Moving

View from my backyard

View from my backyard

Hello friends.

So after making the goal to blog more this year, I went and flopped on that goal. Oops!

The reason why I haven’t been blogging? I was moving! I just moved into a new house and was so crazy busy with that that I think a few days went by that I didn’t even touch my computer ( a new record for me).

I’ve settled in a bit but there’s still organizing to do. I absolutely LOVE organizing so that’s the best part for me. For now, I’ve literally just dumped things into cupboards and closets, just to get rid of the piles of boxes everywhere, but have yet to actually sort them out. It’s kind of crazy living among such disorganization, but I know it’ll take time. A home doesn’t get built in a day!

With that being said, I love my new place. It’s so nice to have room for everything. I also have about a million ideas for decorating and furniture and paint. I know, it’s not all going to happen overnight but it’s still so exciting! In the past few months, I’ve become obsessed with buying frames and have built up a collection. I can’t wait to make a gallery wall above the couch to showcase some prints and artwork. 😀

I’ve also already run out of space in my closet. -_- I’ve unpacked all my clothes and accessories, and my closet barely opens. For now I’ve stashed things under my bed, so I can figure out where to keep things but for now, I have no idea where anything is.

Our house is a bit old and there’s a little bit of updating to do. I’ve never taken on home renovation projects (they’ve always been my dad’s projects), but I’m excited to give them a try! There’s something fun about getting rid of the old and updating things. It’s also fun to pick things out yourself, like vanities and cabinets, and decide on the look of a room yourself, instead of sticking with what the builder gave.

The walls are all a boring beige colour and I want to paint them. I keep being discouraged from painting, since apparently it’s a lot of work but I still want to try. I definitely won’t do the whole house, but I do want to paint one wall in my bedroom and one wall in the living room. I think it’ll be enough to liven up the space a bit.

Oh and did I mention that everyday I get a sunset view?! It’s absolutely breathtaking! I’m sure in the summer it’ll be even more spectacular. 😀

Anyways, that’s what’s new with me! I hope you all are doing well :)

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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Baking Challenges

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I have a confession guys: I’m a wimp.

I chicken out when it comes to trying to bake new kinds of food. Sure, I don’t mind trying new recipes OF THE SAME KIND OF FOOD. You might have noticed this on the blog, since I have oh so many recipes of cookies and bars, since those are the two things I naturally gravitate towards.

Given that it’s a new year, I wanted to set myself some baking challenges that I hope to accomplish by the end of the year. So many bakers I know or read about online are self-taught and it gives me faith that I too can expand my baking knowledge by just practicing. :)

Some of you experienced bakers might laugh at my so-called challenges, because some of them are probably very simple, but I have yet to master them. But I’m ready to get out of baking shell! So here are some of the things I’m itching to try this year.

GANACHE

I know chocolate ganache is supposed to be easy because it only uses 2 ingredients, but I’ve always been a little frightened of it. There’s so many different ways it can be utilized, but I’m most excited to make chocolate ganache tarts and also try it for frosting purposes.

YEAST MADE THINGS

Ok so I know this is a bit vague, but it’s meant to encompass anything and everything made with yeast. I’m afraid of it; it just seems like an ingredient you have to be very careful with because it’s ALIVE. This fear has kept me from trying to make doughs or breads or rolls of any kind, but I’m ready to change that! Homemade cinnamon buns are high on this list. I absolutely love cinnamon buns from restaurants, but haven’t ever made my own and that’s mostly because of the yeast and all the rising action. But I think I’ve found a recipe I like, and so hopefully once I master those, I can try other yeast recipes!

CAKE

If you don’t know this, I tend to shy away from making cake (mostly because I’m not the most patient or neat person and frosting isn’t my natural talent). Layer cakes with buttercream and frosting freak me out, but I’ve realised that those aren’t the only kind of cakes out there! My husband loves pound cake and so I’m on a quest to find a good pound cake recipe for him. My mom also makes some of the yummiest cakes ever: a butter cake and a coffee cake, that I want to learn. Recently I had the fudgiest and moistest chocolate cake of my life and I am on a mission to find a recipe for chocolate cake that yields such a moist crumb. It was HEAVENLY. So cake is a big goal for this year.

MOLTEN LAVA CAKES

So this has been on my recipe wishlist for quite some time but I haven’t had a chance to make them yet. It’s such a rich and decadent dessert, and I love the idea of having cold ice cream on top of the hot centre. Oooh, just thinking about it is making my mouth water. -_-

JAM

This last one isn’t quite a baking challenge as much as it is a making challenge, but I am obsessed with the idea of making my own jam! I’m dying to go strawberry picking and make my own homemade jam out of it. The process seems quite tedious and tiring, but I’m determined to try it this year! When I was younger, my aunt made a batch of homemade strawberry jam and gave it to all of us and it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. You could just taste summer lingering in the berries inside the jam. It was so good.

And that’s my list! So I have a lot more things that I’m dying to try, but I thought I’d keep the list nice and short so I don’t overwhelm myself.

I can’t promise that you’ll see all of these things here on the blog, especially since many of them will be first attempts, but if they go well, hey, you never know!

