Lazy Sundays

I’ve had a pretty busy week this week, so I’m finally settled in this Sunday and multi-tasking with some yummy home-made chocolate cake, blogging catch-up and getting on with that (digital) stack of books I’ve been waiting to read.

I’m hoping to do a few book reviews for this week, so watch this space! In the meantime, here’s my view today : )

Happy weekendings, all x

Weekend Reads…The Good Liar

I went on a e-book downloading spree a few days ago, and have been spending my free time trying to catch up on that long list of books waiting to be read! I’ve noticed that a few of the books I’ve read or reviewed recently have not been new one, so I’m aiming to review books that have released in 2017.

I’m still catching up, so bear with me – this is an interesting book about a con-man who may or may not get his comeuppance – I’ve only just started it but it looks promising!

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Dazzle

Took me a while to get this shot, managed it in the end with a burst shot setting and changing to suit a low light setting.

I’ve always loved fireworks and sparklers, the way they transform the night and make it feel magical (and not just because I’ve read the stories of Gandalf’s fireworks and the sparkles at Hogwarts!).
So here’s a little something to dazzle and brighten the week, especially with Guy Fawkes night coming up next weekend : )

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KitKat Chocolatory, London

I’ve heard about this a few days ago – KitKat is opening a chocolatory (very much like the popular ones in Japanese) in London – specifically, east London at Westfield Stratford! So when the store opened today, I popped down at the first chance (i.e. lunch time) to take a look for myself – and loved what I saw!

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The store is located at The Street, Westfield Stratford and is a lovely, bright pop-up shop where you can customise your own bespoke KitKat – from flavours, colours and toppings and even box design – on a computerized screen which is brought to life by a group of chocolatiers, all while you watch.

I really like the idea of a bespoke KitKat (you get to design an eight-fingered bar, so at least it’s big enough!) which I think really appeals to Londoners who like something a little creative. And of course, seeing lots of melted, sumptuous chocolate always makes me feel happy too.

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You can watch a mini clip of how the KitKats are made below – sorry for the grainy quality!

If the bespoke KitKat is too pricey (or takes too long!) for you, there are also various ‘Special Edition’ flavours – new flavours are introduced every week, I’m told.

Here are some of this week’s flavours, don’t they look beautiful – almost too pretty to eat!

I think that this a really interesting concept brought over from Japan – I’ve always been fascinated with the quirky flavours from Japan like matcha, lavender, cheesecake and there’s even a potato flavour! (not sure I’d try that one though). I’ve already posted a few of these pictures on my social media and the viewers are loving the idea – although be warned the KitKats are slightly pricey for £7 to design your own bar.

The pop-up KitKat bar is open for the next 5 weeks until mid-November – pop down if you’re around! You can also see more pictures here of the opening today – what do you think of this?

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A Mad Hatter-Books-Pastel Themed Tea

I held a tea party for my sisters this weekend, and I’ve finally manage to sit down (and rest!) to post the results, which I was really pleased with. My sisters and I decided that for Eid this year, instead of giving everyone Eid presents we’d do Eid experiences – a day out, a picnic, a tea. I love my afternoon teas so decided to organise a themed afternoon tea for the girls.

I had a little difficulty deciding on a theme because I liked so many, and initially was going to just do a Mad Hatter’s tea party. But I do love my florals and we all love books, so I decided to work these into the look as well, which worked a lot better than I thought it would – I was worried it would look really messy and nonsensical. My eldest sister commented that it also reminded her of a colourful fair or festival, especially with the colourful bunting, and thankfully the guests all loved the results of the tea!

Here’s what the table looked like, and some of the desserts:

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My favourite part of the decor and table were these – book-themed toppers for the cupcakes. I picked out a bunch of our childhood books so that we could enjoy a few fond memories of the books we used to love (including our first Urdu learning book!) – these were a hit with the ladies and I was glad I included these!

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I had various things scattered around the room  for display to implement all three themes – pastels and florals, book wallpapers, piles of books and a top hat with playing cards to tie the themes together, which I thought went wonderfully together, not to mention the ‘this way’, ‘that way’ and ‘wrong way’ arrows.

I’m sure you can tell that the most obvious theme was the Mad Hatter/Wonderland one – I loved the variety of decor which is out there and took the opportunity to scatter random quotes and prints around the table, as well as ‘drink me’, ‘eat me’ and ‘take me’ tags on the food and goody bags. I also ordered giant playing cards for us to play with, although it was quite funny to see how people would hide their cards!
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My mum also lent me this beautiful tea set which was love at first sight for me, and very apt because it’s actually a Harlequin Tea Set! These were beautiful dainty tea cups in bright colours with matching sauces, which I put on display and thought really made the whole table (not to mention actually made the tea party an actual tea party!)

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My nieces and nephews probably enjoyed themselves the most (you can see my nieces shouting and giggling through my letterbox below), although my sisters and sister-in-law had a lot of fun looking for the small touches around the room too, and putting on false moustaches, giant glasses and hats!

I was really worried about not having enough food on the day, so my menu was a little adventurous, surprisingly I managed to make more than I thought. Even better, the guests all brought some amazing food as well so we were all seriously stuffed and  from red velvet cake, cupcakes, chocolate trifle, sandwiches, pizza, samosas, chicken bites and kebabs, to name but a few of the things we had laid out.

