New York Travel Diary- Part 2

New York Travel Diary- part 2

Welcome back to my New York Travel Diary series! Part 2 covers days 3 and 4. Day 4 was actually only a few hours since our flight was in the early afternoon, but a lot happened anyways. To read Part 1, click here.

DAY 3

Day 3 was a Monday which meant our time with Fatima had come to an end as she went back to work.

We started our morning with a real New York bagel! Again, this was something that was on my list but all the ones that were one the ‘best bagels of New York’ lists were all far from our hotel. There was this random shop called Pick a Bagel which was absolutely delicious! I got a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which I had just recently discovered and fallen in love with. The bagel was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Nothing beats a fresh bagel!

I had heard about an exhibition being in New York for one of my favourite shows and was so happy to find out it was still there when I was planning my trip. So early Monday morning, my mom and I walked 5 mins from our hotel to the Downton Abbey exhibition so we could be transported to 1920’s England.

This should have been a fun morning but Emaan was super cranky and we had to rush through the exhibition rather than take our time because she was crying a lot.

They had set up the exhibition just like the Crawley house: downstairs were the servants quarters and upstairs were the family’s quarters. The upstairs sets were recreated with the original furniture, because the rooms in Highclere castle were used to film. On the other hand, the kitchen and all the downstairs rooms were build on a soundstage so they were the originals used in filming!

We spent the morning walking through the sets, learning what position we would to be if we were working for the house, and learned some more about what life was like. And of course we gazed at beautiful period dresses! Definitely my favourite part of the morning!

We had relegated the day to shopping so as we made our way back to our hotel, we passed by a TJ Maxx and had to go in. After buying some presents for my husband and brothers, we headed back to our hotel for a quick rest and lunch.

We reheated the garlic shrimp pizza from the night before and it was even better, if that’s possible!

Newly reenergized, we made our way to Central Park to get to the Met. Since it was a hot day, I figured it would be nice to spend some time indoors in air conditioning. The walk through the park was lovely, and I wish we has spent more time there. My mom and I just talked as we walked and it was so nice to hear birds chirping and not cars honking. The city seemed to melt behind us as we ventured further into the oasis.

We took a brief snack break near this bear statue which Emaan could not get enough of!

Finally we made it to the Met. Now, last time we had been to the Met, we had done suggested pricing which means you give a donation and not the whole amount. I was under the impression that the same rule applied but when I tried to do it I was informed that you had to be a New York resident to so do. Talk about super embarrassing! I wouldn’t have minded paying the full price if we we’re planning on spending the whole day there but since we were just passing through, we decided to skip it.

So we called an Uber and made our way to Times Square. Originally we weren’t planning on going to Times Square, since we had seen it before, but the Sephora there was one of the few in the city that had Huda Beauty’s liquid lipsticks. And so I made the sacrifice for beauty!

We spent a bit of time walking through some of the shops; I had needed to get some keychains and hadn’t really seen any tourist shops anywhere else. Emaan was getting a bit restless so we took her to the Disney Store and she lit right up! I’m not going to pretend I didn’t have fun either; I’ve always loved Disney and this one had a treasure trove of stuff!

Once we finished our shopping, we decided to head to Eataly for dinner. It was a 30 min walk from where we were in Times Square but we honestly just should have taken another Uber. We were beat by the time we reached the restaurant!

If you’ve never heard of it before, Eataly is an authentic Italian grocery store with restaurants inside. There’s a seafood restaurant, a meat lovers restaurant, and a pasta and pizza restaurant.

There were long waits everywhere and we debated between staying and going, since we were famished but in the end we decided to stay. The 25 min wait wasn’t as long as they had told us and before long we were whisked upstairs to a small table overlooking the restaurant down below.

I honestly can’t remember what I ended up getting. I was so tired at this point and the food was honestly not anything worth remembering. My mom got a ravioli dish that was good. Emaan had had enough at this point and wouldn’t sit still, so we literally just scarfed our food and ran.

