (which prevents wrinkles, b-t-dubs), I'm always open to trying new stuff.






May 8, 2014

Bar Studying

I wanted to offer a few tips that I think proved successful on the actual three-day madness of what is the NY and NJ bar exams. If you have feedback, please share. If you are willing to be a mentor (or mentee), check out Practicing Attorneys for Law Students Program (PALS) (www.palsprogram.org).

1. You are your worst enemy.

Do NOT let preliminary overarching concepts that don't quite make sense yet bring you down- I assure you, it will COME together and coalesce the way it needs to, and the way it's supposed to. Just go ahead with your prep program and trust in it.

Don't let every single day be tiresome and beat yourself up for the crazy amounts of topics and reading material. It is doable and has been doable for years.

Just take it slow- concentrate in what you're doing- watch parts of the lecture over again- re-read notes to make sense of it ... And MAYBE find a trusting partner to bounce ideas off of (or just email BarBri)... I did both. Those people know who they are and I thank them till this day for being there!

2. Essays AND MBE should be weighed equally in your head 

If you are taking NJ, the two are actually split equally. In NY, it's 40% MBE and 60% the essays and MC. The way I look at it is to concentrate on both areas. Even if you're generally good in multiple choice or essays, the bar exam is a different beast.

MBE: most similar questions were ones I saw in adaptibar. BarBri is great as well to light the fire and make you feel inadequate even at the height of your studying but KNOW now that it is only a tactic-- and it works :-p

Kaplan's red book also is great because it shows you how many different ways the bar can ask questions. Some law firms are willing to pay for supplemental bar programs if they agree to pay for your main choice so take advantage of that!

3. Stay focused

This is truly a marathon, not a sprint! 

Take away all distractions. I left my firm for 8 weeks to study- unpaid because I didn't take it in July and by the time February rolled around, I had started work. That is thousands of dollars lost and cases that were assigned to me were given away...  but to me, it was more important to do this RIGHT and only once. Others may not have that possibility, so I tell them screw your social lives after work on the weekends and become a hermit! It's only for 8-10 weeks and it goes by fast (although painful still).

It's going to be tough, ridiculous, maddening and just outright exhausting. But, know that going in- and get over it! Take a break when you need to. Take breaks. The best thing I did for myself was KNOW myself. My style was to study solo, at my own pace, with a check-marked list of daily things that I needed to complete one by one, the way I wanted and at my pace.

While some people go to class at 9 am till 1 pm. I woke up at 10 am, kissed, fed and cuddled my son, ate breakfast, and went to my home office (that we built just for studying because my husband and I know how I work best). I started at 10:30 (since I'm not a morning person) and ended at 6-7 pm for the first four weeks and at midnight the last four weeks so that I didn't compromise too much new-mom-time and kept my sanity.

Continue a few things that continue to please you and surround yourself around supportive people- kick the Debbie downers out of your life!! Return to them later, but there is simply NO room for negativity.

4. Introduce yourself to the library, new places to keep your mind afloat and excited about studying 

The last 2 weeks, I knew I needed to change my pace and surroundings to knock it out of the park-- home was now tiresome and I dreaded my office and that is natural. Change it up! I visited three libraries in my area before I decided on one. I would go after lunch and stay until closing. And please, don't study at Starbucks- I don't know how that is even possible!! But I'm easily distracted and stare at shoes, peoples lunches, their headphones and babies... So maybe it works for you. It sure as hell didn't work for me... I learned that as a 1L with my Torts exam as evidence.

5. BarBri method forces you to hate yourself (but it all leads to loving yourself when the results come back)

I actually appreciated the BarBri method from the very beginning. It was hard but I knew this process was supposed to be tough- they didn't hide the ball! AMP, you are told, is impossible from the beginning, BUT there was something about beating the impossible that was attractive to me. It was a nice daily challenge and I really slept happy knowing that while everyone kept telling me keeping afloat and on pace with BarBri's schedule was impossible, I was actually keeping up with it. Takes pressure off, oddly and helps enhance confidence. Just keep at it, keep going and trust in this program! It's true and tested! 


