Crafts

Fun Tree Branch DIY

If it were up to me, a lot of nature like tree branches and logs would be in my home. I mean just look at how beautiful nature is and having something like that in home and that too functional or as decoration just makes me so happy. You can make so many things from fallen pieces of wood and tree branches.

Fun DIY tree branch decor
Tree Branch decor from 2017

So back in 2017 when I found a fallen tree branch I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I brought it in, painted it and put some fairy lights on it. It became a nice decoration piece for my room corner that was pretty bare before then. I could even use it to hang scarves or bracelets as you can see in the picture above. he he. After a while that branch graduated to our lounge during wedding festivities and the lights really just brought joy to another wise sober room.

This Eid, I decided it needs a makeover. I mean I loved the lights on it but i wanted something different now. So here is what i came up with:

Fun DIY tree branch decoration
Remped tree branch with added decor

There are many many ideas when it comes to decorating your tree branch. You can leave it bare also. Tie ribbons and let them hang down. Just play around with different colors and ideas till you get what you wanted. Here’s my tree decor inspiration for you:

Fun DIY tree branch decor closeup
Close up of the decor

I bought all my supplies (rattan balls or yarn balls, cages) from Anarkali Crafting, an online store and the transaction was seamless I must say. You can even make the yarn balls yourself and there are many tutorials for it online but i didn’t have the time for it right now so I just ordered it away.

To add some contrast and color to the tree with red i used blue yarn that i already had at home and wrapped it around in places.

Hang in your decorations and viola! you have yourself a fun, colorful, tree branch DIY that can really light up the room and doesn’t even cost much.

What happened to those lights then, you wonder? well they’re still lighting our space in another corner. How would you decorate your tree branch?

Quick Recipes

Cupcakes

Cupcakes are such a simple, fun, quick delight to bake that i really love them. Nice to bake for evening parties, to have with your tea or simply when someone’s coming over or kids want a quick fix for their sweet tooth. Literally takes me 10 minutes to whip up the batter and another 10 minutes in the oven- and you’re done!

Basic cupcake recipe
Cupcakes

This cupcake recipe is basic and one of my favorites because it restored my faith in baking. You see, i love to bake but since a long time I was dejected because my cakes would just not turn out right! I had stopped baking altogether. Then one fine day I stumbled upon this perfect recipe (related to me by my aunt) and viola! they turned out so well i was ecstatic. I felt like i could bake anything again and I did. From cakes to fish bread and other things, there was no stopping me. I’m back to loving to bake so without further ado, here’s a perfect cupcake recipe for you to gather praise!

Ingredients you need:

Sugar: 1 cup

Oil: 1/2 cup

Eggs: 3

Flour: 1 cup

Cocoa powder: 1/cup

Baking powder: 1 tsp

Chocolate chunks: 1/2 cup (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees.
  2. Beat sugar with oil. (Grinding the sugar beforehand is advisable).
  3. Add eggs one by one and beat.
  4. Add sifted flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. You can also mix it in with a spatula and then beat it. (This is to avoid the dry ingredients from creating a mess as you beat it).
  5. Mix in the chocolate chunks (optional)
  6. Pour batter into your cupcake pan and bake for 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees
  7. Thank me after you’re done :).

Icing:

For my icing I used Nutella and some store bought sprinkles. You can make your own fudge icing too by mixing butter (100 gram) with icing sugar (4 ounce) and then add chocolate (150 gram).

I haven’t tried this fudge icing but let me know how it turns out for you. The cupcakes are sure to turn out bomb!

Book reviews

Book Review : Reclaim Your Heart

How many of us feel lost at some point in our life?

We love life when all is going well, or shall I say how we expect things to go but what happens when things don’t really go our way or we are faced with unexpected hurdles. We start questioning everything and lose hope, when in reality that shouldn’t be a believer’s attitude.

We think the good that comes to us is because of our doing (our hard work and focus) and the bad is God sent. Why would God want something bad for us? Why would he want us to fail? We question our existence on this earth and we question the stones in our path. We become dejected and depressed many a times in our life and fail to find answers.