We called another Uber to take us to our hotel, and I tried to get gelato while we waited for our car but again, the wait was way too long.

It was back to the hotel to an early night because our flight was the next day!

DAY 4

I had booked an afternoon flight for us back to Toronto, so we had a few hours to kill before we had to head to the airport.

And what did I chose to fill those precious few hours with? Bakery hopping!

So both of my brothers had asked for food related items from New York, and I wanted to get my husband his favourite banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.

My youngest brother had asked for a real New York bagel so I got up early in the morning and got a few sesame seed bagels for him from Pick A Bagel. I had loved them and they definitely tasted way better than the grocery store variety from home!

After that, we headed to Magnolia Bakery, a short walk from our hotel. When we lived in Chicago, my husband would love to go to Magnolia and grab a few tubs of their famous banana pudding for himself. I’m not a fan of bananas myself but I knew I had to get him some!

We then made our way to Bouchon Bakery. My middle brother had asked me to get him an almond croissant, a croissant he said he still thought about years after he had had it.

I wish I was exaggerating when I said this, but, that croissant was the best thing I ever ate. I wanted to kick myself for not coming to Bouchon Bakery earlier in my trip, especially since it was so close to our hotel! Croissants are usually light and flaky but this one had substance. I wasn’t too sure how I would like the almonds with the chocolate, but the sweetness of the chocolate was subdued by the nuttiness of the almond paste that was creamed together inside with the chocolate. Sprinkled with just the right amount of icing sugar on top, these croissants had a filling that was full of flavour. It was way more than your average croissant!

I also got a salted caramel macaron, which was also divine. They were much larger than your average macaron, which made them so worth it.

I was almost in tears for not having discovered Bouchon earlier in my trip. If I had, I would have come every day! There were so many other things I wanted to try, and now I will also tell anyone and everyone who’s going to New York City to go to Bouchon and to being me back a croissant. It was definitely the best part of my trip.

After that life-changing experience, we went back to the hotel, gathered our things, and headed to the airport! It ending of my trip would have been perfect except the security agent made me throw out the banana pudding, and so it never made it home! I was devastated.

All in all, it was a great trip. But here are some of my tips/things I wish I could do differently:

  • If you are traveling with a baby, don’t plan more than 2, MAYBE 3, activities a day. I planned way too many, and even though they were close together in distance, Emaan and I both got burnt out. And because there were so many things I wanted to do everyday, I didn’t get to enjoy them as much.
  • If your baby is still napping, try to do one nap in the hotel or at least schedule some downtime or rest time each day. Again, I made our itinerary so packed that by the end of the day, we were exhausted. Of course, this wasn’t feasible every day (for example we couldn’t go back to our hotel midday on our first day) but try to plan some rest time.
  • Don’t have such high expectations, especially of places that are hyped up so much. This happened to me SO many times it wasn’t even funny. The thing is I read and did so much research for my trip, and honed my list of restaurants like crazy. So I was very excited for some of the places I had picked out. But many of them were nowhere as amazing as I had assumed, named Smorgasburg, Laduree, and Eataly. Instead be open to try new things or ask the locals!
  • Plan your trip by location. So last time I didn’t do this and we literally were going across the island the whole day. This time, I was smarter about it and downloaded My maps from Google. It let’s you ‘pin’ locations, whether they’re shops restaurants, museums, or anything else you choose. Then when you open your regular Google Maps, you don’t need to type up the locations. They show up on your app and you just click on them and their address shows up. Doing this made it easier to plan my day to day itinerary, as I planned to visit things that were closer together.
  • By the same token, plan your activities with the distance between them in mind. Originally, I had planned our activities with subway travelling in mind, but we didn’t end up taking the subway even once. Fatima’s husband so generously drove us several times, and then we just took Uber. It was definitely more convenient than taking the subway with a baby, since very few stations had an elevator for the stroller. If you decide to go this route, be mindful of New York traffic.
  • Last but not least: have fun! The city has a very fast pace and can make you feel frenetic with it’s energy but if you’re on vacation take it slowly and savour the moments, rather than tick them off some imaginary checklist.

