Friday, February 16, 2018

The Wacky Finds Series ~ Volume 34

It's time for Volume 34 of The Wacky Finds Series!
These are a monthly series I started out of sheer awe of how crazy things around me are! Here's what this is about ... Ahem Ahem: When my awesome self steps out of my bed each morning I meet a world of crazies. People, things, phenomena, and acts of nature which are simply too unusual to miss and not record! The Wacky Finds Series will cover all the weird stuff that I find along my way; good weird, awkward weird, bad weird, I-totally-don't-get-this weird .. all kinds of weird shall be recorded and snapped without any discrimination!

I've mentioned this before yet I will say it over and over again: Abbie's drawings are awesome! She made this Cookie Monster for Gubby in her little notebook of cuteness! Love it! It's perfect, isn't it? I think I can't even draw the brick wall! Hahahaha!

I found these absolutely adorable mugs in Home Goods! They were perfectly wacky and oh so cute! The middle actually had a hole so I have no idea how funny drinking from these mugs would have felt! They were also a little too big so these little babies did not make it home with me.

That's Gubby's rickshaw toy! I think her Naana got it for her from Pakistan. For some strange reason it makes me laugh. It's super silly! There's this little thread she pulls at the back and it goes whoooooosh, speed of light! Real silly thing I tell you!

Okay, it is no surprise that a big number of my Wacky Finds revolve around my Auntie Tales! This kid, she has got to be the wackiest part of my life. Good wacky, of course! Check out this picture in which she's cuddling with her GIGANTIC stuffed toy! I've had some people call it a 'bear'. I think it's a doggie, no? Look at the paw and those ears. Definitely a doggie!

That terrible display of - what was it again? - gave me the shivers. It reminded me of Aragog from Harry Potter. It was like a GIANT spider was sitting there. Something about this display was horribly disgusting. It doesn't even look as bad in the picture as it looked to my eyes! HORRIBLE!

That's all folks! Until the next five wacky finds, have a wacky day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Masoor Daal - Spiced Up Red Lentils

As far back as I can remember in my life, there was always some kind of Daal present on our dining table. Dad never had a meal without Daal and when my siblings and I decided to lose weight Daal was our go to diet option. So all throughout my life Daal was always a prominent part of our diet. I have grown up loving all kinds of Daal so when I resolved to try new recipes this year, it was time to try cooking Daal for the first time ever. As if the heavens wanted me to cook Daal too, this recipe of Spiced Red Lentils popped up in front of me. It looked delicious and I just had to try it immediately.

This is a really warm and comforting Daal recipe - one which leaves you wanting more. It reminded me of the baked beans I used to look for whenever we were traveling and on vacation. The flavors are on point and it looks really yummy. It makes you feel really cozy and happy too! Impressive how much a Daal recipe can do, right? 

As much as I used to think cooking Daal would be difficult, this recipe proved me wrong. Once you have all the chopping done you let the stew cook up itself and just watch the beautiful orange colors cook. It's comforting to watch while it's cooking and delicious when you finally taste it. I loved the cooking bit just as much as I loved its flavors.

I found the recipe originally on NYT Cooking right here but I tweaked it a little bit so I'm posting my changes and step by step pictures right here. Enjoy!

  • Red Lentils (Laal Masoor Daal) - 1 cup (I soaked it in water for at least four hours)
  • Oil - 4 tbsp.
  • Onions - 1 cup finely chopped
  • Sweet Potatoes - 2 1/2 cups diced (I used one medium-ish potato)
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp. super finely chopped
  • Garlic - 2 cloves super finely chopped
  • Red Chili Powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp. according to taste
  • Coriander Powder - 2 tsp.
  • Cumin Powder - 2 tsp.
  • Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp.
  • Ginger Powder - 1 tsp.
  • Tomato Paste - 1 cup (I used canned tomato paste)
  • Chicken Stock Cube - 1 cube
  • Salt - According to taste
  • Cilantro - (Optional) For garnish
Soak the daal in water for at least two hours. I soaked my daal early morning and then cooked around mid afternoon. I had it soaked for around four hours and found it perfect for cooking.

Have all your chopped ingredients ready so cooking is easy peasy. Finely dice the sweet potatoes and fine chop the ginger, garlic, and onions.

In a large sauce pan heat the oil and add onions to it. Cook on medium high heat until softened.

Add the sweet potatoes and saute for about five minutes.

Next add the ginger and the garlic. Stir and reduce the heat to low so the potatoes can cook well.

