Teaching Islam to Kids with Mini Muslim Playground


The last two months have been fantastic for BabyN' and that's because of the number of presents he has received. More presents mean more variety to keep him entertained and occupied. If you've read BabyN's birthday post I wrote earlier, you must be aware of it already. There were also some toys that were for a bigger age, so I've stacked them carefully on the top shelf of the mini walking cupboard in my bedroom. 

Coming to toys, I think it's really easy to find all kinds but getting to introduce Muslim educational toys to kids is a blessing nowadays especially if one is living in a country in which the majority follows a different religion. For me, it's a blessing seeing brands coming up that sell toys focused on teaching Islam to kids especially because I don't have any elder in the house to help me instill the concept in the mind of my child. I had been thinking about ways to educate BabyN' about the religion but wasn't very sure how to go about it. Luckily, Mini Muslim Playground recently sent some toys and books which BabyN' has been enjoying playing with, in the previous days.

The package was unboxed by BabyN' himself and I must mention that all of my packages are also unboxed by him. He has just turned 2 but he's still a baby for me and I'll keep calling him that. The toys had been packed with much care and were wrapped in plastic. 
teach arabic to kids

teach arabic to kids

We started off with the Arabic learning alphabet board (£6.5) which seemed like it had been laminated with plastic and that's because it was slightly stuck to the holders of the alphabets. I used a pair of scissors to cut a side and then pulled the plastic. However, soon I realised that the plastic was stuck and I carefully had to remove it from every alphabet. So, I would just advice you to be careful while removing the plastic, otherwise the tiny red plastic knobs on the wooden Arabic alphabets might come off. 

I always check the wooden toys before giving them to BabyN' just to see if there aren't any pieces of wood coming off. Therefore, I thoroughly checked it as well and was happy to know that it was flawless. The activity is suggested for 3 year olds but BabyN' quickly learnt putting the right alphabet on the right place. At this stage, he hasn't learnt the Arabic alphabets yet, but it does help in developing his fine motor skills, he remembers where to put the right alphabet and most importantly, its a new activity to keep him busy. I'm hoping to teach him the Arabic alphabets soon too.
teach arabic to kids

The Arabic Alphabet House (£11.50), also a wooden toy made for 3 year olds was interesting and caught his attention. The first time BabyN' tried, he just picked up the alphabets and tried to put them in through any alphabet insert. Some that were small, easily went through the inserts meant for the bigger Arabic alphabets, but he couldn't pass all of them like that. 

Initially, I had to tell him where to put which alphabet. Now after almost 2 weeks, he knows where most of the alphabets go by looking at the shapes. Also, in the beginning, he wasn't aware of whether he was putting the alphabet in the right manner and so I had to tell him that the coloured part should be in the front facing, and he might have to turn the alphabets to make them go through. By that, I meant that they were upside down and turning them would help making them go through 'in the box.' However, one thing you need to be careful of is the wooden hook on each side of the house, meant for hanging the upper lids of the house. They're made of wood and may come off if force is applied. You know how boys are, the wooden screw isn't much strong and my son was able to pull it off from the alphabet house so now it's there but doesn't fix back. 

If you want your child to learn Arabic letters, these two activities are perfect to enable your child to recognise the letters. In the initial stage, however, it serves well as a puzzle and in developing the child's skills such as fine motor skills, cognitive and language skills. Later onward, I suppose it will make it easier for me to teach Arabic alphabets to BabyN'.
islam for kids

Mini Muslim Playground was also kind enough to send two books, an Allah book and a 40 pages colouring book. The quality of the book is good, it has thick and glossy pages with neat printing so it's attractive and attention grabbing for kids. The Allah book, on every page, besides teaching what the English alphabets stand for, also relates the object or thing to Allah. So the repetition of the word Allah in the book is a fabulous idea because it's important to repeat things in front of kids to enable them to retain them in their tiny minds. 

BabyN' does enjoy scribbling on paper with his crayons and colour pencils but he doesn't yet have the concept of colouring within a boundary or a drawing. I've been teaching him that on the colouring book and again, that book has carefully linked everything to Allah. The quality of the paper is good too and if too much extra water is not used, then it's even good for painting instead of colouring. It helps in developing motor skills of the child and also in introducing tawheed (oneness of Allah) t0 kids.

I had an eye on a child's prayer mat since some time because I know that children like to have their own things as it gives them a sense of ownership and although there is still a lot of time till boys need to start offering their prayers, developing the concept of religion at an early age is always beneficial for the future.
prayer mat for kids

Mini Muslim Playground has lots of other toys in their product line, toys for different ages and activities for developing different skills. I personally believe that it's a fantastic initiative and especially beneficial for those parents not living in a Muslim country. You can check out more products from their range from their website, here. 

That's not all, I've got a discount code for you to use for your online purchase. You can get 10% off with code MINI10 on orders over £30. The code is valid till 30th April 2017, so make sure to avail it before it expires. 

Are there any other educational toys you would like to recommend for BabyN'? 



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Restaurant Review: Chom Chom, Canterbury - Kent, UK


Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

I had come across Chom Chom in Canterbury, when I was searching for Halal restaurants in Kent on Google. However, since they've not mentioned about it being Halal on their website, I wasn't quite sure if it really was until recently after I heard from someone about it. I definitely had to try this buffet restaurant in Canterbury. We sometimes prefer eating at buffet restaurants because it offers a good variety and everything's included in one price, from starters to mains, condiments, accompanists, sundries and my most favourite course, the desserts. Most restaurants however, do not include drinks, but some like JRC in London, do!

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

Location & Parking:

Chom Chom in Canterbury is a completely Halal Indian and Chinese buffet restaurant in Canterbury (Kent) but they do serve alcohol within the premises and have a proper bar to cater to those who want drinks. Parking for disabled is available right at the back door of the restaurant while the others have to park elsewhere. We opted for council parking as that was the only option and paid £2 for 2 hours. Chom Chom was just 2 minutes walk away from our parking which is pretty reasonable. It was extremely cold that day so we actually hurried towards the restaurant rather than strolling.

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

Seating & Interior:

Inside, we were greeted by a staff member who then took us to the table that had been reserved and it was a Friday evening so the restaurant was very busy. There were some birthday parties going on, some were there for a leaving party while some like us just went to celebrate the start of the weekend. I quite liked the ambiance, the seating was comfortable and the decor was inviting with some candles flickering around. Candles just make any place look so cosy and inviting, don't they? 

The Dining Experience:

We had a quick look around at the buffet and started off with the soup of the day. It was a clear soup with herbs and vegetables. Next stop were the starters. The chicken tikka, chicken wings, pakora, pizza and many other things.

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

Chom Chom does have a good variety in their salad bar, but I just tasted their sauces and chutneys. For the main, I tried little bit of almost everything. There was also a live station where the chef prepared noodles for us in the way just like we wanted. We kept it less spicy, because we wanted BabyN' to have it as well. They tasted good and you can customise it by adding more sauces or dips to cater to your taste. The duck that they cook is imported from Malaysia and was in starters and main, both! The variety of desserts was good too! Again, I tried little bit of everything except the jelly beans next to the ice cream machine, because we were told they weren't Halal.

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

From the non-alcoholic section of the drinks, there were just 2 options of mocktails (£4.95) but they do have smoothies, sodas and juices. I did have a look at their cocktails, it had Pina Colada (£6.95, I think) so ordered the non-alcoholic version of it.

Chom Chom Canterbury Halal  buffet

End Notes:

The overall dining experience at Chom Chom in Canterbury was good and I'm hoping to go there again too! They also have discounts for students, NHS employees and senior citizens and their rates are really reasonable for spending a good evening at a buffet restaurant.


If you were given a choice, would you prefer to order from the menu or would you like to dine at a buffet restaurant? 


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Disclaimer:  I was invited to the restaurant to sample the food, but this is an honest review and all the opinions are my own.


Stay at SACO Cardiff, the serviced apartment


Located on the Cathedral Road, the SACO serviced apartment property has the perfect location to stay when visiting Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The location is easy to approach and it's just 10-15 minutes from the town center, depending on whether you're using your own car or plan to go there by foot or any other means of transport. 


The Cathedral Road SACO serviced apartment property in Cardiff has its own allocated parking lot, an extremely important decision making point for me when choosing a place to stay. The parking is gated and secure because it's only accessible to the guests through a code and is available just at the rear of the building. From the parking lot, there was another side gate through which we had to pass to enter the main entrance and that had a different code.


The main entrance can only be accessed with a code and after entering, all you need to do is open the safe to get your apartment key. The code for the safe is provided along with the booking confirmation. Our serviced apartment was on the second floor but it wasn't an issue climbing the stairs. The building was well lit, neat clean and welcoming. Although most of the apartments in the building seemed to be occupied, we didn't hear any noise and we had a fantastic time while we stayed there. 




Our one bedroom serviced apartment property was spacious, the bedroom had an inbuilt cupboard with hangers, a safe and a hair dryer. The cupboard had enough space to keep things for 2 people. The bedroom had a comfortable bed with clean bedding, side tables with touch lamps, the lighting of which could be adjusted at three different settings, an alarm clock cum radio, a small room TV and a dressing table with a mirror.



The bathroom had L'occitane toiletries, bath mat, tissue rolls and bath and hand towels. The lounge was very spacious so BabyN' got enough space to run around and play. The TV had a free view connection and a basic WiFi which was accessible through the password in the file kept on the TV table so we could easily enjoy our time inside the property.




The fully functional kitchen had all the essentials needed for the stay - from the electronics such as fridge freezer, dishwasher, washer, toaster, kettle and microwave to metal cutlery, a set of dinner and side plates, bowls, glasses and mugs. The cabinets had serving bowls, coffee jug and the other things you can see in the photos below.





My stay at the SACO hotel apartment went perfectly fine and there was nothing to worry about the check out either because it was again, a self checkout. We just had to return the keys in the key returns box placed at the entrance. Their property on the Cathedral Road in Cardiff not just had a fantastic location, but came with secured parking. It felt just like we were at our own home! 

SACO has serviced apartment properties worldwide in different countries and as I had the independence of doing everything my way and I'll definitely keep this as an option next time I plan my trip.

Have you ever stayed at a hotel apartment? Do you prefer a hotel room or a hotel apartment? 


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BabyN's Birthday Party Highlights & Tips for Party Planning in a Budget




Planning events and parties can be quite a daunting task. There's so my much that's involved - from preparing the guest list to the invites, getting the food done, party decor, arranging the venue and so many other nitty-gritty things to consider. If you're on Instagram, you must have got a sneak-peak and may now know about what I'm talking about. We arranged BabyN's birthday party recently and it went really well so I thought of writing a few party planning tips for you guys! 

Prepare a Check List - For me, this is extremely important and I have a check-list for everything. REALLY! It just makes my life easy and stress-free and I don't miss anything because of that check list, readily available on my mobile. 

Guest List - In the most recent event that I've organised, I've observed that when it comes to everyday routine, there are just a handful of people who stay in touch but when it comes to an event, all of a sudden there are so many people who come to the mind and enter the list of out prospective guests. Due to budget limitations, we cannot just invite everyone and have to cut down the number. Include the closest ones who regularly keep in touch or those who invite you to events regularly.


Venue - Depending on the availability and your choice, you may opt for your own house as the venue. Of course, the work you need to do when throwing a party at home increases and not to forget the after-party mess that needs cleaning but you can keep things in your control and arrange food accordingly. I personally prefer arranging parties at home because I can do whatever I like, in my own way. Unfortunately, due to the distance for the guests and the layout of our current house, we couldn't do it at home. The next option can be a party hall or a restaurant. 

We opted for a Halal buffet restaurant called Jimmy's World Buffet at the O2 in London. There were lots of other options too, but we wanted to opt for a buffet to give our guests the choice to eat whatever they like. I didn't have to worry about the food at all and since it's a restaurant, there were some limitations with regards to party decor. We bought our own cake, but they don't allow party poppers, any decor on the walls or those flaming candles. So, we simply reached there 30 minutes before our guests were supposed to arrive to settle BabyN' down, and to do some table decor that included a bunch of helium balloons (got 3 decent sized filled balloons from ASDA for £5 - bargain!) and got some other balloons from Pound Stretcher (a pack of 25 balloons for 75 p). 


Now it's not necessary that you can always find the cheapest things at the 1 pound shops but sometimes you can even find cheaper stuff at other shops. Just be on a look out. During my research, I also observed that Pound Stretcher also sells other party stuff cheaper than the pound shops but we didn't need them because the restaurant was already providing the plates and cutlery. You can read my detailed review of the restaurant, here (details on parking, food and interior). 


Since it was festive season, the restaurant had increased their rates so it was £16.99 per head and £2.75 per drink on that Sunday. For children under 10, they charged half price and for every 3 children, they charge the price of one half price buffet. Our guests enjoyed the party and the food and we were happy because they could enjoy whatever food they fancied. 


Party food/Cake - Stores such as Tesco and Iceland do provide party food, which is highly convenient. If you're doing the party at home, keep your work minimum and simply get things from outside. I also did some research on bakeries and bakers around but their prices were too high and since we had already opted for a buffet restaurant that served a variety of cakes in their dessert section, we just picked up a cake and a candle from the bakery section of a store.
Party Favours - This is something what the kids really look forward to, as chocolates or candies are the most interesting part for them. I would advise picking up a big pack of candies and dividing them in all bags. The cost gets lower that way. 




I was really glad that everything went as planned, the guests enjoyed the food but unfortunately we couldn't do the games I had planned because of the issue of space and time allowed at the restaurant. 

Would love to hear any tips for party planning from you.

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Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa - Cardiff, UK


I had often heard of how beautiful Cardiff was and since I've got relatives living in the town who have been very keen on meeting us since the past 2 years, we finally decided to avail the winter holidays to visit them. So it had been in the plan since many months but it kept on getting delayed due to ten thousand reasons. This time fortunately, we just thought of it and the plan worked out.

The original distance from my home in East Kent was supposed to be 4 hours but due to the diversions and lots of traffic going to Heathrow and a mini break, the travel time almost doubled. We finally reached Mercure Holland House Cardiff after a 6.5 hour journey. 

The hotel has it's own paid car park and there's also ample parking available near the hotel so it's totally up to you what to prefer. The council parking was cheaper so we parked the car outside the hotel and it cost us £2.4 for 2 hours (since we arrived at 4:00 pm) and 4.2 for 4 hours in the morning (8:00 am - 12:00 pm) as the parking was free 6:00 pm onward till 8:00 am. However, one problem here was that we weren't able to pay for the parking for the morning, the night before and neither do they accept payments through mobile so my husband actually had to walk out of the hotel early in the morning to pay and display. If you want to avoid that, then use the hotel parking. They have a 24 hour car park and I think it costs £12 but I'm not very sure as I didn't use it myself. However, the cheapest option would be if you park the car at the Capitol Mall as they charge £6 for 24 hours. I wish I had known about that earlier. 

After quite a long trip, we decided to relax instead of leaving the hotel to see the area around. Well, actually BabyN' and I stayed inside throughout the evening while the daddy bought some food for us from a nearby restaurant

This luxury 4-star hotel in Cardiff has it's own gym, sauna, steam room, spa, Jacuzzi and a swimming pool and I definitely had to avail these facilities. Before giving birth to BabyN', I regularly used to enjoy relaxing in the Jacuzzi while my husband used to go for a swim so I was really looking forward to it. 

The water in the swimming pool was slightly cold for BabyN' so I stepped inside the Jacuzzi and took him along. It was awesome! I already had a modest swimwear suit but I had sent that back home and couldn't get that back so I had to buy a new one. I researched a bit but since I was looking for a modest one that covered the entire body, I ended up buying a workout dress which served the goal perfectly well. 

Mercure has changing and shower rooms, separate for men and women, and they also provide towels there.
Our room was a decent sized classic double room and the amenities inside included TV and WiFi, bath robes, safe, fridge with bottled water (both still and sparking), hair dryer, kettle, tea/coffee with milk and sugar, mugs and toiletries and towels in the washroom. The good part was that the washroom had a shower cubicle as well as a bath. Not all hotels have that so this was a plus point and it was a good sized bathroom.
Also, the sofa that you can see in the photo at the start of this post, turned into a double bed. We could have easily shifted BabyN' there at night but he still shares the bed with us. However, he enjoyed jumping on it until he slept. The next day we had an early morning and so we all got to witness the sunrise from our hotel room. What a beautiful sight it was! I was really hungry by that time so we headed to the restaurant, Urban Bar & Kitchen on the first floor for breakfast.

It was a buffet styled full English breakfast which included juices, milk (plain and soya), various cereals, assorted fruits, different kinds of cheese, beans, hash browns, mushrooms and tomatoes. Flavoured fruit yogurt, honey and jams, bread, croissants and cinnamon rolls but there was also a live cooking station where the chef freshly prepared Egg Royale and Omelette for us. They weren't prepared earlier but you can choose it from the menu placed on your table and order it and personalise it according to your preference.

Our check-out was just before 12:00 pm and it was smooth and quick. The hotel also has a lift for luggage because there are a few steps down the way towards the car park. I had a fantastic stay at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa in Cardiff. It has an ideal location as it's in the city center and all the attractions are at a walking distance from the hotel. I really liked the room size and the fact that I got to see stunning views of the sunset from my room on the 11th floor of the building. I have stayed at the Mercure hotel in another country earlier and had a fabulous experience this time too. 

Have you ever been to Cardiff or stayed at Mercure hotel elsewhere?


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