IS There a such thing as HOME ANXIETY?: Working towards more home organization

Your closet does not have to be this organized to be functional

Your closet does not have to be this organized to be functional

While waiting at the pharmacy I started to browse through Organizing Magic: 40 Days to a Well-Orderer Home and Life, a book by Sandra Felton The Organizer Lady. After five minutes of reading I was nodding my head with both interest and agreement. In multiple ways Felton was arguing that there is a deep connection between our homes and our inner feelings. She was exploring the kind of disorganization that debilitates our lives (and our interaction with others).

In the section that I skimmed Felton discussed how people come to feel ashamed of messy homes or even homes that they consider to be shabby in comparison to other people. Sometimes people begin to become extremely insular out of fear of being judged because of their home.

After I left the pharmacy I began to reflect on Felton’s ideas and to think of ways to categorize what I will call home anxiety. Of course, home anxiety cannot be attributed to everyone. First, there are those of us who are more nomadic which lessens the time spent on cultivating home spaces. For these folks their home is more of resting place in between new sights and adventures. Secondly, there are other people who enjoy their privacy and who believe that our tents should remain separate.

Yet, there are those who have a genuine fear of letting people venture into their home space out of feeling of inadequacy. This group desires to connect with others and to share but are reluctant to do so for a number of reasons.

I personally love to invite friends and families into my home for special occasions, for barbeques or for potluck dinners in order to catch up with each other. I live in a very modest older home. Alhamdulilah, I have people in my life who make me feel at ease in my home so that I can be a proper hostess.

Home anxiety is largely about trust.

Felton suggest that one way to move towards inviting people into your home is to build relationships of trust. I think that one of the rewards of inviting a friend, a sister from the masjid or another couple into your home space is the ability it has to deepen friendships. Whether you are offering a simple cup of tea or a more elaborate meal there is something about the act of sharing that often symbolizes a more profound act of love.

Of course, it is important to understand the boundaries involved and adab of being both a host/hostess, as well as a visitor. If you are feeling a little less than confident as a host/hostess it might do you well to spend some time searching for the source of your home anxiety and then making small steps to increase your level of home comfort.

*Try to learn the proper adab of being a host and visitor. Read Qur’an and Hadith in order to reflect on how to build trusting relationships. Also consider secondary resources. The Importance of Sisterhood in Islam by Ruqaiyah Abdullah offers useful tips on visiting homes and sharing between sisters.

*If a messy or extremely disorganized home is the central issue remember that small strides go a long way. You might begin by confronting a closet. Then a bookcase. Then an entire room. It does not have to happen overnight. Consult secondary sources like Felton’s books or visit her Messy Anonymous website. Read articles on home organization. If your budget allows you might want to hire a professional home organizer. **Remember organization is a FAMILY AFFAIR! Everyone should take responsibility for keeping the home in better shape.

*Work what you got! We are bombarded with images of fantastic homes. From Italian marble counter tops to home theater systems-there is an increasing home improvement market. Masha’Allah some of us are already living in our dream home while others of us are still aspiring. Whether you are living in a studio or five bedroom colonial it is important is to embrace your home. Embrace your own sense of style and use it to create a space of peace and beauty, Insha’Allah. From thrift store curtains to eccentric throw rugs-small accents can make all of the difference. Learn to listen to your inner designer!

*Your intentions and your heart make any gathering a success. Any small extension of brotherly or sisterly warmth is needed and often greatly appreciated.

(c) Baitunjamil 2008




For the month of Ramadan I will not be posting anything related to decorating or design. The Everything Ramadan page will move to the main page as I will, Insha’Allah, only post things relating to the spirit of this blessed month.

Please check back with me occasionally for inspiration and reflection. Insha’Allah I hope to share more Baitunjamil home, organization and food ideas after Ramadan.

With love and peace,


Prayer Room Inspired by the Artwork of Salma Arastu

Salma Arastu is an artist located in the East Bay area of California who has been painting for thirty years. Ever since I was given one of her calendars as an Eid gift I have been inspired by her beautiful work and decorated my home with her tile work.  From her Your True Greeting cards to her paintings Arastu’s aesthetic is truly singular. 

She writes on her website that her most recent work is inspired by the “theme of people. Crowds of people, moving together, merging together, in groups, conversing, dancing or arguing. People of all lands with their colorful fabrics and intimate gestures, lyrical movements and intricate patterns.”  This theme has yielded arresting works that allow for an exploration of the meaning of both oneness and complex plurality. One of her recent paintings is pictured below.

Sharing Light Salma Arastu

Sharing Light Salma Arastu

I selected a number of Arastu’s artworks for a prayer room:

collage of Arastu's work

collage of Arastu

Inspired by the royal purple and traditional green tones of the works I decided to make these colors the central theme in the prayer space:  

purple and green prayer space

purple and green prayer space

The large cabinet allows for storage of Islamic literature, prayer rugs and scarves. Pillows are lined against the wall for seating and accent. The green chair offers a comfortable place to read Qur’an after prayer.

(pictured in prayer room collage * Thai green pillows(Target) *solid color Gaspa pillows (Pier One) *plum print pillows (Pier One) *Green natural bamboo vases (Pier ONe) *plum tinted candles (Pier One)*Tanibar 2 door cabinet (*Barbados lamp(*Poise Area Rug (*Green loft chair(Target)
(c) Baitunjamil 2008

Need More Space and Function, Consider a Loft Bed

A few years ago a friend of mine was contemplating a move from her two bedroom Queens apartment into a studio in the East Village. In order to fit her belongings she began looking at loft beds. I thought it was a great idea while another friend questioned the aesthetic appeal of an “adult bunk bed.”

I still think that loft beds offer a great way to increase space in your home even if you don’t live in a studio apartment. I also think that they can be pretty appealing and attractive .

