Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where do we go from here

How do you change something when you don't like the direction it is going in? Turns out Maria are not the most dedicated bloggers. But, that isn't because we don't want to blog but rather that this blog was becoming something we weren't sure we liked. For two sisters who were once remembered by a stranger as the ones who are mean to each other, this was becoming too formal a space. Somewhere we were always aware that someone else is watching.

So, where do we go from here. We have identified the problem but not the solution. As a former biologist I think this calls for some experimentation. 

In this time of media and information saturation Maria and I have developed an eclectic array of interests that we want to exercise and explore so in the coming months you will be able to see all sorts of things til we find our groove. 

Maria likes:
eating out
hanging out in the rooftop jacuzzi
cooking for friends

Tasneem likes:
taking sneaky breaks in the day to read
furniture design
Doctor Who
obsessively making lists
baking scones

Just a little taste of the things you will find as we think and explore. Thanks for sticking through this journey with us. I promise it won't be painful as we don't bite. It may however prove to be a delightful time-suck.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's my ishtyle: Autumn Basics

Autumn is my favorite season. Not only is it the season I was born in but the early morning frost and bounty of warm colored leaves make it a truly beautiful season. Another thing I love about Autumn is the transitional weather. It is warm with a bite which allows for tons of outfit options. I can still wear my summer things with a mix of my winter things. 

Jeans: American Eagle, Peplum top: Express, Striped blazer:
Macys, Shoes: Victoria's Secret

Hat: Obey, Jacket: Barbour, Scarf: Calvin Klein, Sweater: H&M,
 Jeans: Guess,Boots: Aldo, Purse: Micheal Kors

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In my neck of the woods we have Australasia

Today we have a special treat for all of you, our very first guest post. My husband and I are very big foodies; about a year ago he started a blog writing reviews for restaurants we've dined at. Here is his review about Australasia, a well known restaurant here in Manchester.

Wagwan Nurbites!


Apologies for being away for so long! Been very, very busy. From getting married in Chicago (via an incredible stag in Vegas) to hanging in Miami, and honey-mooning in Jamaica, I have for sure been well fed! The food on my trips has been incredible! But nothing is better than being back home to Mad-chester, the home of the Rolls Royce, the center of the universe. Manchester is the greatest place this earth has seen. Well not quite, but it is home!

Having dined at several great restaurants in Manchester recently, I thought I'd come back with a bang with a place many have heard about in Manchester. Australasia oozes class from their Louvre style stairway entry to the high tech DJ playing with what it seems a 40 inch iPad! We were sat in a booth which was excellent for privacy, giving the place the slight edge if you prefer the more intimate vibe.

The menu had 3-4 sections, sushi, smaller plates and bigger plates. The waiter liked to talk about waves, bringing the meal in 2 or 3 parts but we wanted it all to come together. We treated the restaurant like an Asian tapas bar and so we all ordered 3 dishes each planning to share everything. This was nice as it gave us like ten different small dishes to try. The drinks menu actually came on an iPad which was cool to browse through.

Before the food came, the waiter came over with a fresh piece of wasabi and grated a portion of it on our table. Never seen this from a restaurant so was a nice touch (although seemed like a lot of effort from his part!). When the food came out, just about fitting on our table, the first thing we noticed was presentation. It was impeccable! Everything looking delicious. I would show you pictures but I don't like to give away too much spoilers for you and ruin the experience.

From what I tried, the sushi was great, but for the price not spectacular. The beef skewers stuck out to me as a gem, very flavoursome. The squid tempura, and the prawn and wasabi mix were pretty average. The dish I had heard about most was the expensive black cod. We ordered two of them as it was something everyone wanted to try. It was great, but I'm not sure if it warrants the fame it gets. Sure it is quite different, something you would not have tried elsewhere, but for me it was not the 'melts in your mouth' experience.

