Recipe: Salted Nutella Brownies

Salted Nutella Brownies

Hi guys! How crazy good do these brownies look? Even more so because I’m on a crazy intense diet!

I know, I know, I’m often on (and off) diets, but things have gotten SERIOUS. For one thing: I’ve started working out. It’s officially been one week since I started Hip Hop Abs, one of Shaun T’s (the Insanity guy) workout videos, so I guess that makes it official!

As many of you might know, I don’t workout. Period. It bores me to death, and I usually manage my weight with dieting and cutting back on dessert. But lately that hasn’t been working, and since my husband loves to workout and going to the gym and all things exercise related, he suggested I do the same.

Salted Nutella Brownies

Not only have I started working out, I got a fitness tracker! I have never wanted a fitness tracker and nor did I ever imagine myself as one of those people who wears one 24/7, but it’s surprisingly addictive. I’ve become almost obsessive about reaching a certain number of activity minutes, and it’s so easy to keep checking my progress. With the new tracker, I can definitely say I’m the most active I’ve ever been in my whole life!

What’s made things worse is that my husband has gotten rid of all the chocolate in the house! Even when I’m dieting, I always have that secret stash of chocolate that I nibble on just once a day. Just so I don’t lose my sanity. But my husband went on a crazy spree the day after my birthday, and not only did he take away my TWO birthday cakes but also all the chocolate in the house! You might be thinking, two cakes in the house is probably not a good thing anyway, but they were small, I tell you. He’s convinced we have to become healthy and get in control, etc. etc. but all I’m waiting for is when I can eat chocolate again!

Salted Nutella Brownies

Speaking of chocolate, let’s talk about this recipe!

Guys, these brownies are INSANELY good. If you love chocolate and even remotely like Nutella (can you even just ‘like’ Nutella?), you’re going to go crazy for these brownies.

I made these brownies on Eid, when my sisters-in-law were visiting from out of town, plus all the kids. I had my nieces over the day before Eid and we went on a baking bonanza. On the menu were both my regular brownies and these. Suffice to say that they did not last long on Eid morning! They were gone so quick my husband didn’t get any, something I had to listen to him complain about for a few weeks until I finally made them again. He was even so bold as to claim that they were better than my original brownies!

Salted Nutella Brownies

Anyways, that’s enough of my blabbing. Let’s get to the recipe!

Continue reading →

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Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

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This is a review that’s been simmering for a few days. It’s also a review that will be filled with spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book yet and you’re planning to, avoid this review!

As a huge fan of the series since childhood, I received the news of The Cursed Child with mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s like a fan’s dream come true, but on the other hand, there’s a lot that’s different about it. First of all, it’s not a novel. It’s a script. This makes a huge difference. It’s also not only written by JK Rowling, but by a team of writers. Again, there’s some Rowling-esque flavour there to convince you this is Harry Potter but there’s also two other writers as well.

I did enjoy parts of the book/script. There were parts that reminded me of the magic of the original trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, especially the friendship between Albus and Scorpius.

But for the most part, the script felt a lot like fanfiction. There were parts that felt completely ridiculous. The biggest thing that comes to mind was Voldemort having a daughter. It was so out of left field and random that it felt like a big joke. It was something that was mentioned throughout the book, only to be revealed that Delphi, a character that was part of the story in the beginning, was the daughter.

Throughout the book, Harry keeps talking about how he keeps feeling a darkness near him. His scar has been hurting him on and off, which in itself makes no sense, because the last few words at the end of book 7 were about how his scar hadn’t hurt him anymore. But it’s also weird how Delphi is the one who is triggering his scar hurting, because it means that she’s inherited her father’s evil. The whole Delphi as Voldemort’s daughter was just messed up.

Another thing that felt ridiculous was Ron. I know Ron is a complex character, but throughout the series, and especially the 7th book, he really grows and matures. But in this book, Ron was a big fat joke. He’s an awful husband and father, and a big joker all around. I couldn’t take him seriously in any scene he was in; plus him and Hermione’s relationship seemed like it was about to fall apart. I have no idea what happened to him in 19 years, but he was a caricature of the original Ron and it was painful to read about.

The time turner was another plot device that was extremely weird. It’s a device that was used quite carefully and deliberately by Hermione when it was first introduced, and also by Jo when she was writing about it. If everyone had access to time turners in the way that Albus and Scorpius did, wouldn’t they just go back all the time, and do whatever it was they wanted? Again, it made no sense.

