Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Purple & Floral HOOTD + Giveaway

Purple maxi & floral top

Purple maxi & faux jacket |HOOTD|
Scarf/hijab – Pearldaisy hoojab | Faux leather jacket – Target | Floral top – find | Belt – BCBG MaxAzria | Maxi skirt – Piperline | Emerald ring – c/o of Rica Jewels California | Bag – Phillip Lim x Target | Shoes – H&M

Happy Monday everyone! This past weekend I spent the day with a few girls from my class to spend time away from books and do all things shopping. We rented a zipcar and drove to Premier Outlets of Chicago– we literally spent the whole day there. Frankly, I do shop regularly, therefore I did think wisely about the purchases I was making, and I didn’t want to get drawn into all the amazing deals. I always have a wishlist on my phone, and from there I focus on what I am truly looking for. My purchases will make an appearance on the blog– soon enough.  Emerald ringLook at that gorgeous statement emerald ring I’m wearing! It is today’s giveaway and such a stunner in person. I was even surprised at how much it sparkles due to the beautiful stones surrounding the emerald. It is set in sterling silver with some bronze, and it is about one inch in length. It can be worn by itself or paired with other rings. I was sent this ring by Rica Jewels California from Etsy, whose seller Daniela is sweet to work with and has lots of lovely pieces in her Etsy shop. The bonus to her shop is that a portion of the proceeds go to their Child Fund Sponsored child, Luz. Feel good by shopping away!

HOOTD and Chicago skylineAnd now for the giveaway! It is open worldwide (except Cananda), the winner will receive one emerald ring, just like the one I’m wearing below. You can tweet about the giveaway everyday till it ends for additional entries (remember to mark it on the widget) Read terms on the Rafflecopter widget below for more information, and how to enter. This will be AnUblog’s last giveaway for a while so don’t miss out!

Emerald ring

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I design with a lot of passion and hopefully, people can wear and feel my pieces and understand how life is truly a blessing. I believe every piece has a positive message on it.” -Daniela, Rica Jewels California

Good luck on the giveaway!

Umair’s Sweetheart,


*All opinions expressed are of Ayesha from AnUblog. The ring was provided for free for review & giveaway.

Macy’s Secret Garden Event

Happy Monday everyone,

A few weeks ago Macy’s was having their Spring time Secret Garden event, where they had a special garden beautifully set on one of the floors, and floral decor throughout the store. To celebrate the secret garden event they had several events planned, from cooking demos to art classes to fashion shows. I attended one of these events with my friend, Fatima, and it was hosted by local blogger Graham from Glossed and Found.
alt=It was a garden tea party themed event that was beautifully planned. They severed hot lavender tea, tea sandwiches, had a candy cart, models showing off Spring looks, make-up booths giving tips, a flower crown DIY station, and a beautiful backdrop made entirely of flowers where a professional photographer was snapping photos of the guests (I’m still waiting on receiving those snaps, as they were gorgeous and I didn’t take any personal ones). After the fun event we headed up to the actual garden to check out the amazing botanical display. Here are some snaps from the day.

mayc's modeled outfits spring 2014

How gorgeous is this?! Let's all take a moment to imagine us throwing a beautiful garden party with this decor!

How gorgeous is this?! Let’s all take a moment to imagine us throwing a beautiful garden party with this decor!

The detail and thought that went in to creating this table --simple breathtaking!

The detail and thought that went in to creating this table –simply breathtaking!

Garden pics

hijabi outfit blue and yellow|HOOTD|

Scarf/Hijab – random old | Yellow top – Joe Fresh x JCPenny | Pants – Loft | Shoes – H&M | Bag – Rebecca Minkoff MAB | Necklace – Charming Charlie | Chain link bracelet – Forever 21

Enter the latest jewelry giveaway here. Only one day left!

Spring is finally springin’ so go out and enjoy your day!

Launch Party for Sparkle and Sophistication #SSLaunch

Hi all!

S&S jewelryLast Saturday I was invited to one of the chicest parties in town! Sparkle and Sophistication’s fabulous launch party was thrown by the beautiful local jewelry designer, Nusrat Siddiqui. Local Chicago bloggers and tastemakers were invited to style and model for the upcoming look book for the jewelry line. During the media party we all enjoyed sweets, sips, and got primped for the photo shoot. It was a great day to spend mingling with fellow fashionistas, and got inspired by how each of them styled the sparkly pieces from the Sparkle and Sophistication jewelry line.