Until next time, New York!

Thanks for reading.

Xoxo,

Ikhlas

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New York Travel Diary- Part 1

It’s been a few weeks since I got back from my 3 day trip to New York City and I wanted to share it while it’s still fresh in my mind!

New York holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my best friend, Fatima, lives. It’s also the place where I first started talking to my husband via email, as we started introducing ourselves for the purpose of marriage. It isn’t exactly a romantic fairytale story but I still remember how I felt when I first heard for him!

This was my first trip with baby, and what a trip it was! It was her first trip, first plane ride, first time out of the country and away from her dad! Lots of firsts. My mom came with us so it was a girls trip of mothers and daughters, a trip I will never forget.

I has gone to New York once before when Fatima has first moved there, and the difference between this trip and that one was day and night! Travelling with a toddler obviously changed the whole way I planned the trip. Luckily, I had done most of the touristy things last time (Empire State Building, ferry to see Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, etc) and I wanted a different trip this time. My focus this time was food and I had a long list of places I wanted to try!

This post ended up being super long, so I split it up into two. Part One will cover Days 1 and 2, and Part Two will cover Day 3 and 4, which was actually a half day. Let’s get started!

DAY 1

So our day started bright and early with an 8AM flight. If I had to do the trip again, I wouldn’t have booked such an early flight! I don’t know what exactly I was thinking, but I seem to have forgotten that you have to get to the airport 3 hours before! And combine that with a toddler that doesn’t sleep well and a mommy who is often tired, and it was kind of a disaster…

But anyway! We arrived in the city around 10AM and had planned to have brunch at Fatima’s house, before setting off for Brooklyn.

I had never been to Brooklyn before, and I have to say, it was the highlight of my trip!

I loved how chill and laid back it was; there weren’t hoardes of people everywhere like there were in Manhattan. I mostly went for the views of Manhattan across the river, and the views were beautiful.

First, we stopped at the iconic spot in Dumbo, the view of the bridge between the two brick buildings. If you’ve seen Gossip Girl, you’ll definitely recognize this view! There were a ton of people here taking pictures and there were actually cars trying to drive on the same road!

The road we were standing on was actually cobblestone, and added an old world charm to the place. Not easy to navigate a stroller on, but definitely very whimsical.

After that we made our way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. I had heard that the views were unparalleled and they truly were beautiful. The skyline was magnificent, as the buildings glistened from the river’s reflection, framed by a bridge on each side.

There were a cute carousel in the park and we gave Emaan a ride on it. She wasn’t that impressed, which was funny because we kept giggling and had more fun than her.

After that we headed to Smorgasburg, which is an outdoor food festival. I had been payched about this for weeks but it was probably the most underwhelming experience of the trip. It was hard because most of the stuff had pork or neat products in it, and there wasn’t that many veggie friendly options. They didn’t even have many ice cream or dessert places which was disappointing. But we hung out for a bit, ate a few things and then took some pictures by the beach in the park where the festival is held.

After the Park, we wandered around Brooklyn, or more specifically Williamsburg, for a bit. We checked out Artists and Fleas which was a handmade flea market with a mix of eclectic products.

For dinner I had planned on going to a pizza place but it was a bit of a drive and we were all tired. So my friend and her husband took us to a Pakistani BBQ restaurant called BK Jani. It was a hole in the wall type of place but the food was good! Very spicy though. The best part was that they had funny handwritten reviews taped up all over the restaurant, some of which were in mixed English and Urdu.

After dinner, we were all tired so we headed back to our hotel, but not before seeing the sun set over the concrete jungle as we drove back into the city.