In “Reclaim your Heart”, writer and scholar, Yasmin Mogahed, beautifully pens down the answers to these questions and all others. She sheds light on the attitude of a believer and why He is here on this earth. She tries to tell us the reason of our existence and through beautiful analogies explains the reality of this world, this duniya. She explains why we feel so hurt when we do and how we can lift ourselves from our state of sadness.

In many places in the Quran, God makes promises to His believers, tells them to be patient in times of distress, stay firm on their faith and reminds them of the reality of this life. The fact is that we tend to forget. If we remain attached to the book of God, I guarantee you that you will be reminded of His promises to us and of the reality of this world but in our busy lives we find not the time for it. It is the reality of today’s times. However, we must strive for better in our capacity.

I have read “Reclaim your Heart” once before and this Ramzan I am reading it again because it serves as such a great reminder of the truth. To me this book really helps uplift the sad/confused mood. If you haven’t read it yet, please do give a read and if you have let me know how you found it!

It has short chapters with easy to read text that is understandable and wherever applicable there are Quranic references for reference and guidance.

God bless!

Crafts

DIY: Jewelry Showpiece

If you may know, or may not know, (in which case I should mention it here), I am a big jewelry freak. I mean who isn’t, eh?I believe everyone has their own unique tastes and styles. It’s very hard for me to move from someplace where I have spotted nice (read : unique) jewelry. I mean I just end up blowing my money on rings and bracelets mostly. Once I spot a nice piece I really don’t bother about the cost much or think that I’ll find it cheaper elsewhere. Who has the time to go cheap jewelry hunting these days!

Anyways, so my jewelry obsession got me thinking of ways to display it nicely in my room and I ended up making a fun/creative do-it-yourself which I believe you can also benefit from, and also enjoy doing with your girls (for moms) -or if you’re a teenager you can do it on your own too.

DIY Jewelry project
Before

Basic supplies:

  • Small flower pot
  • Tree branch (small)
  • Paints and paint brushes
  • Small stones
DIY home decor
DIY Jewelry Showpiece

Directions:

  1. Paint your pot and the tree branch in any fun way that you would like. Initially I decided to keep the branch in its natural color but I felt it looked better painted.
  2. You can really play around with colors if you’re painting a small flower pot, I had one at home so I used it. Just made it all the more fun thinking of contrasts and designs. I ended up making this pattern using washi tape ( you can use paper tape too).
  3. Once the paint has dried, fill half the pot with small stones (you will easily get them from any nursery) then place your tree branch and put the remaining stones till the top ensuring that your branch is fixed in place.
  4. Tadaaaaa! (Need I say more? *eye roll*)
DIY Jewelry showpiece
After

I’m actually using this for my rings and earrings (that I wear at home). You can also make it as a centerpiece for a room and add little décor items to it, hanging on the branches like those small bird cages and then place a candle inside! Omg! What an idea that just came to my mind. You can really do many variations of this. Ima gonna go try that too and let me know if you enjoy this!

Reflections

10 Things We Forget in the Competitive Rush of Life (But Should Always Remember)

Life – sometimes it runs us over and sometimes, we run it, or so we feel. The rush of life teaches us all many lessons, from our relevant perspectives. Some we understand, some we forget and some we just refuse outright.

10 life lessons to remember

I’ve realized over the course of my 28 year life, that some life lessons are evergreen and apply to us all, maybe even making life a bit easy for us, more accepting. Here they are:

1.Time Flies

Good times, bad times, stagnant phases, nothing ever stays the same and change is inevitable. It may be longer than sooner but if you always remember this, it will make the tough days pass easily and allow you to cherish the good ones.

2.No One Loves you More Than your Parents

You will find good people as you move on in life and find love in other relationships, but your parents are your first and foremost pillar of strength. No one will care for you as much as them. No one can love you as much as them and surely no one in this big wide world can want the best for you, MORE THAN THEM. So love them back and respect them. It will open doors for you, you might not even know about.

3.Education and Hard Work Never Go Wasted

Everything teaches you something. Your educational degree that you earned after so many pains, made you the person you are today. My friend often used to say, it’s not the end but the process that matters and I really agree with it. So respect your alma matter, no matter what and know that all the hard work that you put in your degree and later on in life, it will always benefit you in some way or the other.