Fatima & I doing our HOOTD

Fatima & I doing our HOOTD

With the lovely designer, Nusrat

With the lovely designer, Nusrat

What were my first impressions of the jewelry? I loved most of the pieces! Seeing the pieces up close you can truly appreciate the hard work and details that Nusrat has put into each piece. My favorite would have to be the My Love bracelet and The Empress necklace, both of which I styled in the pictures below. All the pieces are very well made, the claps are very user friendly, many of the pieces feature sparkly swarovski crystals, and the delicate necklaces are of quality –perfect for layering or even on their own. If you want to know more about the jewelry you can visit Sparkle & Sophistication’s FB fanpage.

Photo shoot and styling

Photo shoot and styling, a blogger community I co-founded with Fatima, features an exclusive interview with designer Nusrat and several more behind the scenes snaps. Check it out here.


Hijab/Scarf – random old | Shirt dress – Bar III | Pants – Asos | Jewelry – Sparkle and Sophistication | Bag- Rebecca Minkoff MAB | Shoes – Sam Edelman

Have you entered? if you love jewelry then you will love the latest giveaway–enter here!

Thank you for visiting!

Umair’s Sweetheart,

Interview | Art by Saba Barnard

Hi all,

Photo credit: ArtbySaba

Photo credit: ArtbySaba

it is … women and women of color who are challenging the status quo through art, music, writing, fashion, etc. – Saba Barnard

935095_585083084848788_991517766_n Today I’m featuring an interview with Saba Barnard, a rising Muslim American artist. Last month, while conducting research  for “March on Women” series I came across many talented women and learned more about them, and while doing so I also came across Mrs. Barnard. I learned of her when I read Thrival Room‘s article  32 Photos That Hope to Change the Way We Look at Muslim American Women— must-read article highlighting great American Muslim women.

Saba Chaudhry Barnard, is a gifted artist and a first -generation Pakistani Muslim American woman. Her art is a reflection of her Pakistani and Muslim background in America which she uses in her portraits in a way to undefine labels that are put on American Muslims, particularly women.

dsc_0039I reached out to Saba, to interview her and get to know more about her Technicolor series– which she is calling subjects for. Find out more below.

Define your art. What makes it unique?

My art is an ever-evolving thing that consumes my life…a visual expression of the ideas that I obsess about on a daily basis.  Up to this point, the work has pretty consistently dealt with identity within a social context – considering race, religion, and gender within an American context.  I suppose my art is unique to me in that every one of my choices in my art grows from my own life and experiences, even though I’m painting portraits of other people.  I do, however, feel that although it’s unique, it is one part of a vast group of women and women of color who are challenging the status quo through art, music, writing, fashion, etc.

What aspects/inspirations of your Pakistani Muslim background do you incorporate in your pieces?

In my most recent series, An-Noor, I feel that the aesthetic draws from South Asian textile designs and traditions.  One of the strongest attachments I have with Pakistani culture is the amazing clothes.  My use of rhinestones, glitter, sequins, speaks to the kind of beautiful ornamentation that is typical in Pakistan and India.
 There are also geometric patterns and other references to Islamic art, and the imagery in one of the paintings is derived from ayat An-Noor. And of course, all the women I am painting are Muslim women, so that’s certainly there.

I noticed on your blog that you take inspiration from famous painting such as Arnolfini portrait, and portraits of Mary, mother of Jesus. Why these famous paintings? What research did you do or do you do?

I look at a lot of art history books and do a lot of Google image searching. There are quite a few reasons that I reference these famous paintings.  I feel that tradition has a lot of power, and I wanted to use the strength of these iconic postures and their grandeur.  It also gives the viewer a feeling of recognition, so instead of being confronted by something entirely new, it feels familiar.  I like the comfort that there is in that.  But still, I am putting women and women of color into these images, where previously they were not represented.  So it’s a new interpretation that very freely manipulates and transforms iconography for my own purposes.
 Maesta, my interpretation of the Madonna Enthroned, is packed full of this overlap of traditions.  Mary exists in Christianity, of course, but she also exists in Islam (as Maryam), and traditionally is depicted with a long gown or robe and a headscarf, much like the woman in the painting is dressed.  There is a literal layering of an Islamic pattern on top of the stripes of the American flag, with geometric shapes tucked inside organic forms– it takes all these elements that are often placed in contrast and instead combines them.  I feel that that is a more honest representation of an American Muslim identity, one that is not confined to an “eastern” or “western” sphere, but incorporates both in a very natural way.  Western art history was an inspiring part of my education, but I also have these other traditions that are part of me, as well, so I feel that that array of influences is represented in the paintings. The halo, which appears in every painting, is an example of a visual symbol used across cultures to communicate the same idea.

