lifestyle

Mohadesa Najumi: I Get You.

February 27, 2018





Mohadesa Najumi’s above quote sticks with me, always. When I feel inadequate, less than and simply not good enough. It makes me push past the negative thoughts and it rings in the back of my mind whenever I feel even an ounce of hopelessness. 

This concept of validation is interesting. Why do we need it? Why do we instantly feel better after hitting more than a few likes on our Facebook profile pictures? Or when our follower count on Instagram goes up? I know this debate on social media and validation has been said and done, but I mention social media because it plays an integral part in this generation. Especially in regards to my view that validation doesn’t just lie within societies view of us, but our view of ourselves within society. 

For as hard as it may be to digest this: We all allow ourselves to get caught up in living for others, and not living for ourselves. We allow ourselves to be pushed around by societal expectations of happiness, success and wealth. Unfortunately within our fickle society, if you aren’t posting a brunch pic on a Saturday, do you even have friends? If you aren’t posting pictures of your office view of the harbour, are you even successful? And if you aren’t posting pictures of your latest luxury purchase, you’re obviously not earning enough with that job you have with the harbour view. And if you choose privacy, then you’re just strange and not worthy at all.

 And I’m not saying I’m perfect and I don’t post my brunch pictures, I of course, do. And I too, allow society to dictate my actions at times. But not as much as I used to allow it. And since I read Najumi’s quote, less often than ever. It hit me hard. And when I read and reread her words over and over, it all started to make sense. 

In a society where being a ‘feminist’ is considered a negative thing and in a society where women are judged for their looks above all else, I should not allow it to weigh me down and squeeze all the happiness out of me. Instead, I should aim to be feared. Not in a way that I’m intimidating and cruel—but feared that i am not one to push around and I am not one who will back down. I am not one who will accept the labels society pushes on me. 

Its really that simple. If I do not seek validation from society, a society which wishes for me to remain submissive to the status quo, if I reject the notion of validation from those around me, whether that be men, other women or my Instagram followers—I will be feared. Even now, the word feared has a negative connotation attached to it when I type it out. But don’t shy away from this concept. It is through these connotations that we allow society to attach to these words in the context of women that causes us to accept our fate as quiet, and times, unconfident. So for me, as long as I am doing the right thing and saying the right thing, there is no reason for me to even consider the criticism I receive for rejecting the need for validation. 

So to the women who may be reading this: Take every comment, criticism and negative look your way with a grain of salt, (not even that!) And if they say you’re feisty or fiery or straight up loud, to that, I say you are feared. When a man confuses your assertiveness or confidence with being ‘emotional’, don’t lose heart- it just means you’re feared. To be feared means you’re finally living for yourself. To be feared is to be confident in your resistance to societal constructs. To be feared is to be heard-no matter what. And so from now on, I do not accept being pushed down and seen as a girl who must  behave in accordance to society’s idea of righteousness and femininity. My thoughts and actions will not be subdued and ultimately, misconstrued. 

I say all this because I have to let you know, I fell. I fell under the weight of expectations and the way society measures happiness and success. I fell hard. I felt the pain of my fall right to my very core. But I made the decision to get back up. And I know, sometimes the healing hurts more. To push past social norms and decide to do what is best for you, instead of what you have been told to do. Sometimes this can hurt more so than the fall. And I may fall again, for the notion of being feared isn’t achievable in one day. It takes years to remove every last bit of conformity and the urge to find validation from others from your soul. But the courage to get back up is what defines you. The fall does not. So for as of right now: I do not seek any validation, for I do not require any validation. For I wish to be one of the feared ones. For the feared ones, are the ones who find true happiness. 

And for 2018, that is all that I hope for. 






Food

High Tea At The Cortile, Intercontinental Sydney: A Review

November 09, 2017



Hey everyone!


I know its been a while but I wanted to quickly jump on the blog and discuss my high tea experience at The Cortile in Intercontinental Sydney. I visited IC for my birthday because I actually haven't experienced a proper sit down high tea before. In all honesty, I had just assumed high tea was whatever I had already experienced during my many visits to Dubai over the years or the 'high tea' buffets I had tried on my trips to the homeland. Yeah, those weren't high teas. Those were just buffets. Im not complaining though, who doesn't love a buffet?



Anyway so I had a few people ask me how it was so I decided I will just do a blogpost on the entire experience!



Let me just start off by saying almost every major hotel in Sydney has a high tea menu. The Shangri-La, The Langham, The Westin, Sir Stamford, Park Hyatt and the list goes on and on. When looking into which place I should choose for my first (proper) high tea I had three major requirements: location and its aesthetic, price and menu. Pretty standard stuff to evaluate really and I am always thorough in my research. While I wont go into incredible detail of the places I decided against in the hunt for a good spot of tea, I will say each place had its own charm and I can understand why some of the ones I have listed above are on all the 'best high tea's in Sydney' lists. Some of the menus looked great, although the prices varied in regards to this and honestly speaking, some were more on the pricier side in comparison to their menu offering. My good friend who accompanied me had already visited the Westin and had enjoyed it and I definitely will go their next I think, since I have heard rave reviews and they actually do a high tea buffet. (A proper one though, unlike the one's I have experienced in Pakistan where there is no scone in sight 😂 ) I decided against The Westin purely on the basis of wanting to experience a new place with my friend, not somewhere she had already been (especially since high tea menus rarely change.) I decided against the other places due to the price, with some 3-tiered high tea's costing over $75 with some actually being offered at $100. Listen, i'm not one to be frugal but trust me when I say the menu just didn't seem worth it. Why spend that much on high tea (not even a proper meal, but bite-sized portions) when you can spend it on makeup? But hey, that's just me! But look, if you don't mind paying that much for a scone and a mini pie then hey, no judgement on my part.