After about two or so minutes add the lentils (daal) and all the spices.

Stir everything together very well. Let it cook for about a minute making sure it is well coated in oil.

Add the tomatoes and water and raise the heat so it starts boiling. Once it comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium so it's cooking at a fast simmer. You do not need to cover the pan with a lid, let it cook uncovered. Cook until the lentils and potatoes are soft. For me it took about twenty or so minutes.

After twenty minutes most of the liquid in my daal had evaporated. Check to see if everything has softened.

Add the chicken stock cube and a little water for it to blend in.

Once the cube dissolves completely, taste and adjust salt. At this point you can add a little water if you'd like your daal to be more liquidy or cook another minute if you'd like it to be drier. Do note that this daal soaks up some of its liquid after a while so you wouldn't want to let it be too dry.

Optional garnish with cilantro if you prefer and you're ready to eat it!

Trust me, this Daal does not disappoint. Oh and let me say this: leftovers are even better the next day! Pair it with boiled rice, chapaati, roti, paratha, naan, whatever you like. Eat it by the spoon if you will! It will only be exceptionally awesome, I promise!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Graphics To Love!

In case one wonders what these 'Graphics To Love' are all about!
Each month I post about five Graphics which I come across while randomly surfing the web. Beautiful, hilarious, and relatable things show up in my social media feeds every day. Often, a lot of these graphics spark thoughts in my head which I want to blog about. So I put some of the best ones together in one blog post and chit chat away! None of the graphics are mine and most of them are being shared without credit so they can't even be traced! I just like to spend a few minutes speaking my mind. So here they are ...

You know what this brings to my mind? Blogging. Starting a blog was the first tiny little step and then bit by bit it has only been one of the most amazing journeys of my life. First it was all about improving the look of my blog step by step. Then it became all about perfecting the content. Slowly, I've worked on my blog every single day and today this beautiful site looks back at me. It makes me happy! My blog is my happy place online. Years ago, I'd asked myself if I should start a blog, and thank God I took that step back then because I've loved every single day of blogging!

Stay there folks. Enjoy yourselves. See ya never! Toodles!
There's a whole sea of people crowding up behind mine by the way.

Actually I would have gone invisible; I'd have vanished. Like, just, POOF! Oh, and my vanishing act would have happened more than a decade ago! *laughs*

It is an extra ordinary feeling to bake a cake, especially for someone who you know will appreciate it. To be in control, to be measuring out everything to perfection, to watching the magic happen inside the oven, to designing the look of it, and then executing it even more beautifully than you'd planned or imagined. It's just such a great feeling! The wonderfulness of baking befuddles me and whenever I bake a cake I totally lose track of time. By the time I'm finished with it and step back to admire my work the day has passed without me noticing it! Sadly, I still haven't had a chance to bake this year so far but hopefully soon. It shall be awesome and I can't wait to do it!

Lately, I've been so happy with myself. I still need to tone and shape up but I'm actually taking it easy and am very happy about how I'm doing it. The most annoying part is that since a while now I've been becoming thinner so that my clothes are now looser and I'm a jean size down too, but the numbers on the weighing scale haven't been moving. That's frustrating! So I'm instead enjoying looking thinner and trying my best to not care about the numbers. I've also noticed that since a while now I am not aiming to be super thin. I think I'd like to have some chubbiness to me, especially on my face. I think I like it like that! I think I'm loving my curves just the way they are! *laughs* Honestly, women seriously need to stop obsessing about being curvy. It's a body type - it's okay! In fact, if you ask me, I think it is better than looking like a skeleton! So now, all I want is a healthy weight and for me to look and feel beautiful!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Meet My Mugs! They're Gorgeous!

Chai. It's wonder in a cup. It's the elixir of life! I'm someone who wakes up with the thought of Chai on her mind, someone whose day does not begin unless the magical potion has slid down my throat, who dreams of an afternoon spent with some piping hot Chai in her hands. So, obviously, to me my collection of mugs is very near and dear to my heart. I pick and choose my mugs with great consideration. They have to be functional, beautiful, and completely reflective of my personality. My collection keeps losing and adding members, of course, but each mug has a personality of its own. Currently, my collection boasts five extremely gorjabulous mugs and today I'm showing off all!