If you bake, what are you dying to try out? And if you don’t bake, what are you dying to eat? Lol.

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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New Year, New Look

new year, new look

Hey guys!

Hope you all had a happy holiday and a great start to the year. :)

Since it’s a new year, I figured it was time to update the look of the blog. It’s probably been more than a year since I last changed it and I spent a good 40 minutes today trying to find a new theme I like. I think this one suits my blog well! Here’s hoping the new look makes me want to blog more 😉

I love making goals and the start of a new year is the best time to make some new ones or renew some old ones. As you guys might remember from my 2015 recap, last year was a tough one for me. With so many changes in my life, so many things fell by the wayside and a lot of my goals went unaccomplished. But I’m ready to get back on my feet now! There’s still so many things I want to do and accomplish, and I really want to get back into the groove of things and get back to pursuing my dreams. So here are some of my goals:

WRITE

This is probably the biggest goal. I’ve left my writing for quite some time and my fingers (and the rest of my body, tbh) are ITCHING to write and my brain is full of new and old ideas that I’m dying to pursue! I have 2 story ideas percolating in my head, one old and one new. The new one was inspired by a dream that I had just a few weeks ago but it’s blossoming into a full-fledged story very quickly! My notebook has returned to my side and I can’t stop brainstorming various plot lines and character sketches. It’s been awhile since I’ve been gripped by a story like this, and so I am SO excited to sketch it out and start writing!

I’m not sure when I’ll get to actually start writing this new story since the plot is quite raw and full of holes, but regardless, I want to start writing again. Even if it’s short stories, poems, little pieces of prose thoughts, anything! I recently realised how much I’ve missed creatively expressing myself and so it’s time to get back to it!

BLOG

This goal applies to both this blog and my other. Both pretty much fell by the wayside this year, especially the other one which I used to post at least 2 times a week on! I got into a funk over the past four months and was down to blogging only once a month. Not good for business at all. :( But it’s time for me to get out of my funk and get back into it. I started that blog with so much passion and excitement and it makes me sad that I’ve lost some of that passion. I want to go back to the place where the idea of the blog began and reignite my passion so I can feel excited about blogging for it, instead of feeling like it’s a chore (which it feels like now).

This blog has always been my escape from all those expectations because I’ve never had any sort of schedule or blogging rules. I blogged when I felt like it, but that began to happen less and less as life and responsibilities caught up with me. But I realise I miss this blog as an outlet for random thoughts and poems that I used to just down or even random updates into my life. It isn’t much, but it was some type of writing, and that was better than nothing. So my goal is to blog at least once a week on here. Feel free to badger me in the comments if it’s been more than a week!

BAKE

This is a goal that coincides with the one above it. I miss baking and sharing new recipes with you guys. Even though I don’t run this blog like a business, I still miss all the creative elements of trying out a new recipe, planning a photoshoot, arranging everything, and then sharing the whole process with you. It was another creative outlet for me, and also a great way to destress.

So I’ve made a list of some new recipes I’m dying to try out. It’s time for me to up my baking game and move beyond the same six/seven recipes I rotate between and get something new going! Hopefully they turn out well and I can share them with you all :)

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

I have a lot of hobbies (see the above three goals), but there’s still so many other things I want to do! You guys might know that I recently bought a DSLR camera. I’m still in the process of learning how to use it and it’s something I really want to get better at. I’ve loved photography for a long time (as the forgotten photography tab on this blog might indicate) but haven’t really cultivated it in awhile. I got a DSLR camera primarily for my food photography on this blog but want to use it for other photography too. Once I get the hang of it, that is!

Knitting is another skill I want to pick up. I kind of already know how to sew (basic skills really), but knitting is a whole other field! I’ve heard it’s a therapeutic hobby that yields beautiful results. There’s classes at Michaels that offer basic knitting so I might take one of those to get started.

READING

In previous years, I would be racing to meet my 90 to 100 book a year Goodreads challenge, but last year I fell short (by a lot). It’s not that I didn’t feel like reading, but more that I couldn’t squeeze it into my new schedule.

I still remember being baffled by the people who would ask me how I had time to read, when they barely had time to do their course reading during uni. Reading and books were such an integral part of my everyday routine and schedule; I couldn’t fall asleep until I read and I couldn’t eat a meal without a book in hand. I had a stack of cooking magazines that I kept around for this purpose because I just couldn’t eat without reading. But this has changed a lot with my new schedule and I can’t spend whole chunks of the day just reading like I used to. But I still vow to squeeze it in wherever I can, because I miss it like crazy and there’s so many books on my to-read list that sound AMAZING.

FAITH

So this is probably the most important, but most personal one. It’s safe to say that I need to reconnect with my faith this year. It’s a daily goal, but it deserves its own heading because it’s the one I need to work the hardest on.