 In the end, I was tossing between The Shangri-La and Intercontinental. This decision was based on the menu and price. The Shangri-La is known for it's high tea desserts due to their award-winning pastry chef, Anna Polyviou. The price was also great, a three-tiered high tea for $45pp. The menu was also completely Halal (winning!) for those of you who may be wondering. They also catered to other dietary requirements such as vegetarian and gluten free, all you needed to do was let them know at the time of booking. So at this point I am thinking okay great--menu looks good and I like the sound of that price. However upon google image searching the place the high tea is actually served, I was a little disappointed. The Shangri-La has some of the best views of our beautiful Sydney Harbour, but the high tea is served in the lobby. Ah, so close to coming out on top Shangri-La, so close. So now, I'm thinking okay, 2/3 requirements have been filled. Price-tick. Menu-tick. Location and its aesthetic-unfortunately no tick.



And in case you're wondering why it didn't make the cut for me personally, here is The Shangri-La's  lobby lounge:




Looks nice enough, a nice piano there and all that good stuff. But....it  just looks so much like...well, a hotel lobby? I wasn't impressed by the aesthetic and it wasn't really where my head was visually at for my first high tea experience. (Is that weird to say? Maybe.) I definitely do want to try it out though because I hear Anna's carrot cake is to die for, and I am a sucker for some carrot cake.


So that leaves the Intercontinental. Menu-tick. Again, most of their items are halal certified however when I booked over the phone I still clarified I wanted a halal menu just to make sure. Speaking of a halal-friendly experience, the price of $60pp at the IC included wine on arrival, and this was one aspect of IC I was a bit confused about. From my research of the other locations, there are two different price points. The first being a slightly less expensive version, which doesn't include an alcoholic beverage and the other slightly more pricey, naturally due to the inclusion of alcohol. However at the IC it was $60pp which included an alcoholic beverage. So while that probably sounds great for those who do drink, I still believe there should have been two options available where the price would be lower for those who dont. However, the woman on the phone was very accommodating to our dietary requirements and when I asked about the inclusion of wine on arrival, she said we could swap it for an extra coffee or tea. Honestly, the one coffee is enough and I didn't really feel the pot of tea (each!) was necessary and I would rather have just paid less and had my one coffee, but again, that's just me. Either way, $60pp for the amount of food we received: tick. So that just leaves the location and it's aesthetic. When researching the The Cortile (where the high tea is served in IC) I really liked it. I wish I had taken a photo of the overall space, but unfortunately I was too busy scoffing my scone, so here is a poor-quality image taken from the internet:




This picture actually seems to have been taken during the evening I think, because when we went there was plenty of natural sunlight. We were seated right above where you can see those steps in the left hand corner which I was pleased with, since there was slightly more privacy than in the main area. As you can see, its quite  large and open with beautiful architecture surrounding the space. As soon as we sat down my friend said she felt like it looked like Hogwarts. (That is a good thing.) The IC is actually situated in the surrounds of the Treasury building which dates back to 1851. And so it actually is a very aesthetically pleasing building. You know what that means: location and its aesthetic: TICK.


Okay back to the menu since that is what most people want to know about. The high tea consisted of technically four tiers instead of the usual three. 



Here is the menu:


I wish I had taken a photo of the individual items but I didn't, as I didn't expect to write this blog post but here are we are anyway. So the picture below is the best one I have for photo reference regarding the items on the menu I discuss: 



I did however take a photo of the cold savouries for some reason, so here we go. The cold savouries included tea sandwiches filled with roast beef,  smoked salmon buns and a Moroccan cous cous.




The smoke salmon bun was the winner for the cold savouries. It consisted of smoked salmon, cherry tomato, avocado, mustard cress with an orange and basil aioli on a mini brioche bagel. Divine.


Moving on to the hot savouries. The hot savouries were very good. As in, the delicious kind of good. The bite-sized beauties full of flavour really satisfied our empty stomachs (we came prepared!) And the gourmet harissa lamb pie was the clear stand out in the hot savouries. It was perfect for the slightly cool weather and it just melted in your mouth with your tastebuds thanking you with every bite, no joke. 



For me, scones are scones, (Don't hate me, scone aficionado's of the internet!) and I only really remember them if they're extremely soft and fluffy or terribly dry. So in this instance, these were just your average scones that were right in between both extremes, but I did enjoy the raspberry jam that they came with. It was a nice change from your usual strawberry you get at a cafe. The scones were nice but we only received one each. While that was completely fine with both of us, since we were already at the point of being almost full (almost!) I did take note of this, for the other high tea's I looked into, as well as reviews I read of other places, the high tea goers received two each. Interesting. 