6. Get SmartBarPrep.com as a Supplement for Essay Prep

Someone told me about this supplement and I still thank them everytime I see them. Even though supplements never really helped me in as school, this one was incredible. It will rank all the testable topics and sub-topics in order of frequency of the past exams (I think as far back as the early 1990s). And after each video presentation and AMP sessions, you can see how the topics are truly tested and be aware of the BIG picture. I was ways one to get bogged down by the minutia, focusing on details (asking why and how) versus just regurgitating and being able to go into why and how after stating the facts (or elements) for exam purposes.

7. Study NJ 3 Days in Advance
(Look at old exams)

Don't neglect NJ-- while it is true the main 6 subjects are already things you study for in NY, there is a civil procedure section that you need to study. Look at published answers on the NJ site and review all the civ pro questions and answers in the last 5-6 years and you should be good.

Also, pace yourselves properly.
I believe it was 30-40 minutes per question. No more-no less. Move on and give each equal time.

8. Eat and drink well

I plan my day around food and prayer schedules. Food is SO essential to me. Right now, I already have a lunch work date planned and finished looking at the menu so I can get through the next two hours looking forward to it. I'm such a sad person... But I love it!

With that said, order a crate of coconut water on amazon, Steaz (green tea peach is my favorite) from Whole Foods, KIND choco-almond protein bars, TJ's vegetable lasagna (high protein/low cal/all natural), and anything else that will keep you healthy, snacking and content.

If you exercise, do that! The thought of exercise stressed me out because I just kept thinking about a second shower and you will feel guilty for spending another 3-5 minutes to condition your hair.

But again, that's me... 

9) Short Takeaways:

(1) KNOW YOU
(2) Trust the Bar Prep method

10) Plan a vacation!!! 

My solution to everything (along with food, God, and cuddle-time).


April 24, 2014

That moment... When you pass the bar

I have SO much I want to say, advice to impart, thanks to give, hugs and kisses to supporters...

No I did not win the primary, or Presidency..  

But, I did pass the NY Bar Exam!!

From an outsider's perspective, this sounds crazy! 

But, if you must know and be reassured- this experience was nothing short of crazy, mind-coma inducing, body hurting, load of wtBLEEPs. 

There were so many moments when I questioned it all. Not my ability or the fact I went to law school but the crazy experience and whether it was necessary.

We have books, -pedias, WestLaw, google, courts, binders... So many things to reference in handling cases-- did we really need to memorize 2 million elements for 90,000 causes of action under 48 topics. 

[Caution: exaggeration has been employed in this text].

But, I guess it leaves lawyers with stories of the hardest times in their lives... The moments of adversity give us this rite of passage.

Law school is one beast (actually more like 1L year), but this bar exam business was probably (as in definitely) a few degrees higher than how the word torture has generally been defined.

But, alas, there is an end! There is a happy ending at that!!! And all those moments of taking it SO seriously that I woke up at 9 am and didn't sleep till 1 am., reviewing 60 BarBri essays when they suggested half, and praying every single night that my anxiety remain low and my knowledge retention remain high.

Allah got me through this... And this will be something I will remember when I choose to give back to causes that will please my Almighty.

This was all meant to be after all... God gave me the strength and stamina, I stuck it through and did what needed to be done. It just needed to be done.

I have learned so many lessons from bar studying, but the number one greatest lesson is that you are your biggest advocate or your greatest enemy. Holding it together, lying to myself about the scores I was getting on some practice questions to keep my confidence up and my stamina going, praying, staying positive, and surrounding  myself with the right people (you know who you are!!) was what made the difference. I refused to get caught in spirals, lapses and moments that took me off the path that I was trying so hard to stick through. 

I was my own best friend, teacher, supporter and this taught me that you, yourself, can get you through what needs to be done (with God of course).

 Mind tricks, kisses in the mirror- whatever it takes. Do you! 

If He takes you to it, He will take you through it! 

April 18, 2014

My Baby turned 1... But, it's all about me


Okay. I should probably be sleeping since it's 1 am on a workday. But, technically in 5 more hours, one year ago.. My little man was born.