Overall, the story felt way too ridiculous and random to be taken seriously. I know Jo had a hand in creating it, but at times, it really didn’t seem that way. It was as if other writers had written a story of what they thought could happen 19 years after the 7th book, and that’s what was cobbled together.

I know it’s supposed to be canon, but I don’t know if I can accept it. I’m just going to pretend that the series ended with book 7. I don’t think I’ll be the only one…

I have no idea what to rate this. There’s still a sense of loyalty I have to the book because it has some of my favourite characters of all time, but it’s like they were morphed into different people. I almost wish I could take back reading it.

So for that, 3/5.

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Dreams Do Come True

Don't Give Up

So do you remember when I posted about my crippling fear of failure earlier this year? In it, I told you guys how much I’m scared of failure, so much to the point that I fail to even try certain things. Because I’m so scared I’ll be bad at it or I’ll outright fail.

After I posted that in February, I did some soul searching and finally decided to do something. I decided to post one of my stories on my other blog. The story was a hit on the site and I got so many amazing comments from readers telling me how much they loved it and how much they related to the title character, Aisha. It’s been one week since the story finished and something amazing happened during the time I was posting it.

I got an agent.

Shortly after I started posted Aisha, I received an email from a literary agent who was interested in representing to me, all because of Aisha! She asked me to send her the full manuscript and I agreed excitedly, thinking she would love it. She did love it, but felt like it would be tough to place because it’s a New Adult title; it’s neither adult nor teen, but in a weird, new place in the middle. When she told me no for Aisha, my heart sank, only to soar through the roof when she told me she had another idea for me: turning The Muslim Girl into a book.

I agreed and have been busy working on the book proposal over the past few months. Unlike fiction, non-fiction is written after the proposal is accepted and the contract signed. And so I created a proposal for a lifestyle book based on The Muslim Girl, and over the past month we’ve been trying to shop it around.

I initially kept the news of getting an agent secret because I wanted to announce a book deal with excitement here. In my mind, I had crossed the first hurdle to achieving my dream: getting an agent. The rest would be easy! Or so I thought…

So why am I telling you this now? Unfortunately, I don’t have any book news to announce here (yet). The proposal is still being shopped around, and as my agent keeps telling me, the industry is slow to respond.

But I’ve received several more rejections, one that I thought was close to being accepted, only to be rejected after all. So I’ve been feeling a little down and dejected. Originally the title of this post was going to be ‘The Road to Publication’ and it was going to be a soppy letter about how much rejection sucks and how the road is so hard.

But then I remembered the post I wrote back in February, and how far I’ve come since then. Whenever I get a new rejection these days and return to a sobbing mess, my parents are so quick to remind me how lucky I am and how things were so different in the beginning of the year. I needed reminding of that.

My last post was about how I feel so creatively drained these days. My other blog takes up all my time, and lately I wonder what good it’s doing, and whether it’s worth it to keep doing. But then I’m reminded of this amazing thing that came about: getting an agent.

I’ve been writing since I was 10. I’ve been submitting since I was 15. I’ve been rejected numerous times in that whole process. But I’ve never been so close to my dream coming true. Till now, that is.

And as I sit here at the end of July, only a few days from my 27th birthday, I’ve even more in awe at how things can happen, in the blink of an eye. God really does work in mysterious ways. I never imagined that when I started The Muslim Girl 2 years ago that it would be a way for my to get closer to my dream. And even though it hasn’t come true yet, I have faith.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that my book Aisha is now available on Amazon Kindle. It’ll be available on August 3rd, but you can preorder it here. I hope you like it.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Practice

The problem with having too many hobbies is that they all require practice. And if you’re stretched for time and feel like you’re running a marathon just getting things done every day, it can seem impossible.

I have a lot of hobbies. I like to write, bake, take photos, blog, scrapbook, do other arts and crafts, and the most recent one, do brush lettering. These all require time. Sometimes I get so consumed with one of them, that I forget about the others. That is until I go to do it again and realise how rusty I am.

For example, I made these AMAZING Nutella brownies the other day (recipe coming soon!). The brownies were smashing and I wanted to eat them all. I also wanted to convey how good they were through my photos. But once I picked up my DSLR camera, it was like I was holding it for the first time. F stop what? I had no clue.

The thing with photography is that I never really got the swing of it to begin with. After I got my DSLR in November last year, I tried to study how to use it by reading lots of tutorials on aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. I was and still am a beginner. But after months of not touching the thing, it’s like I’m back to the way I was before I was a beginner. I think I eventually got the shot…but barely.