Photo by Christine Knight ( I scoffed mine down prior to taking a photo so this shall do!)
Okay, last but not least-the desserts. If anyone knows me they know I'm a sucker for sweets and I will skip the main meal if it means two rounds of dessert 😂  But wow, even I couldn't finish my share of the desserts. So you can imagine if someone who prefers savouries is dining with you. (All fingers pointed towards my pal and fellow high tea goer on this one, as she really struggled with the desserts!) Honestly, There were way.too.many.desserts. To the point where you felt sick from the amount of sugar you were consuming. I didn't take any real close ups of the desserts because like I said, I didn't know I would be here today writing this, so I apologise--but here is the dessert menu:


Sweet Treats:



Caramel Mascarpone, Lychee and Mango Cup 

Milk Chocolate, Ginger and Coconut Creme Brûlée Tart
Lemon and Lime Meringue Tartlet
 Hazelnut Praline Choux 
Almond Praline


and here is the best I can do for photo reference! (I feel like such a failure about my lack of photo taking😣 )






 Thats right, five desserts each. You're probably thinking well okay, for the price you're paying you should receive that many bite-sized items. But oh my goodness, I couldn't even fit the last one in my mouth I was that extremely full. I will say that the Lychee and Mango cup  (third from the left in the above photo) was pure deliciousness, especially if you love a good fruit-based dessert. Plus I am obsessed with lychees so I LOVED it (I just wish I wasn't so full so I could have fully appreciated it.) 




Okay so thats about it for The Cortile! I know that was a bit of a brief review, but it's really something you just have to go and experience yourself and I hope I helped in some small way in providing some more information! But I did want to give my final thoughts regarding my experience:



The atmosphere was lovely and the whole experience with the staff of IC Sydney was great. Our server was extremely professional and sweet, explaining to us the different items on each tier and just generally being very welcoming and their social media team even wished me Happy Birthday on my Instagram later that evening lol. Overall, the staff at Intercontinental Sydney were great and really made you feel special. I think that good service is important and I really appreciated it. The food can be delicious, but the service is what can make or break the whole experience. The menu was great but like I said, there needs to be more of a balance in regards to the ratio of savoury to sweet. I never thought I would ever utter these words but, too many desserts! 



Thats it guys! Hope you enjoyed this mini review of my high tea experience at IC Sydney.


If youre Pakistani and reading this, check the hashtag. Let me know if you get it! 


 Where shall I go next?


-M.

lifestyle

The September Review

October 09, 2017




Welcome Welcome Welcome to my September Review! Honestly at this point I don't really know how to feel.  I was just starting to process how fast August had gone by and welp, now we are in October. Where did September go? Deep breaths people, DEEP BREATHS. Just me? Okay-moving on.

The last few years I have welcomed the month of October with a general sense of anxiety. And I know for a fact that it definitely stems from the realisation I turn another year older this month. I know, I know-I shouldn't be complaining about getting older at my age and I am definitely thankful for everything, but sometimes it is just hard to come to terms with having to be an adult.


However, on a positive note- I really enjoyed my September. it was filled with family, friends and food in the best possible way. And so I thought I would do a bit of a brief write up for this month!


So here are my top 5 favourite moments of September! 


1. My Love For Bundt Cakes


I just had too. "Bonk-Bonk-Boohndt'
I love me a bundt cake as much as I love My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so I thought the above image was appropriate. There is something about Bundt cakes I just find so impressive. They're the no fuss cake you make that will impress anyone, no matter what. I delved into the world of baking a few months back in July and I have been loving trying out new things. My entry into the bundt department was definitely based on taking a risk-I decided on a Cinnabon-esque cake with a cinnamon sauce swirled in the batter with your basic sugar glaze drizzled on top. It went down a treat, even family members I know who aren't sweet tooth's went back for seconds. Success.

Honestly though, I hereby deem myself the official ambassador for making bundt cakes a thing for millenials. (For some reason bundt cakes just seem like something your grandma would make?) Well I say, forget the crazy layered cakes with the delicious buttercream (Okay, dont totally forget them, maybe just for a little while!) and opt for a simple bundt cake. Seriously guys, try it out next time you're invited to a party. Don't know what to take? Whip a bundt cake. (Okay, it's decided. This will be my official campaign slogan.) Perfect.

Here is my raspberry and vanilla bundt cake with a raspberry cream cheese sauce I drizzled on top. Finish it off by adding some fresh raspberries and some crushed pistachios. I love the contrast of the green with the red raspberries! Impressive AND easy (and delicious.) Winning.





2.  A Visit To 'The Grounds Of Alexandria'

Okay don't hate me for this-but this was my first trip to 'The Grounds' ever. Okay, now don't hate me even more when I say this-but why does everyone go nuts over this place? Like besides it being aesthetically pleasing and the perfect backdrop for your next Facebook profile picture (guilty!) What is it that makes you want to return? Let me know because I really don't get the fuss.

 I do have one theory as to why I wasn't in love with the place: I may have left my visit a little too late. So maybe this concept of an aesthetically pleasing cafe just isn't anything new to me now. However, I have heard that at the time of the The Grounds of Alexandria opening, it was basically the only one of its kind. Hence why people raved about it so much and hyped it up for me. I get that, but I still do think it was perhaps hyped up a tad too much. I say this because I just didn't enjoy my meal. It was just the most basic poached eggs with not the best salmon I have had (it honestly looked a bit like the salmon you get in cat food if I am honest.) And the sauce accompanying the eggs had a weird zesty taste I personally didn't like. But hey, that's just me and those who went with me enjoyed their meals. 

At the end of the day though, I can say with complete confidence I have had much better poached eggs at a local cafe in a larger quantity for the same price, that looks way more Instagram-worthy in it's presentation. (It was also served in the most random plate- which I understand was intentional to match their aesthetic, but I wasn't a fan.) 





3. Finding my perfect breakfast at Espresso Warriors.


Speaking of better poached eggs...


Guys. 