Having said that, my nieces were the first to run to the sweet table and run off giggling with sweets in their hands!

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I had

It was an exhausting but fun afternoon, which was made better by the scorching sunny afternoon and the yummy ice-creams we finished off with. We were meant to play games but we felt pretty lazy and the cushions on the floor were pretty useful for us to laze about in!

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It was really fun (and a little challenging) planning this tea party by myself, but I had fun doing it and also learned what I can make and what I can’t. I was really happy with the decorations I made, they took me a while (hence being quiet on the blogging front!) but I was really pleased with how it all came together.

So now I’m looking forward to the next Eid experience, and also more tea parties with different themes, which I’m already planning – I just need to recover from this one and I’ll be off again!

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #10: J is for Juice

One of things which I feel the most in the heat of summer days is that longing for a cool drink in the middle of the day – here’s what I wish I was drinking today (although I’ll stick to water for now!)

One of the things that Ramadan really makes me appreciate is the abundance of water we have at the tip of our fingers, which we can take for granted – we all know how much gets used washing, drinking, doing laundry, for toilets – and it’s easy to forget what a valuable commodity it is in countries where there are those who are less advantaged than we are.

During the heatwave which has been gradually climbing towards us, I also turn to those in Pakistan who have been hit by extreme heat of 45 degrees celsius and above recently, and who struggle to fast – which makes me re-think the stick and humid atmosphere that we call heat here in London, and how lucky we are that it is bearable at least, for us.

It also makes me appreciate the luxury of cold drinks when we do open our fast at iftar time – it can be one of the biggest challenges of Ramadan to not think about your thirst and keep a cool attitude, and focus on getting through the day. It’s certainly  made me change my attitude towards our luxury of water – I try to drink as much water as I can but it feels more striking when you know how much you’ve longed for it.

So here’s a drinky post for you – and also a request to keep the people struck by heatwave in Pakistan in your prayers.

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River-side Restaurant Mondays

It’s not often that I get to enjoy a meal somewhere different, and this river-side cafe tucked away near the River Thames was a perfect spot to enjoy a light meal and a cool breeze, and watch some ferries go by.

It’s nice to enjoy the warm weather and take a break after a long day’s work (especially after convincing your husband to take you shopping and ending up with a bag full of cookies).

I’m hoping to explore London and wander  around more this summer, but for now, this is a snap for Mondays, to start the week off with some luxury and some food!

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The Chocolate Festival 2015, London

I mentioned before that I went to the yummy Chocolate Festival last weekend, and had a pretty fun time seeing chocolate being shaped into amazing things, as well as trying different flavours and new skills.

I took a good few hundreds of pictures, so apologies in advance for all of the photos below, but I wanted to post all the amazing stuff I saw which caught my eye, and which was being displayed.

I’ll start off with the amazing sculpted and shaped chocolate pieces which were for sale, and which we ended up buying a few of because we liked them so much, and the prices were reasonable!

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There was plenty of talent on display, such as these chocolate moulds of celebrities’ faces, and which made me wonder whether it would be worth getting one done myself! (Probably  not, my husband would just eat it).

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I loved the other types of treats which were available, from Turkish Delight, candied nuts, fudges, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, marshmallow pieces and biscuits, which were all displayed in abundance for sale. Suffice to say, we bought a few of these as well!

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There were also gorgeous macarons and beautiful treats which were almost too pretty to eat. There were a lot of beautiful boxes of decorated chocolate pieces and hand-painted, luxurious chocolates which were a little more pricey, but made amazing presents or would look lovely for an event or afternoon tea.

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And of course, I have to mention the plenty of samples to taste at almost every stall we stopped at! We tasted mango fudge, blueberry fudge, chewy cookies, passionfruit flavoured chocolate and lots more, and it was pretty fun to try something new and see what we could add to our palate.

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We also made a quick visit to the cheese and wine tasting section, although this wasn’t really our bag so we didn’t stay that long, but we did enjoy looking at all the different types (and sizes!) of the cheeses.

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We also found a lot of other treats which we thought were amazing, such as the chocolate samosas (which I wanted to bring home and trick someone with, but didn’t end up doing!) and the Shakespeared Heroine chocolates, where each flavour of chocolate was named after a heroine from a play.

We had a pretty amazing time at the show, and went home feeling pretty satisfied with what we’d seen (and eaten). We had fun with the free photobooths which were available, and spent a nice day indulging ourselves (which I had been waiting to do all week!), and took plenty of photos. This is the first chocolate festival I’ve been to, and it was nice to see the different varieties and talents which are out there, which you don’t see in the usual stores. There was also another cake show the next day in another location which we wanted to go to as well, but we had a family wedding and couldn’t make it, but it’s made me want to go to more foodie festivals to discover new flavours and tastes!

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A Glimpse of Some Beautiful Chocolate Squares…

…seconds before I took some out and ate it. My sister and I went to the annual Chocolate Festival today, where there was some serious chocolatey talent on display, which we managed to tasted in abundance.

It was an event for serious chocoholics (like myself!) and there were plenty of chocolate pieces, brownies, cookies, cheeses, fudges and even chocolate samosas to be sampled and bought!

I’ll be posting more pictures soon, but this was one of my favourite, there’s something about these square delicacies neatly lined up in rows, waiting to be picked up and savoured. Perfect for a relaxing evening (and you can bet we bought more to take home!)

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