Now onto dessert. Fans have probably realised I don't really have a sweet tooth, and due to my lack of passion for the sweet dishes I tend to shy away from talking too much about them. It was due to the also hyped Mango soufflé with coconut ice-cream and mango soup, that I left a little space for this. When the soufflé smothered in the 'mango soup' and the ice cream touched my lips, this was the highlight of my meal...possibly my week. It was just delightful. The explosion of flavours in my mouth, the textures complementing each other ever so perfectly. This was the elite of desserts.

The restaurant decor is very impressive, and is a must if you just want to hang out, or impress someone. I was a tad disappointed with the food, however I did give it incredibly high expectations. The dessert though made me leave the place on a high, and may be the thing that forces me to return again.

8 out of 10 rating.

-Adam Nurbhai

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cooking Countesses: Butter Chicken Remix

Throw it in to the pot! 

 It's been a very busy past few months, with finishing up wedding details, the actual wedding, honeymooning, and of course settling back in to Manchester in to my new apartment. Like every good new daughter in law I wanted to have my new parents and brother over for dinner. I decided to make butter chicken, but it didn't exactly taste like it. The reason being is because when I began cooking I realized butter chicken really uses too much butter; not a very nutritious dinner I'd say. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to take a picture of the finished product so above I have all the ingredients I used. Luckily the dinner turned out great and it was a success having the family over for dinner. I can definitely see some more dinners happening in the near future.


Butter Chicken (serves about 5 adults)

4 fairly large chicken breasts (chicken pieces on the bone can be used as well)
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 tsp garlic ginger paste (or freshly chopped)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
3 tsp laal mirch/red chilli powder (put as much or little as you like, depends on how spicy you like it)
3 tbsp tomato puree
5 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain yogurt
lemon juice to taste

1. brown the onions in a bit of oil then add the chopped chicken
2. add the garlic ginger paste, turmeric, garam masala, laal mirch and let cook for a few minutes
3. mix in tomato puree and butter, allow chicken to simmer and cook until cooked (if you would like more sauce add a little water)
4. once the chicken is fully cooked, lower the heat and add the yogurt and allow it to cook for another 20 minutes

Usually this dish is served with rice or naan. Add as much or as little spice, it all depends on how you enjoy it. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Remember, I'm no chef; so this recipe isn't perfect. I don't have an exact system of measuring, I just put in however much I think is needed or want. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Break me off a piece of that


Please forgive us for the long silence. Things have been rather hectic for Maria and I with her wedding and family visiting. I was working on various projects and sadly had to abandon a few and Maria went off on her honeymoon and then moved into her new place and settled in for the new school year. But, now that we are getting back to our routines we are eager to start working on sharing here again. We will pow-wow this weekend and get back to writing and creating soon. In the meantime I know Maria and I both have a couple things cooking (pun intended)!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In my neck of the woods we have sushi

We just celebrated the end of Ramadan with the holiday Eid. Ramadan is a month of fasting that Muslims observe, we do not eat or drink from sunrise till sundown. Everyday my family and I would go to the mosque, and sometimes you just need a break from food there. We all decided to head to Burr Ridge and try out Wok 'N Fire. My brother and I were really craving some sushi.

Very yummy house made ginger ale.

T did not take picture taking seriously.

The sushi here is really good. My fiancee and I have become sushi fiends this past year and have learned lots about it. This is definitely some very well made sushi. We were all so hungry and excited to eat that I completely forgot to take a picture before we tuck in.

We also ordered two noodle dishes to try. One was a salmon dish and the other was a steak pad thai dish. These were also very good. Luckily I remembered to snap a picture before we devoured it.