This. Place. Is. So. Good. 

Definitely my new favourite brunch spot. 


I mean, how good does a 'Zucchini fritter topped with Halloumi chips. rocket, parmesan crisps and perfect (see for your self below!) poached eggs' sound? 









 Seriously though, it is hard to be impressed these days with so many variations of poached eggs and brunch menus and brunch spots and it all just gets too much, so many brunch-related bucket list adventures to tick off. Sigh. How will I ever deal with these first world problems? Jokes aside though, these guys know their stuff. They know their flavours and what works well together. The menu is large but not overwhelming to the point it is frustrating, just large enough for you to guarantee yourself a few more trips to try everything out😉  (Which I think is the perfect amount?)  No, I haven't been paid to write this-but hey, Espresso Warriors, hit me up.

And their pistachio milkshake? To die for. (I wish I had a photo but my brother was really feeling the flavours and drank it all before I got a chance.) They also do the coolest 'Golden Eggs' which is a dish consisting of crumbed poached eggs, salmon, kale and brioche-topped with some hollandaise. Yep. I know. I shall give you a moment to wipe the drool off your chin. Take your time. To see more of their menu, you can find it here on their Instagram. Im telling you, just go. Go today or go tomorrow. Just make sure you go.  


Public service announcement over. Let's move on.



4. Celebrating Eid Ul-Adha

Okay, this one will be brief before I get all emotional and write an essay about my loved ones. So here it goes: Eid is my favourite time of the year. (Or times, I guess-since we celebrate it twice.) So in this case, I am referring to Eid Ul-Fitr. And like I said in a previous blog post,  Eid al-Adha, is a significant celebration in the Muslim Calendar. And for a sydney-sider, the day is usually seen as an opportunity to get together with your loved ones and have a feast. I love being able to spend time with friends and family that I don't get to see every day. When we get together for Eid I reflect on how lucky I am to have such a large extended family, and that we are all able to get together for these sorts of celebrations. See, I told you I would become a sop! I'll just stop here. What I am trying to say is, I just feel super blessed that I had to opportunity to grow up surrounded by so much family, since I know there are some people who are far away from their loved ones and I can't imagine how hard it must be for them! 

Speaking of Eid-I posted a Eid cookie recipe here in case you missed it! Find out more about why I wanted to make this eid festive as possible in that blog post! 



Don't the cookies just look so festive?


5. Sit down Question and Answer with Mumma K. 

So a few days ago I decided to film a little Q and A with my Mumma and posted a snippet or two to Instagram to test the waters-and everyone was so lovely about it! The lighting was terrible resulting in not the best quality footage but the response was so positive that for that reason alone, I might just upload the full version really soon! So keep a look out for that on my blog. I wanted to include this in my September review because I genuinely enjoyed hearing my mum's responses to the questions I asked her. She is my favourite person ever. Okay, too cheesy-but it's true! I loved filming it and I hope you guys enjoy watching it! Exciting times!




Yep, that is all I am going to say about the Q & A because there is a video to come! 🙊


That's it for this week! Hope you guys enjoyed a little insight into my September. How did September treat you? Let me know!

And like I said earlier, I am turning a year older this month, so some exciting stuff to come!  I shall leave you with what will most likely be me this year:




Just kidding! 😉



Happy Tuesday and enjoy your week. I hope it is filled with friends, family and possibly some brunch? 


Much love,

-M.


Beauty

Underrated Budget Beauty Finds You Have Been Sleeping On.

September 22, 2017





Welcome back to another blog post! I do have to apologise for my absence, I was sick majority of last week. However, I am back and I have promised myself to be consistent! No really, I already have next week's post in the works (more on that at the end of this one!) Anyway, I was rummaging around in my vanity today and I was looking at a particular eyeshadow palette and thinking, "Why did I buy you?! You weren't even worth it!" And that got me thinking, that there are probably other females out there with the same life struggle. So I decided to compile a list of a few of my favourite affordable makeup products you too might cherish instead of curse.  I know some women believe that quality can only be found in a high-end product with a high-end price tag and I know of some other women who laugh at this concept. (But girls, let's not be each other's worst enemies!) I think that while yes, there are some beauty products that are worth every cent, and we all love a good splurge (guilty!) There are also some budget-friendly products that are so good, that honestly you wont even feel the need to save up for the luxury makeup you were eyeing! 

So I bring to you, in no particular order, a few of my favourite underrated beauty finds you have been sleeping on. Thats right guys, stay woke. I have also included two lip options which are basically the budget-friendly equivalent of a higher-end product! (Because why not use that extra cash for brunch?) 

Okay lets get into it!


The Sportsgirl 'Eye Shade It' Burgundy Eyeshadow Palette.

So I know people don't usually go into Sportsgirl if they are looking for makeup, but guys, Sportsgirl has revamped their entire beauty range and it is actually decent. No, it's better than decent. It is good. If you're a beauty aficionado then you would already have guessed their burgundy palette is a copy of the Kylie Cosmetics burgundy palette. The thing is though, it's not a cheap knock-off you would buy off of eBay for $5. The quality is great. I personally think it looks more like a mix of both the Kylie Cosmetics Burgundy and Bronze Palette's in one. You can compare them for yourself below. Sorry for the not so clean Sportsgirl palette-it has become my go to in recent weeks!