What is your favorite piece you have done thus far? Why?

I get asked this a lot and it’s really hard to say.  Sometimes I will come up with a concrete answer, but honestly, every painting is its own little world for me, especially in An-Noor.  Each one really takes me somewhere.  I have certain paintings that were more challenging, and so I love them for that reason, and others that came out almost in one breath, and I love those too.

Tell us a little more about the Technicolor series. Why are you calling subjects for it? What type of subjects are you looking for?

Technicolor Muslimah was my first big idea for a body of work, and it was completed back in 2011.  It was made as a positive assertion of identity that hoped to use color and smiles to dispel some of the static and stereotypical representations of Muslim women that dominate the media. Unfortunately I feel that the Technicolor Muslimah series, as it is right now, is a fairly homogenous group, visually and otherwise.  And to show that Muslim women are not homogenous, I don’t know that the most effective thing is to present another homogenous image, even if it’s nicer than the one that’s already out there.  Every woman is wearing hijab in almost exactly the same style, and there is not one African American woman represented in that group.  I was hoping to address some of my concerns with Technicolor Muslimah in my most recent series, and so An-Noor is certainly more inclusive and diverse.  Still, I just felt that it didn’t fix legitimate shortcomings in Technicolor Muslimah, so now I am revisiting that project, 3 years later, to resolve those issues.It was something that has nagged at me for a while, but I didn’t do anything about it.  After being included on that list of 32 Muslim American Women which was hoping change the narrow perceptions of Muslims, and seeing the concern raised that no African American women were included on that list, it really hit me that it was absolutely not okay, and that I couldn’t continue to make excuses for why my own work was perpetuating this same kind of exclusion.  So that was the thing that helped me take that step to send out a call for subjects to expand the series so that it could finally be completed.


I’m looking for women who can help make this series more diverse to send me selfies that they feel represent who they are.  I’m looking for images that are communicative, of women of all different colors, who wear hijab or don’t, who represent some of the groups that are marginalized or underrepresented even within the Muslim community itself.  I have gotten quite a few volunteers and some heartbreakingly beautiful letters, which was totally unexpected.  From those images I will choose a handful that I feel will help make this series more inclusive and dynamic.


What would you like people to know about your art?

That they are much better when seen in person!  Too often we only experience art through a cellphone screen, and it is not at all like experiencing art in real life.

What is your dream project or goal?

I guess my goal is to make work that is relevant to contemporary social issues and illustrate that dialogue that is currently taking place.  I am looking forward to continuing to explore these issues, but getting to a point where the work can operate on the level of theory rather than biography.  Which means that I want the work to become even more inclusive, and instead of dealing so specifically with the individual or groups of individuals, to focus more on the systems through which we interpret and understand one another.  I feel that these methods of “understanding” can make us all invisible to one another until we can’t clearly see ourselves or anyone else.  I find that it can be confusing to even nail down which thoughts and feelings are ours, and which have been planted there by other people, advertising, our institutions.  More specifically I am interested in the gaze, the relationship of the subject and object in that interaction, and the different manifestations of that gaze.  The male gaze and imperial gaze are examples.  That’s all pretty vague right now.

Lastly, what is the best advice you have been given?

The best “advice” I’ve gotten would probably be a concept from Islam… of questioning and being aware of one’s own intentions.  And so throughout the process of making art, I try to consistently check in with my intentions, and am critical of whether or not the artwork is staying true to that and to myself.

You can follow Saba on her journey and find out more about her work on her facebook fanpage, and her website.

Reminder: Have you entered the latest giveaway?? If not, do so here.

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Umair’s Sweetheart,

Wear it Wednesday | Leopard Print & Blue + Giveaway

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Leopard ScarfEven though it’s April it’s still quite chilly here in Chicago, as you can tell by the picture above. While the temperature is way better than negative degrees, the husband and I want it to be sunny everyday. I think this is one of my first HOOTD photo shoot for this year outdoors! Kinda crazy to realize that but I’m sure I’ll be able to do more of these HOOTD post’s now with the weather warming up.