It was a great night out with the family. Unfortunately our dad could not make it since he has a lot of commitment with the mosque, so it's nearly impossible for him to miss a day during Ramadan. I would definitely recommend visiting Wok 'N Fire. Their food is great and the atmosphere is interesting. Upon entering you are faced with a huge Buddha statue and lots of coloured lights. My nephew was very amused and interested by the colour changing of the lights. The service was great as well. It was nice to have a break from the mosque and have a nice meal with the family. It was also a late birthday celebration for my brother in law, Tasneem's husband. 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trading Places

President Obama Visits London - May 24, 2011
photo by JR P
On Saturday my little family will be going to England. There are some big events happening in my hubby's family so we decided to cross the pond so we could be there for them. Once, I used to go to England as often as I could; but now this will be my first trip there in a couple years. Maria's in a bit of a tiff that I am going there for a visit while she is here but I am sure that we will go for many more visits in the future.

This will be my hubby's first trip back to Manchester after moving here and he is ecstatic. I am excited to be going to spend time with friends and family. And looking forward to having a vacation right before the hectic goings-on of Maria's wedding. However, I am also nervous about flying with my wriggly baby. I am afraid of being one of those parents you bemoan being on the same flight with because their children are so upset. Wish us luck!


p.s. Follow me on Instagram to see pics of the vacation

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's my Ishtyle: Real Housewives in Woodridge

Would you look at that, we have the same smile.

I love window shopping for pretty aprons. However, I rarely ever buy them. Especially the hostess aprons that I am not really sure I would ever actually use because I would be too afraid of dirtying them. Maria and I went shopping a few weeks ago and she mentioned that she was looking for a good hostess apron. So then we spent a bit of time seeing if we could find one she liked but to no avail.

A little whole after that I found out that Martyn George was closing up their brick and mortar shop and migrating to online only so they were having an inventory sale. I went with the intention of buying gifts for my husbands family but walked out with a gift for myself and Maria...funny how that happens.

Matching aprons

On Maria: dress - Forever21, bracelet - made by our brother, apron - thrifted from George Martyn
On Tasneem: dress - thrifted from our mother's closet, bracelet - Kate Spade, hair flower - Accessorize, apron - thrifted from George Martyn

Sunday Bliss

Sunday is the day we slow down and really appreciate what is around us.  When we catch up with ourselves after a busy week.

Cooking Countesses: Mango Banana Smoothie

Drink up!
It had been my intention to bake a banana chocolate chip cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. I have recently been all about baking cakes for no apparent reason. However, the weather had other plans. Turning on the oven in the middle of a heat wave when your air conditioner doesn't work and your sister thinks you are a hillbilly family because you roam around in your underwear is just so unappealing.

The ingredients

But, I had bananas I had been saving for my cake. They were perfect mushy brownness. Then I remembered I recently bought chia seeds and mango, and Maria reminded me that quick things are always best during Ramadan. So an idea was born. This makes a delightfully thick shake that fills you up and makes sure you get all sorts of good nutrients. I suppose you could thin it out by adding more milk but we like spoonable shakes around here.


Toss it all into the blender

Mango Banana Smoothie (makes 1 jug: 5-6 glasses)

1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
2 tbsp chia seeds
4 medium ripe bananas
1 mango
1 tbsp elderflower syrup
1/2 cup milk

1. Toss all the ingredients into a blender.
2. Pulse for a minute and then shake the canister so the liquid settles on the bottom
3. Blend for 3-5 minutes until the mango chunks disappear
5. optional: add sugar to taste (we thought it was sweet enough on its own)
4. Let sit for about 30 mins so the chia seeds have a chance to soak up some of the liquid to really thicken the shake 
6.  Enjoy!

My baby is a fan of this smoothie

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunday Bliss

Sunday is the day we slow down and really appreciate what is around us.  When we catch up with ourselves after a busy week.