The same goes for writing. Writing takes a lot of practice and it used to be something I do everyday. And in a sense, I still kind of do it. But a different kind.

My writing for The Muslim Girl has pretty much taken up my whole life, so much to the point that I don’t get to write for me anymore. And I miss it so much. My soul cries out for it.

But it’s like I’ve forgotten how. I can’t seem to remember how to pair words together beautifully so that they become poetry. I can’t seem to remember what similes or metaphors are. I can’t seem to remember how to express my emotions into words that express the turmoil I feel about this. I can’t seem to remember how to write.

Not only can’t I write, my brain is completely empty. It was once teeming with ideas, bursting at the seems with stories and phrases and ideas that danced their way to my fingertips until they were finally released onto the page. But now, nothing. It’s like there’s a drought inside of me and I don’t know how to water it.

It’s to know what to say when you feel like the only thing you’re good at disappears. And not because of anyone else, but because you chose not to nurture it. So am I still a writer if I don’t write?

I don’t know.

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Friday Things

Hey guys! How’s it going?

Ramadan is winding down, and things are getting busier than ever! But first of all: how is Ramadan more than half over? It feels like it just began. The days have been speeding by, and Eid is just around the corner.

Before Ramadan began, I was worried about how tough the fasts were going to be. The hot and long days combined meant that they were going to be extra tough. But after the first day, they were fine. Dare I even say, easy? I’m actually shocked by how easy I found them this year, compared to previous years. But I suppose that’s the beauty of Ramadan; each year is different, and so are your circumstances.

But with only 10 days left, the race is on for Eid. There’s so much to do! It’s my first Eid-ul-fitr away from my family, so there’s also a tinge of homesickness that is colouring all my preparations. Everybody’s got their own Eid traditions, and it’s what makes the day so special: reviving those family traditions. But being away from home also means that I can carry those traditions to my new home this year, and also make some new ones.

My personal tradition has obviously come with me: making Eid cards! Making cards is so relaxing and enjoyable for me, and having to make a bunch of them is my idea of a perfect evening. I’m in love with this year’s cards, and wish I was getting one too haha.

Unlike previous years, I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen as much this year. I have a few basic dishes that I’ve been making throughout the month that I just keep rotating: baked boneless chicken 2 different ways, puff pastry, and keema or ground beef. I also tried my hand at making samosas this year but the shape was a bit off. They tasted good though!

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As for baking, I also made banana pudding! It’s not technically not baking, but you know what I mean. It’s one of my husband’s favourite desserts and I’ve been meaning to make it for ages. The one from Magnolia Bakery is supposedly famous, and that’s the recipe I used. I have no idea if it tasted anything like the original, because I don’t like bananas so I didn’t try it. According to my husband, it was good. Here is the recipe, in case you’re interested. I ended up halving it and it was too much for one person, even over the course of a few days. The bananas tend to blacken after a few days, so it doesn’t last very long. So keep that in mind when you’re making it!

Ramadan means staying up at odd hours of night/day which means insomnia at certain parts of the day for me. For example, right after sehri, is a tough time especially since I’ve just eaten and my brain is all wired up and the birds are also up and making it impossible for me to fall back asleep. This is the time when I usually scroll Pinterest and Instagram. About a week ago, I randomly stumbled across people who do brush lettering. Several hours later, I was obsessed and wanted to learn too!

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Brush lettering is different from calligraphy in that it uses markers and pens, rather than fancy calligraphy tools. This is my amateur understanding of it, but I could be totally wrong! I tried to learn calligraphy before with a set I bought from Chapters a couple years ago, but it was rubbish. But I’ve always been interested in lettering and beautiful scripts, and brush lettering actually seemed doable.

But of course, nothing is as easy as it looks, especially on social media! I just received my special markers yesterday and haven’t had much time to practice yet. But it’s also really relaxing and enjoyable. I’m still learning basic strokes and am just starting to make letters, but I can’t wait till I can start joining the letters and making words!

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I know, I sound like I’m learning writing for the very first time, like a 5 year old. When my husband first saw me pull out my practice sheets for script lettering, he was like you know our 4 year old niece is also learning her letters? -_- So yeah it looks like I’m learning my ABCs again lol.

Anyway, that’s what’s new with me! I started writing this post earlier in the day and just got back to it around 10:30 and am now finishing up at 11! Oops! So it’s sort of a late Friday Things for this week.

Hope you all had a fabulous week!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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