The 1920s-Inspired Bridal Shower

A week before all of the wedding festivities began, my sister-in-law threw me a 1920s’-themed bridal shower, which was mainly an excuse to have one last shins-up with all the girls in my family before the real party began. It was a really fun day, with my mum, sisters (minus my eldest sister who was absent due to the birth of my newest, squishiest niece!), cousins and a couple of aunts all enjoying the dress up, good food and silly games which made us all explode in girly giggles.

You may have read about my vintage, floral, polka-dot and pearls themed bridal shower which was a few weeks before, so you can say I was already feeling a little spoiled!

My sister-in-law hosted the bridal shower in her beautiful home, and it was an amazing setting for a old-style, 1920s-slash-Great-Gatsby themed bridal shower which she decorated for and made some amazing food for.  Below is just a glimpse of the table setting – we didn’t get to put the banners up which we wanted, because all of us forgot to bring blu-tack or tape, and we didn’t want to ruin the wallpaper by using anything else! We told everyone to either wear 1920s themed costumes or just red, white and/or black to keep it simpler, and it was great to see everyone stick to the theme – I loved some of the make-up styles that some of the girls did too, dark red lips, heavy rouge and smokey eyes!

(Credits to everyphototunity for most of these photographs, and you can also see her post here as well!)

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The food was probably the real highlight of the evening – my sister-in-law and her mother are both brilliant cooks so it was going to always end in some very full bellies! I also was lucky enough to have two cakes – my sister-in-law made a beautiful red velvet cake, and my sister made a beautiful red, white and black cake with a yummy chocolate filling.  There were also some beautiful, miniature tarts, various dishes like chicken kebabs, finger sandwiches and to add to the desi mix, good old spring rolls and samosas!

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I loved the decor, and I’ll admit, I didn’t really help out with it at all because everyone else did such a great job, and my sister-in-law’s house was pretty much a perfect backdrop anyway. My eldest sister made Art Deco style banners, another sister added small touches like beads and coloured balloons, and of course my sister-in-law did the beautiful table settings, complete with matching napkins!

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The costumes everyone wore were lovely, although as usual, the babies in the family stole the show! I had a really pretty black and white striped-and-circles maxi dress which I had intended to wear, but which I couldn’t squeeze my oversized which I changed my mind about, and I ended up wearing a black lacy dress with pearl beads and a mini top hat, which was pretty perfect for me! I wish I could post some of the other girl’s costumes, but my pictures aren’t great and I’d like to protect their privacy, but everyone made an effort with feather headbands, feathered-print dresses and red,black and white dresses!

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We ended the day with lots of gossip and a raucous game of ‘pin the moustache on the groom’ which was a little embarrassing because of all the teasing I got, but also very fun because we blind-folded all the older women and made them join in! The bridal shower was fun, intimate and very relaxed, and also perfect to set the mood for all the wedding festivities which started a week later (especially as we all had to run around after the bridal shower to get the preps done!) I’ve not been to a 1920s/Great Gatsby themed party before, and it was really lovely to have one for myself, especially as it gave all of us the chance to be creative and let our inner-drama queens come out!

What did you think of our party – have you ever dressed up for a 1920s theme?

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Containers: Not just about food.

I thought I’d contribute to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, which I thought was a good one, about Containers. It gives me a chance to reflect on the idea of the sort of containers I’ve been seeing lately, which is of food. Ramadan time for us is usually symbolised (among a lot of other things) by the samosas in my mum’s famous hot-pot container – the smell of samosas instantly brings back memories of early mornings with parathas (buttered chapattis) and iftars spent hovering over my mum’s shoulders while she fried delicacies which we usually see at Ramadan times; afternoons spent salivating over plates of watermelons and strawberries, and waiting for tall glass of cool water.

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Not everyone has the luxury of containers of food that we have though. The whole point of Ramadan, as well as getting close to our spiritual side, is to empathise with those who don’t have the abundance of food that we do, and those who don’t get to end their starving days with a feast. It is easy to forget your hunger when you are biting into a juicy fruit chaat or some hot pakoras, measuring your fasts by the clock instead of by experiences.