Photo by: KylieCosmetics.com


As you can see, the price difference (and that is not including international shipping) is substantial. The price point for the Kylie Cosmetics eyeshadow palette plus shipping was just something I wasn't willing to pay for (Around $50AUD) since both the palette's include shades that I was sure I could find on Aussie soil, and most people who purchase Kylie products are paying for the name. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. Your money, your choice!) However, these shades are so on trend right now, and the palettes were so hyped up on social media, I couldn't get away from them. So when I saw similar shades for half the cost and not to be shady towards Kylie Cosmetics, probably of equal quality-I picked it up, and I love it. I think it will definitely be my most reached for palette. The shade names are a little dorky but the colour pay off and blendability makes up for it. 'Damn Gina' is now my go-to crease colour. And I am definitely taking this bad boy with me on my next trip, it has all the colours for a neutral glam look-perfect for travel.

Australis Metallix Cream Eyeshadow




I came across these bad boys a while back and before purchasing (despite the swatches being very impressive) I decided to look online for some reviews. I actually didn't find that much back then, but I think this product has blown up in recent times. I still decided to include it incase anyone reading this doesn't own a pot themselves, because they are actually one of my favourite eyeshadow products ever. Again, if you're a beauty-fiend you would instantly be able to guess this product is a dupe or copy of the Stila Magnificent Metals foiled eyeshadow pots.





The thing is though, The Australis Metallix Eyeshadows are $9.49AUD for 1.9g in comparison to the Stila product which, according to the Stila website is $32USD (Around $40AUD) for 1.9845g. Quite a price jump for the quantity you're getting, hey. 





Now before those who do own the Stila foiled eyeshadows kick up a stink--I won't claim that both products are of equal quality. But what I will say is that the Australis Metallix eyeshadow are incredibly pigmented, insanely creamy and you will only need the smallest amount for an opaque finish. Wait a minute--that's what all the reviews have said about the Stila eyeshadow. Interesting. But hey, let's not be shady now.

NYX Full Coverage Concealer and NYX Dark Circle Concealer Corrector




Okay so these two are a new addition to my collection, and I had to include them because they are an absolute steal! Brief backstory: I had been noticing a little bit of pigmentation around my mouth area for a few weeks and realised my concealer just wasn't doing the trick. Not a big deal, most South Asian women like myself have pigmentation on the skin or darkness under the eyes. And so because of this, I had been eyeing the Bobbi Brown correctors for a little while but didn't know if I truly needed so much concealing because I am quite new to the colour correction world. 


Photo by: bobbibrown.com.au



That being said, I didn't want to purchase a $45AUD pot for only 1.4g. Again, if you do use the Bobbi Brown corrector, fair enough-your money, your choice. And I understand that you only need a tiny amount and it will last you a while. But listen, there are girls who use orange and red lipsticks they have in their top drawer for colour correcting so why does Bobbi Brown feel the need to make me pay that much for such little product? Instead I looked online for any alternatives because at this point I wasn't even sure if colour correcting was for me. I found a cheaper alternative in the NYX range of concealers. The NYX dark circle concealer I bought on sale for $8 AUD (Praise Target for their random unadvertised beauty sales!) but it is usually around $12 AUD. 





The orange full coverage concealer corrector I actually ordered online for again about $12 AUD but it is even cheaper in the US of course. You get 7g of product which is a steal since you only need the tiniest amount. It claims to be lightweight and crease free, and these claims check out. Honestly, they're little pots of gold for those with pigmentation or dark under eyes who are on a budget or even just starting to figure out what works for them in regards to colour correction. I use the orange to cancel out pigmentation around the mouth and the medium shade for dark circle correction. Of course you can use them however which way you want! The orange can also be used under the eyes and the medium shade for acne scarring elsewhere on the face and so on and so forth!







Affordable Liquid Eyeliners: BYS Smudgeproof Waterproof Eyeliner




I don't think I can reiterate this enough-If you are not the best at liquid eyeliner application, trying the most expensive one you can find won't fix your unsteady hand or make your wings even. Sounds like common sense right? Well you would be surprised at the number of women who I have personally encountered who own high-end eyeliners, yet still just can't seem to get it right. I know that sounds cruel, but let me explain. I get it, eyeliner can be difficult. Maybe you're a beginner or even a pro who is in a rush. (And sometimes, you're just having an off day.) And honestly, if the more budget-friendly eyeliner is decent in regards to formula and doesn't crack, smear or smudge---why are you paying extra? More importantly, why do luxury brands feel the need to bring out eyeliners when there are so many for a fraction of the cost? I will never understand. Anyway, I bring to you an affordable eyeliner that will make the job easier, faster and is actually great for beginners (and pros!)

This BYS eyeliner is for every woman who has at one point in their life, felt discouraged about their eyeliner. Like there is no hope left for them--(okay that is a bit dramatic, but at the same time, it isn't!) Just have a look at that curve, that fine tip...it is what dreams are made of people. And maybe I'm crazy but I just feel like it curves to the shape of my eye. Like it was made just for me. Okay that's enough praise, let's get into specifics. Basically, this eyeliner was the first one I ever purchased as a young teen. Mostly due to the price point which at the time was around $3 or so. It now sits at $4.95 which is still such a steal for what this baby can do. It is well-formulated and does what it claims too. It doesn't crack, it isn't streaky and best of all-it dries down completely matte and then doesn't move. Actually no, that isn't the best part. The best part is it does not smudge. 