DAY 2

Our second day was a Manhattan day. Since I had spent my whole trip in Manhattan last time, I wanted to do things I hadn’t done before.

So we started our day at the High Line. The High Line is an old elevated railroad track in the meatpacking district of the city that was transformed into a park. It’s a beautiful path with flowers and shrubbery on both sides, while framed with both old and new architecture.

This was another of my favourite parts of the trip. It was so nice just to stroll along the path, all while admiring the buildings, elevated above the bustling crowds on the streets. The weather was nice, and we found a little stream of water for Emaan to cool off in, which she loved!

By the time we were finished with the park, it was time for lunch. I had planned on going to Joe’s Pizza, a famous casual slice pizzeria, which I had heard so much about. Luckily it was worth the hype!

The line was long but it moved fast. My only mistake was that I ordered the fresh mozzarella slice instead of the regular cheese one. I had a bite of my mom’s and decided that I would get another slice of the regular cheese one for Emaan, who was asleep at that time.

And I’m so glad I did! At a glance, it looked like a regular cheese slice, except it was HUGE. But when I took a bite, I discovered that the crust was crispy but still chewy. It had great flavour. And so did the sauce; it was rich and tangy, without being too overpowering. But the real star of the show was the cheese of course. Stringy and delicious, it wasn’t oily or greasy. A I’m writing this, I’m dreaming about another slice!

We sat in a cute little park right outside of the restaurant on benches underneath trees. The weather was lovely with a perfect breeze and we sat there and rested our sore feet while my baby slept.

After that, we walked to a cute soft serve ice cream shop I has been dying to try: Big Gay Ice Cream. I got the Salty Pimp, which was vanilla ice cream with sea salt and dulce de leche. It was just the perfect remedy for the hot weather and the overtired baby!

After that it was to SoHo for shopping! I had wanted to spend more time in SoHo exploring shops that I hadn’t seen before, but we stuck to the same ones I’ve been to before. We also tried a pop-up shop by Zara but I didn’t find much because the sizes were too small.

The reason I had planned for us to go to SoHo was because one of the bakeries I was dying to try: Laduree. I have been wanting to go to the gorgeous and infamous French patisserie for years, and have longed to go.

Like Smorgasburg, Laduree was a disappointment. Maybe because we were all tired from the walking we had done. The prices were outrageous, but the little outdoor garden was really pretty.

We didn’t sit long so I got my macarons to go. I tried a few in the store while we waited for my mom to drink her cup of afternoon chai and I have to say, they were nothing special. Maybe if I had had them first before any other macaron? But I wasn’t too impressed, even when I came home and ate through the tiny box I got to go. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious! But hyped up too much.

We were going to go to Eataly for dinner but were all so tired that we got dropped off at our hotel and decided to order in. We weren’t done trying New York pizza and I literally picked a place close to to our hotel to order from. It was SO good! And the funny thing was I didn’t read about it on any list or hear about it anywhere. It was probably another hole in the wall type of place, for all I know but their pizza was a party in my mouth. It was called Amadeus Pizza and we got the garlic shrimp pizza. I think I even enjoyed it more than Joe’s (shocking!).

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this mouth-watering pizza, even a grainy hotel one because I was just too hungry and tired to take any pictures!

And that’s it for Part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover Downton Abbey, shopping, Eataly, and lots of bakeries. Till then!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

 

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Recipe: Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Hello friends, and Ramadan Mubarak to all those who are observing! This is my first time fasting as a new mom, and I have to say, it’s definitely a lot different than any other year! But then again, most things are.

For one thing, waking up for suhoor or the morning meal is only one of the many times I wake up during the night. In previous years, this is the thing I struggled with the most. Waking up during the middle of the night to eat and then trying to go back to sleep was always so hard. I hated losing my precious sleep!