Not everyone in the world has the luxury of making everyone wait to eat while they take a picture (yes I’m one of those), while everyone sits back amused, because they know they’ll get their food once that picture is taken. Some parts of the world do not have food to Instagram/Facebook/Tweet the way we do, and do not have the choice of beautiful food.

Not everyone has the luxury of loving making their food, taking their time to eat and savouring their meal. I’m sure you have seen plenty of images and heard news about the horrific things which are happening in Gaza, as well as Palestine right now. There is growing unrest about this, not just the heartbreaking violence, but the lack of action from the Western world, the lack of reportage and the outright refusal to acknowledge events by the major powers – the Western media, the politicians and prime ministers, and those who do have a voice. We have seen protests, rallies and several movements, which are not just online but on the streets all over the world, and which are fighting to give these people a voice, to make change. I can’t help but think about these people who have lived their lives in fear, worrying about whether they will ever eat their meals in peace, whether the roofs over their heads will stay in one place, whether they can let their children sleep in homes without worry. I can’t imagine what Ramadan must feel like to the Palestinians right now – whether it is something they can experience without fearing whether they will see the end of it.

It is apt that it is Ramadan right now. It is the best time for us to truly reflect, think about what we can do to help the disadvantaged. If there is one thing I have learned it is that there is no point in bettering yourself, reflecting spiritually and empathising with the poor by feeling hungry if you don’t use those lessons learned to help others and to further the messages learned.

It is a container of samosas, yes. But it is also so much more – it represents all the luxuries we have which we can so easily forget in our sheltered lives and take for granted. I don’t mean to belittle the lives of our #FirstWorldProblems#, it is easy to be cynical and undermine the efforts of those who actually have tried to make a difference – the things I have seen recently makes me proud of so many of my brothers and sisters. But perhaps, this is a gentle reminder, to appreciate what we have – look at things from a different angle.

Let the *real* Hunger Games begin.

It’s that time of the year. Making, stocking up and freezing a couple of hundred samosa or so for that special time in a mere few days, Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting). Time to make promises about not eating too many oily fried stuff, or too much sugar and time to stock up as if there’s an oncoming seige and we’re about to be locked in our cellars. It’s a strange in-between feeling right now, that anticipation building up of what to expect, how to behave and how to make the most of this time.

But at the same time, as much as I try not to be negative about this special time, I can’t help but worry about the heat, the dehydration, the long days and not-enough-sleep feeling. Last year Ramadan time wasn’t easy because of the thirty-plus degrees weather and long days without water – one day in particularly stands out as a day that I felt really thirsty and weak, thinking about a nice cool glass of water all day.

But I know I’m lucky still. I can’t complain, when we have electric fans and AC in the offices, when there’s a huge feast for us to break our fasts , and when the heat is nothing compared to that in India, Pakistan, Africa. We choose to fast to understand what the less fortunate go through, and it helps us appreciate what we do have. There are many who don’t have the luxury of fasting for a month, and instead go without much food or clean water for a lot longer than just one month because of their poverty and poor living situation.

It’s when I remember this that I remember what Ramadan really teaches us.

So yes, it’s a strange in-between feeling at the moment. not quite there in the period of fasting, and not quite binge-eating either. In the mean-time, enjoy these samosas being made by my mum, ready to freeze so we can fry them later on. Made of two simple ingredients, spring roll sheets and mince filling (and my mum’s magic fingers making them into perfect equilaterals).

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #23: From where I stand

I’ve been standing in a lot of places today, although it started off slightly boring because of the normal work day, and the heat didn’t really give me a chance to go anywhere interesting! Here’s a few snapshots of today, anyway though!