So if you're like me, and you have just applied the rest of your makeup and you have to say a prayer before reaching for your eyeliner-this is the product for you. You can mess up your wings, accidentally make your line too thick and you don't have to stress. Because although this eyeliner is waterproof, you can still clean it up so easily before it fully dries without it smudging everywhere and ruining the rest of your face. I usually just take a finger and wipe it away, no need for a q-tip or makeup remover. The sad part is, this eyeliner is so underrated, to the point where I know of women who have dismissed the brand because it is known for being so inexpensive. I had someone compliment me once on my winged eyeliner and upon hearing it was BYS, actually laughed. Do I care though? Nope. Because this eyeliner will make your wings sharp enough to cut anyone who scoffs at you for using BYS. *Snaps fingers in a Z formation.*


Okay for the next budget beauty finds, I have decided to have them face off against more expensive makeup products in a 'dupe' test. (Dupe meaning duplicate/cheaper version of a higher priced product-incase you don't know what that means!) I thought I would let the lipsticks do the talking for this portion of the blog post, since the swatches pretty much say it all. 

First up we have:


Too Faced Melted Liquified long-wear lipstick in the shade 'Melted Berry' VS. Colourpop Ultra-Matte Liquid Lipstick in the shade 'More Better.' 





I decided to include the Colourpop liquid lipstick for those who like Colourpop as a brand, and the fact it still ends up being cheaper even after conversion from USD to AUD. The one pictured above is actually a mini which came in a set of 5 liquid lipsticks but the full sized is $6USD ($7.55AUD) and the Too Faced liquid lipstick is $30AUD. I really like Colourpop lipsticks and there is a reason the brand is so popular over in the states: its affordability, with majority of their single products being around the $6-$8 mark. So it still works out cheaper than a single Too faced lipstick. The shipping to Australia isn't too bad either, if you spend $50 you get free international shipping. Team Colourpop all the way. 

See the swatches below:



As you can see, theyre pretty much the exact same shade. However, the Colourpop is far more opaque in comparison to the Too Faced lipstick which is slightly less pigmented. Theyre both great in regards to wear time, but I do feel the Too Faced bleeds a little where as the colourpop stays put but it can be a little more drying. So while they both have their pros and cons, for the price difference, I would go for the Colourpop. 

Wet n Wild Megalast Lip Color vs MAC: Velvet Teddy




Okay, so I know Wet n Wild is not a very well known brand in Australia, but their products are quite good. They actually recently released some highlighters and eyeshadows that have beauty bloggers in the US raving about the brand. The colour range is great and the formula is decent you guys. You can purchase Wet n Wild in Australia here for $6. And if you get the shade 'Bare it All' which is almost an exact dupe for the extremely popular shade Velvet Teddy by MAC, you're saving yourself $30. Winning. 

I mean look, they're basically fraternal twins:




That's it for today's blog post you guys! 

I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learnt about a product you perhaps hadn't heard of previously. If you have any budget beauty finds you would like to share (I am always up for a bargain!) then let me know! 

Also before I go-like I said in the beginning of this post, I am already working on next week's and I am really excited about it. I am finally going to be able to put a face to this blog while also discussing some interesting stuff that is a little different to what you have already seen on the blog with a special guest. So stay tuned! 

Happy Friday!

-M.











lifestyle

The August Review

September 06, 2017



We are a week into September. Let that sink in folks. We are officially in the ninth month of the year, and my brain cant seem to even begin to process how fast this year has flown by. I feel like it was just last week I was thinking about what my 2017 New Year's resolution would be. But alas, it is September. And like every year, my resolution has remained unfulfilled. But that is okay, because I did some other cool stuff to make up for it! Speaking of which, I was going through my camera roll on my phone (to clear up storage, as always) and I found some pictures from this past month that I thought would be fun to share. Especially with pictures that made it to my Instagram because you usually don't get the backstory behind Instagram uploads, just a small caption and some hashtags. So I thought why not share them and talk about them a little more. 

In no particular order, here are my top 5 favourite pictures of August:

Pavlova Pancakes @ 'The Picnic' Burwood Park, Burwood:




Ah, The Picnic. One of my all time favourite brunch places in Sydney. Their food is consistently delicious, the vibe is awesome and their chicken schnitzel is to die for (its not as basic as it sounds) it is actually amazing. Here is it is in all it's glory: 



Not so basic huh? But what I want to mention today is their 'Pavlova Pancakes.' Usually, I don't go for pancakes when I am out for brunch, I am more of an eggs person but this just seemed too good to be true. If you know me personally, you know I love anything with passionfruit, so this sounded amazing. Pancakes with a lemon curd, cream, fruit, a scoop of mango sorbet, crushed meringue and a passionfruit sauce to top it off, guys, this was life-changing. It was so so so good. And I will tell you why you have to trust me on this one: I do not like blueberries. I just don't enjoy them that much, I have no real explanation for it. So when I say, that even the blueberries tasted yum, you know it has to be good. 'The Picnic' just seem to get it right, every.dang.time. The combination and balance of flavours was on point. I would highly recommend their pancakes along with their schnitzel. Go tomorrow or go this weekend. I am telling you, just go. And then tell me how it was.


Celebratory Chocolate Cake:




It was my brother and my sister-in-law's first anniversary of their 'nikkah' (religious marriage ceremony) so I thought I would bake them a cake to celebrate, which was quite the hit! It was my first time experimenting with chocolate buttercream (I am really really new at this baking thing, so I usually stick to my basic vanilla sponge + buttercream combos.) However I thought I would branch out and give it a go, and honestly-I'm so glad I did! I wish I had a photo of the inside, but the layers of buttercream were perfect and the Ferrero Rocher chocolates were the perfect finishing touch. I will say I kind of regret adding the toasted peanuts to the top of the cake, it looked a little messy with the flake chocolate I had originally added but hey-you live and you learn. And I am still learning on how to get that perfectly smooth finish around the outside of the cake, so hopefully that just comes with practice. At the end of the day, I'm not too fussed because I mean, the buttercream tasted yum and really, who doesn't love a slice (or two) of chocolate cake?  