I have been participating in the selfie challenge hosted by Elsie and Emma over at A Beautiful Mess. ~T

Fasting has helped me appreciate the little things more-like fresh water. ~M

Thursday, July 25, 2013

slinky 2
Photo by Woodleywonderworks (flickr)

The intwerwebs are easy to fall into. Sometimes too easy and you find yourself akin to a slinky stuck on an elevator, falling and falling until you aren't really sure where you began on where to stop. Here are a few things that made us pause recently:

Even the seemingly insignificant words we say mean something more >>>
Once clothes were tailored to fit us, but now we tailor ourselves to fit the clothes >>>
Artist Alyssa Dennis makes dreamy detailed works >>> (I especially like this one)
We all know that family members look alike, but this is a whole other level >>>
This Chicago based t-shirt company is really going places, and they have great designs >>>
Really want to try the two tone lippie, can't seem to get enough of the pink and red contrast >>>
Bec Winnel's portfolio is stunning,we really want a couple prints for ourselves >>>
Jenny recently diy-ed concrete countertops, seriously thinking about recreating this one >>>
Having lived in Uptown, I am kind of obsessed with the Uptown theater. If only I had the money for this lot >>>
Elizabeth is doing an fascinating series on babies/children as they grow >>>

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In my neck of the woods we have doughnuts

Apparently, cupcakes are so last year. Doughnuts are the new black (Chicago Reader even named it the best new food trend). I am a big fan of doughnuts, even though until fairly recently all I had ever really had was the Dunkin and supermarket variety. But then again, I think doughnuts are kind of like pizza where even when they are bad they are still good. Or maybe my sweet tooth is steadily taking over my brain and I am lost.

Glazed and Infused started as a modest little window in Wicker Park. There was something so exciting about being able to walk up to this little hole in the wall and receive the bounties of sugary goodness while the rest of the world was binging on tacos (from Big Star of course). Late night wandering no longer really work with my lifestyle though so now I like to get my fix from the West Loop location.

Every day there are a variety of flavors that are rotated depending on the season. This visit we were lucky enough to get blueberry lemon, a strawberry glazed bismark with lemon curd filling, a banana cream cheese and a bear claw with apples and almond paste. I had been hoping for one of their everything doughnuts but maybe I will have better luck next time. ~T

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunday bliss

Sunday is the day we slow down and really appreciate what is around us.  When we catch up with ourselves after a busy week.

Working on a furniture transformation. More details to come ~T

It's my fiancee's birthday! ~M

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Maria's Bridal Shower

Maria is getting married this August and I wanted to do something extra special for her bridal shower. Since this is her last summer home it was a goodbye party of sorts as well and I made sure she went out with a bang.

My little sister has always had a very charming way about her that people can't seem to resist. She got her first flowers from a boy in kindergarten during recess. I remember thinking way back then that she would be a heart-breaker. So, it makes sense that she would get engaged in one of the most romantic places in the world; after all she is someone who deserves to be swept off her feet. From the lofty view of Montmartre Maria's attention was stolen by her fiancee popping the question. This was my inspiration for her party (plus Maria's love of lemonade).


Photos by Nakia Carbide

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Iftaar Party (Bribing my friends to come over and do some manual labor)

Until you have had a wedding in your house you don't exactly know all that is involved with pulling a wedding off. I am getting married this August and since I am the second child in the family to get married I knew I would need the help of my friends to get things done. Since it is Ramadan, I decided to have my friends over for some food (nihari! my favorite) and help me get some stuff done.

For the main ceremony everyone will eat together at the mosque. We have invited over 500 people; that is a lot of guests to provide with napkins, cups and cutlery...oh and food of course. In the mosque, we will eat sitting on the floor around a large metal disk called a taal. All of our food is placed on the taal and we share the meal family style while mostly eating with our hands.

Oh all of the SOLO cups...

We always start a meal with a taste of salt. It acts as a palate cleanser and reminds us about how lucky we are to have food in front of us. Since it is such an important part of the meal we like to dress our salt up in style. Thus we are decorating these cute little holders for each taal.
Painting some swans

One of our wedding traditions is that the bride's family gives gifts to the groom and his family. My fiancee has a large family so we have lots of things to wrap up prettily.
Wrapping up the gifts

We got a lot done this night. Thanks guys! Please wish me luck in getting the rest done!


Sunday Bliss

Sunday is the day we slow down and really appreciate what is around us.  When we catch up with ourselves after a busy week.