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

But now that I wake up multiple times a night, waking up to eat and going back to sleep is no big deal! It’s funny that the thing I was scared about and dreading the most is the thing that is the easiest. The first day when I woke up in the morning, I didn’t feel extra tired or groggy like I remember feeling before. It’s kind of amazing what your body will adapt to when it has no choice.

Not only has my suhoor pattern changed, but so has iftar! Before, I used to have all day to prepare iftar for my family. I would spend hours poring over recipes on Pinterest, making lists of everything I was craving, and then go all out when it was time to actually make the meal. With a toddler now, I don’t have time for any of that! I’ve stuck to making one dish, maybe two, and that’s it. My daughter keeps me on my toes the whole day so I don’t have the luxury of spending time thinking about food all day, which is probably for the best.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I don’t have all day to make iftar, I definitely don’t have time to sit and enjoy my meal! My daughter’s bedtime coincides with sunset these days, and I’ve pushed it back so that I eat quickly and then I have to run to put her to bed. Gone are the days of lingering over my meal, which often led to overeating and weight gain. So for that not happening this year, I am grateful! But I still miss enjoying the taste of my food after a long day of fasting.

In previous years, dessert was definitely on the menu! Whether it was brownies, cookies, or ice cream, I always made something sweet to be enjoyed after iftar, but of course, this year, finding time to bake is tricky. But my sweet tooth still calls to me after iftar, and having a plate of these Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips would be a welcome sight after a long fast.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies before Ramadan and have still not forgotten them! They are the perfect marriage between a peanut butter cookie and a chewy chocolate chip cookie, which means they have the best of both worlds. These cookies are more chocolate chip cookie with peanut butter, rather than the other way around. The peanut butter isn’t overpowering, but instead is more of a hint.

They are thick, puffy, and chewy- all things a good chocolate chip cookie should be, except with the burst of peanut butter. Let’s check out the recipe. Continue reading →

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Recipe: Chicken Malai Tikka

Chicken Malai Tikka

Hey everyone! I’ve got something a little different for you all today: a savoury recipe. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a savoury recipe with you all, but this chicken malai tikka is amazing. When posting recipes on the blog, I stick to my favourite food group (dessert), but believe me that’s not all I eat!

I shared this recipe on my Instagram stories the other day and I received so many requests for the recipe! I got way more requests than my sweet recipes, that’s for sure. People I haven’t spoken to years reached out to me and wanted the recipe for this succulent chicken barbecue item.

Confession time: I use a lot of Shan masalas. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, they’re packaged dry mixes of herbs and spices with instructions and a list of ingredients on the back. You can get premade biryani masala to korma to kabobs and everything in between. I’m not the best at Pakistani cooking, and Shan masalas take the guesswork out of it for me.

But lately I’ve been sick of making and eating the same few things. Shan masalas tend to have the same taste, an I’ve been trying to use my own blend of spices. It’s a hit and miss though.

When I stumbled on this recipe for Chicken Malai Tikka, I knew I wanted to make it right away. Succulent, juicy chicken that melts in your mouth? Yes, please! I’ve made the recipe using Shan masalas, but don’t remember being too impressed. So I was excited to try this recipe.

Malai is a creamy and rich ingredient, but the word can be used to describe any food that basically melts in your mouth like butter. And that’s exactly what this chicken does. There’s actually no butter in the recipe, except for a bit that you can brush on top at the end, if you want. The creamy texture of the marinade and the juiciness of the chicken is thanks to a mixture of yogurt and heavy or whipping cream. Let’s take a look at the recipe!

Continue reading →

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Favourite Makeup Products

Favourite Makeup Products

Today we’re talking makeup! I know this is a different kind of post from the one I usually write, but I wanted to try something new.

I am by no means a makeup artist or even an expert. But it is something I enjoy doing, and even learning more about. It’s definitely one of my guilty pleasures!

I’m definitely not adventures when it comes to my makeup; when I like something, I keep using it and have a hard time trying new things.