4.Experience is Invaluable

Unless you do it yourself, with your own two hands, you will not learn. Someone else telling you how it’s done is nothing compared to your experience of doing it. Getting your hands dirty is going to really pay off in the long run, so never ever devalue experience. Don’t run after shortcuts and don’t rely on what others tell you. Experience it for yourself. Make your own reality and decisions, based on your choices.

5.The Good you Do Stays with you

If you think, it doesn’t matter to do good to people who have wronged you or those you don’t really know, remember that your good remains with you. When you do good to someone without expecting anything in return, God will pay it back in the most amazing ways. So be nice and do good to others whenever you can.

6.Patience Pays Off

How you react to situations really shapes your future. Sometimes in certain circumstances, when nothing is working out, the best thing to do is wait, and have firm faith in God.

7.Gratitude is the Best Attitude

Incorporate gratitude in your life. Be thankful for everything that is right and then you will see how everything wrong gets fixed!

8.Positive Mindset Leads to a Positive Life

Our mindset is everything. Always remember this no matter what. If you think you can do it, or go through it, overcome it, YOU CAN! There’s no need to listen to what others tell you, as long you believe it, it can happen!

9.Small Things ARE Actually the Big Things

Most often we run after the big things and in the process, forget to enjoy the little things. Small things matter and they make a big difference so always learn to find happiness in small things; you’ll feel more joyful when arriving at the big ones.

10.Self Love is Very Important

You are important. You matter. You come first. We often burn ourselves down for others, which is not healthy. Keep your mind healthy and focus on physical health too, in order to keep going. Take little breaks whenever needed to stay fresh.

Bonus:

11.Money is Not Everything, Just Something

Money, money, money, yes it is needed to pay for utilities,necessities and the luxuries but in this run for money, don’t forget that money isn’t everything, it’s just something. Our relationships, (family and friends) are more valuable than money and sometimes it’s okay to take a step back and re-analyze your actions. Take a break even!

Are there any other life lessons you’d like to add or any other thoughts you have? Please do comment below!

Relationships

5 Tips to Get your Way with Overprotective Parents

Raise your hand if you have overprotective parents- I have. All of us hailing from desi households can relate that overprotective parents can sometimes curb our growth only because they love us and want to protect us from the big bad world out there. Most of us, while growing up cannot understand this, and we think we are being restricted from doing things that we want to do.

How to get your way with overprotective parents
My face when my parents say “no”

Like I remember, in my home, me going somewhere on my own or being out after maghrib, even when I was in university was such a big deal and a straight no. Heck, even coming back from university on my own, using public transport was met with raised eyebrows. At that time I used to whine, and fight (sorry mum and dad) but now I understand why they were so. In my defense I strongly felt (and still feel) that I should be able to do things on my own because at some point I will have to, so why not be as well prepared for it as I can.

So here is me spilling some advice that I wish someone had given me back then on how to talk to my parents and gain a level of understanding to get what I wanted.

BUT FIRST,

Let me tell you that your parents are overprotective for your own good and sometimes they are right in doing so. Some of those restrictions do us well in disciplining us in the long run and instilling some good old values. Also, there is a time for everything and always remember apna time aega! haha. Okay seriously it will come.

NOW, back to the point

1.Talk with Respect

If you want your way with your parents, it’s extremely extremely important that you talk to them with respect no matter what. Don’t lose your calm, don’t get angry, don’t start screaming and worst, don’t barge into your room banging the door behind you. These behaviors actually prove your parents right, that you are not yet mature to be on your own.

2.Show Them you’re Responsible

Take every opportunity to show them that you are responsible. Don’t leave your phone behind when you are out. Carry some cash with you always. Don’t ignore their calls. If you commit a time of return to them, make sure you are back by then or if you’re late, tell them you will get late. Even when you are at home, be a responsible person of the house and take part in home chores. Keep your own room organized or help your mom keeping the home straight. It will all go in your favor.

3.Don’t Break their Trust

If your parents are not listening to you, or giving you permission for something that you want to do, it’s not the best idea to lie to them or cheat them about it. Truth never hides and sooner or later, when you are caught, it will be very hard to gain their trust again.