Love necklaceThis HOOTD of the day started around the high-low black dress (a key piece), and the sparkly love necklace I’m wearing (related to the giveaway today). After deciding on the first two pieces I wanted to add a pop of color that is where the bright blue pants came in, and lastly when deciding on a scarf I went with leopard as it’s now considered a neutral and the print I’m wearing actually has hints of blue in it. I love how easy it is to pull a look together once you have one or two pieces to start off from and then just build the rest of the outfit around it.

Coat and treesThe sparkly love necklace I’m wearing in this HOOTD, was sent to me by a wonderful Etsy seller, Annika Lofberg. Annika owns the shop Glamorous Sparkle and specializes in pretty handmade bracelets, necklaces, and earrings that can be customized for a special occasion. She uses Czech glass beads in many of her creations, and because she is amazing she is offering one lucky AnUblog reader a bracelet of their choice from her Etsy shop. Yes, ANY bracelet you like from her shop. A few of my favorites here, here and here. Enter the giveaway through the rafflecopter widget below, read terms on widget, open worldwide! Additional entries can be earned everyday by tweeting about the giveaway until the giveaway ends (just remember to fill the widget).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The love necklace Annika sent to me was beautifully packaged, and is well made. At first the size of the pendent through me off, however once I wore it I actually liked the size because most times when I wear dainty necklaces they get hidden with my head scarf, and if you have been admiring those trendy necklaces with large font’s but are wondering how it will look on you then I think a pendent that is about 2″ will be a better alternative.

IMG_2676|HOOTD deets|

Scarf/Hijab – Phillip Lim x Target | High-Low top – Forever 21 | Pants – Target | Shoes & Coat – Steve Madden | Love Necklace – c/o Glamorous Sparkle | Crescent Necklace – old | Bag – Rebecca Minkoff MAB

Live What You Love

Live What You “Love”- mantra for my life! Alhamdulillah (All thanks to God)

Thank you for visiting and good luck on the giveaway!

Travel Diary | Starved Rock State Park, IL

Hi everyone,

Last week I was on Spring break, and therefore the husband and I decided to rent a car and drive to Starved Rock State Park.  It was a quick weekend getaway to explore an Illinois attraction that has been rated as a top place to visit. Since we visited end of March, the park was still in transition mode from Winter, therefore most of the trees were bare, and the waterfalls were in their falling ice stage– beautiful to see in person. Despite all this we had a great time hiking around the park, and being surrounded by nature’s serenity. Here are some snaps from our day at Starved Rock.

Starved RockIMG_2484Eagle Watching

Falling Ice! There was some water flowing through it.

Falling Ice! There was some water flowing through it.

Falling Ice

View from above of falling ice at Wildcat Canyon

View from above at Wildcat Canyon

Another view from top where you can see the water

Another view from top where you can see the water


The husband and I at Wildcat Canyon

The husband and I at Wildcat Canyon



Ottawa Waterfall


The husband and I at Ottawa

The husband and I at Ottawa

That was our hiking day out at Starved Rock. It was beautiful in it’s current stage, but I can only imagine how beautiful it looks during late Spring and Fall when all the trees are in full bloom and the park looks lively. If you would like to see more snaps from our day you can visit our gallery here.

By the way, have you entered the giveaway?? Only a few days left. Enter here.

Have a blessed Friday!

Umair’s Sweetheart,

March Recap & Guest Posting on HijabTrendz

Happy Thursday!

Hope you all are doing great. The husband and I are great as usual (Alhamdulillah), my classes for Spring have begun and I’m excited to start another quarter in my grad program. But I can’t believe March just flew by and April is already here! However, I’m really looking forward to more warmer weather and outdoor activities.

In March I had a lot of fun finding ways to incorporating Women’s History Month in the blog this year and I hope to continue for next year. If you would like to see some posts from “March on Women” check them out here, here and here.

Hijabtrendz Modestly Chic Spring Fashion 4.3.14 Today I am Guest Posting on HijabTrendz, the original and local hijabi fashion blog, and I’m talking about modest and chic Spring Fashion. Read the whole article over here.

By the way, I’m having a giveaway for an original painting–enter the giveaway here. Only a few day’s left!

Have a great day & stay modestly chic!

Umair’s Sweetheart,


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