After a recent Sephora haul, I realised I have a few Staples that I am always restocking. I love them so much and use them so frequently that they need replenishing quite often. I figuted I’d share them with you. 🙂

Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder Foundation in 127 Golden Sand

Before, I used to only use this on top of my Make Up For Ever foundation. But then I started wearing it by itself and I fell in love!

While you can use this as a setting powder on top of your foundation (I still do, when I do wear foundation), it works great as a base on its own. I love how buildable the formula is; if you want light coverage, you can do that. But if you want more coverage, simply apply more product for a more finished look.

I use this a lot for my everyday makeup look, like for when I have to run out to the grocery store or when I want a light makeup look without the heaviness of foundation. I have combination oily skin and this works great to give me that flawless, smooth finish.

While the name of the product is powder foundation, it still isn’t as flawless as liquid foundation. It’s a very natural look, so if you’re looking for heavy coverage, this won’t give you that. But it’s perfect for everyday.

Nars Blush in Orgasm

This is a cult favourite, and for good reason! I had heard about this blush for years before I finally tried it. And I’m so glad I did!

What I love about this blush is how pigmented it is. A little goes a long way, and you don’t have to be standing there for half an hour trying to get the product on. A few swishes of your blush brush and you are good to go!

Of course we have to talk about the colour itself. It’s such a favourite among makeup junkies, and for good reason. It looks good on so many different skin colours! It’s rosey and pinky, without being garish. It’s got s lovely shine that makes the apples of your cheeks sparkle subtly, so that you look like you are glowing.

I recently bought the colour SIN on a recommendation from a friend and it has the same formula, without the sparkle. It has more of a purple undertone but also looks nice on brown skin tones.

I cannot recommend this enough. It’s by far my favourite blush of all time!

Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipstick in Gossip Girl

This is definitely my favourite matte liquid lipstick. So many others have claimed to not rub off, but this is the first that I’ve come across that actually doesn’t rub off!

As a mom, I’m always kissing my daughter and I hated getting lipstick on her cute little cheeks. But when I started wearing Huda Beauty’s product, I fell in love with the way it didn’t rub off. It’s actually a matte lipstick that stays on for hours.

Gossip Girl is my current favourite, although I also have Trophy Wife and Heartbreaker. It’s a perfect pink shade that is girly and flirty. I can’t get enough of it!

Benefit They’re Real Mascara in Black

I’ve only ever worn fake eyelashes a few times in my life, and each time was by a professional make you artist. They weren’t very comfortable but the effect was of course amazing!

This is my substitute. If you are obsessed with long eyelashes, then this is the mascara for you! The formula is amazing and it lengthens your lashes to crazy lengths.

What I love about this product is that a little goes a long way. So if you’re looking for a more subtle look, you can apply it sparingly for a pretty effect. Apple a little bit more and your lashes will look outrageous.

Make Up For Ever Liquid Liner in Black

This liner is a favourite after much research. I had been on the hunt for a BLACK liquid eyeliner with a dark formula that wouldn’t fade quickly. I tried Stila, Benefit’s Push Up Liner, and Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner. None were as black as I wanted and none had that dramatic effect that I wanted in my liquid liner.

This one did.

I love the pigmentation of the black in this formula. It isn’t weak and nor does it fade away. It stays strong and dark for hours on end. The applicator is a sponge tip and is pointed, which makes it perfect to create the perfect wing or cat eye.

It dries quickly so there’s no waiting for the liquid to settle before you can apply mascara or curl your lashes. It has a dramatic effect and is amazing.

These aren’t my only favourite makeup products, but they are definitely the ones I use most frequently. As a new mom, I’m often pressed for time these days and have to do my makeup in a hurry. What I love about all of these products is how quickly I can apply them. They are perfect for my current quick and short makeup routine, since their quality is amazing.

So if you’re looking for some new makeup products, do check out some of the ones I’ve recommended above!

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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