In a world full of muffins, be a cupcake!
If I had a motto of life displayed as a caption above my head I think this would be it! In a world full of muffins, be a cupcake! Always be covered in a colorful wrapper and frosted to perfection with a fancy swirl of sweetness. Sprinkles and fancy shmancy is a must in life. That's how I like to live and try my best to! Mama got this beautiful mug for me and I don't just love the quote on it, I also absolutely love the colors. The teal-turquoise-ish is stunning and the pink insides make everything pop! Just the way I like it - cute, bright, and happy!

Live every moment!
This one is currently the senior most member of my collection. It's been with me the longest and remains super close to my heart. Live every moment! That's definitely something I am always busy doing. Life is too short, it really is. So I like to live every moment to the max. Every second is precious and this mug is a great reminder of it!

Donut worry, be happy!
One fine day, mama and Abbie came back home with this mug and that's when our love story began. Mine and the mug's that is. I had a pretty graphic on my mood/inspiration board back at the time which said, "Donut worry, be happy!" I also am always saying how much I do NOT care whenever something challenging comes up. Mama remembered it. She told me she'd seen the graphic on my board and the instant the mug came before her she bought it for me. I love it! The picture doesn't show too well but that adorable donut actually protrudes from the mug's body. I swear it is alive and wiggles from time to time. Hey, a girl can imagine! I love how the rim says, "I donut care." So true!

'Tis the season to sparkle!
I'm all about that 'shining, shimmering, splendid' Aladdin sang about. My life's all about that sparkle and this mug, therefore, is perfect for me. It is the newest member of my mugs' collection and was a Winter find. This mug is just too cozy. Maybe because I bought it in an extremely chilly Winter season, but to me this mug is just all about warmth and comfort. I love the round-ish shape; I think it makes it look really adorable. It has just the right bit of gold shine and that bold declaration of sparkle right on its front. Love it! For me 'tis always the season to sparkle and this mug says it just right.

Polka dots and sass!
"It's a tumbler, how will I use a tumbler?" "It'll go waste, let it be." "How I wish it was a mug in the same design!" ... Yaada yaada yaada! On and on and on I went whenever I spotted a tumbler I really liked. I always wished for it to have a handle and be a mug, until one day when I gave in. This stunning polka dotted beauty just stole my heart. Somebody gifted Abbie the 'A' version one day and that was it. I needed one for myself. So I went and got one with a royal S shining on its front. It came with a hot pink lid which I don't use at home so I've stored it away. This mug is my favorite when I really want to sit for a good long time enjoying my chai because it keeps it nice and hot for longer than the other mugs. I can't decide if I love the gold S more, or the polka dots (which I love!), or the floral design. Everything about this mug is just pure love!

... and that, my dears, is my gorgeous collection of mugs!

My idea is that if I'm so fond of my chai I should have it in style. Something that is such an integral part of my day ought to be just as stylish, bright, happy, and happening as the rest of my things. My mugs are very dear to me, almost like they were alive! I love each one so much I don't even think I can pick favorites. I have five already yet when I spot mugs in shops I can't help but go closer and check if there is something I'd like to take home. I'm curious to meet the next member of my collection. Lets see what it'll be like! Until then, I donut care. So goodbye!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Heartiest Memories On Display

I love taking photographs! At times even our minds fail us and we end up forgetting the tiny little details. That is when pictures come in handy. It is my belief that pictures capture the best of times, when you're the happiest or most excited, and leave out the worse so that years down the road all you have are positive and happy memories to reminisce. I have always loved displaying my favorite pictures in my room so wherever I look I have some beautiful memories scattered all around me. The more memories in my room, the better I feel. After all, what is a room if not personalized to your liking, right? So recently, when I wished to have more pictures in my beautiful room, Abbie got me the perfect solution! The beautiful hearts' garland looks pretty and lets me show off my most favorite recent moments!

I was at home fighting my way around with a vacuum cleaner in hand (my monthly cleaning schedule!) when I received a text message from Abbie. It was a picture of a garland with pretty hearts that had clips to hold pictures and Abbie had asked, "Want?" I couldn't resist so I called her up instead of typing my reply and began asking a million questions. I am an indecisive person and everything has to be specific and perfect for me to buy it so whenever I spy a good find I ask a gazillion questions to make sure I am absolutely happy with buying it. Abbie is super skilled at giving me the best advice so I always take her opinion. A gazillion questions later, she had added it to her cart, even though I was still roaming around at home doubting my decision. Once I saw it though I had no second thoughts; it was beautiful and girly, just like I like my room to be.