In the picture below a loft bed is used in a child’s room. Imagine all the fun a child can have in the cubby like space.  


I like the sleekness and utility of these two loft bed/office options below.


(c) Baitun Jamil 2008

Spend Less Time in the Kitchen This Ramadan

iftar image from Gulfnews 9/07

iftar image from Gulfnews 9/07

No matter how much we try to avoid it-some of us spend more time in the kitchen than we would like to during Ramadan. Instead of devoting more time to dhikr or Qur’an we find ourselves sweating it out over pots of stew or vegetables.  Even for someone like me, who loves to cook, it can prove to be quite tiresome. Insha’Allah here are some tips to help you cut down on your cooking time this Ramadan:

*Save the feast for Eid! Less food keeps you feeling comfortable so that you can perform tarawih prayers.  

*Keep meals simple and light. Instead of preparing a number of dishes-prepare a light soup that can be eaten with hearty bread. I usually make a big pot of pumpkin soup using a mixture of canned pumpkin, light cream, finely diced celery & carrots, and flavorful spices like clove and ginger. This sweet and savory soup is delicious and filling. It also stretches over a number of days.

*Try breakfast for iftar. Growing up my father always broke his fast with breakfast foods. The best thing about breakfast items is that they are typically quick and easy to prepare. Whip up pancakes from the box with a side of breakfast links or omelettes with toast. These foods will satisfy you and give you time to spare.

*Attend community iftars or host potlucks. Alhamdulilah-many masjids hosts community iftars throughout the month. At my masjid we hold community iftars during the weekend where each of us is responsible for bringing a dish. If you do not have this option but do know other families or single Muslims try to organize a few potluck dinners throughout the month. You can alternate so that no one family or individual feels burdened to host all of the dinners.

*Consider buying prepared salads and foods or eating out if it fits your budget. Some halal restaurants host affordable buffets throughout the month. Salad bars at gourmet supermarkets like Wegman’s also offer nutrious and delicious options.

 *Start to freeze meals now. In these next few weeks before Ramadan cook an additional two to three meals a week and freeze them. Stews and soups hold up incredibly well. Meat dishes and samosas also prove to be freezer friendly. Just remember to make sure that food is completely cool before freezing and that you have the proper containers. For more freezing tips read this article on

(c) Baitunjamil 2008

Spectacular with Stickers

Glass accents by

Glass accents by

You can get fun & elegant looks for your home with stickers. Wallies and Whatisblik specialize in providing products that enhance walls and objects. Whatisblik offers an innovative approach that allows you to create wall images, inspired by contemporary art, that look hand painted.


Dining room and play room by

Dining room and play room by

 (c) Baitunjamil 2008

Iris & Toothbrush Holder

There is something about fresh flowers ability to brighten up any room. Nowadays, you don’t have to spend a fortune to bring beautiful flowers into your home. If you are lucky enough you might also have your own flower garden as a resource.

A simple blue&white (with purple highlights) toothbrush holder gives a beautiful ceramic look. You can play on the purple hue by filling the holder with water. Cut down blue-purple iris stems and place the flowers into the tooth brush holders’ holes. You might put one or two flowers in each hole depending on how full you want your arrangement.

Using the holder allows you to stretch your flowers across a number of arrangements. These arrangements make great accents for a tea or lunch. Add simple white candles and cream-colored seashells to create a beach theme.

 (c) Baitunjamil 2008

Umrah in Black+White

Yesterday, I sat in awe looking through this photogallery courtesy of Marc of The Manrilla Blog.

Marc’s photography expertly exhibits the beauty of Saudia Arabia at the same time that he is able to make the spiritual pilgrimage the center of his art. The pictures seem to suggest the inability to capture what appears to be a powerfully moving trip at the same time that they invite us to remain in reverence of Allah (s.w.t)

Insha’Allah these black & white photographs will inspire you-spiritually & aesthetically.

Weekend Meals at Home

If you don’t work on weekends-the mornings offer the perfect opportunity to catch up on some sleep AND the time to sit down for breakfast. In my childhood home weekends meant the preparation of a delicious Sunday breakfast. My mother would cook delicious spicy potatoes while my father taught me how to perfect my pancake making skills.

Now, my husband and I enjoy a Friday night ritual of a romantic dinner at home. We usually prepare a meal that takes a little bit of time but that rewards us with savory home cooked flavors. This Friday I am making a light version of eggplant parmigiana. I will use my grill pan to cook the eggplant instead of frying. Italian style stewed tomatoes give my marinara sauce a subtle sweetness.

*I just picked up this affordable and sturdy waffle maker from Target:

This waffle maker offers adjustable temperatures and a sleek stainless steel appearance. Whip up your own homemade waffle recipe (see recipes below) or simply use a box version. Add a dusting of powdered sugar and your choice of fruit.

If you cannot get a hold of fresh strawberries consider using frozen.  You can also top your warm waffle with good vanilla ice cream and share it with a friend or your sweetie. Try making your own waffles this weekend for breakfast or dessert to save money on eating out and to create a new weekend ritual.

Basic Waffle Recipe

3 eggs (or egg substitute), 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 tbsp vanilla, 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 tsp. sugar

Beat eggs in a bowl until thick. Beat milk, melted butter and vanilla into eggs. In a separate bowl combine other ingredients. Stir into egg mixture and mix well. Cook according to your waffle maker’s directions.

Whole-Wheat Waffles

1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup butter or margrarine, 1/4 cup honey, 2-2/3 cups whole wheat flour, 3 eggs or egg substitute, 1 package active dry yeast, 1/2 tsp salt

Heat milk, water, butter and honey at 120 degrees F. Combine flour, eggs, yeast,salt and milk mixture in large bowl. Mix at low for 30 seconds then medium high for one minute. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions.