Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thailand, Vietnam, and China

Tiger Temple- Thailand

Thai Boxing

Elephant trekking in Thailand

Climbing around in Pai, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Full Moon Party, only part of the beach, Koh Phangnan, Thailand
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Halong Bay, Vietnam

Hong Kong by day
Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Peak

Hanging out with our friend in Guangzhou, China

I had to take a jumping picture!

I hope you've enjoyed taking a small look in to my travels, it was hard to just choose a few pictures because so much was done and seen.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Only A Backpack

For the past six months my husband and I had been trying to figure out what to do in the summer. We knew we wanted to spend a month away somewhere, but not exactly sure what that place would be. For a few months we decided that we would go inter railing through Europe, but then we had an even better idea. We booked our tickets to go backpacking in South East Asia two weeks before the departure date. 

We were beyond excited, it was the perfect plan. The original idea was to travel Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and a week in the south of China to spend some time with a close friend. We knew it was ambitious but thought we could pull it off. Our first stop was Bangkok, my first experience staying in a hostel. Luckily, it was a very nice and modern hostel, air condition and all. I started to think it won't be too hard "roughing" it for the next few weeks. To make a long story short, that was the nicest hostel we stayed in. Not that we stayed in bad places, they were all clean, for the most part. But it was definitely an experience. The weirdest part of it was not being able to share a bed with my husband, for almost a year now I'm used to him being right next to me. Most nights it was a struggle to sleep, but soon we realised it wasn't much more to get a private room in the hostel so we started to do that. 

I don't even know where to begin to talk about the actual trip itself, as in what we saw and did. We ended up spending just under 3 weeks in Thailand because we were enjoying it so much. We trekked on elephants, got to hold a tiger's head, trekked to waterfalls and up mountains, rode scooters in the mountain, stayed in a hut, went island hopping, and of course went to the full moon party. Our adventures in Vietnam consisted of buying silk, getting a tailor made suit, seeing a new wonder of the world, trying not to get run over, and once again riding scooters through the mountains and rice paddies. It was awesome. We stepped away from the world we are used to and its luxuries to really delve in to something completely different. We did what we wanted when we wanted to. 

I have never travelled like this. Half of the places we went to were small towns, no chain stores or restaurants. We didn't do any tours because we wanted to explore things at our own pace. Of course we bought things along the way, mainly clothes, but we kept to just a backpack each. My husband and I usually overpack for everything, but for once we made sure not to. The main shopping happened when we were in Guangzhou, China. We literally shopped till we dropped. If you're looking to buy some really trendy, good quality, and moderately priced clothes and accessories then go to Guangzhou.

I am so thankful to have had this experience, and I am sure it won't be the last. I think every few years we will do a backpacking trip to really get to the roots of a place, not the resorts and glam. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Going away donuts

One of our brothers recently came back from the Philippines where is he working on a project to help tsunami victims (check out his blog here). His departure had coincided with the weekend of our parent's anniversary and my recent addiction to baking. So I decided the best way to send him off was to bake him some donuts.

I have never fried donuts at home. Something in my heart tells me I would mess it up. I rationalize my fear by telling myself that baking is healthier anyways. These donuts have a wonderful cakey texture and come together pretty easily.  An added bonus is that this recipe helped me conquer my culinary fear of brown butter. Guys, brown butter is amazing. It adds so much depth to the spicy apple flavor of these morsels. Also, don't skimp on that glaze. Although lovely on their own these babies glory that extra sweetness. Can you tell I love this recipe? I have made it so many times now.

Apple Cinnamon baked Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze (adapted from Joy the Baker)

1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground corrainder
pinch of ground cumin
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peeled, grated apple

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
3-4 tbsp whole milk

1. Preheat over to 350 and lightly grease donut pan
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice, salt and brown sugar with a whisk and set aside
3. Place a small saucepan on medium heat and melt all the butter (including what is needed for the glaze). Once the butter has melted reduce the flame to low. The butter will crackle as the water evaporates and then start to brown. Once it begins to smell nutty remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Keep a close eye on the butter. My first time it took me a few tries to get this right as it brown quickly.
4. In another bowl whisk together the egg, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of brown butter
5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mix
6. Gently fold in the grated apple
7. Fill the donut pans using a spoon about 2/3 of the way full (about 2 tbsp per cavity)
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes
9. Place donuts on a wire rack to cool while making the glaze
10. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cinnamon
11. Add 2 tbsp brown butter, vanilla extract and milk
12. Frost the donuts by dipping them in the bowl and then pulling them out using a twirling motion
13. Put the donuts in the fridge for 10-15 min to harden the glaze

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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. 

Yummy in my tummy. -T

Spending some time in Chatel. -M

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy Journal

Last week T and I were having a conversation about how sometimes we get down in to a bit of a funk. I'm sure it happens to all of us, you just feel down on yourself and on top of the fact that there's probably a million things going on in your life at the same time. We both firmly believe that you truly are your biggest critic. No one is meaner to you than you, yourself. It's really a silly thing to be honest, there's plenty of others out there trying to bring you down so why bring yourself down? Luckily, T and I have each other and great family and friends to support us. But I thought there's no one better to make myself feel better than me! I've decided to start a happy journal. Every night before bed I will write down at least one thing or thought that made me happy that day. So whenever I am feeling a little down, I can go back and remind myself what makes me happy.