4.Take “Calculative” Risk

Whenever you can, take baby steps to show your parents that you are responsible and you can do things on your own. Take a friend along the first few times and make sure you return by dawn. This will help your parents see, that you can do it and maybe eventually understand. For instance, for me I always made sure I had a friend along and told them everything when I returned.

5.Have a Dialogue

When there’s absolutely something that you must do, on your own, and it’s beneficial for your growth and professional life ahead, then sit your parents down and explain things to them in a very practical way. If they see and understand your reason, eventually the will agree. Open dialogue often solves most problems.

So, I hope these tips help you make peace with your overprotected parents and help them also see how they may be hindering your growth.

Let me know if it helps in the comments below:

Travel

10 Best Things To Do in Islamabad (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1, here are the remaining best things to do in Islamabad:

6. Go to Saidpur Village

Saidpur Village, Islamabad.
Saidpur Village
Hindu Temple, Saidpur Village, Islamabad
Hindu Temple (previous visit)

Okay this tiny little village is a very interesting place. It is an actual village that they’ve integrated into the city and so it’s also very picturesque. It has a very famous restaurant; Des Pardes that you can visit with friends or family at night, the place is quite full so please do make a reservation. Also, you can explore the remains of a mandir and gurdwara that stand opposite to each other, quite interesting, I must add !

7. Visit Saeed Book Bank

Saeed Book Bank, Islamabad.
Inside Saeed Book Bank

So bookworms like me will understand the importance of visiting a good book store in another city, even if for just the feels ! My visit to Islamabad is incomplete without taking a stroll at Saeed Book Bank. Whether I buy more books form there or not, it is a book heaven guysss, trust me !! I once found a very cute edition of “Life of Pi” and I kid you not, it’s a must read book if you haven’t already!

8. Stroll at Jinnah Super

Tea at Jinnah Super,Islamabad
Tandoori chae at Jinnah Supper

Agar kuch nahe karna lekin kuch karna bhe hai tu bus Jinnah super pe utarjao and take a walk around. It’s one of the happening places where you will find many shops, cafes, and restaurants. Grab a bite, do some shopping (or window shopping) and end the walk with tandoori chai at the corner.

9. Take a walk at Fatima Jinnah Park

Jinnah Park, F9,Islamabad
Jinnah Park

If you like going for walks, Fatima Jinnah park is an absolute must visit. It’s one of the biggest parks in Islamabad aur wahan walk krne ka kia hi maza hai. We managed to go just once for a bit. A whole round there will take you an hour or so but taking out that time to visit it, will not go in vain. Khuli fiza will do you good, I tell you ! (wese tu poray Islamabad mein he khuli fiza hai, lulz!)

10. Pay a visit to Faisal Mosque

Faisal Mosque view from Daman-e-Koh, Islamabad
View of Faisal Mosque from Daman-e-Koh

Known for its unique architecture, the Faisal Mosque is a must visit, when you are in Islamabad. It is one of the biggest mosques in Pakistan and was one of the biggest in the world until 1993, to be taken over by mosques in the MENA region.

So guys, this is my list of the top 10 best things to do in Islamabad that will make you leave a tiny piece of your heart in this beautiful city. I kid you not. There are many more and I would love to know if you’ve enjoyed these or any others? What’s your favorite thing about Islamabad?

I truly believe every city is beautiful with its own soul and I love soaking it up a bit in me when I visit. Happy travels!

Travel

10 Best Things to do in Islamabad (Part 1)

No one can deny the fact that Islamabad is a very beautiful city but it has a reputation for being a city that sleeps early. And if you’re from Karachi you miss that gehma gehmi a whole lot! but let me tell you, Islamabad has changed a lot since your buchpan and mine.

best things to do in Islamabad
View of Islamabad

This year my visit to Islamabad- after a hiatus of 2 years, led me to leave a bit of my heart there. It was just so so enjoyable. I mean apart from admiring the beautiful mountains and lush green scenes, if you indulge in the following activities like I did, I am sure you will not be able to get over it soon. So, here goes:

1.Visit Lok Virsa

If you are any bit interested in Pakistan’s culture and history, this is an exhaustive museum to re-visit your roots. Great for families and super informative for kids. The museum was established in 1982 and showcases the living cultures of Pakistan. It is located on the Shakarparian Hills.