The 'Waiting for a saviour' Snapchat selfie:


M on the left (who stole my sunnies!) and MK on the right, yep I think that works for Identification purposes on this blog.
This photo may make it seem like a fun day with M (I have decided this what I shall refer to her as, for she will be featured quite a bit on my blog I feel.)----and yes, while that was part of how this day went down, I think it's apt to truly describe this day as a series of unfortunate events. I had driven us to Burwood to try out the Rusty Rabbit, (which was weirdly hard to find) so if you haven't been before, or maybe we were just puzzled by the location, because I remember looking at M and saying,"Well the GPS says we have arrived but all I see is like a taxation office?" So when we finally did find the place, I couldn't find parking on the street so decided to park in a carpark I had found and I naively assumed that perhaps due to it having no boom gates, that it was free parking. (lol, like as if that is a thing in Sydney.) So while in the carpark, I see other drivers entering and exiting and they seem to be loving life, so again, another positive sign to just assume I too, can come and go as I please. Big mistake. Huge. (Okay not huge, but it sounds better) So I park, and I look around for a ticket machine and the only one that I see is out of order. So while not fully convinced about the parking situation, we still went on our merry way for brunch, and I came back to find a parking fine. *Sigh* And if that was not frustrating enough, (mostly because I felt like a bit of an idiot for assuming local councils in Sydney suburbs were nice to their people. I can confirm: they are not.) A few hours later, my car randomly broke down in the middle of a random carpark. So the above photo is a result of me waiting for my mother to come save us. And boy, did she save us. 

My mum is honestly the biggest boss/machine/female-extraordinaire. I could honestly have played the theme song to Superman as she entered, lassoing the jumper leads in her right hand like some kick-ass cowgirl, but also gracefully carrying her handbag in her left. (Okay, so it wasn't that dramatic, but how's that for a mental picture.) And I know what you're thinking, that it isn't that hard to restart a car-but look, I was in a time of need and it was none other than my mum who saved me (as always) so let me be a little complimentary. And when I say a random carpark, I mean an empty carpark behind a McDonalds (don't ask.) So while we are trying to figure out the car trouble, there was a bus filled with some young teens and an old bus driver behind us, most probably on a Macca's pit stop on a school trip. The bus driver just sat in his seat, sipping on his thick-shake, munching on his fries. And I am thinking to myself, ''Hey buddy this isn't a free show-maybe come give us a hand?'' And like that, as if he read my mind, he sauntered over to have a look. Just to look. So my mum fixes the position of the jumper leads and basically has got it down pat, ready to start the car, when he 'adjusts' them (read: made sure they were secure, which they already were.) And then confidently says "go on, start the car now" and of course, it starts. So as you can imagine, the bus driver really did believe it was his magic touch that fixed the car. So, I will say thank you to the bus driver for letting his fries go cold in order to help us out, but we all know who the credit really belongs to, thanks mum! We did have a bit of a giggle that he truly thought he was the hero in this story, though. 



The 'They're so beautiful, and that's about it' Pancakes @ The Rusty Rabbit, Burwood.




The above photo is beautiful isn't it? It is what Instagram food-bloggers' dreams are made of. The colours, the fluffiness of the pancakes, the contrasting blue plate they're served in. Ah, perfection. Aaaand that is where it ends. So sad. 

This picture is following on from the last one, since I mentioned we had brunch at The Rusty Rabbit, and so I thought I would share what I ordered and what went down. *Sigh* these pancakes were so disappointing. They are known on Instagram for being fluffy and big but honestly, they were undercooked to the point where I got to the centre of my pancake and it was just...a doughy mess. The flavours of the different berries were too overpowering and I just felt like I was consuming some type of mixed berry jam straight out of its jar. The passionfruit sauce just did not make sense for some reason, even though I loved the passionfruit sauce with the blueberries on my 'Pavlova Pancakes' at 'The Picnic.' I will say, the ricotta helped cut through the sweetness, but there was not enough of it. Just a tiny scoop on top of two massive pancakes. I barely got half-way through the first pancake before feeling the need to steal a savoury hot chip from M's plate. It cost me about $17.00 which is a decent price for the quantity, but honestly I don't think I would have even paid 10 for it, unfortunately. You just can't get away with serving undercooked pancakes. And just to add to my underwhelming experience, the cherry on top was the guy at the register's behaviour, but that is a story on it's own for another time. (of-course, the parking fine made the trip out to find this place even more disappointing, but hey, I won't blame the cafe for my stupidity.) I do not think I will be going back anytime soon. 


The time I made Chicken the way my Mum makes it: 




And last but not least, and I apologise for the pathetic attempt at a photo but hey, when your dad wants to eat dinner you get 0.05 seconds to snap a picture, so this is the best I could do in that time frame! Anyhoo, this one might sound a bit random to include in my August review, but I wanted to include it because it is definitely something I am going to remember for the rest of my life. I know that sounds so extra/so cheesy/so lame and whoever is reading this will most likely be thinking, "What is the big deal? So you made some chicken?" But the thing is guys, I am really proud of myself.  The same girl who almost failed food-tech in high school, and was told she was 'confused in the kitchen' (Yep, this really happened. And honestly, I don't even blame my teacher. I was terrible) made one of her favourite Pakistani dishes, from scratch. That's right. My mum's Karahi Chicken recipe will always be a favourite of mine, and I was so happy when it turned out exactly like hers. 