I haven't just chosen any journal to do this in. Last year I went to the Harry Potter studios in London, which was amazing! My husband bought me Tom Riddle's journal; I have been saving it for something special. This journal is perfect for my happy journal, especially since it's from Adam.


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 missing the past few weeks, things have been so hectic lately!

Looks like someone wants my phone. -T

I spent the whole evening in my robe. -M

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Forever Valentine

This most recent February 14th my husband and I celebrated our first married Valentine's Day. It was actually, the second one we've spent together ever since our relationship was mainly long distance. I'm not a huge supporter of this so called holiday, I believe you should treat your significant other with love and respect all the time. You shouldn't need an excuse to do something nice for one another. On the other hand, it is a nice excuse to get dressed up and go for a nice dinner.

Adam woke up me with a sweet little breakfast in bed. We both start our day around 8 a.m, he needs to get to work and I need to get in to the studio. It ended up being a slow day, not many people were around in the studio so I asked Adam to pick me up around noon and I spent the day at the office with him trying to get ready for my up and coming assessment.

Once we got home I began getting ready by taking a shower and picking out a simple red dress. I took extra time with doing my makeup, I wanted to look perfect. I normally don't wear makeup on a day to day basis, so it takes me some time when I do. I did a simple eyeliner and a nice red lipstick. I kept my hair natural and wavy. To dress up my simple dress I wore a big necklace and a rose gold watch. I didn't bother with earrings, I have so much hair so they are usually never seen anyway.

Adam and I enjoyed a fun lobster dinner at a place called Steak and Lobster. I have never actually had to crack the shells open, and neither had he, so that was an experience. The food was great but of course the company was greater.

It was really nice to have a relaxed night with the one I care about. We easily get caught up in our own lives and forget to take care of our hearts. Even though we see each other all the time, and have been together for just under three and a half years; we never run out of things to say. Sure, plenty of stories are repeated, but that's the fun of it. It was a night full of laughter and happiness.

Dress: New Look, Necklace: H&M, Watch: Fossil, Lipstick: Red Carpet by Bobbi Brown

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Little Things

My sister and I talk just about everyday. It may be via whatsapp, iMessage, or FaceTime, but there's always something to talk about. We even like to share our normal day to day tasks that no one would really care about; including our wonderful significant others.

You are probably thinking, what could these two ladies be talking about. Many of our conversations have consisted of what we are cooking/eating. Both of us really do love our food but then we complain about how the food we cherish so much is making us fat. Another common topic of discussion is T's beautiful baby boy. Saying I am obsessed is an understatement, so you can only imagine how Apa (means older sister, A.K.A Tasneem) is. Over the summer when I was home I would taunt T with pictures of her baby stuck under the dining table chair and playing while she was working. Now she has the pleasure of doing the same to me. Luckily we have the miracle of video chatting, so I get to see the wonderful little guy as much as I want. There's also a constant struggle over me calling him potato, she isn't too pleased with that nickname. We like to talk about what we're watching on TV, if we have bought anything new, and any hobbies we would like to explore; the list really does go on.

Today we had our conversation about how sometimes we imagine going to get things in our head then realise we are picturing home. I mean home as in where we grew up, where our parents live. Both Apa and I are married and living separate from our parents, so it's funny how we still picture it in our minds when thinking to go get something. The amount of times I'm laying in bed at night and want some water but begin feeling lazy because I don't want to have to walk down the hall, down the stairs, turn on the lights, and then go in to the kitchen. But then I remember, I live in Manchester, in a one bedroom apartment. So the kitchen is literally in the next room.

Moving away has definitely been a struggle, sure it's been a year and a half now but I do miss home. I love my life here and am so happy. I'm lucky to have access to electronics and the internet to keep me in touch with people back home. The little things truly do matter. Just because we are across the pond, doesn't mean we can't act like we're right next to each other. Having such random conversations with my sister, other family members, and friends makes me feel right at home; wherever in the world I am.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

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.

Making zucchini rosemary soup with bread for dinner. -T

Their home is now complete. -M

Valentine's Day Ideas

This red dress fits me a bit more snugly than I remember but I think that actually makes it look better on me. My hair is loosely curled and sitting quite prettily; coming close to rivaling the magical good hair days during pregnancy. I cajoled my hubby into his red shirt and the baby was kind enough to submit to wearing his red overalls. They have a little bear on them which gives me great joy. I quickly glance over at the microwave clock and see we have plenty of time for some family photos.

Valentine's Day is the day to celebrate love and let loose my unabashedly girly side. Last year was my first day of love as a mother and I wanted to celebrate with a nice dinner and a family photo shoot. The evening was so lovely I decided I want to make this little family photo frenzy a yearly tradition. Here are a few ideas to get you in the mood for one of my favorite holidays...