I took Abbie's help in hanging it up behind my bed. Against my purple curtain backdrop the pink and red hearts look so girly and just so ... happy! I already had string lights hanging there, which I moved up a little so the hearts could fit. Together it's a melange of sparkly lights and cute hearts which come together to be an elegant yet adorable room decor!

Some of the hearts on the garland have glitter and sparkle while others are textured like painted wood in two different shades of pink. It's no secret how much I love glitter and sparkle and the color pink is just fabulous. Obviously I was to fall in love with this garland!

Currently, the beauty displays three of my most recent and most favorite picture memories. The first is a picture of my feet in Harry Potter socks alongside my Hogwarts bag and a bottle of pumpkin juice. I took this picture on my recent trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. Every time I look at it I am instantly transported to my favorite place in the world. Abbie and I were seated on the floor at a street in Diagon Alley. We were enjoying ourselves to the max with an ice cream in hand, happiness in our hearts, and peace on our minds. Looking at this picture almost makes me feel that carefree atmosphere again where the only sounds other than of our happy beating hearts were the cheerful chatters of fellow Potterheads and Celestina Warbeck complaining about getting a Hippogriff as a Christmas present!

The second picture displayed right now is of the magical Disney castle! This is the moment when I first saw the castle with my eyes back when we were there on vacation. I remembered Disney from back when Dad used to take us there when I was a child. Visiting after so many years felt like revisiting my childhood. A sea of memories comes to me every time I look at this picture; memories of watching the Disney parades as a child, of watching Disney cartoon movies with my siblings back when I couldn't even understand everything on my own, memories of joy and laughter. You know the saying about pictures being worth a thousand words? This is truly a picture worth thousands of memories!

The third picture is also from our recent vacation. This one reminds me of the excitement of heading to the Wizarding World. I took this picture when we stopped over at a hotel midway in Florence to break our road trip into two manageable parts. We spent a comfortable night there and each time I look at it it gives me that same rush that I felt when I was heading towards what were to be one of my most precious moments of the entire year.

It's funny how much a single picture can do for you. Funny how many moments a simple little photograph can hold. Funny how much emotion it can have within it! It's like a magic of its own!

This garland is officially one of those things on the top of my list of favorite room decor items. I love it! It's girly but in an elegant way. It's cute but not childish. It's very beautiful! Hey, I sometimes wonder, did they know me when they were designing and making this? How could something be so perfectly aligned with my tastes!? Aaaaahhhhh! I am in love!

If I was in love with how my bed looked before, I think I am obsessed with it now! It looks so gorgeous I could sit and stare at it all day without feeling the need to blink. Girly, sassy, personal, and colorful - just the way I like it!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Saraallie's Tweet Logs ~ January 2017

The time has arrived again! Another month comes to an end which calls for posting my Tweet Logs! Ahem ahem: "The Tweet Logs are a concept I have totally cheated (I mean, it is supposed to be inspiration!) from Abbie's blog; perks of being a sister! My Tweet Logs will contain all my Twitter updates for each month. The updates will include tweets by me and those by Abbie which had me tagged or were related to me in some way. Why you ask? Well, my tweets are too awesome to go waste in cyber space thus they shall be recorded on my fabulous blog!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Winter Board 2018 & My Planner's January Collage

I try to put together a little mood or inspiration board for each season because it really puts me in the spirit. Whenever I sit down on my desk this is what I see first and foremost. It's the ultimate mood setter and a treat to my eyes. This season I was a wee bit late in putting together my Winter board but I managed to do it at last. I'll be honest, at first I thought I would never be able to perfect it while Winter lasted. I also had that tiny moment when I asked myself if I should just skip Winter and do something sassy and girly instead. Then I finally got a chance, some snip snap of scissors was heard, paper scraps fell around everywhere, and a while later my pretty little Winter Wonderland board was ready! It's this bright and snowy spot with all the cozy feels which I love about Winter! It's lovely!

In the top left corner there's a little bit of Frosty the snowman with some chocolatey goodness, candy spoons, more snowmen, and snowflakes. I had found this in a magazine and loved it! It is just the perfect kind of Winter graphic, isn't it? Oh and right on top is the super awesome knitted red flower by my mama! Check out its close up ...

It's actually a two piece knitted flower. She made a large one and a small one so I can use them as two separate flowers too. This time I chose to pair them together and they look so pretty! I wanted to have some kind of knitted element on my board to add that cozy feel of Winter and this was just perfect!