 

So those are my 2016 goals! Pretty similar to my goals from previous years but I’m pretty determined to accomplish them since I kind of fell short last year and am behind on pursuing my life’s goals and dreams. Something else I want to start working on is making monthly/weekly goals. I’m pretty good at making big goals for the year and to-do lists for the day, but not so good at connecting the two to accomplish the big goals. So I want to try and make monthly and weekly to do lists so that I can turn my goals into manageable chunks. So what are your goals for this year? Do let me know in the comments below! And hopefully I’ll see you guys here soon :)

Thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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2015

Hello friends.

So I won’t be doing a recap of all the books and recipes I made this year, mostly because I didn’t read or make very many. This year was a very different year in my life. It was probably one of the most difficult years of my life but also the happiest. Is that possible?

I know, it’s kind of a paradox. How can such a difficult year be the happiest as well?

This was one of the years in my life where I felt like I had the least amount of control of my destiny. As a Muslim, I’ve always believed in God having a plan for me and for everyone, but this year my faith in this was truly tested. There was so little I had control over and it was so hard for me to accept. I was a miserable grump for a chunk of the year and I still can’t believe my family put up with me for such a long time when I wasn’t very fun to be around.

Speaking of family, I think this is the first time I’ve ever truly appreciated my parents and all that they have done and continue to do for me. Their selfless love for me has kept me going this past year and I know that I would be nowhere without their endless love and support. I know they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it also puts things into perspective for you. It took me a year to actually realise how many times I took them and their love for granted, especially after being away from them. I am so blessed to have them, alhamdulilah.

You all know how much I love books and reading, especially stories with romance in them. I had been dreaming of a grand love story my whole life and this was the year my own love story began. I had all these notions about love and marriage and relationships, many of which were shaken up these past year. It was a year of discovering love and understanding another person so wholly different from me. It was also a year of understanding that there really is no such thing as ‘happily ever after’ but instead little moments of happiness in every day, little things that another person can do that can fill your heart with so much love and joy that you feel like it might explode. It was a year of beginning. It was a year of falling in love.

2015 is also the year I think I’ve grown up the most. At 25 years old, I thought I had it all figured out when the year began. I’m the oldest in my immediate family, and then also among all my cousins. I’ve been known as ‘Baji’ (older sister) my whole life. But it’s been a year of realising and accepting all the things I don’t know. I’ve had to face the fact that maybe I’m not so knowledgeable or mature as I thought, and come to terms with growing up. A lot. Being in a relationship does that to you. It forces you to examine all the ugly parts inside of yourself that you hope the other person never sees. It’s the year I realise how much father I have to go.

It was also the year of deaths. There have been 3 close deaths in my family this year: my nanaji (maternal grandpa), eldest mamu (mom’s brother), and phupoh (dad’s sister). My dad’s sister lived in Pakistan, and so I only met her a handful of times, but the death still shook my family, especially my dad. But the deaths of my uncle and grandpa shook me to my core. Mostly because I wasn’t there when they died, wasn’t there to say goodbye, wasn’t there to grieve and weep with my family. Being separated from my family on both counts made me miss them even more. It made me realise how lucky I was to have the love of my elders as I was growing up, and especially in the major turning points in my life. Last year, at this time, on this exact date, I remember celebrating with them both and being caught in their infectious happiness, not realising that less than a year later they would be taken from me. I am so lucky to have good memories with them, but it’s just been hard knowing I didn’t say goodbye.

2015 has been a wonderful, amazing, challenging, and stressful year. There have been so many good things to happen this year, but they’ve been peppered with sad and difficult things too. But that’s life, I suppose. Good and bad. Happy and sad. So it’s just made me realise that I need to enjoy the good times as much as I can, and enjoy the time I have with my loved ones as much as I can. Because I never know when things can change.

May 2016 be a good year, inshAllah.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ikhlas

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New York Style Cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Hello friends! I’m back with a new recipe for you today. Ok, so technically it’s an old recipe, but the photos were atrocious and were in desperate need of an update. I also got a new DSLR camera and just had to try it out!!!

So I’m still learning how to use my camera and it’s definitely a learning process. I had a chance to use my brother’s a few months ago, but he was there setting up all the settings for me so I didn’t really learn much. But this time, I got my hands on my own Canon T5i camera and am so excited to use it! I use to love taking pictures (as some of you old readers might remember or the new ones can see from the photography tab at the top of the page), but haven’t been doing it much. But I’m so excited to get back into it.

New York Style Cheesecake

I’ve already taken it off the Auto setting and am exploring the other settings. There’s just so many options! I’ve been doing a lot of reading online and am hoping to put it into practice soon.

But back to this recipe. This is my all-time favourite cheesecake recipe. No ifs, ands, or buts. Seriously. I’ve never experimented with any other recipe because I just love this one so much and the taste is just phenomenal. Why mess with perfection, right?

A lot of people get intimated by cheesecake, but it’s actually not a very difficult dessert to make. The trick is in the baking time though, because you don’t want to underbake it or overbake it. It’s important to get it just right. Some people swear by water baths to get that perfect consistency but I’ve never felt the need for them. You can bake a perfectly luscious and creamy cheesecake without using a water bath.

New York Style Cheesecake

This is the same recipe as my mini cheesecakes, which are also a hit. But if you want a show-stopping cake, check out the recipe!

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