1. Crayon hearts from Martha Stewart
2. Sequin Heart from Style Me Pretty
3. Scripted Pillows from A Subtle Revelry
4. Red Velvet Hot Chocolate from A Beautiful Mess


Saturday, February 1, 2014

You're My Wonderwall

A mere five months ago I married the love of my life. Like all weddings there were some glitches, but overall it was perfect. I honestly had a fairytale wedding thanks to my family, friends, and of course husband. We were lucky enough to have those beautiful moments captured by The Way We Click Photography. Recently I received the hard copy of our pictures and I would like to share a few of my favourite pictures from the events. I have almost 2000 pictures, so these really are a very few that stuck out to me. For the past few days I've been feeling a bit over emotional while going through all the photos. I'm so happy with how the everything turned out. It's amazing how I was able to share such a special time in my life with all of the people I love, it definitely made everything even more perfect. I began to feel homesick, but at the same time happy to see how much everyone enjoyed the wedding. I wouldn't have changed anything.

No event is complete without a cheesing picture of me and T. We probably drive each other more crazy than anyone else, but she also keeps me sane. 


Friday, January 31, 2014

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Blissfully Dreaming

I have been in my home for about a year now but have yet to feel like I have completely decorated any aspect of it...not even the coat closet (anyone have any good suggestions for shoe organization?). But I am ok with that. For me, the best way to decorate is to start using a space and really get a feel for how you will use it before you start doing things to it. (side note: Grace at Design Sponge has some great thoughts about being mindful at home)

I feel like I have made good progress on my son's room and the bathroom. And even though they are still in progress I want to start working on our bedroom. When we lived in an apartment in the city a few years ago I feel that the bedroom was sadly neglected. I had a burst of creativity and production and decorated multiple rooms at once and then burnt out. I recently read somewhere that how much you put into a room reflects how you feel about what you use that room for. So, the place where my husband and I cuddle (and usually the baby wriggles his way into bed too) needs some attention. After all, cuddling is essential to my being.

 I have put together a few mood photos to get a better idea of what I want to do in the room.

I really like the lanterns here and the texture in the bedding. Also, we recently took out our headboard and I like how clean it looks, so I am not really looking to add one back.

Once again I am all about the textures here. And the minimalist look of the duvet. Normally I gravitate towards ruffles, pleats and pom poms; but the graphic simplicity of this duvet really speaks to me.

This image has definitely traveled all about the interwebs but I love it despite the familiarity it now has. I really need more light around my vanity area and this looks like the perfect solution to me. Also, how great is the detail on the walls?

As you can see from the sum of all these photos I have a rather eclectic style. I am always looking for new ways to mix things together. In this case I am a typical Libra; when presented with options I see the virtue of all of them. This room does a good job of bringing together many different things. Plus, garlands!

Overall I have realized I wish our room had higher ceilings and more windows. In lieu of doing some major remodeling I will see what I can do to infuse some airy dreamy beauty into the bedroom. I am really learning to love the *new* home and enjoying making it really ours.

Want to see more? Check out my Pinterest and here is how I keep track of all my decorating related projects.


photo credit: all the above photos were taken off of Pinterest

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How I stay focused when decorating: the post-it list saga

I love lists. I make lists for everything that I need to do (to do list for the day, for the week, for the month, groceries, what I want to buy from Target etc). It makes me feel organized. However I am really not that organized. I am afraid I am very easily distracted when it comes to working around the house. For example, I may start folding laundry in the family room and then take one pile with me into the bedroom to put away and get distracted by how disorganized my vanity looks. Thus, the rest of the folded laundry is neglected until I finish putting away all my makeup and hair bobbles. It drives my hubby nuts.

Unfortunately I have this same issue when it comes to decorating my home. We moved into our new home a 5 months ago after some cosmetic work (new wood floors, painting, replace half the kitchen). I began with making a list of the overall big things I wanted to do in our home. And then I organized my list by breaking it down room by room. Once I had that list going I went even further and added all the little things I wanted to do in each room as well.

Needless to say seeing all these words in my ever growing "to do for the home" was overwhelming. I started feeling discouraged even before I began. I decided to take it step by step and tackle one room at a time. However, various needs for one thing here and one thing there threw that plan awry. Now I have a house full of half finished rooms.

I am not one of those people who feels the need to have everything complete as soon as possible. I feel that decorating a home takes time and evolves as you live there and your needs for each space become more apparent. However, I do have an overall vision for my home and I want to make sure I don't get lost in all the projects and end up regretting that there was something I didn't get to.

So, I decided to make my lists more visual. Rather than keeping my lists hidden in various notebooks or on my phone I made little post-its with my to do and to buy goals for each room. My home is a work in progress and it is my hope that these notes will keep my progress on track.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

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.
My little one double fisting books. -T

My favourite shelf on our bookcase. -M

It's my ishtyle: Winter Wonderland

Winter has surely begun, but it doesn't mean we can't be trendy. Hope you're all staying warm wherever you are!

Dress: Modcloth, Tights: Vera Wang, Glasses: Love, Lipstick: Rogue Artist by MakeupForever

Jacket: DKNY, Dress: Akira, Tights: H&M, Boots: Urban Outfitters, Hairband: Forever21, Necklace: Tiffany & Co, Purse: Cambridge Satchel Company