I found these mugs all dressed up for Winter on the Woman's Day magazine's cover and loved them. They're microwave mug cakes featured on the cover and are such a genius idea. I loved the way the mug is carrying the spoon and there is so much detail like that tiny knitted pocket and the muffler. So cute! These had to instantly get up there on my Winter board!

I don't know why but this year I was particularly in love with Starbucks's Winter cups. They were so pretty and bright and screaming holiday cheer all around. The minute I saw them advertised online I knew I had to get myself some hot chocolate so I could collect that adorable holiday cup to use somewhere in my room. I'd wanted to do a lot more with the cups I'd collected throughout Winter but since I was away on vacation and then got busy I ended up pinning the cup on my board. Love it!

Remember the socks advertisement with Fall scenes on it which appeared on my Fall board last month? Well, I found a Winter version in another magazine! *laughs* It was so cute I put it up on my board instantly! Oh, and spot the birdies from Starbucks's Winter packets! I saved one for my Winter display when Abbie and I bought the iced Gingerbread loaf on one of our Bestie Mall days.

I wanted to have a hand written something on the board too so I cut out this cloud like curvy shape and captioned it 'My Winter Wonderland' to go right in the center of the Winter display. It looks as cute as a snowflake amidst the hot chocolate cups and the marshmallows and what not!

The Winter Wonderland caption is placed against a beautiful hot chocolate magazine graphic with adorable marshmallows and snowflakes. The hot chocolate cups were so tempting when I saw the recipe in a magazine. I thought, "Hmm, I may not be making this recipe thanks to my diet but I sure can have these babies up on my board staring at me!" Actually, if I think about it I've had a good load of Starbucks Hot Chocolate throughout this Winter season so I have absolutely no complains!

On the lower left side I decided a super dressed up Gingerbread man and some Winter gloves and hats would be perfect! Isn't the Gingerbread dude adorable? He's all bundled up and warm and I swear sometimes I can even imagine the smell of fresh Gingerbread Cookies thanks to him!

A super duper special feature on my Winter Board 2018 is my recently bought Walt Disney World magnet. I just returned from the most magical vacation ever in Orlando, during which we spent a day in Disney World too. I left the place with the castle etched in my memories forever and a souvenir magnet to preserve the memory forever in my room. I think I'll be placing the magnet somewhere in my girly shelf later but for now it is displayed with love on my Winter board. Each time I sit and look at it I'm instantly transported to Disney. It truly is a place where dreams come true!

Finally, not directly pinned on the board, but nevertheless part of it is my beautiful 'peace' Winter snow globe atop the other Starbucks December cup. Abbie and I got these matching snow globes with two adorable snowmen inside. I love shaking up the globe to let it snow! It is so peaceful to watch!

Along with the cozy Winter board I also designed my planner's January collage. I always like keeping a sort of 'cover page' for each new month in my planner because it looks pretty and makes me feel all organized. So this month it was all about Winter and the New Year! I wanted it to look different than the holiday themed collage from December of last year but still be Wintry! When I was done, I stepped back to admire it and it looked beautiful and bright!

The main focus of January's collage was the new year beginning. I used magazine cutouts over a cookie recipe page to caption 'Goodbye 2017' and 'Hello 2018'. The years in numbers were handwritten. I loved how snowy the cookies in the background looked and the colors were bright and comforting!

I got a bit over excited and wrote a Happy New Year wish on one of the cookies on the page too!

Recognize those cakes in mugs? Yes, they are the same as the ones on my Winter board only smaller! I hunted them down inside the magazine and then cut out their smaller sized pictures for the planner collage! Even that adorable snowman was in some magazine - I forget which one though. He reminded me of this snowman I used to have back when I was a teen and in Pakistan. We'd gotten it from Dubai as a souvenir holiday present on behalf of our hotel on New Year's Eve. It looked almost the same as this one in the picture, made of ceramic, and was a cookie jar. If memory serves me right I think it opened at its neck. It was really adorable!

Last month in December I had decided I would do all my blog planning in writing instead of on an online document. Writing things always helps me out and clears my mind. So I kept a page for blog planning again this month!

I found this beautiful and extremely fitting quote for my planner this month!

I think I can gladly say that I've had a productive, happy, and creative Winter season. I'm going to miss the cold and chill, contrary to popular opinion, I know! I liked the no-bug, no heat, no stress season so much. I got enough snow to melt my heart with joy, a magical Winter vacation, cozy days, and delicious hot chocolate! What more could you ask from life?
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