Like I said, I am not a big cook and I only recently started getting into the baking world, so this was a big deal. If I am honest, I just felt that it was important for me to learn these recipes, not because I feel I have to, but because I want to. Even from the most basic one's (and hopefully the more complex recipes soon) because food is such an integral part of the way I appreciate and embrace my culture, and I don't want to lose that, ever. Okay, I don't want to turn this into a sob story, but listen, when you grow up in an environment where the other (all caucasian by the way) kids at school had 'spag bol' or steak for dinner the night before, and you have to either avoid the question from fear of being asked further questions, or just answer with your go-to response of "oh yeah my mum just made traditional Pakistani food" you just want to avoid being as different as possible. And as a young teen, I couldn't even fathom the thought of using the word 'curry.' I mean, you would be branded as a curry muncher for life. However, now that I am an adult, I realised that it is okay to be a curry muncher, (heck, I am proud to be one!) and I don't want to be last generation in my family to appreciate how special Pakistani cuisine really is. Trust me, it is already happening. I know family members younger than myself who would rather have noodles or pasta, which is fine, but I really do feel they should also learn to love the food from their own culture and the love that goes into making it. And because of this, I don't want these dishes to be just associated with my trips overseas or visits to my mum's place, but also from the comfort of my own kitchen in the future. I want to learn all the tricks from the women in my life who know their stuff, so that I can one day be just like them. Sure, you can have a stir fry or a pasta but I mean, at the end of the day a good ol' Karahi Chicken is where the heart is. (Atleast for me, anyway!) 


Okay, that is enough rambling about some chicken.  Hope you guys enjoyed this kind of post, I know it is slightly different, but I want to make this blog a place for me to share more of myself and my life. So be sure to let me know if you liked this and if would like a September Review! It is only the 7th and so much has happened already. But enough about me, how has your September treated you so far?

-M.K.

Baking

Festive Eid Cookies for a festive Eid!

August 31, 2017



Welcome to another food-related blog post! This one will be a short one, I promise!

To those of you who are reading this and don't know about Eid-oh who am I kidding, I only have one reader (thanks Mum!) But just in case you don't know, Eid al-Adha, is a significant celebration in the Muslim Calendar. And I think sometimes, that because I live in Sydney and I don't see a goat being sacrificed in my front lawn, the level of my festivity isn't as high as those in other countries who do. So instead, for a Sydney-sider, the day is usually seen as an opportunity to get together with your loved ones and have a feast. (Hey mum, if you're still reading this, thanks for the solid Eid preps.) 



However this year I told myself, I am going to bring the festivity back in the best way I know how: Baking. Winnie the Pooh says 'How can one be uncheered with a balloon.' I ask, 'How can one be uncheered with cookies?' This is a real question guys.



As well as the fact Christmas cookies are thing. So I thought to myself, I want to make Eid cookies a thing. So that's exactly what I did. (I made cookies, if you are unable to see where this is going.) The recipe will be shared down below! But first let's just appreciate the process: 









You can decorate your Eid cookies however you please, I went for some green fondant and for the letters, I used the Wiltshire letter press set. I got mine from Big W in their 30% off cookware sale. Winning! Personally, I think they look adorable and are the perfect addition to your Eid dessert spread. 

What do you guys think? Should I share more of my new baking ventures? (And by new, I mean really new. As in, let's learn how to make yummy things together.) Let me know.

Eid Mubarak to those celebrating, may you have an amazing day filled with family, food and reflection! 


Recipe:
The Dough:
3/4 cup (150g) room-temperature unsalted butter.
3/4 cup granulated sugar.
1 egg 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract. You can use essence if that is what you have in your pantry.
2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. I actually used the Lighthouse biscuit flour just because I feel like it works better with cookies but it is honestly personal preference.

Method: 
Start off by beating the butter in a mixer until creamy, then add your sugar until the mixture is fluffy.

Next, add the egg and the vanilla essence. Mix until it is almost all combined.

Whisk the flour and baking soda together and then add it to the mixture. Beat it until it is combined. If it looks a little crummy and not quite like dough, don't worry. Once you start kneading it, it will all come together just fine.

Divide the dough into two equal portions. Wrap them in some glad wrap and let the dough chill for about an hour. Don't even try to skip this step. 

Once it is chilled and ready to be rolled, preheat your oven to 175°C.  Roll out the dough and then it is up to you how you wish to cut them and decorate. I used a silicone heart-shape cutter, but I have also used an upside down round mug in the past! 

And then of course, place them on your baking tray and let them bake for around 8-10 mins or until lightly browning on top. Done! Allow them to cool and then decorate as you please.


**I adapted this recipe from the original which you can find here. The original calls for almond extract, which I didn't include, as well as the addition of a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Personally, in my last batch of cookies I wasn't a fan of the salty and sweet flavour combination. It is fascinating how such a small amount can impact the taste so significantly. But again, it is personal preference. So add it if you like a bit of a mix of flavours. Either way, it is one of the best sugar cookie recipes I have come across and I am so glad I found this recipe and I knew I had to use it for my Eid cookies!




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