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The view from my office window, a bit boring but if you look closely, you can see the Olympic Stadium, the Orbit and some DLR railway lines. Pretty, see!
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A view on the way home, where I stopped to appreciate some greenery (and also debate going to the supermarket)
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Ending up at the supermarket, in the frozen food section to cool off from the hot sun outside. I’m not saying I did, but I MAY have gone home with about four boxes of ice cream.
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Helping to prepare food for iftari time – this was for a fruity dessert!
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Our first barbeque of the year! We decided to make the most of the summery evening and grill chicken (those aren’t my feet, by the way, they’re my niece’s!)
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The view in my garden (a bit blurry, sorry!) – by now it was getting darker and cooler, plus the trees gave us good shade.
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Some of the food we had! Naturally I was standing around taking pictures before I ate (also do you like our new pretty green and blue glasses?)

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #15: ME

So, this is me. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I love photography. I also love a lot of other things. I love books (I read far too much sometimes, I’ll read at work, on the train, on my mobile, on my eReader, my computer, and of course I read a lot more comic books than perhaps I should). I love drawing. Not so great at it, but I try anyway. I also like looking at stupid and funny things on the internet very much, half of the Weekly Links I’ve found are purely by accident, through one of those sessions where you type in ‘jobs in London’ and end up with ‘Dancing cats with bread on their head’.

Ramadan for me is one of those times which feels almost surreal, there’s something in the air which makes it feel all Ramadan-y, perhaps it’s the smell of samosas in the air, but I like to think that it’s more the feeling of unification in Islam, and the fact that our faith feels stronger, purer. Every year it feels like it will be a long month, and consistently, every year the month rushes by so fast that before you know it, it’s Eid. It’s crazy to think that we’re halfway through Ramadan already, we’re just settling in and learning new things we didn’t know about before, and most of all there’s that feeling of appreciation, of our follow Muslims, of the food we have, the lives we lead and the feeling that we are very, very lucky.

So that’s me today, I feel blessed that I’m able to sit here on a laptop and tap away with ease – I could easily be in another country worrying about my next meal or about my safety. In this month we learn not to take what we have for granted too much, and to use our positions to help others less fortunate. I’m hoping to do just one thing this month which will make a difference to someone, whether it’s charity, or sending aid to developing countries. I’d urge you to do the same in this month, if not to help others, then for the reward you’d get for it.

– Harlequin x

day15Props to my sister for letting me take a picture of her face with her sunglasses on!

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #11: Iftar/Evening

We had my sister and her family over tonight for iftari time, which meant plenty of samosas, fruit, kebabs and roast chicken – and that was just the starters! We had rice, meat-balls, chicken and potato dishes and plenty o’ salad as a main, and finished off with er…chocolate bars for myself and the kids.

Some cherry-picking from the trees in our back garden, and lots of cutsie-ness from the baby nieces, and the evening made a good one : )

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #3: On My Table

On my table there’s plenty of knick-knacks, tiny plastic toys (thank you Kinder Egg!), creams and newspapers, books and computer paraphernalia, which basically shows what a mess I can be, and also how I don’t let a lot of people in my room unless they can walk around the junk.

I’d love to have done a bohemian  photo shoot of all the cool things I have just casually (and conveniently!) lying around, a few books (or twenty), some miniatures perfume bottles, a few tastefully draped necklaces and/or bracelets that I’ve *just* slipped off.
Unfortunately, none of our tables look like that, and I don’t have time to create a pretty one because I work most of the day, and when I come back, my mum doesn’t like me laying out weird stuff all over her dining table too much (especially as it’s cooking time).

Instead, seeing as it’s close to iftari time about now, I thought I’d post a few of the things we’re laying out on the dinner table, instead. We tend to have very similar food every year, so there are certain smells, tastes and spices which we’ve associated with Ramadan – samosay (meat-filled pastries), fruit chaats (mixed fruit salads) and dates are definitely some of them, and with them, come all the dressings, spices and sauces.

We’ve tried to become more health-conscious over the years (less fried stuff, less fatty parathas, more fruit and cooked food), although having said, we’ve never really been able to resist the samosas!

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My mum making pakoray and samosay
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Something a bit healthier, steamed vegetables
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Fruit chaat – chopped up mixed fruits (with some added masala)
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The fruit table for all the family (although cling-filmed so it doesn’t get ruined)
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Crispy chicken and lamb filled samosay
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Ready table, complete with a plate of dates and some chutney