Sorry for the late post! A sick and teething baby has made things a bit hectic lately.

Every summer I re-read Harry Potter ~M
Just bought some antique mini drawers ~T
Wavefront music festival ~M
Baby toes in the sand  ~T

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pure Michigan

Lake gazing

A couple weeks ago we took a family vacation to celebrate some birthdays. This was the vacation of our childhood. We all packed into our respective cars and drove a few hours to one of the most remote places I have ever been. I was honestly afraid my little toy car would get stuck in the tire treads on the gravel roads; and since there was no cell phone reception I do not know what we would have done if that had happened. We had rented a cute little lake adjacent cottage off of Airbnb and the weekend was full of games and hijinks. We went canoeing, played board games, created a roaring bonfire and even started a family band.

There were a couple baby sized tables perfect for Bachu

Out on the lake
We had a blast on this tree swing
scrabble photo 20130622_173404_zps43818a1e.jpg
Scrabble was an intense affair
Cute garage turned taco stand off the highway

And last but not least a video of the band...

I always knew

Fireworks by Maria Sayla

I am currently living out y dream of becoming an artist. I go to one of the best art schools in England and am so happy to be there. I go to the Manchester School of Art which is part of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Ever since I was a kid I constantly drew pictures and colored. Usually at some point kids grow out of that; I never did. I always wanted to be an artist. As I grew older I came to realize that being an artist isn't the most practical job so I bounced around ideas of going into psychology and even pharmacy. But I knew that would  never make me happy, sure I would be more stable financially, but money really can't buy true happiness.

After graduating high school I was lost. My parents never pressured me to go into anything specific, but like all parents they wanted me to be stable and happy. I started my post high school education in community college. I took an art class in my first semester and finally decided that I am going into art.

Art makes me so happy. Deep down I guess I always knew that nothing else would compare. I have worked very hard to get to where I am now. I am constantly learning new things every day. Being an artist is so exciting for me. It's funny to think back and remember being told by my drawing teacher that I didn't have the talent to become an artist. I never let that get me down. I am so passionate about what I do that no matter what anyone says I will pursue it. I mainly draw and paint but my skills aren't limited to that. The past year in school I have learned so much more.

I am happy and thankful for all the love and support my friends and family have given me. I am not yet sure what I will do when I graduate, but no matter what it will be in the art field. I will always be an artist, and always have been it just took me a little time to realize it.


When I knew

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:
“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:
“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:
“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:

 I have always been an avid reader. In grade school I was the awkward kid who found a little corner off to the side and read a book during recess instead of playing kickball. I was a champ at four square though. I was always getting lost in the world I created in my head with the help of the likes of LM Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L'engle. It never occurred to me that I could ever create such wonderful stories until I read Harriet the Spy (by Louise Fitzhugh). In Harriet I found a kindred spirit. And I did all I could to imitate her by writing about everything I saw. But things got rocky for Harriet and that held me back. I wanted to be smarter than Harriet; learn from her mistakes without actually making them myself. So I didn't fully commit, I dabbled but wouldn't lose myself in my own creations like I did with others'.

The turning point came during in 5th grade. The annual young authors competition brought something out in me I hadn't really felt before. Sharing my weekly progress with my classmates made me want to share more and more. Let everyone see this castle-in-the-air of my creation. I read my story to everyone who would sit still long enough. It was a compulsion to make people understand what I saw when I closed my eyes. A few years later when I began writing poetry, I realized how futile that was. Now I look forward to seeing how others interpret what always seems so clear to me when I first put pen to paper. In college I had a random acquaintance tell me he looked forward to following my career, that was when I really felt like I had arrived. I realized my so-called-dabbling was something real and concrete not just to me but to others as well. I write primarily for myself, but I am not the only reader I keep in mind. Like your stereotypical writer I crave approval, adoration even.


note: I got the idea for this post from a contest hosted by Positive Writer