Lok Virsa or Heritage museum
Heritage Museum

It opens around 10 am which is the best time to visit as you will find the least crowd at that time. We reached there around 10:30 and believe me many people had started coming in. The museum is surrounded by art, crafts and jewelry shops so keep a bit of cash if you’re interested. You will find jewelry relatively lower priced here so I recommend that you purchase it from here instead of the malls in Islamabad. oh and they also have different art related programs running, so keep a look out if you’re interested in that kind of stuff!

2. Go for hiking

Half way to top, good view point of Islamabad City

If you’re from Karachi (like me) or any other such city that is devoid of places for physical activities and you love them, then you can’t really miss out on hiking on one of the 6 trails in Islamabad. You can go early in the morning or even at evening (be sure to check the temperature though) and you will love it. The serene view from the top, the rush of climbing uphill, taking in some fresh air, and observing the greenery are just some of the benefits of hiking. While you are at it, you might as well take trail 3 which leads straight to Monal and have a mighty meal!

3. Have Tea at Chikachino

Chikachino, open space food spot in Islamabad
Chikachino- good snacking in open air

Ok the best thing I enjoyed this time in Islamabad was having chai and fries, samosas and pakoras at chikachino! Took me a while to get used to the name kher, Islamabad ka pyara mausam ho aur thandi hawa mein beth ker you enjoy your cup of karak-chai, iss se behtreen aur kuch ho nhi sakta. I legit made a hat trick of going there. Raat mein dekh bhaal k jana bhye, suna hai jaga nhi milti.

4. Grab nashta at Khoka Khola

Khoka Khola cafe
Sweet spot for your cravings

In the past two or three years many new cafes have sprung up here which have really turned the scene on. We had breakfast in Islamabad at a couple of places, chaaye khana, cheema and chatta ( known for their desi parathe and alo salan with sohan halwa) but by far the most enjoyable was at khola khola. The décor, the ambience, their food dishes in which they serve their food (big thaals with little pyalas of portioned breakfast) everything was too good.

5. Visit Dam-ine-Koh

Daman-e-Koh viewpoint
Daman-e-Koh view point

Islamabad gae aur Islamabad k nazare nhi lie oper se, tu phir tu zyadti hai bhyee! There are a couple of spots in Islamabad which give great city views (even from Monal and there’s zero point also) but we visited Daman-e-Koh and it was quite beautiful and busy. Grab a bite with the monkeys- there are so many claiming the place it’s really fun to watch them. But please be nice to them yaar.

Part 2 coming up in a while, tell me have you been to Islamabad and how was your experience?

Travel

3 Basic Etiquettes when Visiting Someone

When travelling, usually our first preference is staying over at a relative’s place instead of a hotel to make our trip budget friendly. If your travel is specially to meet friends or family in another city, then again I think it is extremely important to follow some basic etiquette.

If you’re staying there for a longer time period, say more than a week, here are my 3 tips to make the stay comfortable and enjoyable for all parties involved:

  1. Offer to Cook/Split the Bill
cook to help guests with the workload.

Okay first things first, we all know how huge food is in our culture and when friends and family get together then dinners and lunches involving everyone are inevitable. Whether its home cooked meals, you’re dining in, or going out, help when and where you can. Maybe offer to host a dinner/lunch, split the bill when eating out, offer to do the dishes at home or simply ask to cook a dish or two. Trust me guys, your host will love you for it and welcome you back for years to come!

2. Pitch in for the Petrol

Usually when you’re staying at someone’s place they offer to drive you around to the places you want to visit. So while your hosts are being generous, why not ease their burden a bit and pitch in for the petrol. Also, if you’re driving their car around, drive it like it’s a brand new Mercedes you just got your hands on, (for obvious reasons of course) or offer a car wash.

3. Be Organized

When you’re living in someone else’s space, make sure you stay as organized as you can with your belongings. This is because of two things: first, you will avoid losing your belongings this way (someone could just put it somewhere else in an effort to clear the place, leaving you asking around or worse losing it, because you didn’t know where it was in the first place). Know where your stuff is. Secondly, it will help your host to at least not worry about organizing your things along with theirs when it’s time to tidy up the house.

What do you think is the right way to live, when you are staying at someone else’s place. I’d love to know your thoughts and practices !