I can't contain my emotions. I shed a tear or two (or three or four.. aaaand you get it).

I'm not entirely sure why I am so emotional other than to say that I don't want this to end. I don't want him to stop needing me, crying for me, calling for me, smiling at me like they can only do for their mothers. I can pretend and say this lasts forever- or just imagine my husband with his mom and say that it will (hahahahahahahaha. Okay, I'm back).

My mother's solution to this is to calm down and just have another baby.. But, helllllooooo- I'll have a panic attack when that one turns one too? Won't I?

... Well, my married-with-multiple-kids-friends say you stop caring as much and you just pay attention to prevent one of them falling down a flight of steps, or stopping one from holding a knife in the other ones face (oy, not there yet.. Baby steps people).

My single-changing-the-world friends don't feel sad for me, they feel bad for me... Crying over a kid turning 1 and forgetting the plight around the world-- that's sad. Bigger fish to fry than lamenting on what you knew was going to happen ANYway. I had a year to prepare for this... 

And still... 

My baby is 1... 

And something's will never change... Because somehow, it's still about me. :-p

But, really... More than anything - it's the worst to admit that one of those generic one-liners moms tell moms-to-be had actually became true.

"It goes by so fast"..... 

Indeed it does and it did. 









I used to tell my dad all the things I wanted to do in life. All my travels, my career plans-- everything! And he always used to tell me that I could do what I wanted, but he would end it by saying wherever I was going, "I'm coming with you."

And I'll continue to say the same to my little boy.. At 1, 10 or till I'm 100. 

Allah builds these connections that are indescribable (and blog posts that try their damned hardest to make them describable), but I don't think I can ever articulate the way I have felt this year because of my first-born, being a mother, and feeling like a whole new woman with a new purpose in life. 

You can run Z... But I'm coming with you.

(So yes, it still seems like it's all about me... But I'm just going to go wherever he is to protect him because he taught me what selflessness was).

And I'm too scared to lose him (fine, it's still a little about me).

February 28, 2014

Pre-Bar Blues to Post-Bar Bliss

There is light at the end of the tunnel! I don't know if I passed, and I won't for two months at least. But, what I do know is I went into that exam thinking there were very few things I would do differently in terms of studying. I felt I gave it my all and that added to my confidence in sitting for the exam. I completed 93% of the work that BarBri assigns in their Paced program. Could I have done more? Probably but that would have been 14-hour days, severe abandonment of my child and exhaustion (adding to an already exhausted mother of a 10-month-old and a full-time job WITH overtime in studying for that exam full throttle). (Side plus-point, I lost all my baby weight because I never had time to eat a proper meal)!

Going back to my exam day story: Had I felt underprepared, I'm sure the anxiety would have taken hold.

After the exam: Literally MOMENTS after they called time, I recalled at least 4-5 things, one after the other that I knew I missed... same with the essays. I didn't analyze one thing correctly- one element was missing-- I circled the wrong bubble and forgot to correct it when I reviewed my answer again.

With preparation, however, came overzealousness, and eagerness to own this exam and go through questions in the EXACT allotted time, no more- no less because I KNEW everything-- I had to have known everything, I did 1500+ questions! Right? Wrong. There is ALWAYS different ways to ask things that you did not see before.

I learned my lesson. I sure did. If I fail, I will know my mistakes and will pace myself, remain calm, not have to be perfect in time-keeping but also cognizant that the time I am on the question deserves full attention and not that damn watch staring at me four inches from my finger. I suggest you MOVE that watch (HAVE one, but don't check after every 10 questions like I did).

Knowledge is ONLY half of it, it's a quarter of handling nerves, and a quarter of the right amount of energy without going crazy. (Also, a reason I did not take coffee, I would have been zipping even faster through questions).

If I pass, I'll follow-up with some advice that worked for me (again, if I passed... otherwise, ignore my advice until I do pass).

With that said, if I have to re-take it in July, I know that knowledge is still semi-fresh, I would only need to brush-up, pick myself up, and try again... try again (yes, those are lyrics to a song.. possibly by TLC or Destiny's Child.. anyways, I digress).

God has a plan for me. I did wh